Hi there everyone,
We just got back on 6th March and have had an amazing time! The ship is spectacular, the food wonderful and the entertainment is so varied and there is truly something for everybody going on from dawn til after midnight every day.
Each day you get the onboard newspaper 'The Cruise Compass'delivered to your stateroom and it has EVERYTHING you need to know...all the schedule for that day with all the locations of events and details about ports of call etc. Very impressive. We used it as our 'bible', referring to it constantly so we didn't miss anything. Some days we couldn't quite fit in everything we wanted to do!
Generally, we tend to choose quiet holidays on our own so joining a ship with nearly 4000 guests on board had been a bit of a worry of mine prior to boarding.
Yes, there were huge queues at Southampton prior to boarding, but we all know the reasons why and it couldn't be helped. It was totally for all our benefits that the ship be cleaned thoroughly & I think the majority of passengers fully understood and accepted it. We were some of the unlucky ones who were outdoors the whole time from 3pm until gone 7pm and it was very chilly to say the least, but we were supplied with hot drinks & kept informed by RC staff.
Once onboard the ship absorbed everyone and massive crowds were seldom seen again. Yes, it was busy in the Windjammer at peak times and on the Royal Promenade on party nights but it was absolutely fine and didn't bother us at all.
We always got a seat for the shows although you do need to get to the theatre a bit earlier for the popular shows. The quizzes in the Schooner Bar were very popular and we almost missed out on getting a seat a couple of times.
We spent a lot of time in the Pyramid Lounge which was home to the resident rock band, Rock the Boat who were EXCELLENT. They played most evenings til late & specialised in 60's & 70's rock music. The venue was always full. They also played for The Party under the Stars on the Pool Deck one night which was great.
The Cruise Director, Joff and his sidekick, Rob were very entertaining. If you get the chance to do the Quiz with a Twist, please do go to it. It was hilarious. Also the Ultimate Music Quiz, with the chance to win a car was also really good and very funny!
Ports of call were almost secondary to our enjoyment of the ship really, but here is a brief summary of what we did.
VIGO: we did our own thing; walked through the town and up to the castle (lovely views) & back via some gardens.
LISBON: us & 2 other couples we'd made friends with in the queue at Southampton shared a large taxi & had a private tour of the city, the Old Town & all the main touristy things for 30 euros each. we had numerous photo stops, a full history lesson & time to shop at the end.
GRAN CANARIA: We took the Number 1 bus to the Old Town for just 1 euro each way. Had a wander round the main town when we got back and found the beach and prom area. Very nice.
TENERIFFE: We took one of the ship's tours to Taganana. Very good. Through the mountains from one side of the island to the other, seeing rich forests and ending up at La Laguna. Very nice. Had a guided tour on foot.
MADEIRA: THE BEST PORT OF CALL. Took the cable car up to Monte & did the toboggan run back down. Very exhilarating! 10 euros for the cable car (15 return)& 12.5 euros for the toboggan run. Also sampled some Madeira wine and brandy whilst exploring the very arty old town. Lovely market.
LA CORUNA: Very nice. Did our own thing. Wandered around the touristy bit then along the sea front to the castle and small harbours.
Back on board tea, coffee, hot choc, water, milk & ship's own juices were free. Alcoholic drinks a bit pricy. London Pride Ale $6.50=Â£4.12 per pint. Brandy $8, cocktail of the day $6.75. Speciality coffee $7 at Cafe Promenade but was fantastic. It had Grand Marnier, Tuaca, Baileys and Kuhala for $7.The cakes & sandwiches here were also gorgeous for afternoon tea!!
Dinner at night wonderful. Always a good choice & well cooked & presented.
All in all a wonderful experience & we'll certainly be cruising again