I shall try to be helpful to new cruisers. We flew into Barcelona and stayed for 2 nights to sight-see; more time would have been good. Booking/checking in was a breeze, although like airports it take time. Security is an issue and everyone and everything is checked through a scanner when you come back aboard or check in. There is a card system which is a cabin key and a sales cheque verifier. I.e. you carry no cash.
Cabin was good, excellent beds, clean and had all we needed inc sockets, apart from tea and coffee facilities. Our steward was great. In fact all of the staff were very good. The ship is not large so we are informed. It takes a while to get your bearings it is so large. Even then you have to look at the well posted maps of the ship.
Gripes only a few.
The drink is very expensive; water the same price as wine ashore! Booze is silly e.g. $35 for a pinot Griggio bottle, $5 ashore. The all in alcohol package at $49 each plus gratuity seems a bargain and may well be if you are a serious drinker. All those in your cabin must have it or not at all. So for two it is $100 a day plus gratuity. We took it but on reflection it was not good value, we lost out by out $100. If you bring booze on board you will have it placed in the store and if you wish to drink a bottle of wine purchased ashore you will have to pay $15 corkage! Outrageous. Wi fi, was expensive we did not use it. You cannot use your phone on board, we understand you have to pay. So wait until you are in port.
Coffee aboard was not good, awful in the instant machines and little better from the expesso for which you paid.
The excursions are expensive, you will do better by booking a cab right on the quayside.
Our final excursion was cancelled due to lack of participants. This made life very difficult since we were to have been taken to the airport afterward. Our cases would have been in the coach and so we would not have a problem with what to do with them. Not happy about that. The excursion team tried to help but that took most of the day and too much of our time.
The main buffet restaurant is crowded and we often had to wait to find a seat especially at lunch time.
Too many photographers wanting to take your pic whenever you went ashore or even at table. Cost of photos near $20 each.
Our companion used the hair dresser. She complained and had it done again for free. She says -- not good and expensive.
Not easy to find a quiet spot.
The good points --
The itinerary gave a brief intro to a variety of islands, we loved Madera.
Terrific food, plenty of it, in great variety and of excellent quality.
Clean, well managed ship "ship shape". We felt safe.
Plenty to do if you want it. Very good entertainment.
Very good facilities.
Our companions, who have cruised a lot, say it is the best they have experienced.
Good bar experiences. Very good piano bar.
Friendly efficient staff.
Seated and waited restaurants are excellent, the waiters could not do enough. You may need to queue but it never took long. There was some repetition on the menu but always something different as well. Very good quality served and presented to a high standard. More if you asked no problem. Speciality restaurants charge extra; we had a Chinese meal it was not worth the extra.
Buffet was of excellent variety and quality. You name it and you could find it apart from lobster and prawns that sort of thing. Otherwise, stir fry, roast, fish, pasta, pizza, salads, burgers, chips, mashed, lots of vegie dishes. Ice cream and puddings and lovely pastries. Several varieties of bread. Wow.
There is a smaller cafe which serves quick food 24/24, a pub and several bars. The casino is large enough with tables and machines. Shops are not cheap but include essentials some promotional items, limited clothing, cameras and accessories, jewellery and watches.
The theatre is excellent, the quality of presentation is such that others could learn from it. The acts varied in type and quality but all were above average to excellent.
The gym is fine small but large enough, you may have to wait to get on a bike but not for too long.
Getting off and on is a simple not unpleasant process made easy by the excellent organisation on board.
A daily newssheet provides info as does the captain who has a great sense of humour. The announcements are minimal.
Access to cabins is by wide staircases or lifts.
The ship was very stable and we slept very well in fact.
I did not feel hemmed in or claustrophobic in the cabin.
Would I go again? Well, what promised to be a reasonably priced break turned out not to be so. So I would be very careful next time. I am informed that as cruises go this was very reasonable. For a break with nothing to do apart from eat and drink and sleep this fits the bill very well. You would be hard pushed to better it. I would, however, probably prefer a hotel/ beach holiday. A 10 day exec /luxury all inclusive hotel in Mauritius cost about the same on a deal.