Arrived early because the traffic wasn't as bad as we'd allowed for. Parked early,checked in early – by 11.15am were on board with first glass of champagne. Very efficient.
Impressions of public areas:
Elegant, light colours and reflective surfaces, glossy and spotless, impressive. Corridors rather dull.
Deck 11. Starboard. Cabins are in pairs with each having a wide and a narrow area – the bed is in the wide area and the sofa in the narrow (the right hand cabin (looking from the corridor) has the wide part, and therefor the bed, by the window; the left hand one has the sofa by the window). This makes the sofa area feel a little tight. Our cabin had quite dark upholstery though others were lighter. This, combined with the wide overhang from the pool deck immediately above made the cabin feel a bit dark. Storage was not very good – wardrobe right by the sofa making it difficult to get to one end of it; only a few small drawers and none of the clever, useful cubby holes we have seen on other ships.
Excellent – roomy and plenty of storage. Very good shower (Aquaclass).
Blu; ate there once for dinner and once for breakfast. Impressed by neither food nor atmosphere.
MDR: beautiful room, very light and glamorous. Food very good, service very good too. Few tables for two so usually had to share although once we asked to be alone and got a table for 4 to ourselves. We do like sharing as we meet some lovely people but don't want to have to do it all the time – we ate in the buffet some evenings.
Spa cafe – interesting and varied healthy snacks
Mast Grill: great burgers
Tuscan and Murano – didn't try – can get good restaurants similar to this at home.
Qsine: loved it – fun, quirky, different and the food was great – lovely to have tasting /sharing courses. Staff were great.
Speciality restaurants had some low key offers – 20% off if you had taken a shore excursion – heard Qsine offer a discount over the phone to a guest who protested about the cost.
Molecular; very good indeed – different from anything else we've tried – only serving their own recipe cocktails which are delicious – lots of fresh ingredients, foams, liquid nitrogen – staff were lovely – liked to put on a show. At $15 each the drinks are covered by the Premium but not the Classic package.
Passport; basic – a bit like a hotel lobby area as its near the Guest Relations and Shore desks but the girl in charge is very good and you can get a good coffee here.
Mast; smoking area but fairly sheltered on open deck.
Sunset; nice area to sit wake watching
Lawn Club; we thought the idea of a grass lawn at sea was a bit of a gimmick but it had a really nice feel to it but it gets very breezy.
Martini; pleasant area to sit, service a bit slow; we liked the ice topped bar for noughts and crosses!
Cafe al Bacio – good coffee but often full.
Shows and music:
Resident company shows were very good and quite spectacular. Visiting performers coming and going throughout the cruise. Orchestra/Big Band were excellent and there were two duos who were also good. Didn't rate the resident group “The Spitfires”
Spa and Gym:
Gym large and plenty of bikes, treadmills and cross tracks but only one rower. Lots of machines, also free weights and benches. Large studio, small sitting are and some open deck. Solarium area very nice – good to have a pool under cover.
Persian Garden very serene. However, we did not feel that the spa tried very hard – the tour on embarkation day didn't show you the facilities – we didn't find the relaxation area which we could have used until part way through the second week. Also the prices were pretty steep – 50 minute facial $145 and up; massage $145 for 50 minutes as well. Even with a ood exchange rate ...a bit of a stretch!
Nowhere in cabin to hang things to dry except the towel rail – no line as we've had on other ships.
Laundry a bit pricey - $1.95 for a piece of underwear. No “fill a bag” offers.
No towel animals.
There are often shuttle buses into the centre of ports of call but not very well publicised. Also there are maps of the ports available but you have to know to go and ask for them.