Background information: Husband and wife, ages 56 and 60, traveling with husband's brother and his wife, around the same age. This is our third cruise in Europe over the last three summers; Eastern Mediterranean on Princess, Scandinavia and Russia on Royal Caribbean. Spent four days in Rome at the Hotel Amalia Vaticano before embarkation. Super location and reasonable price. Used romecabs.com for both airport transfer and hotel to port transfer. We were very happy with this company!
Where do I start? With the biggest issue, which was being in Rome for four days without luggage and only having one of two bags arrive at 3:30 A.M. on embarkation day. After embarkation, which went quickly and smoothly by the way, I went to the front desk to let them know a second bag might be arriving at some point during the cruise. The people at the front desk, including Dangil and Rosie, took over. Dangil copied down our airline claim information and got a pair of dress shoes for my husband so we wouldn't miss the first formal night. The smart-casual rule for the dining room was waived and dining room staff was made aware of that. Housekeeping sent us a note saying we were eligible for complementary laundry service until the other bag came. (That helped with the whole smart-casual dress code also because my hsband could get his one pair of long pants laundered.) All the stress of dealing with the airlines and the courier service was lifted from my shoulders. Finally, 6 days into the cruise, they tracked down and delivered our second bag. Rosie told me, "Surrender is not in our vocabulary."
The front desk also helped us out when our stop in Marseille got switched to Toulon because of labor unrest at the port in Marseille. They were very generous with complimentary phone service so that we could contact the driver we had hired for Aix-en-Provence and change our pick-up location.
I was very impressed with the number of bar tenders and waiters who remembered us by name after serving us only once, or who would remember our drink order after the first day and ask if we wanted the same. We had the signature drink package included at the time of booking, and I thought it was a great deal. All specialty coffees, sodas, along with most beer, wine,and liquor is included in the package. We usually get a wine package, but the house wines that we were served were just fine.
We had an inside cabin, #8045. It was quite spacious with good storage. Our room steward, Amin, was very efficient and frequently asked us if everything was all right. The door-closing device on the inside of our bathroom door came apart and maintenance was on it right away. Several different departments called us or stopped by to confirm that the problem was taken care of. The common areas where I would sit to read and have a glass of wine or some tea were comfortable and well maintained.
There did seem to be some a vibration in both our cabin and in the dining room. Not sure what caused this.
I really liked the way the buffet is run on this ship. On some ships it seems like such a free for all, but this was well organized and people were discouraged from cutting the line. I was very happy with the selections at both the breakfast and lunch buffets. We ate at Caneletto on our first night on the ship and really enjoyed that also. We took the rest of our dinners in the main dining room and they were original and excellent. They were certainly generous with the lobser tails on formal night! The house steak was very tender and served with a delicious sauce.
The entertainment on the ship was very weak except for the B.B. King Blues Club which was so enjoyable. The lack of quality entertainment wasn't a make or break issue for me, even though I love good musical enterntainment.
The itinerary was interesting; really the reason we picked this cruise. I wasn't disappointed with any of the stops. The only shore excursion we booked through the ship was in Tunis. We went to Sidi Bou Said & Carthage. It was an interesting shore excursion, although I felt that the guide pushed shopping in one store and kept us there for quite a while, which cut into our time in other markets. We did Hop-On-Hop-Off buses in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. The HOHO in Monte Carlo was a struggle because people only got off at the Palace or the Casino, so it was difficult to get back on. Most places it was also quite easy to hire a cab at the port and we did that a few times, also.
Disembarkation in Barcelona went very smoothly; we left the ship about 9:00 a.m. to continue our exploration of Barcelona. I would recommend this cruise, ship and cruise line to anyone.