1. Home
  2. Cruise Destinations
  3. Mediterranean Cruises
  4. Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

286 Mediterranean First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

Booked a week for our 10th wedding anniversary as we always wanted to try a cruise, and thought a week was enough, in case we didn't like it. From the time we boarded until the time we left was fantastic, and the crew were marvellous, ... Read More
Booked a week for our 10th wedding anniversary as we always wanted to try a cruise, and thought a week was enough, in case we didn't like it. From the time we boarded until the time we left was fantastic, and the crew were marvellous, with a special shout out to Rain who was our bar steward in the Squid and Anchor, and was always making sure our glasses were full and even knew exactly what we were drinking before we had sat down, he's a credit to your company!!They worked extremely long hours and still couldn't do enough for you and were always polite and smiling. Plenty of food choices from buffet to sit down and plenty to go around. Night time entertainment was nonstop in several areas of the ship, although I can't comment on the day time as we were on excursions all day and not getting back until late afternoon. The excursions we booked were great, with the guides being very informative, but be prepared for a hectic and tiring day as your trying to cram everything in to such a short amount of time. Make sure you have your boarding card on you at all times as you need it to get on and off the ship, when ordering your drinks, and also in the shops as it's all registered to your cabin. Security is very tight, and a bit time consuming, but to be expected in the world that we now find ourselves in, so give yourself extra time when you leave or return to the ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We were talked into going on this cruise by my sister in law as it seemed to be excellent value and a good way to see some great european sights. we are first time cruisers and were a little apprehensive especially after reading some of ... Read More
We were talked into going on this cruise by my sister in law as it seemed to be excellent value and a good way to see some great european sights. we are first time cruisers and were a little apprehensive especially after reading some of the reviews.however after a very smooth and easy embarkation we went to our balcony cabin on deck 11 Meraviglia well appointed and clean. We dined in the Red Velvet restaurant most nights where our table server Kowmang from Bali kept us amused and looked after us very well indeed. As some reviews have said portions are not huge but after 3 courses you are full and can always make a trip to the Zanzibar buffet for a pizza and beer supper. As regards the drink packages we just paid as we went and found it reasonable value for money. The entertainment was fun especially the wonderland and queen tribute shows {Freddie Mercury sounded great with an Italian accent} Service overall was good and the shore excursions well organized, the few complaints were mainly passengers who didn't listen to the guides and ran late!! We are beyond the child raising years but from what we saw the kids had a great time especially for halloween. Disembarkation was again slick and easy, If you want to go on a very european cruise I reccomend MSC. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Although I have nothing to compare it to, I thought the cruise was perfect! We went with a couple who were experienced cruisers and they were pleased as well. I'll break it down in sections: 1)Food- sophisticated and elegant ... Read More
Although I have nothing to compare it to, I thought the cruise was perfect! We went with a couple who were experienced cruisers and they were pleased as well. I'll break it down in sections: 1)Food- sophisticated and elegant choices. Each night we had dinner in the main dining room with the exception of one night at the Pinnacle Grill/Selle de Mere. The service was extraordinary and top shelf. The sommeliers were very educated and helped select the right wine for the courses chosen and for our price range. We especially liked a reasonable Chilean red (Loma Linda?) we had dine at will and never waited more than 5 minutes for a table. The portions are elegant and continental so are generally modest. If you can't decide what to order, then order 2! I'm laughing out loud when people on cc whine about portions being too small (e.g. only 2 scallops in an appetizer) ...then order a second one! The husbands enjoyed the rack of lamb so much one night, the head waiter asked if they wanted another and they said YES, thinking another rib would come, no ...another entire entree of ribs came for each of them! Lido Buffet was tasty and generally quite busy. Enjoyed the Asian stations for lunch and breakfast. The made to order pasta station was perfect with scallops and pesto and fresh grated Romano cheese sautéed. We had nachos at the natcho/taco station and they were delicious. We would fill up a plate for our happy hour party and sail away on our balcony each night with nachos and yummy appetizers with cocktails. Selle de Mere is a seafood restaurant pop up which comes up one night in the Pinnacle Grill. The dishes were superb and the service extraordinary. We eat 4 star in the DC area and this easily compares. Room Service-We had room service every day for happy hour and about 5 breakfasts when they had excursions. They were quickly delivered (happy hour) or exactly delivered at the prescribed breakfast time. My only suggestion was the eggs Benedict muffins could have been toasted longer as they appeared a bit underdone. The fruit smoothie was so good, I had it three different mornings! The husband enjoyed his steak and eggs and said it was a first grade New York strip and not scrap. Cabin 8140 is the best on the ship. Our balcony hosted a sail away happy hour each night.. it was hard. Service and quality was top notch. You could tell some Indonesian maintenance folks couldn't speak English, yet would still smile and say good morning when you saw them. We chose this cruise for the itinerary-just wonderful Entertainment. It can be said that blame on whether you enjoy something goes both ways. Choosing correctly whatever requires self awareness and honesty. It you think winding the night away at the disco beyond 2am is da bomb, then maybe this isn't the cruise for you. There was dancing in the BB king lounge every night well after 11. The band focused on music and hits from the 60s-70s-80s. This is a key clue! We found the classical musicians talented and dedicated. The local talent which came aboard was very good in the main ballroom. The cooking classes appeared well attended every time I walked by --to the casino. Didn't make any money in the casino but did win a nice tee shirt. The entertainers in the dueling piano forum were fun and entertaining. Great movies and documentaries in the On Demand system. The HAL corporation messed up and decided to devote millions to upgrading the crows nest and create a high tech explorations cafe. Really neat concept but really placed in the wrong place!!! Why not use the wasted space on the 1st deck where the art galleries are? If they are so focused on revenues, then have a bar and tapas concept in the crows nest and sell sell,sell! Medical clinic-came down with a cold and visited the clinic. Professional and well run. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was my first ever cruise so I do not have any reference to another ship. The ship to me was in great shape, everything was clean and new looking. The crew was fantastic always smiling and very helpful. they all seemed to remember ... Read More
