While I realize the GV may not be within everyone's budget, we were able to rationalize the price tag when divided by 6 passengers. The service level (including Butler and Concierge), space (over 4300 sq ft.) and amenities, made this cabin category and excellent buy in our opinion.
The Garden Villa is simply spectacular. The suites themselves were spacious and well appointed. The private hot tub, sauna and upper sun decks (there are 2) meant our group never really had to leave the comfort of our cabin. Although we had access to the Private Courtyard with pool, hot tub, steam room and sitting area; we really didn't use them as we felt we had everything we needed in our suite.
While we understood there would be several amenities specific to the category, there were a few surprises. Yes, there were 6 bottles of liquor provided, but we didn't expect the soft drinks, water (including sparkling) to be included too. We did purchase a wine package of 8 bottles to use in our suite. Unfortunately we never asked if a similar beer package was available for purchase, but we really weren't lacking in terms of beverage selections. While Bailey's Irish Cream wasn't on the suite selection menu, our Butler was able to secure a bottle at our request. That was perk number 2.
Florentina, our concierge, was fantastic and she was able to secure all our requested dinner reservations and our spur of the moment spa request on our first day at sea.
Our Butler, Made (Maddy), was incredible. His level of attention was superb. Each afternoon he would bring plates of sandwiches, cheese and crackers, snacks, chocolate covered strawberries, etc. and ensuring our bar area was constantly stocked. We jokingly asked for PBJ with the crusts cut off and behold, they appeared on the sandwich platter the next day!
On our last day at sea we were invited by the Captain for a tour of the bridge (another perk). The Staff Captain (from Sweden) provided a very detailed explanation of the ship, their fire prevention systems (the biggest danger for a ship at sea), the navigation system, protocol for docking at port, etc.As for the cruise and ports of call, they were spectacular. We took the overnight tour to Marrakech and found it to be jam packed with points of interest. We were exhausted at the end of the evening, but all agreed, we wouldn't have missed it for the world!
Our favourite stop was the island of Madiera, and our tour gave us the opportunity to see it from the top - what a view.
The days at sea offered a chance to relax and enjoy the ship. We found the nightly entertainment to be quite good and enjoyed the additional perk of a section in the first balcony (right beside the orchestra) which is reserved for the guests of the Courtyard and Villas. We really found the Staff talent show "Showdown" to be quite good and terrific fun!
Our first cruise experience was incredible and our group is now hooked on cruising. We're even planning for the next 50th birthday celebration and hope to be able to book the same category again. If you have a group of 6 or more, I highly recommend the Garden Villa.