This was our first cruise and we therefore had nothing to compare the experience with. All in all, we found the ship to be very luxurious and stylish, the staff very helpful and standards of cleanliness and hygiene were exemplary.
We initially booked the cruise because it was calling at Gibraltar and it was a destination we were very interested in visiting. In comparison with other cruise operators the price was also attrative.
We flew from Gatwick to Genoa and the transfer to the boat at Genoa port was included, however for those who had travelled independently, taxis were
available for 25Euros. We had checked in on line but still ended up waiting in the cruise terminal to board the ship for around 3 hours, luckily we had taken plenty to read.
Our balcony cabin was lovely. Bigger than we expected, including a bath with shower over in the en suite. Beds were large and comfy.
As other reviews have commented there are some negatives. We also found the smell of cigarette smoke wafted around the ship and occasionally the smell of drains also.
We tried the Bora Bora buffet just once. We were unable to find a table and the noise and crowds of people just weren't for us. Instead we took all of our meals in the Reggia restaurant, relaxing whilst the waiters took care of us. We have been on holiday to Italy a number of times and so knew what to expect from the restaurant menu. Lots of courses with very small portions. Some of the food was excellent, some was not so good. If you didn't like your choice the staff were more than happy to get you something else to try.
One thing that surprised us was the ban on bringing any alcohol on board. On returning from any excursion your bags were scanned and any alcohol confiscated to be returned to you at the end of the cruise. There was a mini-bar in the cabin but the items were quite expensive.
We enjoyed dressing up for the Gala evenings and found that the majority of guests had also made an effort including quite a few ball gowns, though not many tuxedos.
Entertainment in the bars was excellent, especially the jazz bar and for those who like to dance, there was live music each night in the Aft Bar.
Leaving and rejoining the boat in port was well organised and there were plenty of taxis available or a shuttlebus service if you did not want to go on an excursion.
As has previously been mentioned only a small number of the guests speak English and at lunch time we often ended up on a table with Dutch or German guests. In the evening we were placed on a table with other couples from The UK and we had a great laugh, often being last to leave the restaurant.
We were prepared for the cost of drinks, water, coffee and the service charge of 7 Euros per day, per person but it was still a bit of a shock at the end of the week when we got the bill. The excursions and shuttlebus tickets added several hundred Euros alone.
I'm glad we went and the Ship is amazing but the public areas often feel very crowded and the day seems very structured with restaurant times and excursion times. I think I need a holiday to get over the holiday.