My wife and I recently completed back-to-back cruises on the Tere Moana from Istanbul to Athens and then Athens to Rome. We like back-to-back cruises because Europe is too far to go for just one week, and by combining two cruises, we only need to unpack once.
I want to begin my review by thanking all those who wrote in with complaints about the initial Tere Moana trips to the Caribbean. It was obvious that the cruise line had taken the criticisms to heart and resolved many of the complaints. But the best part was the small number of passengers that booked the cruises we were assuming the low bookings were based in part by the negative reviews. The first week there were 54 passengers and the second week there were only 33! There were approximately two crew members for each passenger the second week.
We booked one of the eight balcony cabins and it was wonderful. It was very quiet, there was plenty of storage, and the balcony was much larger than on most ships. There was a table, two chairs, and a lounge on the balcony. Compare that to a room with two portholes on a Windstar ship. (We like Windstar and have sailed with them four times, but the Tere Moana is much nicer.) Only real complaint about the room was the poor lighting around the mirror in the bathroom.
The Wind Spirit was also on an Istanbul to Athens run the same days. However, the Tere Moana cruises about 50% faster than the Wind Spirit and can maneuver better in small ports. The advantage was apparent on the first day where the Tere Moana was able to go to Canakkale, Turkey with excursions to Troy or Gallipoli, while the Wind Spirit had a day at sea. Both ships were in Kusadasi, Turkey for excursions to Ephesus, the next day. The extra speed also allowed us to linger longer at the ports before heading out to the next destination. For example, we enjoyed the lights of Santorin while having dinner on the deck long after the Wind Spirit had departed for its next port.
Our excursions were excellent, but seemed overpriced. The groups were small generally only ten or so on each excursion. This might have been due to the cost and the fact the ship was not full. One of the guides on Rhodes was reported to be pretty bad by those who went on his tour. The cruise line was anxious to hear reports, both good and bad, since these are new itineraries for the ship.
The tour director was definitely a weak link. He was nice and seemed to be trying hard, but he just does not have the outgoing personality needed to be a good tour director.
As much as we enjoyed the first week, the trip from Athens to Rome was even better. This was the first time the ship had been on this itinerary. The captain, Rajko Zupan, arranged to have the ship leave Athens early so we could sail through Corinth Canal at sunset. Dinner was on the deck and the whole experience was something quite special.
We were supposed to have a day at sea as we sailed from Kefalonia, Greece to Taormina, Italy. But Captain Rajko said we could make it there by noon if we went full speed and would not need a day at sea. He had dinner on the fourth deck, where we have lunch, so we could enjoy the nice weather and have a better view than in the main dining room. Someone at his dinner table mentioned that the engines were loud because of the high speed, so he picked up his radio and told the bridge to reduce the speed until dinner was over!
The tours for Taormina and Lipari were adjusted to account for our early arrival. And now we had an extra day. What to do? Captain Rajko suggested we add a stop at Capri, which everyone quickly agreed was a great idea. To make it extra special, he had anchored us near the Faraglioni spires in the morning so we could enjoy their beauty while having breakfast. We then moved to the main port of Capri so we could explore the island.
The Captain and his Hotel Director (Nelson) constantly went out of their way to make both weeks special. The waiter staff was very friendly and helpful. Julie at reception was knowledgeable and anxious to please. We were entertained at dinner by groups from Turkey, Greece, and Italy (the best). But the best entertainment was the show put on by the crew. Do not miss it. We were amazed to hear our shy house keepers powerful singing voice, and Allen, the Matre d, could sing on Broadway.
It was a wonderful and memorable experience, and the cruises will only get better as the cruise line gets more experience with the ship and the ports. It is clear they are dedicated to excellence and they have made a great start with the Tere Moana and its crew.