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19 Europe - British Isles & Western Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

To set the scene, I've cruised once before on the Marco Polo eight years ago - and vowed never to do a cruise again. A converted Russian ice breaker does not a cruise ship make - but did do us well through a gale force storm. 8 years ... Read More
To set the scene, I've cruised once before on the Marco Polo eight years ago - and vowed never to do a cruise again. A converted Russian ice breaker does not a cruise ship make - but did do us well through a gale force storm. 8 years later myself and the wife wanted to see Iceland, due to her medical conditions we can't fly, so the Magellan was the way to go. Reading through the reviews there's a lot of common points raised, which I can now confirm or deny: THE CORRIDORS SMELL Yes, yes they do. Like a sulfur smell, I would take a wild guess at venting from the sewage system. But oh yes, there's a definite smell there. THE STAFF 99% of the staff are fantastic and always wanting to help. There's a couple that let the side down, but with a compliment of 400 crew - that's next to nothing. These people are teens/early twenties, doing 11 hour shifts on their feet - doing menial tasks - and stowed away in bunk beds on deck 4 at the back of the ship. It's a miracle they could raise a smile at all. Of particual impressive performance are the cabin stewards. Our own, Maguan was exceptional - and even learn't our routine so he could have our room ready whilst we were away. THE FOOD I can only discuss the Bistro. This is at a level of just above home cooked food. Impressively they cater with vegan and allergy sections. All sections have potential allergies marked against each meal. This is a Bistro in a cut-price Cruise Ship - I wasn't expecting Restaurant class food - but the choice was great and enjoyed a good feed four times a day. ENTERTAINMENT Yeah, this is great for the CMV target market of 60's and over. But for the slighter younger generation (in their 40's) - there's not a huge range to try out. We did go to the big shows a few times, but more for the laugh of how appalling it was than to enjoy it. The singers would never get past an X Factor audition, and their dancing skills are definitely limited by a rocking ship, but choreography had been well thought out. Give it 20 years and they're doing 80's themes - I'll probably be loving it. I however did not appreciate the sound engineer being so bored at his sound desk that he felt he could look at Ebay rather than do his job EXCURSIONS Yep - they're expensive compared to what you could arrange for yourself at a visitor centre. But we wanted a relaxing holiday and wanted everything ready to go without the hassle of personally booking a trip - and therefore also perhaps missing the departure deadline. ROOMS We went for the most expensive that we're still left available. Twin Premium Ocean View - that were an extra £1050 per person. It was fine, but not worth the huge hike in ticket price. SHIP She's getting on a bit, and the last refurb was some years ago. Fixtures and fittings are beginning to show some age - and carpets are no longer plush or have a uniform colour. But she's very clean, easy to navigate, and help stead fast in some rough weather heading towards the west of Iceland. CONCLUSION I've been converted, I will definitely go on a cruise again. CMV are not providing plush fancy cities on the sea cruises here, but they did provide a holiday I will treasure and that gave me no real reason to complain. Maybe except for stinky corridors. EMBARK/DISEMBARK Absolute rubbish. Disordered, no clear instructions and a rotten start and end to a great holiday. We we're due to be doing Faroe Islands and onto Iceland, but due to poor weather the Faroes were cancelled. As a result over the course of the holiday, I got 5 days of absolute relaxation, waited on, good food, great coffee - and Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Embarked at Tilbury (was a bit chaotic but this was due to the ship being late in due to weather conditions which cant be helped) Once on the ship we went to our cabin on deck 5 this was a lovely spacious (inside) cabin which had a ... Read More
Embarked at Tilbury (was a bit chaotic but this was due to the ship being late in due to weather conditions which cant be helped) Once on the ship we went to our cabin on deck 5 this was a lovely spacious (inside) cabin which had a really good separate wardrobe area and with a lot of extra draws also. The ship is very nicely decorated and easy to find your way around (as not a very big ship) The Dining in the buffet (lunch) was fairly good the food was always hot and very tasty my only comment would be that it doesn't have that much choice, But I could always find something to eat. The afternoon tea was extremely good the scones where delicious and also the shortbread biscuits. The Burgers and hot dogs served from the grill on the pool deck outside the buffet where also very good and fresh (sometimes the burgers were a little pink and needed to be cooked a little more) The Fusion Indian restaurant is (based in the back area of the buffet but this is separated of in the evening, the food and the staff where brilliant. The starters and the naan breads where cooked freshly in the outside clay oven and were absolutely delicious. I would definitely recommend eating in here as the pricing is really reasonable for 3 courses it is around £15 and the food was really lovely. The main waterfront restaurant we used for Breakfast and evening meal and the staff and food was brilliant. The breakfast could sometimes be a little slow in busy periods but this is to be expected and beats the buffet rush and hassle trying to find a seat to eat once you have you breakfast. Our evening waiters were fantastic and very attentive and made it very personal by knowing all our names (6 of us in total) and they know what we like and what we didn't by the end of the first few days. Entertainment this is where I was not very impressed, we went to the theatre on 3 occasions to watch shows/comedian first of all if you did not turn up a hour before the show was due to start then you would not get a seat or if you did manage to get one it would be a very bad view as there are a lot of pillars to try and see around and people think its acceptable to put children's buggies right at the front of the row so anyone behind these rows could not see anything at all. (these could of been left at the end of the isle as the children were on there laps anyway) Once the show finally started I have to say that the entertainment team singers/dancers where of a very poor standard there was one girl and one lad who could sing a little but the others were not very good at all. the comedian that they had on was ok but more aimed at the older generation of people. The seats in the theatre are also very un comfy (the single seat chairs) after a while your bottom would go to sleep. The connections bar this is quite a nice bar area however again the seats are very un comfy and the band that plays in here was pretty good however was far to load and when the singer started to sing (she was ok but nothing special) she would only sing a couple of lines of the song over and over again then it was mostly the band playing the rest of the song. The Tavern Pub was also a nice area to sit in again comfort was not great. The raffles bar on desk 6 above the atrium was a nice bar and you can hear the music from the atrium from here but it was not so loud you could not have a conversation so found this a nice place to have a drink and a chat with everyone. The music played in the Atrium was very good this was a pianist and sometimes a violinist would join her together they were very good. Hemmingway's on deck5 supplied premium coffee and cakes the cakes were chargeable but very delicious and worth the money. Swimming Pools are a big disappointment there are 2 both are 6ft 3 deep and getting in and out of them is very difficult the steps are very steep ( on the pool bar side there is a nice bit at the top with bar stools in it however you cannot get in or near this area as the kids were always in it and jumping off the bar stools and soaking everywhere including the bar area and staff??? The pool next to this also had a better set of steps that led into the pool but again was also full of kids jumping of them and then just constantly jumping in and out of the pool so if you did manage to get into it then you would get a child jump on you. - If this is going to continue to be a multigeneration cruise then they need to make a children's pool area and make some rules for them. Spa - I had a happy feet treatment which was very lovely and the staff in the spa were very nice, the atmosphere in there was very relaxing, The Ports we visiting were all pretty good and quite close to everything if it wasn't then a shuttle bus was on offer which was very helpful if you are not able to walk very far. We didn't do any organised excursions as we like to just get of and do our own thing. We did a couple of the hop on hop off bus tours in Gran Canaria, Lisbon and Madeira I would definitely these as you get to see so much more of the area around you. Madeira is absolutely stunning and one of the best places I have visited, If you get the chance then definitely do the Toboggan ride in Monte.(if you use the hop on hop off bus then you can buy an extra blue route ticket and this takes you to the top of Monte and will pick you up again at the bottom of the Toboggan run) Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Lovely itinerary to Faroes, Iceland, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Embarkation was easy with pre arranged assistance. Food was much better than our previous cruise on Ventura, we ate most of the time in the MDR for breakfast, lunch ... Read More
Lovely itinerary to Faroes, Iceland, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Embarkation was easy with pre arranged assistance. Food was much better than our previous cruise on Ventura, we ate most of the time in the MDR for breakfast, lunch and dinner as we find the buffet difficult with a wheelchair although staff are always willing to help. A couple of times my partner got us a bacon roll from the buffet and brought it to the room when we had early morning starts. We also ate lunch at the deck bars a few times..We had freedom dining with some lovely and interesting table companions; and a few strange ones, which makes life entertaining. Didn’t see as much entertainment as usual, Havana and Tamarind were always packed so difficult to find seats. However the Arena was easier, as long as you arrived early, with reserved seats for wheelchair users, which many able bodied people selfishly occupied. No staff on hand to police this. Entertainers that stood out were the gentleman talking about space which the layman could understand; Pulse in the Metropolis, great variety of music delivered with humour. Last but not least, Graffiti, four talented young people playing violins, singing, comedy etc. Wow what a wonderful show. On embarkation we ate in the Glasshouse to avoid the buffet, very good. Early on in the cruise we had dinner in the Epicurian with a free bottle of house wine, acceptable and a superb meal delivered with their usual first class service and drama. Well worth the extra fee. There were very few children on this cruise, mostly little ones, several foreign nationals. Most passengers were in their 50s or above. Our favourite bar was the Metropolis with one barman (sorry don’t know his name) standing out as especially helpful and friendly. Ports were very interesting. We booked most excursions privately, which were all well organised. One with P and O on the Faroes, very good. What a beautiful and peaceful place, my favourite. In Isofordur we had to use a tender. It was an extremely difficult transfer for passengers and crew due to the high winds, but we all survived. The weather was kind to us and although it was cold the sun came out every afternoon with only a tiny bit of drizzle in Scotland. On our last sea day on deck I got a bit sunburnt as I didn’t realise how hot it was. We booked another cruise while we were on board on the new Iona as we couldn’t resist the low deposit. Hope we haven’t made a mistake as we think Ventura is pretty large. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was our first, but hopefully not our only, cruise so we have nothing to compare against. As first-timers I will say one thing firstly: the instructions given each day were a great help and all the things I worry about (not knowing ... Read More