This was my first ever cruise so I do not have any reference to another ship. The ship to me was in great shape, everything was clean and new looking. The crew was fantastic always smiling and very helpful. they all seemed to remember our names and what we needed. See my Cabin Review for my thoughts on the cabin. The food options to me where very good. I am not a foodie so i am not going to complain about the food options I enjoyed them all. The Lido market was fine lots of options, i liked the English breakfast they had including baked beans and black pudding, We ate on time at the pinnacle and it was very good the service was great. had one meal at the Italian restaurant and the food was good. MDR was good every night I have no complaints. The Entertainment was a little dull, I saw a couple of shows in the main stage and only the two magicians i liked, The singers where ok but the show seemed out of wack there did not seem to be no reason to it. The BB king band where good but it was the same thing every night. the billboard on board was just not that impressive. about 10:30 pm the ship seemed like a ghost ship. bars where empty entertainment done. there was a novo virus breakout two days before the end that made things a little different. you could not pick up food on lido they would bring your cups and silverware. It was a bit of an inconvince on the last port Naples where we where not allowed to leave the ship for a 1 1 /2 delay The ports where great except for two Sardene Albania was not much fun nothing much to do there. I did not do an excursion but i did take a cab to the castle. The only real complaint i had was the excursion to Capri. it was $400 for two of us. The description was deceptive. Example " Enjoy a jet boat to the island looking at the panoramic views of the island" Reality they put us on a ferry that held about 300 people all inside i did have a window it was so dirty you could not see out of it .. nothing special. at that price i thought they might have there own boat. when we got there. we had to wait 30 min in the hot sun for public transport to get to the top and they can only hold 20 people so we had to wait for two... I wont go on about this but all they did is took us shopping for 45 min free time. bus down then lunch and then back to shopping and to a park.the guide really did not have much to say he was nice but not worth $400 over all i loved the trip and would not hesitate to go on the westerdam again Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Since it was my first time in a cruiser, I find it difficult to make a comparison. Our butler Dorothy and our room service Hilda were perfect. They did their best to make us comfortable and to meet our wishes. Other crew members were ... Read More
Since it was my first time in a cruiser, I find it difficult to make a comparison. Our butler Dorothy and our room service Hilda were perfect. They did their best to make us comfortable and to meet our wishes. Other crew members were also friendly and easy to talk to. Two of the 8 restaurants onboard did not meet our expectations and we went only once in each. The other ones were excellent. In one of them we had live music with a very good singer. She performed a tasteful repertoire. Unfortunately, I attended only one of the night shows and it was not what I expected. The singer had a good voice but used a lot of playback, which I found disappointing. When he played with the Silversea Trio, then it was good. All in all, I hope to take one or more cruises with Silversea in the near future! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Avoid this cruise with Oceana with all your might as we have just diembarked thankfully 48 hrs ago !!!!!!!! P&O should be prosecuted for the hygene levels and food standards on this ship . We booked this cruise on 9th April 2016 and ... Read More
Avoid this cruise with Oceana with all your might as we have just diembarked thankfully 48 hrs ago !!!!!!!! P&O should be prosecuted for the hygene levels and food standards on this ship . We booked this cruise on 9th April 2016 and really looked forward to our cruise on Oceana and come the day June 8th 2016 flew from Newcastle Upon Tyne to Venice to board Oceana and then it all went wrong !!!!!!!! No luggage arrived till later in the evening but had to use the Adriatic resturant in our travelling clothes , the cabin was around 8ft by 8ft but even less than that with the cupboards etc reduced the area to around 6ft by 4ft for a cabin with 3 men aged 83 and 67 and 59 !!!!!!! . Then one of our party got food poisoning on day 3 after eating half cooked roast lamb which we complained about but got no response too , resulting in being cabin confined for 36hrs !!!!!! To which we missed the Corfu visit completely . Others too complained of stomach problems but dont know whether anything became of their situations , And we were made to pay £50 before any medical team member would look at our friend and on the last day we went down to medical centre to enquire about a reimbursment of this charge the waiting area was full of kitchen staff being diagnosed with Gastrointeritis !!!!!!!!!! So please be warned that this ship is a sailing disaster and P&O need to address the fact that the public need to know that this ship lost its CDC licence for disease control in Mid April this year and things have not improved at all ----- You have been warned . Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I was apprehensive about our 1st cruise as reviews were mixed. But I have learnt that people are very quick to criticise and slow to praise. The Thomson Majesty exceeded my hopes and we had a fantastic holiday. I am now a cruise ... Read More
I was apprehensive about our 1st cruise as reviews were mixed. But I have learnt that people are very quick to criticise and slow to praise. The Thomson Majesty exceeded my hopes and we had a fantastic holiday. I am now a cruise convert. Ignore the whiners and complainers - I feel they are nit picking and need to spend a lot more to go with another cruise company. Our cruise ship was clean, staff were very friendly and hard working, excursions were superbly organised, entertainment was good but if you wanted peace and quiet that was there too. Food was plentiful and tasty, drinks were lovely including plenty of cocktails, cabin (outside plus) was spacious and with loads of storage. Showers were always hot, beds comfy, and I have to give special praise to Anna and Jess (our cabin stewards) who really looked after us. They were very friendly, worked hard and kept our cabin lovely- turning down the beds, plenty of towel art and never intrusive. Cabin 836 has two large, unobstructed windows with lovely views. It was always quiet and a perfect cabin - I would book this one again. Some cabins had windows blocked with lifeboats for eg - be sure to ask Thomsons staff and book a specific cabin to avoid disappointment. One more mention of staff is Paul Evans, the cruise director. Endless energy, really friendly and chatty, very funny on stage and very personable. We chatted on the first day and he didn't make us feel like he had to rush off or that we were taking up his time. He is a real asset to Thomsons. Please do not listen to the bad reviews unless you want 6 star - make up your own mind and remember the happy people do not always review!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
this was the first cruise we took , that too after so many apprehensions that we may end up managing the motion sickness issue of mine and my daughter , but to our surprise both had no issue of nausea etc . at all . we stayed for one ... Read More
this was the first cruise we took , that too after so many apprehensions that we may end up managing the motion sickness issue of mine and my daughter , but to our surprise both had no issue of nausea etc . at all . we stayed for one day prior to embarkation in venice just to explore this beautiful city we heard that embarkation takes hours but it was not crowded at all i have concluded the following do's and don'ts 1. reach the embarkation city one day prior as it ease out your boarding plans like reaching in time ( in my case four hours from the departure of the ship ) hence you don't have to face crowd 2. choose aurea package ( cabin with balcony ) as it gives you - priority boarding ,unlimited drinks on board , free access to thermal area which is worth going every day , complimentary massage which is average in quality and preferred dining 3. don't take excursions from the ship as they are double the cost of the one sold at the dock and it's the same excursion ( we had the following ports - bari,santorini,katakolom,corfu, piraous and kotor 4. always keep one black and one white formal dress for two formal dinners given at the ship .if possible keep one floral dress as well 5. don't miss the entertainment shows - it is done twice 7;15 pm and 9:15 pm 6. no need to keep snacks etc in you luggage for emergency as they run one restaurant 20 hrs / day with free access to all unlimited times with lot of things on buffet 7. prefer higher decks . ours was 12th deck which i found the best 8. shopping on board - watches , wine and jewellery is worth a buy ,plan it 9. for indians there is nothing much as far as food is concerned but can have it in preferred dining , we personally were not satisfied with the food served to us in the name of veg indian dinner 10. rooms have one big double bed , one bunk bed and one sofa cum bed thus four beds in total , good enough for a family of four 11. the problem comes in disembarkation though its not so for the european guests as they dont have to submit their passports as passports collection takes hell lot of time . 12. plan one small suitcase for last day clothes as your main luggage will be taken on the previous night by the ship authority for scanning and it will be lying at the port when you disembark 13. carry umbrella /raincoat as orchestra doesn't supply the same ( other cruise lines might be doing ) 14. don't take wi fi package ( though its not expensive - 19 euro for basic surfing for the whole duration of cruising ) i will definitely cruise again on some other destination for sure thank you msc orchestra Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Being our first ever cruise we really didn't know what to expect, but from beginning to end it was very well organised with no disruptions. We had been staying in Barcelona in an apartment before the cruise, we hailed a taxi ... Read More
