Having read many negative reviews prior to departure (although some positive ones too), and this being my first cruise, I was a little apprehensive before we set off from Southampton. We are a family of four including twin teenage boys who were very excited at the prospect of a holiday on a big cruise ship! I was less convinced – it was my husband who was keen to try cruising – but I decided to go with an open mind, and see how it would turn out.
In summary it did turn out to be a very enjoyable holiday; I don’t think I have been sufficiently converted to want to go cruising on a regular basis, but I am glad that we went and I wouldn’t rule out going on a cruise again – occasionally - in the future. (Not next year though as we have other plans!) The facilities on the ship were excellent, and the itinerary was great – we visited lots of new places although I wished we had had more time in almost all of the ports we called at. That is one of the big disadvantages of a cruise, you are always a bit rushed and constrained by having to get back to the ship by a certain time, so it is not as relaxing a holiday as you might expect! Even the cruising days were fairly busy, as there were so many activities to do on the ship that we never seemed to have very much time just to chill out and read a book or watch the waves go by. That was partly a function of having teenagers to keep busy though – if it was just the two of us on a cruise then we wouldn’t necessarily have chosen this ship or this itinerary.
Anyway here are some more thoughts on different aspects of our holiday.
No need to book a tour, everything is within easy walking distance. Highly recommend the Roman theatre.
Not the most inspiring excursion, Leaning Tower of PIsa was so-so and the beach resort at Viareggio was disappointing - too many parasols crowded in a small area, and the beach club was very regimented! Had some lovely ice cream in the town though.
Lisbon Zoo was quite nice but nothing special, but the kids enjoyed it and I felt I would like to visit Lisbon and area again.
Parking facilities at Southampton were very convenient.