We went with Thomas Cook Flexible tours and our cruise specialist was only too happy to help with all the daft questions I had because it was our first cruise and wanted to be prepared and having read some on the reviews on here you wonder who is right as the reviews vary so much.
As we booked just a couple of weeks before going we got an excellent price for a junior suite with a balcony for myself, my wife and son who was 16 whilst we were there.
We flew from Manchester and after a short delay on the shuttle bus got down to the port. If I did it again I would get a taxi for the difference it costs we did that coming back and it was much easier.
When we got the port as we had a suite we got preferential boarding and it had only cost £100 more than a normal room and was much larger. Straight on the ship in a couple of minutes, directed to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch and the cabin was ready at 1pm. They take your luggage when you get there and it appears in your cabin before 7pm. Ours was there before 3pm. TIP put some shorts in your hand luggage and whatever you will need by the pool. You dont need towels at all. They are free by the pool, in the gym which has showers and toiletries and in your room they change them sometimes twice a day. If you are in a suite you get a free robe to use as well.
Room - Twin/double bed, double sofa bed which your attendant puts out each night and away each morning. Flat screen TV, several English channels including info about the cruise such as tours of the kitchen which are spotless and last nights Palladium entertainment. Two Movie channels showing new videos and TCM and news etc. Fridge, hairdryer, tissues toiletries, bath with shower over. Large Wardrobe and plenty of drawers and a free electronic safe. Vanity unit, coffee table two chairs and table and chairs on balcony.Plenty of mirrors which make it seem big.
We dined at 6pm which we were going to change because it was early but they sat us with a couple with a son the same age as ours so we spent each night with them. I thought this was good attention to detail and helped make the holiday.
Food was good and if you didnt like it they changed it immediately. You could order from the menu if there was something else you wanted it appeared. The other lad had chicken strips and chips a couple of time which was no trouble.
TIP - Speciality coffees are extra it is in small print. TIP - get the soda package for kids it saves a fortune
If you fancy more than one pudding or a couple of dishes take your fancy just ask and you will get. They are that helpful. The waiters don't get any wages only room and board and flights home they rely on tips. We prepaid ours but they were so good that we added a little extra.
Celebrations are good I ordered a cake for my son which was delivered to the table for maximum embarrassment.
Quite a lot of bars and entertainment all contained in the Cruise Compass which you get the night before. If you cant find something to entertain you its hard lines. Some of the shows were a bit hit and miss but the headline acts were good and the musicians, singers and groups round the ship are excellent.
Drink prices are like hotel prices but are cheaper when more than 12 miles out because of tax.
Gym had some weights and machines but lots of cycles and running machines on the top of the ship. Lots of classes too some with a small charge but it clearly states this. Activities all day by the pool. The pool is a bit of a letdown and if you want a sunbed on sea days you need to be there before 8.30am.
Windjammer cafe is great serving food all day in buffet style but eggs and omelettes cooked to order.
Room service is free except between 12 mnt and 5am. My wife and son ordered Cheeseburger and fries at 1am and it was there in 5 minutes. The cost $3.95 any other time free very reasonable.
If you have been on bigger ships this may seem less grand but too us it was amazing and a beautiful ship.
Didn't bother with the excursions. Went to Barcelona on the public bus from the prot 3 euros return as opposed to $10 for the ship one. There was no bus in Ibiza so we used the the ship one although there isn't much in Ibiza town. Walked into Malaga and the beach and Gibraltar which was my favourite. Went up on the cable car to see the Apes which were amazing. Walked it down as it was a nice day. Make sure you have comfy shoes and are fit if you do that as it is a fair old trek my calves were twitching at the end of that.
TIP -If you have a late flight for $35 per person you can stay on the ship till 3pm and use all the facilities including the cafe, showers etc but you have to be out of room by 9am. Otherwise you are of the ship from 6am dependant on flight times
You get out what you put in I have heard people mention Butlins when referring to this ship and I see what they mean but it is a very posh Butlins with two formal nights where nothing is too much trouble and the food is great.
We loved it.