This 12 night cruise is our longest to date. We normally head to Lanzarote for a week in December for a land based holiday but decided to take a cruise to see some of the other islands this time and also to enjoy the 6 sea days.
Embarkation at Southampton
Excellent service and within 45 minutes we were in our cabin and the luggage was already there.
B749 is an aft balcony cabin on the end of the row so it has the wrap around balcony which is approx 10' square with ample room for chairs and tables. I loved having the wake to listen to. There is more noise when arriving and departing with the thrusters going, but this was not really of detriment to us. If you have one of the other aft cabins on B deck, other the far end opposite to us, you pretty much can only look straight out to sea without sticking your head right out over the rail. Our steward was Grace who is a lovely girl and looked after us well.
We prefer to eat in the MDR for most of our meals and we found it to be to the previously good standards we've had on board. We also ate in Sindu, Epicurean, Glass House and Beach House and equally enjoyed those an the more attentive service and excellent choices. Service in MDR overall was also very good.
We really enjoyed all of the Headliners Shows and appreciate the dedication and hard work thy put in to the shows. Destination Dance was particularly good. We enjoyed Jenny Wiliams, crossover vocalist (classical / musical / pop) and also Paul Hughes (Buble / Sinatra / Darren). Roy Walker, comedian, was on board and gave two good entertainig and humorous shows. Tom Binns (hospital radio show) also gave two good shows, although the humour may offend some, but there was a warning in Horizon to be fair. We laughed along though.
Ports of Call / Excursions
Favourite was Madeira - I did my own thing and hubby went on the 4x4 tour which he thought was great. We then met up at the cable car and ascended to enjoy the great views. Definitely one place to head back to for a longer stay
Tenerife - we did the flavours and history tour which was OK, but a bit disappointed as it was only about 9km from the port to the town of La Laguna and whilst we had a guide, you could get there yourself by taxi quite easily. We ended up at the opera house and some appetisers and drink which were very good and the hosts very welcoming. We did not get to go inside the venue, but had access to the external balcony
Gran Canaria - we stayed in the port town of and ventured over for a walk along the beach which was very good - flat, promenade, plenty of bars etc. Buildings are all along it and not the most attractive though being 60s style.
La Palma - lovely island and really interesting to visit the national park and head up to the caldera which was incredible - this was on the heart of la palma excursion
Lisbon - been before so enjoyed a casual stroll around the narrow streets and enjoyed coffee an custard tart
Ship Facilities / Activitis
The ship is showing signs of wear and tear in places with worn carpet edges in places and chairs looking a bit grubby, so the refit in March will give it a needed lift, but overall the appearance is still very good, clean and attractive. I participated in the Ventura Vocalists having 6 sea day rehearsals and a performance to conclude with in the atrium which was well supported by the other passengers. This was great fun to be part of and was run by Jayson and Eiophe from the Headliners. The music director on board played piano, although to me he seemed very disengaged from the group and seemed to be just going through the motions both at rehearsals and performance, never once giving us a word of encouragement.
We had treatments as part of the 180 package we'd previously purchased and these were very good. Lily, assistant spa manager runs a very efficient spa and was very good with clients and showing us around the facilities.
Captain Simon Terry was a very pleasant man and kept us updated regularly as to weather and anything of note as we went from port to port.
There is plenty to do for most people on board if you choose to do them. Some people do complain but I think it is a case of what you make of it and we certainly enjoyed and appreciated what was on offer. It was lovely to have the chance to relax on board, although the weather on the sea days could have been better. There were children around, but they were all lovely and it was great to see them dressed up on the formal nights. Lots of people with mobility issues using wheelchairs and scooters and I have to say how much I admire their courage and determination to get on with things as at times access in the ports must be difficult. Also to the carer who assisted them - a great thing you are doing.
We actually stayed on board for the next cruise N730 which was a 3 nighter to Bruges - a different experience entirely for which I shall write separate review!
Lovely aft cabin on starboard side - balcony extends and wraps around. Approx 10' x 10'. Shower room compact but plenty of storage for all our bits and also wardrobes / drawer space plentiful. Fridge was stocked with items, charged as used but quite reasonable.
Some of the furniture edges at base looking a bit worn. TV worked OK with a few channels to enjoy as well as radio and also free films on interactive TV service. Great to have kettle, tea, coffee and biscuits restocked regularly an the turn down service each night. We loved it and would definitely have another aft cabin in the future - a suite would be nice one day!
Easy for us to get to Southampton from North Hampshire, so effectively our home port. The cruise terminals both Mayflower and Ocean were used and we had easy embarkation / disemarkation