Venice- spent 1 week here before departing. Loved every minute of it. Did 2 day trips- Ravenna and Padua, as well as a day in Murano. It really helps to speak the language, avoid tourist traps for restaurants, and spend the night in the heat of things (I like the St Marks area for convenience).
Embarkation: Not impressive. In all of the details of our trip, there was a start time to embarkation, there was a location (Piazzale Roma) where a bus would be, but that was it. We took a Vaporetto to the Piazzale where we found many confused and upset cruisers (not just RC though). There were no cruise line representative, not even a sign, and large mass of unorganized people. When a bus would come our way, everyone would attack it. Some people were waiting 4 hours! When we got to the port, the wait to get to a representative was not long. But, she could not estimate the time at all, for how long it would be until we could get on. We asked around and it seemed it was over 30 minutes, and daylight was wasting! We decided to abandon the ship and go back out for the day. We went out and found a RC bus, but all he could tell us was that he was not going to Piazzale Roma, he dropped us off at the entrace to the port- no one could tell us how long of a walk to get to P. Roma, and we ended up jumping on a Costa bus back. We had asked RC about how long the buses back to the boat went- and we were told midnight.
We walked around the area of P. Roma- all the way to Scoula San Rocca and loved this area of Venice- especially the Piazza San Barnaba.
So, we got back to P. Roma at 6 pm. Waited with another group of various cruise passengers and a bus never came! A very nice local told us how to get to the port by using a 1 euro people mover and then a not so long walk- but in complete darkness. I was pretty upset at RC for the lack of information and disorganization! We finally got on the boat, found it to be a ghost town!
Room: immediately was disappointed in the drabness of this boat. I really can only compare it to RC Navigator, but I guess I expected more. It seemed more cramp, older, and the bathroom especially disappointed me with the 80's pink tile and shower curtain- loved the shower in the Naviagator.
We did learn that separate beds give you a firmer mattress. Balcony smaller than Navigator. Couch is bigger, but who needs a couch. Stateroom attendant was nice. Towel animals were not inspiring- we were not sure what they were half the time. And empty bottles of wine, food sitting out for days- did not make it out of the room until the sat inside the garbage.
Enviroment: maybe because this is the "holy lands" cruise and we were 30 somethings looking for adventure, but the boat seemed very boring and disappointing. The disco was always empty. The activities never really interested us (towel folding, lots of bingo). I really loved our Cruise Director Dave, he was really the one shining star- he made the game shows like "Love and Marriage", "belly flop contest" and other shine. Also enjoyed some of his staff, but others barely spoke English, and did not understand entertainment (ex: if you are hosting a name that tune, and someone guesses wrong, please play the answer the audience!!)
The one fun night was 70s night, and of course we had a 7am port the next day, so we did not want to stay out past midnight.
The ship in general seemed run down, it felt like a 90s hotel that needs an upgrade. The art is very uninspiring. lots of gold, in a bad way. But, by the end of the week, I liked it in a strange way.
Food/ Dining Room: Loved our Brazilian staff, we talked to them a lot, requested them at lunch. Also, our first Staff Manager that we actually enjoyed- he talked candidly with us, brought special dishes for us, etc. I like the food, a nice variety of adventerous vs old standbys. Though, I think the Navigator was better quality. Lunch- enjoyed the dining room salad bar where the staff mixes it for you- I don't think we ever had to go to Windjammer for lunch, which was a relief because the breakfast shoving match was too much to handle (this was mostly due to a certain large tour of people that were very very rude).
Entertainment- no grand shows like Navigator- like a Beatles or Celine Dione impersonator, but small, short (which I prefer) and generally enjoyable.
The small bands were nice, but just not really my style (loungey) but it was nice to see some very good dancers amongst the guests.
Internet- I personally find it offensive that the needless cable TV is free (we never watched it), but we have to pay like $1 per minute for internet. I know nice hotels do it to, but we need to get into the real world. I asked the desk about wifi- and we were told that the connection was really bad, so I paid to sit at their desks and then spent 30 minutes of wasted time (and of course money), as I could go nowhere. After talking to other people, I realized that wifi was much, much faster. but seriously, the cost is ridciulous. those of us needing the many minutes are usually doing this for work purposes.
I really don't understand the whole idea of packing up your stuff, letting someone stack it all up and take it out for you. I convinced my friend to just roll our own bag (we only had 1 bag per person and a backpack), and this was much more relaxing. We stayed in our cabin for a while since our flight was late in the day, went for a stroll to complain about our bill, then walked off easily after the large groups walked off. Easy bus ride to Piazzale Roma. We jumped on a local bus to the airport for about 3 euro (as opposed to the RC bus for $33) and we were done.