Being our first ever cruise we really didn't know what to expect, but from beginning to end it was very well organised with no disruptions. We had been staying in Barcelona in an apartment before the cruise, we hailed a taxi outside at 11am and by 11.40am we had checked in, boarded and were enjoying a welcome drink on board. Not knowing exactly what to expect we were approached by a member of the crew and invited to sign up for the specialty restaurants dining packages for 5 dinners for $129 extra. We did, and thoroughly enjoyed every dinner at Tuscan Grill, Murano, Silk Harvest and lunch one day at Bistro on 5. Money well spent I think, we really enjoyed all of it, especially Murano. After enjoying lunch in Oceanview Cafe on level 14, there was an announcement around 1pm to inform us that our staterooms were ready. We were on level 3 with an ocean view room, which suited us fine, as the first night out from Barcelona was a little rough, some passengers higher up were suffering from sea sickness. The saying that "the more you pay, the more you sway" was certainly true! I was surprised at the size and comfort of the bed, it was king size, and very comfy. The room itself was hotel quality, we have stayed in smaller hotel rooms. Special thanks to Irena who took care of our room for the entire 11 days, it was always spotless when we returned. The turn down service each night was great with little chocolates on our pillows. Juliia and Alan looked after us in Silhouette dining room when we ate there if not at a specialty restaurant and the food was always plentiful and excellent, with offerings of extra if wanted. Some of our table took extra lobster one night, it was excellent. The entertainers were great, we often sat in Ensemble Lounge after dinner to listen to Jess and Kenton, they were really great. Jayne Curry was on a couple of nights in Equinox Theatre, she is very talented and hilariously funny. We did a few of the shore excursions, we did St Paul de Vence on the first day, Florence on the 2nd, Pompeii and Amalfi Coast, Mykonos, Ephesis in Turkey. The organisation at moving all the people was amazing. With 2800 passengers on board, we always disembarked the ship in no time, on to buses and away. The only thing we didn't like was the pressure of the shopkeepers in Kusadasi, we wanted to buy but the pressure was too much, I had to get out of there. It was the same with the organised tour of Ephesus, it was great, but part of the tour is a visit to a carpet factory back near port where it is more or less compulsory to visit. Our guide told us all we had to visit as it was a part of the tour and we were not to leave. Not knowing, we went along. To begin with it was all okay, very friendly and they put on a display on how silk was woven, then we were ushered upstairs to a large room with seats all around. We watched a woman making a rug, then they closed the doors and we were more or less trapped in there. They displayed many carpets, mats and rugs, always telling us "no pressure", but by the end that couldn't have been further from the truth. They offered us all drinks and a lovely sesame bread, I knew then that the pressure to buy would be escalated. There was approximately 25 or so of us in the room, by the end of the display they had 25 sales people surround us, it was a really uncomfortable experience. I grabbed my wife and we departed, much to the dismay of the carpet people. All in all, it was a very satisfactory cruise, we will be planning another. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our first cruise and last! We paid extra to have our own balcony and were very grateful for that. When we arrived in our room the bedding hadn't been changed and there was traces of mascara on the pillow cases, this was ... Read More
This was our first cruise and last! We paid extra to have our own balcony and were very grateful for that. When we arrived in our room the bedding hadn't been changed and there was traces of mascara on the pillow cases, this was eventually sorted out but this was only the beginning! The cabin was very noisy, the air con was very loud and kept us awake at night and also the wardrobe doors rattled constantly all night. On a positive note the food was very good and we had no complaints there, also the staff were brilliant and very helpful, I have read a lot of complaints about the drinks package but we found it perfectly adequate. Unfortunately there were always queues to be seated at the restaurant at night which was frustrating, sometimes we would have liked a table for two but this was impossible. The excursions were overpriced so we made our own way around. The shower was awful, hardly any power at all, washing hair was a complete chore, sometimes the water coming from the tap was brown! Also the television was never working it just came up 'No signal' a lot of the time. We spoke to people that said they always went on cruises and this was the worst one and advised us not to be put off but unfortunately this experience has put us off!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This ship needs scrapping. It was our first cruise and honestly it has probably put us off for life. The ship is tired to the point that even a complete overhaul would be too expensive to save it. Our cabin was possibly (from what we heard ... Read More
This ship needs scrapping. It was our first cruise and honestly it has probably put us off for life. The ship is tired to the point that even a complete overhaul would be too expensive to save it. Our cabin was possibly (from what we heard from other people) one of the better ones and that wasn't saying much, very tired. The lifts didn't work properly and some broke down. The food was OK but really nothing special, except for the Bistro special resturant. You pay extra to eat here but it was excellent. In fact you pay extra for various things, for example bottled water,Ice cream on sun deck (£1.50 for one small scoop) . The drinks package if you pay for it when you get on board was £230 per person per week. You can however pay for drinks as you go. The entertainment was hopeless when the cruise director lists bingo, quizzes and if you want a dance before dinner come along for a waltz or a foxtrot you wonder what era you have strayed into. The shows seemed popular but not to our taste. There is no getting away from being 'entertained' there was nowhere you could have a quiet drink in the evening (or a coffee during the day) it seemed without someone playing, singing or running a quiz. The main bar air con was set on freeze impossible, to be comfortable. On the up side, the organisation of the excursions is excellent, the overall travel arrangements were extremely efficient. On the ship you could not fault the house keeping and catering staff, they were excellent it's a shame the ship let them down. The ships crew were also very polite and efficient. We loved waking up every morning to a different place and on a different trip that may have persuaded us to cruise again but not on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
All in all an excellent first ever cruise for us. That is apart from an irresponsible passenger who decided to abandon the Barcelona tour and make his own way back to the ship without telling anyone. He caused a 40 minute delay whilst a ... Read More
