First off, we booked Gate 1 taking a bit of a chance on a relative unknown brand....with great prices. Our cruise was Amsterdam to Basel in July 2017.
Embarkation....we arrived about 2pm at the dock and went straight on board. After the formalities,we were directed to the lounge for a drink and snack while awaiting our rooms . Quiet a nice and well kept ship, Monarch Baroness, for its age. The only real sign of wear was the furniture upholstery in the lounge. It really needs a change.
First night was welcome drinks, meeting the Captain, Staff and then dinner. All very civilised. Next day was a bus and boat tour of Amsterdam, before cast off.
Meals were buffet breakfast and lunch, and single sitting dinner. A full cruise can make it a bit of a squeeze in the dinning room. Beer and wine flows freely at dinner time. Coffee, tea and biscuits always available in the lounge. The food was always interesting, with a number of options, and very yummy...so, in short, no issues with food or drink.
The rooms go over three decks. The bottom deck is below water line so cabins have small windows high on the walls . Both the other decks have cabins with full height sliding glass windows which, when open, form a balcony. The rooms are fairly spacious and have all the usual facilities. No issues there .
The top deck is all free for sitting and relaxing. It has a small jacuzzi and shade sails...which were raised and lowered as required for bridge clearances.
Excursions....at each town visited, the ship provided free walking tours with local guides. The rest of the time was free, with paid optional tours in a few ports. All the free tours were quite worthwhile.
Disembarkation was equally efficient.
Overall....great value for money. I don't know what you'd get extra from the higher priced competitors....but we wouldn't hesitate to book a Gate 1 trip again.
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