We are a married couple in our early 40's. This is our 4th cruise and 2nd with X, the previous one being a Western Med cruise 3 years ago on the Equinox. We are fortunate enough to travel permanently but usually in a more budget conscious and adventurous way but we have done a couple of cruises recently to "treat" ourselves.
We embarked in Athens, the ship was at the far end of the terminal and a lot of people were trying to walk there but were struggling, perhaps X could have communicated that better. Embarkation was quick and efficient and we were on in no time with a glass of bubbles.
Disembarkation in Rome was smooth off the ship but the free shuttles provided by the port were inconsistent and we ended up waiting for more than an hour. I know this is not X issue but you would think they would want their passengers final memories to be good and might help.
The ship is a Millenium class and therefore not as modern or chic as the Equinox (nor as pricey though). The ship seemed to be in very good condition considering others were telling us it is due for refurbishment next year. The decor is more dark and classic then we have encountered on other ships. We liked it at night but found during the day it was too dark to appreciate the bright seas as you were sailing.
The outdoor areas were also clean but the windows did seem very dirty - but not a big issue. The basketball court was half closed due to renovations. There is no full promenade so outside walking is limited to the exercise track which is ok but with all the lounge chairs and fellow passengers it was difficult to get your exercise in.
Our cabin was similar to others we have had, the shower has a curtain as opposed to glass but it was fine. There was loads of storage space. The bed is technically 2 twins and not as modern or as high as others but we seemed to sleep well haha. Our cabin steward was great. Our balcony (7171) was slightly larger than the standard. The only real negative in the cabin was the entertainment system - it is very antiquated and slow to update. Unlike our previous cruises movies on demand cost money and were very expensive ($15USD!!!) and TV channels were very limited. It was not a big issue as we were rarely in the cabin but sometimes its nice to relax there - not sure what you would do if you were cabin bound with illness???
Dining - unlike other cruises we did not try the speciality restaurants as we are sailing on the Connie again shortly on a re-positioning cruise and will try them then. The MD food started very poorly but got better the longer the cruise went .. perhaps that is a strategy so you remember it? The Oceanview cafe was similar, the standard of food was very average at the start with only white bread that was stale and over ripe fruit. It improved overtime. The pizzas were very nice as was the burger bar. The only other free dining option was the cafe al bacio and it was only desserts. Compared to our recent HAL (Koningsdam) cruise - free dining options felt a little limited and the food quality lower and not as modern (but again it was much cheaper).
We had the classic drinks package which is unlimited in terms of quantity but not in quality. What we found strange is that what you were limited on was not price driven - eg you could not have sparkling water but you could have much more expensive mocktails. There was early pressure to upgrade the package but this died down after a couple of days.
Service - outstanding. This was the most disappointing aspect of our last cruise and the most impressive aspect of this one. In particular the bar service, it was always easy to get a drink with plenty of waiters. All our other cruises the barmen have been grumpy (maybe because their tips cannot be removed?) but that was not the case on this one. Our sommelier (Victor) gave the best service I think I have ever received and Marley in the upstairs bars was equally impressive.
One incident though was disturbing, we had a barman make an insulting comment one night and we complained immediately to Guest Relations. I made it clear we weren't after "free" things as compensation but merely wanted the incident investigated. Clearly they took my friendly approach as a way of trying to sweep it under the carpet as I never received any apology or follow up even after complaining again management failed to turn up at the scheduled time and later simply apologised with no explanations. Considering my wife was insulted surely some gesture like a letter or flowers would be expected, even if I said we would not be causing any problems over the incident????
Entertainment - the Cruise Director was an entertainer himself and was simply amazing. The production shows were typical but enjoyable. The guest entertainers were mixed but none were bad. The smaller venue entertainment was not very good but we rarely saw it as it did not fit in with our schedule. Activities such as quizzes and dancing were well organised. We always had something to do and found the cruise a lot of fun because of this.
One thing we noticed was the officers not as visible as on Equinox, not a big deal just noticed it but management was very visible compared to HAL and I think this is why overall service is so great.
The itinerary was great - loved Israel and Ephesus. Malta was great but would have liked more time.
We are travelling again on the Connie soon, provided we have no more nasty incidents would definitely sail it again. Not as chic as other ships but very comfortable and good value for money, there was always space and other ships should base their buffet design on this one.
7171 - was very close to the aft elevators and stairs which was convenient and there was little noise so good location.
Verandah slightly larger than standard.
The wardrobe doors and bathroom door knock into each other which is poor design.
TV system was terrible.
Loved Ephesus. Easy to take a public bus and walk. Not a large site only need about 2-3 hours. Pay the extra to see the terrace houses
Have visited before but its a great port as walking distance from the ship. Visited the Grand Masters Palace. Later took a swim at the local pebble beach - amazing blue water.
We had planned on hiring a car but slept in and so just wandered the town, not much to see so went to the beach. Most people take tours to ruins etc.
Had a quick wander around town and checked out the Bahia gardens. Then took the train to Tel Aviv - 1 hour. Spent the day in TA and loved it. Walked all day!
More time in souvenir stop then the nativity church.View All 12 Bethlehem Walking Tour Reviews
Church amazing, tour co. average.View All 9 Church of the Holy Sepulchre Reviews
Average company. Garden is ok.View All 4 Garden of Gethsemane Reviews
GTI an average tour but the wailing wall was amazingView All 6 Jewish Quarter Reviews
Udi is a great guide and masada is worth the effort of visiting.View All 6 Massada Walking Tour Reviews
Loved the Dead Sea and our guide Udi was fantastic.View All 10 The Dead Sea Reviews
Gorgeous city! Wish the weather was better and we had more time. When visiting the main church (a must) give yourself enough time as they simply close it without warning.