splendida 7 nights, western Mediterranean
Family of 6, 2 adults and 4 kids 11,12, girls and 15,17 boys embarked in marseille dec 8 th 2013.
We had 4 in bunks on the 5 th deck inside and a king opposite on deck 5 with an ocean view. In the ocean view room you only heard the air con ( very slightly, like a low hum, nothing to keep you awake) and in the inside cabin you heard low engine noise, I'm so glad the kids were in there and we had upgraded to ocean view for $350 nzd.
It was so worth it. The kids use their iPods , so never hear the noise.
Also the ocean view room was bigger, one more wardrobe and a lounge chair (kids had one chair, we had 2) and a longer desk, so well worth it for the space and being able to watch docking from bed, seeing what the weather was like, or just watching the stars at night or the coast lines as we passed with their lights.
There is a 500 mm shelf In front Of the window so you can lean on that and look out with the cushions they give you for the bed. It was wonderful. We also had a room on the side that the boat followed the coast line so at 5 am when you are awake with excitement you can see the lights of the costa brava etc, better than an ocean/ sea only view only. ( we were going anti clockwise around the Mediterranean so were on the right hand side )
Ask for a cabin to face ' your' coast line.
We didn't get a drinks package, as we don't drink alcohol or coffee, but caved on the first night as all thirsty at dinner, so bought 14 mineral bottles of water for 26€ and made the kids drink heaps of water from the bathroom before going so it would last the trip.
The bathroom water is the same as the water in the bora bora cafeteria and they have glasses in the bathroom so you have access to water. Some reviews made out there were no drinks anywhere free
But buy one filter bottle and if you don't like the taste filter it into your glass that way. Takes that ' chlorine ' taste out of it,
If you have kids, get them drink bottles and just use the one filter bottle ( as they are $$) to fill their bottles from the bathroom or from bora bora water. ( which tastes better as it is colder)
That water is nice, but I always add ice, so not sure if it is slightly more filtered in the restaurant than the bathrooms, it shouldn't be, it should all be the same.
Water, tea and coffee and milk are in bora bora always, juice..if you can call it juice, is breakfast only.
We ate breakfast and lunch in bora bora and in villa and reggia. We could sit and dine anytime, during breakfast or lunch, but Dinner we got late seating (8.30pm, early sitting 6pm) in villa which is what I asked for.
It was brilliant, food superb. Bora bora plentiful and looked great just sometimes the taste was a little weird, ie the gnocchi , being an Italian ship should be mouth watering. It was rubbery, no flavour to a lot of things, just bland. Bacon seems deep fried and too hard to eat sometimes, but
The desserts were always good in bora bora or the 2 restaurants ( there is one paying restaurant...Mexican. It was always empty)
But it served it's purpose, there was always something there ( open 6 am till 2 am) teenagers could get full. And enjoyed it. I was spoilt with villa once for breakfast and then didn't go back to bora if I didn't have too ! Once you have fine dining for breakfast and lunch..why eat cool / cold food with the hoards!
The food in villa and reggia. Always of a higher quality. Warm plates , hot food. 7 courses order as much as you want.. All 4 mains if you fancy. Sometimes the translation wasn't quite right, ie a vanilla and almond tart was actually just a custard tart... But with no base But usually it was very edible and portions were not small like some have stated. I would say medium size pasta course, normal soup dish size etc if you had all 7 which I did do sometimes, I rolled out. The sizes are fine. If you have one main course, then yes, you will go to bora bora afterwards for a feed like my kids did even after 7 courses.
It was nice to have fine dining for free. Kids enjoyed it and our waiter Dominic from India a legend .
We would go to the 7pm theatre show ( lasted 45 mins, late show 9pm) and then the sports bar to watch English football ( champions league was on the week we sailed...grrr) or back to cabin to get dressed for dinner.
It is Sunday best more than cocktail dresses. And some just casual h&m attire.
We tried to look smart at least for gala nights, kids in suits etc
The shows, if any songs , were in English which was good. The purple bar had an Italian singer but she sang English songs, the other places had piano men not singing or a string quartet with no singing or if there was it was opera and you don't mind that in Italian!
The announcements at the beginning of each show are in 5 languages and also at the end .
But that was ok.
At genoa they announced the life jacket drill in your room, even though everyone was in the theatre. What the? So much for a quick sleep at 5 pm. Half an hour of different languages,..now tie the vest like this...ay? I'm not even there.
We had ours when we got in 6 days ago.
They didn't do it for Rome or Barcelona in your cabins just genoa. I rang reception and said..what the!!?? They said 1000 people got on, so....!?? Shut mine off...I've heard it.
We had 2600 on board, 1500 less than usual. It was great because of that. I would hate to be in the boat with it full. Italians seem to say 15 words for the 3 we might use ie 'that's great' , turns into 2 mins of yelling with their hands. After a week, I was over it. I missed hearing English and engaging in conversation with people. If you were a single traveller who didn't speak Italian or Russian and weren't seated with other single people at dinner, it would be a lonely cruise.
There were no lift problems, no pushing, shoving, a high Chinese contingent, but they smoked themselves in the casino so didn't see them.
Couldn't hear anyone in cabins next to us but there may not have been anyone.
The restaurants had tables empty, it was just very relaxed.
We liked eating in Pago Pago, at the back of the boat. The best views.
It is bora bora...but called a new name half way down .
When it is really busy they use the back as a ' posh' restaurant
Kids had no problems playing table tennis, squash, fusball, basketball, as no teens/ kids on board. Maybe about 25 all up.
