Was I and my partner actually on the same voyage as bnb521 ?
Most of his experiences certainly do not accord with our own but to be fair he refers (twice) to fun loving fellow passengers and the great crew. Yes that is so very true; SD always attracts friendly fellow passengers and as for the crew, well words, cannot do justice, they are just magnificent.
But as for the rest of his critique, he is............... Well let me just offer this gentle rebuttal of his main points:
It is a 102 passenger classic vessel, referred to as "YACHT", it is not competing with the larger vessels. It has no need to, it is an elegant, friendly vessel preferred by those discerning guests who want personal service, the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people (or not) and who certainly don't want "entertaining" that is why it is also referred to as "CLUB" (the mere mention of a "knobbly knees contest" would send my partner hyerventilating !).
Would a larger vessel even make it up to Iquitos ? I think not.
Trust me the room sizes and facilities are more than adequate. Plus, where can you eat outside (including most evenings) ? For those from cooler climes, this is heaven.
Furthermore the size of the rooms and the facilities as well as the public areas are clearly displayed on all the companies particulars. Would it not have been reasonable to check this before booking "an expensive cruise" (his words, not mine).? What part of YACHT CLUB does he not understand ?
The weather during the trip was wonderful, if a little humid for the crew (especially those serving to passengers eating outside in the evenings). So if (as claimed) the sommelier filled the glass ever so slightly then maybe it's because he had a lot of ground to cover and wished to keep everybody lubricated.
He is one of the hardest working of the crew, hugely liked and respected and a great joke teller (when he has the time).
I am most particular about my wine and I thought the regular wines were fine but the evening dinners deserved greater wines. They had a great range, were fairly priced and the sommelier offered some great advice and were served perfectly (if they were not I would impose Sharia law punishment on the offending infidel ! You know what that means but an example would have at least been made).
The Amazon was the inaugural sailing for SD, and the Captain took this responsibility very seriously (as always). He was doing 6 hour shifts shared with his Chief Officer for the duration of the voyage. Very demanding, I think you would agree. I too regret that we did not see the Captain as often as we would like but it was clear his priority was to the safety of the passengers and actually navigating the river. Would he preferred to see the Captain schmoozing with lovely ladies, drink in hand whilst passing rocky outcrops so that he could wave to a friend of a friend ? Or would he prefer the Captain to be exercising the greatest attention and personal responsibility whilst we had a gay old time (dont go there, it is an old English expression, not used as much these days ..)
The Captain is then criticised for addressing problems with the passengers (always the same few) !
What ? I view this as further testimony to his concern for the passengers and his sense of overall responsibility and not "dodging the issue"; he should be commended not criticised.
I do suggest that if his duties could have been shared more (by incorporating an additional senior driver or whatever the second in command is called) then more periodic attendances at drinks before dinner explaining the navigation etc.. may have allayed concerns for the few.
Please remember it was an inaugural voyage, most of us were excited by this adventure and had factored this in.
The dismissive comment that the food was "passable" is an astounding comment to make.
The food is consistently to a very high standard but on the Amazon voyage it was exceptional in every department. We were fortunate to have an assembly of some of the best cooks in the world on board.
The chef is a particularly friendly and accessible guy, accommodating food allergies, preferences, fads, etc.. ; if there was something you particularly liked, he would make it ! But the real treat is to try food you would not normally order. With the kind of experience and taste the waiting crew have, I simply let them order my meals (provided I have one soup and one desert): I was never disappointed and constantly amazed by the culinary skill of these giants.
My partner and I eat out a lot and are fortunate to eat in some amazing places. SD kitchen is consistently very good as are the serving staff, eating outside or in the beautiful dining-room. On this point, my fellow passenger is hopelessly wrong. SD kitchen is remarkable and the experience of eating on SD is magnificent.
I cannot comment on his remarks concerning activities other than to advise that we were satisfied.
Concerning announcements: I detest intrusive announcements especially into cabins. SD have got this bang on with their view of being un-obtrusive. We were also mostly well informed, if there was something we wanted to know, we simply asked; no big hardship, in fact it was a way of inter-acting with fellow passengers.
I loved the comment about a track for the morning walk. Again I say it's a yacht not a large impersonal ship taking thousands of passengers. The walk lasts 20 minutes, sit somewhere else or join in. Get those endorphins going, they say it helps with your mood (may a couple of hours a day to start with ?).
I also loved that he implied he was bored by the Amazon citing only seeing " birds-trees-water" etc. Well you tend to get a lot of water around vessels ! They move better when they are on water !
Again he cites "trees", what part of rainFOREST is he missing ? What did he expect to see "the Sydney opera house, the hanging gardens of Babylon, herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically ..... (a famous excerpt from "Fawlty Towers"; a room with a view. Go see it on YouTube. ).
Well, happy sailing to you all whoever you prefer to sail with (or not).
Finally I would add that my partner and I would not have done this trip except with SD, with this Captain and with his crew and I dare say a large number of our fellow passengers are likely to have felt the same (75% of whom were repeaters; yes we are just "suckers for punishment". Bring it on.........I love you SD, SD crew and every inch of your beautiful classic yacht, cant wait to see you again soon even though Go...an has awful wobbly needs ! Dont look darling !)