We arrived in Southampton 7th August 11.45 and had luggage removed by porters (excluding hand luggage) We had brought along a wheelchair for my husband as he suffers from arthritis in legs as we thought it might come in handy on excursions. When this was seen, they offered assistance in wheeling him to the ship as they said it would be rather a long walk for him so he took them up on their offer.
The check in operation went very smoothly and we were on the ship within fifteen minutes. As my husband had assistance, we were shown to our stateroom E311 (Emerald deck) which was supposedly fully obstructed outside cabin. What a suprise when we entered. The lifeboat was below the window plus a bar or two going across outside of window but other than that, had a really good view. Obviously wasn't able to see below window, but when sailing and in ports, had great view so worth checking out when booking an outside cabin. I did enquire pre cruise with our T.A. how much extra we would have to pay for an unobstructed cabin and was quoted £300 each which i thought was a bit steep so opted for fully obstructed. I actually think some are more obstructed than others especially if you have a tender boat in front which i know some cruisers did and couldn't see a thing so something to think about when you book.
Our friends that cruised with us had booked an inside cabin which seemed quite a bit smaller. The staterooms are quite adequate for two with a shower room with sink (lovely hot water!) nice dressing table area with large mirror although wasn't overly impressed by the lighting in the room, found it quite difficult putting makeup on but then i suppose my eyesight probably isn't what it used to be. Outside the bathroom is the wardrobe area with a rail in a recess. There were quite a few hangers there but try to bring some of your own as i found i had to leave some of my clothes in my suitcase (probably brought too many!) The bed was lovely and comfortable which we were pleased about as having read some reviews some cruisers ask for egg crates to be placed over mattress which apparently makes them softer - never heard of them before.
After hanging up our finery, we headed for some food in the Horizon Court, deck 14 (aft) wow! what a selection. I'm a vegetarian but there was plenty of choice. We opted for traditional dining which we pre booked so had our evening meal most evenings in Botticelli. Lovely food 4**** but a bit too post for my husband who enjoys quite basic food. We chose 6.15 sitting with our friends (8 of us in all) and had our own table assigned to us. Waiters were brilliant and nothing was too much trouble. If you didn't enjoy what you were eating, they would offer you the other choice. We also went to Horizon some evenings especially when we were in Port and maybe get back late. Although the food was great in Botticelli there was only one choice for me being vegetarian so actually preferred to eat in Horizon (except for formal evenings!) The staff in Horizon are brilliant too. Just a tip, if your with a partner, find a table first and get the other partner to get their meal while you save the table otherwise you'll be searching for a table and your food will be cold. We had our breakfast in the Horizon every morning (full english) for me but without the bacon and sausages being veggie, but i do eat eggs. They have such a selection that sometimes we skipped lunch as we were too full when it came to our evening meal at Botticelli.
The evening shows were very entertaining in the theatre with a good variety. They only went on for an hour but after that we would go to another lounge area where there would be alternative entertainment.
We went on two ship tours, Rome, Naples - (Sorrento and Collosium) lovely tours and well worth the money. The rest we did our own thing. Monaco was a tender and we did our own thing there. Got a local bus to the palace for 1 euro each and entrance in to the palace was something like 11 euros each but well worth it. We found a reasonably priced cafe to have a coffee.
Barcelona is a fun place and we walked Las Ramblas full of street entertainers which you can have your photo done with them for a few coins. Lots of pick pockets in Barcelona so be aware!
Ajaccio (Corsica) very pretty place, well worth the visit. There is a little tourist train that takes you round the town and up the hill to see the statue of Napoleon (his birth place)
Gibralter, we caught the local bus to the cable car to see the monkeys. Can't remember the entrance fee but again, well worth the visit. Make sure you don't carry any food whilst taking photographs as they will grab it. A little boy was eating a bag of crisps and the monkey jumped at him and grabbed the crisps, he was very upset. This is the place to get your alchohol and cigarettes, so much cheaper! I have so much more to say but as time is limited i will close. If you would like anymore info on the Grand please don't hesitate to ask. Sue