I was a bit apprehensive doing a transatlantic cruise. This was our 20th cruise, we have sailed the most on Celebrity Solstice size ships, NCl a bunch of times, 2x on Princess, 2x Carnival, 2x Holland America, Disney, Costa and twice before on Royal Caribbean on Allure and Oasis. We have done two other Celebrity cruises within the last year for comparison purposes. We chose this ship because of its size and that it was only 2 years old. The ship was beautiful, very well designed and you never felt crowded even though we were at 93% capacity. The captain did a great job of skirting us around bad weather. We pretty much had sunny days and temperatures from85- 65 the whole time, with the exception of one day when it was misty and cloudy and bit of rain at one point in the day. The ship handled the waves really well and you really never felt any rocking.
The short version of this review is a great cruise with good food, great entertainment, wonderful ship and awesome ports and great staff. For more details read below.
The food. We were happy with our food experience overall. There are enough different non-pay options so that you don’t get bored even on a 14 day cruise. Dinner in the main dining room was the best experience we have had on a ship. We did anytime dining, but really ended up getting a set table on deck 3 by the window which was fantastic. We did go on the app once we were on board and booked set times for dinner. The most we ever had to wait was 10 minutes to be seated. Our waiter Vincent and assistant waiter Dewa were awesome, the best service we have received on a ship, appetizer, main & dessert within an hour. The appetizers were good with lots of variety, more than we have seen on other cruise lines. The entrees were good for the most part ie. Shrimp, lobster, salmon. I ate a lot of salmon on this cruise. Our meal the first night was the worst, we ordered prime rib and it was really not edible. Overall I thought the new menus lacked some basics on some nights, when I struggled to pick an entrée, but other nights there were multiple things I could have chosen. I found out near the end of the cruise that you can ask for roast chicken even if it doesn’t show it on the menu. Obviously Royal is doing what all the lines are, trying to save some money. The desserts were really good on some nights and some nights I chose not to have anything because the choices weren’t appealing. They always had your choice of ice cream, with the three most boring flavors vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Yet if you went up to the buffet they had butter pecan and other flavors that rotated.
The cabin was a good size, great closets, good bathroom. Thought it was a great idea that they didn't have a coffee table it makes the room more roomy. Awesome balcony with two chairs and ottomans with a small table in between. Now for the bad, the beds are too hard we asked for a topper and it still was too hard. The same goes for the pillows they were not comfortable. We asked for softer pillows and the ones our room steward brought weren't any better.
We absolutely loved Malaga. We walked into town it was maybe a ten minute stroll. If you are planning on going to the Picasso Museum buy your tickets ahead of time. There are two lines to get in one with tickets and one without, best to go early in the day. If you are planning to go to the Gibralfaro a good tip is to take a taxi up there and then walk down into the lower city. If you do only one thing in Malaga you should go to Alcazaba. It is really beautiful and leave yourself at least 1.5 to 2 hours to explore. You can buy a combined ticked for both. Buy it online and you will get in there faster.
Absolutely loved Valencia. Take a shuttle in the old town is no where near the port. Visit the different squares there are churches, museums scattered throughout. We were disappointed that the market was closed. One of the highlights for us that wasn't even on our things to do was visiting the old Post Office which is now a museum, free admission, you need to put your belongings in a locker. Make sure you go to the Silk exchange gorgeous building. We didn't get a chance to see the new town as we ran out of time.
We walked to the beach, then around town. We have been here before. Really pretty port
Took the cruise shuttle into town, then took a taxi for the water area to Palais Longchamp, which is beautiful It has two museums which are free, the gardens behind the palace are nice. We then walked back towards the water and stopped and had a wonderful lunch. We visited the museum at the waterfront, very interesting and great views it is located near where the shuttles are.
We took the port shuttle to the front of the port at around 8 am, then took a taxi to the train station. We purchased the cinque terre train cards 18.20 euro. We went to the furthest away stop first which was MonteRosso del Mare, then to Vernazza, then Monorola and then we did Rio Maggiore. The trains were very busy. They are a great way to get around and the train rides between each of the towns is about 5 minutes. We loved each of the towns and managed to eat some local delicacy at each. At about 5 pm we took the train back to La Spezia because we wanted to be back close to where the ship was. We walked from the train station through a main street that has shops and is pedestrian only. I was really impressed with La Spezia I would go back and stay so that we could get a chance to really experience it. There is a beautiful walkway near the beach lined with Palm trees. We were able to do the 4 out of 5 towns and had an amazing day.