Fantastic ship. First time cruising for us, was a bit worried that it would be boring as we had our two boys aged 17 and 12 with us but actually it was brilliant. Embarkation was the quickest process ever, much better than going to the airport and dealing with all what goes on there. Basically we arrived at Southampton, followed the guys directing us to our spot, they took our suitcases, next time we saw them was when we arrived on the ship. Fantastic. So quick and no pressure all.
When I first encountered the long skinny corridors of the ship I was unaware of how closed in I would feel, but that lasted all of about 5 minutes and then I just got used it. Our cabin was an inside cabin, much more spacious than I'd imagined and furnished in a clean and basic way, everything I needed for my 6 day stay. More than adequate. Our boys room was 2 doors down so perfect too. Can't really comment on the Kids Clubs as we didn't use them, although they seemed pretty busy with happy kids and parents picking up, our kids weren't interested in doing anything other than playing football, once they'd seen the pitch up above the 15th floor, basically they spent the whole holiday rooted to that place. Never would I have imagined they would love this cruise as much, considering they moan about everywhere we go on holiday, spoilt brats! (well, the teen does anyway).
The ambience on the ship was nice and laid back, which I also hadn't expected, for some reason I thought it would all be a bit po-faced. Nothing further from the truth. The food was absolutely fantastic in The nice restaurants, a real dining experience, from the quality of the service from the sheer broad range of recipes. Even my children enjoyed wearing shirts and ties and getting dressed up for what was a lovely family occasion each evening, 5 or 6 courses, with just the right amount on your plate, not full up to the brim but just the perfect amount, beautifully thought out and presented dishes, everything I tasted was stunning. The waiters were cheerful and hospitable and couldn't have been more helpful. Personally, the food was one of the best things about the ship for me, although the buffet restaurants were good for the kids on a couple of nights (when they wanted to rush through dinner quickly), although adequate, I much preferred the longer sit down dining experience of the silver service restaurants.
The entertainment covered every aspect, you could never be bored on that ship. From good old Tom O'Connor, (for those of you under 40, a stand up comic/tv presenter from back in the 70/80s) who put on a clean fun hour with a few chuckles, although clearly not to everyone's taste, some people in their forties (my age) were sat there looking like their face had been slapped, I only wish they'd have left the show and done us all a favour as I felt bad for Tom, although I expect he didn't really see too far into the audience after the front row. Bless him, he did well for a man of his age to stand there and recall all those gags & stories. Good lighthearted evening was had by my husband and I anyway! So much entertainment, think we saw The Beatles and Queen cover bands, which were ok, then there was the casino, which we didn't go any gambling in but looked fun if you wanted to partake. From sewing to ballroom dancing to wine clubs, there was a club to suit every person's fancy, even if you didn't want to do any of it you could just relax on the ship's sundeck or pool area and take it easy. We didn't go into the spa, even though we were given the hard sell, 'as you always are' but it worked out very expensive, which you kind of know anyway so we gave that a miss as it wasn't high on our priority list.
The shore days were good, easy instructions were given to manoeuvre to and from the port, we enjoyed going to Bilbao and experiencing all the art installations at The Guggenheim , although our children were bored, uncultured urchins that they are, but easily remedied by sitting in the 'very' expensive cafe and eating while they waited for us! We visited Guernsey, La Rocha and Bilbao on port days which were all pleasant ways to spend a few hours mooching about with helpful instructions on what to do and how to get back without too much effort.
Disembarkation was just as quick as embarkation. Good trip, thoroughtly enjoyed by all and would probably go again, although not to the same places and with a gap of a couple of years, as wouldn't want to spoil the memories.
Clean and adequate.