We chose this cruise for several reasons: 1) The timing was perfect. 2) The ports were interesting for all ages and my wife and I had not been to any of the ports on our prior cruises. 3.) Children sharing a cabin with their parents were free. 4) We thought the variety of nationalities on the ship would be interesting for our children and grandchildren. As it turned out, we were correct in our choice. The itinerary included our port of embarkation, Rome, and the ports of Salerno, Italy, Tunis, Tunisia, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Toulon, France, Genoa, Italy, Ajaccio, Corsica, France and back to Rome. The ports, with one exception, were wonderful and there was something for everyone. On the day we visited Genoa, we were to leave Genoa and go to Portofino, Italy, where we were supposed to be able to tender in (at an extra cost), to Portofino at 6:30 PM and stay until 11:30 PM. We received a notice in our stateroom, after we left the ship for some time in Genoa, that the stop in Portofino was canceled for weather related reasons (which we could not figure out because the weather seemed to be good all around us) and we would leave an hour or so later, heading for our next port.
The cabins are on the small side, but our outside cabins had more than enough storage space for our needs. We had three boys sharing a cabin and they had enough room for their things, we think. We don't think the boys unpacked, but nobody would go in their cabin to check. As in most cruise ship cabins, the third bed is like a bunk bed, folding down from the wall. Even though we did not have a third person in our cabin, it took me a few days to figure out how to avoid bumping my head on the third bed, even though it was folded against the wall at all times. The cabin attendant kept the cabin clean, although she did not always leave the ice bucket full.
We had been warned by others of the bottled water issues; however, each cabin received 7 tickets for 1 liter of bottled water to be used in the dining rooms only. Tap water was not served in the dining rooms. Additional 1 liter bottles of water in the dining room were 2.07 Euros each, including 15% service charge. Wine was reasonably priced, but soft drinks were very costly. Although the ship offers various drink packages, we found that unless you used every one of the drinks in the package, you would end up paying more than if you purchased the drinks individually. Their were bottles of water in the cabin, but you were charged for their use at mini-bar prices. Although they say they will confiscate drinks brought onto the ship, we found that they did not enforce that, since some unfinished bottles of water that had been purchased elsewhere made it back through security.
Food in the dining rooms, where we ate most of our meals, was adequate, but not abundant. Menu choices were okay and somewhat creative at times. There was always pasta, burgers or hot dogs available in the dining room. Even our grandchildren couldn't eat the hot dogs, but the pasta and burgers were pretty good. Service in the dining room was always good for dinner, since you had the same table and waiter every night, but at breakfast and lunch, it was a little more inefficient and slow, unless you wound up with your dinner waiter for one of those meals. It must have something to do with additional tipping. Much of the help was from Bali. Based upon an earlier trip to Bali, the Balinese people are wonderful and very friendly. This group was no exception. Late seating was later than most ships (9:15 or 9:30 PM).
The shows were better than on most cruise ships we have been on. The final show was an opera singer, who was outstanding. The other entertainment on our cruise was also very good. the late show started at 11:15 or 11:30 for those at late seating. On many ships, the show for late seating diners is before the show and after dinner for the early seating. At every show, as well as at all other times, announcements are made in 5 languages (Italian, English, French, German & Spanish), so they are a little tedious. It always sounded like the announcements in Italian were a little more detailed because most of the guests were Italian. We found out that about 90 out of the 2000+ passenger spoke English as a first language. That did not spoil our trip., In fact, the grandchildren found it to be somewhat interesting. Other entertainment on the ship was okay. The disco was crowed only some of the time, especially when there was salsa dancing.
We did not do any of the ship's excursions, as we prefer to do our own thing and make our own tour guide reservations before leaving home. For our group of 10, it was more cost effective anyhow.
The ship, in general, has very nice public areas. Be forewarned that the casino allows smoking, while most other areas do not. There is not adequate smoke removal equipment, so the casino and the area immediately outside the entry to the casino. Although there are a few areas where smoking is permitted, it was easy to miss them. We were glad that the cabins were free of smoke odor, as that was our biggest concern.
This particular cruise is peculiar in that people were embarking at different ports. The primary port of embarkation is Genoa, but we embarked in Rome and people were getting on and off at each port. We found that to be strange.
Some dislikes: 1.) They still schedule 2 formal nights where men should have jackets and ties. We saw many different interpretations of "formal attire". Contrary to what we were told, people were allowed into the dining room on formal night without jackets. Why they can't get with the program and go to more casual attire is something I don't understand. 2.) There is a charge for ice cream cones or cups except at dinner and during the day, it is available for only a short time. 3.) Coffee is not available in the dining room for dinner, but is available at breakfast and lunch in the dining room. 4.) Tea in the afternoon is nothing more than a buffet with poor quality food and mediocre desserts and it is only from 4:00 til 5:00 PM. 5.) There is a charge for food delivered to the cabin and the selection is very poor. 6.) For an Italian cruise line, we found the pizza pretty poor and not worth the calories. 7.) Although the smoked salmon was excellent, there was neither a bagel or cream cheese to be found anywhere on the ship.
Overall, I think that the cruise is between a 3 star and 4 star experience and worth the money.