I had never been on a cruise and I wanted to get that experience under my belt. When my daughter took a first cruise to the Mediterranean with friends, I decided I would book a cruise. Visiting Venice had also been on my list of things to do and this cruise helped me kill 2 birds with one stone. My DH, our son and his girlfriend completed the group.
Getting on was a breeze because we waited until around 2 p.m. to go board the ship and there were no lines. Disembarkation was just as easy as we did not have our luggage brought up for us and were able to get off quickly.
I found the cruise to be everything I hoped it would be! The ports were beautiful and the cruise ship experience was excellent as well.
I booked the thermal suite pass and used it everyday except one. It was well worth the price and helped to rejuvenate my body after our port visits. The fitness center was very well appointed. Great cardio machines, weight machines and free weights.
The food was adequate in the complimentary offerings. It wasn't great but it wasn't bad. I think I spent most of my time at the Garden Buffet because it was the closest to get to and they did change up the menu somewhat each day. Their staples, like omelets, sandwiches, Indian cuisine, fruit and salad offerings were all very good everyday. The juice offerings were watered down which is a practice that needs to be discontinued. I don't know how I feel about the flavored water offerings either. Aqua's flounder offering was very good to me but my DH's steak was less than Applebee's quality. Ginza's food offering was very small and you will leave hungry but it was pretty good. I did not do the sushi. I also did not do Versailles at any time while on the ship. O'Sheehan's was great all of the time.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 specialty restaurants that we went to - Cagney's, Moderno and Teppanyaki. They were all excellent.
Service throughout the duration of the cruise was well above par. Everyone smiled and my steward was wonderful and thorough with the cleaning. He remembered our names and addressed us by name whenever he saw us. I only had one experience with a 'not so nice' guest services attendant. No smile - no hello - just blah.
There was too much to do on the ship for my group. Because we got off and did quite a bit in ever port, we were usually too exhausted to make it to too many of the activities being offered; however we did make it to some of the shows and a few things as listed:
- Band on the Run - I personally did not see this but my son and his girlfriend did not like this too much. They mainly complained about the dancers.
-Paradis - I loved this show! Great energy, great singers and dancers. I loved this even though it may be a little risque for some.
-Vegas! the Show - Everyone in my group enjoyed this. The others more so than me. I thought it was repetitive and they didn't really pull off The Rat Pack impersonations. They tried though :-)
-Duo Yalba - AWESOME! I thought this duo and the band were the best. Very talented musicians playing a variety of insturments. I loved the pan flute and the bag pipes.
-Attended Karaoke and enjoyed it. They had a Karaoke contest that everyone wanted me to join but I did not have a full voice and declined. I did enjoy the Karaoke finale where a teen aged young lady tied with another man. It was a lot of fun and plenty of people came to the Karaoke finale!
-They had parties every night, a wonderful pool side band and a great jazz piano player at Gatsby's bar.
-There was an art exhibit and auction that I was surprised was being held on the cruise ship. Beautiful art was on display and I only wish I would have been able to buy some of the art.
- They had bingo games where the top prize was 3000, 4000, and also a free cruise. It was a lot of fun to participate in those as well.
Like I said before, the ports were excellent! We missed Dubrovnik due to a blown engine but I enjoyed every other port so much that it didn't matter if we missed the last one. I did want to go there of course but I was happy with what I had already experienced.
I did not book one excursion through the ship even though that was the suggestion by most everyone. I saved so much money and everything proceeded without incident.
If you do this cruise itinerary, I would suggest renting a car in Corfu, Greece. That was probably the highlight for me of the cruise because so many unanticipated things happened - we swam at Glifada beach because the water there was 6 degrees warmer than the other beaches on the island and talked with a wonderful British family that was vacationing on the beach; we ended up taking a wonderful boat excursion when we got to Palaiokastritsa which only cost 60 euro for the 4 of us for a 90 minute ride - we did the typical visit of the Achilleion palace which is beautiful and just drove around and shopped.
We did a speedboat tour in Kotor and bought pear and cranberry wine from the locals. Perast was beautiful and our guide was entertaining and knowledgeable.
We hired a driver when we got to Argostoli and had another beautiful experience. I will say the mountain roads were a little scary but oh so beautiful. Our driver took us near where his village was and to all of the usual stops. He was great and got a kick out of us nicknaming him 'Pauly D'.
I had already booked a half-day tour for Santorini and that driver turned out to be just as wonderful as everyone else. He was very accommodating and was really eager to share the knowledge about his island. It was such a beautiful tour and island. We were part of a rare rain shower occurrence while there as well. That happened at the end of our tour when we were supposed to be viewing the sunset. It was a heavy torrential downpour that lasted for about 10 minutes. I loved it!
We stayed in a min-suite and none of the four of us was uncomfortable. We had the divider that provided privacy and enough room to maneuver around. I loved the min-suite with the balcony and don't think I could do anything less than a balcony going forward.
All in all, this was an unforgettable trip that ranks right up there with my dream trip to Hawaii. Actually, it may surpass it. I would go back in a heartbeat but I got other places to see and be before that! Can't wait until my next cruise!
The mini-suite was a great size for 4 adults. We had plenty of storage space for our belongings and the sleeping accommodations worked out well. The had a divider to give us some privacy when sleeping. The bathroom was a great size. The balcony was rather small but it worked out well for all of us. The only thing I wish we had was 2 tvs - one for the sitting area and 1 for the bedroom area. It was a little hard to share a tv when we were in the room together resting.