We flew to Rome on flights arranged through RCI which included transfers. This was a good decision and RCI staff were waiting in the luggage reclaim area. After reclaiming our bags we handed them to the RCI staff and next saw them outside our room. The journey to the port took about 50 minutes , check in was quick and we were immediately able to deposit our hand luggage in our room before heading to the Windjammer for lunch.
Our cabin was an inside on deck 6. The cabin was comfortable and adequate for our needs but was showing obvious signs of wear - paint chipped and peeling, shower screen was cracked and tears in the padded wall near the bed. We only saw our room attendant on day 1 and again mid week when we bumped into her in a corridor.
Food. We had 3 breakfasts in the dining room , 3 in the Windjammer and 1 room service. Dining room and room service were good but we felt Windjammer food wasn't as good as we've experienced on other cruises.
We had my time dining and ate all our meals in the MDR. I had booked times before sailing but we went in earlier on a few nights which was fine. We had the same friendly wait teAm every night. Food was ok but range seemed more limited and quality average. We bought a wine package but had long waits most nights while the assistant waiter went to the wine store to recover any left over wine. Apparently on this ship wait staff are not given advance notice of bookings and hence the delays which again we have not experienced on other ships.
Bar service very efficient and friendly. We liked the schooner bar best.
Entertainment was the usual range of magicians, jugglers, RCI dancers and singers and one decent soul singer. The ice show was great. Captains welcome back party was bizarre as it was held in the theatre and everyone sat in rows facing the stage. We were given drinks but no canapés and there was no chance to socialise with passengers or staff. On this boat the officers seemed very distant and didn't make much effort to engage guests. Again this was different to our previous experiences.
We mainly spent time in the solarium which was pleasant and comfortable. There are a lot of tannoy announcements on this ship and we'd suggest they consider reducing these as on Celebrity ships. Mainly because it would be less disruptive but also because many of them were so loud it is impossible to hear them!
Hand hygiene was not given massive prioritisation. Not visibly encouraged except by a very entertaining waiter in the Windjammer and on a number of occasions all 3 sanitisers at the entrance to the MDR were empty. We reported this but the staff member did not seem interested.
Wi-fi is available in a small number of hotspots around the ship but did not appear to be very effective. The ship does not have dedicated IT staff in the Internet cafe and advice is allegedly available at guest relations. We spent 3 days trying to purchase an internet package and made a number of visits to guest relations before giving up and deciding to use free wifi in the ports which was very easy to find.
The ports were obviously the highlights of our trip.
In Messina we used the ships transfer to Taormina where we pottered around for 3 hours and had a lovely lunch. The public gardens are well worth a visit.
Athens - ship docked in terminal B. We walked to the gate - took about 10 mins on a well paved and safe path where we caught a hop on hop off bus . We visited Acropolis and Plaka district before picking up the bus again. 2 bus companies vying for business and we were offered a discount by one of them.
Kusadasi - we went on a ships tour to Ephesus. This was excellent and very interesting. Thankfully we'd chosen a trip that visits the terrace houses which are just amazing. This part of the tour was led by an archeologist with 40 years experience of working at Ephesus. The trip included a visit to a carpet workshop back in a Kusadasi but we and others managed to avoid this.
Chania - we used the local bus costing 3 euro return to get into town. Interesting Venetian harbour surrounded by lots of cafés and restaurants.
We had a relaxing and enjoyable week but this cruise lacked the sparkle and sadly on this occasion the wow factor cards stayed firmly in the envelope.