We left Istanbul end of the day and the ship looked small compared to the Costa and the Xelebrity.
The Austral is the second after Boral and before the new Solal. Human size Yachts of only 264 passengers, with only very nice outside rooms.
But the first impressions were very positive regarding the casual and friendly style of this company. On a lot of ships you see the captain at a drink or a special event. Here Captain Jean-Philippe Lemaire and his staff were very close to the passengers. I reminded the experience of 2008 on the Windstar!
Passengers are invited to visit the bridge (of course outside the maneuvers or when there is a pilot on board) Himself and his officers give you plenty of information and you are invited to ask question. And if you want to go back in the evening, no problem. A very nice different and impressive experience.
There are two restaurants: the main one downstairs with full service (only in the evening) and the self-service upward with possibilities of eating outside. Good selected wines, beer and drinks are included during the meals.
There are facilities such as a pool (not very large view the ship size) there is a wellness center, there is conference and theater and several bars.
With regard to drinks you have the choice for paying (on your account) per consumption (prices in Euro but reasonable) or an all-inclusive forfeit of 30 per person per day. Tip: is only interesting if you stay most of the time on board and you drink quite a lot!
After passing the mount Athos island the captain decided to approach Greek coast and drop the anchor and open the marina facilities. Swimming in the sea in a rather wide limited area of course with safety facilities of the crew with zodiacs.
Destinations we did:
Limnos (was no so good, all closed on Saturday) The mount Athos visit cruising (not allowed to go on land) was nice and impressive. At Volos we took the chip excursion of a full day to the mtoras with the impressive monasteries (we visited 2 of the 4 or 5 still in use) Worthwhile!
Patmos was quite nice. Kusadasi you have the choice to go to Ephesus (what we did on a previous cruise) so we went with own means to Priene,Milat and Didyme with famous Greek / Roman constructions and in Diikilli we used the ships excursion to Pergame and Asclpion.
The languages used are of course French but also English. We had mixed nationalities of passengers roughly half French of course, but also Belgians, Suisse, British some Americans, Aussies and New Zealanders and even a Japanese.
There were some younger children, mostly adolescents, on board. A ship of this size is not a big fun ship of course, but the staff arranged a lot things with them participation for example in show and in spectacle with the artists. I can say that they really were proud, enjoyed themselves a lot!
The company can really be recommended !!!