This was our first, but hopefully not our only, cruise so we have nothing to compare against. As first-timers I will say one thing firstly: the instructions given each day were a great help and all the things I worry about (not knowing where to go or what to do) turned out to be nothing to worry about at all. Your hands are well and truly held to ensure you know where you need to be and when. Embarkation was very quick (20 minutes from drop-off outside Newcastle Passenger Terminal to being in our cabin). The cabin was 4119 and was more than adequate for our needs. The ship has a slightly dated feel to it but is clean and bright. Large bars and public areas meant even at the busiest times it didn't feel cramped. We stuck to the Bistro (buffet) and the "Speciality Restaurants" as we're not formal-wear people. The food was flawlessly good. The "Speciality Restaurants" are really "pop-up restaurants" requiring reservations within part of the Bistro's area. The service and food there was absolutely wonderful. The arrival into ports was handled well and it was far easier to walk on/off than I'd expected. We had one anchor port on the itinerary (Lerwick) but they managed to dock in the end so can't speak to how good/bad the tender process is. The main issue was due to our fellow passengers (of a certain age and thus of a certain speed!) which did mean we took to walking out rather than wait for shuttle buses which would take forever to board or get off. We went on two excursions (Jewels of the North in Akureyi and Loch Ness in Invergordon) both of which were well-organised though suffered from similar "speed" issues as the getting on and off the ship did! We went to a few shows, activities and lectures. The shows were extremely well done and the show area is spacious with comfortable seating (lots of leg room which is very important to me!). The activities (quizzes, "gameshows") were amusing enough though we avoided the Knit and Natter due to concerns we might get too over-excited ;) (In all seriousness there was plenty to do for all personalities!). The lectures... weren't so good. One of the speaker's lectures were so full of errors I was able to spot them and I wasn't an expert on their subjects. The other had blurry photos and film which seemed pointless given the lack of quality. Service was great in parts (the restaurants), okay in others (we had a few mix-ups happen around our welcome package which were eventually sorted and refunds arranged without us asking so all was well) and bad, for the most part, in bars. Even if just 6 tables were in use out of the 40 or so available in a bar, you'd be lucky to get successfully served once every 60 minutes. Needless to say this meant we never woke up with a hangover! I'd hold special praise for our room steward and her colleagues on our deck. They were not just always polite when we passed them in the corridor but remembered us and engaged us in personal greetings. Our room was kept immaculately throughout our trip. Overall the positives far outweighed the negatives and we had a really enjoyable two weeks. We'll certainly be cruising again and CMV will at least get consideration when we come to planning our next trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was our return to the beautiful Silhouette since it’s maiden voyage out of Hamburg many years ago. We decided to try out an accessible Sky Suite and we loved the benefits this brought such as Michaels Club and the exclusive ... Read More
This was our return to the beautiful Silhouette since it’s maiden voyage out of Hamburg many years ago. We decided to try out an accessible Sky Suite and we loved the benefits this brought such as Michaels Club and the exclusive restaurant Luminae for suite guests. The service and food in Luminae was fantastic and offered a personalised dining experience. Kurt and his colleagues were amazing and the best service I have had on a cruise ship. The free alcoholic drinks including champagne and cocktails all day in Michaels club added a lovely touch. We were very disappointed by the ocean view cafe as we decided to try this one morning and once for lunch. The buffet restaurant was over crowded making it very difficult to find a seat and you had to fight your way through to grab your food. The quality of most of the food was mostly enjoyable however the rice pudding was cold and way too sweet. The buffet was not up to standard as we had previously come across with Celebrity and the buffet on Royal was much better. Thumbs down on this sailing. The accessible suite was comfortable but the layout wasn’t the best but this was to accommodate wheelchair users. The sofa and TV were located in a very awkward place so you couldn’t watch TV whilst you were sat on the sofa. The accessible bathroom was a very good size although the lack of drainage in the shower meant that water would flow all over the bathroom area making it a paddling pool. On the morning we were at sea the rocking of the ship had made the water escape into the suite soaking the carpet. There was a lack of power sockets near to the beds so charging your mobile had to be done near to the TV unit. A larger TV would have been nice as the only place to watch it was from the bed. Another big disappointment on this sailing was the lack of free loungers in the solarium as this was extremely busy on both occasions we visited it. The cold weather also meant that more passengers tried to utilise this space including certain passengers who treated it like a booze up cruise where they were drinking bottles of beer in the hot tubs. No celebrity solarium attendant challenged them and they were left to their own devices. They certainly didn’t respect other passengers and their behaviour was more I had come to expect on a P&O cruise. The clientele on this sailing wasn’t what we usually find on a Celebrity cruise and Amsterdam was most likely the reason. Another thumbs down on this sailing. The solarium needs to be better supervised and necessary action taken. The size of the solarium also now feels limited compared to Royals Anthems of the Seas which has over twice the size of what is being offered on Celebrity. For once I felt that there was a lack of space and the ship felt over crowded. Not something I’ve experienced with Celebrity on previous sailings. Overall a nice trip but we have had much better sailings with Royal so this will be our first preference from now on. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The embarkation process was smooth, arrived and checked in within 30 mins. Our cabin was indoor, c366 and was as expected. Not a huge amount of hanging space/storage but for a short cruise was adequate. It was a port intensive ... Read More
The embarkation process was smooth, arrived and checked in within 30 mins. Our cabin was indoor, c366 and was as expected. Not a huge amount of hanging space/storage but for a short cruise was adequate. It was a port intensive cruise. We visited Gijon, it was meant to be la coruna but due to poor conditions the port was changed. A nice coastal resort worth walking to park and headland opposite old town. Bilbao we didn’t do an excursion we got the shuttle to town. Did an independent walking tour, took the funicular up for views. Took the metro to areeta, walked back via there to ship 3.5 km - nicer than central Bilbao. La Rochelle was lovely. €9 to enter all 3 towers. Loads of eating choices. No need for excursion if forecast is good. Cherbourg we went to mount st Michael. Our guide was rather eccentric and got only an hours free time after excusing ourselves of his company. Journey was 5 hours. Organised ship excursion and the most disappointing Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Well you have heard it before, reading all those negative reviews and then discovering that they were not even closely accurate. This will be the case with this ship. The ship is in very good to excellent condition- cannot understand at ... Read More
Well you have heard it before, reading all those negative reviews and then discovering that they were not even closely accurate. This will be the case with this ship. The ship is in very good to excellent condition- cannot understand at all what others are seeing in their overly negative reviews. The food is very good to excellent- the best dining room food we have ever had at sea, and I have cruised 4 other lines. I am a foodie and saw no need to go to any specialty restaurants. The entertainment is limited, but excellent- BB Kings played jazz to blues to dancing music, and the band and singers were outstanding. Billboard 100 which is a duel piano sing along type bar/ club- was by far the most attended just for good old fun. The shows were also great- the dancers all could be on dancing with the stars. Piano player/singer, opera etc. were all excellent. Crew were all genuinely attentive and friendly- and in talking to them can see they love working for Holland. The only thing people need to learn is to book their excursions privately, as the cruise lines rates are absurd. One caution- if you go to book "Landscapes and Sheepdogs"- you will pay $200 pp to be taken to a gift shop (Called "Scottish Woolen Center"- its a gift shop) that has Free, I repeat Free sheep dog demonstrations. We felt deceived and grossly overpaid for this. Other than that one negative experience- we loved Holland, loved this ship, and loved the crew from the Captain to the waiter. Book this trip with confidence that you will love it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
On the whole I was pleasantly surprised by Oriana after hearing a lot of bad press about the ship. The thing I enjoyed most about Oriana was the deck space, I thought it was wonderful and so much better than more modern ships, ... Read More
On the whole I was pleasantly surprised by Oriana after hearing a lot of bad press about the ship. The thing I enjoyed most about Oriana was the deck space, I thought it was wonderful and so much better than more modern ships, there's so much room for everyone, we sailed in winter but I can imagine there's ample space if going to hot destinations. The inside of the ship is finished to a high quality also and I found the bed in our outside cabin incredibly comfortable. Only downside of the room was the noise from the bathroom which seemed to come from the air extractor. Otherwise, the room was very pleasant albeit it was larger as we had a disabled cabin. Food is of a standard to other cruise ships and varied as usual with service being attentive in the main restaurants, I think the buffet restaurant on Oriana could be bigger, we didn't visit the Beach House which has used up part of this space on top deck but in my opinion it would be better served as an expansion in space for the buffet. The layout of the ship is interesting and a little confusing, a lot of lifts don't go to all places and if you push a wheelchair like I was doing you have to do a bit of preplanning, I would seriously advise downloading the detailed map of the cruise on to your phone, the one they give you on check-in isn't that great in my opinion. The itinerary we went on was quite enjoyable to Zeebrugge and Amsterdam, will share some tips with you for both and some suggestions if on a wheelchair. - Zeebrugge: I highly advise skipping the shore excursions to Bruges and instead just use the free shuttle to Blankenberge train station. There are hourly trains to and from Bruges for €5 return and even further afield so can easily do a half day or day. They also have a lift onto the shuttle if you have a wheelchair and subsequently you can get assistance on to and off of the train so this is also a viable option for wheelchairs, just be aware of the cobbles in Bruges although there are some more favourable routes to the centre. - Amsterdam: It's great how the ship arrives right in the centre, you can easily walk to most sites, tram lines go by frequently and there's nothing stopping you going further afield in the Netherlands as the central train station is next door to the cruise port! If you're in a wheelchair I would highly recommend a firm called 'Staxi' - they will take you anywhere in Amsterdam for €25 on their wheelchair accessible van, this is a great option and we used it to go to the Rijksmuseum (awesome for wheelchairs) and on an accessible canal cruise. Overall I enjoyed Oriana and would be happy to sail on the ship again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
DAY 1 - Sunday 22nd October- Southampton Our first back to back cruise, as this followed a 2 day cruise to Zeebrugge which, due to Storm Brian, turned into a cruise to nowhere as we couldn’t dock due to high winds (see separate ... Read More
