We wanted an interesting cruise on a small ship over Christmas and New Year and the " Mysteries of the Maya" cruise, visiting Central/South America and the Caribbean, sounded ideal. It was our fourth cruise, having been once on Azamara Quest and twice on SAGA's Quest For Adventure. We read Cruise Critic before we went and felt that and the Swan brochure gave us an ideal alternative to our previous cruises. Sadly it was not to be.
Firstly the plus points. The places we visited and the accompanying lectures were great and much enjoyed. The cabin and bar crew as on other boats were friendly and efficient as on our previous cruises.
If you read some of the negative of other reviews you will start to realise the Minerva is a bit of an old tub. We were amazed to read that there had been a £10million refit as there was constant vibrations in anywhere aft of midships due to the fact they had extended the rear of the ship but not the propellers. Any aft cabins should be avoided. We also experienced roughs seas and did not feel the stabilizers were as good as the previous two ships
Country House Style? The cabins are ok but not classy, there was no fruit and you had to buy water at inflated prices [also on excursions]. Some of the main rooms are pleasant but the main dining room looks more like an old seaside hotel and they insist on jacket and tie in 30 degrees with poor air conditioning. The food was not up to Azamara or SAGA and we experienced poor quality meat, lukewarm soup and icecream melting in the inadequate freezer. The free wine on the odd gala night was very acidic and can see why a previous reviewer has sleepless nights after drinking it!
Excursions were good but there were no Swan escorts on any trips. On one of our all day trips there were two serious health and safety breaches that would have been sorted by an escort. When we raised this with the excursions staff they said they only had two staff available for 8+ coaches which is rubbish as the other two cruise lines use their lectures and entertainment staff as escorts.
The Cruise Director and staff were extremely low profile, and the officers were not very social, even on captain's cocktail evenings where they huddled in a group and did not greet us. Swan does not seem to greet or acknowledge first timers unlike Azamara or SAGA where we had welcome letters and unexpected bar credits. There were rumours of staff redundancy and cost cutting by Swan which might explain some things we experienced. It seemed that even some of the regular Swan cruisers were unhappy and felt that food and standards had slipped.
This is the first review we have written but wanted to make prospective cruisers aware.