Beautiful ship, great facilities but not GLBT friendly
GENERAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE SHIP:
The ship has undergone a fairly recent (2010) extensive refit, so most facilities and the appearance of them is still pretty good. The price paid by passengers was a variable feast, the best deals being of the "last minute" variety, those who booked early getting the worst of it. That, of course, is all about loadings on a particular cruise; cruise lines will do almost anything to fill their ship if it looks under-subscribed. In the end, we sailed about 200 passengers short of a full house.
The external appearance of the ship is pristine white, and it's well maintained appearance continued to the interior. At sea, it handled most seas quite well, but became uncomfortable in moderate seas on the port or starboard bow and the sick came bags out. The ship's officers were decked out in white as British pukka. The hotel staff were less formal and many of the passengers even more so, some turning up to dinner in the restaurant shabbily attired in thongs and singlets and were seated.
WOULD YOU CRUISE THIS SHIP AGAIN:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR STATEROOM:
We had an "ocean view" stateroom on Deck 10, starboard side.. It size was excellent, the bedding adequate but the bathrooms required some contortion to use the toilet. The amenities were advertised as up-market toiletries, but that turned out to be hospitality soap and a single pump pack containing body wash/shampoo/conditioner on the shower bulkhead. No tea and coffee making facilities, but there was a working bar refrigerator which was handy to store late night/early morning snacks from the buffet.
There is Wi-fi on the ship, at a price, but it was not available in the cabins unless proximate to a public are fitted with wi-fi access. At sea, 2G mobile phone coverage was provided via MCS throughout the ship, cabins included, so there was no need to resort to the ship's telephone service.
A desk, chair and a single standard 240v power outlet completed the cabin facilities. There was an additional US style 110v power outlet in the cabin if anybody had a device that could use it.
HOW WERE THE PUBLIC SPACES:
The public areas of he ship flow around a central atrium, populated at various levels by cafés, front and tour desks, shops and one bar, the Mix or "Blue" bar on deck 6. The other bars were on Deck 7, deck 8 (child free zone) ,deck 12 and the dome on deck 14, though there was a drinks service on deck 5 of the atrium.
Two restaurants, one self service (the Plantation - deck 12) and the other (the Waterfront - deck 7) provide the principal victualling. Two pools on deck 12, one adults only with a swim-up (wade up, actually) bar, and a kiddies pool aft on deck 9 with jacuzzis for the adults only aft on deck 8.
All facilities were well maintained, clean and comfortable. The theatre provided the main evening entertainment in mostly 2 shows (1930hrs and 2130hrs but get there early or you'll stand at the back).
Once oriented, getting around the ship is quite easy. The lifts are adequate for the demand, even a peak times, and the staircases large and open.
TELL US ABOUT THE SERVICES:
The dining options are standard, one self-service restaurant and one table service restaurant, the Waterfront. I hesitate to call the Waterfront "silver service" though, with many of the staff new and inexperienced, covers were often inappropriate (entrée knives and forks with the main course an example) and getting a wine steward to visit your table sometimes required skills more appropriate on the Rugby pitch. The food served, though adequate, often suffered from less than optimal presentation. Hot food on cold plates and vice-versa. Getting your wine in the appropriate glass being a lottery, reds being served in white wine glasses and vice-versa.
Drinks are expensive (shore based prices) and steward service in the lounges sometimes non-existent as the stewards engage each other in animated conversation at the bar.
The entertainment was excellent with very professional daily shows, but the ship only organized one GLBT meeting and then on the last day of the cruise.
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