We've been on cruises before and we were really looking forward to our holiday. I'm a food & travel writer & I travel a lot. No exaggeration, it's the worst holiday experience that I've ever had in my life! Embarking, they x-rayed our bag & tried to take our bottles of wine. 'You must buy your wine on board,' we were told. I told him to get lost & we walked away. We hardly slept at all due to the undisciplined kids yelling & racing up & down the corridor, banging doors till late at night, then early in the morning. Afternoon nap? No way! It was impossible! How about a swim? Every pool was crammed full of yelling, splashing kids. I wouldn't trust my child in there! You wouldn't be able to see if anything happened to them. We'd been promised a kid-free trip as they would be back at school.
The ship holds nearly 5,000 passengers, plus the crew & staff. But there aren't enough seats or tables at the horrendous buffet, which starts at about 12.30 & finishes at 3 - when most of the passengers are ashore! There's no choice of restaurants in the evening. We called it the Cattle Battle; wall-to-wall people, all pushing & shoving. Don't believe me? come & see the burn marks up our arms & the stains down our clothes from spilt coffee, available from one urn! I can picture my poor husband, battling through the mob, struggling to hold on to the cups of coffee. Oh the despair on his face!
The water dispensers are switched off after meals & you can't drink the water in the cabin. In the evening, the restaurant is miles away from the kitchen & all the food is cold & stuck to the plates. And the chef only knows how to make mashed potato, day after day! I sent most meals back & then the replacements. I was really afraid of food poisoning. I went to bed hungry most nights. One night I was chewing on a piece of dry bread that I brought from our Palma meal.
In Naples, I couldn't get out of bed as I was tired, hungry, disillusioned, overdosed on gluten & near to tears. But as the ship sailed at 3 which meant being on board at 2, there was no time to go anywhere. There was a whiff of sewage all over the ship. We christened it the Poop Deck. I've never known such a cold-blooded bunch of money-grabbers in my life. They really should lose their licence. They're a bunch of greedy, lying con-artists. There are other restaurants, but you have to pay, even for a slice of pizza or a coffee. How about the 4D cinema? No, you have to book & pay. Ice cream parlour? 5 euros for a cornet - plus a 15% service charge!
And the, um, entertainment? Females in stilletos with a guitarist or a pianist & a tinny background, warbling The girl from Ipanema or Your love is King, night after night. The disco was packed, with people watching all up the stairs & peering over the balcony. We couldn't stroll around as we were battered from all directions. There were crowds everywhere!
No joke, if there had been another disaster at sea, we would have been crushed in the rush. We've demanded a complete refund, plus compensation.
We weren't given a choice of sides. One side has the coastal view & our side had only a sea view.
The cabin was good, but there was nothing there; no bottles of water even though the water is undrinkable, which must be illegal, surely?
Our cabin lad was very good & worked hard, although I had to tell him off for delivering the nightly bulletin by opening every door & then banging it shut!