Number of Cruises: 1st
Cruise Line: Sun Cruises
Sailing Date: October 18th, 2003
Itinerary: Western Mediterranean
This was our first cruise and we had rather high expectations.
We had a very early morning flight from Oslo (Norway) to Mallorca where we were supposed to embark.
The plane left at 07:05 and we arrived in Mallorca about 10:20.
At the airport on Mallorca we had to wait for over an hour before we got our luggage. Just outside of the airport terminal there were a counter manned by a representative of MyTravel where we had to stand in a long line to get our registration papers for the ship which we were supposed to fill in during the bus travel to the harbour. Here we also got luggage tags with the cabin number we would use. Well, this number did not correspond with the cabin number we were actually given which resulted in our luggage being delivered to the wrong cabin. Then we were driven to the harbour.
Here we had to stand in another
extremely long line to be registered and let aboard the ship. I did not measure
the exact time but the wait was well over an hour. No information were given,
neither about expected wait times, we were just treated like a herd of sheeps in
a long line. The arrogant appearance of the assistant purser who finally
registered and let us aboard did not help at all on the rather negative
first-impression we got of the cruise. I cannot imagine why they did not put
more personnel into handling the embarkation or just simply send us on bus trip
of Mallorca. I guess it all comes down to cost, but how this was done was just
not good enough. Why not put in chairs and then call up guest for embarkation
based on numbers ? The embarkation could be handled in a number of ways better
than it was done. Very unprofessional.
The common areas of the ship are clean and well kept and most of the indoor areas have Air Condition although some areas were considerably colder than other which resulted in a lot of people getting a cold. There is always something to see or do on the boat . Every day you get a newspaper giving the exact schedules for all the days activities and some information about the next harbour you will visit. Although the ship takes 1600 passengers it never felt crowded but we soon realized that we clearly were lowering the average age of the passengers, as expected. That was not a problem at all. We met a lot of nice people.
There is a lot of space on the decks and you can usually find a nice spot to sit or lay down. The currency used aboard is UK pounds, but as the ship is a "money-free" area all you have to do is to register your credit card and every purchase you make aboard are deducted from your credit card though the use of your "cruise card" which is given to you at embarkation and you use for all identification purposes throughout the whole cruise.
Thus you do not really need to bring any UK currency with you but we found that bringing some small-bill Euros for use ashore were a great advantage as you then don't have to run around looking for a minibank. All countries visited on this cruise use or accepts Euros which makes it all much easier.
There is a safe deposit box in your cabin but you will have to rent the key from the pursers desk.
The crew aboard are
very friendly and are very willing to assist you with any problems or questions
you might have.
We had ordered a standard outside (with a window) cabin. Ours were located on the second floor ("B"-deck). A lot of engine noise on this deck. The cabin was cleaned two times every day, but this does not take away that the walls and ceiling were yellowish and had black "dirt-stripes". It was definitely ready for a renovation. The metal parts in the bathroom were partly rusty. But as the cabin was cleaned two times a day these were rather visual annoyances and you will not spend that much time in the cabin anyway. Just don't expect a high standard on the cabins... but it might be that the higher-class (and more expensive) cabins were different. The cabin had enough storage space and also contained small color television (just ignore that the front panel was "glued" together with a well chewed piece of gum).
There are a couple of shops aboard the ship but they are rather small and do not have a large selection of goods.
You will probably have more fun shopping ashore on
the different destinations.
The food was all over of a high quality and variety and there is always some food to get hold of if you want some.
Breakfast and lunch in the dining room are sort of free seating (you are assigned the first free table) something which makes you meet new people every day. At times you might feel that the waiters in the dining room has an urge to make you finish and go away so the next guests can have your seat. One time I was actually asked if I could go before I had considered myself finished with my lunch. For dinner you are assigned to the same table every day as long as you have it in the dining room.
But any meals can also be taken in the outside Lido restaurant at a table of your own choice. This restaurant has almost the same courses as in the dining room, is less formal and can be a very good alternative, especially when the ship is in port or during departures.
Every day snack is served at given times, especially the "night snack" at 23:30 can be worth taking a look at as this usually has different themes like "Italian buffet", "chocolate buffet", "gala buffet" and so on.
All the food served in the different restaurants are
included in the price of the cruise. Room-service comes at an extra cost. Drinks
are not included and it is very apparent that this is an area where they work
hard to earn money. At times you feel that the crew are pushing just a little
bit too much to make you buy a drink. "Why should I buy another beer when I'm
just half finished with the one I have...?". They will offer you a "drinking
package" which they claim gives you an "all inclusive" cruise but the truth is
that the drinking package comes with a lot of restrictions. All drinks bought
through the drinking package comes served in glasses, never in the original cans
or bottles. Drinks taken from the minibar (or rather bottles stacked on the
shelves) in the cabin are not included. If one person in the cabin buys such a
drinking package all persons in the same cabin has to do so. To save money by
using the drinking package you will have to drink quite a lot.. Compared to
Norwegian prices the cost of drinks aboard the ship were not so bad. But I guess
that says more about the Norwegian prices though.
As mentioned earlier there were a lot of activities going on the whole day. I thought it might be boring being on a cruise but the time flies. Every evening there were different kinds of stage-shows in the different lounges. The shows were clearly aimed at the British audience aboard the ship, but as they were in majority I guess it is understandable. As long as you master the English language fairly well you should not have any problems following. Personally I have some problems understanding the big fascination of Bingo, but that's another matter. These shows ranged from musical acts to comedians and I guess there were something for any taste. Then there is the Casino for those who want to try their winning luck. If you like to surf on the net they also have a small internet cafe but they will charge you for using it. During daytime they often made one lounge into a movie theater.
The ship has also a small gym with different
apparatus and a sports deck where you can exercise some more outdoor activities.
The ports and shore excursions are the reasons you want to go on this cruise.
In all the ports we visited except Olbia the ship were docked very close to the city center.
Since we have
only a day to spend in each port we believe that instead of aimlessly walking
around in a city searching for the sights we can experience more by
participating in organized excursions. In our experience it is often not always
the city centers that offers the best experiences but the areas in the vicinity
of the city. Several different excursions, both whole day and half day, are
offered in each port. We participated in such shore such excursions in each port
and found that they were mostly very good (some a little expensive) all
containing local guides who always has a lot of information to share. for the
full day excursions lunch is included in the excursion price.
For description of each port (with pictures) see my private homepage on: http://home.online.no/~sulebust/travel/travel_main/travel.htm
Score on a scale of 1 to 10:
On-board prices: 5