This was our first TA and, hopefully, not our last! We sailed 16 days Ft. Lauderdale to Rome.
Smooth and easy from the port. Arrived at 11 AM and there were no lines to get checked in. Waited until noon before we were all let aboard by group numbers. Went to our room and dropped off our carry ons, called for reservations in the Canaletto and went to the MDR for lunch. Did tour of the ship. DH signed up for the spa package, which he used everyday.
We were in 7089 verendah . It was an upsell from a category G partially obstructed and were happy with the room. It was the cabin just behind the first verendah suites, just off the aft stairway. It was convenient to the MDR and the lido. The only negative was it was across from the maintainence closet and the closet where the ice maker was. There was noise from the steward getting the ice as early as 6 AM. Funny tho...I didn't notice it until the first port day, then I heard it every morning thereafter. I should have said something, but I usually went back to sleep and DH never heard it.
We did the anytime dining, ate around 6:30 and never had a wait longer than 4-5 minutes. We always ate with others and met some fascinating people that made the experience very enjoyable.
The food in the MDR was excellent, as usual. I was less impressed with the dinner food in the Lido. Besides the frustration of finding a table and never being able to get food and be on the same course as DH, it seemed that the food was just luke warm and, of course, the presentation was lacking. I didn't remember not having all the same choices and the MDR, but it seemed like there was a lot less and the dessert choices were few. Breakfast and lunch were great and there was never a lack of choices. We did prefer breakfast in the MDR. It is nice to be waited on and eat at the same time, like I mentioned before.
We got the 11+ Navigator wine package. It was 5 bottles, plus a Chef Rudi cabernet delivered to the room the first day, plus Pinnacle for two, two wine tastings and a gift of HA pewter wine charms. The bottle we had in the Pinnacle we did not finish and it could not be found the next night. The replaced it with a full bottle.
We ate at the Canaletto once. We were not impressed. I think food is better in the Lido...see above for my thoughts on that. We won't go back. Ate at the Pinnacle once and that was so worth it! Food was excellent and the service was spot on. We both had lobster and the creme brule and were stuffed.
Rolling seas started on the third day with 12-16 foot swells. The wind was behind us, so the ship just gently rocked side to side. DH has severe motion sickness problems, but did not have any difficulty at this point. There was a storm north of the ship and the captain kept us informed of the direction he was going in order to avoid rougher seas. The swells stayed with us, gradually increasing in height, but the ship handled it extremely well. We eventually had to head to our first port, Ponta Delgata but we had to bypass it due to the rough seas. That meant 9 straight days at sea before we got to the next port. We were disappointed, but one cannot control nature and the captain was not about to put us all in jeopardy just to get to the port. We continued to rock and roll and we were assured once we got into the Mediterranean Sea, it would be calmer...WRONG! Early evening before the last sea day we hit a major storm with 60 mile an hour winds and swells I am gauging to have been 20-25 feet(we weren't told how high they were). Doors to the outside were closed and we were told to keep the doors to the outside in our rooms closed. Plus it rained like crazy. The ship took on the up and down and rocking motion and that is when DH turned that peculiar shade of yellow/green. We slapped the patch on and he slept until it took effect...about 5 hours...and then was fine. The sea sick bags were by the elevators. I think alot of people just stayed in their cabins as the ship was pretty deserted. Next morning on disembarkation I saw a few elderly people with bruises on their faces. I would guess they fell trying to get about as you really had to hold on to something in order to walk. Not good for people with balance problems.
We went to most shows and really enjoyed them. We thought the quality was very good for the most part.
Lisbon: Took a half day tour to Obidos, then walked the city on our own. Rain showers on and off. Found a bistro with free wifi and spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening drinking good beer. Bought a bottle of wine to bring back on the ship. We left port at 11 AM next day, so just hung around the port in the morning.
Cadiz: Got tickets on the hop on bus to the old town. The minute we stepped off the bus, it started to rain and it poured for hours. We got soaked to the bone trying to get back to the bus. Of course, the rain stopped the minute we got to the bus stop by the port.
Malaga: Did the hop on bus again around town and found the cathedral, then walked and ate lunch at a cafe. It started to rain, so we made our way back to the ship.
Cartagena: Nice sunny day. Walked into town, first chance to shop for goodies to bring back. Ate lunch at outside cafe. All around nice day.
We had color for later disembarkation as we were staying in Rome for one night before taking off the next day. It went very smoothly, no problems.
Would we do a TA again? You bet! You roll the dice with the weather, especially in the spring. We talked to people who had done this exact cruise before and said the seas were like glass. Nine sea days in a row were a little too many. Six would have been perfect.
When we discussed HA with people who had sailed othere lines, the preferred HA to a person. Count me in with those people!