The cruise left from beautiful Cape Town - but then I'm biased as I live there. The embarkation process was smooth and quick. The ship has recently been refurbished and it was very clean. The staff were very nice - but were not very well informed about the ports and docking info - which I new more about by surfing the internet before leaving port. The cabin crew and the restaurant crew were very nice and I enjoyed them very much. This was actually a repositioning cruise and therefore we got it for a very cheap price. The evening entertainment on board was excellent. We had purchased drinks packages before sailing so got them at a good price, the same goes with the excursion that we wanted to go on in Urbino, Italy. The only real problem was the food. It was mediocre to say the least. Mostly the same stuff with a different name on the menu. Really not what I expected. Also as this was up the coast of Africa there is a real "dead spot" between Cape Town and Las Palmas where there were only two stops - both of which you can miss without a worry - which lasted for about 10 days.
During this time things would have been fine if the weather was good but it was not. I went to Italian lessons, dance classes, gym, many talks (some of which were very good others boring) quiz competitions, reading etc and really tried to pass the time between meals if you know what I mean. If you choose this cruise be aware it is rather boring during this time. You had best go with a group of friends to entertain yourselves. To top it off the entire ship managed to catch the flu which circulated around with coughing and sneezing, that was really awful.
After we hit Las Palmas and went onto Tangier things started to get more interesting - then it was beautiful Malta, stunning Dubrovnik and Ancona (Urbino) and finally the majestic entry into Venice which is probably the best thing you can do on a cruise liner. We did not have children - very few traveled with them as it was so long a cruise and I would not recommend taking them. Would I do it again? No not this cruise. Maybe I would consider the trip down the East Coast of Africa - but the food is really what would put me off. On a cruise like this it has to be good as it is the highlight of the day for about 14 days of the cruise!!!