“Wow, what a massive ship” as one older lady said to me. “It’s so wide!” It’s not just the width but also the length that takes you by surprise. You seem to be walking forever to get from one area to another. It is less open and free flowing than some older and smaller ships because they have been able to fit in more of everything – bars, shops, restaurants etc, which interrupt sight lines and stop you seeing where you’re heading. We did eventually find a route from front to back (on deck 6 port side). However, having gone up to our cabin (deck 14 aft) via the middle lifts, we were unable to use the corridors to reach our room as the bulkhead doors were closed, presumably as a Covid measure.
The exception of course is the atrium, where you really get a sense of the scale of the ship, and the huge three deck high windows allow you to fully appreciate the space and light created. Even here though you can’t please everyone. My wife described it as ‘a university common room’. A bit harsh because like everything else on the ship, it is bright modern and beautifully appointed. Lots of chrome, glass, glitz and glamour, elevating it well above any uni common room I have seen!
Can’t go any further without mentioning the impact of Covid. We got to the port ahead of our scheduled time thanks to an over zealous taxi driver. The porters seemed strangely disinclined to take our bags and there was no information about where to go to get the Covid test. Eventually we saw a long queue snaking round the side of the terminal building and having asked a couple of passengers, joined it. It took nearly an hour to get to the (indoor) testing area, most of which time was spent outside and not under any cover. Not a problem in the middle of summer if you’re fit and well, but I hope they devise a better system when the weather turns nasty. The testing itself ran smoothly and we had our test results in about 25 minutes. Overall time from arrival to boarding was about 90 minutes.
First impressions of the cabin were slightly disappointing. We were allocated a family balcony cabin (drop down bed and sofa bed), aft on deck 14, presumably because there were no families on this cruise (only for the vaccinated). Both of us agreed that it would be a tight squeeze for more than 2 people. The cabin felt narrow and unlike older ships, gone is the walk-in wardrobe. The wardrobe is in the room and very close (I would estimate about 15 inches) from the side of the bed, making it a really tight squeeze to get your clothes out, in fact so tight you have to take it in turns. There is a long hanging space for the ladies and a shorter one for gents plus 7 shelves, so the actual space available is fine for 2 people (it would be pretty miserly for 4).
The bathroom is small too, (although well appointed), but priority has been given to a large walk-in shower which is excellent. Both of us agreed that it closely resembles a touring caravan washroom, which is no bad thing, as caravan manufacturers are master of the art of using every last inch of space!
I have to give a quick mention to the bed itself which was wonderfully comfortable – I’d go as far as rating it one of the best beds I’ve ever slept in domestically or on holiday. My wife is a very light sleeper but even she slept in each morning. Everything else in the cabin is how and where you would expect, although shelves outside the wardrobe and deep enough for clothes are in short supply and we ended up stowing our underwear in a narrow cupboard next to the fridge. There is a very helpful night light low down on the wall outside the bathroom controlled by a master switch by the bed, helpful for those of us of a certain age who need to loo in the night! Each traveller has a bedside light, reading light, and underneath is a USB port.