I am rating this cruise Excellent, basically due to the Itinerary. You are in Venice, Split, Santorini, Mykonos, Dubrovnik, Ancona, and back to Venice. Here are the pluses of the cruise ship. It's a smaller cruise ship compared to the "mega ships" out there today, and that's the type of ship I personally like. I do not care for the super large ships. It reminded me of old world cruising. The ship is not new, but it was very clean and well maintained for the most part. The international flavor/mix of the guests on board, we particularly enjoyed. Although language could be an issue at times, but we did find some english speaking folks on board from the UK, Ireland, Australia, etc. Quite nice.
At first, once I studied the ports of call, I was concerned there was not enough time in each of them (after all, we always want "more") but to be honest, it all worked out quite fine. Even with the shorter time in Mykonos. The times we had to tender and or dock, were well organized and were very seamless. Embarkation was a little clustered, we got there shortly after 12noon, and apparently so did everyone else :) After about 30 minutes, the lines moved and it was much more organized. We were onboard about 1pm give or take. Our Cabin was just about ready at that time, and we met our Cabin Attendant...he told us to come back in about a 1/2 hour and he'd have our cruise cards for us. Sure enough he did. In the meantime, they had a buffet open up on Deck 11, so we went up there, grabbed a bite and went to the Capri Bar (which turned out to be our favorite bar on the ship). We got to know the Bartenders and Servers right away, and they became best buddies before you knew it. They would see us coming and no matter how busy they were, they would always sneak us our drinks before others.(We did tip them from time to time but we were also very nice to them. As you can imagine, not all guests are pleasant. Anyway, after we got out cruise cards, we went down to the Reception desk and activated our cards with a credit card for any "extras". We did by the Drink Package (we got the middle package, for we didn't need the top shelf) and it turned out to be a wise choice. I strongly suggest if you enjoy your adult beverages. The prices (for those who do not want to buy a package, were averaging 6.50 Euros per drink. With the drink package, all beverages were comped, ie: bottled waters, soft drinks, cappuccinos/espressos, etc.
Cabin- We were on Deck 10, cabin 1096, balcony. I strongly suggest Balcony cabins if you can afford them. It adds to the space of your cabin and with such beautiful scenery to take advantage of, we utilized the balcony a lot. The bathroom was a standard cruise ship bathroom. The shower was a little challenging for a 6'2 guy, but I managed. There's plenty of storage space for luggage, drawers, nightstands, etc. The cabin has both 110 volt and 220 volt electric current. The bathrooms have a built in hair dryer.
There was a TV in the room, fairly good choice of programs if you wanted to chill in the cabin. Overall, not a bad sized cabin. I would of liked to upgrade to a suite so we could have a sitting area, however, we survived.
Dining-Now, we had chosen the "your choice" dining for the dining rooms. We only ended up using it for one night, on "Gala Night". We were using the Buffet up on Deck 11 95% of the time. We went for the Gala night, the dining room was quite nice and that old world style, but the meal was a bit lack-luster. The portions were quite small and the dessert, for a gala dinner lacked imagination. So, after dinner, we went back up to the Buffet! We found that the Buffet had pretty much everything you could want. Somethings better than others, but over all, compared to other cruise lines I have been on, we really liked it. They also have a cafeteria style "Pizza station" and a Hamburger/Hotdog" station. They were quite popular and they worked out great if you wanted a quick snack (god forbid the buffet should be closed, haha). The only days the buffet was really crowded were the 2 At Sea days. Get there when it opens. They also had freshly tossed/prepared pasta stations available for lunch those 2 days at the Capri Bar. They were great!
Entertainment- We didn't partake in any of the entertainment ie: theater stuff. We did enjoy the bands that played on deck though.
Service- WE were nice to them and they were MORE than nice to us. We did witness some really rude behavior by people to some of the wait staff, just because that's how people are, and we felt bad. Think that's why we were extra nice. Proved to work out in our favor. We ordered room service for coffee/croissants each morning and they were always punctual if not a little early. Loved it.
