This was a first time cruise for us to celebrate my husbands 70th. We embarked at Venice and it was a very smooth process and we enjoyed a lovely lunch whilst waiting for our stateroom. We were in it by 2pm and it was a pleasant surprise. A good size lovely veranda and huge comfy bed. We explored Venice and then got ready for dinner. We chose to eat at 8.45 in main dining room and the food and quality were first class. It was fine dining and there was plenty of choice. We had a classic drinks package which allowed us to have wine with the meal. We often had a drink in one of the bars beforehand and then a night cap later. There was a wide range of bars and entertainment to suit all tastes. We then sailed on to Dubrovnik and set off to explore on our own and found that we could easily do this by taxi in about 2 hours. The next 2 days were at sea and we relaxed by the pool. There were always plenty of sunbeds to be had. We then docked on an overnight basis in Istanbul which was to be the highlight of the trip for us. We found the city interesting and vibrant with lovely religious buildings however because it was a Saturday it was so busy you could not enter the Grand Bazaar . The traffic was at a standstill and it would have been impossible to get around to see the sights. The taxi drivers wanted to negotiate a price and wanted euros. On the Sunday we asked a taxi driver to take us to the Blue Mosque and he took us to a jewellers shop and he was most insistent they we have a look inside and my husband had to be quite forceful in saying we did not want to go in. He then dropped us off short of the Mosque. It was worth visiting but you have to be prepared for the constant pestering to look at carpet shops and the like. If you were on an organised trip I don't know if you would be bothered so much. As we came out of the Mosque there was a nasty gang fight which was escalating as we left but that could be an isolated incidence. We did however take a boat trip which was lovely and saw another side of the city. On the Sunday the city was quieter and we took a taxi to Taskim square and walked back down through some lovely areas. The next port of Salerno was lovely and it is worth exploring as just off the main front as there was a lovely shopping area with good shops and restaurants . When we docked for Rome and Florence we took trips organised by the ship. These were well organised but they are very long days and by the end of the second night we were exhausted. By the time we docked into Marseille we nearly didn't go ashore because we were so tired but I am pleased to say we made the effort and thought that the Old Port was worth it and it is one place we would definitely return to.
Overall we found the ship, the food and bars excellent. We did not really go to any shows to so cannot comment. Most of the live bands however were excellent and there was a good cross range of music. The shops on board had a good selection of clothes and jewellery and the duty free was very competitive, The casino was standard slots and tables but again we did not really use. The food and restaurants were outstanding and we did dine in the Tuscan Grill one night which was lovely. Most people dressed for the formal evenings which again was lovely. The officers were very visible and the captain was often seen. The ship was very clean and well kept.
The negatives. They were always trying to take your photo around the ship and also getting on and off but this was at a price and I thought it was expensive. The internet was also an issue and I heard a lot of complaints about the cost and speed. Unless you logged out properly you could easily run up a large bill. There were packages available but were hundreds of dollars. Most hotels now do not charge for internet. When I booked I was asked if it was a special occasion and I told them it was for a 70th birthday and the was acknowledged on the booking form. As it was on the last night in dinner I was expecting something ie cake or glass of champagne but nothing. It seems strange to ask for special occasions and then not do anything. As it was the last night I did not complain at the time. On the 9th night of the cruise I developed a sore throat which turned into a heavy cold and hacking cough. My husband developed the same 1 night later than me and when we were disembarking there were a lot of people sneezing and coughing.