Our departure from Tilbury was pretty chaotic. We travelled to the ship on their coach from London Coach Station and the last quarter of a mile took about 90 mins. The ship had arrived late from their previous cruise (the Canaries I think), because of terrible weather and so embarkation was backing up. However when we eventually arrived at the terminal everything was done speedily. Once aboard we were impressed by the size and layout of our sea view cabin on deck 4 and the speed with which our luggage was delivered. This was a 6 week cruise to the Canaries, the amazon, West Indies and The Azores. This was our view of the Ship.
FOOD. Excellent. We had early dining (6.15pm). There were five courses which were well cooked and well presented. As well as the days main meals (usually about 5 options) there was always Salmon fillet and breast of chicken available. The waiters were lovely and most helpful. We were on a table of 8 and two of them were quite specific about their requirements. The waiters had no problem with this.
There was a large buffet available for those who preferred less formal dining. Breakfast and lunch could be in the dining rooms or the buffet and there was a wide selection. Staff were most pleasant and helpful. There was also an outside buffet with burgers, sausage, chips for people who preferred 'fast food' and there was a pizza bar in the buffet. Ice cream was always available.
ENTERTAINMENT. I thought that the entertainment was excellent. The main show had a troupe of dancers, mostly from the Ukraine, who were extremely talented and performed in a huge variety of shows over the 42 days of the cruise. The Magellan Orchestra (more of a band really) were again Eastern European and were extremely talented. The bandleader played trumpet and was accompanied by a saxophone, lead and base guitar, drummer and keyboard player. They leant towards modern jazz but could play everything else as well.
There was also a concert pianist, a pianist and violinist duo, a Filipino duo who sang and played 'easy listening' for dancing and seven vocalists who did the shows, some late night entertainment and ran the quizzes, Mr & Mrs etc. Mostly they were very good singers and they were certainly very hard working. Several other entertainers joined, did a few performances and left at the next port of call.
Because of the length of the cruise there were a lot of other activities to keep passengers occupied and I (together with 30 others) learned to play five chords on a ukulele and performed 12 songs at the end of the cruise for a large and appreciative audience. My wife and I also joined the choir and again put on a show at the end. There was also handicraft, Bridge etc. There were some excellent lectures during the day and they were well attended.
FITNESS. That was a bit of a disappointment. They gym was well stocked but too small. There were aerobics, pilates and/or yoga on sea days but they were mostly put on by the dancers (who were extremely fit but not fitness instructors) and it was a bit of a mess with no proper venue for them to take place.
PORT EXCURSIONS. I thought they were very good and reasonably priced compared to other cruises I have been on. In most of the ports we called at it was easy to get five or six in a minibus and have the same trip for far less.
Because this was January in the Atlantic, we had some periods of very stormy weather and on about five of the days those of us on the lower decks with sea views had our windows covered in steel plates. Personally I think that was a sensible precaution. We had to stay overnight in one port because the loading gear had failed and they could not raise the tender back into position. We left another port early to get ahead of a storm that was forecast but again I thought that was sensible.
Most of the people on the ship were retired and I would imagine that the average age was in the late 60's (I am 71).
I got the feeling that there were some people on the ship who would never travel with the company again and some who had booked their next trip with them. Myself and my wife would have no qualms about another cruise with this cruise line.
Bigger than most, well laid out, slightly dated. Comfortable