Embarkation was not the best introduction to our first cruise. It felt more of a cattle market, where cruise staff appeared to be single minded in their intent on getting hold of our credit card details, than welcoming us to the cruise experience.
Our initial impression on embarking was that the ship was huge, and we thought we would never find our way around, but our fears were unfounded and after a short time we pretty much had our bearings. (No doubt my husband would find that hard to believe!)
Our cabin was basic, but adequate for a week's cruise. However, we did have to get the staff to rearrange the beds into an "L" shaped arrangement (our request on booking), to make better use of the floor space.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the greatest sailor, but I did manage to find my sealegs quite quickly (thankfully), unlike a few of our fellow travellers, who were conspicuous by their absence at meal times.
However, the staff did try and prepare for inclement weather, by strategically placing sickbags around the ship, not that my mother had much to worry about. She proved to be a true sailor and I'm sure the boat could have been doing somersaults and it wouldn't have put her up nor down (apart from perhaps taking the precaution to don some water wings and relocate to a life boat!).
We certainly found enough to do on board, and tried to fit in as many activities as possible, which made the cruise feel very hectic (but as we were only on board for 7 days we wanted to try everything on offer).
A longer cruise would certainly have given us some breathing space and would have allowed us to take things at a more leisurely pace. However, we did enjoy the card competitions, dancing lessons, quizzes, demonstrations, etc, etc, etc.
On top of all these activities we had to find time to eat, and the food was superb, with enough choice during our 7 days on board.
We tried all the restaurants on offer, but felt our second time in the a la carte was not as good as our first visit. That apart, we did enjoy all the culinary delights on offer and, as you can imagine, it was weightwatchers for us on our return home.
The entertainment staff were very hard working, putting on all the daily activities, then performing in the evening at the shows, (which they performed very professionally).
We found all the staff to be very helpful and accommodating and especially enjoyed returning to our cabin to see how the cleaning staff had presented our towels each day. (To our delight they were very imaginative and comedic in their endeavours.)
The port and shore excursions were very well organised, easy to book and professionally executed but, to be honest, we only really got a taste of these places, and we would like to return on another holiday to spend more time in each of them.
Disembarkation was pretty straightforward. Our cases were put on the quay, which we then had to identify for the onward transfer by bus to the airport.
Overall, it was an enjoyable first cruise. The lessons from that holiday will certainly be put to good use on any future cruises, ie duration of holiday, locations, cabin size, fully inclusive, time of year, weather, etc.
On this occasion we took the tour excursion from Nice to Monaco. The sun was shining and the scenery on route was lovely. We did a walking tour up to the Palace, and it was interesting to see part of the route used by the Formula 1 racing cars, as well as all the multi-million pound yachts berthed in the marina.
5th and last port of call - Mahon (Menorca)
This was a favourite, with the town just a short climb up the steps from the port. Another relaxing day wandering round pedestrian friendly streets, shopping and admiring the architecture.
2nd port of call - Civitavacchia (Italy)
Another cold and damp day for our 2nd port. However, it did not stop us looking about and enjoying market day in the square (and trying to find something appropriate for the Halloween Party that night on board).
3rd port of call - La Spezia (Italy)
At last a sunny day for our excursion ashore. This time the ship's tender took us to the quay, a slick operation, where we enjoyed a leisurely wander.