We arrived in Barcelona the afternoon before, settling in the Hotel Fira Palace for the evening. I got a good deal and was very pleased with it. The taxi ride was short - only 8 euro for the distance, doubled because of the cost of our luggage. We arrived just before midday so embarkation was busy, but we really did not have to wait long. Tip - if you have something to sort out with guest relations go now - it was the only time I saw it empty! We had to have extra key cards made as DDs were 18 and 20 and so in theory could not be in a stateroom by themselves. We forgot to hand in the alcohol waiver at the same time, so I did need to queue later :(
The ship seemed familiar after having sailed Voyager, Jewel and Adventure so we made our way up to Deck 11 and had lunch whilst waiting for the room to open. It was not really hot enough to want to dive into the pool but we were happy enough being on board. I was amaazed how well the windjammer coped with the numbers, there were always spare seats. No table hoggers here.
The longest queue I ever saw happened after muster drill. The windjammer was now closed and so to get a cup of tea you needed to go to the Royal Promenade. I needed one though so it had to be endured.
That was it, we were on board.
There was lots to do - fabulous shows, great cruise director Leo Papa who managed to sound enthusiastic in both languages, although he usually got more response in Spanish - was that because it was the second time we heard the jokes??? There were more bars and live music than you could want for a week. OK so the parades were corny and we felt the costumes were designed by someone who was colour blind - but it is a detail.
I liked the food, but I am not a meat eater; I heard people complaining but maybe they were referring to the steaks when the say that the food is underseasoned. You can always ask for more salt, you cannot take it out if there is too much for your likeing.
The one ship tour we went on was well organised. We also took the late departure program which was good value and you felt like it was another day at sea. My family did not really enjoy it though because by this time they felt 'ready to go' and so it was like hanging around. We would make terrible back to back cruisers!
Our stateroom was opposite the library. I had previously enjoyed a PR but found it noisy (above the bar) this time I chose one away from the noise of the Promenade. I was worried about being too near the lift, but apart from hearing children running by our door about 3 or 4 times, I would hardly have known anyone else was on board. Fantastic. A main reason for the choice was having no connecting door. That really made it quiet. I would pay extra to not have a connecting door again.
The itinerary was great, Provence and the riviera were fabulous and Livorno, Civi and Naples have so many options.
Toulon lacked good transport infrastructure for DIY cruisers, but we chose a tour to Aix which worked out well.
We happened to be in the ports when other big ships were in which was a pity. It was choas on the train to Rome we ended up leaving half an hour late because so manyfolk were late back.
My one big complaint was that the ship was too cold in all of the public areas. I could turn up the temperature in my stateroom, but when in the theatre and dining it was like artic blasts. The weather outside was not that good either so there was nowhere to warm up !!! The weather in the Med was not very good, which was not the fault of RCI but I was surprised how much the ship was moving. Because of the storms during the week, we were lucky to be able to tender into Cannes 3 other ships did not make it that day.
So all in all a good cruise -but next time I will take thick clothes for the ship!!