Ocean Village market themselves as the "Cruise for People who Don’t do Cruises". Feeling that as a family we would feel restricted on a traditional cruise line we decided to take our first steps into the world of cruising using Ocean Village.
One week cruising in the Mediterranean was booked and the anticipation mounted. We booked flights with Ocean rather than booking independently for peace of mind. This proved very useful as our flight was delayed getting to Crete by several hours so the boat was kept in port until our plane arrived. If we had been independent it would have left.
Arrival at the port was straightforward, passports were checked, photographs taken and a credit card imprint was also obligatory for shipboard expenses. The luggage was taken separately from the coach on to the ship. We were given directions to our cabin and we easily found it. One steward is allocated to just a few cabins and he immediately appeared to show us around the cabin and asked if we wished him to set up the sofa bed for us due to our late arrival. He was very pleasant and all general tipping is included so you are not to tip staff for each activity.
The cabin (called a stateroom) was larger than anticipated with a large double bed and a good size double sofa bed. An immaculately clean bathroom and large dressing area were nice to. Some of the fittings in the cabin were looking a little tired but in general we were very pleased with the standard. The problems arose when I opened the doors to access the balcony. This ship does not have glass balcony walls it only had bars with very large gaps between them. I immediately felt that they were not at all safe. My son was 10 but very slim and also very active and I had visions of him falling straight through. I immediately retreated back inside and later told the steward of my concerns. He explained that for children under 10 they automatically put up safety netting and if I wanted he could do that for us. True to his word the netting was put up within a couple of hours and made me feel much more secure.
Life jackets are stored in your cabins and the next morning we had to go to a demonstration about ship safety and evacuation. I believe this is a legal requirement for all cruise ships.
The next day was spent exploring the ship and we were extremely happy with what we found.
Restaurants- buffet food was available 24hrs a day in the Plantation restaurant and then the Waterfront Buffet restaurant opened at meal times. La Luna was a restaurant on the deck with pizza available at lunchtime. In the evening La Luna and the Bistro were available for an extra charge. We never visited restaurants that required an extra fee as we enjoyed eating as a family and we found the choice and amount of food was excellent. The ship was full when we were sailing but we never had a problem getting a table.
Bars- there were 8 bars in total. The Sun weavers on the deck was great for ice creams and soft drinks. We purchased passes for the children so that they could go and get ice-creams and soft drinks without our signature. The other bars varied between quiet, late-night and comedy venues so there was a good selection. Drinks are signed to your room bill; children’s room keys prohibit them from buying alcohol which is useful for parents with older teens.
Evening entertainment consisted of the cinema, casino or the Marque theatre so there was usually something going on. We saw some good tribute acts and a great trapeze show up on the deck under the stars.
The children also spent some time in the Kids club which I believe ran to quite late at night.
On deck there were two swimming pools; one was adults only with Jacuzzis. A couple of shuffleboard courts, my son particularly liked those. A golf driving net and a football/volleyball court. There were also a huge number of deckchairs so you could usually find somewhere to sit when the ship was at sea. When the ship was in port the pools etc were quite quiet.
For those wanting to look their best there was a spa, a hairdressers and a gym. I must admit I didn’t venture into any of these.
When in port the ship arranges lots of "Action ashore" excursions. These can be expensive but are good when the area of interest is a long way from the port e.g. in Athens. The ship newsletter gives you details of the excursions and also local areas of interest that you can walk to. We booked our excursions before we went on holiday so we never had to queue at the activities desk which seemed to get quite busy.
We found everything about cruising suited us. The staff were all pleasant, nothing was too much trouble. Seeing new places everyday without any effort to get there was so relaxing and meals available when we wanted them made for such an easy holiday that now we are cruise converts!