Voyager Cruise Review by fhamm: The Curate's Egg - good in parts!
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The Curate's Egg - good in parts!
Embarkation: Athens (Piraeus)
If you cruise in November, you know you're taking a risk with the weather. In terms of destinations, we'd already been a bit unlucky thanks to the trouble in Egypt (no fault of the cruise line) and we had to forgo Tunisia because of 24-hours of bad weather, but for the rest of the time the weather was perfect. Sadly, the outdoor spaces were disappointing and if the ship had been full, they would have been impossibly crowded and unpleasant at least in terms of eating outside. The level of noise on the main part of the Veranda deck was very high anyway and when there was a grill or BBQ option during the days at sea, that was compounded by blaring live music for the whole 2 hours lunch-slot. I can't imagine that many of us (largely in the over-50 age groups) could have had a meaningful conversation - or indeed any conversation at all. The indoor Veranda restaurant got very hot and was extraordinarily badly planned, especially in terms of tea and coffee stations. People were in and out More
and jostling one another all the time, especially as there were no trays to reduce the coming and going. The food was plentiful and reasonably varied. Lots of salads and good cheese boards, but the fresh fruit was disappointing. The staff were fine often comprehension was an issue, so drink orders were a bit haphazard.
The main restaurant was much better. Excellent varied menus and service. Smallish portions (a good thing) and we were mercifully spared the birthday/anniversary serenading which plagues other lines - balloons on the doors were a good alternative! Free room service especially in the mornings was a bit hit and miss but very welcome nonetheless, though I think they could have run to a boiled egg as well as just cereal and pastries.
So much for the (mainly) good things. As a whole, the ship was disappointing. Public spaces first. Why was a large and comfortable space on Deck 8 used only for Bridge players and occasional classes or evening dos, when the main lounge and library were always crowded and sometimes very noisy with live music. Why was the 24hour coffee/tea station on the 7th floor and inside the Veranda restaurant - a trek for anyone partial to an early morning cuppa. Why was the sauna so far from pool or fitness suite?
The library was OK but largely because passengers recycled and shared their paperbacks. Games sets were also fine, but there were no decent tables to use unless you trailed up to the 8th floor where the Bridge players were pretty accommodating. The sight of elderly rumps raised in the air while their owners retrieved dropped tiles added a new dimension to Scrabbling. And the decor everywhere was tired and shabby - the carpets positively dirty and the vacuuming seemed to take place at times of maximum movement.
And watch out for extras! Excursions are expensive and cheapskate. We had one decent lunch on a full-day trip and two rotten ones. Any extras (like a glass of wine) had to be paid for. Shuttle buses for people not on excursions were few and far between which meant that people with limited mobility were not well catered for, since most excursions required quite a bit of walking. But - a really good point - the excursions didn't dump you for long periods in tourist traps on the pretext of a comfort stop.
Laundry is also very expensive and takes a long time to come back relative to other cruises. No dry cleaning either, or at least not on our trip. Bar prices could be worse - though they're not nearly as reasonable as eg Saga -and the little shop wasn't too bad either.
We're not great on entertainments, so I won't comment on floor shows etc but the lectures were really poor. One speaker had good material and spoke well, but couldn't be bothered to provide a single visual image- I don't mean death by Powerpoint, but just a map or a photograph to clarify the subject and retain interest. Another actually had the temerity to show a picture of his (large, luxury) villa and his wonderful family followed by another of himself with the Duchess of Cornwall during what was supposed to be a lecture on the politics Middle East..... Need I say more. Poor, poor quality stuff.
So all in all, not a cruise line I'd travel with again, though in the end, they were practically giving the trip away and I suspect it turned out to be a cheap option for a lot of people. In brief, if you don't have to book ahead and can get a really cheap deal, it will be fine, but don't pay full price. You can do better elsewhere. Less
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The only good thing about this cabin was the bathroom which was effectively a wet room with a very good shower, lots of hot water and fluffy towels. It would have taken a wheelchair just about and had a stool. Cheap and nasty toiletries though, but plentiful tissues. Because of the extra bathroom space, the cabin layout was awkward and the grab handles and lights badly thought through. Hairdrier and TV broke down twice each though they were 'repaired' promptly and the temperature fluctuations ranged from freezing to boiling irrespective of the control panel - which was in the ceiling, note, for a so-called accessible cabin!! The grab handles were badly placed and no effort had been made to make the cabin attractive. The carpet was stained and dirty and the decoration and pictures really tired. (We had been offered a complimentary upgrade which we couldn't take because the showers in the balcony cabins) were over the baths - be warned if you want something a bit more upmarket.In other words, there was a minimal effort to make the accessible cabin functional and attractive or to think through what someone with limited mobility actually needs - we didn't have much rough weather at sea which is just as well because the cabin would have been very difficult to negotiate in that event.
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