All in all an excellent first ever cruise for us. That is apart from an irresponsible passenger who decided to abandon the Barcelona tour and make his own way back to the ship without telling anyone. He caused a 40 minute delay whilst a search for him was conducted which in turn caused the abandonment of the highlight stop on the tour. Not Fred's fault I know, but very very annoying. Boarding at Dover was a breeze, we were aboard before we knew it. Our suite, 5015 on the Main Deck was very comfortable and well serviced as was the rest of the ship. No sign of the dreaded Noravirus. There were sanitisers everywhere. All the passengers appeared to use them as a matter of course which was good to see. The food was excellent. Somehow I managed to maintain my weight. Goodness knows how. Disembarkation was pretty quick although there was a slight delay due to fork lift activity around the dock. We enjoyed the experience so much we re-booked on board for the Amalfi Coast Cruise aboard Boudicca in April 2017 Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Always wanted to do a cruise never again, though we have been told we was very very unlucky, it was like an old peoples home age range between 75-100 no I'm not kidding, I like old people but wouldn't choose to be surrounded by ... Read More
Always wanted to do a cruise never again, though we have been told we was very very unlucky, it was like an old peoples home age range between 75-100 no I'm not kidding, I like old people but wouldn't choose to be surrounded by 1000s on holiday, even the old people complained it was like a depressing old people home. The entertainment was poor cheap, and once again for the elderly, no wifi unless you wanted to pay £85 for 2 weeks, the pools are very small also I was looking forward to being on deck listening to the sea and reading a book, but oh no loud music all day once again for the elderly, we was on A deck and woken some morning at 6am with noise from the deck above while it was being cleaned. Food was good, and service excellent also cabin maid excellent. It's worth trying the independent restaurants for an extra £15 per person very good value. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
The Riviera cruise (Oceania) was very satisfying on a number of levels, because of what they call ‘enrichment experiences’. On a culinary level, there is a choice between speciality restaurants serving some exceptional food (at no ... Read More
The Riviera cruise (Oceania) was very satisfying on a number of levels, because of what they call ‘enrichment experiences’. On a culinary level, there is a choice between speciality restaurants serving some exceptional food (at no extra cost) to the grand dining room that caters to the bulk of the passenger compliment. (The mass market) Service is attentive and exemplary but not the unobtrusive ‘British’ type of service that I prefer. Instead it is more of the false “how ya all doing, how was your day” introduction accompanied with an ear-to-ear smile. Dentistry on board, for the crew, must be of a high level??? On an emotional level it was satisfying. I know that I am over weight and am carrying 7 – 10 kg more than I should. The demographic on board makes me feel anorexic and there is no need to refuse that rich dessert. Yummy On a cultural level, there are all those ‘enrichment’ opportunities. An art school, a cooking school, educational guest speakers, karaoke (if that can be called enrichment), Trivia and a host of entertainment performances ranging from the exceptional to the ……. well let’s just say less than exceptional, with the opportunity of experiencing both giving the audience the opportunity of making their own judgement call.1 On a sight seeing level. Some tours started at 8:00 am and others as late as 12:00. This mix meant that on some days the alarm went off as the sun rose, and on other days one could enjoy a more relaxed morning. With all tours that we took, we were able to enjoy a scrumptious, not weigh limiting, afternoon tea. A custom that I could easily become accustomed to. No tour was full. (Very important) Busses were never more than about 50% full, by design. Some tours had multiple busses all only half full. This is important as the tour guides could talk to the group whilst out and about, without having to resort to having to use radio transmitters and earphones. This also reduces the risk of participants wandering off, causing delays for the rest of us. On an organisational level. ‘Herding’ over one thousand people can be an issue. At no time did I ever get that part of a herd impression. Boarding cruises as well as boarding the vessel initially, were all very well managed. On a financial level. They do not have a hand in your wallet at every turn. Most things are free with the exception of alcoholic drinks. (which are not cheap) Soft drinks, tea and scones, bottled water and entertainment are all available at no extra charge. On a relaxational level. My late mother had an expression ‘half baked’. Any person who came up with a dumb idea was ‘half baked’ Fortunately the ship provides ample opportunity for passenger to complete the baking process on sun loungers around the pool. Originating from colder northern hemisphere climes, perhaps they are not as much aware of the consequences as are passenger from Australasia. For those who prefer a more strenuous activity, there is a gym that I promised myself that I would visit frequently, but did not, as well as the usual deck games and golf putting. One afternoon, there was an on-selling promotional activity where guest were invited to listen to a presentation about future tours. One was ‘around the world in 180 days’ Six months of on-board life style would kill me! But a back to back cruise of perhaps 18 to 21 days? Well that is something to add to the bucket list. 1) During a song and dance routine, I had the impression that one of the dancers very nearly dropped another dancer. Not the way to ‘reject’ a lady’s advances in front of hundreds of on-lookers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was my first cruise, I wanted to visit Athens, Istanbul and Dubrovnick. Unfortunately the recent bombings in Turkey caused MSC to drop Istanbul from the itenary. MSC emailed and pledged 100 Euro on to the cabin account as ... Read More
This was my first cruise, I wanted to visit Athens, Istanbul and Dubrovnick. Unfortunately the recent bombings in Turkey caused MSC to drop Istanbul from the itenary. MSC emailed and pledged 100 Euro on to the cabin account as compensation. On the last day of the cruise this turned out to be 50 Euro per person, not what they pledged. Embarkation, disembarkation, was painfully slow, not because of the registration process but there seemed to be long delays waiting to process through security control. On-board was great, the "B2" cabin was definitely worth the upgrade and mostly the service was first class, although certainly fell short especially during my complaint when trying to sort problems. I dined in both Quattro Venti restaurant and oasis buffet and found both excellent dependent on which fitted into my routine. I bought the Allegrissimo drinks package during embarkation which became better value the more drinks, coffee and ice creams you consume. Happily there was so many things happening to keep me choosing entertainment. I did the ship excursion to Olympia which was ok but I felt it was not value for money therefore opted to go it alone from then on. I'm glad I did, there was no hassle and having freedom of choice once off the ship was great. I will definitely not book with MSC again as I did not enjoy the feeling of being a cash cow and do not think my experience was good value. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Having read the awful reviews (stained carpets, bad smells, duct tape, bad food) I was really worried about my first ever cruise on Oceana. In fact it is the most beautiful ship- our cabin B753 was spacious, perfect unstained carpet, ... Read More
Having read the awful reviews (stained carpets, bad smells, duct tape, bad food) I was really worried about my first ever cruise on Oceana. In fact it is the most beautiful ship- our cabin B753 was spacious, perfect unstained carpet, granite work surface on mirrored wet bar, comfortable beds, lovely bathroom, loads of storage space, big balcony overlooking the wake. We had freedom dining in the Ligurian restaurant - the food was wonderful especially the lobster. The staff couldn't have done more to make our stay perfect- My 12 year old daughter got a taste for room service and they were quite happy to deliver spaghetti bolognaise at 10.30 at night. The entertainment (apart from the headliners) was wonderful and there was always space whether it was in the gym, the pools or the 2 theatres. We had a wonderful time- I cannot fault it (all this was despite the force 11 storm Katie which raged on the first day!) Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We received this cruise as Christmas gift... my brother and me. We was afraid if the weather will be ok, because the previous week was too cold, but in Mediterranean was perfect... It was a luck that the ship embarked from Piraeus, ... Read More
