We read , and foolishly believed the slogan” the most luxurious ship in the world, so promptly booked a Miami round trip, visiting Belize and Guatemala.
We flew to Miami, staying in the superb Biltmore hotel prior to our cruise.
Embarkation was a quick process, and we were welcomed onboard by smiling staff proffering small glasses of champagne. As it was lunchtime, we decided quickly to enjoy a light lunch and then to explore the ship . Lunch was adequate , buffet style, with no showpiece dishes to wow, but as we were hungry it mattered little that day, accompanied by a glass of wine.
After lunch, like most people we made our way to our cabin , a stern facing deck 7 standard stateroom. It was large, but very oddly decorated and furnished. A sombre dark brown pleather bed head stretched up and over the bed, not matched by the grey and black bedspread. Cream cabinets faced a large dark brown foam slab sofa, sitting on orange and beige carpets, with red and cream curtains separating the two areas of the cabin. It all seemed to be a 1980s throwback in decor, far from luxurious. A welcome bottle of champagne stood chilling, but we didn’t open it at that point. Our stern facing , metal fronted , balcony was furnished with two huge rattan chairs ,no footstools and a tiny table.
We explored the ship, loving the glamorously appointed public areas, the top deck sports areas and the lovely swimming pool, surrounded by sun loungers for sun lovers. We enjoyed the small deep infinity pool at the stern of the ship, always quieter and great for a dip.
Prior to joining the ship, we had made dinner reservations online for the speciality restaurants, especially enjoying the French Chartreuse, and the Asian Pacific Rim. Other restaurants were popular, as was the main dining room. The food was, on the whole extremely good, but we couldn’t understand why fish was always served overcooked and in tiny portions, especially when compared to the gargantuan steaks being served. We found the breads were dull, the desserts very average, but the cheeseboards were excellent, as were the daily wine selections. As our preferences are for European wines, the sommeliers were always happy to offer wines to our tastes. As a malt whisky connoisseur, my husband was disappointed by the selection offered in the bars, and we were disappointed by the port on offer.
As excursions were included, we had prebooked those that appealed in each port of call, tending to choose those of cultural or historical interest, the guides were fine, the transport the best available locally, often school buses being repurposed. We enjoyed the opportunities to revisit the rich Mayan history of the area.
Entertainment onboard was very mediocre, we felt, with the usual singing and dancing shows, little in the way of classical offerings, and comedians of limited appeal to international guests. The showroom was comfortable, with good sight lines. For an upmarket expensive cruise line, we felt they could have done better, especially compared to the parent company, NCL which has fabulous entertainment.
Comfortable , spacious but with oddly mismatched decor. The huge bed was comfortable the bed linen of high quality. We were astounded to realise that the large orchid on our dresser was artificial.... this is supposed to be a luxury line! A foam slab sofa was odd in a supposedly upmarket ship. We appreciated a walk in wardrobe, but were disappointed to realise that our cabin bathroom was shower only.... we expected tub and shower on a luxury ship.Occitan toiletries were provided , not a favourite perfume, but of good quality, always replaced before needed, by the discreet cabin attendant. Room service,which we used for daily breakfast, was excellent, prompt and delivered by pleasantly smiling staff. We quickly learned to specify exactly the quantity required, whether for tea, cold milk or a snack.
Was it worth the extra? Was it very luxurious.... we have to say no, it was overpriced , glitzy, but only glamorous in large public areas. In our experience, other 6* lines treat guests as valued customers.