* Background Information This was our first cruise as Platinum Crown and Anchor members - so it made it a bit special - would we be treated any differently?
* Hotel Info We arrived in Venice a couple of days early - after a couple of near misses, we always do this - no chance of missing the ship. By luck we stayed at the Arlechinno hotel just off the Piazzale Roma, a great location and very convenient for the shuttle bus to the port.
* Embarkation This was the best embarkation we have had (better than Miami or Tampa). Luggage disappeared off the shuttle straight onto trailers and off to the ship (presumably via security). This is where we first felt special - a dedicated check-in for Platinum (+). Check-in was no quicker - but the cakes and champagne were a nice treat.
* Sailaway The sailaway from Venice down the Guidecca canal is stunning. Some of the best views in the world.
* Stateroom Our stateroom was fine - normal inside cabin. We didn't spend too much time in it. The only complaint would a lack a pressure and warmth in the water in the shower.
* Dining We enjoyed the food - all good quality and never had reason to send anything back. The service on MyTime dining was often slow - half an hour to get a bread roll or find your wine bottle is not good enough.
* Children's Clubs Our children were disappointed by the kids' clubs. The activities were less well organised than we have experienced in the past. Our teen often left the club bored by the lack of activities, playing on the Wii seemed to be the only activity.
* Entertainment Normal Royal Caribbean fare. The singers and dancers were fine. A good West End singer and a fun magician did well. But overall, I don't cruise for the shows and find them rather poor - wonder if the larger ships are any better?
* Disembarkation This is when the effects of the Iceland volcano hit. We had been told that airports and flights were cancelled - the internet lounge was packed with people trying to rebook flights and hotels. We had paid for a "late departure". This is an excellent programme - for around $30 per person you stay on board on departure day - we had use of the lounges, pool, windjammer etc- all for the price of a meal in Venice. Due to the ash problem, there was a lot of confusion about whether the programme was actually running - at one point we were asked to leave. When we finally disembarked, we were straight through security , got our bags and the a taxi to the (closed) airport. Due to the ash we were in Venice for a further 5 days before eventually flying home.