I booked this cruise through an Internet agency and got it at a very good price with free parking at Dover. This was my first 12 night cruise. My longest cruise prior to this had been a 9 night cruise in the Caribbean and another to Canada and New England and earlier this year I had done a 9 night cruise to the Canary Islands. Also, I had never sailed from UK before and hence there were no flights needed as I live in London and a drive to Dover only takes about 2 hours.
We travelled as a family of 3 with 2 balcony cabins. On the day of sailing, Sunday 1st September, we left home at 9am and got to Dover around 11.15. I dropped off the luggage and my family members at the cruise terminal and was shown to the nearby car park area where I was to park my car for the next 13 days. I was then taken back to the terminal in a shuttle. I met up with my family and went upstairs for registration. This was very easy as we had checked in online and were given our cabin cards which are also used for any purchases onboard. We were straight away asked to proceed inside the ship. This was one of the fastest check ins I had seen. After a quick photo we were inside this beautiful ship in less than 10mins. As we were very early onboard we were asked to go and and have lunch at the lido restaurant as the cabins would not be ready till around 1pm.
The atrium was around 9 decks high and had a very dark feel to it. I quite liked it but it may not be to everyone's taste. We went straight to the lido in the glass elevators. There was plenty of choice for lunch including freshly made hot and cold sandwiches, salads, pizzas, car very dishes, oriental dishes, desserts etc. Burgers and chips were served by the inside pool. Plenty of choice for everyone. Being vegetarians we were pleased to see that every dish was labelled as being vegetarian or not. So no need of asking anyone about this. Lemonade, water and ice tea together with coffee and tea were complimentary. After enjoying our lunch we quickly went on the outside decks to explore the ship. The ship had 3 pools ( one inside), plenty of hot tubs, a private adults only area called Serenity located on deck 9 at the aft, a basketball court, mini golf, gym, and plenty of sun loungers through out the upper decks. However as we were sailing towards Norway we knew we won't be using them much expecting the weather to be much colder.