Embarking was a breeze because our plan was late (and luggage lost) into Venice. Delta was wonderful in re-routing us and upgrading us to first class when JFK had thunderstorms-- with 10 minutes to spare we caught our plan to Amsterdam and landed in Venice around 4:30 pm. After registering our lost luggage, we caught the Bus and used the people mover to the ship. Walked right onto the ship.
We were fortunate to have booked the cruise with the 1-2-3 incentive. (paid gratuity, classic drinking package and ship board credit) Suggestion for $10 more a day up can upgrade the drinking package to Premium. So well worth it given the quality of wine or mix drinks-- more on that later.
Room- Veranda with obstructive view. On the S class ships it matters little. You still have a great view. If you want to see Venice at sail away have your room on the port side. Because we arrived late we never "met" our room Steward, yet whenever he passed us in the hall, he called both our names- amazing. Room service was wonderful and breakfast was always brought at the time specified.
Entertainment- S Class ships have 3 over the top shows with acrobats. All were good. The other entertainment was less memorable.
This ship has many wonderful bars and a variety of wines. With the Premium service we could order what we want. Our wine Steward just brought us a bottle each night at dinner (if you like Zen- Dry creek is great at works since it is 12 dollars a glass. The martini bar stayed busy while the molecular bar was empty. Suzanni was excellent and wonderful to chat with. Try the drinks at Molecular- they are different and good.
we did not eat at the specialty restaurants. We are vegans, but for this cruise we simply became Vegetarians which works well since most dishes have cheese. The main dining room has a separate menu (2 entrees) along with the regular menu. We did fine. The maitre'd even arranged for a special meal for our 30th anniversary. Our travel agent arranged a window and dining for 2 so we really enjoyed our late dinner. Service and food presentation was A Plus-- even for "vegetarians. I suspect if you were expecting a large steak or lobster ever night- you would need to eat in one of the specialty restaurants.
We had so much ship board credit we shopped on the last night of the cruise. All specials are brought back on the last night of sailing.
Ports. Because there were 11 ports and 13 days most people were off the ship by 9 am and returning from their tours around 4:00 pm. It was nice to stay on the ship on several of the ports and enjoy the Solarium and the hot tubs.
Venice (overnight) We had tickets to the Secret room of the Doges Palace and we toured St Marks square. Very nice. Do not miss the sail away
Koper- private tour of the capital and Lake Bled. It was nice to get out in the country
Ravenna. We had been here on a Rick Steve tour. So we stayed on board and enjoyed the pool
Split Private tour- Really enjoyed Kirka and the waterfalls. It was a wonderful day. If had been a really hot day, it could have been not so wonderful. Nice place to walk around.
Kotor.. nice town to walk around on your own. I would suggest paying 15 EU for one of the many boat tours easily arranged once you get off the ship. As many have said great place to either get up early and watch the sail in or see the same thing on the sail away. It was nice to dock right at the town.
Dubrovnik Be prepared for the crowds! Everyone wants to walk the wall. I would skip it and simply get lost in the wonderful back walls of the city. Maybe on a cool day the wall would be great-- but it is steep and HOT
Bari easy town to walk to and simply walk around.
Corfu Easy town to walk around
Valletta, Malta Strongly suggest booking ahead of time on your on the HYPOGEUM. Very limited ticketing. We had a wonderful 4 hour private tour to Medena (really nice walled city) and several nice towns and digs) 4 of us also had tickets for the 1 hour tour of the HYPOGEUM.
Catania,sicily,italy. We stayed on the ship but everyone enjoyed the Volcano and the small village near the volcano.
Amalfi Coast (Salerno),Italy. See Pompeii and arrive at 8:30 am before the crowds and the heat; also rent a guide- well worth it. Our private tour then saw the coast. This was one place we did eat lunch off the ship. try the Caprice salad! It is "milky" smooth.
Rome (end of cruise) We had 2 extra nights in Room. I suggest enjoy Rome early in the morning (St. Peter's) and late night walks-- Rome comes to life at night.
carry your luggage if you can off the ship-- no hassles and you can leave whenever you want
Go to the wine and cheese when they offer it on the lawn. If the wind is calm, the ship is slow and the weather is good the music and the night is delightful. If it is held it will be around 7:30 pm. Not crowded and nice music.
If you have the classic drinking package; upgrade it to premium on board for $10 more a day. Service remains the same since the 15% tip has already been taken care of
Enjoy the ship- don't think you have to do every port every day. remember you are on vacation. The hot tubs and pools are empty on port days
Consider dining late on port intensive cruises. Who wants to rush back from a land tour just to dine.
Obstructive veranda's on S class ships are a bargain and your view is great
Go to the three BIG shows--Choose which other shows suit your taste.
Tell your waiter what you like and what you don't. We were Vegans and well taken care of.
GRIPE--- only one Several ports required busing to the city center. It seemed cheap that Celebrity charged for a 1-3 mile bus trip.
On this cruise there were many Serbians-- they were GREAT! Our Wine Steward and bar tender in Molecular were fun to talk with and provided us the BEST service in 22 cruises.
Finally let me say that service, presentation, and fun factor was outstanding. With the captain's humor, the great service and super ports everyone seemed to have a great time. 13 days of sunshine did not hurt either!