Too start with we boarded the ship at the second port Valencia, not Malaga which most passengers did. We had heard some rumors about poor check in procedures in Valencia. We had no problems at all. The shore staff didn't seem very experienced, but met us with a smile and it all went very fast. A good 25 mins waiting for the shuttle bus to drive us too the ship was more than we hoped for after a long travel, but not a big issue. (4*)
Stateroom: We had a D1 on deck 10. Probably not freshened up since the ship was built, but no major wears. I saw some of the interiors in our hallway had new flatscreen TVs. We still had an old one where some channels made a funny annoying noise... The stateroom had a "humid smell" that we got used to in a day or two, also the "thingy" they use when washing the balconies etc. disturbed the views to the aft a bit. (3*)
Stateroom attendant: The best we've had. Extremely charming, service minded and funny. One of those who just make your cruise experience memorable. (5+*)
Food: MDR food good as always - Nothing spectacular. Windjammer food was good, bud the place itself overcrowded at nearly all times. Too noisy, which I will come back to. Tried Johnny Rocket's for the first time which was a very nice experience, but next time we'll have it for dinner instead of lunch. (we felt full till lunch the day after). Room service food was good as always as well. (4*)
Food service: MDR: Started of a bit bad after being allocated till another table. Our new waiter seemed a bit nervous and stressed at first but became very lovable from day three onwards. Asst. waiter was very nice but had some problems communicating in English at some times. Windjammer: Don't expect a lot when eating in Windjammer, but on this cruise we experienced some service errors. One waiter didn't believe we were 18 when asking for the wine list (we're 27) until we photo ID'd ourselves. One ordered omelet were never delivered before breakfast closing time. Johnny Rocket's: A very nice experience! Smiles and laughter everywhere :) (4*)
Fitness\Spa: Fitness center was good although it would have been nice with some more barbell choices. Spa service was excellent! (5*)
Rates: Same as before: Totally OK. RCLL should be including service fee's in their prices though... (4*)
Public rooms: The ship looks good, and offers everything you need, but should soon be up for some refreshment's here and there soon. (4*)
Entertainment: CD Warren Allen had a hard time getting feedback on his jokes as the English knowledge of the 60-70% Spanish guest's were surprisingly ridiculously poor. This was actually sad to see cause I LOVED Warren's humour and personality at the RCTV morning show, but he didn't have the possibility to reach that same level in the theatre as EVERYTHING had to be translated into Spanish by the cultural director, which kind of takes some of the fun away from everything.. The general shows (L&M, Quest, production's and ice-shows e.g.) were OK this time. Kenny James headliner show was excellent. Also, we didn't feel as much involved in the day-time entertainment as the Spanish speaking guests probably did. One example was the belly jump competition: 1 Scottish and 6 Spanish comp's (no-one with a big belly). Here they should have a sign-up and then have chosen a good mix instead of doing first one's up. (3*)
Shore excursions: The ports of call were excellent. We did all port's on ourselves. (Rome, Pisa, Ajaccio, Malaga) No disappointment's. Corsica was just beautiful. (5*)
Others: As mentioned we checked in in Valencia. From having chat's with Spanish speaking guests in the terminal and on the shuttle to the ship, we were surprised to get on the ship seeing that "none" of the Spanish guests departing Malaga could speak English. At time's during shows and in MDR they would start singing pro-Spanish songs loudly when information was given in English first (although all information on board would later be translated to Spanish). This was very annoying at times, it's just not how adults should behave on a cruise ship. Also, the main pool entertainment was too focused on the Spanish speaking guests which led to the fact that the rest of us was feeling a bit left outside of everything. Also the loudest cruise we've been on so far. (Singing at dinner. Children\teenagers diving, screaming and splashing in the main pool's at all times.) Not a big wonder why AOS is leaving Malaga for Southampton next year, which is sad as the service and port of call's were almost perfect for a med cruise.
D1 cabin. Bit of a humid smell. TV was old and some channels had a weird noise, but seems to be fixed very soon as other cabins in the same hallway had allready got flatscreen's. View's backwards are a bit limited due to the thing they use to wash the balconies. Else than this a very nice cabin. Stateroom attendant was the best we've ever had!
We did Rome on ourselves, including the Vatican, Trevi fountain, spanish steps and the Colosseum. It's very easy and will only cost you â‚¬27 per adult.
There's a free shuttle taking you from the ship to the fortress outside the port. Then you should walk right (When facing away from the ocean) towards the train station. Kiosk's are selling a ticket called BIRG which includes return fare to Rome and metro\busses in Rome for one day for only â‚¬12. This is cheaper then a return ticket itself. You need cash to buy the BIRG ticket, and there's no ATMs at the station, so make sure you have cash when walking of the ship. BIRG is not valid on the fast trains (IC), but the local trains leave evry half hour and takes 45 mins to 1h15mins to get to Rome. !!Remember to validate your ticket in one of the validation thingy's before getting on the train.
We got off the train at St.Peter station close to the Vatican which is before the central station in Rome. From here it's a 10 minute walk to the Vatican. This is highly recommended as we heard from others that the line grew very long later the same days. We did only stand in line for 5 mins in order to get into the basilica. Remember too bring something to put over your shoulders or you will not be able to get into any of the main events. Then we walked from the Sistine chapel to the Ottaviano metro station (10 mins).
We took the red line towards Anagnina three stops to Spagna station which is basically at the spanish steps. From the spanish steps there is a 10 min walk to the Trevi fountain. After the Trevi fountain you could either walk back to the Spagna station, or to see something else walk the same distance to the Barberini station which is the next stop on the red line.
Then take the red line again towards Anagnina two or three stops (depending on which station you went to) to Rome Termini. Here you will need to switch to the blue line to get to Colosseum. Take the blue line towards Laurentina for two stops to the Colosseo metro station. This is basically at the Colosseum. Before entering the Colosseum, you can choose to either stand in the general line for 30 mins (when we were there) and pay â‚¬9, or go to the group tour line which has no queue at all and only require you to pay an extra of â‚¬6 to rent an audio guide set. It was an easy choise for us.
Depending on how long your port call is, you could now either go back to the ship or into the city as we did to sit down at a cafÃ¨ e.g.
To get back to the ship: just go by metro to the Termini station (Train station) and ask for a train towards Civitavecchia (Remember: ticket not valid on IC trains)
We did Livorno port on ourselves, and went to Pisa, not Florence. But the route is very similar - so please read on even if you're going to Florence on your own. Total price per adult for Pisa was â‚¬8.80.
A shuttle bus (â‚¬4 return ticket) will take you from the ship into Livorno city centre. From here you can buy two local bus ticket's per adult (â‚¬1.20 each). From the town square bus 1 and 2 will take you to the train station outside town. The bus ride is about 10 minutes and the station cannot be missed.
At the train station you can buy a return ticket to Pisa or Florence (It's the same train and it leaves at least every hour). Pisa is about 20 mins and costed us only â‚¬3.60 return per adult. I think Florence is 1h20min so probably a bit more expencive.
In Pisa there is a 20-30 min walk to the leaning tower. Not a lot of interesting things to see on the walk, but no problems getting there. (We heard of others that chose to take a bus or taxi instead.)
Then follow the same route back to the ship.