We sailed from Dubai, having had a casual greeting on arrival at the terminal. No great welcome, more a were you on the last leg and we've missed you? OK 1500 passengers, and a very pleasant staff, but just no feeling of anyone in control.
I was amazed that our luggage was already in our cabin when we entered, so a positive start after our non-greeting on arrival, but quickly followed by a disappointment when we discovered there was no fridge! However, ice was available in copious amounts, so we made sure that we always had plenty of cold water and drinks by buying a cold box, which we kept filled with ice throughout the time on board.
First stop Abu Dhabi, and.a rather chaotic start, with maybe a shuttle bus, maybe not! Many people waited ages for a bus to take them to a local shopping mall 8 km away, but a shuttle bus to the port gates entailed a shorter wait of about 20 minutes.
Port information was poor throughout the cruise, and the point of docking was only shown on the map on two occasions, making it difficult to make any last minute decisions about where to walk to or visit. This was a recurring theme, with ship excursions being pushed and little other information available.
We did try a couple of excursions, but the organisation was poor, with getting from ship to bus a real bun fight, with staircases blocked for lengthy periods and on one occasion, coinciding with a ship exercise for staff, which cancelled any use of lifts when passengers in wheelchairs and with walking difficulties were trying to go down 4 decks to access the buses!
On one of the excursions we took, one of the places to visit was missed completely, and the tour which was advertised to last 4.5 hours was completed in less than 3.5
This was not the general case however, as many of the excursions were more than 2 hours late, ensuring the late departure of the ship on several occasions! Excursions were expensive and not good value, and in the case of Komodo Island $ 120 for an excursion which lasted 1.25 hours!
Drinks were pricey, with not all information forthcoming. Eventually we managed to work out that it was cheaper to buy beer by the bucket from room service and also to ask for house wine, which was not advertised in bar menus!
The dining room was pleasant with adequate service, but there is a secret to getting a table for 2, if like us, you prefer to eat without having to be polite to absolute strangers. For the first few nights we failed to find the secret to solitary eating, but having been told that if we called, we could reserve a table. So we called, only to be told that there were no tables available to reserve for the next 5 nights and that it was unlikely there would be one available after that as most tables had a rolling reservation! Our secret was a show down with the dining room manager, which resulted in a permanent reservation of a table for 2 for the duration of the cruise.
Whilst the ship was beautiful with large cabins and good public areas, there was always a feeling that we were an inconvenience to the staff!
The cabin steward walked in to our cabin without a reply to his knock on at least 6 occasions and always before 8 in the morning. Well we were on holiday, so didn't feel that we had to be up at the crack of dawn every day! If that didn't get us moving then the vacuum cleaner in the corridor outside was an alternative method to make sure we were out and about so the cabin could be cleaned at his convenience, not ours!
Bar staff didn't seem overly keen to get your order, with a 15% service charge automatically added to your drinks bill, they didn't need it fight each other to get our custom!
Whilst the dining room staff were generally pleasant and efficient, leaks in the roof of the Lido buffet area didn't help, as there were wet floors and warning signs almost permanently, as after all we were in the tropics and we expected some rain! Some of the chefs who served behind the buffet were quite offhand on occasions, seeming to be more interested in their own conversations than the needs of the guests. However the food was excellent, wherever you chose to eat.
Now I wouldn't want you to think that we didn't enjoy this trip, because we did, finding the ship very nice. We chilled out well, but were disappointed in the lack of apparent supervision, with the senior staff obviously well above our station as they rarely appeared anywhere in public. We did get announcements from the Captain, mostly giving us the daily excuse for our late departure for each port ( well not every port but about 75%of them). Excuses ranged from medical emergency to late tours stuck in traffic, to paperwork,to government officialdom............
All in all a good cruise but not a company that I would be in a hurry to cruise with again!