We received this cruise as Christmas gift... my brother and me. We was afraid if the weather will be ok, because the previous week was too cold, but in Mediterranean was perfect... It was a luck that the ship embarked from Piraeus, was easy to access with airplane/taxi. Decent hotels was available very close to the port... a walk distance.. The cabin was decent, larger than expected. The personnel was very well trained, polite, helpful. The food was very good, a lot of entertainments- it was an origami club, Greek language lessons and many others.. The excursions was interesting, we learned a lot for the local culture and traditions. Compliments to the staff, and thank you for the amazing trip :) Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
just got back from this my very first cruise ,the ship was very very clean, the food was ok ,nothing great as such same sort of food just done differently ,we had the drinks package but beware everytime you get a drink they sting you for ... Read More
just got back from this my very first cruise ,the ship was very very clean, the food was ok ,nothing great as such same sort of food just done differently ,we had the drinks package but beware everytime you get a drink they sting you for 8euros service i dont drink only soft drinks my daughter had cocktails but only 2 a day we had a bill at the end of the cruise for 200 euros for service even if you are sitting at the bar they still charge you !!!!! the down side was trying to get on the boat after excurstions ,i understand you have to go through security checks but only have one person doing it and over 1.000 passengers we had to stand outside in the queue for over half an hour it was terrible they have all the staff doing otherthings why cant they get more to help with passengers coming back on the boat ,also our boat was full of school children on a weeks holiday with their schools !!!!! something i wish they had said before booking as i would have changed dates .also the last thing i find very upset about was on the coach to the airport the driver puts the bags in the coach for you under the eyes of the staff from the ship but when you get to the airport he just sat there and didnt help i have a bad back and would have liked a bit of help just getting my bag out of the boot of the coach very disappointed it felt like they have had your money now so sod off ..i wont be going again Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was my first ever cruise so can make no comparison. Decided to try a cruise and see if I enjoyed the experience / type of holiday. Firstly positives : No supplement for single occupancy, large cabin which was kept spotlessly clean ... Read More
This was my first ever cruise so can make no comparison. Decided to try a cruise and see if I enjoyed the experience / type of holiday. Firstly positives : No supplement for single occupancy, large cabin which was kept spotlessly clean - in fact linen and towels changed too frequently. Glad to be on deck 10 with only neighbouring cabin. Extremely comfortable bed - bathroom very adequate Inclusive drinks package is a must - roughly £20 per day for all drinks except champagne - all day long. Excellent coffee on request from the waiting staff or at one of the bars. First class dining experience in Corona Blu restaurant. Staff very pleasant and helpful. Every night a different menu and possible to interchange and have exactly which course you choose at any point. Plenty of dishes I had not had before and some very unusual different things to choose. If not acceptable or to your liking then it is perfectly acceptable to take a substitute. Very good of choice of set wines - three or four in each category. Beautiful linen at table and I thought a really lovely experience. Buffet breakfasts with an extensive range and there again can take into the Corona restaurant or eat in the cafeteria style restaurant. If cooked breakfast is required then this has to be taken at a restaurant Fiorentina on Deck 3 - however this is no real problem. It seemed that there is some food to be had all day long if wanted ! Evening entertainment - professional dancers first class and opportunity to dance with own partners or with a professional My main criticism would be that the excursions/ shuttle buses are expensive -however I did my research and walked or used public transport when possible so actually only paid for a trip to Pisa which was expensive for a 5 hour trip. However this was no surprise I was aware of this. Entertainment in the main theatre was average to poor I thought but not a big issue for me. I joined in Savona and had a long wait for my transport from Milan to port of Savona. Landed at 09.30 and coach left at 13.30 from the second pick up at T1. However with further investigation I would have been better to embark at Barcelona. Didn't feel this ship was too crowded ( as I read in previous reviews) however I think probably only about two thirds capacity. Cant comment on fitness and recreation facilities as I did not use So there may be a few criticisms but I would say excellent value for money. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
So many errors and complaints! Don’t know where to start! I would never recommend going with Thomsons to anyone! They don’t want to know if you have a ruined holiday they will just fob you off! Like they did us! They don't care ... Read More
So many errors and complaints! Don’t know where to start! I would never recommend going with Thomsons to anyone! They don’t want to know if you have a ruined holiday they will just fob you off! Like they did us! They don't care of your happy or not! • Major Safety Hazard! Cigarette Smoke coming out of the air-conditioning. They didn’t want to know. Due to staff smoking on Level 2! Also smelt it really bad at the top of the stairs level 3 coming from level 2! This was the first observation I noticed when I boarded the ship on day 1 and throughout our week! Staff obviously smoking on level 2 which breaches fire safety regulations! They Tried to cover it up by spraying air freshener in the middle of the night in the corridor! Also blamed my neighbours! The neighbouring cabins complained too and they blamed it on our cabin! Putting everyone on the ship at risk. • Fobbed Off even when I written to head office to report it! • I could write an essay of how disappointed we were with the cruise but will put in bullet points: • Food very disappointing, very poor quality food, and always stone cold. Even when we sent food back as it was cold it didn’t come back hot!! The buffet food was cold also, stone cold toast every day! Very poor standards! Oh I must mention the homemade muesli it looked lovely, but was horrible like eating fake sugar or a sugar cube. A health hazard it was far far too sweet for breakfast! The porridge tasted like glue!! Horrible!! The lady you have cooking on the Wok Station in the Buffet is a terrible cook, worst stir-fry I have ever had in my life!! No smoked salmon and lobster on this cruise! Everyone complaining about the quality of the food. • Al A Carte Resturant – Don’t pay extra £19.95 Not worth it! Worst Lobster I have ever had in my life! Dry Chewy and like eating a salt cube! • Poor attention to detail! Dead Flowers on the tables for half of the week! • Next to no sleep all week! Due to the constant banging of doors and staff making noise. 