Planning on a vacation for more than two years, roommate wanted to go on a transatlantic cruise instead of Caribbean to knock things off her bucket list. Was in a Club Balcony Suite, which was nice but lacking in power or USB ports near the bed.
Leaving NYC was easy, but after three or four days at sea, the Atlantic Ocean in April can be a little rough, so 15-20 ft seas and 40-50 kt winds can make outdoor on deck activities difficult or be cancelled. Been on a transatlantic cruise before and have worked in Alaska, so not a problem, but some people were bouncing off the walls and many services were curtailed. Took a day or so to realize and take the empty hangers off the closet rail as in the rough seas, they kept on banging into the closet wall and shower door needed to be kept shut with the magnetic strip to keep it from opening and closing on each wave.
Boat was probably only a 1/3 full, so no waiting in line for any restaurants and service was quick. One place I did have to wait a little was at Sugarcane Mojito bar as this bar serves both Cagney's and Moderno with only one bar tender. She was doing her best to keep up with both restaurant and bar orders. Saw a restaurant/bar manager come in and start washing glasses as it was getting that backed up. That bar tender was great and friendly even with all the work. Cagney's, Le Bistro, and Sushi were very good and will probably eat there again on the next cruise.
Nice cabin, could use outlets near the bed. Reading lamp near bed was located in a way cabin mate would hit her head on it more than a few times during the cruise. I hit my head on it also. The TV was rather small for the room, expected something more than a 13-16" LCD. I know I'm not meant to be spending time in the cabin watching TV, but I've seen bigger on Jewel, Epic, and Sky. Enjoyed the complimentary breakfast, saved time from going to the buffet. The cabin steward, Lito, exceeded all expectations.
The Azores were more lush and interesting than I thought they would be. Was fortunate with good weather the Fire Lake in the interior was visible during the tour as was told that it can be covered in fog or low clouds most days. Stopped at the unique pineapple plantation/nursery. Wish the cruise would have allowed for some of the mini-bottles of pineapple liquor or even the canned pineapple to be brought abroad, as they would have made excellent gifts. Been to Madeira before and the charming countryside on the north side of the island reminded me of that and seemed like a nice place to have a leisurely and easy vacation. Did walk a little bit in Ponta Delgada after excursion, but ended up getting back on the boat after a few blocks.
Been to Lisbon before and really like the use of the trams in the very narrow streets in the Alfama district. Great food and the amount of English spoken with the people there is amazing. Very easy to get around Lisbon.
Seville is very beautiful and easy to get around. Visited during the annual Spring Fair where many people were dressing up in traditional dress riding in horse drawn carriages. Tapas was wonderful and tried a few things I would never try at home like ox tail.
Never spent much time in Malaga before, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Went to the Auto Museum which was nice and walking through the old part of town was great. Having tapas in the square outside the Alcazaba was perfect. Malaga has a nice beach, but it was too cold to enjoy that.
Didn't get to spend enough time in Valencia to get a feel for it. Went to the aquarium, which is definitely worth a visit. Most of it is underground. Would have like to have spent more time in the old part of the city.
Been to Barcelona before, and to have a good visit, one would need at least two to three days here. So much to do. The city is beautiful and relatively easy to get around with public transit. Tapas was great and even had a mojito that was better than ones in Havana.
Spent a little time in Cannes, as the shore excursion was to St Raphael, a seaside vacation town eastward along the coast before St Tropez. Very pretty drive along the coast. Most of the famous beach front boulevard in Cannes was not accessible as crews were setting up tents and spaces for the annual film festival.
Florence is a wonderful city full of art in the museums and in the architecture. The city is about a 90 minute drive from the port. Chose a "on your own" excursion as I've been to Florence before and been to the Uffizi galleria. Wanted to go to the Palatina galleria on the other side of the river and had an excellent Florentine steak lunch. The steak was expensive, but so worth it. Found and bought many leather gifts for family and friends in the numerous small stores along the side streets.
Rome is probably a wonderful city, but trying to see the highlights in less than 8 hours was very busy and probably the equivalent of drinking from a fire hose. Probably a day and a half would be the minimum to visit things here at a reasonable pace. So much to do, so much to see, just wow. Probably also would not want to visit in the Summer, as even though it was early May, it was starting to get a little hot, but that may have been due to the pace of the excursion. Also the traffic was something to marvel at with the large buses moving through some of the old streets and some of the gridlock encountered. Was also amazed the traffic flow didn't produce more accidents than the few we saw.