Background-We decided on a 7 day cruise in the Med as it was a short flight from home, the couple we holiday with had not cruised before and were keen to try it and we wanted to try RCCI. We saw the deal in the national press and realised it was good value so booked through a local travel agent.
Transfers and embarkation-The flight from Newcastle on Jet 2 was really good and mercifully short, 2 hours plus, and the transfers to the port went without a hitch. The only apparent problem was to be at the embarkation shed where the x-ray scanners were broken. This resulted in a free visit with refreshments, water and lemonade, to Palma castle to kill time and prevent queues at the shed. However after customs and the maddening ship photographers we were on board by 1400hrs.
Cabins-We had adjacent cabins with our friends and were on deck 3. Handy for the dining room and elevators etc. The cabin itself, 3903, was what you would expect for an inside, small and dark but functional. A bit of money and somebody with common sense could probably redesign the fittings and layouts to create more space but as its an old ship RCCI probably wont think its worth it. The offset toilet and tiny shower are really awkward and any large or tall people are at a serious disadvantage.
Meals-We had the late dining option and had a wonderful table right beside a large picture window. We ate there every night because of the excellent food and our brilliant waiters, Rufo and Ronnell, who brought us the best of everything and loads of samplers when asked. We had a table for 6 but only us 4 were ever there.It also meant we were not using the windjammer with the 'starving' bad mannered scrum of people who frequented the area 24/7. The only negative was the extortionate cost of a bottle of house wine-£20 or $30 for a Chilean white!!!! RCCI should be ashamed.
We also had breakfasts in the main DR and these were excellent too, although how the staff remain calm at some of the downright ignorant and rude passengers is a mystery to us. We did use the Windjammer for lunches and snacks and the food quality was good and plentiful despite the clientele.
Entertainment-We never went to the shows but the ship itself was adequate and we visited the casino and most of the bars. The Schooner bar with Big Al and Savio was our favourite due to the measures and the banter. We became regulars along with a few other guests and had our regular sundowners there from 1630hrs till dinner. What entertainment the ship provided was mainly holiday camp rubbish, silly games, bloody karaoke, bingo and x factor type tripe.
Ports-the significant thing about RCCI ships when in port is the docking point, which is as far away as possible from the town centres. This means using RCCI transfers,which in my opinion should be free, or taxis or walking. Whatever the option it costs, either in euros of footleather!!
Barcelona was nice but samey with sights well spread out. Ibiza was beautiful, clean and neat as well as very picturesque. Malaga was also clean and pretty once we found the town centre but mainly full of shops. Gibraltar was exactly like being back in Britain, rubbish on streets and grubby and locals very abrupt. Very good for duty free but expensive in pubs and cafes.
General-We thoroughly enjoyed our 7 day cruise but the ship itself is rather old and it is beginning to show. The staff are a credit to the ship and they do everything they can to help. The prices of almost everything on board are really high, alcohol being the main culprit. e.g. a glass of house white @ $9.00 with a 15% tip and tax on top!! give me a break. A pint was $6.95 plus extras. The damn photographers are also a nuisance too but as its their job you cant blame them.
Conclusion-We enjoyed the experience and commend the staff and the dining, this made our holiday,but we will not be using RCCI again in the med due to the restrictions and the overall onboard costs.