50 year old couple cruising with 75 year old in-laws, Barcelona to Rome, outside cabin with balcony
Overall, satisfactory for price
Ship built in 2006, beginning to show noticeable but not severe wear (chairs, carpet, rust on balcony, bathroom fixtures cracked). Common areas shipboard very clean. Cabin steward tries very hard but one gets the idea that their supervision and training is not at an elite level, small but annoying details recur. some surfaces left dusty, some mold in bath, but ask for service and they are right there to respond cheerfully.
Room was larger that expected with high quality furnishings for the price in the room, furnishings on the balcony nice but scanty. Hot water on this ship consistently lacking at high use times, shower at off times
Staff almost always very friendly and eager. some laxity noted of the wait staff at the various bars esp at the fantail and especially in busing tables. Bartending mostly good but quality of the drinks inconsistent. Had only one experience with surly staff once at bar, otherwise seems that the level of service could be raised with closer, better trained and more experienced junior officers
Entertainment brought in from outside was of the highest quality, far exceeding expectations. The house blues band was excellent, though it consistently overpowered its venue. House dancers and most of their shows were at about expected quality. other shipboard performers were good
Port and excursion support from staff was also excellent. The woman in charge was excellent and worked like a dog.
Don't use their tuxedo rental: wrong size, dirty coats. wrong # of shirts, just say no
Quality and variety of food was very good, although there was a rare big miss or two.
The premium dining rooms demonstrated excellent food and service, well worth the small extra price.
embarking and disembarking was exceptionally easy and well organized.
It is clear that the line has put much thought into health and safety and this was evident throughout the cruise. very reassuring
For a cruise visiting world class wine destinations, the wine cellar featured overpriced and indifferent wines, relatively few of which were from the regions we visited. there was an annoying and also overpriced corkage fee for bringing wine on board from ports. The need for corkage is understandable, but the gross lack of any regional wines from Provence, Naples, Tunis, Catalonia, Campania detracted a bit from our enjoyment of the cruise. If you are gonna cruise to famous wine regions, you really should stock wines from there (or at least not charge for a bottle that someone brings on)
The on-board marketing for add-ons (shops, salon, excursions, photos, art etc...) was relentless and breathtaking in scope, be prepared, I expected less based on the relative cost and quality of the cruise. It became distracting.
Avoid the cruise related shore tours, outrageously overpriced and almost always ending in a stop at, you guessed it, a shop that wants your money. Private tours through cruise one etc, offered much much better value without wasting your time at the end. Heck, even a cab tour is better.
Barcelona: get there early, give yourself an extra day, ship docs right at the base of the city, tour a Gaudi house, Holy Family Church, Barcelona Cathedral, walk les Rambles (a pedestrian mall) Take the gondola to the castle at the top of the city. The city was clean and busy and fun
Marseille: ship docs at new port so you need a transfer to city. port sponsored bus cheap but lines long. negotiated cab fare not much more. Walk the old port, esp early in the morning when the fishermen are in. go up a side street for some Bouillabaisse, the trip to the Ise D'Ife (where the fictional Count of Monte Cristo was jailed) is not to be missed, neither is the view from the cathedral. Those who went on the various trips to Provence were uniform in their assessment of too much time and nothing special. spend your time in the city
Monte Carlo: ship docs right at the base of the city, if you don't mind hills, you can walk, very pedestrian city, see the national cathedral where grace kelly was married and buried, touring the national palace was interesting and not too long, the Casino is worth a brief visit.
Calvi: wonderful small beautiful. not much to do but very relaxing. ship anchors off shore so you have to take boats in. this was handled very professionally and very well. Just walk around the city for a couple of hours and enjoy
Florence: we booked a private tour into pisa and florence. ship docs at port about 90 min away. again the verdict on the cruise line tours was lots of time, forced shopping, not much time at sites. a few hours in Florence wets the taste buds, you need a week there to even begin to see it. VERY crowded
Tunis (really a bunch of cities altogether, like New York): took the cruiseline's tour of carthage due to (unfounded) security concerns. It was fine as far as it went but we found ourselves stuck for 90 min in a souk pestered by salesmen. Tunis is just now getting tourism back after the Arab spring and they seem desperate for our dollars. The port is outside the city so you will need a taxi ride to get there on your own. Parenthetically, the city smelled wonderful with all the flowers blooming, all in all much nicer than I expected. I suggest booking a private tour.
Palermo: ship docks at base of city so you can walk in, The city is dirty, crowded and confusing but everyone was friendly. take a taxi up to Monte Pellegrino, takes a total of 90 min and the view is breathtaking.
Naples: ship docs at commercial port so everything is a ride in. we booked a private tour of pompeii and Herculaneum. I suggest you do so as well. Unspeakably fascinating
Rome: we stayed a few days there before coming home, use Private Tours of Rome. ask for Alessandra.