First of all it was my first cruise, so I cannot compare it to other cruises. We were on the ship just the two of us - me and my wife and it was our honeymoon. The embarkation went smoothly and despite there were a lot of people, we ... Read More
First of all it was my first cruise, so I cannot compare it to other cruises. We were on the ship just the two of us - me and my wife and it was our honeymoon. The embarkation went smoothly and despite there were a lot of people, we didn't wait for too long. Don't bother to bring an iron, we did and so did other guys but it's forbidden due to fire hazard. So they'll see it on the X-ray and they will ask you to give ti to them, they'll give it back to you at the end of the cruise. If you were on a cruise before you can skip to the next paragraph. After we got on the ship they gave us a SeaPASS and that's the only thing you really need on the ship: no money, credit card or ID is no longer required. The SeePass is a card witch is the key to your room, you use it also to leave and go back to the ship and it's connected to your account and your credit card (if you want that of course). I guess it's a standard thing on all cruises, but it makes your life much easier. Anyway, I think I'm getting too much into details but my point is that everything is well organized and done well so don't have to think about anything else but having a good time.
The ship is very nice, there are a lot of entertainments: climbing wall, ice skating, surf simulator, mini golf and so on. Our cabin was good too, for me the design was a little bit old fashion, I would prefer more modern look, but that just me. The bed was very comfortable and the best thing was the balcony - I think it was worthy the extra cost.
The staff was very friendly and polite and willing to help you with anything and the overall service was among the best I've seen.
The food in the main dining room at dinner was excellent - everything was delicious and there was great variety to choose from and i went for a different meal every night. The breakfast could be more diverse and the launch was good too.
The entertainment program at the theater was very nice too - there was different events every night including shows made by the Royal Caribbean themselves as well as "guest stars" (a magician from Spain - some very nice tricks, acrobats from Ukraine - one of the best performances on the ship, and a comedy guy from Britain - he was really funny). The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were very good (especially the singers, very high level of skills i think) although that Broadway kind of shows are not really my think. The ice show in the Studio B (the ice theater) was just awesome, definitely need to see it. They were skating and dancing and making acrobatic tricks at the same time, 5 boys and 5 girls and it was just brilliant.
Enough with the ship already, lets let me tell you something about the ports and shore excursions. First of all we took 3 all day long excursions and went on shore at all possible ports so at the end we were exhausted. Our daily schedule was basically: get up at 6 in the morning, go to breakfast, then take an excursion /excursions that last all day start at around 7-7.30 a.m.) then go back to the ship at 6 p.m., take a shower, go to dinner, go to the theater and then at 10 p.m. go to bed. So I i said maybe not the best thing to do because we were exhausted (we walked about 10 to 16 000 steps daily), although we saw a lot of things and we don't regret it. But my advice is to take it more slowly. I think the price for the excursions is higher than it should be, but at least you can be sure that you don't miss the ship. About the ports:
Barcelona - a very beautiful city with a lot places to visit, we staid there for 2 days after the cruise, if you have the time to explore it just go for it, it's definitely worthy. We were there on your own, no excursions, the subway system is very well done and you can go pretty much anywhere.
Marseilles - we didn't took excursion here, there was a shuttle bus witch leaves you near the Cathedral but you have to pay for it 23 usd per person for a round trip (too much i think). The city itself is ok but nothing too interesting to see here. I mean it's not a bad place but if you compare it to the other ports i think you can spend an hour or two tops or even skip it entirely (remember don't do the same mistake we did, take it slowly).
Villefranche - the port located on the Côte d'Azur region on the French Riviera a.k.a millionaires, glamour and luxe all around . We took the Monaco(including Monte Carlo)-Eze-Nice all day excursion. First stop Monte Carlo, you go by foot to the famous casino and you have about 45 min free time. Then you go to Eze, a very small authentic mountain french village. The place is nice and charming, narrow streets, stone homes and beautiful landscape views, but nothing too crazy. Then you go to Nice and it looks like very similar to Monaco - everything looks good and expensive and most probably is.
La Specia - we took the all day Pisa and Florence excursion (exploration on your own with a smart device). First you go to Pisa (about 1,5h driving time) - you have about 45 min to take pictures with the leaning tower. You've seen it many times on pictures but to see it with your own eyes is really something. There is no time to go to top of the tower, but i don't know if i want to do it anyway. Next you go to Florence (about 1 hour driving time) and maybe you can skip this part - don't get me wrong it's a nice old town with several things to see, much nicer than Marseilles for example, but again if you wan't to have some time on the ship or just to relax it's not a 100% must see (unlike the leaning tower). About the "exploration on your own with a smart device" - they give you a Samsung phone with gps map, internet and short audio guide. Unfortunately the battery of my phone died just as we entered Florence. You still have tourist guide in the bus that explains you a lot of things, but when you stop you are on your own (some folks from the other bus told me that their guide was walking with them and told them many things about the place even if she didn't have to). It took us more then 2 hours to drive back to the ship.
