First time cruiser and was in all honesty unsure if cruising would be my ideal holiday. Had spent a few weeks prior reading some reviews and Facebook group posts to learn what I could prior to departure and get some cruising tips. Some proved useful, others although useful, turned out to be more personnal opinions so I’m sure some of my report will be the same to any readers of my review.
Overall the organisation of the cruise by staff from embarkation at the port, to cabin staff, chefs, domestic staff, tour operators, bar and restaurant staff, everyone is fantastic. The only staff who seemed vague and less helpful were the Duty-Free personnel - they didnt seem as interested, more into selling, this is probably part of their job I guess, but I was less than impressed in this area whereas I was totally amazed by everyone else.
A subject we all place high on our priorities is FOOD. Where do I start with food? I certainly can’t fault it. On board is the full range from casual snacks, to high end dining. Snack shack is so handy for lots of reasons – quick familiar food people are used to, ready when you need it and ranging from fast food pleasures including burgers, fried chicken, fish and chips there were also healthy options of fruit pots, granola with yougurt, salad boxes and a selection of sandwiches and wraps all available to eat in or to take away. Great for tours off ship.
The Glass House during the day is pleasant and relaxed with a nice selection of salad, always a carving joint and snacks daily. The only thing that confused me here was the coffee normally in the All Inclusive - cappucino, latte was chargeable although I'd never seen anything to say this. It did have the standard coffee and tea machine available though. From 6pm a part of the Glass House becomes a pizza and tapas restaurant which are cool to share. Sharing plates of meats, cheese or a meat/cheese combo are an option and just be aware and you can order it all, not just a selection. Myself and husband enjoyed this location for food. It also extends its services at 21:30 to become the late-night food provider, again with a small but adequate choice of curry, chips and their accompaniment’s with salad and some sweet snacks too.
47 degrees - lovely a la carte restaurant with around half the menu as standard choices and the other choices varied over a period of time. It made it a nice dinner choice with waiter service and pleasant surroundings. It also served breakfast with a small buffet selection and a la carte choices including Full English, eggs and omelletes to order and varied cloices of french toast, pancakes etc. Breakfast seemed busy sometimes though, and sometimes, some, food arrived and wasn’t as hot as Id have preferred, but otherwise it was good and helps a bit with portion control as the food is plentiful from early till late.
Gallery 47 degrees - Italian menu with probably less change on the menu selection, but we managed to go 4 times and had a lovely meal every time. The antipasti were amazing and I could have eaten this 3-fold with some of the delicious bread on offer and been happy that was my meal!
Islands Buffet – The main restaurant and the busiest with the widest variety of food. I can only describe it as ‘standard buffet’ and don’t mean this in anyway derogatory. It offers what anyone who has been All Inclusive at a hotel on holiday would expect – lots of food choices to mix and match, salads, carved meat section, and a children’s selection, there was a station for dietary requirements which although I didn’t choose this food, looked to have at least a few choices every time I went past. Dinner time food seemed to have a theme that changed daily, from Mexican, Thai, Greek, Spanish and of course British with Roast Meat and all the trimmings. They also had an afternoon tea 3 – 5pm offering mini sandwiches and rolls with scones, jam and cream with cakes and desserts like crumble, strudel etc. I loved my scones from here. Something I noticed in the buffet was the plastic glasses were clean but so scratched that they never really looked that nice. Considering everywhere had plastic, the ones in Islands were by far in the worst condition, so much so, I didn’t have a drink in there but took a drink in with me from elsewhere.
Now accommodation, I think overall the accommodation is basic but sufficient for the needs. We were basic so no frills whatsoever, but there was plenty of space to sleep, wash and changeover from one activity to the next. We never spend much time in our room on any holiday so basic was fine. If you wanted to have a drink or spend time with friends/family together in your room something less basic would be better so I think this is a very personal subject which people will choose and pay for within requirements and budget. Irrespective, they were maintained well, cleaned properly and nothing was a problem for the hard working cabin staff.
The cleaning staff on board were always doing something, dusting staircases, polishing lift doors, stocking up on supplies and just keeping the ship in ‘tip top’ condition. All of them had a smile on their faces and never let you pass without a Good Morning/Afternoon or Evening. They are a credit to themselves.
Drinks availability within the All Inclusive was excellent, as were the barmen who were constantly busy mixing cocktails and mocktails, pouring beers, soft drinks and coffees as well as clearing and cleaning up. They still managed to chat with the customers and get to know them. We had many a chat with Milos and Georgio at the Pool Bar and others who impressed us a lot were Anthony, Renalyn and Ogen, well done all of you!
I used the Gym daily and it provided a very good service. Curtis who was the training professional on board put in lots of visibility to help gym users and also ran several classes – some complimentary, some chargeable and also seminars on several interesting topics these were held in the Live Lounge and were informative but laid back, he knew his trade very well and was clearly passionate about it.
We did use the Oceans Spa although we hadn’t planned to. Top Tip – don’t go booking too early as they issue offers of varying choices as the cruise progresses. I choose a Top to Toe Massage when it was on offer and had the best deep tissue massage from Eka.
Entertainment – There is a massive, diverse selection of entertainment on offer throughout the days. Something on for what must suit all age ranges and preferences frequently. It was a case of choosing what took your fancy and going along. I would say that on days ‘At Sea’ if the weather wasn’t warm there wasn’t too much for us once we had done the Climbing Wall, Crazy Golf and had a look in the Duty Free Shops. But that’s possibly our preferences and certainly not because there was nothing to do.
Tours and Excursions – since this was our first cruise we decided to book our day trips by selection and in advance. The organisation on board meant this did work and getting information beforehand was available and getting on & off ship, using the transport and meeting guides was meticulously organised. On a couple of occasions we didn’t go back to the ship when the tour ended. Instead, after informing the guide that we weren’t going back, we did a bit of our own thing and went back on our own. This was in the locations where it was merely a shot stroll from the centre to the ship. I enjoyed this as it gave us a good mix of organised and ad hoc. Everyone to their own on how much they book and plan beforehand.
I could type forever about the Cruise which in itself says a lot. I have glossed over some subjects because I didn’t want to be boring or voice my own opinion too much. A cruise is easily adapted to individual needs and requirements. I have decided that I would definitely do another cruise and most possibly with Tui/Marella.