DAY 1 - Sunday 22nd October- Southampton Our first back to back cruise, as this followed a 2 day cruise to Zeebrugge which, due to Storm Brian, turned into a cruise to nowhere as we couldn’t dock due to high winds (see separate review). The morning passed quickly and just after midday we headed down to the Glass House and ordered a bottle of Peller Ice Cuvée. Lunch (at extra cost) is now available here on embarkation day and is a very civilised start to a cruise, unlike the scrum in the buffet. We also booked the paired food and wine dinner for the evening of our La Rochelle visit After a pleasant few hours, we returned to our cabin, where we stayed until the Muster Drill was over (as passengers in transit on a back to back cruise we did not have to attend), prior to securing poll position in the Crows Nest for the sailaway down the Solent for the 2nd time in 48 hours! Unfortunately, this experience was somewhat spoiled by a very large group of over 30 people who, as more and more of them arrived, became progressively louder and louder until they dominated the entire Crows Nest, ruining the cruise down the Solent for everyone else. We had feared that the preceding 2 night party cruise would be rowdy, but it was tranquil compared to this lot. We had pre-booked dinner in the Beach House and received a very warm welcome from the restaurant manager who we had chatted to two nights earlier on the previous cruise. We were given a nice table by the window (even though it was dark) and thankfully all the other diners were couples and therefore a peaceful meal of fillet steaks on lava stone was enjoyed by both of us. After dinner we went to Carmen’s where we were pleased to see Caravan perform their Eagles tribute, as we had missed this during our May cruise to the Baltic on Aurora (see separate review). Although they didn’t reproduce the vocals with the same level of accuracy as they had the Bee Gees, it was a good performance, although, in the absence of a member of the entertainment team who should have been providing the commentary between songs, the Philippine lead singer really struggled to give an English commentary and it would be better if they just played the hits back to back. Finally, we went to the Curzon Theatre for the comedian Vince Earl. P&O seem to think that anyone with a Liverpudlian accent is a natural comic. Many aren’t and he certainly wasn’t. There were one or two good one liners but the rest of his performance was dated and strained. We left half way through. Another choppy night and I was disturbed by our next door neighbour banging things around at midnight and then turning their TV on too loud. We like the cabins, but the sound insulation between them is terrible. DAY 2 - Monday 23rd October - At Sea The clocks had gone forward during the night but we weren’t entirely sure whether or not our phones had picked up the European time zone. They hadn’t, so we were an hour behind. None the less, we managed to get to the Medina restaurant 10 minutes before they close to new arrivals. After breakfast we headed over to the Curzon Theatre for the port talks on La Coruna and Bilbao. Although these are thinly veiled sales pitches for the P&O excursions, the presenter was one of the better ones that we have listened to. She had excellent presentational skills, was a clear speaker, kept up a good pace and provided useful info for those of us going ashore independently. We skipped past the Food and Beverage Showcase, as it was being held around the atrium, which is a narrow pinch point at the best of times and particularly so when it’s a sea day and the shops have stalls of tat on display. We took up an early spot in The Playhouse for a talk by Chris Walker on The Great American Songbook. Mildly interesting and a different way to spend 45 minutes, but a very easy gig for the speaker (in return for a free cruise), as it was brief biographies of artists that could be found in seconds on Wikipedia interspersed with film clips. Lunch in the Medina restaurant, where the menu was exactly the same one that we’d had two days earlier during our previous cruise. Upon leaving we realised that the evening menu (Marco Pierre White Gala Dinner) was identical as well, so we decided to book a table at Sindhu instead to see if we would prefer it this time, having been disappointed during our May cruise on Aurora, where Sindhu wasn’t anywhere near as good as the versions on Britannia or Ventura. At 2pm I attended the port talk on La Rochelle and Cherbourg, but post lunch drowsiness meant that I didn’t catch all of it! We were now in the Bay of Biscay and there’s quite a bit of movement. Back to The Playhouse at 4.15pm for a Classical Concert by Spanish guitarist Dimitris Dekavalles who was incredibly talented and put on a very enjoyable performance. This was as enjoyable as the performances by Harmony Duo during our May cruise. Having changed into our formal attire for the first of the two Black Tie evenings, we first attended the 6pm Captains welcome aboard drinks reception in Carmen’s. Dinner in Sindhu had to be at 6.30pm as it was fully booked thereafter (our consolation being a free bottle of wine for early diners up to 6.30pm), so we were a bit concerned that Captain Turnbull didn’t arrive until 6.25 (having done the Crows Nest party first). This was the first time that we had seen him since we boarded 3 days earlier, but he seemed a very personable chap. As he finished speaking we dashed up to Sindhu, arriving 10 minutes late, but we needn’t have worried as they were very welcoming and offered the complimentary bottle of wine without us asking for it. Service and food were both very good, although we still aren’t fans of the ambiance and location of Sindhu on Aurora. It’s essentially an extension of the coffee shop during the day and looks like it. It is open to the atrium and noisy as a result. There are some dividing screens, but they are lattice in design, so provide no sound screening whatsoever. As this poor design makes the restaurant feel less exclusive than the versions on other ships, payment of the £40 cover charge (for 2) doesn’t feel such good value here as it does on Britannia or Ventura. There was only one option for the evening entertainment, Jamie Allan in the Curzon Theatre, who was billed as an iMagician. The pre show videos built it up to look quite promising, but the actual show fell a bit short. There were some clever tricks, but he was a bit stilted in his performance and the numerous card tricks on a table became less convincing when you realised that his hand movements were ever so slightly out of sync with the overhead camera shots, which he continually felt the need to say were ‘live’. DAY 3 - Tuesday 24th October- La Coruna, Spain We woke up to an amazing sunrise over the Spanish coast as we reversed onto the berth at La Coruna. From our balcony we had a fabulous view of the harbour and town, including the famous glass fronted Avenida de la Marina. After breakfast in the Medina restaurant, we headed up to deck 13 in order to get our bearings for where we would be walking from the panoramic observation deck. No shuttle bus is needed here as the berth is in the town centre, so we commenced an anti clockwise circuit of the coastal path around the peninsular. First of all we walked out on to a jetty where numerous locals were fishing. This provided a good view of Aurora. The coastal walk very much reminded us of Cadiz, but without the tropical gardens alongside the promenade. After several miles we came to the Tower of Hercules lighthouse, which was originally built by the Romans who traded tin between here and Cornwall. We had coped well with the wheelchair up until this point, but I did the final climb up the ramp to the lighthouse on my own. We then continued anti-clockwise around the promenade until we were the opposite side of the headland to Aurora, at which point we headed inland and walked around the shopping centre before finishing up in the square in front of the ornate town hall, the towers of which had beautiful sparkling bronze coloured roofs. We were too late for lunch in the Medina restaurant, so headed for the Glass House where we enjoyed copious quantities of chilled water (the outside temperature had reached 21 degrees) and lunch, comprising 3 small plates each and a shared platter of Alex James cheeses. A fairly early departure was scheduled (4.30pm) and a chap pushing his wife in a wheelchair was last to board a few minutes after the deadline. We enjoyed the sailway from our balcony which was on the sunny side. In spite of Captain Turnbulls assurances to the contrary, the ship started moving around again once we had moved back out into the Bay of Biscay. After 3 full days of very noticeable movement we had enjoyed our day ashore on terra-firma. This evening was the first meal that we hadn’t enjoyed in the Meridian, as we both had Pollock with Parmesan crust, which was tasteless. DAY 4 - Wednesday 25th October- Bilbao, Spain After breakfast we boarded an accessible shuttle coach for the transfer to Bilbao. We were dropped off within a 5 minute walk of the Guggenheim Museum, which was our first and primary port of call. We received some sort of reduced admission because of the wheelchair and then spent a few hours looking around various galleries of bizarre sheets of metal, splashes on canvas and video clips, all masquerading as art. Not really our thing, but the building itself was impressive, particularly from the outside. As we left the Guggenheim, we decided to follow the promenade along the river towards the old city. This was going well until it petered out and we had to climb up a long slope before realising that we had missed the bridge that we needed to cross over the river. We picked our way back down and entered the old part of the city. It was quite quaint but a bit of a rabbit warren and we somehow managed to get completely lost and exited at completely the wrong end to where we had planned. After trying unsuccessfully to find where we were on the map, we asked some locals who were having a coffee to show us where we were. It looked a long way back to the shuttle bus and potentially hilly, so we chickened out and got a cab back to the shuttle stop and, from there, a shuttle back to the ship. Another late lunch in The Glass House which, yet again, we had virtually to ourselves. The problem with late lunches is that we then struggle with dinner, so after a long rest in our cabin, including watching the sailaway, we still had no appetite. The Headliners Theatre Group were performing for the first time this cruise (note - we are 4 days in!) but it is the show ‘Fantasy’ which we don’t particularly rate as the storyline is a bit daft. In the hope that we would have worked up an appetite by 9.30pm (last admission for Freedom dining) we decided to give the 8.30pm show a try. It was better than the last time we had seen it as the singers could at least hit the right notes this time but, as has been the case every time we have been in the theatre, passengers stroll in throughout the entire performance and then expect those who were seated on time to have their enjoyment interrupted by having to stand mid-performance to let them pass along a row. P&O staff should stop anyone entering the theatre 5 minutes after curtain up. The other thing that is extremely distracting is the tendency of some passengers to feel the need to talk throughout the performance. As the show closed we dashed over to the Meridian Restaurant still with 10 minutes to spare. Although we were happy to share, we were shown to a table for 2, where we enjoyed a good meal and friendly service. DAY 5 - Thursday 26th October - La Rochelle, France Another dry day as we arrived at our penultimate port, La Rochelle in France. Unlike La Coruna, where we had a stunning view from our balcony, this was a commercial port with dust flying around from the gravel mountain that was being moved around by diggers during our stay. As this was a smaller town, we didn’t leave the ship until around 11am. A shuttle bus was required and this wasn’t as efficient as the service we’d had in Bilbao. At each end, one or two local young ladies had been deployed to supervise the loading and dispatch of buses. As a result, this was all taking a lot longer than if passengers had been left to their own devices. After around a 15 minute wait to board, we were then surprised to find that the supposed 3 mile transfer to the centre was far more like 10 miles as we spent 20 minutes driving there, including on a motorway. Our return trip was a shorter route, but no way was it only 3 miles. La Rochelle itself was very pleasant. An old historic French harbour with imposing buildings, a pretty harbour and countless restaurants and shops, all of