Now we have experienced an Orion Expedition, we won't be going back to a large cruise line!
The Orion II reminded me of a grand, old lady -- elegant, stylish, but still warm and inviting. The cabins were luxurious and exceptionally comfortable. The availability of a connecting cabin was much appreciated especially travelling as a family with teenage children. The restaurant was cheerfully chic, and the food simply amazing every single day; second to none. We certainly made use of the gym (to run off those calories consumed -- the desserts were superb!) and various family members enjoyed the offerings of the ship's boutique and gift shop, and the pampering room for a facial and a massage. Yoga sessions run by Ewa, the ship's resident yoga instructor, were a wonderful way to start the day if one was up early.
The Ship's management and engineering crew were professional and proficient in their duties, but added to the convivial atmosphere in all interactions with passengers; we were in expert care. Housekeeping, Galley, Restaurant and Bar staff were warm, welcoming, caring and incredibly efficient. Our head Chef always put in a personal appearance at dinner time and usually had an anecdote or two from his experiences at the local markets in obtaining our very enjoyable dishes. The crew member heading up the entertainment amazed us with his versatility and broad repertoire on the piano, in song and trivia. Despite children being relatively uncommon passengers on the Orion II, with the usual passenger range somewhere between 35-75 years, every member of the crew made my children feel welcome.
With accommodation for around 100 guests this smaller expedition ship was able to visit places not accessible to larger cruise ships, which only added to the sense of adventure and exploration. Zodiac excursions were a highlight ensuring 'up close and personal' interactions with places of interest and wildlife.
The Expedition team were experienced professionals with a huge wealth of travel, photography, flora and wildlife experience between them. Expedition team members were resourceful and flexible in adapting day activity plans around weather conditions when necessary, exceeding the options on the original travel itinerary. The guest lecturer and photographer, Nick Rains, was extremely generous in his time and expertise. We also had the pleasure and hidden gem of Sue Flood, a world renown photographer and wildlife film-maker, who captivated audiences with her lectures and behind the scenes in the making of some of the BBC greats Planet Earth and The Blue Planet.
It was our first visit to Vietnam, and our first cruise with the Orion Expeditions. We look forward to exploring more destinations around Australia and New Zealand coast and beyond, with our first choice being Orion Expeditions, which offers value for money considering the exceptional experiences.