Tuesday, October 10

Entertainment onboard Ocean Village

The entertainment was a little hit and miss when it concerned timings - some days you couldnt fit it all in and others were a bit quiet. The singers were all very good - my favourite shows were the Robbie Williams and The Queen tributes. Nothing short of brilliant, i couldnt stop dancing and singing - much to the amusement of my husband.

The Moon Show which started about 10pm on the Saturday night, on Deck 14 was amazing. Very well choreographed and thoroughly enjoyable. A feast of singing, dancing and acrobatics - its hard to describe and better seen in the flesh. Many of the acts we had seen snippets of through the week performing in the Village Square, such as jugglers and acrobats but that still didnt prepare us for the breathtaking spectacle we witnessed that night!

Connexions bar was always a buzzing hive of activity and got very busy in the evenings - rightly so with its daily offerings of comedians, quizzes, singers and karaoke. My favourite night was a medly of TV quizzes including Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Blankety Blank, the audience participation was great and after a few drinks the answers just got funnier and funnier, it was alot of fun. My advice is to get there quite early to bag a seat if you don't wish to stand.

If you wanted to carry on partying, The Bayside Club was the place to be. By day this is a gym then it's sectioned off and becomes a club. If you prefer quieter eveings then the Blue Bar was perfect, i enjoyed drinking here as it was the only non smoking bar on board and they served fabulous cocktails too.

Being a movie buff - I was particularly impressed with the Movie Drome. They usuallly showed 4 films each day, the seats were really comfy and it didnt pack out at all so the overall experience was comfortable. We watched Poseidon, The Da Vinci Code and Nacho Libre which are all fairly recent films. There are also some good films shown in your cabin daily if you dont feel like venturing out.

There really was something for everyone on board Ocean Village - there were even several art auctions onboard throughout the week which seemed very popular. It was nice to see all the artwork dotted around the ship even though we didnt indulge oursleves.

We spent a few evenings in the casino which was quite fun even though we lost £100. Between 7pm-9pm the min bet was reduced to 25p so you could play roulette for longer - we managed to drag £20 out for 2 hours! Bingo in the Marquee also proved to be very popular, i expected it to be full of ladies but how wrong was i? Well there were at least 25% and the average age was 40 so i was very wrong!

James Martin did a cookery demonstration in the Marquee on the Thursday daytime which went down a storm. He had a little kid helping and they were quite a double act - James if you're reading this, you could have a career in comedy should the cooking fall through! The Marquee was full to the rafters!

Food & Drink onboard Ocean Village

There are 4 restaurants on board Ocean Village - The Waterfront, Plantations, La Luna and The Bistro.

The Waterfront is situated on deck 7 at the back of the ship next door to the bistro. It has a large indoor seated area and a smaller outdoor deck area. This restaurant is buffet dining and had quite a variety of foods to keep your taste buds happy. There was always a good choice between hot and cold dishes as well as light or heavy meals and watch out for the desserts, they were ALWAYS divine! I don't usually like buffet dining but the food was always fresh out and piping hot. I know some other reviews have said the food was warm not piping hot but i didnt encounter this at all during the week i was onboard. This restaurant is not open 24hrs so its wise to check your daily newsletter though i found it was usually open from 7am - 9.30am for breakfast and 6pm - 10pm for dinner and a few lunchtimes.

Plantation restaurant, situated on deck 12, was also buffet dining and very similar to the Waterfront though smaller, it also feels a bit more like a cafe than a restaurant.
They are open 24hrs a day and ran a timing system for their dishes - whatt i mean by this is that for example, you would have Chinese dishes from 6.30pm - 9.30pm and Mexican dishes from 7.30pm - 10pm. These were just the specialities and there were many other foods available too. The late night snacks were always quite dangerous as they had hotdogs and burgers (which smelt soooo good!)as well as cheese and biscuits or sweets etc.

James Martin Celebrity ChefThe Bistro is Celebrity Chef, James Martin's restaurant, which was booked solid as James Martin was actually onboard that week. We were lucky enough to get in while he was there and even luckier that he came to our table and posed for a photo. What a lovely man! His menu is mouth watering and very difficult to choose from but whatever you do pick, you wont be disappointed. The food is served quickly and is worth every penny of the £12.50 per head supplement - also if you book your table for between 6pm - 6.30pm you could take advantage of the Early Bird offer of only £9.50 each. It is open from 6pm - 10pm each evening.

La Luna is on deck 12, half of it is inside and half outside so that you can dine under the stars if you wish (you need to state this when booking your table). The menu here is very good and also well worth the money. It is open lunch times and eveings - lunch is free with a few chargeable items and the evening meal carries a supplement.

Opposite La Luna is the kids' favorite eating place, Sunweavers Ice Cream Bar, which sells ice creams, cold drinks and coffees.
Drinks were no more expensive than in the UK on a night out. Expect to pay:

  • £3.60 for a glass of house wine

  • £2.60 for a pint of Stella

  • £2.20 for a pint of Boddingtons

  • £2.40 for a bottle of Bacardi Breezer or Smirnoff Ice

  • £2.50 for a spirit but then you need to add 70p for the mixer

  • Most fizzy drinks are 95p with exception of Redbull at £1.80

  • £16.45 for a bottel of Rioja

  • £19.45 for a bottle of Chateauneuf de Pape

  • £12.45 for a bottle of Piesporter Michelsburg

  • £32.45 for a bottle of Moet

One thing you cannot do - if you want to eat - is take refuge in your cabin. There is no room service on this ship, though tea and coffee making facilities are available in your cabin.

