Pullmantur Sovereign Aoy
I am recently back from Breezes of the Mediterranean on Pullmantur Sovereign which departed on the 24th September. If anybody is interested here are my thoughts. Background: I am from the United Kingdom and have cruised before with Cunard, P&O, Fred Olsen, Star Clippers, Voyages of Discovery and Croisieres de France. I was part of a group of fourteen friends who cruise together. Mainly British but some other Europeans. I do not speak Spanish. Embarkation: I arrived at the cruise terminal in Barcelona midday. This was probably the peak time. First luggage label queue, then luggage drop queue, then security queue, then check in queue, and finally boarding queue. Despite all this it probably took me less than an hour as the queues were always moving. My cabin available from 4pm. An embarkation lunch was available in a dining room and buffet. The Ship: Sovereign is a lovely, attractive and now classic cruise ship. Particular highlights include a large atrium, wide outside promenades and high celling height in many public rooms. My favourite rooms were the nautically themed Spinnaker bar and the 360 Lounge which wraps round the funnel. There was about 2400 passengers on this cruise. The ship manages passengers well and I could always find a quiet spot on deck or in a lounge. The itinerary helped as most passengers take whole day excursion to places like Rome. There are two large (for a ship) swimming pools and I even had one to myself for an hour one afternoon. They are seawater and quite cold but still very pleasant. Unusually for an old ship there were plenty of lifts that were large and fast. I never had to wait long for a lift. Unfortunately I thought Sovereign was quite tired and battered. Maintenance particularly of soft furnishing has not been kept up. The pile on the fabric of many chairs has rubbed completely away. Arms would sometimes fall off. Wood was chipped and brass was worn. Pullmantur need to do better. Cabins: Standard cabins are small by modern standards and are showing there age. My curtain and shower curtain were not properly attached to the rail. My safe did not work from the start. It was replaced quickly but the new one had stopped working by the end of the cruise. Shower gel and soap are the only bathroom amenities. My cabin was service very well once a day usually while I was at breakfast. Passengers: Almost all were Spanish of all age ranges with plenty of families. They were all very pleasant and friendly people. I never saw any inappropriate behaviour. The noise level was quite high but you could always find somewhere quieter. One cultural difference I did notice is that pre-school age children would still be around with their parents in bars in the early hours of the morning. The dress code and atmosphere is definitely casual. Smoking: Absolutely no smoking indoors was allowed and that was complied with. On deck there was a small no smoking section but that seemed to be ignored. If I sat on a deck chair several people would come to sit near me and start smoking. If you are really bothered by smoke find a different cruise line. Language: All announcement, menus, daily programmes, port information, emergency drill, all announcements, signage, embarkation forms, disembarkation information and advertisements were provided in Spanish and English. Staff such as security, my cabin steward, waiters, bar staff and pursers department all spoke very good English and were happy to talk to us in English. It was not a problem. There were two international hosts who were stationed at check in to welcome and introduce themselves to non Spanish passengers. They also held a welcome meeting and disembarkation talk in English. The two hosts were on reception at advertised hours if needed. I found all reception had good English skills so did not need the international hosts to assist. Pullmantur really did well for English speaking passengers. Some excursions could be made bilingual if there was sufficient demand. Service I thought the service was very good. The crew were helpful, efficient and hardworking and friendly. Tables were cleared quickly and bar service was particularly prompt. They are a real credit to Pulmantur and made the cruise a pleasure. Breakfast and Lunch: Generally the same choices are offered as a buffet in a dining room and at the buffet restaurant. I never had a difficulty getting a table in the buffet restaurant or had to queue for food. Snack were also available for an outside food counter. I found the buffet food quite basic and repetitive. I was a bit disappointed by the food at breakfast and lunch. I never used room service. A tapas bar has recently opened. It offers small portions for an extra charge. Some of the choices I had seen in the buffet previously. Unsurprising it was not popular. Dinner: Served as two sittings (19.30 and 22.00) in two dining rooms. We had first seating. The food was very good and a highlight of the day. For six our seven days the same menu was offered. If I remember there was about twelve starters, twelve main course and six deserts. I thought this worked really well as there was plenty of choice, I could try different choices on different days and repeat a favourite dish. I tended to order two starter courses, a main course and a desert. On the other evening a Gala six course menu was served. There was no choice but I liked it all. The food that night was some of the best and most interesting I have ever had on a cruise ship. Apart from the final evening the service was very good. One the final night we had a different waiter and it did not go well. A shame as it was the final impression. Dinner was also available in the buffet restaurant and an extra tariff restaurant. I did not try these options. All Inclusive: I had the basic all inclusive package and was very pleased with it. It include wine, cocktails and coffee that I was quite happy with. I was happy to pay a few Euros for a different drink occasionally. I liked the freshly squeezed orange juice that was made at the bar and most of my onboard account was made up of this. Entertainment: Our group made our own entertainment. Activities and shows are obviously in Spanish. Though the musical shows (such as an Abba tribute) are probably suitable for all languages. I was disappointed that live music, such as a pianist or singer, was not offered in most of the bars and never at lunchtime. I would have liked more live music. Disembarkation: I had an early train from Barcelona station and reception were happy to change me to the first group. I was off Sovereign quite early. The luggage area was packed but I was able to get my suitcase reasonably quickly. There were no queues for the taxis which was great. Conclusion: I really enjoyed this cruise. The ship and service were both very good. I would happily travel again, as part of a group, with Pullmantur and on Sovereign.
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