We booked with a local travel agent and as our holiday came within their criteria as to cost we were provided with a taxi both ways. The taxi turned up on time at our home in Park Gate Fareham Hants. As first time cruisers we were not sure as to the amount of clothes to take so erred on generous amount as we were advised we would not have to carry it anywhere as it so transpired as we turned up in Ocean Terminal 20 mins later, the taxi driver said just leave it all on the ground by the car and the porters will pick it up, what a difference from airports. After waiting a while after being issued with letter cards we checked in and joined the queue for embarkation.
Once on ship we were directed to our cabin. Jocelyn our cabin steward came and introduced herself. We had lifejacket demo then went for a wander around the ship as we had never seen anything like it, the Atrium was stunning as were the numerous bars,shops and restaurants etc. We had opted for freedom dining as we felt this would suit our needs best, also prior to cruising heard some horror stories of being lumbered with unsuitable companions for all evening meals! The freedom dining worked out extremely well for the whole cruise and we had different neighbours each night which was really good,all the dining staff really helpful.The food was a very high standard and all very enjoyable, I especially, opted to try many types of food which I had not previously had eaten.
We went to a number of the Playhouse Theatre shows, the Headliners especially were excellent,most of the other acts also being of a good quality.Although the Theatre could hold 800+ we found that the 7.30 and 9pm shows had long queues so we opted for 11pm show and walked in easily. We had our breakfast most days up on 15 in self service of Venezia & Verona. Although there were a lot of people we never had any troule with seating as we shared on most days and met many interesting people. The Sea Screen was a novel idea, in fact on one evening we watched Mamma Mia! Although we walked around we didn't have a dip in any of the pools as the weather was not that brilliant to feel it was a good idea, maybe another time.
In the evening we split our time between the Blue Bar where we could listen to relaxing music to Manhattan watching entertainment and even participating in The Weakest Link,great fun. We enjoyed the atmosphere of the Planet Bar, very interesting either watching the large interactive video screens or looking out to sea. It was great on Formal and semi-formal evenings to see that the majority of people involved themselves and we enjoyed this. The Atrium with its staircases and glass lifts never failed to please the eye. We listened to various talks in Malabar. The Photo Gallery was always a popular place to be at.Being first timers we had many photos taken, probably next time far fewer.
We set the alarm early to get up to see our arrival in Madeira and had breakfast in cabin as we were off on early coach trip round island. We went on several of the trips and felt they were fairly reasonably priced although we quickly learned after watching points and talking to other experienced cruisers that in future we can easily do our own thing far cheaper. We also got up very early to see our entrance into Lisbon as we had been told this was spectaculay especially going under the bridge. This was well worth it, we went up to 16 and watched the sunrise from over the bows of the ship, we were amazed how few people were there with us. still our gain others loss.
When disembarking it was a bit of a crush although there were timed disembarkation times, but finding our luggage was very easy with many luggage trolleys available, back out to waiting taxi and on to home within the hour.
This is just a short review of our cruise but suffice to say we are hooked and looking forward to end of Aug on Ventura.