SHIP: We were very pleased with the ship and it's amenities. We used the mini-golf, pool tables, two swimming pools, hot tub, casino & lounges, shopped in the stores and used the internet stations. I'm a 49 yr old woman who was traveling with my 21 yr old son and we both managed to find lots to do to keep ourselves amused. The ship was extremely clean. Yes after 10 yrs the carpets & upholstery are beginning to look a bit faded, but it certainly is still a fine looking ship.
ACTIVITIES: My son played in (and won) a couple of poker tournaments in the casino, partook in soccer games, I took a "Learn to speak Italian" class, we went in a trivia contest and came out with a bottle of champagne, so there was always something to do. The bingo was a bit pricey - but I guess they wanted the payouts to be good.
SERVICE: The service was impeccable. The staff always greeted you with a huge smile and couldn't do enough for you. Our cabin steward Rudy seemed to magically know our schedule and our cabin was always cleaned by the time we came back to it in the morning and evening. Also loved the creative towel animals left on our beds.STATE ROOM: We were really happy with our category H, oceanview cabin #3554 which was on deck 3, almost mid ship. The window was large and the views were wonderful some days. We found it to be spacious enough. The closet was quite large so we could hang our clothes up and keep our suitcases in it. The shower is a bit compact, but worked well, always enough hot water & good pressure.
DINING: We pretty much ate all breakfast and lunches in the Seaview Cafe which was buffet. The food was good and lots of selection. We ate most of our dinners in the Zephyr part of the dining room at an 8 person table by the window, though we were only six people which gave us lots of elbow room. We also really lucked out with our assigned table mates, the two Canadian couples were super nice people with great personalities, so lots of laughing at dinner. Our cutie waiter Fatin fussed over us and made sure we had more than everything we needed. We were glad we chose the early 6:30 set dining time since 9:00 would have been too late. Since we had a couple of excursions where we would be coming back late, I booked one night in Chops Grille and had a really good steak dinner and another night in the Portifino Restaurant for a wine pairing, Italian dinner. Both were very good.
EMBARKATION: Getting off the ship was certainly much quicker than getting on it. We were called to the lounge and about 20 minutes later we were off the ship, collecting our luggage and in line for a taxi to the airport in Barcelona. We shared a cab with the couple standing in front of us and it cost me $20 euro instead of $40 euro. Getting on the ship seemed to take forever. I would say it probably took close to two hours from the time we arrived at the cruise ship terminal to the time we opened our cabin door.
It may just have been coincidental but we found that every ship excursion had about 4 coaches and they best guides seemed to be with the first coaches out, so just saying, you might want to get to the meeting place early to get assigned to the first coach out. In Athens, we were late and got assigned to the last coach out. The other thing that turned me off about Athens was that everything is covered in graffiti, it's very sad that the city looks a bit like a ghetto because of it. On a positive note there are some lovely buildings, houses, lemon trees and churches.
This was a Monday when the Uffizi gallery was closed so maybe next trip. Note: The vendors in Pisa are very aggressive, as soon as you are getting off the coach they swarm you trying to sell their little trinkets which I wouldn't suggest buying anything from them no matter how cheap. To be safe, only buy from stores or permanent kiosks that give you a receipt. I bought a lovely leather purse in Florence from a store off the beaten path for less than $50 euro.
The vendors are quite aggressive here as well, even the ones with legitimate stores. They come right out and try to hustle you in. They also take any currency, euro's, U.S. dollars etc., so don't worry about not having any Turkish Lira on you. They will even give you change back in the currency you use.
Our guide Sabrina was really good and was very talented at getting us around the crowds and from point A to point B quickly and finding limited shade when she gave her commentaries. Rome was very crowded and the way they drive their little cars and vespa's through such narrow streets is mind boggling. They also park on sidewalks or anywhere that a little car can fit. The tour included a set lunch of veal medallions. I have to say I did wish that the lunches included with the excursions served more authentic local dishes rather than "hotel banquet type food" that is obviously catering to what they think (North)Americans want to eat. Though the food was fine, I was disappointed that I didn't get to taste the regional cooking.