which looked very good. After a pleasant stroll around, we caught the shuttle bus back to the ship. To show how futile the shuttle bus boarding controls were, our bus pulled away with one more passenger on board than seats and one chap had to sit on the step throughout the journey. Unlike in Spain, the French insisted on seeing everyone’s passport (in addition to cruise cards) before letting us back on the ship. Post Brexit, you can imagine that they will be even more awkward! For the first time this cruise there seemed to be a problem getting passengers back on board. Two gangways we attached. One, to deck 7, looked very steep and was not yet in use. The remaining one, to deck 5, seemed to have a problem as there were long waits between each small group of passengers being allowed on. We eventually boarded after around 20 minutes waiting on the quayside. As we were booked to attend the 6.30pm Food and Wine Pairing Dinner at the Glass House, we decided to have a light lunch in the cabin from the Grab n’ Go area. We then relaxed in the cabin until the sail-away although, being an industrial port, there wasn’t much to see, especially as we plunged into thick fog within a few miles of shore. Aurora’s fog horn started sounding every few minutes, which reminded us of our Baltic Cruise in May where it resulted in us having severely disturbed sleep for 2 nights as we glided along flat calm seas in thick fog. On that cruise, we did not feel a single bit of movement for the entire 14 days, unlike this cruise where it has been almost constant - albeit not enough to cause either of us any issues (other than the loud creaking from the ceiling which has disturbed us a few nights). Thankfully, the fog ended as quickly as it had begun. We had enjoyed the Food and Wine pairing dinner when we had been on Aurora in May, so were pleased to see it was being held on this cruise as well (although there are apparently no wine or gin tastings on 7 day cruises). Clearly the £30 per head charge had put off most people as there were only 6 couples present, spread across 3 tables for 4 people. We finished dinner in time to catch the later of Dimitris Dekavalles’ 2nd performance in The Playhouse at 9.30pm. Another superb performance, this time of Latin American guitar music. Sadly, as has been the case throughout this entire cruise, our enjoyment of the performance was severely impacted by the constant comings and goings of passengers throughout the entire 45 minutes. These passengers, who feel that it is acceptable to walk in half way through a performance and disrupt others enjoyment as they ask people who had been seated on time to stand to let them pass, then seem to feel that it is equally acceptable to hold conversations during the show. All of this, coupled with the fact that the latecomers also leave the door to the main corridor open allowing passing noise to be heard, must be as infuriating for the artists as it is the guests who have the courtesy to arrive on time. It is a shame that the member of the entertainments team who introduces the artist doesn’t put a ‘No Entry’ sign on the door once the performance has begun. DAY 6 - Friday 27th October- At Sea It had taken a long time to get to sleep as the occupants of the adjacent cabin had been crashing and banging around and talking at full volume, in spite of a request in Horizon (which we had never seen before) asking passengers to be considerate about such things given how sound travels between cabins. It’s a shame that they don’t print this message daily as other less important things seem to be. As it was a sea day, we weren’t in quite such a rush for breakfast, but we still managed to arrive at the Meridian Restaurant with only 10 minutes to spare before the 9.30am cut off time. I have always felt that 9am (port days) and 9.30am (sea days) is too early a cut off time for breakfast in the restaurant when people are on holiday. 10am would seem a far more reasonable time to me. After breakfast, I headed to the Curzon Theatre for Chris Walkers 2nd talk, this time on Nat King Cole which was as interesting about the racial discrimination in the USA in the 1940’s and 1950’s as it was for the music. Lunch in the Meridian Restaurant was an easy decision as there was an Asian platter as a starter and lamb jalfrezi for main course. After lunch we went to The Playhouse for Demitris Dekavalles’ last performance of the cruise. Judging by the near full house, we are clearly not the only passengers who prefer our entertainment to be a few levels up from the usual holiday camp style that P&O seems to specialise in. As it was the last sea day, we tidied up a few loose ends, such as completing and returning the customer service questionnaire and returning the book that had been borrowed from the library. It was black and white night and we decided to start the evening with a gin flight in Anderson’s (strangely, they don’t offer these in the Crows Nest on Aurora as they do on Britannia). As well as some nice nibbles, we were surprised to find that the waiting staff (of whom there were many, unlike the Crows Nest) handed out plates of canapés. We shall have to remember Anderson’s as our pre-dinner bar of choice on our future Aurora cruises. Dinner was the Chaine des Rotisseurs version. We said that we would share a table but still had a wait (with a pager). Around 30 minutes later we had not been called, so I enquired at the restaurant managers desk and we were taken straight to a table. Unfortunately, the other 6 guests had already ordered and their starters were arriving as we were ordering, which I thought was pretty poor but, to be fair to the waiters, our starters were served very quickly and we were able to catch up. It was a great table and we really enjoyed the company of all 3 other couples. Half the table (including us) had ordered the lobster. The waiter appeared after some delay and said that there was a wait for lobster. When they eventually arrived, we all had very small portions. It looked as though they had run out and tried to spread what was left between all those they had left to serve. We’ve never experienced that before during 12 previous cruises with P&O. Surprisingly, we had only had one performance by the Headliners over the first 6 nights. Perhaps they were on holiday as well? Tonight it was the girl group called Sister Twist again. They were pretty good. DAY 7 - Saturday 28th October - Cherbourg We had assumed that this would be our least interesting port of call and whilst the town itself was nothing to write home about, it was a 10 minute walk from the ship (shuttle buses were provided but not necessary) which turned out to be quite an interesting walk as fishermen were selling their freshly caught fish, crab and lobsters on the quayside. Cherbourg has quite a large traditional shopping area (in which we purchased some gifts to take home) and, on the other side of the harbour, a modern shopping centre. The highlight of the visit, however, was the City of the Sea exhibition which was immediately adjacent to where we had berthed. This is housed in the old Art Deco buildings of the former grand ocean liner terminal once used by Cunard and White Star Line, including passengers boarding Titanic. After lunch back on board the ship, I went back ashore on my own and had a thoroughly enjoyable visit there, which included a full tour inside a decommissioned French nuclear submarine (La Redoubtable), an aquarium, the old Art Deco Boarding halls and a Titanic Museum. The sail-away was relatively uneventful and at 7pm we headed up to the Beach House for our final evening meal. Service was excellent as ever but the food wasn’t great this time. The chilli squid was absent of any chilli whatsoever and the chocolate fondu, which we had enjoyed on a previous cruise, had been ruined by the use of a very watery chocolate sauce that was more akin to drinking chocolate. After dinner we had some time to kill before the final show, so we went to Anderson’s for a pre-show drink. Entertainment for the final night was a new show called ‘Echoes in the Night’. Performed by the Headliners Theatre Company, in what was only their 2nd show of a 7 night cruise, this was quite a departure from their normal song and dance shows. The story line was more convincing, the acting was less forced and the dancing was excellent. Singing new songs in the style of old songs didn’t work for me, but it was refreshing to see P&O try a need format as their traditional approach to entertainment is really stuck in a time warp. DAY 8 - Sunday 29th October - Southampton Whilst it is usual when returning from mainland Europe to gain an hour back during the morning of arrival back in Southampton, as it was the end of British summer time UK clocks went back an hour overnight so we had to put our watches back 2 hours. Coupled with the fact that Cherbourg is less than 100 miles from Southampton, the Captain had time to kill overnight, so we had headed West along the English Channel towards Devon before turning back towards the Isle of Wight. It was a busy morning in the port of Southampton as Ventura, Oceana, Independence of the Seas and a Fred Olsen ship had all arrived before Aurora, even though we had by far the shortest journey! We vacated our cabin at 8am and then had the usual final morning difficulty of trying to get a lift, as able bodied passengers disembarking the ship insist on using the lifts simply because they are carrying small items of hand luggage, thus making it near impossible for wheelchair users (who are unable to use the stairs) to move between floors. After we had eventually managed to get to the Medina Restaurant, we were pleased to find that there was no queue to enter and we had our pre departure breakfast. At the end of our May cruise on Aurora we had been unimpressed with the assisted disembarkation service, as it was wildly abused by a large number of passengers who didn’t genuinely need a wheelchair to get off the ship but had requested the service in order to queue jump. In frustration, I had pushed the wheelchair off the ship myself and we requested the assistance of a porter in the luggage hall. This time we decided that, if there was a long queue, we would do the same again. When we reported to Vandebelts we realised that there were an awful lot of people in there already (most of whom had coped easily without a wheelchair all cruise, around the ship, on and off in ports and whilst ashore, but suddenly need one to get off the ship on the last morning when there is some perceived advantage), so we didn’t sit down and just followed the next assistance pusher off the ship and grabbed a porter. As we were returning to the QE2 terminal having departed on the previous cruise from Mayflower terminal, we had been concerned that our car wouldn’t be waiting for us. No need to worry as it was there in poll position at the front of the first line of cars! Finally, we have a new favourite captain in Neil Turnbull. Nobody has ever lived up to Chris Wells, whose humour and informative announcements made a huge difference to our enjoyment of the two Cruises we did with him, but Captain Turnbull has personality, humour and professionalism. Few have all three, but he does and we hope to sail with him again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Aurora Cruise R718 to Zeebrugge (Didn’t dock!). Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd October 2017. DAY 1 - Friday 20th October- Southampton Our first experience of a 2 night cruise and back-to-back cruise all in one (although I am doing ... Read More
