We have taken many cruises to Europe on Celebrity and Princess but this was our first experience on a small ship. We were a little apprehensive, but chose this because of the itinerary. The ship, a refurbished Rennaisance ship, was elegant, comfortable, and relaxing. The crew bent over backwards to make us happy and assisted in every sitiuation we needed them to.
Food was wonderful! We missed the anytime dining, but we found that there were no long waits for dishes, hot food came piping hot, and the head waiter came to every table every night to check in and chat. We felt totally pampered! One afternoon we ate lunch at the buffet and when we went back for the chocolate ice cream, it was gone. My husband was a little disappointed, and they went to find, and bring him, a tall dish of his chocolate! We were blown away! This would never happen on a large ship.
There are no bells and whistles on this ship. There is just excellent service, comfort, and quiet elegance. On our last voyage on a larger ship, (the Crown Princess)they repeated entertainment the following evenings, so that every other night there was nothing to see. The last evening there was nothing. Even the comic they brought on board repeated his exact stand-up routine two times! On this ship, there was new entertainment EVERY night, and they even brought on local whirling dervishes and belly dancers in Egypt. It was great!
Here is just one example of how fabulous this crew was: We bought a coffee card. On the first day, we went to Deck 5 and had a custom, iced, chocolate/coffee drink blended for us. The next day, we were instantly recognized, and the drinks completely recalled and duplicated. Amazing!You really get to know the staff and crew on this ship, and they quickly become like old friends.
Embarkment and disembarkment went quickly and smoothly. We were surprised to have to surrender our passports for Egypt when we got on, but we had receipts to put away for getting them back. The morning of visa stamping went very quickly. There were no long lines in hot sun to get on and off the ship. There were no long lines for ANYTHING! When we entered our stateroom for the first time (in Venice),here were tender transfers to go into the San Marco Square if you wanted, and if not,youjust had to turn them in and then you would not be charged the $15 each for them. Very thoughtful...a nice touch, I think.
You get tendered into this port. Rating: 2
This is quiet, small-town island. The town itself was limited, the main attraction was a monastery that we did not go to. We shopped a bit, and went back to the ship. It was torridly hot that day, and we really did not see much there. It could be lovely...I honestly cannot say much about it.
Ravenna, Italy Rating : 2
The ship provided shuttles into and out of Ravenna. We did not know this in advance and had already booked our only ship's excursion into Brisghella and Faenza. DO NOT BOTHER TO DO THIS EXCURSION. We were taken to see an old, faded, mostly emptied palace that did not hold any one's attention for long, a ceramics factory (that was interesting but limited)and a small church. We walked empty streets to see Brisghella, not much to see there-colorful, quaint, limited. We returned in rain, and so we honestly did not see Ravenna.
Kusadasi, Turkey RATING: 4
We have been here before and already seen Ephasus, so we strolled the city and shopped the bazaar for the things we had no time for in Egypt. Spent half a day and went back on the ship. We were hot and still tired from Egypt and Israel in the 120 degree heat wave. Saw the rug making demonstrations, the "genuine fakes-- buy 2 Cartier watches for $35 and they throw in a pashmina shawl!!!! " I bet that those watches work for at least 3 days, too!