2am at the end of the week I called reception to see what it was that night and later found out in the morning it was the staff banging down the suitcases while collecting. The Reception offered my ear plugs, which I had taken away with me and was already wearing and the loud bangs were still keeping me awake! • So much noise at night! You won’t sleep on this cruise unless you have the unlimited drinks package!! • Wrong type of room given and dirty Great Welcome Aboard!!!! After a very long day travelling! • Room was very dirty, Pubic Hair and Pebble Dashed Faeces on a closed sanitised, supposedly cleaned toilet! Cleaners not doing their job properly! Or, so rushed into cleaning that many rooms, short cuts had obviously been taken! • Yellow, Urine stained Sheets, Mattress, Mattress Protector and Pillows. Absolutely disgusting! They expect people to sleep on them! Now wonder they tie the sheets to the mattress, it’s so you don’t see the state of the mattress!! • Throughout the week when they changed the sheets we got more stained sheets!! Yellow urine patches right in the middle of the sheets! Slept on my pool towel 2 nights until they changed the sheets, then more dirty sheets put on so I told housekeeping and they changed them for us. But problems like this should never occur in the first place! • Card to our room, hardly ever worked to let us enter our room, which took hours out of our week, constantly trailing to reception to get a new card. Rude Reception Staff, Constant Errors! Trips every day and in some cases twice a day, problems with room keys not letting us in the room. Happened to so many people on the cruise! They need to sort it out! • Overall I would give my holiday a 1 out of 10! Terrible!! Complications every day! Robbed of our enjoyment and relaxation due to constant problems! A ruined Birthday. Thankyou very much Thomsons! • They only good thing about this cruise was the lovely helpful waiting staff they are such hard workers and do a great job! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Booked our trip to begin three days before boarding ship, wanted enough time to get over jet lag. Our trip was to be done in three legs as we started in Az. a long way from Genoa, our final destination to board ship. Arriving early was a ... Read More
Booked our trip to begin three days before boarding ship, wanted enough time to get over jet lag. Our trip was to be done in three legs as we started in Az. a long way from Genoa, our final destination to board ship. Arriving early was a great thought as we had plenty of time to rest up and get our first taste of Italian cuisine and hospitality. Embarkation was probably our worst time as it took about an hour after check in to make it to our room, but compared to the last cruise line we sailed, three hours shorter time frame so we were still thrilled. We were shown to our cabin, amazed at the spacious décor and the great balcony, we were greeted by a lovely bowl of fruit, a very roomy walk in closet, and a spotless, modern bathroom.We boarded around noon and after unpacking, and settling in ,we toured the ship until dinner time, getting our bearings, and discovering all this beautiful ship had to offer which was beyond my imagination, truly a floating city. All our excursions were booked ahead of time as we wanted to make sure we were able to be on the ones we were interested in taking. The only one we were not able to take was Crete, the wind was blowing so hard the Captain couldn't dock, it was disappointing but was glad he choose to put our safety first. The rest were amazing, Olympia, Athens, Rhodes, Jerusalem, and Rome all well worth the money spent, the feelings of walking where the mighty and the truly great, had walked before, can not be put into words. The dining on board, was truly fantastic, five and six course meals, served by a great server, named Anna, from Italy who spoke English amazingly well, had a great memory for what we liked and, helped us step out of our comfort zone to try dishes that proved to be delicious. Can not rate this cruise any higher, all went above and beyond, to make our trip one to remember for a life time, or until our next cruise on MSC as it will be the only cruise line we will be taking. Already planning our next trip!!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
I am a single older lady with mobility difficulties (I use a stick to walk) and I must say I had the most wonderful time on my Christmas cruise aboard this beautiful ship. This was my first cruise with Costa Mediterranea. From the ... Read More
I am a single older lady with mobility difficulties (I use a stick to walk) and I must say I had the most wonderful time on my Christmas cruise aboard this beautiful ship. This was my first cruise with Costa Mediterranea. From the booking procedure through to the last day of the cruise, this was an excellent experience. The Ship is stunningly beautiful. The crew members, each and every one of them, were delightful. Friendly, helpful, kind and although they work hard and long hours and seem to have no days off, they didn't seem as if they were working at all. They just seemed to be enjoying themselves serving guests. It was like being the most important member of a lovely, warmhearted family. Thank you so the Spa salon staff who looked after me with massage (Maria Antonia is a fantastic massage therapist!) with hair (Dea is one of the best stylists I've ever met!) and lovely Lycel who did my nails on the first day. My cabin Steward (Sidney) was just lovely, and always there to help whenever necessary. The restaurants were excellent. I am coeliac, so it is very important that I follow a strict gluten free diet. The Costa Mediterranea catering department takes this very seriously and have their own designated gluten free kitchens! I had my own waitress (Thank you Maria!) and my own gluten free menu. The food was, in the main, really delicious. Nothing was too much trouble. Service always with a smile. The entertainment was great too, although I didn't see all of the shows available. What I did see was really good and I enjoyed it immensely. The bars are great. Thank you to Francis, who served drinks after dinner each evening. I was alone, but met another English lady of a similar age to myself on the first day and we had a really great time together. We didn't go on any excursions because most of them were unsuitable for people with mobility disabilities, but we went off on our own and explored and thoroughly enjoyed each port of call we visited. I think the only negative aspect was the unfortunate attitudes of some (British!) passengers - who go on a Mediterranean cruise on an Italian ship and expect to be served the junk food they eat at home. I was embarrassed to be British at times... But it was easy to ignore such uneducated, self-limiting people as everything else was absolutely lovely and I can't wait to go again! I do hope readers will find my review helpful and go on - what are you waiting for? - Book that cruise on the beautiful Costa Mediterranea. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Staff are wonderful, Food superb (lots of choice from Buffet - several different service statons offering different sorts of meals - so wander around first before you decide!! (preferred it to main restaurant as two sittings one is very ... Read More
Staff are wonderful, Food superb (lots of choice from Buffet - several different service statons offering different sorts of meals - so wander around first before you decide!! (preferred it to main restaurant as two sittings one is very early (18:30) and one is very late (21:15)). Gym excellent and Pilates and Yoga also on offer. Security very good. Everyone speaks english though some of the entertainment is in italian. Organisation of every part of your experience from arriving to leaving is first class and trouble free (unless you try to take an iron on board -they will find out and confiscate it!) Recommend you - buy a drinks package. Tea, Coffee, Juice available for breakfast but only water for other meals. If you dont have a package you have to pay. The paid card makes so much more sense (you can check on line what you will get - trust me it is value for money) Recommend you DONT book any excuisons before you board. For example - on your own Palma - local bus outside port (much cheaper than their shuttle), tourist office near Cathedral for maps. Ship says 5 km walk - dont think it was when we walked back along the marina and stoped off for a coffee on the way. Palermo - We took a really kitch train (you get a map) for 10 euros and then retraced the steps to have a better look at things we liked. Savona - Tourist office at Port gate - get a very good map with a tourist route around the town. Valencia - do spend your euros on a trip to the aquarium, absolutely fabulous. most undercover so good plan if rains. WIFI is available but expensive and does not work terribly well with Apple products. However, in port most cafes have free WiFi so just caught up each day over a cup of coffee on land. Anyway you are supposed to be on holiday not checking your emails!!! Quite a lot of things laid on but if you just want to chill is an incredible place to do it. Leaving port to music playing is amazing - we have a short video we took of leaving palma and still smile and cry when we watch it. As you will have gathered we had a wonderful time on this completely over the top boat - she really didnt need the Christmas decorations. We will certainly be using Costa Cruises again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Embarkation at Southampton was a breeze taking less time to board than it did to find our cabin! From leaving the taxi to getting into our cabin was 20 minutes at most and our luggage was waiting at the door. The cabin (with balcony) ... Read More
