Arrived at Port of Southampton about 1.00pm On board within 40 minutes and enjoying the offer of champagne, wine or orange juice. Access to stateroom was announced almost immediately.
Stateroom 1211 was immaculate and of course we were greeted by a very pleasant attendant. Fruit and Champagne was available as part of the Concierge Class package. I now understand from other blogs that you can ask for the champagne to be exchanged for wine, useful for those that do not like a stone dry drink. Canapes in the afternoon lacked something and whereas in August these were automatic you now have to request daily by filling in a card. After 2/3 days we decided it was better to go to the Cafe Bachio and bring back some of their free canapes which were far superior. We had breakfast service in the room every day and it was promptly delivered on time. One or two days we had a cooked breakfast and this was warm but does seem to be an improvement on last year when it was cold almost everyday.
We had the Select Dining package which gives you flexibility to check in at anytime. I cannot understand why the online management system requests you enter specific times !! The menu selection and quality of food (with minor exceptions) was excellent. Chef Van Staaden creates his own menu choices which vary from night to night as well as the regular menu which can be good enough in its own right.
We chose a 3 speciality restaurant package, the cover charge cost is a reduction on making individual reservations. Murano, Tuscan Grill and Qsine.
Surprisingly the one failure was Murano which is supposed to be the most highly rated of the three. Lobster Tails ruined by an overpowering sauce of mustard and smoked bacon. Caesar Salad (prepared table side) but we have tasted better in regular chain steakhouses in Florida. Tuscan Grill superb, Qsine out of this world, we were so impressed we went there a second time on the last night of our cruise. The Maitre D a young woman from Peru was charming and ensured that everything worked perfectly. My wife who is not computer orientated even got to enjoy selecting the menu items on the Ipad. It is nice if you can go with another couple (A foursome) as the menu is so varied you can sample more items.
Our first visit we had Lava Crab, Lobster Escargots, Filet Mignon, Kobe Beef Burgers and Italian Meatballs. Desserts were Triple fruit ice creams, cream brulee and chocolate coated strawberries. Wow!!!
All of our time on deck was spent in the Spa area, this is prohibited to families with young children and is covered, so less noise and ok in bad weather. It also has a healthy eating restaurant for lunch which makes up for all that evening dining. We did not use the spa facilities other than to have haircuts, shortly after arrival and to puchase some facial items for my wife from Elemis.
Shore excursions, only did three visits this time, Toulon using the ships shuttle bus, Rome using a privately booked Limo and Cadiz walking from the dockside.
All in all an excellent trip