We went in April and with Spring being the windiest season of the year, I knew I needed to strap myself in for a bumpy ride. NOT what I was expecting.
Really easy and stress-free. Check in at the airport was fine ( I still dont understand why they dont just give us those Priority Cruise tags once we've landed, but anywho ) and we were on our way. There were a few long-ish queues to check into the ship, but that was to be expected. Staff were very friendly to us, helping us to where we needed to be. Overall, the most stress-free check in i've had in a long time.
This is an issue I've always had with Thomson ( Well, now Marella ) ... I've never found anything WRONG with the food, its just always been a little...boring? If meat and vegetables and roast dinners every evening is your thing, then fine. But I guess I'd prefer something from the actual country I'm visiting, not just British food. Obviously if you dont like that kind of thing, then you're in luck! The actual food isself was wonderful. Considering I only had 4 dinners out of a possible 7 ( More on THAT later... ) they were all in all, pretty good. Lunches were always lots of choice, paninis, burgers, hot dogs, salads. We ate in the main restaurant for lunch one day, would HIGHLY reccomend. Lido was okay, just seemed to get a little too crowded for my liking. Having the drinks machine in the food queue, NOT a good idea. Overall, was okay, but could be better.
We only went to 2 shows ( I'll tell you the reason... its coming ) but my god were they GOOD. I love musicals and all things like that, was right up my street. You could see how much the entertainers enjoyed performing for us, which was lovely to see. And their talent was out of this world! Other members of our party didnt agree, not enjoying the musicals. Other entertainment was also available. Live singers were always a treat to listen to. Quizzes throughout the daytime, activities on the pool deck ( When it wasnt raining sideways ). Finally, there was a games room, a library and a coffee shop. If you enjoyed a quieter ride, you had someplace to go. Overall, spectacular. Theres something for everyone.
We did one excursion, in Casablanca. All in all, it was okay. We went to a Mosque, which was BEAUTIFUL. The biggest Islamic place of worship outside of Mecca. The rest was... eye-opening. We were taken through a traditional market, where we werent allowed to buy anything. Instead we went to a tacky tourist shop... Not really my idea of fun. We were also taken through a different market- again, couldnt stop or anything. Not really sure why? Overall, an okay tour. Seemed a bit underplanned.
We had a Deck 1 cabin, pretty much as midship as you could get. Inside cabin. Very spacious and kept pristine at all times by our wonderful room steward. We had a problem with the shower on the 2nd day. Someone came right to our cabin within minutes of reporting it and sorted it so we could be on our way. Another thing, we barely ever saw our room steward. Which to me, is perfect. Never seeing them, so you never feel like you're in their way or they're in your way. Yet after a long day of adventuring, our beds were made, those little chocolates were on our pillow and we could just relax...
Not much to say here. The exact reverse of embarkation, completely stress free.
In general the ship was clean. It smelled very clean upon walking in on the first day. The pool deck got untidy ( On the rare days it was actually used ) and the waiters and waitresses were always ready to fix everything for us. None of the staff ever seemed like they werent doing anything ( Except for when we left the port, and we all retreated to our porcelain vomit-bags ) Everyone was so friendly. It was just... perfect.
So yes. We had some bad weather. The first night was fine, you could barely tell you were on a ship. Then we got through the Gibraltar strait, and all hell broke loose. Okay, I'm being a BIT dramatic... but throughout the course of the day the seas got rougher and rougher. So finally, at around 7pm that night I hid away in my cabin for the next 14 hours. Oh no, it didnt just last for one night... EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Rock...and roll. Im not exaggerating, 3/7 nights were about bareable for me, only because we had the protection of the Med on 2 of those nights, and the Portugese coast on the other. But the crew... they were FANTASTIC. The captain was everywhere, reassuring passengers throughout the day, then battling the seas throughout the night. We had winds at the top end of storm force 11. Bear in mind the scale only goes up to 12, and thats a Hurricane! Our cabin steward brought us extra towels on nights we didnt leave the cabin, they even delayed the ship by a few hours on the 3rd night so we could all have a nice dinner!
The best thing that happened was on the final night. Since hardly anyone turned up to the captain's gala ( Escpecially in the second sitting ) they had loads of the staff come onto the stage in the entertainment, a really great photo opportunity. Just a great experience all around. The captain gave an announcement on the last day, thanking us for our co-operation, which was lovely of him. It was the worst weather he'd seen on around 20 years of working on a cruise ship, and at times it was some of the worst sea he'd ever seen.
I'll miss the ship, and I'll definitely go back. Probably not on that itinerary though...