We booked this holiday late - 3 weeks before sailing - as we hadn't been to the ports before and we needed a relaxing break after a hard year. This cruise had a lot of days at sea, which we needed to unwind.
We joined at Singapore to find that everybody had been evacuated from the ship and was waiting in the cruise terminal. No one knew why, not even the crew. It was noisy & chaotic, not what anyone wanted after a 12 hour (delayed) flight from the UK. Water & burgers were handed round and after a few hours we were finally allowed onto the ship, with much long queuing. Once on the ship there was a buffet meal, and all staff were very at tentative and cases delivered to our cabin swiftly.It was gone 2am before we got to bed. The following day we were informed by a letter to our cabins that there had been a report of a bomb on one of the fleet and the ship had to be thoroughly checked. We can't fault the service under the circumstances, bu there could have been a little more information provided.
Apart from the delayed start and a few minor incidents the cruse progressed fine. However, the ship is rather old and dated. We were travelling in Asia and India and the air conditioning was totally inadequate. Either not working at all of blowing out too much, usually the former. The cabin was clean and basic - not a problem for us as we don't pay for the best cabin. Our cabin steward was efficient and kept it clean. We had a slight problem with the toilet blocking twice - once late at night, but a call to the reception brought someone within 10 minutes to clear it.
The public areas, although clean, were very shabby, and the retractable roof on the lido deck only opened a small way, which made the area very noisy, and worse still, like a green house - unbearable hot!
The lectures were well attended, and of interest to many - I didn't personally attend many, but those I did I found interesting. If you were unable to attend it was relayed over the TV in your cabin for you to see or re-listen to if you missed something. However, the entertainment was very poor. The young and energetic show team gave mediocre shows, not at all like we have come to expect on cruises. There was a classical pianist whose performances were poorly attended, and the rest of the large entertainment crew only did short (1/2 hr) bit at a time. There was an excellent trio who played popular music for dancing , and they also gave a classical performance. We went to that and it was very good, playing popular classical music and having a little comedy. We were amazed at the versatility of the performers, and the range of instruments played, and felt they were underused. One played a piano accordian, and we felt that one evening there could have been a deck party and a singsong type evening. In all the night we sailed there was only one deck party, which was well attended and the other evening just a singer or pianist for about 45 mins. Considering the climate we were travelling in, it would have been very refreshing to do something of an evening. Some evenings there was very little and we played cards on those evenings for something to do.
There is a cinema theatre which was very underused - in fact it took us several days to find it. There was a St Patrick's Day party while we were on board which was in the smallest bar - The Hideaway Bar - and it was so well attended they had to get fold up chairs. This could have been held in a larger public area.
The ports we visited were very interesting - that is why we booked that particular cruise - but the trips were very overpriced, especially as some of the facilities (coaches etc) were very basic, but the trips we went on had good local guides and were very informative. There was on Port Talk telling us about the trips before had - just a lecture on the actual area. The company provided an informative booklet with all the trips in and a booking sheet to book. We only once saw the excursions desk open.
Food was more than adequate and well cooked and presented with a variety of choice. Coffee & tea was available all day on the lido deck, or at a charge from the bars. Service was excellent and all the crew were polite and friendly.
I understand that the ship is going for a major refit later this year. It is more than due.
On the whole we enjoyed the cruise, but were disappointed at the entertainment, but did not let it spoil our holiday .
Community Manager's Note: 'This review was written when the ship sailed for Voyages of Discovery. As of February 2013, it is now sailing under the Cruises & Maritime banner"