Aurora Cruise R718 to Zeebrugge (Didn’t dock!). Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd October 2017. DAY 1 - Friday 20th October- Southampton Our first experience of a 2 night cruise and back-to-back cruise all in one (although I am doing separate reviews for each). The 2 night taster cruise to Zeebrugge didn’t start well, as CPS car drop off was, for the first time, poor. The normal arrangement for a 2 day cruise is for passengers to self park in the short stay car park, but I had called CPS many weeks before and they had linked our two cruise bookings, telling me that I could ignore the self parking option and should pull up at the terminal to be valet parked as normal. I had called CPS again the day before the cruise to confirm and was, once again, told this would be no issue and CPS staff would be available at the terminal. As we arrived at the terminal, we first had a battle with the traffic marshal’s, who seemed incapable of understanding what we had arranged (and were quite offhand) and then, as we arrived outside the Mayflower cruise terminal, there wasn’t a CPS operative in sight. After a phone call to CPS (when I was kept on hold for 10 minutes) and a further wait, two CPS staff members eventually arrived. During the time that we were waiting I noticed that the porters were just standing idle alongside the building waiting for passengers to take their cases to them. Even though I had two large cases, a carry case, a wheelchair and my wife to attend to, no effort whatsoever was made to assist. When I asked an idle porter whether or not there was porter service today, he replied “No, there never is”. Perhaps he meant on 2 day cruises, but this attitude was shocking none the less. Thankfully, as we entered the terminal building, first class service immediately took over. We reported to assisted embarkation and didn’t even have to take a seat, as we were escorted straight to check-in and were through security and on board within around 10 minutes. A record for us. Due to high winds when Aurora had docked, the air bridge wasn’t attached, so we had to board up a steep ramp from the dockside. Thankfully we were assisted by two pushers for this bit. Even though we had an embarkation time of 1430, we were in our cabin by 1310 with both cases already present. Very impressed. We were staying in C152 (Accessible Balcony) which was the same cabin that we had stayed in for our 16 night Baltic cruise in May. We instantly noticed an issue with the bed, in that one half was higher than the other! Also, the previous occupants had stupidly left the safe locked, rather than open as instructed. We could not find our steward, so unpacked and stowed the suitcases under the bed. More than an hour later, we eventually found our steward (Lawrence) who told us that the previous occupant had hired a Mobility at Sea special bed and that the normal bed had not returned as planned. He said he would sort it out and called the deck manager to unlock the safe. Next stop the Glass House, where we each traded our Peninsular Club vouchers for a freebie glass of champagne. The staff have all changed since our May cruise, but were just as friendly. We also noticed that food was available during the afternoon, even though it was a changeover day. We had already had an early lunch at Maritimo Lounge in Ocean Village, but will keep this in mind for changeover day on Sunday as we are staying on board. Then to Anderson’s for the muster drill. When we returned our life jackets to the cabin we were impressed to find that the bed had already been changed and was now level! Up to the Crows Nest for a sailway drink and observation as we pulled forward off the berth, turned (as the ship had docked facing inland) and cruised out past the Isle of Wight. Horns were honked between us and Azura as we passed her. Azura is delaying its departure by 24 hours due to former hurricane (now storm) ‘Brian’ which is due to engulf the English Channel tomorrow. As we are heading North, we are departing as normal, although we will have to come back through the remnants of it. During out time in the Crows Nest we were joined by a lovely couple who lived on The Isle of Wight, so were able to have a good chat about the island. We weren’t overly fussed about the main dining room menu, so tried to get into Sindhu, which although only had about 4 couples in it was apparently full! We ended up in the Beach House where the manager recognised us from May. We experienced exemplary service but my beef sizzling platter wasn’t as tasty as before and none of the deserts appealed, so I just had Eton Mess ice cream, which was very nice. We didn’t fancy the Headliners show (Fantasy) as we had seen it in May and didn’t rate it, so we went to Carmen’s for a Showaddywaddy tribute band called Shomaddymaddy. Pure cheese, but we actually quite enjoyed it as the music was good, even though we couldn’t see the band once the dance floor had filled with people dancing! Our final port of call was a repeat visit to the Crows Nest, as the male members of the Aurora Orchestra were performing. However, they were playing jazz, which is about the only style of music that I intensely dislike, so we retired to bed, although I first popped out to the Horizon buffet for a Horlicks nightcap. DAY 2 - Saturday 21st October- At Sea (Zeebrugge cancelled) Although we had heard a lot of people talking very loudly as they passed our cabin late at night, we both managed to sleep well, probably assisted by the combination of alcohol, Stugeron and rocking motion! At 0745 (0645 UK time) we were woken by Captain Turnbull making an announcement that, due to high winds, we were unable to dock at Zeebrugge and would have a day at sea as he had not been able to find a substitute port. Although quite understandable, it’s a shame for those who had booked the cruise specifically to go to Bruges, not least as there are no other stops and this is now a cruise to nowhere! We both commented on how professional and comprehensive his announcement was e.g “the safety of the vessel and all those aboard is, and always will be, my first priority”. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Medina restaurant where the waiter remembered us from our last cruise. During the morning, we cruised up past the Thames Estuary (passing wind farms and gas platforms) into the North Sea, prior to turning around 180 degrees off Lowestoft and heading back towards Southampton - and storm Brian! Lunch in the Medina prior to popping our head into Carmen’s for a singer , Sadie Ebbon, whose 11.15pm show had been brought forward to 2pm due to the unplanned sea day. We stayed for a few songs but weren’t really getting in to it, so we left and went to Anderson’s for a quiet read. By now there were a few more white peaks on the waves and more noticeable movement. We have noticed how busy the ship feels compared to our last cruise on Aurora, which is not helped by everyone having to stay on board and it being autumn, so few people are on the open decks. Although the P&O blurb talks about this being a ‘Discovery Cruise’, the staff on board refer to it as a ‘Party Cruise’ and you can see why. Lots of large groups including quite a few hen parties. We assume that, to keep costs down, they might be sharing 4 adults to a cabin, which also explains the relatively high passenger density. As the ship was busy, we returned to our cabin for a rest and to read. The wind was now force 9 with gusts up to force 11. The balcony divider door is rattling loudly and our patio door out to the balcony is draughty and doesn’t keep out the noise of the wind. We ordered a cream tea from the new room service menu. This took around an hour to arrive. Our steward is pleased that we are staying on board. He explained that on changeover days he works almost all day and evening and has just 90 minutes off during which time he has to rest, eat and call home. The band ‘Caravan’ are on board again, so we decided to go to the 7.30pm Bee Gee’s Tribute show which we had very much enjoyed when we were last on Aurora in May. There was no member of the entertainment team present to provide the commentary between each song and the lead singer attempted to do it but really struggled due to his strong Philippine accent. Thankfully the songs were still good. We decided to have dinner late, so hot footed from Carmen’s to the other end of the ship to the Curzon Theatre for the early (8.30pm) show of a Madness tribute band called Badness. They were the same group that had performed the Showaddywaddy tribute and we enjoyed this performance as much, especially as they didn’t just sing Madness songs but also other Ska groups such as The Specials and Bad Manners. We left before the end as it was 15 minutes before the Medina restaurant closed to new arrivals, so we hope that the show is repeated on our follow on cruise. Dinner in the Medina restaurant was the Marco Pierre White menu, as it was the Black Tie night. Other than the Beef Wellington, I didn’t particularly enjoy the other courses (other than the delicious port infused Stilton to finish) so may dip into the non-Marco choices next time that menu appears. As we had finished dinner very late and the ship was being buffeted by Storm Brian now that we were in it’s path in the English Channel, we retired to our cabin. It was difficult to get to sleep due to the fact that the ceiling of the cabin above the bathroom door was creaking and banging as the ship was being thrown around by the storm. That said, we didn’t feel sick at all and obviously slept well when we eventually got to sleep as we didn’t awake until we were alongside in Southampton. As we were doing our first back to back cruise, there are no disembarkation comments to make and anything beyond this point will feature in the next review. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
The cruise itself was very good we had no issues with the places we visited Madeira Canary Isles Lisbon and Vigo. All ports were accessible so no tenders involved. The disabled room with balcony was excellent even pull down hangers in ... Read More
The cruise itself was very good we had no issues with the places we visited Madeira Canary Isles Lisbon and Vigo. All ports were accessible so no tenders involved. The disabled room with balcony was excellent even pull down hangers in wardrobe. and of course the walk in shower. Food was ok although the horizon restaurant was nearly always busy so with my wife in a wheelchair it was easier to eat outside for breakfast and on sunny days and why not. Not much entertainment on sea days other P&O cruises we were always kept entertained, as 2-3 sea days can be very boring. No activities around the pool no chutes just 2 swimming pools. Obviously very accessible for disabled throughout the ship except deck 18. However not all good for disabled. As stated by others stairs in midships only go to deck 7 bad design therefore unless you walked to either the stern or forward passengers would get the lift. Lifts were small 2 wheelchairs and a couple of passengers that was it. The Oriental restaurant on deck 6 aft can only be accessed by stairs or lifts there is no thoroughfare so disabled had a long time to wait for the lifts. another bad design. The theatre called 'headliner's is too small for the number of passengers on the ship Although some disabled spaces are available there should be designated area for wheelchair users, with the emphasis on wheelchair users . Chairs would be moved out the way for the wheelchair users but of course some people would just sit in the chairs. You would have to get to the theatre 45 minutes at least to guarantee a place for the wheel chair Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was a back to back with the Mediterranean cruise. The ship was great. All the amenities we required. Smaller than Indy but that did not detract. We moved from a standard cabin to a disabled access cabin It was great to get the ... Read More
This was a back to back with the Mediterranean cruise. The ship was great. All the amenities we required. Smaller than Indy but that did not detract. We moved from a standard cabin to a disabled access cabin It was great to get the extra room for the scooter and the wet room The couple who had this cabin before had cleaned it from top to bottom as they were very disappointed with the standard of cleanliness That gave the cabin steward a good start but edges and corners were not cleaned until well into the cruise. We stock with the windjammer due to poor experience in dining room on previous cruise. Windjammer was very good, great selection, lots of vegetarian options., We loved the food and service in Johnny Rockets and dined three times in Sabor, the specialist Indian cuisine Best Indian meal ever. Stage shows did not attract us in as we had seen them last cruise, same with ice shows. Service in the Diamond Lounge was great Hats off to Kevin, Concierge, Alexandrou and JJ, bar staff. They made our visits feel personal and welcome. Ports were good but very naughty of RCI not to tell us that there were no disabled shuttles and no suitable infrastructure in Morocco We got a note on our beds late the night before we docked. Some of us had cruised because we wanted to see Morocco. For one it was on his Bucket List. They should have told us when we booked disabled access cabins Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
this was our first cruise, we found the ship to be very clean and the staff very pleasant, the food both in the windjammer and main dining room was excellent, but I would suggest getting a table 1st for the windjammer and sorting out where ... Read More
