We completed our 15 nights Northern Europe cruise which set sail from Southampton Port on 30 April 2019. There were 6 of us, my husband and I and 2 other couples.
After booking the cruise, I had cold feet when I read the many negative reviews on Cruise Critic. So I switched from a balcony room to an interior as I was not going to pay for a poor experience. However the whole cruise turned out to be unexpectedly good.
Embarkation started at 3 pm despite some passengers saying you could get a queue ticket when you arrive at Southampton. We were there at 11.30 am and checked in our luggage before walking out to Ikea for lunch. When we returned, embarkation had already started and we had to join a queue which took almost 30 minutes to clear.
Once on board, we headed to the activation machines to link our credit card to our cruise card. There was hardly any queue at the counter throughout our stay, which was good as we could have our queries attended to quickly. All the counter staff speak English and were quite polite.
The muster drill was quite well organised. We headed to the theatre where there was a staff briefing everyone. After that, we were lead to our muster station.
About 5 days before we disembarked, there was a talk about disembarkation in the theatre. Again the speaker was very clear when she briefed us. Just 2 days before we disembarked at Southampton, some officials from the British immigration came on board to have a "face to face" interview with us. Our passports were stamped and we could walk off the ship on day of disembarkation as we opted for self assisted disembarkation. I was quite worried we wouldn't be able to disembark in time to meet our driver but all ended all.
Speaking of entertainment, I must say it was lack lustre. Having so many nationalities on board it must have been difficult to plan any entertainment.
The ship is actually a shuttle ship as people embarked and disembarked at various ports. This was not too bad as there was no jam when we embarked and disembarked at Southamption.
The ship did not berth at La Coruna because of bad weather but made a stop instead at Vigo. The change in schedule was handled very well and an announcement was made throughout the ship, including our rooms. Notices were also sent to m our cabin quickly. Very professional.
We booked a Bella experience which was the most basic experience. No room service unless you pay for it. There was also no body lotion in the bathroom. But we had a kettle and tea and coffee making facilities in the room and that was a big bonus as we did not have to top up our drinking bottles every night. Another bonus was that breakfast and lunch were served in the main dining room everyday, whether it's a sea day or port day. In other cruise lines, there were breakfast and lunch in the main dining room only on sea days. Though no free drinks were served in the main dining room except during breakfast, it was not a big problem because we could order a bottle of plain water or go up to the buffet restaurant after our meal.
The menu in the main dining room changed everyday, except for breakfast, and it was well presented. The buffet restaurant also had a wide variety of food but the menu didn't change very much. Pizzas were good and they were very generous with the fruits although no berries were served. I am quite a fussy eater and am happy to say I am happy with the food served.
I didn't take any shore excursions from the ship so cannot comment about it.
The cabin was about 169 s.f., the largest of all interior rooms. It was big and square and had lots of storage space. The room steward was very helpful and he gave me extra hangers. He also kept the room very clean. This is the first time I am staying in an interior cabin and I am happy to say it was a good experience.
This was a tender port and my friend queued up early to get tender tickets. We booked a 3.5 hours tour around the island with Island Coachways. Only £20 each. Good tour around the island with a stop at a cafe. There were many tourist board staff at the port to help passengers.
There were many taxis at the port. We took a van tour with a driver who spoke reasonably good English and paid only 150 euros for 5-hour tour.
We arrived in Heathrow and took a National Express bus to Southampton Coach Station. Not many taxis in sight but when one came around, we asked him to call his taxi friends at the port to come over to pick us.
We decide to stay in Cadiz and took a tip based walking tour which started at the city hall. The guide Pablo was very good and he also recommended a good tapas restaurant at the end of the tour.
We took a van tour at the port and paid only 100 euros for a 4-hour tour.
We could not dock at this port because of poor weather. The ship docked instead at Vigo. There were also taxis at this port and we took a van tour which cost 80 euros for 3 hours.
From the port it was quite easy to walk into the city. Nothing very special about the city.
We booked a return port shuttle for 5 euros each and it took us to the nearest train station where we hopped on to a train into the city. We joined a walking tour which covered most attractions. There was a festival at Landungsbrücken and it was really crowded. Enjoyed ourselves.