We decided on this cruise as a sudden addition to our bucket list - Havana (Cuba), St Marteen, Antigua, Madera - all in one sweep.
Getting through Havana airport was an exceptional experience and one not to be glamorised in any way. We arrived at the ship quite late went through the obligatory photograph, not much in the way of a welcome, collected our cards then straight to our cabin and bed.
Next day in Havana was pretty good - we did our own thing, a morning and afternoon tour is separate old American cars for a lot less than the ship organised tour.
We then spent a day at sea before arriving in St Marteen, again our own thing - a short walk into town then a bus to Maho beach where we were delighted to lots of low flying landing aircraft and got severely sandblasted by a big 757 taking off, culminating in a dip in the Caribbean sea before another bus ride back to town and a walk around the shops.
Off to Antigua, it was Sunday and everything was closed so really a wasted day, all that was on offer was a taxi tour around the island.
Now 6 days to cross the Atlantic, when the weather was good we could sun bathe and swim but as we sneaked further north the weather changed and we were forced to stay inside with limited options on suitable activities. At a certain time during the day there was only one internal bar open for the serving of coffee and naturally it was full.
Funchal was next and not much to say here but a Sunday and not much open, then off to Malaga and some terrible weather through the Straight of Gibraltar with very high seas and extremely strong wind rendering damage to the ship and meaning we arrived late, then again some very high winds onward to Alicante again arriving late.
To be fair the ship handled the rough weather well and was relatively smooth.
The disembarkation at Alicante was an absolute disaster. We were told to gather in the theatre and consequently only received instructions in German, I checked the queue it was moving and getting shorter so without waiting for whatever non information was to be forthcoming decided to join the queue and get off the ship.
As we had a balcony "Fantastica" cabin we were allocated the L'Approda restaurant. The menu was quite restricted and indeed required us to order McDonalds style chips every night. We were offer an option of a backed potato but only if ordered the previous evening - when it arrived it was just about cooked, not soft and fluffy or hard and inedible but certainly not fully cooked, similar can be said of a chicken kiev, only just cooked, not totally as would be expected with chicken. There were complaints made by other diners to the Maitre'd about the limited menu which was basically met with a shoulder shrug. The table waiting staff were very very attentive and friendly, I cannot say a bad word about them.
We were on a drinks package thankfully. The printed cost of a "Gin and Tonic was 6€, this was the price charged in some bars, inothere the charge was for a 'Gordons' @ 6.50€ plus tonic???. On an occasion I ordered a @Vodka Martini and my wife a Bellini, the waiter returned with a Martini and advised that Bellini's were not available?? I returned my drink and my wife advised him that Bellini's were available as a cocktail, he returned with the Bellini and a vodka and water - agh, third attempt say me receiving a Morgans and coke???? - it was now so late I had lost the will and went to bed.
I had little reason to approach the reception desk - thankfully - when I did to advise them of a potential medical problem I was met with an "I don't care" shoulder shrug. When it came to closing my credit card I was advised to return to the desk no less than three times. so not at all impressed with the unfriendly reception staff.
The entertainment team worked very hard to keep guests amuse and some of the evening antics in the Piazza di Spagna were hilarious, This bar needed more staff to deal with the number of revellers as at times it was very difficult to get a drink.The theatre shows were of a high standard but way to high brow and classical themed, there were a few more light hearted entertaining evenings and the contortionists were incredible.
A cruise once done not to be repeated, a class of ship that I shall avoid in future.
The cabin was small and barely adequate, as a "Fantastica" it was very disappointing. A large comfortable bed, writing desk with just one easy chair.
The shower cubicle was tight with doors that did not seal.