this was our first cruise, we found the ship to be very clean and the staff very pleasant, the food both in the windjammer and main dining room was excellent, but I would suggest getting a table 1st for the windjammer and sorting out where your food types are before loading your plates as by the time you find a table which is not occupied your food tends to be cold. there is loads to do for families but not a lot early in the mornings unless you like lounging around the pool, also a lot of the attractions, flow rider, climbing wall and ice rink were not open much, no reason was given and we weren't told before our cruise, but this did not affect us as we are middle aged and preferred a quieter cruise anyway. families with children will love the ship. the only fault we found was there was not enough time in Lisbon but loads of time in the 2 other ports this information was not available to us both before we booked and when we boarded which for us as middle aged people meant we didn't have much to do in vigo or le havre as walking far from the ship can be a bit hilly unless of course you decide to pay for a shore excursion., so as a result we cut our shore trips short and enjoyed a quieter ship. the information supplied for the ports was vague unless you attended the seminar the night before in one of the bars the main problem we found was that there was not enough seating throughout the ship which tended to mean we spent a lot of time going to different bars and shows etc a lot earlier than we would normally do just to make sure we got a seat, bit frustrating really. overall though we would still go on this cruise again irrespective of the couple of minor points and seating issue which did not appeal to us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We chose this cruise because we needed an extra day towards our Princess loyalty program status. We were very happy in the main with the whole experience. The cabin could have been a little cleaner, the carpet needed a good vacuum as ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we needed an extra day towards our Princess loyalty program status. We were very happy in the main with the whole experience. The cabin could have been a little cleaner, the carpet needed a good vacuum as there were many bits on it and the bedside tables had liquid marks, soon got rid of wth a wet flannel. We wanted to change our allotted table because my wife is in a wheelchair but the staff were not at all helpful so we had to stay with the allotted one. The food quality was very good however the variety at the Waterside Buffet was not as varied as on Princess. Metropolis, the nightclub was excellent, good atmosphere and service. We liked the island servery, better design than the bar in Skywalkers on the Princess Grand class ships. Overall a very good albeit short experience, we would certainly sail with P&O again.R Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Where do I start. The boarding process was ok and the first thing we did was upgrade the drinks packages from select package. We went up to Windjammer (Canteen) and was walking around a few times looking for a table we finally got a ... Read More
Where do I start. The boarding process was ok and the first thing we did was upgrade the drinks packages from select package. We went up to Windjammer (Canteen) and was walking around a few times looking for a table we finally got a table and went up to get food and it was plastic plates no trays either, but plastic plates it was like being back at school. The cabin was ready around 1330 and it was clean and just what we expected the cabin to be so no complaints there. The evenings we had booked My Time dining and the waiters we had were fantastic if it wasn't for the Sapphire Restaurant and staff in there my rating above would be one star, the sapphire itself would be 5 starts and the only thing the ship had organized. The Windjammer (Canteen) every day was packed out and always hunting for a table the food in there was ok but it was no way big enough to cope with the amount of passengers on board. Even wheelchair users struggled with there Carer and Partner to find places to sit, just no organization whatsoever. However there was 5 other Restaurants on board which incurred extra costs. It was lucky the Sapphire was a place to eat in the evening for a proper 3 course meal or I don't know what we would have done for food. The entertainment was great in the theatre but when it finished you had no where to go due to everywhere being packed out and no seats available. The star lounge is no way big enough for entertainment and the main promenade for events is an absolute joke trying to get through and holding entertainment there is a health and safety issue if anything was to go wrong. The sunbeds are old and tatty but if your a premium customer you get new sunbeds and a private section. It felt like we are a just a number but if you have money you are looked after. Not even passengers with disabilities get looked after like the rich passengers do, it is so wrong. The bar staff and drink waiters are no way near enough on board so waiting times for drinks can be a while. The Ice Skating was another disaster it was open 1700-1900 lucky we was early in the queue again no organization we walked through to the rink and got stopped to fill out Health and Safety forms fair enough no complaints but why not issue the forms before hand and filled in before hand instead of just before going on the ice. My daughter was skating for about 10 minutes and an announcement came over 10 minutes left, then 5 minutes. I feel sorry for the people behind me who filled out the forms because they would have only got 10 to 15 ice skating. When we were walking out the queue was huge and I shouldn't think they all managed to get to Ice Skate. It should be forms filled out already and a ticket with a time say 1700 1730 1800 and 1830 sessions not a queue and wait and fill in the forms just before going on the ice. The Ice Skating shows was ticket and times, the show was fantastic and is a must to see. The crazy golf (putting green) was very busy and that again no organization just a box with the balls and putters in to help yourself. Children were playing in the lifts constantly. The nicest bar on the ship was on the 14th deck cosmopolitan bar and it was quiet but children had to be out by 10pm so that was no good for us. The other thing when we went to Bilbao and Guijon it was 10 Euros each return for a coach into town so 3 of us 30 euros and 60 euros over 2 days so we stayed on the ship them days. Le havre was 4 Euros each return for the bus which was more like it but the queue for the bus was so long we walked 25 minutes into town as it was quicker then waiting for a bus. The Navigator is no way big enough to cater for the amount of passengers it holds and even my Daughter said everything was busy and wouldn't do Royal Caribbean again and she is 13 years old. The last day leaving the ship was hassle free and it felt like they couldn't wait to get us off the ship as it was so easy. We went to Mcdonalds near the port on the last day for Breakfast because I couldn't be doing with Windjammer (Canteen) on the last day, and that was the best breakfast we had all week in Mcdonalds on the way home. This was my 5th Cruise and my first and last time using Royal Caribbean and won't ever be using them again and certainly won't be recommending them. So glad I didn't book next years Transatlantic Reposition Cruise on the same ship, or I would have just lost my deposit and cancelled the holiday. I will now look elsewhere for a Reposition Cruise for my next Cruise holiday as that's what we like the idea of doing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
The Great This may take a while. There were so many great things to mention. Disney is great with details. From the "Mickey" shaped face for my daughters ketchup, to the Disney themed menu each night, they really do a great ... Read More
The Great This may take a while. There were so many great things to mention. Disney is great with details. From the "Mickey" shaped face for my daughters ketchup, to the Disney themed menu each night, they really do a great job at providing those little extras in everything they do. The Oceaneer Lab and Club are exceptional. I could barely get my daughter to leave. The staff was friendly and courteous. The actual area was awesome. I wanted to go in in play! I also loved their security features. I never worried about my daughter while she was there. The cabin in clean and large. We actually stayed in a room with just a porthole and never felt like we were missing out or that the room was too tight. It was actually perfect for the three of us. I also LOVED that they had two interpreters for the hearing impaired at every show. We didn't need the services but there was a family there that did. I can tell you- they did an amazing job considering the length of each show. It must have taken a ton of preparation on their part. I am sure they don't receive enough credit so I wanted to mention. Dining in the 3 restaurants was always fun. I loved the Animators Palate. The food was pretty good although it wasn't amazing. The service, however was spectacular and my daughter could always get whatever she wanted even if it wasn't on the menu. The Bad The ports were just okay. We stopped in Newcastle, England (meh), Kirkwall, Scotland (huge disappointment!), Iceland and Norway (which were fab.) I really would recommend that Disney rethink the first two stops. They just weren't that great. Another downside- if you are a first time cruiser with Disney, you don't get on the "special" email about events going on. We overheard someone talking about the character breakfast or we would have never known. We also found out about the princess meet and greet after it was over. Sorry Disney but if I am paying 10k for a vacation, I should have the option to participate in these things. After speaking to numerous cruisers, there is definately a sense that the Castaway Club members are treated better. I get it to an extent, you have to give them perks but when the cruise director walks past your table to focus on those with gold or black lanyards (that they get when boarding), you feel slighted. The Ugly... The spa is a huge letdown. I enjoyed my massage and facial but they are obviously incentivized to sell you on items and they are super pushy. I can't tell you how many times I stated that I did not was facial cream, massage oil, etc. It really was uncomfortable. Overall, I really enjoyed this cruise and will use Disney again. We had a great time and my daughter was in heaven. Well worth the extra money. Just be aware of the downsides. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Well My Darling Wife has always wanted a cruise so for her 40th Birthday I surprised her with a cruise to Norway on Grand Princess. The main reasons why I booked this cruise was 1, it was Southampton to Southampton - We live in ... Read More
Well My Darling Wife has always wanted a cruise so for her 40th Birthday I surprised her with a cruise to Norway on Grand Princess. The main reasons why I booked this cruise was 1, it was Southampton to Southampton - We live in Southampton, 5 minutes from the port. 2, It was during school holidays as we have a teenage Daughter. 