As a seasoned world traveler I knew that choosing to cruise on an Italian liner would mean that I would not be having the same experience as one of the ships that Americans usually choose. Why did I choose this particular cruise? I wanted a winter get-away, the price was fantastic, the itinerary included ports I wanted to visit. I did not choose based on food, drink, onboard activities, amenities or what language was predominant. In reading the reviews prior to the cruise, I was surprised at how many folks were unhappy that English was not more prevalent (duh! - it was an Italian liner!)
And all the complaining about having to purchase water was way out in left field. Contrary to some reviews, the water from the taps onboard was perfectly safe (there has to be warnings when it is unsafe to drink the water). No such warnings were evident anywhere. Yes, if you wanted bottled water with dinner there was a charge but that happens in a lot of land restaurants too. Free water was always available at the open seating buffet anytime of day. I had no problem bringing bottled water back onto the ship after daily excursions and I did not witness anyone else having a problem with that. I think the water issue is blown out of proportion in the reviews.
I did not participate in any of the ship's excursions as I did my own research on each port of call and determined what I wanted to do and see based on public transportation, etc. This of course made the cruise more affordable and was easy to manage. Only at Mallorca did I have to purchase a ship's shuttle bus ticket into the city because there was no public transportation available and the walk was a long one.
The cabin was quite nice. Spacious and of course the balcony was great even in the cold of winter!
No problems with transportation to the port or embarkation check-in. Easy to walk from the train station to the ship's shuttle bus.
Walked to the train station. Took my own tour of two of the Cinque Terre towns. La Spezia is a nice town to walk around. Plenty of shopping and dining venues.
Nice morning walk about town. Very easy access from the ship.
Took public hop-on, hop-off bus tour.
Used hop-on, hop-off bus tour.