Neither of us has ever been on a cruise before, so we didn’t really know what to expect. Regardless, there were still many parts of the ship that surprised us. First of all, it’s size. The ship is absolutely huge! 19 decks, countless swimming pools, an enormous theater, five restaurants, shops, a world-class spa, jogging track, mini golf course, to name a few. Next, we weren’t prepared for the amount of food available to us – we even brought a bunch of power bars with us in case we didn’t make lunch one day – which we realized quickly wouldn’t be a problem. There is food available on the ship 24 hours a day – from buffets of pastas, salads and lunch meats to pizza and burger counters, ice cream bars, etc. Lastly, our stateroom is much larger than we thought as well. A roomy bed, desk, full closet and bathroom, it’s the perfect size for us.
On the first day aboard, we decided to explore the ship’s amenities and all it has to offer. There’s a beautiful grand hall, complete with winding staircases and musicians performing at all hours of the day. Spreading from that are boutiques for everything from jewelry to deodorant, a two story theater for singing and dancing shows, beautiful restaurants and buffets, and our favorite: the Lotus Spa and Fitness Center. Now, we didn’t really plan on working out, but we’re definitely considering it now after seeing the beautiful gym at the front of the boat overlooking the blue Mediterranean sea. You can literally jog on the treadmill as the ship sails forward and just watch the scenery change. Perhaps an even better part of the Lotus Spa, as we learned, is the Thermal Suite. Russel and I immediately signed up for the VIP couples package – which includes full access to the Lotus Spa’s Thermal Suite, a room full of heated stone beds (much more comfortable than they sound), a hot sauna, a steam sauna, an aromatherapy sauna, a fog shower and a tropical shower. The perfect way to relax on our honeymoon after full days of exploring Italy and Greece. As soon as we unpacked our bags and settled into our room, we headed straight to the saunas and relaxed.
Next was dinner – a part of the cruise we were anxiously awaiting. We had signed up for a traditional dining option – which means we eat at the same time, in the same place, with the same people every night. This could be really good, or really bad. All afternoon we were worrying about the types of people that we wouldn’t want to sit with at dinner (snotty couples, annoying families, picky eaters, etc). Again, we lucked out and were sat at a table of 6 with two very nice couples. One couple is about our parents’ age, from NC, with a daughter about to be married. The other couple is also on their honeymoon, married a week before we were, from Toronto. So, of course, the first night’s conversation revolved around weddingsJ.
The first night at sea was very comfortable – the slight rocking of the ship was actually rather soothing as we drifted off to bed and sailed for Monte Carlo, Monaco.