We arrived in Venice the morning of the cruise and took a 45 Euro taxi ride to the cruise port. It was very easy and saved a lot of walking with bags. We arrived at about 11:00 AM and used the Concierge check-in line. Things seemed to be a bit disorganized and snarled up and we didn't get on-board until around noon. There was not much waiting space in the cruise terminal and things were a bit spartan and crowded.
Once we boarded, things seemed to go well. The buffet was well organized and the staterooms were ready at about 1:00 PM. The stateroom was typical of other Solstice class ships we have sailed and there was plenty of storage under the bed for luggage. The selection of amenities seemed a bit spotty and we ran out of lotion, conditioner and shampoo and had to request more. The cabin attendants did towel art twice. Somehow, our cabin was missed for the turndown service on the last night and we were shorted the evening chocolates on a couple of evenings.
We had the late seating and were assigned a table with two absolutely delightful couples. It was one of the highlights of the cruise. Our waiter and assistant waiter could not have been more attentive. The entrees were quite uneven. The pasta dishes were particularly bland. Fortunately, the waiter highlighted the choices that had been successful from the earlier seatings. We enjoyed the general emphasis on quality rather than quantity and were generally happy with the meals. The main dining room seemed to be well organized.
The shows were varied and of generally good quality. We did miss the string quartet and "a cappella" singing group we enjoyed on the Equinox two years ago. The house band was very good, particularly the female vocalist.
The sail out of Venice was breathtaking. The only negative was the sound track played by the ship. It repeated about three times and could have used a consultant on Italian music. I didn't quite get how "Chariots of Fire" and Enya belonged in the mix. With all of the great Italian music, it seemed a shame to have only a few numbers and to repeat the tracks three times. The same track was used for the sail in 13 days later. We made the mistake of buying the $28 ship transport to St. Marks. Unfortunately, this ended up being four bridges away and was not disclosed until we bought the tickets. We would have done much better taking the people mover and buying the 16 Euro vaporetto passes, especially since we had a late evening in Venice and could not make the last return to the cruise ship by the ship transport.
The ports were lovely, but I would avoid the cruise ship arranged tours. They were crowded, expensive and inconvenient. Slovenia seems to be a new cruise port stop and seemed largely unspoiled by the crowds. Split was wonderful with musical groups performing everywhere. Dubrovnik is like a polished jewel. The sail-in, sail-out at Montenegro was breathtaking and the walk up the battlements challenging and amazing. We arrived on Corfu for the 150th anniversary of the Ionian unification with Greece. The island was friendly and joyful. Olympia is not to be missed. There were lots of busses and the train available for 10 Euros each (about 60% of the cruise ship cost) and they were less crowded.
Malta has so many options, it is hard to choose. We did a megalithic temple tour and the blue grotto. Ravenna was lovely and friendly with amazing Roman and Germanic history.
The disembarkation process could not have been easier.