Not cruised before....You will love it
Got kids...They will love it
Enjoy Butlins....You will love it
Looking for a quality cruise with all the touches...forget it
In comparison to the many other cruises we have taken (including 3 this year with Princess and P&O) what’s on offer here is sadly lacking.
1. No launderette. Were told by guest services they preferred to use the space for an ice rink and other facilities. No irons permitted in the cabin but of course I could get clothes pressed up at the laundry, for a fee. .
2. No formal afternoon tea in the dining room. Only afternoon snacks in the self-service canteen.
3. No chocolates on the pillows at night (petty I know, but always adds to the ambiance)
4. No full range of toiletries in the stateroom, only tablet soap and shampoo from a dispenser...no shower gel,no shower cap, no body lotion as on other cruise lines.
5. Meals: The self service Windjammer (Canteen)on deck 11 had a good selection of well cooked food, breakfast, lunch and dinner – although the menu was repetitive.
The Dining Rooms on decks 3 & 4 were a let down.
They served a la Carte breakfast on deck 4 from 7.30 - 9.30 - very minimal selection.
Deck 3 self service buffet also very limited selection until 10 30.
Reconstituted orange juice served free - if you wanted freshly squeezed then you had to pay for it.
Didn't try the restaurant lunch menu, but we have never had such mediocre dinners on any cruise ship.
The Dining Room evening meal was a basic 3 courses (even on the night of the Captains Gala Diner). Each course was very ordinary with starters being such things as Prawn cocktail, melon or soup. Main dishes were unimaginative and on the whole not attractively presented. Never offered lobster once, except in bisque soup! Sweets were probably the best part of the meal. The whole experience was comparable to a general English pub menu.
6. Entertainment on board during the day was limited unless you wanted to spend money in the spa, play bingo or the casino. No cookery demos, fruit carving demos, ice carving demos, tour of the galley, computer classes etc . They had a liking for trivia quizzes though, averaging up to 5 per day! Could it be because they were held in the bars encouraging passengers to part with more cash in return for drinks??. Drink prices were inclusive, none of the plus 15% nonsense.
7. The main street - Royal Promenade ran half the length of the ship and was lined either side with shops and bars and a general jumble sale of the usual stuff on stalls down the middle. A nice idea and quite pleasant for walking during the day, but totally unsuitable as a venue for functions, such as the Captains welcome party. It was so full you couldn't move. The champagne had finished by the time we got through the sea of people and there were no canapés offered.
They also held a 70s street party and a Britannia party there. It was a crowded free for all.
There were 2 evening parades along the promenade- reminiscent of Disney.
8. Their Quest show was more suited to a Club 18/30 holiday. In a nutshell, the audience was divided into teams for a treasure hunt which started off with mundane items such as a pair of shoes, ties, excursion ticket etc. and then sank into the realms of collecting trousers, shirts and bras (minus their owners of course).
9. Their stage shows were very colourful and the scenery was good, but when I tell you that they Were called "Once upon a time" and "Under the big top" you know they were geared to younger audiences. You also may not wish to go back on IOTS for some considerable time as we were told that because of their complex scenery etc. to change the show costs between 1.3 and 2m dollars and they were expected to run for up to 8 years on the same ship, that is until it is re-fitted!!! The resident 9 piece band were good.
10.No alcohol was to be brought on board (not that we had much chance to buy anything in port as the timings were dreadful). In Madeira and Vigo we didn’t arrive until lunchtime and set sail again late afternoon. House wine was $5 a glass in the self-service canteen and wine bar on the Royal Parade and $7 everywhere else.Draught beer, Boddingtons or Speckled Hen about $7 a pint
11.There were no nibbles produced with bar drinks until after the first week and then only if you asked for them.
12.No art auctions (not even an art gallery). We missed the entertainment value, even if you didn't buy anything!
13. Inside cabin appeared narrower or could have just been badly laid out. To get round one side of our double bed was impossible as the bed end was against the edge of the fridge.
14.Tea making facilities supplied in the cabin - but no coffee sachets. Very odd! Cabin breakfast service excellent and free.
15. No champagne fountain - always good for a photo opportunity. Talking of which there were 22 photographers on board. That's obviously a good money spinner at up to $29.95 per photo. The spot lighting and IT equipment around the ship was first class.
16. Most unusual place we found to eat was Johnny Rockets - a 1950s style milk bar. There was a supplement (of course) but worth the extra $4.95 each. They had remote juke box selectors on every table. Unfortunately they were only for display and the music was canned but all of the right era.
Food was fun. Typically burgers, fish and chips, onion rings and dip and bowls of chilli and chips. I really loved the chocolate sundae. The waiters entertained diners by sporadic dancing to the music!!Everyone was applauded by all present upon entering and leaving the facility!
17.The morning TV show was mainly taken up by the Cruise Director and his sidekick reading out jokes and the odd dedication, that had been sent in by passengers. Their time might have been put to better use giving more general info about the ship and facilities ashore. On Lanzarote we were offered a shuttle bus at $6 per passenger each way into town. We were given no intimation of how far it was but fancied a walk. After 30 minutes we reached IKEA and still couldn't see the town. So we went into the store for a drink, turned round and walked back to the ship!
There were a lot of children on board. It was the Scottish school half term holiday (something we didn’t know when I booked.). However, it is obvious they are pitching to the family market. It felt like an upmarket Butlins on the sea. Provokes a question - what families wouldn't want laundrettes?????????
Oh yes – for amusement value only.
I had a problem with the hardwired hairdryer in my cabin. It cut out 3 times when I was drying my hair on a formal night. We were visited by 2 electricians (how many men does it take to repair a hairdryer??) who proceeded to explain to me how to operate it properly! Just so that you
know for future reference, apparently one should only switch it on for about 3 seconds then switch it off for 2!! Fortunately by the time they passed on their words of wisdom, my hair was done. I did however make it clear to them that I had never heard such rubbish in all my life!!!
I have to say that the ship was spotless. When we arrived at the port we were handed a piece of paper that said there had been an outbreak of the norovirus on the previous voyage and that our embarkation would be delayed due to a deep clean. Thankfully, I didn't hear of any such problems on our trip.
On the plus side - the ice show was very good but it didn't make up for all that was lacking.
Good choice of room service menu – although tea/coffee sometimes arrived lukewarm.
Our cabin steward –Edmund – was a good ambassador for his ship. Always cheerful, polite and attentive.
If you are over 45, travelling without children, or used to cruising with fine dining and the frills that make the experience extra special then THIS IS NOT FOR YOU – DON’T GO THERE