I had read reviews from others about the state of the ship and knew it would be going into drydock in November for refurbishment. You could see the signs of wear and tear but it has been well maintained so there were no problems. They are apparently adding some additional staterooms and changing the uppermost lounge into two restaurants (Chops and a Japanese restaurant) which will be nice. They are also upgrading the computer system, etc. There was only one dining room and the buffet on this ship, so it will be nice for future cruisers to have more choices.
The food in general was okay, but not great. However, the service was excellent throughout the ship. Constantin, the gentleman who seated us in "anytime dining" each night, was gracious, kind and helpful. We had several different waiters, but thought that Awa (pronounced Ava) and Samantha were wonderful and very efficient. Awa always took the time to give advice on the upcoming port and transportation choices, etc. But the most impressive person in the dining room was Hans, the Head Waiter. In all the years we have been cruising, we have never seen a Head Waiter who does more or cares more about his customers. He was constantly moving around the room, taking orders if needed, busing tables, making sure you had everything you needed, and if time permitted, telling a joke or doing a magic trick. We learned that he has been working on cruise lines for 28 years, and that he loves what he does -- you can certainly see that is true. We are leaving on another cruise next week (I know -- two cruises back to back -- but that is the way it worked out this year), but I doubt there will ever be another Head Waiter as efficient, helpful and considerate as Hans!
Our room steward was great as well: Oleg began our cruise by making sure he introduced himself, got acquainted with us and our needs, and continued to take excellent care of us and our stateroom.
Finally, our favorite bartender was Danielo in the Schooner Bar. What a smile! He and David, the other bartender on duty, were both great and we had one drink before dinner each night to chat and meet our fellow cruisers. We also met and liked Bruno, Drago and Bruno's girlfriend, Marcella. All wonderful people.
The ports were all excellent. My sister and I don't usually take tours, and this cruise was no exception. We typically take a taxi around to see the sites, then stop to walk a bit and maybe have lunch, before returning to the ship. In several ports, the cruiseline provided bus transportation into the town area which was nice. In Athens, we had a taxi driver named "Nick the Greek" so if you can find him, you'll be sure to have a great tour and lots of insight into the inner workings of Athens and Greece in general. Just ask for him at the terminal building where all the taxi drivers are.
Embarcation was less pleasant than disembarcation which went smoothly. We were required to walk quite a ways from where the water taxis dropped us off (even though we had requested a wheelchair for my sister) to the terminal building. We then asked again for a wheelchair, but there were none to be found. My sister sought and found a chair to wait while I stood in line. I am also handicapped, and was told to stand in a certain shorter line, but still had to wait about 45 minutes for them to take care of just a few passengers. When we got on, we suggested that they create a separate line for handicapped people, since we had people on crutches, with casts on the legs, etc., all standing in that line and waiting. They assured us they would try to make a change.
All in all, it was a good cruise, and the ports were fabulous. Personally, I liked Santorini the best -- so picturesque and lovely on top of the mountains. The ride up the mountain was enjoyable and I took several great photos as we were ascending. You can also go up by donkey or even walk if you are ambitious.
If you go on this ship soon, please say hello to all of the people I have mentioned, and tell them the recommendation came from one of the two sisters that were traveling together!