Ports- Shore Excursions. We are very seasoned travelers and like to just do things by ourselves, but the one excursion I wish we DID take advantage of was the tour of the Caves in Ancona. It looked really cool. Ancona (your last port) is a sleeply old shipping port, so there was not much to see in the town, although we found a nice place to enjoy some wine and tapas. In Split, we took advantage of a taxi offering a city tour for 30 euros, and it was all of an hour, we liked that. The other ports, we just walked around and entertained ourselves. Now, one thing I will tell you. The early arrival in Santorini, is a GOOD THING. Reason being, you have to wait in line for the Tram to the top. We were like the first tender off the ship, and we zipped right up to the top (it's 6 Euros) and had a nice late breakfast and had a amazing view overlooking the harbor and the sites of Santorini. There's a myriad of places. Anyway, reason being early was best, all of a sudden, you saw all these cruise ships coming. By the time we came back down from the tram ( we decided to go down around 1230pmish) and the line was insane to get UP the tram. MSC also had a nice touch at the boarding spot for the tender. They offered nice cold towels/waters/juices, while you waited. Lovely. The other ships i didn't see that.
Mykonos! Although we arrived at around 7pmish, it was still light out. Plenty of time to walk around, enjoy the little village. We had a bite to eat, a a drink, then found a nightclub and a couple bars on the water front by where we came in. Jackie'O's was our favorite. We say outside and watch the people. It's a gay bar by the way and we are a gay couple...but it's a lovely place and the staff was super nice. We ended up hanging there until about midnight, then tendered back in. Would of been nice to be there a little earlier, but we loved it.
Ancona--- Small seaport...not much to do, we noticed folks stayed on board, or did the excursions. It's a quick walk in to the center of town. It was nice.
Disembarkation was very well organized. We docked in Venice around 7am. Our cabin group was to meet up in the Sinfonia Lounge and we left around 9:10am, and in to the departure hall to collect our bags. Pretty simple.
About the ship- The ship is very clean, and again, reminded me of an old world cruising style. (I sailed on the ORIGINAL LOVE BOAT, The Pacific Princess, so I have been around while:). I would say that the Sinfonia Lounge and the Manhattan Bar on Decks 5 and 6, seemed a little dated. Since the weather was so great, we loved being out at the Capri Bar on Deck 11 the best. We didn't care for the "Irish Pub" so much, but if you are a beer lover, they have a ton of different beers.
Shopping- The shops had a lot to offer, but it was in a bit of a funky area. Think they are trying to offer more specialty shops with the limited space. However, we were not there to shop...we wanted the ports. They did have some duty free sales, but again, we were not in the market for anything.
There were more Children than I thought there would be, but the Europeans tend to travel with the families. The pool area is QUITE nice and has a water park for kids. We didn't hang out at the pool, but we did up on deck 12 if and when we wanted. We didn't want to be around the little darlings.
To sum it up, we really enjoyed it. I ignored the reviews and decided to just see what it's all about, and my partner and I had a fantastic trip. It is what you make of it. I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat! Enjoy!!!
Great Cabin. It was nice being on Deck 10. It was easy for us to get just about anywhere we needed. It had good closet space. Now, we didn't bring an excessive amount a clothing, we were creative so we didn't need a ton of space, but with what they offered in the cabin it was just fine.
We stayed 3 nights in Venice before our cruise, so we did not sign up for any excursions. We toured Venice on our own.
We bought an hour city tour by private taxi, who took us around the city of Split. We were picked up at the Promenade (center of town) and he took us around the area. We paid 30 Euros each for it. It was fun. Takes you to a great overlook atop the city, where you get stunning views of Split. There's also an ancient jewish cemetary up there that we walked through. Very cool.
We are seasoned travelers with experience in Santorini, so we struck out on our own. Took a jeep/bubby to Oai and walked around Thira, enjoyed a late Breakfast and a snack before going back down the tram.
This is another town we did not take the excursions. We ventured out on our own.It's a small town, that is easily walkable. Many lovely restaurants on the Wharf, and bars/clubs, all within the immediate area. Great vibe. Loved Mykonos.Would of loved to stay longer.
You are taken to the center of Dubrovnik at the entrance to the Old City. Spectacular!!! You can walk through the old city, and walk up to the top of the walled in areas, for spectacular views. We thoroughly enjoyed walking around in the walled in city. Had a bottle of wine at one of the local cafe's and enjoyed the people watching. Loved Dubrovnik.