Embarkation at Southampton was a breeze taking less time to board than it did to find our cabin! From leaving the taxi to getting into our cabin was 20 minutes at most and our luggage was waiting at the door. The cabin (with balcony) was certainly better than the pictures which was a pleasant surprise. Tipping the guy who looked after our room certainly paid off as we seemed to have a full bucket of ice, plenty of tea , coffee and biscuits whenever we wanted them. I have to give special praise to the catering g and serving staff on Oriana, we never has anything approaching a bad meal, no matter where we chose to eat. There were one or two occasions when some courses took a little longer to materialise but with 1800 people to feed it has to be expected. Even on the two occasions when we ordered room service the food was great, however I have to take umbrage at being told it would take 45 minutes, when it never took longer than 10 minutes! Entertainment on board was varied and plentiful and of a very good quality. I cannot remember seeing so much in 12 days before! Now to the itinary, first stop was Lisbon that had bad memories for me as the last time I had been here there had been a two week old strike by the garbage collectors and in mid summer, the aroma was, how shall I say it? Bloody awful. This visit was much better smell wise but I guess my view of Lisbon will always be tainted. Lisbon will certainly never compete for the most beautiful of places in the World but it was nice to stretch our legs and turn down a large number of Roles watches for 25 euro. Next port of call was Casablanca, where we had a tour of the mosque, which is well worth a visit just to admire the workmanship if nothing else. At this point I should mention that we did not book any P&O excursion, something we will rectify in the future. We always felt that our tour guide was receiving a backhanders at the places we went to on the tour except for the mosque, which he was a mine of information on and answered all questions. Next we went to Gibraltar, which will always have a soft spot in my heart from many visits in the RN. We went on a tour, something I had never done in my previous 25 visits, and learnt a lot about the rock and it's history. Our tour ended with a lot of free time to explore Main Street and it's many retail outlets.This was the highlight of the cruise for my other half, who indulged herself mightily! Next port of call was Malaga, where we went on a couch tour with an insane coach driver, how on earth he managed to get the coach down some of the narrow streets I will never know. It was a pleasant enough tour with no particular highlights, although it gave us a good guide as to where we wanted to walk afterwards. Next day was Cadiz which we both enjoyed both the coach tour and walking do wn the narrow streets filled with just about anything you can think of to buy, it is fairly reminiscent of The Lanes in Brighton. We later ventured a little further afield and found a huge department store that just sold everything, it is huge! We were due to visit Vigo as our last foreign port of call but the weather put paid to that as it was really blowing further north and so we stayed and extra day in Cadiz, I don't think anyone complained as Vigo is not very exciting. Disembarking was as easy as embarking, we chose to take our own luggage ashore. From our cabin to the taxi was maybe 20 minutes. On the whole for a first cruise, I would thoroughly recommend it, even this late in the year! We had warm sunshine everyday, the only time we saw rain was in the taxi on the way back to Southampton station. The cruise was excellent value for money and we are certainly looking to embark on our 2nd cruise next year. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We've travelled on Royal Caribbean for many years, always moving to bigger and bigger ships. This time, we went with Viking - initially because we've enjoyed their River Cruises so much (I think we've taken 10 or so). ... Read More
We've travelled on Royal Caribbean for many years, always moving to bigger and bigger ships. This time, we went with Viking - initially because we've enjoyed their River Cruises so much (I think we've taken 10 or so). When we heard they were branching out into ocean cruising, we had to try it. One of the coolest things about the ship is that everyone has an outside cabin with a veranda - a luxury in this age of tiny inside rooms on other lines. Please see below for an extensive review of our wonderful cabin. Someone met us at the airport in Barcelona for ship transfer...when they found out some guests would arrive late, they called someone else to help them later and took us right away. When we got to the cruise terminal, they saw we had a suite and walked us right on to the ship. I think we waited an hour for our bags, which was fine, since we had a bottle of champagne waiting for us and were hungry anyway. When walking the hallways, you notice that instead of a bunch of second-rate art packed onto the walls, they are mostly bare - just wallpaper and simple, light wood trim with a strong horizontal line - but every so often there's a large photo of some landmark, e.g., the Eiffel Tower. DINING: There's a traditional restaurant setting on the lower part of the ship, with a menu that changes every day, with dinner every evening, breakfast and an occasional lunch, depending on whether you're in port (mostly no). You can just give them a window of time that you'll be there and whether you want a table for 2 or larger...you meet interesting strangers this way. If you've never been on a cruise, it's an easy way to meet people from a variety of backgrounds (but all of whom can afford to take a cruise, lol). Tons of honeymooners and people with anniversaries. CASUAL DINING in the World Café is located toward the top of the ship. But when I say "casual dining," that doesn't do it justice. On a big RC ship, there's a huge cafeteria with many stations spread throughout the space, one for burgers, another for pasta, and on and on for salad, soup, hot entrees, asian/ethnic, continental, traditional American, etc. It has "cafeteria" written all over it and it's an apt description of the food. Again, this is on OTHER ships. ON THE VIKING STAR, casual dining involves tables already set (that you choose) and free wine & beer. There's one wall that surrounds the central kitchen (so the whole thing space runs around one end of the ship), and there are individual bars/counters, very orderly, that serve different types of food. Instead of throwing everything they possibly can at you, there's an ever-changing menu that is more limited and very high quality. So you might get an asparagus timbale decorated with red pepper relish, on a saffron-infused cream sauce. Perhaps caviar with blinis and all the traditional condiments. Grilled eggplant and zucchini, with an herbed vinaigrette. And, of course, you can also get all the entrées that are on that night's restaurant dinner menu, but it's pretty much all you can eat. The difference is that you can see into the open kitchen, so if they're waiting on something to come out of the oven, the cook will point back into the kitchen so you can see them making what you're about to eat. I've never seen anything like it on a cruise ship, except in a fine-dining venue, which always costs extra. There's a sushi bar (again, in casual dining), where you can watch the sushi chefs make what you're going to eat. Want your ahi seared instead of rolled? Just say the word and you can even wave at the chef when you think it's had enough heat. There are fresh crab legs, claws, and a few varieties of prawn and shrimp...always. I had a first course of crab claws every night. Want gelato? Chocolate fountain? Creme brulée? Fruit mousse (varies nightly)? After two meals in the restaurant (which is a bit quieter), we made the switch and ate here every time that we could. There were some things available every night, but main courses, sides, etc varied every day. There were usually some ready for you to pick