This trip was chosen because of its itinerary and starting point in Valparaiso, Chile. We upgraded to the highest balcony level but room 7112 was very tiny although the location was great. Really hard for two people to share the room, barely space to pass by each other at the foot of the bed. Next time we'll go Concierge Class to a slightly bigger space.
The public spaces on this ship have been remodeled at some recent point and are spacious and lovely. Lots of spots to sit and look out at the beautiful ocean and fun ports. We especially loved Cafe al Bacio because the baristas have been well-trained and they pull terrific espressos and cappuccino drinks. Not so for any of the ports we visited in places that supposedly have great coffee.
Embarkation was smooth and easy, but it took a long time and disembarkation was not well-organized. The cruise line lost a bottle of Pisco we bought in Chile that they were keeping for us. We will get a refund but it's not the same to buy it here in the US!
The cruise director on this ship was Luigi, a young guy from the Dominican Republic with huge amounts of energy and charm. Everyone was encountered was friendly and helpful, and we even interacted a couple of times with senior staff who were delightful. Entertainment all 14 nights was excellent, with great singers, an unusual ventriloquist who was not what one expected, and a fabulous show on the last night. The one group we didn't like was a Canadian couple who had performed with Cirque de Soleil and did physical comedy that fell flat with this group.
As for the ports: Arica, Chile is very small and poor, but the tour we went on, Taste of Arica, was actually fun. However, since there were 40 people and one guide, we definitely should have had little headsets so we could hear what she had to say. The tasting part came all at the end and we enjoyed mango and passion fruit juice, olive paste, some different cheeses, and jams. I would have loved to try things in the market as there were so many unusual and different foods we do not have in the US.
Manta, Ecuador was also small and the tour of the Panama Hats workshops (all in the basement of people's houses; you'd never know they are there) was very interesting. We were told the cruise line doesn't have many options in some of these countries - if they want to stop, they pay hefty amounts and the countries think some of the small cities should get the benefit of cruise ships and tours. In Manta with the exception of watching the demonstration of hats and the making of jute bags, there was nothing else to do or see as there really is no city center, per se. I would have preferred a different port.
Lima, Peru, and Cartagena, Colombia were both fun places to visit: lively, great food, interesting sights and we enjoyed two private tours with Viator. Colon is rather unattractive and not a place to linger - so we were glad to be on a tour of the beautiful colonial part of the city, to see the ruins from Captain Henry Morgan, and even to drive around the new Panama with all its skyscrapers. It's amazing that all of these towns had lots of traffic at all hours! Wish we could have docked in Panama City rather than Colon.
Going through the Panama Canal was awesome - we were in front of the helipad at 6:30am and stood there for a couple of hours, spellbound. It was also beautiful cruising on the lake between the locks.
Really a very tiny room, although it's called "Deluxe room with balcony". Decor was definitely old - light -colored wall paneling, orange sheers, orange-ish carpeting that was very dirty as evidenced by our white socks!
Bathroom had a mildewy smell which they were never able to eliminate and there was zero water pressure in the shower, also never fixed. The A/C had to run 24/7 to keep the room comfortable and it would have been better to have a thermostat rather than a blue/red dial. The decor of the rooms is quite dated and at first we had a badly-ripped bedskirt which was changed out. There was plenty of storage for everything and the balcony was a pleasant place to linger.
Bed was comfortable and our cabin attendant was helpful and friendly. The location was great as we were not near elevators and things stayed quiet.
Viator organized a Lima city tour. Lots to see, but not nearly enough time. For some reason, in the largest ports, the ship only stayed til 3 which meant we just had a few hours for visiting.
Saw lots of great things in the Panama area, but were 8 of us crammed into a very uncomfortable van and we paid $159 pp - too high for what we did. Loved the being-restored Colonial area and enjoyed walking around there.
Loved the cruise ship terminal, walkway and shops - the most welcoming and beautiful of any place we visited and fun things to look for and buy.
The old city is wonderful and worth visiting, but the VERY PERSISTENT people trying to sell you things makes touring difficult. Felt very safe with our guide, although we had been warned Cartagena was not a good place to be on our own. Did some shopping for jewelry but in the end, didn't buy anything. If you have a chance, try the juices - they are freshly made/squeezed from local fruits such as passionfruit and cherimoya, and as long as they are made with bottled water, are safe to drink and absolutely delicious!
We booked a private tour for four of us in Valparaiso before embarkation and had a great time. The company was Michael, The German Pirate and he sent us Boris who was delightful. Went all over Valpo,to a fab place called Ocean Pacific for lunch, and the fish market and then took Boris' cooking class - he is also a chef- and made great Pisco Sours, Ceviche, and a Chilean version of tamale pie made with fresh corn. Delicious passion fruit for dessert with berry sauce.