We have previously cruised on the very big RCI ships. We fancied a quick summer getaway cruise to get some sun, so booked a late deal with FO.
Embarkation at Dover was very slick,easy and friendly. As we got on board we found the ship much much smaller than we are used to, but clean and nicely kitted out. Our inside cabin was small and set out as two single beds, we asked our attendant to convert to a double and she did this within half an hour. Although small, it was clean and we had everything we needed including tea and coffee making facilities. The cabin did creak at night in the rough weather which was a bit disconcerting and kept us awake. The ship was quite unstable in the rough weather we encountered.
The thing that struck us the most was the age of the other passengers; probably 80% were over 65, quite a few singles travelling alone. We did feel sorry for the younger couples on board with children. Seating aroung the ship was generally occupied with sleeping elderly. However, we were there to have good time, so we made the best of it.
The food was excellent. You could have 5 courses if you wanted, the portions were just right, not too excessive, and great variety every day. We could not fault the food. The waiter service was not as polished as RCI but they did try hard.
Drinks were very reasonably priced all round and we appreciated the absence of the dreaded service charge. We were able to tip as we saw fit and that was a bonus.
Unfortunately, we were struck with bad weather. Our first port of call was Fowey, which we were looking forward to visiting, but it was closed. We headed for Porto, we hoped we would get there sooner but the captain went slower to get there at the scheduled time, so we had an extra sea day with not much to do. When I say not much, it was so not much. Extra activities were scheduled but did not appeal to the younger passenger. The weather did improve slightly later on but was so disappointing for August, they had better at home, but this was not FO's fault.
Entertainment was generally very good and we enjoyed talks by Sir Bernard Ingham. The rest was not Hollywood, but Ok; we were getting used to the slower pace and our expectations were lowered. Have to say the staff overall were excellent - majority Phillipino. The cruise director seemed too young for his audience and out of his depth.
All in all the bad weather made a huge difference to our enjoyment, there was not enough for younger(50's!)passengers but we can't deny that there's an obvious allegience to FO and the quiet and friendly atmosphere on board if that is what you want. If you want endless doing nothing and reading, this is for you. For us, if we had known the age range of the passengers we would not have booked. Would we go with FO again? On reflection, maybe (later on!) In the meatime we have booked our next trip with RCI.