up, but sometimes you had to wait for them to prepared, so everything was always fresh. And swimsuits, shorts, sleeveless whatevers are not allowed - there's a grill by the indoor pool for people who want it *too* casual. ENTERTAINMENT: there are some shows. Since this ship carries less than a thousand guests, they aren't very elaborate, but are still pretty good. Movies are shown in a theatre twice a day, I think. There are also daily talks about the history of whatever port you're visiting. They're usually given by academics and can be a bit yawn-inducing if you aren't into WWII or whatever. I only saw them because they are used as background material when you are waiting for a tour group to assemble. There were no children. HALLELUJAH. FINE DINING VENUES: You have a limited number of reservations for each. There are two fine-dining venues, one is Italian/Steak House, with the same menu every night. It was fine. The second is The Chef's Table, which serves a degustaçion menu that changes every three days. This food was top-notch in quality, presentation and flavor. There are different wines served with every course. The service isn't quite what you'd get in a 4 star restaurant (for instance, a waiter couldn't confirm the details on the ingredients of a sauce one night), but it's efficient since every table gets the same meal you do. Eat here twice a week if you can get a reservation. OTHER SHIP VENUES: the Explorers' Lounge at the front of the ship is wrapped in glass and is coffee tables, sofas, chairs, with board and card games. There are also furs and blankets all over the place and it's hilarious to see a guest wrapped in what looks like the skin of a polar bear or a holstein cow, wandering around after a few drinks. This lounge has two floors. The upper has TV screens built into the table tops. The lower has a long and lovely fireplace on one wall. You can sit in a corner and read or hang out with friends; there are lots of soft surfaces, so the noise level is always a bit hushed, even when there's a convivial crowd. This lounge also has something called "Mamsen's" that allows you to have traditional Scandinavian smorgasbord until around midnight. The venue is actually open to guests 24 hours. There's also a small disco that sometimes doubles as a venue for lounge acts and a theatre for the shows. In addition, all public areas have bar service. Since they are located around the atrium, you can hear a live jazz combo that also plays "Three Tenors" type stuff as well off and on through the day and evening. They've designated a small area as a library, but the entire center of the ship has seated conversation and gaming areas that use open book shelves as dividers. You can borrow any of these books, some of which are complete series collections of classic and specialty authors, so if you want something to read, from novels to histories, you won't lack for any of it. Drink service is available in all public areas and servers come around regularly. When you order a drink at a bar, lounge, or anywhere else, they'll ask for your cabin number and that's that. Although it's added to your bill, you don't sign for anything. There's an indoor pool. The room is kept quite warm unless the weather is nice, when they roll back the ceiling to let the sun and fresh air in. At night, they occasionally show movies poolside. Blankets, popcorn, and earphones (if you need them) are provided. There's also a section of the ship called "The Wintergarden." It's really classy and beautifully appointed. There are screens made of...you know, I can't really do it justice. Please check the photos. Here they serve afternoon tea (and it's the whole nine yards). Also cocktails and such at other hours. SPA: one of the best spas ever. Haircuts, massages, manicures, etc. PLUS: hot tub, pools of different temperatures, an ice cold bucket rinse, dry sauna, steam room, and a snow room that is so packed with the stuff that you could build a snowman if you wanted. Yes, a room full of snow. Awesome. And a hot tub and infinity pool at the front of the ship. STAFF: Friendly, mostly Eastern European and Filipino, service-oriented and efficient. Front desk: there is no front desk. If you need assistance with something on your bill (for instance), you go to a waiting area of sofas and chairs, and wait for a rep to help you. Sometimes, you'll go to their desk; sometimes, they'll come to you. Much different than waiting in a long line of irritated people. SHORE EXCURSIONS: the only area where I'd give the experience a very, very slight "ding." There are excursions *INCLUDED* with your cruise for every port, but they are often lead by people with questionable English who might decide to stop for an informative talk in a back alley or some other inexplicable place. One of my favorite quotes from such a tour was, "Here is a museum of Napoleon's home. You can see the line. We won't go in; it's just a table and a chair." Later in the same tour, we could see the "famous outdoor restroom of Napoleon." We stuck with paid excursions from then on, and they were fabulous. For instance: we had an after-hours tour of the Vatican that included the Sistine Chapel. If you've never been, no one is allowed to speak inside the Chapel and a recorded voice repeats the word "Silencio" regularly. None of that for us! Usually, the guide describes what's on the other side of the door and then lets you loose - no photos. This time, since there was only one guard, our guide came in with us and gave a complete lecture, describing all the scenes (which are pretty complex once you really get into them), loads of info about the historical setting and the difficulties both the artists and patron had to overcome, answering our questions, and we took all the photos we wanted. Unbelievable. Besides that, he was one of the best-informed and most knowledgeable guides we'd ever met. His name is Niels-Arne Dilger and if you get a chance to take this tour, it's worth every dime. Plus, dinner after, mostly small plates, with a bunch of people who just had an unforgettable experience. Let's just say the wine flows freely, lol. There's also a panoramic drive through the city, included with the tour. A great "pilgrimage" tour. On top of this, the birds were migrating, so we saw several huge murmurations of starlings, and they made hypnotic, ever-shifting shapes in the evening sky, just at dusk. Our other paid excursions: usually very good, just don't go to the "working ranch/museum" on Corsica...it's a beautiful drive, but that's about it. The rest is mannequins with thimbles of wine at the end. SHOPPING: Palma de Mallorca, which has some of Europe's best shopping areas and beautiful public squares, finally has shops open on Sundays all year long, which was illegal until the recent economic downturn. No tour needed. Barcelona's port has a great mall that's a 10 minute walk away. You can also get a cab at the port...the driver will take you to other shopping malls, but you'll need to pay him about 10 euros an hour if you want him to hang around so you get back to the ship on time. If you've been to Barcelona before, take the tour to Montserrat. Breathtaking. TIPPING: Unlike every other major cruise line, there were no suggested gratuities. A small service charge was included on liquor, and that was it. Nobody hung around, hoping you were going to grease their palms, or anything like that. Of course, we did a combination of some tipping, some glowing performance reviews (which were read out loud at staff meetings, we later learned; I think our cabin steward is getting promoted), and gifts of wine that we got in port. Our wine steward, from the Philippines, had never tried Beaujolais Nouveau. We were in a french grocery in season and there was the Wall of Beaujolais Nouveau: we got some for ourselves, too. That's another thing: RC won't let you bring food or alcohol you get in port on board ship. Viking ENCOURAGES you to buy local cheese, regional snacks, wine, bring it back to your ship and it's no problem. We got a great floral arrangement for our room in France and weren't hassled at all. RC makes you buy their own horrible vases of carnations and mums if you want flowers in your room. What a difference. TO SUM THINGS UP, we went small and don't regret it. If you've been taking your kids on RC or other family cruises and they're finally out of your hair, or if you haven't had kids yet, this is absolutely the way to go. The next time we find an itinerary which we haven't run yet, this is our first choice. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click