Civitavecchia - I've been to Rome before and we decided that we'll go on our own, something that I don't recommend - it turned out to be a little nightmare. First mistake we made was that we didn't go too early because we wanted to get some sleep. We left the ship at about 9.30 - there was a shuttle bus that takes you just outside the port (this time for free). From there we got on another small bus for 2 euro each that took us to the railway station. The left us near to a door with "tickets to Rome" sign on it. Turns out later that it is a separate private ticket office that sell you the ticket to Rome for 6 euro each (the regular price is 5) and is trying to sell you another ticket for the Hop on Hop off buses in the city(we didn't get those, i told the subway will be faster way to go around and probably is. Anyway as they were tying to sell us the HOHO tickets we missed our train to Rome (by just 2 min damn it) and we had to wait for 45 more minutes for the next one. Remember that you have to "validate" your tickets before you get to the train (there is a machine that you put your tickets inside). It took us about 45min to get to Rome - San Pietro station and went straight to Vatican city (it was about 11.30 a.m.). We skipped the whole to get to the Basilica (a know, not a good thing to do but we really didn't have any time). I'm not a religions man but the Basilica (the entrance to St. Peter is free btw) is worth seeing its enormous and beautiful. Then we waited on a separate line to get to the top (the Cupola). We paid 8 euros each for the lift (the other choice is the stairs for 6 euro, but believe me you don't need that - there are plenty of stair left to go to the top after you get off the elevator). Finally, after many stairs and tiny claustrophobic corridors we were there and a was very very upset. I was in Rome 9 years ago and I went to the top of St. Peter and I remember the beautiful panoramic view and the perfect place to take photos, but not anymore - now there are metal bars all over the place, it's like a huge birdcage and you are inside, so the view is ruined and the selfies are not possible any more. Huge disappointment. There is no point to go to the top of the Basilica anymore. Next we went to the Coliseum. Thankfully I got the tickets online in advance, so we got in very quickly. One of the symbols of Rome you definitely need to see this. We didn't go to the Roman Forum next to it because one we didn't have the time and two it is pointless without a guide to tell you all about the thing you see there. (The same goes for the Vatican museum). After that we went to Trevi Fontain and that was our last stop. It was 4 p.m. and we decided to go back (and thank God because otherwise we would have missed the ship), although the Pantheon and Piazza Navona are very close to Di Trevi, but the clock was ticking and we were very tired - we didn't stop even for a second, we were running for the trains and we ate like 1 sandwich for 5 min without even sitting. The same train that took us to Rome in just 45 min, took us back to Civitavecchia in 1h 20 min! From the train station we were running to get a taxi - minivan took us straight to the ship (there were other people from our ship too) for 5 euro each and we were there at 6,25 p.m. (the "all on board" time was 6.30). And make no mistake - if you are late the ship will leave, it will not wait for you (it will if you are on a shore excursion).So it was very very extreme day and a I won't advice you to do the same.
Naples - First of all the port should be Capri, but I don't know why we were in Naples. Anyway we took the "Pompei and Amafi coast by land and see". I think it was the best day of the trip - both places are a must see. First we went to Pompei (i think it took us about an hour to get there) and we spend nearly 2 hours walking there with the guide. The place is amazing and because of the volcano it is very well preserved for a 2000 years old city. And it is a whole city, not just one building and not just a bunch of rocks on the ground - most of the walls are 2 meters high, so you can really get the idea how people lived back there, how big were the streets, the shops, the houses. I highly recommend going there and a tour guide is mandatory. Next we went to Amalfi - if you haven't heard it just google it, it's really really beautiful. There is this panoramic sea view narrow road and there is a cliff on the one side and parked cars on the other and these crazy Italian bus drivers just squeeze trough - I don't know how they do it. When there are two buses on the road they mirrors are literally just 2 cm away one from another. It took us about 40 min for 16 km. When we got to Amalfi we got like hour of free time, then took a trip by boat and then back to the bus and the ship.
That's about it guys, I'm very pleased with the overall cruise experience, maybe some (or even most) of the things are overpriced, but in the end of the day we had really great time. I hope I helped you with this review, maybe i got too much into details and my English is far from perfect, but i did my best. Ciao! Read Less