In writing this blog, please bear in mind that these are the words of an Englishman, writing about what is essentially a Spanish oriented cruise experience. That has to be borne in mind at all times when considering the points I’m about to make.
Pullmantur is a cruise experience that offers fantastic value for money, with all inclusive food and drink folded into the fare. Unlike some cruise lines, the ‘all inclusive’ does not suddenly become ‘extra charge’ after two in the morning. The value is undeniable.
Food wise, we’re not talking gourmet quality here. The food- whether in the dining rooms, the buffet and the upper deck outdoor grill- was tasty, plentiful and wholesome, with more than enough variety for sure. It seemed to me that the chefs used a fair bit of salt in both meat and chicken dishes, but it was not over the top. Perhaps this is just a Spanish thing.
Idiosyncrasies exist; while butter is provided at the breakfast buffet service, it is absent at lunch and dinner. You have to ask for it, and it is then promptly supplied.
Drinks wise, it was normal waiter service everywhere, except in the late night disco. Here, waiters simply clear tables, while passengers line up, pub style, to be served at the bar. However, there are usually at least five drinks servers working at any given time, and wait times for service are actually short. For the busy, crowded disco, I actually think that this kind of service works better than normal waiting service.
One nice thing that Pullmatur does is that each table- in both bars and restaurants alike- comes complete with a little card, featuring the name and picture of your designated server. It’s a lovely little touch, and one that I have never seen on any other cruise line. As new servers come on rota to work, the cards are changed to match.
Now, to some of the cons. The great bulk of Pullmantur’s guests are Spanish and, while menus, literature and most announcements also come in English, the Spanish dominate these cruises. Individually they are lovely people, and they certainly know how to party. Even the older folk are still going strong in the small hours of the morning. Their sense of fun is both infectious and vibrant at once.
They also tend to travel in large, extended groups that expand as they make new friends. It is not unusual for them to take over two or three tables at a time in a public room, and then strip other tables, locust like, of all the chairs so that their friends can join them.
Naturally, this creates issues for couples or individuals looking for somewhere to sit. And these extended groups create a bewildering cacophony of sound that can drown out the quality entertainment- and it was quality- that you might be trying to listen to. Impromptu breaking into song by large groups is not at all unusual.
And the few foreigners on board sometimes do get forgotten. For instance, the staff members announcing tender debarkation in Villefranche did so only in Spanish. This was an accidental oversight rather than deliberate discourtesy, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
Stage show are audio visual spectaculars, where little dialogue is required to follow along. As such, they are quite enjoyable, though the cruise director’s ten minute pre- show spiel was done, again, entirely in Spanish alone. Sometimes, I lost the will to live just trying to listen to it.
In summary, Pullmantur offers a sassy, stylish product at a superb price point. Service across the board is good, and often excellent. The on board vibe is bubbly, exuberant, and always loud. If you want peace and quiet on your cruise holiday, I’d suggest that you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Would I go back? Absolutely. And- knowing what I do now- I’d be better prepared to enjoy what I consider would be an even more rewarding experience than the one I have just related these snippets from. Happy sailing.