First, the positives. The ship was spotless and remained so throughout a long cruise. We arrived at every port exactly on time and in an excellent and convenient location. Embarkations were easy and well handled. The crew and staff were, for the most part, polite and accommodating. All of this was enhanced by terrific weather, including the five days spent crossing the Atlantic.
Now the negatives. The food was not good. At its very best, it was adequate; at its worst it was inedible. When whole tables of passengers send their nearly-full plates back to the dining room, it should be a signal that something is wrong. It was bland, the meat was tough and almost everything tasted canned or left over. The upper level dining area closed up tight in the late afternoon and remained so until 6:00 AM. If a passenger chose not to go to the dining room for dinner, he was out of luck. Room service was available but there was not a big selection. We quickly learned to purchase snacks at our stops and keep them in our cabin.
Some odd practices on board: The towels by the pool had to be checked in and out daily. Passengers stood in line to sign them out and back in (including sea days) Why? So the staff did not have to pick them up? Books had to be checked out and back in of the meager library (which was obviously stocked by leftovers from previous travelers) by painstaking notes in an accounting journal. Ridiculous.
Small but adequate. Pretty good storage. Just like all the rest.
We had not planned our Barcelona stop ahead of time and suffered for it. We were traveling with another couple and we spent a lot of our shore time wandering around with an inadequate map. We'd like to see it again, being better prepared.
Another wonderful stop. We again rented a cab with our traveling companions. The driver was Portuguese but spoke English. We saw downtown Funchal, then traveled up in the mountains for breathtaking scenery. Back in town, we asked him to let us off at the botanical garden, which is one of the best we've ever visited and has an interesting aviary as well. There's a cable car near the exit of the garden and if we were going again (I hope so!) we would spend more time in the garden and take the cable car down into the town for an amazing view of the harbor and city. Everything was spotless and everyone we met was very friendly. Great port.
After a fine five-day Atlantic crossing, we visited Barbados; spent the morning exploring the town and the afternoon at the beach. Did some shopping and enjoyed the day. As in most Caribbean islands, the beaches are wonderful and the traffic is not. But it was a very pleasant stop and we enjoyed it.