We chose this cruise for its combination of cities plus the opportunity to have a beach day, so the fact that the captain deemed the seas too rough for tendering (debatable) on the day we were to visit Sir Bani Yas for our beach day was a huge disappointment. The itineraries for future cruises also include Khasab and it's a pity this port could not have been substituted when we abandoned Sir Bani Yas, as the itinerary ended up being too light on ports, with only 2 in addition to our departure port of Dubai, where we spent a disproportionate amount of time, 3 of the 7 nights.
Embarkation was fine, as was disembarkation at the end, although when we got back to Dubai there was a lot of confusion around the system for collecting passports and incorrect info was given around the need to get our passports twice in one day, which was not the case. Disembarking in Muscat where we arrived early due to the cancelled port was total chaos and it ended up being too late in the day to get off to do anything useful so we stayed on board, making the extra time there redundant.
Our cabin was satisfactory other than the damage along the base of the mirror which gave it the appearance of a cheap motel mirror. It was otherwise kept clean and the beds were comfortable.
I enjoyed the shows in the theatre when there actually were shows. It is a cop out to show movies on some nights. I also enjoyed the regular quizzes, but overall there was less entertainment than my previous cruise, which was with Princess, and one duo which performed regularly in the centrum and by the main pool really were not very good.
We got very tired of the constant Christmas music being played throughout much of the ship and used to search for sunbathing areas it didn't reach.
The food was good in the mytime dining in Tides on deck 5, providing faster service than the main seatings on deck 4. Our waiters were great and got extra veggies for us and/or extra starters, as we were surprised how small the portions were.
The Windjammer cafe food was quite good- nothing special, and near the end of the cruise I spoke to the manager about the grubbiness of the outdoor section, with stains from spilled drinks, etc, and dirty balcony glass. I felt overall the cleanliness of the public areas left something to be desired, from the dustballs under the seats outside the Tides dining room to the state of the toilet floors, which were messy even on embarkation day.
The only ship's shore excursion we did was the Abu Dhabi city tour which included the mosque, and we enjoyed it other than the rather pointless stop at the closed Louvre museum. The stunning mosque was a highlight of our entire holiday. There was then a mix up regarding the itinerary but to their credit, the tour providers included the Heritage village once they realised we had been told by the ship that it was part of the tour.
For our sea day my daughter paid an eye-watering $22 for 24 hours of the slower wifi, so anyone considering ship's wifi should definitely get one of the pre-sailing offers.
Despite the above criticisms, overall we enjoyed our cruise. Muscat was really beautiful and an interesting contrast to the modern cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We liked the food and the overall service. We had fun in the pools and on the water slide. We also enjoyed the stargazing with the informative cruise director. However, in the end we felt we had overpaid for what we got, i.e., £1002 for the two of us in an oceanview cabin, when many had paid £400 per couple for balcony cabins in a later sale. If we'd paid £400 I would have been happy with the value for money but at over £1000, having only had 2 ports of call (in addition to our starting port) I ended up wishing we had booked one of the upcoming cruises which make better use of the time by include Khasab, so there would be a minimum of 3 ports on occasions when Sir Bani Yas tendering gets cancelled.
The beds were comfortable and in general the cabin met our needs. The location was good as it was quiet but only a short walk to the centrum. It was fairly small but the seating area made it feel less cramped. The mirror needs repair and the hooks on the bathroom door were useless as nothing stayed on them.