This was our first ever cruise, 7 days on sea dream 2 It took place in the Med, august 2003
Here is our impression of this ship
Cabins: They are quite small. They are however, very comfortable, well furnished and clean. The shower room and toilet is small, but with mirrors and wall to wall marble, looks much bigger than it is. Shower is nice. Don't sit on the toilet and press the flush, you might get sucked away, its viciously efficient. You get a dvd player in the room, quite useful if you get a bit bored. ( they could not come up with the instruction book when asked ). The bed is really comfortable. Don't be put off by a room with portholes,( which are slightly cheaper.) it gives the room a nice nautical feel. The only negative point is the silly corporate video that runs constantly on one of the TV channels, where someone who sounds like an American car salesman, tells you how lucky you are to be on the ship, and how you can hire the ship out if you like and put family portraits on the walls if you do - listen to too much, and you will want to vomit.
Service and staff: The staff are really pleasant and helpful. Even the boys who clean the decks at 6am in the morning stop and say hallo, if you want them to, and proudly point out local sites. The waiting staff are really eager, sometimes a bit too helpful! Its unlikely that you will ever have a problem with service on this ship. I am impressed with this.
The Food: The food served on the ship is very excellent. Although they can't make fish and chips to save their lives, I would not hold that against them. You don't have to dress up like a penguin just to eat your evening meal. The ship often spends a night in port. We ate on shore occasionally, just for a change of scenery, not due to the quality of the food. Ignore the restaurants recommended by the ship, they will be expecting hoards of rich American and charge accordingly, but get a lonely plant/rough guide/cadogan guide and pick a real local eating place. You get a house wine, otherwise you have to pay for an item on the wine list. They are quite expensive. Try buying one on shore and drinking that, which is more interesting
Drinks: All drinks are included, except for the wine list. Experienced cruise people tell me this makes for a more relaxed atmosphere, when chatting and drinking with fellow passengers. The top deck bar is the best. Efficient and friendly bar staff, excellent cocktail knowledge. I wish I was a big drinker !
Entertainment: There isn't very much at all. Great for honeymooners!. Someone plays a piano and sings every night, apart from that, you can play with the other guests. Otherwise its the DVD collection. Its extensive, though you might want to bring some of your own.
The ship: There is a small swimming pool at the rear and sun deck. You can't swim very far, but it becomes a social centre if its too hot. The staff will serve you drinks by the pool. The top deck suffers from limited shade, apart from that is very nice. Gym is quite large. Restaurant feels a little closed in.
Water sports: The organisation of the water sports seems a little chaotic. This does not happen in every port of call. On our cruise, about 3 times in 7 days. There was only one jet ski operating, which is in huge demand. They ask you to sign silly American waiver forms, and then don't tell you how to use anything. They could be a little more imaginative and offer to ferry guests to some of the remote beaches near where the ship anchors. You of course get ferried to the port continuously.The boatmen who do this are again friendly and very helpful
Ports of call. The Mediterranean ones we visited (Corsica, Sardinia, sorrento, capri) were not really that interesting. Try hiring our a car in the port, (via the internet which is cheaper than the walk off the streets tourist rates) with AVIS etc. Then you can explore the country side and escape the tourist hoards.
Tips: All tips are included. Its not like an american hotel, where the staff are begging for money at every opportunity. However, if you do tip someone, they won't complain :) ! ( as the chief steward informed me after I had asked ). I did, and hats a rare event.
Other guests: On our cruise at least 50 percent were europeans. The remaining americans were fortunately not the typical american tourist (that is, very fat with loud mouthed children, all of whom are called Amy ).
Negative points: There are very few. The tours are predictably over priced. The captain certainly never leads people snorkeling, ( he could not swim ) as the promotional video suggests.
The transport arrangement from the ship to your airport / hotel are a rip off. They wanted 150 us dollars to transport people from Civitavecchia to Rome airport. A distance of only 40 miles. I hired a car one way. The locals thought this price was ridiculous, and suggested it was because they were hoping to rip off a pile of rich americans. (some people - though not me- had saved up for months this trip ). There is a direct train from Civitavecchia to Rome airport. The tour director seemed put out when passengers discovered this, and implied you would have to walk to the station, as the taxis would refuse to take you. no surprises there. Considering how much people pay to go on this cruise, I would have expected them to lay on a minibus. They can hire one from AVIS or others for very little. Why spoil an excellent cruise with a crap attitude at the end.
Other. We were reject for one cruise (silver seas) as my girlfriend was pregnant (28 weeks). From their web site, they appear not discriminate against pregnant women. So we didn't tell them and just got on, having told my girlfriend not to stand sidewise and to wear baggy clothes when boarding. No one complained. Its an ideal cruise for someone in this condition, however, you wouldn't do this in Africa, or if you had several days at sea continuously.
Buying your ticket. Experienced cruisers will not buy a ticket 5 days before as I did. One cheaper source was internet auctions. Several american passengers bought their tickets this way.
positive points. This cruise is like a long a lazy sunday afternoon, where nothing goes wrong or bugs you. The experience is similar to a large private yacht. I'd recommend it