We travelled between 15-22 March 2010. We were in cabin 9048. Regarding the catering, I feel that when full there are too many passengers for the restaurants to cope with comfortably, especially breakfast when whatever time we went we found it difficult to be seated and usually ended up in the outer room seated on whicker chairs. To get a table for 2 in the Island restaurant you have to be in the queue by 6.20pm otherwise you may be placed on a large table by the waiters, which is ok every now and again but we didn't like having to eat and talk to people every night. The Island restaurant a lot smarter that the Beachcomber with tablecloths and placesettings. Sometimes the food was canteen standard at breakfast and rarely hot but at other times very good. We felt that if they didn't have 24 hour catering they could perhaps spend a bit more on better quality and tastier vegetables, etc., but on the whole we were quite happy with the food. To the people that felt they needed another dinner at midnight in the Beachcomber please be aware that the crew are eating at that time and would like something better than left-overs. I'm sure no begrudges them a decent meal.
After reading all the poor reviews we chose to believe positive reviews and were proved correct as we were pleasantly surprised at the condition of the interior of the ship. After reading about peeling wallpaper, scuffed paintwork and threadbare carpets I can only say that I didn't see any of this, apart from a little bit of wear on one or two of the edges of the steps on the staircase. New rolls of carpets were being brought on board at Tenerife, I think, and the decorators were in evidence on the higher decks where we were. The cabin was perfectly adequate with pictures on the walls and plenty of storage, including a large underbed pull-out storage box that could easily be missed. OK the bathroom was a bit dated but plenty of storage there too, more than any hotel we have ever been in. We had no trouble with the shower curtain but as my husband and myself are quite slender we found that there was plenty of room in there. There was also a fridge in the wardrobe.
The bars and lounges were well furnished and not in any way shabby or unclean and the entertainment was really very good. I have been in campsite clubs for years when my children were small and the entertainment there IS holiday camp style. We didn't go to all the shows but we were impressed with the standard, especially the comedian Phil Doyle who had flown in from the UK for 3 shows. He brought the house down all 3 times and was excellent, and no we hadn't had more than one drink. The show dancers and singers put on good shows the 2 times we saw them and worked really hard, doing 2 shows a night. The singer/guitarist Essen was very good in the other bar.
The disco was dire and a waste of time. Why a young DJ thinks anyone older than himself only wants to listen to 70's music I don't know but he did a good job of emptying the bar on the two occasions we visited.
We are going on the Celebration in June and I think that will suit us better as everyone is disembarking and embarking on the same day. As we embarked in Funchal with just one coachload off our flight, we found changeover day in Tenerife a bit trying. We wanted to go off ship early to make the most of the day but found it hard to get breakfast as so many people were hogging the tables and hanging around until they disembarked later in the day. We eventually found seating but had to watch a family of four walking round and round trying to get seated while dozens of people were sat with just a cup of tea in front of them. (just a minor complaint).
We had a great time on the whole and what a pleasant change not to have to listens to mobile phone calls all the time and also not to have constant announcements made which some hotels like to do. Were weren't subjected to hard sell anywhere, especially over the trips, and everyone was really polite and friendly. What a culture shock to get back on the plane and be treated like second class citizens at the back because we were non-meal passengers. The cabin crew didn't offer us the opportunity to buy tea/coffee or snacks and pushed the trolley into the centre of the section and whispered "Any duty free" before disappearing at a rate of knots that was a wonder to behold.
I don't know if we would do this cruise again but we went to places we hadn't been before such as Las Palmas and La Palma, both of which we liked very much. We caught a bus out of Santa Cruz and arrived in Puerta de la Cruz within the hour and had a nice day in the Lido. Las Palmas was a revelation as everything is in walking distance with a new shopping mall just next to the port and a nice beach a 10 minute walk straight ahead on leaving the port. La Palma was just like a mini Madeira and we would have liked to have spent more time there. We didn't do any trips, as we have been to most of the islands many times, so can't comment on those. Also, I think going to Agadir is a complete waste of time and we stayed onboard. We would have preferred a 2 day stay elsewhere, but that's just our opinion and everyone has different needs and wants on holiday.
If you haven't been on a cruise before give it a try. Last minutes prices are very good and the ship is excellent value for money. You can keep to yourself or mix-in with others if you want. There's no pressure to join in the activities, actually one small criticism is that you're not reminded of the times of them and we missed more than one as we lost track of time. Then again that would mean announcements, maybe a board in the public areas would be best.
AND the weather was GREAT!!