Monday, October 9

Ocean Village Cruise Review 2006

I have just returned from a week cruise onboard the Ocean Village in the Mediterranean. Thankfully although the end of summer in the UK, the Med was still steaming hot so i return with a full belly (from all the lush food) and a nice tan!

Ocean Village imageWe flew with Thomas Cook airlines and arrived in Palma at lunchtime. Everything went very well and ran smoothly. One thing to bear in mind is that Palma airport is huge, its a 15 minute walk to reclaim your luggage at Palma airport, so if you have walking difficulties speak to the rep and get a buggy ride to the baggage reclaim area. Once we have collected our bags we were met by an Ocean Village Rep who directed us to a fleet of buses ready and waiting to take us on the 20 minute ride to our ship.

This is when your adrenaline starts flowing - if you've never cruised before, the size of the ship takes your breath away. (Though admittedly its not the largest i have been on)

This was the last time we saw our luggage until we reached our cabin. Once we got off the bus we queued for a few minutes in the port building where we were given our cruise cards and register our credit card etc. From this moment on everything you pay for gets paid with your room card which in turn is deducted on the last day from your credit card. Anyway, by this time you could see that everyone was getting excited and couldnt wait to embark. Once past the photographer (who, believe me, you will encounter a lot on your cruise) it was a blast of alcohol gel on the hands (another thing you will get used to every time you go into a restaurant or gym on the ship) and up the gangway. This took us straight to deck 5 where the main reception area is. Ready and waiting were many stalls set up with information of various facilities. Here you could book your table at the Bistro or take leaflets for the Karma Spa etc.

Ocean Village Cabin GG WindowWe didnt actually get access to our cabin until 3pm so we spent the first 3 hours getting to know the ship, this in itself was a little tricky as we had to carry our hand luggage round with us. At 3pm to tannoy said our cabins were ready so off we went to find it. When we did we were really pleased, the cabins are massive. We booked a GG grade cabin on the lowest deck which is P deck. I was slightly concerned at first as i had always thought that the lower down you were on a ship, the noisier it would be due to engines etc - but I was very pleasantly suprised at the peace and quiet. The cabins are extremely spacious, plenty of storage space - even the shower is large enough for two people. I couldnt fault the maid service at all, our room was cleaned daily and i looked forward to the handmade biscuits we were left each day!!

The itinerary we covered was their 'Beaches & Basillicas' itinerary.

  • Day 1: Fly Uk to Palma, Majorca

  • Day 2: At sea

  • Day 3: Tunis (La Goulette), Tunisia

  • Day 4: Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

  • Day 5: Genoa, Italy

  • Day 6: St Raphael, France

  • Day 7: Barcelona, Spain

  • Day 8: Palma, Majorca, Spain

The first evening when you set sail there is a sort of 'sailaway party' where they play music and everyone goes out on deck as the ship leaves port. Its quite nice and gives you a real buzzz to start the holiday off with.

Ocean Village bikingEveryday you will bump into at least one of the ship's photgraphers whether you are coming down the gangway to spend the day in port, dining in the Bistro or watching the Moon show! Its free to get your photo taken and its always a good idea to just pose and smile. There's no obligation to buy, you simply take a look at the photos that go up in the gallery the day after and if you like any you can buy them, if not, no problem. We actually had about 9 photos taken and only one we liked (because the others were me without make-up and not a pretty sight!) it was about 8x10 inches and we had it framed all for £15 which i thought was an absolute bargain.

Waking up each day in a new place is a very exciting experience, i'm not using the type to wake up early and fling the curtains open but i just couldnt wait to see what each day brought. You usually get into port at around 7.30am daily and set sail again around 6pm although this varies from port to port and is usually outlined in more detail when you book. There's not much chance of forgetting anyway as you get a daily newsletter every evening which contains everything you need to know about the next day. Eg: where you dock, how long for, what the main sights are, local transport, any excursions, onboard entertainment, special offers, restaurant opening times - basically you name it, its in there! It always came in very handy, they even had a map of the port town with all the sights marked off if you were not joining an excursion.

Blu Bar on Ocean VillageThe ship itself was great. Very comfortable and definately became a home from home while we were there. The staff were all very friendly and proffessional and you could tell they actually enjoyed their jobs. You never had to look far, when you needed a query answered there was always someone there to help. I'm not going to go into massive detail on the food, entertainment or excursions in this post as i'll do that next in detail on separate posts.

My only moan was that on our last day we had to be out of our cabin by 8.30am and our flight was not until 6.15pm which mean carrying your hand luggage around the ship with you all day. This meant it was difficult to get off ship and wander round Palma and equally as difficult to lay in the sun or swim due to needing a shower afterwards. There was no entertainment that day which meant time just dragged. We spoke to some other guests later that day who had been able to keep their cabin until 11am by tipping the maid 10euros and just asking her - i wish i had thought of this!

Overall it was a wonderful experience and very good value for money, we met many very nice people on the Ocean Village (and even bumped into an old neighbour!) and will certainly do it again. Thanks Ocean Village!

PS To view all my cruise photos click here!

Book Ocean Village here http://oceanvillage.idealcruising.co.uk/