This was our 20th cruise, the 5th with Royal Caribbean, and was one of the best.
We took advantage of being able to board in Marseilles to visit the Provence area of France for 2.5 days flying in early Saturday morning, June 22nd. We rented a car and visited Avignon viewing the Palace of the Popes. It was well worth the time as it's in wonderful condition with plenty of information to enjoy the visit. We had dinner at Restaurant Phillip in Fountaine-de-Vaucluse which was simply brilliant. May sound complicated to do, but it is really a unique location on a river-rapids that was special with wonderful food and service. Attended the Sunday morning market in D'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue that was huge and fascinating. Drove to Aix-en-Provence to enjoy a free evening community band concert and parade then driving back to Marseilles to board the ship on Monday, June 24.
Embarkation was perfect and ideal for our travel needs, but when the ship and personnel are in embarkation mode in other locations like Rome and Genoa, it is a 'different feeling'. But the multiple locations did really enhance our cruise and travel experience.
We enjoyed the Legend of the Seas in a junior suite to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. The extra room, larger balcony and fine service added to our enjoyment.
In Barcelona, we booked an onshore excursion; a 'Tapas restaurant crawl' through Spanish Trails, which was great. Read their reviews on Trip Advisor. Well worth the extra time to do something different in the port. In Mallorca, we took a cab to the Soller train station and took the 100 year old train thru the mountains to the town of Soller and Port Soller. Fun and easy.
In Valencia, we took the underground river tour offered by the ship and that was really unique and interesting. The odds are you haven't done this before. In Genoa, we visited Portofino with the ship. It was nice to see, but crowded. The boat rides on the sea were refreshing.
Back in Marseilles, we took a tour to Cassis since we had a later plane flight. OK, but not enough time in the port and the guide did not give us any guidance on things we could have done except to wander around the port area. There were things that could have been done that would have been more interesting that looking at shops and boats.
We thought the food onboard was very good. Our waiter was outstanding and our table mates made the entire dining experience very enjoyable.
We did not go to either specialty restaurant, but did purchase the Chef's Table experience. It was $70 each, and you need to look for that price, but it was really worth the money as the dinner was in a private dining room. The chef came and explained the preparation of each special dish, none of which were available anywhere else, and the wine sommelier explained each of the FIVE wines that accompanied the five courses. A 'free' cocktail table sized cookbook and apron completed the evening. But, as in many situations like this, the people at our table made this entire event special. We all got along brilliantly as each one had something interesting to say and added to the evening tremendously.
As opposed to the previous review, we were not crowded nor did we have really any issues to find seats, or good service.
But it wasn't perfect. RC has apparently decided that adding Grey Goose vodka to a Bloody Mary and charging over $8.00 is a great idea. Adding very expensive Prosecco to an Aperol Spritz and charging $10 is the way to move up the luxury scale. (These were the drink menu offerings and prices)
Island Oasis drink mixes, which they use, are really very poor to begin with, and with this new philosophy of drink mixology, it made the 'let's have a [good] drink' part of the cruise non-existant.
Yet that can be fixed if they want to and other passengers find the options steep and not very tasty. We will leave that to them and to the cruising public.
Disembarkation, since we went with a tour, and got the 'stickers' from the excursion desk so we didn't have to lug our bags to the assembly point, went very well.
Overall, one of the very best of our cruises, with the chance meetings and enjoyment of the people around us, both passengers and staff, made this a special occasion. Cruise on.