We were a family group of six, siblings and spouses, and for all of us a first time. It seemed good value but you’ll pay hefty prices for services, drinks and excursions so be cautious about your budget.
It’s an old boat but quite charming with teak decks and some quirky features. It’s difficult to fault the staff who work extremely hard and are almost all polite, friendly and helpful. The exception are the reception staff who, apart from one individual, were unhelpful and abrupt. They seem to need more training in customer service.
This was a very staid and generally fairly boring cruise. The customers are on the whole very elderly, and, on the round British cruise, almost all British. The activities are limited and I found them uninspiring. Bad lectures, boring games and quizzes. The performers for the evening show work very hard but the staging leaves a lot to be desired and sound system is poor and flattens the voices of the singers. Take several good books or something to do for the lengthy periods at sea.
The food - what can I say- two weeks of very boring and mostly bland food. I’m a vegetarian and the options are v limited. For example, spinach and pasta swamped in bechamel served with chips. I eat fish - but served with relentless monotony with sliced boiled potatoes and carrots. Two weeks of the same meal :(. Meat eaters complained of tough, leathery meat and we were often served luke warm or cold food. We had a booked table in the evenings but ate buffet meals breakfast and lunch. These are better but cafes often v overcrowded and no seats. There’s always bread and butter puddling and custard at lunch time and warm scones for tea. But a buffet salad for a vegetarian - chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumber, olives and cold Brussels sprouts every single day. A couple of slices of cheese. I was desperate for fresh food and leafy veg.
Excursions are well organised but expensive. And not very adventurous. If you don’t book an excursion, some ports, Cork for example, mean lengthy complementary bus transfers to get into the city; Lerwick is a short walk from the dock; Kirkwall has a v efficient free bus. Mull was a tender, but v lengthy waits to get onto one if you wanted to go ashore because passengers on excursions take priority. Honfleur a shuttle bus but v close; Bristol a long way from the port, Dublin 30 minutes in shuttle but easy to do; didn’t go into Belfast but it was also a shuttle similar to Dublin.
It’s decent size and comfortable. Plenty of wardrobes. Small tea/coffee facilities. But only one seat so one of you has to sit on the bed. Impeccably clean and the cabin steward was excellent. Minor glitches- a broken key and loose toilet seat - were sorted out promptly. Plenty of towels, free liquid soap in shower. Beds are fine. Walls not very soundproof so you hear neighbours TVs etc. TV a bit limited - we didn’t watch much.
No WiFi - it seems to be a scandalous price- so you’ll only get connectivity near the shore.