We booked this cruise due to the itinerary which included: France, Gibraltar, Morocco, Canary Islands, Portugal and Spain. The itinerary included 12 ports and 2 sea days.
We found little information on the internet (incl Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor) so we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into after booking this cruise. The Zenith is an older, and smaller ship, and we understood that English was not the first language. We could find only one (but favourable) review in Cruise Critic, and nothing in Trip Advisor.
We were pleasantly surprised with the ship, it's crew, and language did not pose a problem! The ship is older, but maintained in good condition, and although smaller than what we are used to (mostly Carnival line), we were able to enjoy ourselves (group of 6) in the cafe, the casino, the theatre, and of course "eating". Another bonus was the inclusion of beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) in the price. There are extra charges for "premium" alcohol, More
but we were quite happy with what was served within the package price.
Another bonus we discovered... while checking in was that we had "VIP Service". We are not sure why we received this service, but it included priority boarding, champagne & fruit in our room upon arrival, and additional fruit baskets throughout the week. We also received coupons for Casino play.
The majority of the passengers were French speaking. Our guess was of the 1100 or so (of ~1600 capacity) passengers on board, is that less than 100 passengers spoke English as their first language. Even though all of the announcements were first made in French, they were generally repeated in good English. And an effort was made to provide some information sessions in English only (excursions, and disembarkation information).
Something we found very odd, was that for those passengers not in the European Union, needed to surrender their passports to the "purser's office" for immigration/customs purposes. We sailed the Mediterranean with Carnival in 2011 and this procedure was not required. Needless to say, we refused to leave our passports onboard when going off of the ship. When we brought this fairly significant issue to their attention, we felt that our concerns fell on deaf ears. It was only after much effort that we understood that we would receive our passports immediately after immigration/customs clearance each day and that this process would not hold us up for long. Special thanks to "Jean Luc" who was there most days to see us off the ship asap, in many cases before others on board.
Also, we thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment provided in the theatre each night. Kudos to Cruise Director "Kamel", and the animation crew. Kamel's enthusiam, and smooth transition between the French and English languages was fantastic. The shows were "incredible"! A definite highlight of the trip. We understand that they do not have many 14 day itineraries, so there was much extra work to provide unique programming for 14 nights. Special guest entertainers were brought in, but the on-board entertainment was spectacular (including a group of ballet dancers from Brazil in the line-up).
Overall we were very pleased with this cruise. This review is made of my own accord, there was no request made by cruise staff to review our experience. Less
The room and balcony size is similar to what we found on Carnival. The cot converts from an oversized chair, and if pulled out, blocked access to the bathroom. Fortunately we did not require it's use, but it does use up a lot of cabin space. Bathroom was older but functional. The door to the balcony was excellent. It could be "locked" in an open state and did not bang around at all, which made it nice for sleeping with the door "open" if you wish. Lots of storage space.