3, It was in my price range. I had followed the refit online and was very glad that we were on the third cruise after it, so most of the gremlins would have been sorted. I saw no signs of work being carried out during my many walks around the ship. I am an early riser so at 6am I was getting my coffee from Horizon Court and I would go off om my daily walk around the top decks. Every Morning there was crew members cleaning and polishing the ship making her ready for the coming day all of whom would say "Good Morning". Apart from one member of staff at the customer services desk who was very pretty but completely unhelpful on more than one occasion, all the staff that I came into contact with were brilliant, Our Cabin Stewardess Julia from Mexico was so lovely and hard working she is a credit to Princess Cruses. This was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it to, but, for work I stay in lots of Hotels of all standards throughout the UK so I used that as my guide stick. The first night we ate in Michelangelo's on anytime dining. The service was good but the menu was very complicated to understand with the Starters on the second page after the mains - very confusing. Food was OK nothing special. Later that evening we went to Horizon Court for a snack and most of the menu in Michelangelo's was available at the buffet !! We also tried Sabatini's at an extra $20 per head and Crown Grill at $25 per head. Both were very good but we went back to Sabatini's a second time. The Horizon Court was good if you timed it properly. Overall I enjoyed the food on Grand Princess and the was loads of it. Mmmm. The entertainment was good some better than others. We saw the Macdonald Brothers in the Vista Lounge and they were good and we saw a show in the Theatre which was spectacular keeping in mind we were on a ship in the North Sea. The problem in the Theatre was to get a seat we had to arrive 45 minutes before the show. In the Explorers Lounge was a band called Atomic who were good most of the time. We left early from the Country night when an annoying English crew member started to drag unwilling audience members up to line dance with the words "this is not a spectator sport". I always go to watch not take part so it was time to leave,Shame as I was looking forwards to country night. We did not bother with Movies under the stars as the choice of movies was not very good and the screen really should have been replaced during the refit. Our Mini Suite was Good with no real problems to report. The on-board TV was not good with complicated TV schedules and a poor choice in TV shows. I would have liked a Coffee making facility like most hotel rooms. Also be warned all the plug sockets are 3 pin American sockets that run 110 volts, so make sure any electrical items can be used before you pack. There were two Outlet Sales with loads of branded goods reduced in price. They were awful. it was like a bad Jumble sale in a dark church hall. Passengers were queuing to get in them as well. Why pay for a cruise and then spend an hour of it in a queue to buy rubbish? There were two disappointing sides to this Cruise for me. First was that at every opportunity I was being asked if I wanted to buy something. A bottle of water, a bottle of wine, photo,s, DVD's, Massages, beer, it was constant. The second thing that disappointed me was, some, but not all of the other passengers. I have never seen Elevator rage before but on Grand Princess it was non stop. My wife has trouble walking so we have a wheelchair for longer walks. I lost count the amount of times that when a lift arrived large amounts of able bodied people were barge into the elevator leaving no room for us so we would have to wait for the next elevator. When we could get into the elevator my wife was elbowed by passengers squeezing in. What was really annoying was most of the time the rude passengers were only going up one floor and the could have used the stairs. I know this is not A Princess Cruises problem but maybe they could put a sign by the Elevators asking passengers to allow disabled passengers priority use. We didn't do any of the excursions as the ship is lovely and empty during the day so no queuing. Also that was the best time to use the excellent Gym. Overall we loved the Cruise and I have started to look for our next one. The positives far outshone the negatives for me. I would use Grand Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Travel from Bradford to Southampton was by Eavesway coach, as usual great coach (09 registration) and for the first time we were able to rate the coach from a wheelchair point of view, the coach passed with flying colours. Eavesway drivers ... Read More
Travel from Bradford to Southampton was by Eavesway coach, as usual great coach (09 registration) and for the first time we were able to rate the coach from a wheelchair point of view, the coach passed with flying colours. Eavesway drivers were as ever very pleasant and helpful. Embarkation procedure was fine, long queues but that was down to a few coaches arriving at the terminal at the same time. I was disappointed to find that having boarded we were simply pointed towards a lift and left to get on with it ourselves, other cruise lines (e.g Celebrity) allocate a crew member to escort you to your stateroom, this was fine for seasoned cruisers like ourselves but could be daunting for passengers cruising for the first time. My wheelchair bound son was given priority boarding with his helper (his sister), we chose to board in the usual way, because we had also cruise virgins in our party. Is it me or is Aurora like a maze gone wrong? I find lots of dead ends on the ship, where you have to cross the deck to find your way around the ship. The Alexandria Restaurant for example can only be directly accessed by one set of lifts. Whilst on the subject of the Alexandria Restaurant, I have to say great venue, good food , attentive wait staff, but why oh why do P&O put wheelchair passengers in the restaurant when the Medina restaurant is so much more accessible in a wheelchair AND has access to a disabled toilet. The Alexandria doesn't! Entertainment: Star attraction on this cruise was Derren Brown, great entertainment, had lots of people speculating on just how the hell he does what he does. How on earth do you look - look is probably not the word to use there because he is blindfolded! - at someone in the audience and tell the lady her age, that she is pregnant and is a nurse or tell another lady that her cat is called Captain Catfish, well that last one is easily explained doesn't everyone call their cat Captain Catfish!!!! Headliners team were very good, great voices and dancing, they did tribute shows to Queen and Abba. From an entertainment point of view 5* from a production point of view 2*. Queen show especially was poorly lit. I would love someone to explain to me the sense is putting a theatre company in a poorly lit cabaret lounge, where the dance floor is the stage and putting a cabaret singer in the theatre? When I'm in a cabaret bar I expect to see an act on a small stage I don't expect to see the backs of singers and dancers on a dance floor. On more thing Headliners performed to a backing track, nothing wrong with that, but why have a TRIO who couldn't be seen because they were behind some sort of metal grill augmenting the backing track - I'm sure this trio could have been better employed on the ship in another venue. I chose not to see the soul singer in the theatre - nothing against the guy , just not my cup of tea. I have to say that entertainment on P&O does seem to be getting a little scarce I may be entirely wrong although as I said previously there did seem to be a redundant trio in the cabaret bar. Agnes was the resident pianist but her "spots" seemed to consist of 30 minute periods in different parts of the ship - I hope she didn't have to lug her piano around with her :) - when our paths did cross , Agnes was good entertainment. A point about clocks moving forward or backwards, the last night of the cruise the clocks had to be put back one hour - no mention of this was made by the cruise director i the cabaret bar, the cabin steward didn't leave a card telling us to put our clocks back - so the only confirmation we actually had was 2 lines of normal print in the text of the back page of Horizon the ships newspaper - now this wasn't really a problem for me and at worst we would have gotten up 1 hour early for disembarkation - but what would have happened if all these factors had taken place on a day when the clocks went FORWARD and I has a tour ashore - attention to detail please P&O Another thing the people who were travelling with us as first time cruisers didn't receive the Horizon newspaper for the first two days of the cruise and of course as first time cruisers were blissfully unaware of the significance of not have the information that the newspaper contained - this factor brought about the title of this review " Have you been to the Theatre" but more of that later under the review for the port of Zeebrugge. Tours Ashore Zeebrugge - We did Ipres and the Flanders Fields. It seems an anathema to say wonderful tour for this particular tour, it was more of a pilgrimage but it was very very good and very thought provoking. We have all seen war memorials in out cities, towns and villages, but these in no way prepare you for the lines and lines of immaculate simple gravestones on Tyne Cemetery . After the grave visits we were taken to the Menem Gate in Ipres, to see the names of 58,000 YES 58,000 soldiers who were listed as missing in action and who have no known grave - truly thought provoking. I have mentioned before the 2 cruise virgins - they decided to take the Brugges tour together with the Roune tour in Le Havre. Now starts a period of , if you are doing something for the first time, if it can go wrong it will go wrong - They looked at the Roune ticket the night before instead of the Brugge ticket and thought the tour left at 8am - they duly presented themselves on the quayside with the right tour ticket at what they thought was the right time - REMEMBER they hadn't had the Horizon newspaper telling them to go to the theatre and therefore didn't have sticker for a coach. A lady from the ships crew approached them on the quayside and asked where they were going - Brugge they said, well have you been to the theatre? Puzzled he replied "Yes" ( he'd seen the show the previous night hehehe). "Well where's your sticker then" at this point he confessed he hadn't a clue what the hell was going on. It turned out he was on the AFTERNOON trip to Brugge. Lessons to be learnt here passengers ALWAYS check your tour tickets VERY carefully and P&O if you are printing a ticket for a tour why not put ALL the information on the ticket all it needs is Please assemble in the theatre at least 10 minutes before your tour is due to commence. Le Havre We didn't do a formal tour, just used the Shuttle bus into the city centre. A point now about wheelchair passengers and tours ashore. Alarm bells started ringing about 6 weeks prior to the cruise when the promised Tours Ashore for disabled passengers didn't materialise. Calls to P&O were made and we were told we WOULD receive them - we didn't! A final call 4 days before the cruise started final got the information from P&O there were NO tours available for wheelchair passengers! Fortunately my son was able to arrange via the internet a taxi company to take him into Brugge - that cost 90 Euros for the trip. Had he had had more time to arrange the trip he might have been able to car share of find a better price. Moral - P&O please say earlier if you cant provide transportation at any port wheelchair bound passengers and give them a fighting chance to make other arrangements. My son was unable to find a taxi firm in Le Havre - yes I know that there are always taxis in the port but not all of them are capable of taking a wheelchair. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We have just returned from a short, 4 night cruise on Independence of the Seas to Cork and back. We have cruised before but this was our first time on RCI and we thought this short trip would be an ideal taster of the RCI experience. My ... Read More
We have just returned from a short, 4 night cruise on Independence of the Seas to Cork and back. We have cruised before but this was our first time on RCI and we thought this short trip would be an ideal taster of the RCI experience. My husband and I were accompanied by my mother who is disabled, though not a wheelchair user. Embarkation This was our first time leaving from Southampton. We drove down and it took about 4 hours from our home in Nottinghamshire including a short stop. There were very bad traffic jams leading into Southampton as there are road works on the approach roads. We cut through the town center rather than following the motorway route and avoided the worst. We had prebooked car parking and it was very straightforward. We arrived just after 11am and followed the signs. A porter came and took our cases from the car and we drove round to the departures entrance where we were able to stop to let my Mum and I out. As we had completed our SeaPasses online and registered our credit card check in was very quick. I had requested assisted boarding but when I mentioned this at the check in desk I was told that we should have asked when we first entered the building. This created some confusion while they decided what to do. We eventually got fed up with waiting and my mum decided she would walk and just take it steady. This was okay because we were early and the terminal was very quiet but it would not have been so good if it had been busy. After having our photos taken for security we entered the ship on deck 4 by 11.45am. First Impressions We have been on big ships, but Independence is massive, towering over the dock when you look up. This ship has clearly been designed to impress and it certainly succeeds. The dEcor when you enter the ship is beautiful, clean, fresh and bright without being garish, with specially commissioned art work adorning the walls. On our other cruises we have been given small cards with basic deck plans and we would have found this useful, but we soon get used to referring to the deck plans and models