Valencia is a beautiful city and we had a fabulous tour of the old town thanks to our Spanish friends and post cruise we took the opportunity to visit the City of Arts & Science complex which is stunning. This included a visit to Oceanagraphic, Europe's largest aquarium/dolphinarium which was excellent.
Embarkation was much smoother than expected compared to previous reviews, quite a bit of hustle and bustle in the small terminal building, however fairly speedy boarding!
Having sailed on the Navigator 3 times, we knew what to expect and despite the age of AOS (10 years) the public areas are very well maintained and not much sign of wear. The facilities on board this class of ship are excellent and ideal when you are travelling with teens (15 & 16 yrs old), however much to my disappointment, they did not want to join me rock climbing, ice skating or roller blading!!! However they really enjoyed the teen club and made lots of friends. It helped that my daughter is studying Spanish and had her Spanish friend with her, as there was an English/Spanish divide within the teen club, however I think we should be more tolerant of other nationalities when taking cruises from other countries - yes, the Spanish prefer to eat late and travel in large groups, however that's their culture and we should just respect and embrace our differences, not expect them to be English!!
Our cabins were well located on deck 6, easy to get up and down to dining/entertainment areas on decks 4/5 and up to deck 11 for the pool without having to constantly use the lifts! Our stateroom attendants were fantastic and the cleanliness couldn't be faulted. Towel animals seem to have been reduced to just 3 per cruise now instead of daily, however we can live with that!!
The dining room food and service was superb. We had my time dining and this gave us great flexibility and we were always seated immediately. There were plenty of tables for 2 for when the girls chose to eat in the Windjammer and at breakfast we had plenty of opportunity to meet and chat with other guests as we were usually put on larger tables. The breakfast service in the main dining room included the option of a buffet or a la carte, so we tried both and enjoyed them both!
Johnny Rockets was great as usual and the Windjammer offered a vast selection so there was always something for everyone. The pizzas & cakes in Cafe Promenade also went down well!
Entertainment was great and the ice show was the best we have ever seen! This is not to be missed!! We saw a few of the theatre shows and the Cruise Director and his staff did a great job keeping both the Spanish & English majorities entertained and spoke fluently in both languages. There was also a white themed pool party and midnight buffet on top deck halfway through the cruise and a captains champagne reception in the promenade, both of which were great.
The one disappointment was the cost of the drinks. We found that the prices had increased this year and then on top of the usual 15% service charge there is a further Spanish tax added so a beer and a baileys cost us $20 a round! Fortunately we are not big drinkers otherwise our bill would have been huge at the end of the cruise!! However it's worth checking your bill carefully as we found we had been charged $50 for 2 pool towels, however they happily took this off when I offered them to check our cases! They also charged for a minibar purchase when we hadn't so much as opened the fridge and the 'free' internet coupon courtesy of crown & anchor had not been taken off the bill, however all sorted once brought to their attention, but it does make you wonder how many people end up paying for things like this if they don't check their bill!!!
All in all, we had a fantastic time, the weather was great, the service was excellent and the food was superb - we enjoyed it so much we booked next year's cruise onboard!
We took the Panoramic Pisa trip which starts with a 30min coach journey to a nature reserve, where you then board a motor cruiser to enter Pisa on the river. Free ice creams and water were given out on the boat and went down very well! Then a short trip by road train to see the leaning tower, which was awesome!! The guide explained about the fascinating history of the tower and we had free time to walk around the 'field of miracles' area and take in the Cathedral, Baptistery *& market stalls. We were given another drink in a cafe which was the meeting point for the road train back to the coach - a great few hours!