As the saying goes. “ you can please some of the people all the time, you can please all the people some of the time, but you’re never going to please all the people all the time”
Me & the OH were very pleased, so this is what I saw, heard and tasted, and others will have their own views.
Arrived about midday at So’ton as noticed on motorway sign. Easy parking, baggage taken away by van, then a stroll to terminal building. No queues in either line, paper work was already completed prior to check-in, all handed over, next thing seapass in hand and told to board. Bucks fizz or Champers(?) when boarded, most people just milling around chatting etc, it couldn’t have been no more than half hour when an announcement was made that state rooms were ready.
We had a CC Aft stateroom and were very impressed. Our stateroom staff were Michael & Sanjit, very good team, their presence noticeable but discreet, and the room was always turned out nice.
The ship looked huge and was very impressive. I found the ship easy to navigate; outside all the lifts were deck plans for help and then there was always the helpful, smiling staff if you were not sure. It was just over a minutes’ walk from the lift to the Aft cabins (depending on your health and physical ability)
Dumped carry on’s in cabin then went to Bistro on Five, $5.00 cover charge well worth it, if your appetite could justify it, you could have eaten the whole menu, but we settled for soup, crepes and dessert (with extra ice cream,) tasty food and enjoyable experience. (We ate there a few times during the cruise).
Main dining; we had select dinning which was via the 4th deck, we turned up at various times and had no problem getting a table, they varied from 8, 4 and 2. The times that we did dine there the food was good and enjoyable. There was one dish that was a bit misleading, my friend ordered an appetiser which was a scallop dish (fancy name) when it arrived it was three paper thin slices of a scallop, not a whole one as mentioned, if it was written as slices of scallop no problem, but when it says a scallop, you expect a scallop. Must admit it didn’t affect me I had Escargot.
Most mornings we had breakfast delivered, the loveliest poached eggs we’ve eaten, my OH couldn’t get enough of them. Had to laugh at the toast, I’m sure some days they just showed the bread to the toaster, on others they did only one side (to us it was not a big problem).We ordered via the TV and the paper menu, nothing was missing from either way.
Also we ate in the Ocean View Café, I must admit, if someone could not find something to their liking then they are very fussy eaters, I enjoyed various curries, Sushi, pizza slices, fruit and their little patisseries, almost forgot the ice cream. Although not regular burger eaters we tried one from the Mast grill, and found them to be very tasty, indeed we had a couple more throughout the cruise.
As it was our 30th Wedding anniversary, I had booked a special package prior to sailing, stewards done a good job on the room on the day, the OH very impressed. For the evening, I had booked the Tuscan Grill and it happened to be on a formal night (so best bib & tucker) were worn. There were four in our group and all had thoroughly enjoyable time, the food was excellent, wine was nice and the staff did a brilliant job, they had a good sense of humour and gave as good as they got. We also ate there on the last night of the cruise as a belated birthday meal, again an excellent evening and would like to thank Murat the manager and his staff for looking after us both times.
Entertainment: We did a couple of shows; we enjoyed them, also went to themed evening ‘Motown’ again very enjoyable and had a laugh with another couple.
Personally did not see anyone being rude to staff, but did hear from some people that it did happen, (so there’s no smoke without fire). What I did see was on a sea day, very busy on open deck for sun beds. A couple had made themselves comfortable by taking up four sun beds and it went like this. One on a sun bed, spare sun bed another on sun bed then spare sun bed. A determined couple sought the spare beds; well the next thing the elderly male gets up moves the beds huffing and puffing, then throws his shoes and stuff under his bed. The other couple didn’t react just put their beds together and chilled out. So with over 2800 people you’re going to get rude people from all walks of life.
Ports of call:
Malaga. Having been here before we did our own thing, there is a HOP on/off buss which is easy to do. I went around Alcazaba of Málaga and next to the entrance are ruins of a Roman theatre .
Ville Franche. (Monte Carlo & Monaco) A tender port, we did a ships tour, I’ll leave it there.
Monte Carlo & Monaco are really interesting places, as usual could have had more time there. On the day we were there, it was the 31st anniversary of the death of Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly) . In Monaco we had a stroll around the Japanese Garden, very nice.
Civitavecchia. Eight of us did a private tour (great crowd). Great guide, interesting sites like Coliseum, Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, Iinsula romana dell'ara coeli and much more, Again time flew quickly and a revisit is in order.
Livorno. Did a DIY train ride to Pisa, this was on a Sunday. Have to say the Italians have a weird train service, train showing Pisa destination 10:10 at the allotted time Pisa cancelled and Grosseto in the opposite direction is the destination. Managed to get to Pisa, Pizza del Duomo (Leaning Tower etc) is surrounded by hawkers selling fake watches, jewellery and umbrellas. Police were there, but seemed to be looking out for other nefarious activities.
Genoa. We did a HO/HO bus around the city very informative, the OH did a bit of shopping, and the wallet felt the pain (ouch).
Gibraltar; a pleasant walk from the ship to the shopping area, ouch my wallet again. Mind you I did purchase something for myself, that’s double ouch… . Shopping is good here and prices are not bad, Plenty of alcohol, jewellery and perfumes shops here! They take UK pounds and Euros.
Lisbon: Out on the balcony as we went under the Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge), you could hear the tyres of the vehicles passing over head quite easy. Made our way up to Praça Dom Pedro IV, were we had arranged to meet my sister and husband (he being Portuguese was very handy). We had a little walk and he pointed out a few things and then it was off to dinner. I must admit, it was a place that tourist would not find, it looked closed and was down some steps. My wife and sister had fillet of fish and rice, my brother in-law and I had cozido a portuguesa a local dish consisting of pigs ear, trotter, blood sausage, shin of beef, Kale, turnip and potatoes, and a couple of bottles of red wine, a very filling meal. Walked towards Elevador de Santa Justa which is a 45 meter (148 foot) high metal tower with lift (€5), which takes you from the lower street of Baixa to the high area of Carmo Square,via a gantry. More shops to look at, then stopped for a beer, the local students were marching around and shouting, apparently the senior students shout orders and the new intake have to react, like laying on the floor and quoting something. .
Sailed home from Lisbon to Southampton it was quite strange very foggy and all you could here was the fog horn. Docked early morning, bags were packed and put out the last evening. Given disembarkation instructions, turned up ten minutes before time (7am), off ship, picked up cases and back home by 8.30am. Fantastic.