of the ship placed near all the lifts. Although this is a large ship we actually found it was very easy to navigate, once you realized that you can't make you way from one end of the ship to the other on decks 2 and 3, because of the ice rink, and that there are glass doors on some decks separating the port from starboard sides. This caught us out at first and we know others found it frustrating. There are 2 lift positions, midships and forward, with lifts on both the port and starboard sides. These go to all decks from 1 to 14. Some lifts are fully enclosed and others glass sided with views through the ship. Accessed on deck 5, running almost the length of the ship, is the Royal Promenade. On first sight rising 4 decks this is really spectacular, and it is hard to believe you are actually on a ship. The Promenade is lined with shops, an English pub, pizza restaurant, cafe and a wine bar. The lighting in the promenade changes during the day to create different effects and 'sky bridges' are lowered to provide entertainment platforms. It was from one of these that the captain gave his speech and introduced senior officers on the formal night. Very clever and very impressive. Duty free was not available on our cruise as we did not enter international waters; in fact 17.5% vat was added to shop purchases. Cabins This was our first experience of an inside cabin and we have now decided our last. If we can't have at least an outside we would rather not go. We were on deck 10, the highest passenger deck, and also the deck with the most expensive suites. The cabin was very cramped. When we first arrived the beds were in a twin configuration and we asked for them to be changed to a queen. The steward asked if she could do this later when she turned the bed down for the night. Unfortunately the cabin is not really designed for this bed layout. There was insufficient room to move to the side of the bed without climbing over the bed end. We now know why the beds in outside cabins and balconies are actually rounded at the ends! If the cabin had been just a few inches longer or wider this problem would have been solved. The corridor on our deck was so wide I'm sure this would have been possible. I don't think someone who is physically challenged or on the large side would be able to manage. We had a look in an outside cabin and there was a little more room round the bed but not much. The narrow width of the cabin also caused problems when accessing the wardrobe. Apart from this the cabin fittings were well designed and the dEcor was very tasteful and relaxing. The shower, though small, was excellent. There was adequate storage and hanging space for our short cruise but we don't travel light and I think we would have struggled on a longer cruise. We also struggled to stow our case under the bed, I'm not sure where we would have put it had it been any deeper? We had a look in the Royal Suite, which was just along the corridor from our cabin. It was very, very big and beautifully decorated with a grand piano and massive balcony stretching the length of the hump. My mum was on deck 2 and had an inside cabin for the disabled. This was very big and very well adapted for someone in a wheelchair. The bathroom was designed as a wet room with a seat in the shower area and telephone for emergencies. Food We only used the Windjammer buffet restaurant twice and did not like it on either occasion. The tables are tightly packed in places which results in you being constantly knocked as pax try to walk through. There was a reasonable selection of food available which was well presented but the taste and quality was not as good as we were expecting. We have been on Ocean Village and both of us thought their buffet was better! One thing we noticed was that RCI tried to cater for British tastes - steak and kidney pie, British style bacon. We were on late 8.30 club dining; we requested a table for 8 and were allocated a table in the Romeo and Juliet dining room on deck 3. There were 2 further balcony levels on decks 4 and 5 to this very large dining room. The dEcor is once again beautiful with crystal chandeliers and art work on the walls. We had 2 lovely dinner companions but the 2 further seats remained allocated but unfilled, perhaps they didn't like the look of us! The first night's food got off to a bad start. We were very hungry but it was nearly an hour before our first course arrived. We were very disappointed with this meal. 3 of us had pork and it was too tough to eat. The other 2 had steak and it was very ordinary. When the head waiter introduced himself and asked if we had enjoyed the meal we told him of the problems and he said no one else had complained (not the right response!). We later found out this was not the case. He said he would make sure we enjoyed the remaining meals and he did. The service improved considerably as the cruise went on with the waiters remembering our likes and dislikes. The food was good, but fairly ordinary, not as good as we had on Carnival Destiny last year. I love prawn cocktail (its my age!) but it was very poor, just 3 small rather dry prawns on a few leaves. We were surprised that there was no fish course offered just 3 courses plus standard coffee. We ordered wine evening. A good selection was offered but not all of it was available. I think there were some on offer at about $25 but we normally paid $38 - $45 for a reasonable bottle. There was also a connoisseur selection available closer to $100. We also took breakfast in the Romeo and Juliet dining room as it was easier with my mum than using the buffet. The quality of the breakfast generally was very good with a wide selection available. The exception was the toast which was either soft or like cardboard. I like grapefruit juice but there was only orange or if you were quick enough asking, apple. There was also a small buffet set up if you wanted to help yourself. The service was variable with some items failing to arrive as ordered. We also used this dining room for lunch on our second day and it was relaxing. Once again a small buffet for salads was available with lovely smoked salmon and juicy prawns. We had a very nice lunch. For our other lunches we got either got sandwiches from the Promenade Cafe or pizza from Sorrento's, both on the Royal Promenade. Both were very good and fresh. We did not eat at either Chops or Portofino. Our diner companions tried to book when they first came on board at 2pm on the first day and were unable to get a table. It would probably be best to book online to be sure of a table. It was our table companions' wedding anniversary the last evening and the waiters sang them a special song. Cobh A street market had been arranged by the local council and this together with the ship docking on a Sunday resulted in a very large number of local people coming to Cobh. This combined with a full ship meant Cobh was packed. We visited the local heritage center by the dock, partly to escape the rain and the crush. The displays, mainly about emigration to the new world, were very interesting. We found out when we got back on the ship that we would have got in for half price if we had shown our SeaPass. We stayed overnight in port and on the next day we went on a ship's excursion, a scenic ride to Kinscale. We chose this excursion because it was advertised as suitable for disabled but I was disappointed that no consideration was given to my mum who had to struggle to the back of the coach as she could not keep up with others determined to sit at the front. This made a nice outing but we did not think the scenery was as nice as where we live so would not wish to go back. We did go in a local bar and had Irish Coffee and Murphys beer which went down well. We did not buy very much as we thought the prices were high compared with the UK. Entertainment The shows in the theatre were outstanding, particularly the 2 production shows. We went to the shows every evening, there were 2 performances and for late dining we went twice before dining and twice after. The Cruise Compass newspaper delivered to the cabin each evening advised the best time for each sitting. All the shows were accompanied by an extremely good live band. For the production shows it was necessary to get to the theatre about 10 - 15 minutes before the performance to ensure a reasonable seat. We generally sat in the balcony accessed from deck 4 as we found the view from the lower level not so good. This is a lovely comfortable theatre with a very large stage but the view from some seats is impeded by columns. There was also live music in various bars round the ship mainly in the evening. We also went to the ice show which was brilliant and well worth making the effort to see. Although there is no charge it is necessary to get tickets for the ice show prior to the performance from tables set up near Sorrento's. The time for this was announced in the theatre and also advertised in Cruise Compass, though the start times were different by 30 minutes. My husband got there about 10 minutes before the earlier advertised time and was first in q very long queue. They have 700 tickets available for each performance and they did 4 on our cruise. On the second evening a parade was held along the Royal Promenade at 11pm. This was rather like the sort of parade you expect at Disney. It was entertaining but too busy with over 3,000 people in the same place at the same time. Using the lifts afterwards was interesting! Dress codes There was 1 formal night and the others casual. On the formal night the majority of people dressed up and most men were in tuxedos. We were surprised, we like dressing up but heard before hand that this is patchy on RCI, well not on this cruise, and although men removed ties people did not change to go to the shows. In fact every evening there were women in full length evening or cocktail dresses and they did not seem out of place. We had photos taken on the formal night but they did not take as much care as on our previous cruises. This was not because of the long queues as they were fairly short. Nonetheless my mum still bought 4 photos which came with a nice album for $19.95 each. Photos were only taken once in the dining room. Sports facilities We only used the crazy golf; we had a game everyday and really enjoyed it. The roll of the ship combined with the wind made playing interesting! There is also a large games court and a very high climbing wall. There is no charge for these activities and only once did we find a short queue for the crazy golf. You just picked your sticks, balls and score cards up at the entrance. The flow rider is good to watch with relatively short queues but few managed to surf, most crashed straight into the back wall! We had a brief look in the fitness area and spa but did not use these facilities either. There really was not time on such a short cruise. Debarkation As usual cases were put outside the cabin by midnight, though you could carry off yourself if you wanted to. Times were allocated from 6.15am with everyone off by 9am. The time for our cabin was 6.15 - 6.45 and for my mum's cabin 8.30 - 9! We thought is unwise to desert her so we had breakfast in the dining room and then left the ship at about 8.30. We found our cases easily laid out according to the color of luggage tags delivered to the cabin the previous evening. Collecting the car from the car park was straightforward as the car park was right next to the ship. We were given permission to bring the car close to the terminal to avoid a long walk for mum. We got lost coming out of Southampton as we missed the turning, but apart from that the drive home went well taking under 4 hours including a short stop. Good Bits The production shows with live music. The décor, particularly the glass bridge on deck 5 near Customer Relations Nice seating areas, particularly Olive and Twist on deck 14 and the library on deck 7 Beautiful art - look out for being watched as you leave Romeo and Juliet! Evening dining service waiter Bad Bits Waiting for lifts - we walked when mum was not with us Very cramped inside cabin No toiletries provide in cabin, only shampoo and soap Long queues for dining room breakfast Too many people in one place, particularly Royal Promenade Windjammer buffet - cramped tables, cold plastic plates, soggy burgers Having to pay in Johnny Rockets to get decent burgers etc. Charge for good coffee and ice cream 15% service charge on bar Obligation to tip - constant reminders, we don't mind tipping but like to make our own choice. Some were even having their photo taken presenting their tip envelope, weird! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008

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