My first "upscale" cruise. I promised my wife a trip to Turkey and a cruise to get there. She did the research and found this cruise. She also found two other couples who wanted to go. All the women looked at the rooms and the guys studied the ports and amenities. I'm a retired military officer, so I understand the requirements of logistics and on-going operations in a vessel of this size and passenger load and I can tell you they are staggering. This ship had experienced a bit of a bug brought aboard by a passenger so not only did they clean the ship (I brought a UV light and checked) they increased their health protocols so there were no events while we were aboard. The suite was cleaned daily as was the outside of the ship while we were in port. I always saw cleaners in the process of cleaning everywhere. The attention to detail was impressive.
The Food was excellent. They had plenty of stations and a wide variety of cuisines including a lot of attention to gluten free which was really nice. The staff in the cafe was friendly and constantly looking to see if you needed anything. The breakfast selections were incredible and they provided international breakfast options -- like the traditional British breakfast. If you wanted to be waited on the dining room staff was excellent and the food very well done -- the problem was getting in while it was open, but as an early riser, I enjoyed taking morning coffee on the fantail while in a port.
The evening dining experience was terrific. We became fans of our waiters and sommelier. There recommendations were always spot on and delicious. They were portioned just right and were perfectly seasoned. Everybody in our party remarked on that. We went to one of the upscale restaurants (Tuscan grill) on a formal night and enjoyed the entire dining experience (the sun was setting in Kusadasi, Turkey) and we enjoyed the show and then we enjoyed the best steak any of us had ever eaten -- and I've eaten a fair amount of wagu beef. Don't know how the Chef did it, but it was amazing.
The cabin was excellent. It took a bit to figure out unpacking, but there was ample room. The bathroom was very well designed and the cabin cleaning staff was great. The HVAC worked great. I needed an extension cord for my wife's CPAP machine and the staff brought it up right away. Zero deficiencies.
Barcelona is a world class vibrant city that takes a few days to explore.
I spent the day aboard and just read a book.
There is an elan here. I went ashore and wandered the streets, had a glass of wine, took some nice photographs.
It's a small Italian port city. It's fun to stroll about the shops and cafes. We took a nice visit to the local zoo. Well, we think it was a zoo. There were cages with mostly pigeons.
We hopped a train to St. Peter's square and wandered about.
We hopped on the Island tour bus and spent the day looking about. It was very nice.
We rented a minivan and drove all over the Island, stopping at some beaches, a lighthouse and other spots. We feel like we saw the entire island, even places that were not shown on the map.
We took the X-80 bus from the port to the Platka for 4 euro round trip. We wandered about the market and enjoyed the antiquities, the music playing and the wine we drank.
Clean and modern. They've got the tourist thing down and it's great. No fast hustle, just give the pitch. We didn't need any carpets, but one guy had a brother who, for the prevailing rate of 60 euros would take us up to the Virgin Mary house and show us to some good rug & leather & pottery factories. It was great! Raymond drove really well and really fast and we got up to the Virgin Mary house in very short order. We got in the line and took the tour and it was very nice. Coming back we got some "proof of visit" snaps of the ancient Roman ruins in Turkey and then the factories. We learned how they make silk, but didn't need a rug, we also saw some fabulous leather goods we just didn't need and then I fell for some really wonderful handmade, lead free, quartz processed pottery and I'm glad I did.
We LOVE Istanbul. We booked three nights there and were so glad we did. It is a wonderful city where there is always something to see, some fun way to pass the day, just enjoying the beauty and then, in the evening, the meals are truly excellent. The Turks know how to cook. It is always best to go to dinner with friends and there are over 11,000 restaurants so the first 1100 are in the top 10%. You really have to spend time in this city.