The Neptune Lounge is the principal entertainment venue, stretching across the aft of the ship on Deck 6, with banquettes alternating with single seating and small round tables. They are close together so there can be problems with the view, as performances take place on the dance floor in front of the stage, which is occupied by the Black Watch Orchestra. The main attraction is the Black Watch Show Company, which presents production shows throughout the cruise in two performances to cover both dinner sittings. A new show company joined the ship for our cruise, and we were able to see glimpses of their rehearsals as well as two productions. Both were highly professional and very entertaining, especially on the British night when the Lounge was decorated with dozens of Union Jacks, but was outdone by the show's finale, a blaze of red, white and blue which was the most OTT we have ever seen, but in a good way. The Neptune also hosts comedians, singers, magicians, and classical music performances as well as game shows, and ballroom dancing classes. Before and after the evening's entertainment the dance hosts are there to partner passengers around the floor.
The Marina Theatre on Deck 3 shows feature films, and has been upgraded with the latest 3D technology, enabling the showing of 3D films and other programmes. It hosts various events daily such as singing for fun and enrichment lectures, and special events such as the Kirker Music Festival on our cruise.
Golf putting, darts, bridge, deck quoits, shuffleboard, and carpet bowls are some of the regular activities around the ship, while there are the usual quizzes and a daily flutter on bingo available in the lounges. The casino also offers free teaching sessions in roulette in the afternoons.
Entertainment and music is mainly in the bars and lounges but there is hosted dancing in the Neptune Lounge, and evening quizzes, usually in the Morning Light pub. The casino consists of one roulette table and one blackjack, open from 9 p.m. until late, but very few customers used it on our cruise.
The various bar areas have been refreshed and some relocated during the refurb. The all-inclusive drinks package is excellent value at £15 per person per night, bookable in advance. In the bars this includes a selection of soft drinks served by the glass, a choice of three red, three white and two rosé wines served by the glass, and selected house spirits. In the restaurants and buffet areas the drinks package includes 'the bar manager's selection', which includes soft drinks and the wines mentioned above, and selected branded beers in cans. Guests with the all-inclusive upgrade can also save 50% on premium drinks.
Morning Light Pub (Deck 6): In its new position replacing the Braemar Lounge, this pub has new furniture, including luxurious sofas and armchairs in autumnal shades,and a long new bar.
Neptune Bar (Deck 6): This is the new namefor what was formerly called the Morning Light Pub, at the entrance to the Neptune Lounge.
Lido Lounge (Deck 7): This lounge has had an extensive overhaul, with new furniture, including brilliant stripy armchairs, and blue carpetsthroughout, as well as the installation of a full width sliding door to the aft. It's the liveliest bar on the ship, with different music groups playing throughout the evening until 1 a.m.
Marquee Bar (Deck 9, aft): This bar provides deck service for drinks and is the occasional venue for deck parties.
Observatory Lounge (Deck 9, forward): This lounge has received a refresh to the décor and fittings, and as its name suggests, is an ideal spot for watching the waves, with piano music throughout the evening until around midnight.
There are two swimming pools, one on Lounge Deck with a Jacuzzi and exercise pool, and a smaller pool and Jacuzzi on Marquee Deck.
10 golf nets and a tennis court are situated on Deck 9.
On Deck 10 there's a large area with comfortable sun loungers and chairs, and plenty of space to relax in peace and quiet.
A beautifully appointed library on Deck 7 is well stocked with books and is very popular. There's a card room also on Deck 7. On Deck 5 is Guest Relations, which has been renewed to be more inviting and user friendly for guests, making it the focal point and hub of the ship. The future bookings desk, shore excursions desk, photo gallery, and two shops stocking gifts and souvenirs as well as clothing, jewellery and cosmetics are also on Deck 5, as is the self-service laundry. The Internet centre is on Deck 7, and guests can use their mobile, tablet or other Wi-Fi enabled devices by connecting to Wi-Fi once aboard. Prices range from 30 minutes pay as you go for £13 to seven days unlimited for £63, which will be charged to the guest's on board account.
The Atlantis Spa on Deck 4, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. is a haven of serenity, with treatment rooms, a stylish hair salon, and male and female changing rooms. Prices range from a 30 minute facial for £20 to a 75 minute Thai massage for £67 and a 60 minute luxury pedicure for £30. The sauna and steam room is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. We sampled the 60 minute facial (£60) and the 60 minute Thai massage (£60) and found both enjoyable and relaxing. There's a Pick 'n Mix special offer of any three 20 minute treatments for £55.
The large and lavishly equipped Fitness Centre on Deck 10 has treadmills, rowing machines and weights, and a dance studio for aerobic sessions and dance lessons. There's a variety of classes costing £5 each, including yoga, stretch and relax, and Pilates.
There were only adults on our cruise, but a "Little Skippers" club has been introduced on all four ships, where parents and grandparents will be able to leave their children aged five to 11 in the care of a team of friendly hosts and hostesses. During peak holiday season they will arrange a variety of family orientated activities, including arts and crafts sessions, deck games, treasure hunts, quizzes, cookie and pizza making in the galley, games evenings, swimming classes and more.
All the events are advertised in the Little Skippers Club's mini version of the Daily Times, and separate kids' pool times are also provided. The Little Skippers Club also welcomes children under five, but parental supervision must be provided at all times. The club operates subject to minimum numbers being achieved.
Fred. Olsen regrets that there is no babysitting service.