As a 50th wedding anniversary gift to ourselves, we chose to go on our first cruise. Perhaps our expectations were too high or perhaps we were lulled into a false sense of luxury by 'friends' who derided the fact that we chose Thomson instead of the more up-market companies which they used. Whatever, it was a 7 day good -and bad- experience; the bad, I admit mostly our own fault.
The ship itself is so clean we joked that we were waiting each time we boarded after a shore excursion to be asked to go through a sheep dip! That said, it made us feel very secure seeing staff cleaning literally 24hours a day to ensure our health.
Our cabin (an outside plus) was very nice - roomy in a good position and beautifully attended by MADE, our cabin attendant. The food was perfectly acceptable, with plenty of choice in the Lido. Hardly platinum but still good. The Orion, we felt, was in danger of being pretentious. We discovered very quickly that when we asked for a table for 2 we were left to cool our heels outside the restaurant whilst other more experienced cruisers seemed to have no problem with this request. They obviously knew something we didn't.
The entertainment was excellent with the Theatre full every evening and there was a wide range of musical tastes catered for in the various bars each evening.
Our problems started when we visited the shore excursions presentation and decided to spend over £400 on three trips - Sorrento/Amalfi/Pompeii, Rome all in one Day and Barcelona. The S/A/P trip began to go wrong when we chose to take a boat tour around Amalfi bay leaving only 40 minutes to tour the very pretty town. The visit to Pompeii was taken in 37 degrees of heat and had it not been for a thunderstorm which sent us scurrying back to our coach, we would surely have melted into the stones. Rome all in one Day should be renamed "See Rome and Die" . The temperature that day was 38 - 40 degrees C and we zig zagged across Rome following a young guide who took off like a greyhound, totally ignoring the fact that there were people in our group who were obviously having difficulty keeping the pace. The end of the tour was preceded by a 1.1/2hr queue conducted in the blazing sun to visit St Peter's Basillica And after that, the Barcelona Tour was fine allowing several hours free time to do our own thing.
We decided that the tours were best left to younger, stronger people - and where were these younger, stronger people? Enjoying life aboard ship as were the older, more experienced cruisers who looked at our weary faces on our return and smiled.
I suppose there are people who enjoy the experience of cruising and others, like us, who prefer to do their own thing, their own way. Having said that, I'm glad we had the experience