My mother has always wanted to go on a cruise, particularly after watching a tv show set on the MS Deutschland (she's German, my dad's Maltese, so I'm split down the middle!). I was never that enthusiastic, but I decided to make her happy this years, and I honestly was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Also, we live in Malta, so getting on board was simply a matter of driving down to the harbour and getting on - although be warned - there's a long line for passport control and to get the board card which you use to buy anything and as a key card, so you might want to board a couple of hours later than the travel agent advises.
The cruise itself, though, AMAZING. Of course, my mother and I are both fluent in German, so we understood everything, all the announcements, all the signs, etc. However I don't agree with whoever said non-Germans were not welcomed. Every week there's a group of between 100-200 Maltese on board the Mein Schiff, they have their own tour leader aboard, and they seemed happy whenever we chatted with them.
Why do so many Maltese go on the Mein Schiff cruises? I suspect the reason is the all-inclusive concept, which was one of my reasons for choosing the cruise - to give an example, it's not just the usual pizza/pasta/burgers that are free (and being Germans, some sausage too), but two huge restaurants with varieties of dining, and a snack bar, a pizza place, a tapas bar. Talking about the buffet alone, you had so many varieties of food, whether meat and potatoes, salads, pasta, etc. My highlight was a Wok station where you could choose noodles/rice, different fresh meats (duck, beef, etc) or fish, veg, sauces, and the chefs would stir-fry it there and then. And the breakfasts! OMG, the breakfasts. Oh dear. I must stop writing about food, but just let me mention that on the last day at sea there was a champagne and caviar breakfast. Yes, as part of the inclusive breakfast.
For those who prefer to get their nutrients in liquid fashion, all the bars were fee-free, except for some items, clearly marked on the menu, which you had to pay extra for. My mum and I worked our way through a whole list of cocktails, with or without alcohol, all without shelling out an extra penny.
Our balcony cabin was comfortable and clean, and every evening Fedel, our cabin attendant left a choccy on our beds!
I do have some niggles - yes, Germans do have a habit of racing to any dining area 2 minutes before opening time and then occupying their seats until the restaurant closes. And Maltese in large groups can be pretty loud and obnoxious. The only thing that really bothered me and I couldn't shrug off that easily were the children. So many children packing the relatively small pool day in day out. And even as I complain, I remember my last day when I was feeling a bit low and three preteen German kids gave me a ship newsletter they had prepared during their stay - so, I guess they weren't so bad, either.
I wasn't too happy with the excursions organized by our local agency - they showed the typical Maltese obsession with packing as many sights and visits into one trip so as to feel we got value for money. All I got out of it was tendinitis of my Achilles heel tendon (my most hated tendon, now) which I'm still feeling now.
I do agree with another reviewer that the tendering was a bit of a pain in the neck, but what can you do?
I would recommend this to anyone who feels like a holiday where they can be pampered for a few days!
Mein Schiff 1; Balcony cabin 8171 on Deck 8. The cabin was great, very comfortable, great balcony, etc. The bathroom and shower were amazing (that had been my greatest worry).Only problem: noisy neighbours.