Chose this cruise on the spur of the moment when we spotted a bargain fare. We drove down to Southampton and were quickly on board and exploring. Our first impressions were that the ship was in good condition. We headed up to the buffet for lunch. Having only been on larger ships my husband was surprised by the small size of the buffet and was looking for the rest of it lol. Having said that we found that there was plenty of choice and everything was hot and tasty.
Our cabin was a balcony on deck 9. Everything here was fine and the bed was very comfortable.
The dining was mostly very good. We had freedom dining and had no problems getting a table. We shared a few nights but we don't mind that and our table companions were so nice we shared with them again on the last night. Food was always good but the service was not as attentive as usual. We had to keep asking for the water to be topped up and service was very slow sometimes. One evening a table mate asked for a small portion of the main course of mussels as a starter and it was made very clear that the waiter didn't want to provide it. He was told that this would make everyone else's starter late . the waiter did agree to provide it and so i also asked if i could have the same and was then told the same thing about everyone else would have to wait longer for their starter . i pointed out that if the other man could have it then i didn't see why i couldn't. It did arrive and was possibly the best starter of the cruise. The main course took ages to arrive and only did after a word with the head waiter. We also ate in the beach house which we really enjoyed and would do again. The lava rock cooked fillet steak was amazing.
Drinks - fairly well priced and we had lots of onboard credit to use up BUT the cocktails were so very weak - I'm not much of a drinker and usually find one cocktail will effect me but on here it was as though i was drinking pop. Not worth the £6 -£7 price tag.
The entertainment was not so good. Fogwell Flax the comedian was on a few too many times - 3 evenings out of 7 is too much, We saw him once but didn't want to see him again. The Runaround boys were excellent and we saw them twice. Astonish was astonishing even though we have seen it on another ship - excellent. The quizzes were good but the cumulative quiz was only on one day - we turned up for the second sea day and it wasn't on- all a bit strange and no one seemed to know why it wasn't happening.
The service was OK, not as good as on other ships , Our steward was excellent but the dining staff were nowhere near as good as on other cruises - maybe the tipping policy change hasn't been good for them.
Ports were Amsterdam (about ship shuttle 45 mins away), Zeebrugge (shuttle to Blankenburg and then a 5 euro train into Brugge) and Hamburg (another shuttle). All were excellent and we had good weather so had a great time.
The aft pool was open and heated and the changing rooms had a sauna and steam room in them which were FREE ! I made much use of this and it was fab being up on deck in the hot tubs while others were wandering around in their winter coats.
Pricing Policy. We booked a select fare which is more expensive buy about £200. This gets you credit, choose your cabin, shuttles and choice of dining. Although we got a lot of onboard credit We couldn't choose our cabin and more annoying all of the shuttles were free to everyone (If that's a benefit to select then they should be charging the saver fare passengers). The only benefit to us was the choice of dining and i really don't think that booking select is worth it unless you get all of those benefits. We were struggling to spend the credit and we wouldn't have spent anywhere near as much if we had booked the saver fare with no credit. Moral of the story is do your research and only book select if the benefits are useful to you.
Reading this back it looks as though we didn't have a good time but Overall it was a very good cruise, we met some lovely people and had a very relaxing time, We have already booked a black friday bargain for next year.
Shuttle in and just a wander around.
Loved this, very pretty and looking forward to visiting it again