This was my first time cruise and I absolutely loved it.
The cruise set off from Newcastle, it said to arrive at certain time to avoid congestion, I arrived about 15 mins before that time, just enough time to drop off my luggage and get parked up. There was about 15 min queue to checkin and maybe another hour to board, including a short bus trip to the dock.
After arriving at my cabin, my luggage was there waiting for me.
Before setting sail, before you'd a chance to unpack or anything, there was a life jacket drill. You had to find your muster station, but it was clearly identified on the back of the cabin door.
After that was over, you had a chance to settle in and unpack.
I booked a single cabin originally, expecting an inner cabin for the price I paid, but pleasantly surprised to find I'd been given a superior twin with ocean view for no additional cost. The cabin was fine, plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, a safe for valuables, a nice bathroom with a compact but useable shower. Bottled water was available in the cabin, although at a cost £2.20 per bottle. The beds were comfortable and cosy. The cabin has nice air conditioning and although it also a heat setting and it didn't seem to gave out any warm air. So it was a little bit too cold in the middle of the night sometimes out at sea.
I'd been allocated the late dinner seating, at 8pm. So had plenty of time to settle in and explore the ship. The dress code for the first evening was casual so you didn't have to worry about looking very smart.
I was very impressed by the ship, nice clean appearance at all times. Pretty easy to find your way around. Great facilites and good entertainment through the day and the evening.
Evening meals in the Kensington Restaurant was superb and a good choice for different dishes. I was seated at a table of 8 with some very nice, friendly people. You were seated with the same people each evening.
I always had a buffet breakfast in the boathouse, which was open to the sea, which was great. All meals, including water, tea, coffee, orange juice were included in the price of the cruise. If you wanted alcoholic drinks these had to paid for separately (but I don't drink so I didn't bother me).
The ship uses a cashless system, you just pay using your personal cruise card.
The cruise card is also used getting on and off the ship at ports of call. This was made very easy, we just went down the gangway and straight to your tour bus. No annoying security checks or anything. At one port the ship was anchored and you took tender boats to the shore, but it was fun.
The arranged shore excursions were really good, fun, great value and stress-free. Also they were very beautiful locations.
The cruise went to Hellesylt, Geiranger and Bergen in Norway, and also Kirkwall, Orkney on the way back. The cruise returned to Leith for some reason, but a coach transfer (at an additional cost) was available to take you back to Newcastle.
On the final evening, you had to have you case packed and ready to leave outside your cabin before midnight and you had leave your cabin by 8am the next morhing. Disembarkation for me was at about 11am the following morning.
It was the best holiday I've been on so far, and would definitely go on another cruise. I would probably choice the Ocean Countess again as well, I grew quite fond of her.