Was totally impressed with check in process on this ship. This was my eighth cruise and I was pleasantly surprised to find no lines and was checked in and taken to my room by a white gloved bellgirl within 20 minutes. I realized later that this cruise line has passengers checking in and out at every port. It doesn't seem to disrupt any of the other passengers in any way. High marks for this, I have not seen it before.
Loved the fact that they stop every day in a different port, no sea days.
The other impressive feature was that they check everyones temperature, unbeknownst to them, for the reason of the recent H1N1 outbreaks. Evidently no one with a fever is allowed on the ship.
This ship is probably the most beautiful I have ever seen. Room was great and comfortable with a balcony.
My issue with this cruise was the fact I ever felt CROWDED in the public spaces. The breakfast and lunch buffets were ridiculously CROWDED, you could not find a seat after you struggled to get your food. The food all over was mediocre at best, except the pasta which was great. I was disappointed in the dining room food but the staff were amazing. Another big issue for me is that you cannot get water with lunch or dinner without paying extra. If you do the lunch buffet the water is locked down you have to buy, only available at breakfast along with juice and then handled only by the few staff. This CROWD factor and the food, water and short staff issue would make me NOT select this line again, IT totally spoiled this lovely ship. They need more staff. I think they had 4000 passengers and only 1000 staff. We never even met our cabin steward nor did we get ice unless we made a call. Other passengers told us that room service was extra. We did not use it so you should check before ordering.
We took a "shopping" excursion thru the ship to the Medina. If you're
not familiar with a medina my understanding was that it's origin is
from the middle ages when a city's first defense was the wall around
the town then the streets were purposely made into a maze, laden with
secrets, narrow alleyways, small shops, huge mosques, and palaces to
further confuse their enemies if they got thru the outside wall. Our
guide told us not to leave on our own cause we would never find our way
out and he was right.
We were never left to "shop" on our own. First we were taken to a rug
shop, led up a small crooked and very old staircase and brought into a
small room for the purpose of selling us a Tunisian rug. They served us
all a hot tea (it was gross),then proceeded to pressure sell us on
their rugs, camel hair to silk. (I never did find out if they had to
kill the camel to get the hair, does anyone know). The silk rug were
very beautiful but very expensive. The excursion list did not mention
this rug sale.
Next we were whisked away to one shop that was just opened to us with
many sales men trying to get you to buy something. They all expect you
the haggle with them.
Next we went to another village painted all white with blue trim called
Sidi Bou Said. We were oriented to the area and shopping. The men (I
didn't see any women) really try hard to sell you something whether you
want it or not. Well I guess it was a 'shopping' excursion. These areas
are miles from the ship and other than pay a taxi, which I hear are
very good, this would be difficult to do on your own. The area is very
interesting and should not be missed.