May 2016 - 24 Night Magic Of The Mediterranean (Barcelona To Venice) Cruise on Eurodam
As long as you know the pro's & con's beforehand you will know what to expect.
First off the price of the cruise itself is deceiving slightly as there are numerous "add-ons" which will inflate the bill considerable by end of the cruise. They have a terrible policy of no liquor allowed brought on board, even from ports [so they may sell you every single alcoholic beverage consumed on the trip]. They will confiscate and hold any liquor found being brought on and allow a bottle of wine each person for a $15 charge per bottle. On board there is a "service fee" of 15% for every items bought/charged on the ship [doesn;t sound like much but really adds up quickly]. One of the servcie fees is for your 2 assigned cabin person's per day. They check your room, clean & make toy animals out of your bathroom towels. We saw one of our guys daily & rarely saw the 2nd person. The fee is $12.50 per day per cabin person so this is $25 per day for 11-days and then at end you are expected to tip the cabin person's [it would be utterly rude not to as the $12.50 per day does not go directly to these person's]. The ship has an assortment of persons to take pictures of you from time you board to time you depart [they will drive you a bit nuts at times]. You can buy these pics or not. Beware the "formal pictures" taken by the "professional photographer" as you may be sorry later on. You are brought into a tent and many photos are snapped qithin a few minutes. Later an "appointment" is made for you and will last up to an hour in the tent. There you view a film strip of all your photos in order to put together a package. Bottom line is the packages start at around $600 for a few photos [package my wife opted for] or $800 - $1,000 for more pics [our friends paid $800]. Its all in the "moment" and something you'll likely regret later for your "professional photos".
OK, back to cruise. The incidental charges for us came to over $1300 and our friends $1400 to give you an idea. The ports were bad to good. First up was Toulon, France which should not even be a port visit - nothing there. Monaco is a small city and only way to see is the hop on - hop off bus. The car collection was a disappointment and "Monte Carlo" is a couple small casino's made famous in a couple movies. Other than the Monaco Grand Prix once a year there is not a lot to see there. Florence is a long bus ride and we'd been there previous. The tour consists of free time shopping for leather & more leather. Shops everywhere & some sales people can be aggressive. Forget price tags as they seem to mean nothing. Rome Itale always fascinating, but crowded, seriously crowded. LOng lines await you and the Vatican now averages 25,000 visitors daily. Our tour to Sorrento was a complete waste of time with an hour to shop before a pre-arranged lunch & long bus ride back to Pompeii. We'd been to Sorrento previously and we did not even get to see the best part of the port city. Pompeii tour was quite short and neglected some of the highlights of Pompeii. Kotar, Greece was scenic, however our tour was a miserable waste of 1/2 a day to visit the volcano of Aetna - long bus ride to a barren mountain with a few souvenier shops, howling winds & cold temps. We had 2 hours of "free time" to wander aimlessly and passengers were lining up to get back on the bus early. Kotar, Montenegro was the best stop as scenic and interesting. Part of tour was to view a small deserted village and see where olive oil used to be made in a small building. After we were treated to some bread, cheese and salty proscuitto and red wine with music. Unfortunately the local musicians playing string instruments continued to play for approx. 45 minutes which was far too long [hoping possibly for tips]. I wandered around outside during this time to take pics of the empty houses and scenery.
All in all the cruise was OK if you know what to expect and food was OK in most respects. Do not order any mixed drinks if particular as very hit & miss. The crew is largely Asian/Filipino and bartenders are not professional mixologists, but simply trained to make basic drinks & not very knowledgeable. The general dining in the "Lido Restaurant" is the way to go as a good selection on many foods. The more formal restaurants have slow service and add-on dinners for additional money should be largely avoided. We has a dinner in one promoted as "Le Cirque" based upon a wel known east coast restaurant - out of our 3 couples none of us was happy with the food and the charge was substancial for the meal.
Best bargain of the cruise was the pool side cabanas. For $50 you reserve one for the day, get fresh fruit, waters and a bottle of champagne with an attendant to serve you [the only negative is the irritating bad music playing poolside which takes away from relaxation].
Next cruise we'll likely opt up to Norwegian or another of the slightly upscale cruise lines. Holland America not the worst, but clearly not the best as well.