This was our first ever cruise, celebrating our Silver Wedding Anniversary and our first holiday for 23 years without one of the kids. Everyone who'd been on a cruise had told us how good they were, but we were still a bit apprehensive.
We shouldn't have worried - everything about the cruise exceeded our expectations.
As it was a special occassion we booked a suite. The accommodation was great, spacious, well furnished, lots of wardrobe space and with great facilities - easily comparable to a 5 star hotel in Oxford we stayed in a couple of years ago. Our cabin steward Jumari was so attentive and helpful and helped us settle in very easily, and the little details (like the towel animals!) made a great impression.
We found the eating options to be very good - first night we "played safe" and ate in the Lido, which was more than satisfactory, but ate most nights in the Meridian. We certainly enjoyed sharing tables with others, and had the pleasure to meet and chat with a range of other couples from around the UK, with no awkwardness at all. We had one meal in Mistral's - wow! Superb, so good, so worth the extra cost (You wouldn't get a meal of that quality in the UK for that price)
We took breakfast at the Lido, great options across a range of foods, and really attentive service from the staff providing coffee and clearing tables. The other food services were also great, and the afternoon teas were outstanding.
Bar service was generally pretty good - you can't avoid queues in busy times! - and the staff were unbelievably pleasant to everybody. There were some real characters amongst the staff, and they helped make the week an unforgettable experience
The entertainment was superb, with West End quality voices and great variety. Check out the Crew Night, there are so many talented people among the non entertainment staff
We took several excursions, and found them valuable and interesting, especially as we were visiting some areas that haven't been on the western tourist trail for very long (though be aware of the toilet arrangements at the Malakhov Hill, which are "interesting")
Overall, we were really impressed, and will be joining those people encouraging others to go on a cruise after our really positive experience. Every member of the ships's crew was so friendly and attentive, it really made our trip so special, and we met some really nice people.
I have seen some more negative reviews, and while I accept that we had no previous cruise to compare I can only make the point that this sceptic enjoyed possibly the most perfect holiday ever