I took a future cruise credit while on the NCL BREAKAWAY this year, so took advantage of a great price to book this. I did the MAIDEN CRUISE on EPIC in 2010 which was not the best so wanted to try her out again.
I thought I would go a bit early and fly to ALICANTE and stay in BENIDORM where I have never stayed. I really got into the TV SERIES so booked the hotel they filmed it at. Sadly there was a derailment on my line so I had to go another way to get to LUTON AIRPORT. When I finally got there 11.05 the computers were down! there was a huge queue then they called a couple of flights. someone said they had called mine so I found someone and was told it was too late! I was really mucked about by EASYJET told to come back twice and just ignored! when I asked lady said I called your flight and you were not there! told to go home and rebook and pay again. I looked at the fares and booked SOUTHEND-BARCELONA. I already lost the 1st night at hotel and transfer. So booked another hotel. 2 days later I went and made the flight ok but my toothache came back. managed to get some ASPIRIN.
I stayed in BARCELONA 3 days and went around and did the CABLE CAR which there was a huge queue for.
CRUISE CRITIC organised a pre cruise dinner the night before the ship left at a tapas restaurant the price was really good and had some wine too.
GETTING TO SHIP.
After booking a taxi from the hotel we hit a traffic jam and driver dud not want to take to there we finally went up and had to come back to get to the ship.
I dropped my luggage at the drop off then was told I had to have the ESTA form(to get into the U.S.A) this was in my case so had to into a room to retrieve it as it was needed to check in. I was not told as a silver member I had faster check in so joined the main queue. Did not take too long and gave my debit card for my onboard charges. I never got a daily program or deck plans. After looking at changing some currency (they wanted 130 dollars minimum) so after the photo I boarded the ship. I asked if the cabins were ready was told it would be 1400. So I went to the GARDEN CAFE and had lunch(had to sit outside as it was crowded. No announcement was made at 1400 so I made my way to cabin 9287 on deck 9.
I booked a balcony cabin 9287 almost at the back of port side of deck 9.A good size cabin. Still had that tiny sink in the living room, but shower and toilet had doors on. A nice sofa but no arms making it hard to lie on. I sat on it and the footstool. plenty of drawer and wardrobe space. As you can still smoke on the balcony had to ask for an ashtray. 2 chairs and a small table on the balcony. It was quite secluded and covered unlike others that could be seen from above which I hate. A nice queen size bed that was actually 2 beds pushed together. A nice soft leather headboard, had problems with air conditioning(it was so cold even on hot!) this was sort of fixed and a light bulb had to be replaced. My phone also could not leave messages on(not sure if everyone had that or just mine?) twice my steward never made my bed till 6pm despite putting a sign up.
A great idea of having files for every cabin rather than looking for hours trying to find your picture. Got a free folio and ship picture but as SILVER MEMBER could not get the discount if I wanted the folio.
AS a silver member did not get much, 15extra mins in the internet café was all I got.
Did this at 4pm at MANHATTAN RESTAURANT, no life jacket needed which is such a good idea. It did not take too long despite it being done in several languages.
CRUISE CRITIC had organised a meet up for sailaway only found 2 people and it was so noisy on the poor deck I left to watch us depart. We left a bit late, there were 2 ships in front but the way the ship is cannot see in front and missed them leave. I saw "SAGA RUBY" leave atb the back which was nioce as she is being scrapped soon.
No charge restaurant are GARDEN CAFE(BUFFET) O SHEEHAN;s,TASTE,and MANHATTAN. These are ok but all apart from the buffet are mostly the same menu all the time with a couple of changes this is ok on short cruises but on long one you run out of something new especially for lunch where its mostly TASTE which is the same all the time. so so service I must say sometimes never ask if you want a drink, almost always have to ask to get coffee or tea. Also it ids hard to get a table to share with others and a few times including my birthday I was put on a table on my own. There was a solo get together at 1815 everyday nothing was said about a dinner together after. I only found out on the last day. Also at certain time on freestyle you had tom wait till they bleeped you to get a table(you did get a get a free drink though)
The other restaurants where a cover charge was required was much better. I tried CIRQUE DREAMS and DINNER which was really worth the money, MODERNO(BRAZILAN) was huge but too many courses(10) of different meats, The other one I used was TEPPENAKI I like this where they cook right in front of you(sadly I was not very hungry!)
There was a good choice just a hassle you had to book them. saw CIRQUE DREAMS, BLUEMAN GROUP which was very good, ass was both LEGENDS, ADELE,TOM JONES,KATY PERRY,ELVIS. HYPNOTIST was also good but the MAGICIAN/comedian not so good.
THINGS TO DO ONBOARD.
Personally I did not think much of things which were not really my scene. DEALOR NO DEAL-at $20 a card too dear! Port talks were good as was the one of the old transatlantic ships. Did the walk around deck but it is just up and back of one deck. Also the gym was good plenty of equipment and easy to use.
PORTS OF CALL.
FUNCHAL(MADEIRA) I had a friend who took me around the island, and ST THOMAS I was hoping to have more time there but queue for 90 mins for immigration meant I only had 3 hrs there.
Had to get our own luggage labels(could have picked any I guess?) I tried to get into the showlounge which was impossible and no anuncement were made on pa a lady seemed to had to do it. when we got the call had to try to get to the end of the queue when it finally moved got off ok and found my luggage ok.
It was a good cruise could feel the motion a bit in only force 4 wonder it would be like in rough seas! could not get onto a sunbed as they were being held for hours by people going somewhere else.
Buffet was too crowded could not find food easily, so had to go outside which was very poor selection, only used the dining room once for breakfast as can only get SWISS MUESLI in the buffet.
Personally do not like the ship a lot as no promenade the newer ships are better.