Horizon Cruise Review by fifescotland
- Sail Date: November 2018
- Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
Our travel agent warned us that this is an old ship, that we're not paying much to travel with, and to set our expectations accordingly. We read through details of the ship and noted the key differences - that there is one main dining room, no choice of restaurants, and only a small selection of bars. We also noted that entertainment is in Spanish.
We both absolutely loved this cruise. It is one of the most relaxing cruises we've ever had - and we will definitely be booking Pullmantur again. However, this cruise will not be for everyone, and it's important to appreciate that this Pullmantur is different - not necessarily better or worse.
I will make some comments that seem judgemental - they are. These are my honest observations, and your feelings on the subject are likely to be different:
The line is not American - which is strange, since Royal Caribbean own 49% of it, apparently.
The passengers on Pullmantur are far less entitled than on American lines such as Norwegian and Royal Caribbean - they are happier, more care-free, and I have not seen the entitlement and rudeness shown to staff that I have witnessed on other lines. The staff seem more relaxed, too.
There is no tipping - gratuities are paid with your cruise fare, and are not mentioned at any point during the entire cruise. On the rare occasion you have to pay for something, there isn't even a tipping line on the receipt!
Inclusive means inclusive - you simply ask for a cava, and are given a cava. Nobody takes your card - there is no receipt presented in a folder, there is no opportunity for tipping. You just get your drink, a smile, and you're on your way. This is far more relaxed.
Coffee - any variety - is free. I always resented 'speciality coffee' being charged for even with a premium drinks package on Norwegian. On there Horizon, there is a large (and overstaffed!) coffee shop called Cafe Cafe, which offers a variety of teas and coffees (as well as cocktails, and other alcohol) for free. It's a really relaxed environment.
Photos - they barely bother. It's great! With other lines, you're harassed every damn night at dinner, every time you get off the ship, every time you get on the ship. We had one photo for getting on board, and one at dinner, and that was it - we never saw a photographer again. Ideal.
Food - it's not American. There are no comforting piles of crap. It's largely Mediterranean, sensible portions, and decent quality. I have a food intolerance, and felt really looked after - I can recommend this line for coeliacs. Even at breakfast there is a gluten free area with cakes, bread, a dedicated gluten free only toaster, cereals, etc. They can make the usual adaptations to standard meals, but it's nice not to need to ask.
See where I'm going here? It's not an Amercian line, and they don't nickel and dime you as though you're on one.
So, that's all the things I love about Pullmantur. On to some drawbacks:
Entertainment - this isn't an issue for me, but I know this is important to many cruisers. If you don't speak Spanish, then you will be disappointed. There are no broadway shows. There are things on in the theatre - no idea what, they're all in Spanish.
Gym - this one did irritate me, but, it is what it is - it's crap, and despite limited space, it could be better. There are a few cardio machines - treadmills, static bikes. The bikes are showing their age, and I could feel one of them slipping, this needs proper maintenance. There is a good selection of free weights, but the benches are cramped, so it's just as well the gym wasn't busy on my visits. The choice of machines is bizarre - there are two entirely pointless goodgirl-badgirl machines (leg adducter machines!), which really aren't a good use of space. Replacing them with cables would give far more resource in the small space.
Rooms - a mixed bag! First, I loved the space in my room, although I don't think it can be much larger than a standard ocean-view, it felt bigger, and there was loads more storage, not to mention a proper desk. It feels dated, but solid. The bathroom.... it's functional, it's clean - but looks dated. I can live with clean but dated, however, some people cruise for luxury, and the bathroom... well, it's a bit budget motel. But then, that's the price bracket you're paying.
Casino - I hate the things; they're vulgar. The casino on this ship is tiny, and for once, is non-smoking! I have nothing nice to say about casinos anyway, but if I was into them, this casino would be underwhelming. Given that few people seemed to use it, clearly other passengers feel the same.
That's it for drawbacks.
Some random observations:
I love the staff. They are kind, honest, and genuine. They do not have the false happy-smiley thing going on with American lines. No disinterested "How are you" type questions. They provide efficient, friendly, polite service, without the faux-customer service you'll see elsewhere. They will go out of their way to help you - even when you don't ask for help. For example, bar staff will often recommend a free house spirit rather than a premium drink.
Overall, I don't feel sold to - I feel I have been on a relaxing holiday. We will be sailing with Pullmantur again, but not exclusively. They are not a premium line nor a luxury line - they're an honest company that'll provide a relaxing holiday.
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