Pullmantur cruise the Italian coast on the Soverei
Boarding was easy, we arrived at the cruise terminal in Barcelona for our 1130/1330 check-in ,and joined a short queue to drop off bags and was given a boarding number. As we had checked in on line beforehand we were shown to different queue and only had to wait a few minutes to be seen, we only had to show our passports and a credit card and we had our sail and sign cards and were told to make our way to the ship, there was a short queue at security for our cards to be scanned and we were on the ship. In all I would say that it was inside an hour from arriving at the port to getting on the ship. We had managed to get all of our gear into 3 cases which had been checked in on arriving so only had a small shoulder bag and my camera and Maureen her handbag to carry around so we made our way to the buffet for lunch. This was actually a easy affair as there were plenty of free tables so we got what we wanted a sat down to eat. After lunch we walked around the ship for awhile to get our bearings has the cabins would not be ready until 3.00pm. The only downside was that it was raining so we had to wait inside. Our cabin was on deck 2 interior which is our usual choice, as we are not worried about a balcony as we only change and sleep there. However we did have one issue with this cabin and that was the position of the bed, it was a double and was pushed up against the wall on one side so I had the climb across the bed to get in and out, not good! There was not room to pull the bed away from the wall so you could get down both sides. After the first night we inquired about the possibility of a upgrade as they were offering them and so we upgrade to a ocean view cabin which gave us the extra room around the bed, and must admit having the window was nice. We were on early dinner which was 19:30 as this was a Spanish ship and the late seating was 22:00 which was late even for us, who usually have late seating. The service was good and quick no doubt because they had to get ready for the late sitting. Because the drinks were inclusive you ordered your wine by the glass,there was no choice of bottle but it was a good wine and the wine waiter kept the glass topped up, you could of course order a bottle if you wanted but you would have to pay the full price for the bottle as bottles were not in the all inclusive list. As I said before, this was a Spanish ship and so all tannoy messages were given in Spanish first and repeated in English, however all crew spoke English, on talking with the ACD we were told that because the crew came from all around the world they all had to speak English as this was the common language on board so they could all communicate with each other, which makes sense. The ship was called the Sovereign and was originally the Sovereign of the Seas when she belonged to Royal Cabbibean who are the parent company of Pullmantur. So from that view point she is a little long in the tooth in some aspects. One of the main things we have noticed is the lack of public toilets they only seem to be on every other deck and not in the places you would expect, like outside of the main dining room. There is also a lack of bars in general. Two on Lido deck either end of the pool but one was not open. There was a bar in the casino plus two others and a 360 degree bar at the top of the stern but this did not open until the evening. The Disco had one to but again did not open until late. There was a lack of waiters walking around so you had to queue at the bar and hope you had a loud voice during the day. In the evening there were waiters around. Other down sides were the fact there are only two hot-tubs and no security around to keep the kids out. Also Pullmantur had sold a package to Spanish students for this trip as we were visiting Naples, Rome and Florence so they were hogging the hot-tubs somewhat. Entertainment was mostly song and dance, as this had no real language barrier, with a ABBA show and a Beatles night. There was also a strictly come dancing type of competition in which we came fourth, which was not bad for two 60+ year olds against a group of 18 somethings Spanish doing Latin dancing. Day one was a day at sea which was spent mainly relaxing and unwinding has we had,had a busy month before this cruise with some personal matters. Day two was Naples and for you Carnival fans reading this we docked along the Horizon and shadowed her for the next two days. From the outside she is the same as the Vista on which we did the Transatlantic cruise but she is still a beautiful looking ship and drew a lot of looks from us poor souls on the Sovereign. Only thing is we paid a lot less for almost the same itinerary and with drinks throw in.Later that night she was sailing along with us to wards Rome all lit up like a Christmas tree. Day 3 was Rome but as we had been there before we decided to stay on the ship however we did actually get off a walk in to town for a while. Day 4 was Florence,we docked in Liveno and we had booked the transfer trip with our time around Florence. On arriving in Florence we took the open top bus tour which took us to the places we needed to see. We were taken to just outside Florence by bus and then the rest of the way was they tram. We were then taken on foot to a meeting place where the guide would meet us later in the afternoon, this worked very well and everyone met upon time fort he trip back to the ship. Day 5 was Villa Frances where the ship dropped a anchor in the bay and we went ashore by tender. Anyone who had booked a tour were the first ashore. Then anyone else was asked to go to the central point where they were given a boarding card with a letter and were asked to wait until their letter was called and the. To go to the exit point to get the tender to the shore this worked very well, they started at A thur to L and then after that every was free to make their way to the boats. I must say this worked out well. No need for FTTF on this ship at least. Coming back you got on a boat and when it was full it set off. Day 6 its Sete shuttle bus to dock gates then walk to the town centre. Not a lot to see here really,but there was a swimming race taking place in the main canal and watching that filled in a few minutes. So had a short walk around and back to the boat to start packing. Disembarkation at Barcelona. We were given coloured tags for our luggage and a time for disembarking the night before as usual and we put our bags outside our cabin last thing. The next morning was a case of having breakfast and waiting for your time slot. Ours was 8.45 and we left on time. Unfortunately our cases didnt and there was some hanging around waiting for them to arrive on the conveyor belt but our colour was the second called and our colour cases arrived second, and away we went. Overall thoughts, having been with Pullmantur before we had an idea of what things were like and so went with open eyes. The first time was about 5 years ago and a few things have changed and not all for better. Announcements used to be in Spanish, English, French and Italian now it seem to only been Spanish. They have cut back on wait staff certainly around the pool. As mentioned before there were a lot of students on board and we were told this was because they had pushed this cruise there way. This made certain things not as pleasant as on other cruisers, they certainly hogged the only two hot tubs on board and if you were already in one would just pile in to the point we had words one day. Nothing serious but just to put them right. These were younger than some of the others who were certainly polite and the girls more so than the Guys. Would we book with them again possibly not, would we recommend them to any else yes but would point out the things we have mentioned here. They are cheaper than other lines and their drinks are included in the price along with Gratuities. We have also come to the conclusion that with moving to a cabin with a window this is better than a interior and will certainly look at these in the future. Although the real reason for liking the upgraded cabin was extra room more than the window. We have sailed with Pullmantur before but out of Athens doing the eastern Med and have to say they catered for a more international guest, where as on this sailing out of Barcelona it was definitely catering towards the Spanish even where there was quite a few who used English as a second language their first being anything but Spanish. The Spanish eat late so the second sitting for dinner was 10pm but the entertainment more or less closed down when they went to dinner, there was the show in the main theatre but that was all, other than the casino and a token live band in one bar. There were no sail away parties on leaving port! But the shows in the evening were good.
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