Chose this cruise because of the hot deal of $400pp, the timing was perfect for us, and we had a need to pamper ourselves with downtime and get away from the awful year we had endured. Planned to relax in the sun on our balcony and while away the hours. We looked forward to a couple of familiar ports and good food and warm weather. The tour of Italy menu for the dining room interested us also. We figured we couldn't go wrong. Well, that was a huge assumption, it turns out.
First off, the kudos... Embarkation was an absolute dream. Ran our hand luggage through the scanner, walked over to the "line" to the desk attendant, who checked our passports and tickets, stamped the latter, and sent us on our way. There was the usual stop we bypassed for the embarkation photo, then up the ramp and onto the ship and down to our awaiting cabin! We have never seen anything like it. We met our cabin steward, a very pleasant young man with a wonderful smile. Our ship didn't sail until 11 pm. We boarded shortly after 2:30, and were told the buffet was ready on the lido, and we could pick up our key cards in our open cabin. It was great. We stowed our baggage, went to explore the ship. Our neighbors on either side of our balcony were chain smokers, and constant coughing hackers, which severely impeded our enjoyment of the balcony suite. Surely the ship could do better placing non-smokers together. An occasional smoke, okay, but this constant smoking and coughing was nauseating.
The ship itself was beautiful, very clean public areas, a comfortable theater with surfaces for beverages, just lovely. The casino was large and there was a glass-enclosed smoking area right there. Two bars on either end of the casino. There was a nice series of shops with the usual fare of jewelry and watches, tobacco and liquor, cruise clothing and overpriced goods for sale with huge discounts! Plenty of $25-30 tshirts and Tommy/CK/guess-branded stuff. Key rings and magnets $3-$10. Everything we don't buy. We walked through the wine bar and peeked at the dining room and ended up at the lido buffet for lunch. No alcohol was sold other than at the bar, where there were crowds of people waiting to order. This was another problem, if you will: no table wait staff at the bars, you had to go order and pick up your own. That said, it sure saved us money! Between the two of us, we had exactly eight drinks on this ten day cruise! I also noticed an area with signage posted that to use that area you had to pay for rental of the chairs. There was a small putting green with torn turf, and a tiny splash pool and outside playground area suitable for very young children.
Our cabin was our first balcony cabin after a decade or more cruise vacations. The fare was for any balcony or inside cabin, and the cabin assignment was chosen by the cruise line. We were aft on the starboard side, about four cabins from the back of the ship. The noise from the engine was noticeable but not a challenge. Cabin included a large vinyl couch with two storage drawers, a lengthy countertop with a cushioned bench and vanity lights opposite. The usual two twin beds into a king bed, comfy sheets and very warm duvet. Two pillows with cases, and two pillows from the drawer without cases. Standard bathroom with shower, two closets and a third with shelves and the safe. There were two shelves at the far end of the countertop, a small cabinet with a shelf, a minifridge stocked and four drawers, one with the hairdryer. Our cabin had a few issues with the toilet not flushing, rectified in timely fashion after we notified our steward or called guest services. We also had a power outage along one wall, no reason, the whole wall just shut off while we were reading. There was a small flatscreen tv mounted to the wall. Closed circuit tv regarding the ship took up several channels, there was a fox channel with comedies and movies that repeated, and another channel with repeats of little house on the prairie and Seinfeld, again, freezing up and sound problems. There were three intermittent black and white American tv stations from Florida, frequently freezing up or non-existent. Other channels in Italian - no news or weather channels.
We have been here before. Lots of excursions can be purchased inexpensively right at port gares, including horse-drawn carriages and public transportation to beaches. Wander through town and stop to watch the woodcarvers and needle crafters at the straw market, or just find a comfy spot to people watch.
We didn't see much of the port as we had a bus tour booked.
Nice walk to the shops from the ship. Turtle River Park is nice, would recommend jam-fusion restaurant for a wonderful meal. Lots of shops competing for dollars with same merchandise and highly varied prices.
We like wandering the shops and malecon. Nice eateries, plenty of high pressure tour guides. We just hang out and people watch..