Sail Date: June 09, 2016
Reviewed: 9 months ago
Traveled As: Singles/Friends
Room Type: Balcony
Something about the management of this ship felt off. It constantly felt as though the staff was overwhelmed by the number of people aboard, though the ship is supposed to cater to 2700 guests. From the cooks to the waiters to the bartenders to the cabin staff, everyone seemed harried--they couldn't make drinks or pizzas or hamburgers, or roll silverware fast enough to accommodate the guests lined up waiting for those things.
The ship needs a thorough cleaning; it feels dingy-- not filthy, just as though the corners have been neglected for a long time. (Discovering that the turnover from cruise to cruise is less than 3 hours indicates that there probably isn't much time to address the corners.)
This was a budget cruise and definitely a case of "you get what you pay for." I think I'll wait a bit longer and upgrade cruise lines for the next one.
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|Cabin / Stateroom||The cabin was comfortable, and we spent a good deal of time on the balcony, which was great. The shower stall could have used a thorough scrubbing, as the floor was dingy and soap-scummy, but the rest of the cabin was clean and comfortable. I know that they have become standard on cruise ships, but we really did enjoy our towel creatures after our turndown service each evening.|
|Embarkation and Disembarkation||We were dropped off at the dock by a friend, and though that is probably not the most common method, it was made difficult by the lack of clear signage. Finding the appropriate dock was simple on our embarkation date, as ours was the only ship in port, but had it been a busy day, it would have been difficult to know which slip was the right one, and, as it was, we made several wrong turns before getting to the right slip. Once we got to the point of embarkation, we were unsure of whether we could drop our bags and selves at the same place, or if we needed to deliver our bags to the porter and then be dropped off at a later point. Now that we know, it's clear that we could have done it either way, but it would have been made more clear if there were signage as at an airport. The rest of the embarkation and disembarkation was relatively smooth, although disembarkation definitely took longer than the printed schedule suggested it might.|
We and our dinner companions had a conversation that we thought the ship must have been commissioned in the 1980s, given the dated decor and overall condition of some of the spaces. I was very surprised to discover that it was commissioned in 2000, and had ben in dry dock "for upgrades" just a year ago. The decor felt "vintage" across most of the ship, and there didn't seem to be any cohesion about it. you could wander from the lacquered red bar that we dubbed the "murder room" into a quasi-mid-century lounge that was comfortable for sitting when there were not events happening, but not really effective for those sitting along the edges to view the comedy show. Out and across to the Ionian room which was sortof dedicated to the ancient Greeks, and into the Indian Library which was, at best, a nod to Colonial India, and was just off the main bar on deck 5, which was not a great place for getting any reading done. There was also not enough comfortable seating to make that room effective as a library. In order to pass from the fore to the aft of the ship without walking outside required either walking through stateroom hallways or through the casino area, which smelled constantly of cigarette smoke, although we were told that was a non-smoking cruise.
The layout of the lido deck restaurants and dining was by far the worst design point of all. Each time we went for a bite to eat, we waited in a line. Each line, due to the layout of the space, intersected another line and/or intersected a major doorway and or/ crossed a pedestrian path. There was no way to get out of the way as you waited to get something to eat or drink. This isn't just a design problem, but also a major logistical problem, as once you got your plate, you had to navigate back through the lines of people to find a place to sit.
We knew that we had selected a cruise on which there would be children, but there are places aboard designed to be "adults only" and we were prepared to spend the majority of our time in those areas. The problem with that is that the "Serenity deck" was adjacent to the entrance to the waterslide, which made serenity hard to come by there. On our first night there were kids using the hammocks on the serenity deck as a swing set, which made relaxing on the opposite hammock difficult. The kids were not being bad--they were just playing-- but there was no crew person around to address to them that they were supposed to stay on the other side of the deck.
There was also an adults-only pool with signs indicating such, but each time we attempted to use it, there were kids in the pool, and no crew person around to address it. Again, the kids weren't being bad, or even particularly disruptive, but there was no opportunity to just be among grown-ups.
|Service and Staff||Our stateroom attendant, Budi, was quiet, kind, and efficient, as were our table waiters, Diyan and Bagaryan, at dinner. The bartenders at each of the bars were very nice, but seemed constantly overwhelmed by the number of drink requests. We mostly ordered soda, and still were kept waiting, on average, 5 minutes for those. Again, the ship seemed understaffed.|
|Food and Dining||While there was food available 24 hours, we never waited less than 20 minutes in line for it. It constantly felt as thought he ship was not well enough staffed for its cruising population. The food was just... fine. there was only one dish that we continued to talk about (the "beef brisket" in the dining room on the first night would have been better called a "pot roast" but it was delicious.) All of the other food was on par with that of a basic buffet-style restaurant, certainly nothing special, and not nearly as accessible as we were led to believe by the website. Because all of the food areas backed onto a central kitchen area, the lines tended to intersect one another, and blocked the entrances to the pool areas on both ends of the lido deck, and the flow of all of the food area had no inherent rhyme or reason. To get a drink from one of the beverage stations required passing through food lines and around tables. Getting a soda (we bought the bottomless bubble package) required waiting at a bar where you hoped to get noticed by the overworked bartenders. To get a soda beverage with dinner required knowing to whom you needed to make the request. One evening, I ordered a Coke before we had even ordered our food, but it didn't make it to the table until just before desert was served. Some nights our water glasses got refilled, others they did not.|
Expect that every area and every time aboard your fun ship will be LOUD. If your vacation is all about getting drunk and rowdy, this is the cruise for you, but if you are looking for relaxation, choose a different cruise line.