As a “first-time” cruise experience, we feared it may be somewhat of a disaster (with 2,998 too many other passengers on board) and we were proved right. However we took a punt, and a “last minute” whizz-bang deal + a small surcharge secured us a cabin with a balcony (thank goodness).
Catering on board was OK if you are looking for an efficient dining experience without much graciousness, and almost no hint of “local Mediterranean” flavours. Expect to be processed in and out of the restaurant of your choice (at least, within the provisions of ‘Freedom’ dining), in around 40 mins flat. And if you want to catch some rays, get to the sun decks early and beware the unedifying sight of oiled bodies lining-up in parallel, resembling for all the world the tuna at a Japanese fish market struggling for space.
On board entertainment included a number of tribute acts who had evidently taken the view that leaving the U.K. was a good career move. On board shopping was expensive, and even at the on-board Costalot there was no “proper” decaff.
The shore excursions were also expensive by anyone’s standards, and don’t think you’ll get to tour the entire island/city; expect an abbreviated trip which will include at least one ‘concession’ where you will be relived of your ££/Euros. And will someone PLEASE explain to local tour guides about the 100ml security requirement at Airports – Corfu must be awash with discarded litre bottles of cumquat liqueur (which is about the best thing to do with it anyhow).
There’s a curious expectation that everyone deserves a tip – standard practice is for the operator to bill you automatically – I asked for mine to be rescinded in view of some sub-optimal experiences, but that never happened. Think about it: when was the last time you tipped the train driver/pilot/chambermaid in in a UK holiday experience ?
The best part was undoubtedly disembarking but the honeypots and tourist tat did little to enhance our appreciation of destinations we had already previously visited at our own pace and on our own terms. And if you want to sample yet another grubby Italian port, do opt against the “Rome in a day” experience, and explore Civitavecchia…..
The last two days were a complete waste of time – we even thought of flying home from Ajaccio and I wish we had. Disembarking at Genoa offered no local sightseeing, instead we had a 2hr 20mins coach transfer to Nice (yes, a whole nother country). 'Nice' views out of the windows though.
A couple of plus-points: the baggage handling from Gatwick to Venice (the bags made it safely straight to our cabin); seeing Venice and Kotor glide by in the evening light; and the views of the dolphins accompanying us and as viewed from the tranquillity of our balcony.
If you like getting to Gatwick for silly-o-clock; and if an enforced sense of bonhomie on board the ship appeals -- then this is for you. But if you want something other than dumbed-down tourism for the masses, then head for the Alps.