Our kiwi kids met one family with teen Ozzie girls otherwise the odd French boy playing play station in the evening with my kids.
Not much to do really, but the pools weren't full, due to weather..very calm and sunny, ( 12-16 deg) but not many in indoor pool and no one in the outdoor ones. ( there are 2 and one inside) 10 hot tubs around the boat.
They were usually full but if you picked a good time you could find at least one empty.
2 on the back deck are good for when you are sailing out if the cities.
Internet was 60 mins 16€ ( we didn't use it) movies 7€ on tv which is a ripe off! why not free? There are 2 English news channels...and national geographic sometimes , the rest sport or Russian/ Italian/ German , why not give us some movies to watch as there is nothing to do on board but sit in a hot pool.
Some salsa lessons are free, but that's it, even bingo costs. You can't sit on the deck, you have to lie down as only sun loungers there.
So if you want to sit and read a book you can't really..unless you lie down.
The f1 simulator was 8 € , the 4 d cinema was 6€ there are space invader machines 1€
We gave the 4 kids teen cards with 30€ on each and told them to enjoy.
They did... Mostly on space invader / shooting things.
Hubby and I had a game of bowling €6 for 10 balls ( or 5 ' plays')
And a gelato each for 2.5€ for 3 flavours, and watched the sun set leaving Sicily, and bought a cake from the pizzeria plaza type place, for 1.90€ seemed to cheap not too. They were huge slices so bought 2 different ones and shared it as a family. They were yum, but didn't need to go back once done it. The desserts and afternoon tea eclairs and tarts were ample and very tasty, we never went to the bars and bought anything.
Laundry: 20 garments for 25€
We brought a clothes line ( plastic with wire inside it , 1€ on board with us ) and some pegs and washing powder, and we didn't wash jeans etc but underwear and tops and ran the clothes line around the 2 lounge chairs at night and the stuff was dry by morning ( as was your skin, use moisturiser...Central air con!)
There is a clothes line in the shower, would fit 2 swimming costumes but if you brought some cheap wire hangars you could wash 5 -10 tops and hang them up to dry that way. Wouldn't fit just on the line as too small even pegged. The hangars in wardrobes are stuck in there, so bring a few of your own, or buy some in a port and throw them later
We did it twice in our room and kids run their line around the 2 bunk safety bars between the two beds and their knickers dried.
We brought a small torch for next to our bed incase of lights going out and we could get to kids room. Didn't need it, but handy to know it was there.
Cruise gets busy after 15 th dec and Christmas and new year..nuts.
A guy we met got flights from gatwick to genoa and a balcony cabin for him and the mrs £400 each. Jammy git! I'ld do it again if we could get that type of price!!
Marseille port bus was on strike when we arrived, cab was €20 plus bags.
Barcelona 3.50€ return on port bus to city
Tunisia ( La Goulette ) we didn't risk scaring our little girls with men groping them so we just had a camel ride at the dock and looked through the souk there. ( use camel in souk, not near the boat. Much better ride..longer) It was perfect.
Sicily, you dock right in the city, we just walked up and within 5 mins realised..what a dump and went to mcdonalds for wifi and then back to the boat
Rome free msc bus to entrance to port DO NOT WAlK , too far, train station then a 20 min walk, 6€ one way 1.20 hr train ride to Rome,
Got off at St. Peter's had a look inside, and then walked to colosseum, took about an hour but was great to see the sites. Then a tram back to one of the train stations on the Pisa line, that stops at the port where the ship is ( Rome is south and inland from the boat)
Like a tgv but dirty and seats not as nice, but ok. Would get to 170 km/h
Genoa walked to aquarium, about 20 mins and went on the cho cho train for 7€ adults €3.5 for kids for 40 mins around the city. Was brilliant.
Aquarium 23€ too Exy.
Then went for a brilliant hot chocolate for 15 € for 6 of us and free wifi, so much better than on the boat as we spent 2 hrs..6 of us destroying their board band width!
Hot chocs in the port of Rome were 20€ -and 26€ for Spain.
So 15 € and nice and chocolatey was a good buy.
We put a Christmas dec and a Maori art work on the doors so we could easily spot our door out of 100 as we walked along the corridor.
Just used some blu tak.
Helped us, but especially the kids find their room quickly . No counting of room numbers needed.
A great tip we got off cruise critic.
Body wash and shampoo in dispense bottles on wall in shower, NO conditioner. Bring your own if you need conditioner.
Bring a 4 /6 power board thing, and one travel European plug. Charge everything then
We got a 1€ over the door wall hook! with 5 hooks on which we used on a wardrobe door, as couldn't attach to bathroom door as it had a weird door on, but we could hang scarfs, belts, hats, swimmers to dry off it.
Worked well. Couldn't find a shoe over the door storage, so grabbed that and it was probably slightly better as took up less space as you walked past.
( we had it facing the bedroom, but could have had it hanging side wardrobe)
We also bought for 1.4€ air fresher glad things that sat on the side one in the bathroom ( lavender) and one in our running shoe bag! Lilly of the valley.
If you don't and your shoes are smellers, you will regret not spending the money. And bring a large bag to out all running shoes in not just yours, cos hubbies smell worse after 4 days on his feet
Throw them all in and food the bag down and put it in the wardrobe and let Lilly do her thing
Most of the staff are from Indonesia ( Bali) so make an effort to at least learn thank you before coming aboard.
The smile on their faces, makes your slight effort so worth while.