I almost didn’t book this cruise due to the reviews I read here but decided to be open minded and give it a shot. I was extremely apprehensive while boarding the ship as I really didn’t know what to expect. Let me preempt this review by saying that I travel extensively, have done about 9 cruises and did this cruise after a 3 week stay in Europe as I thought it would be the cheapest way to get to see a lot of places that I otherwise would not have been able to do in one week. I was pleasantly surprised by the experience and not only would I highly recommend, I would do it again next year.
Rooms: I was traveling with my cousin and we had a HUGE outside Samsara room on the 11th floor. I think the choice of room had a lot to do with our great experience. It was quiet at night, close to EVERYTHING and had floor to ceiling glass with amazing views. Enough said!
Getting on/off the boat: We booked this cruise based on the amount of ports visited and really wanted to take advantage of every hour we were at port. I must say, embarkation and disembarkation was extremely organized and everything went smoothly. Each port was the same- we were off very quickly and never really had any long wait. This was a KEY factor in our trip as well.
Food: this is the one place where the ship was REALLY lacking. However I must note that I have traveled on Celebrity, Princess and Royal and I have never really loved the food. Breakfast was easy- we had yogurt and fruit delivered to our room. Lunch was horrible. We are both vegetarian and though the salad selection was very poor. Everything had tons of mayo and sauce on it. And how hard is it to get veggie burgers for the grill? Dinner was better- had a decent amount of vegetarian options- but still wasn’t great. We had the first seating at dinner and were very lucky to have a wonder group of people (three others) we were dining with. There was a solo American traveler and a Turkish couple. We all got along fantastically, shared our stories and wines nightly.
Excursions: I think that what you do one you get to port can also make or break your trip. As a general rule, anything that the ship offers as an excursion, you can do yourself for a fraction of the cost. I have NEVER booked anything through the ship and never would. Extremely overpriced and you are stuck with a bunch of cruisers. Don’t be afraid to make your own adventure.
With a little research, you can create your own itinerary and visit at your own pace. We used Trip Advisor and its forums extensively before the trip and were able to figure out exactly what we wanted to see. Also remember that if you are traveling in the summer, these places get HOT. Do you really want to walk around a city when you could be lounging on an uber fabulous beach??
Shows/on board stuff: really can’t comment because we didn’t walk into a single bar, club or show. I will say that unlike American cruises I have been on, you can get out to the deck at 10 am and STILL find a prime spot to lay out.
Overall: I must take a moment to comment on the reviews that refer to “rude Italians” and “rude Europeans and behaviors” on the boat. We were 2 of about 11 Americans on the ship (according to the American host on board) and at no point did we feel that people were being rude. Yes, there are many cultural differences between Europeans and Americans but one must recognize and know this before boarding. You are getting on an Italian ship! If you want everything to be “Americanized” that go to Disney Land. You take from the experience what you want and I decided to be happy and love my life because I was on vacation.