Before we booked our cruise in mid-March there were no reviews available because it was a new ship and had not long been launched. By the time our cruise was due at the end of April there had been six reviews and to be honest if we had read them before booking we would not have booked at all. Most of the reviews were so negative, however it turned out that you should not believe all you read and it seems some people are just hard to please and like to have a moan anyway!
Embarkation was a breeze. We actually arrived at the cruise terminal in Dubai at about 09.30am and embarkation wasn't until 3.30pm but we were allowed to leave our luggage at the ship, after identifying it, and go and spend the day in Dubai shopping as we were told we could return anytime after 3.30pm. So we went straight to the gold souk and did some shopping before returning to the ship at approx. 6.00pm We were able to go straight to our cabin and have a snooze before getting ready to get something to eat and do a bit of exploring.
Unfortunately my wife was poorly for most of the week during the cruise, as was I after the first few days, so we did not take advantage of the excursions. The excursions were not cheap though and I don't think there was anything we were really interested in seeing anyway onshore except for Dubai. We just wanted a quiet relaxing break and weren't intending to go on any of the excursions anyway.
All the staff were very friendly and helpful contrary to some of the reviews. The only staff (or were they crew?) who did seem stand-offish or even rude by ignoring everyone were the ones walking about in all white uniforms. They walked about and just seemed to ignore everyone and gave me the impression they just wanted to b somewhere else.
We also took out the J2 drinks package and would recommend it as it gives great value for money. The food was nice and there was a good selection to suit most tastes. I do think that perhaps it was the case that since the earlier reviews any 'teething problems' have been sorted out. I would recommend this cruise if you can stick the heat!
The onboard entertainment was excellent and everyone was encouraged to get involved if they wanted to.