The long and short of it was we had a good time (because of the group of people we were with), the ship was nice, but the cruiseline leaves alot to be desired and we won't sail with them again.
We've been on 7 or 8 cruises, on lines like Carnival & Princess, and the ultra exclusive Sea Dream. We've done the Caribean, the Mediterranean, and the Baltic. So we have a bit of experience with cruising and European cruising.
Embarkation for us was easy. No lineups, no waiting. I'm sure it had something to do with us arriving just an hour before it was to set sail. We've never arrived that late before (it was out of our control) but will purposely do it again, given the ease of it. Our friends said their boarding was typically lengthy and chaotic.
The ship itself is, overall, beautiful. I think they could have done better in some of the layout, though. There didn't seem to be enough restrooms. And some floors were hard to get to. We're usually pretty good on ships - takes about a day to get the layout & how to go through the ship - but we were still getting confused several days in. The buffet layout was pretty bad, as well.
We had a room on the 14th floor - a Cat 11 balcony, room 1421. Very small. The smallest we've had, and we always get balconies. Hard to actually fit all your clothes in the closet, so had them spread all over in different drawers throughout the room. The giant mirror at the end of the bed was an interesting touch.
In other reviews, people have commented on the lack of water. It's true. Water must be the most precious thing on board, because you can't find it for free and they charge you an arm and a leg for it. Even the workout room - which is actually pretty nice - doesn't have a water cooler. I've never seen that before. Speaking of the workout room, unlike other cruiselines, you can't just use the workout changeroom / sauna / steam room. You have to pay for it, and pay alot per hour.
Food is just OK. Buffet was typical European buffet - meats & cheeses for breakfast. You can always get the typical north american stuff, but it really wasn't very appetizing. Lunch was better than breakfast, but nothing great. Dinners were better. We had the sitdown every night (I don't think they have a buffet, honestly. We never saw it open.) and the meals were the best of the day, and some things were actually quite good, but generally OK; not great. We did the Asian restaurant two times (pay extra) and it was really good. The dim sum was fantastic.
Speaking of the buffets, they were definitely European style, including the cutting in line. Others have mentioned it, as well, and it really is true. And it's not just the buffets. If you're walking towards someone, and you're heading towards a real tight spot, they expect you to move. They won't. You're in their region & it's their culture, so I guess you have to have some leeway.
As for the stops, Venice is beautiful. Spend as much time here as you can pre or post cruise. It was great.
Not really sure about Bari. Not sure why it's on the itinerary. Nice enough place, but not much there in the way of historical stuff. It was Sunday so most things were closed. There's little trains that drive around town & give you a tour. Don't get the trains that are by the boat. As soon as you step outside the pier, they're 1/2 price. It was an easy way to see Bari & the tour was OK.
Katakolon is another one that's questionable. Virtually a little town of shops when you get off the boat & that's it. The only thing is the Olympic site and you have to take a bus or taxi there. Once again, take the bus outside the pier - 1/2 price vs buying the excursion on the boat. The site was OK. Pretty cool to see the old historical stuff, but really hot & not much else to see.
Izmir was very nice. We didn't do the tour to Ephesus. Was there 2 years ago & that was good enough. Izmir itself was very clean, modern, good shopping, and just a great stop. Make sure to get the 'street meat' (a 'doner' or also called a gyro).
Istanbul is a must-see. This was our 2nd time there. The Blue Mosque and the Sophia are beautiful, and the Grand Bazaar was great. We hired a private boat to tour the Bosphorus. 1 hour was 120 Euros, split between 3 couples. Given the waves, 1 hour was just enough.
Dubrovnik was one of our favourites, but unfortunately one of the shorter stops for some reason. Definitely not what we expected. Very beautiful landscape and town. If you're going to the Old Town (definitely do it) bite the bullet & book a bus through the ship. You're paying more, but you're guaranteed a ride. We got off the boat & there wasn't a single taxi waiting. But hundreds of people wanting one. It was chaos. Take the local bus, as it goes by there, but you need 10 Kunas - they don't take Euros. So you need to exchange it, which was chaos. We ended up doing a 20 minute power-walk there & glad that we did. The sights along the coast were awesome. The old town was great. Have a bite to eat or drink in one of the tiny side streets. You won't be disappointed.
The weather was really hot in each city, the seas were very calm, & it didn't rain once - just a beautiful vacation.
Getting back to the cruiseline, we wouldn't sail with them again due to many reasons. They seem to nickel and dime you at every chance. Whether it's the water or the change rooms or the expensive drinks. Or the fact you can't get food between certain hours of the day. Buffet closes at 10 and lunch opens at 12. No where to get anything to eat on board during that time. Unlike other cruiselines, there aren't any little deli's or something to get food outside of buffet hours. Want a little snack at 11pm? Too bad. Order a limited room service menu & pay for it.
And speaking of drinks, the real topper is the all-inclusive package. We tried to get that beforehand and wanted to be charged in Euros (the options were Euros or US$) because it was way cheaper in Canadian $ with Euros vs US$ as the exchange rates were all out of whack. They called back & said they couldn't - it had to be US$. But that we could get it on the ship & the ship would charge Euros. Fine. We get on board & they tell us that the program was terminated. We're ticked, but what can you do. A couple days later, a bartender tells us it's still available, people have it, and you can buy it at the front desk. Go down there & they say it's still available but you had to buy it before you got on board!!!! Tell them we tried, and their own company said we could buy it on-board, and they tell us we have to talk to 'them'! Funny, I thought 'them' and the ship were the same company??? Bottom line is the left doesn't know what the right is doing & doesn't care.
So, overall, good stops, nice ship, decent crew, and brutal cruiseline.