We (a party of 14 odd middleagers) booked our 3 nt cruise to Portuguese Island 6 months previously to take advantage of what they call the Prima Special which means you get a 30% discount on the total price - well worth it if you can afford to do it this way. 2 weeks before we were due to leave we were advised that we could purchase a further 4 nights for only R850 each (R550 of this was port tax). Needless to say most of us went for this option. What a pleasure!
Embarkation on Friday 28th Jan, we were advised by friends to get there as early as possible as the queues are horrific. Glad we did so as we were in the 1st 150 of 2100. Suitcases were handed over with no fuss or searching. We managed to find seating for all if us in N shed and waited for our numbers to be called. You can buy cool drinks/water there - it gets hot & stuffy. Through security check point with hand luggage being scanned like airports. Photo taken and then passport control and we were on board! Took about 2 hours
As soon as you get on board make sure one of your party goes to the Accounts on Deck 5 where you board. This is where you are issued with your card for the whole cruise. You won't be able to buy a bottle of water without it - it also doubles as your room card. The queue gets very long especially on weekend cruises
We then went to our cabin on Deck 12 so we had a balcony suite which is well worth it. (So nice to sit out on the balcony with a cup of coffee in the morning or later with your sundowner)
Don't expect the best food, it's what I would call adequate as in there will always be something edible. They have a good baker and pastry chef on board. Pastas are a safe option, I personally thought the burgers & chips disgusting but each to their own. There's also an Indian chef on board from Goa so the Indian part of the menu is worth trying. Meat was not always good quality - don't know why as we have excellent meat in SA. Also found the breakfasts not particularly good. They ask you if you want soft eggs then bring you hard eggs and don't like it when you complain. The toast could be used as a dangerous missile!!
Bar prices are not bad at all although in USD they are on a par with what we pay in a restaurant in SA. Cocktails are very reasonable. The entertainment on the ship as of quite a high standard
Staff on the ship - Italian crew rather snooty unless you were women sitting alone! Restaurant staff need to be able to speak better English - we had Romanian, Indonesian, Phillipino and lots more - in fact there seem to be too many waiters. Cabin crew are lovely and incredibly honest. One of our ladies lost an ankle chain and it was returned to us very promptly.
Portuguese Island there isn't that much to do but you can go over to nearby Inhaca and have lunch at either Lucas Restaurant or the hotel. At weekends they have a braai (BBQ) on the beach as well. The ship also provides a braai on Portuguese Island when it's not windy. The Zodiac semi rigids that take you over are not for the fainthearted. Several people had problems getting on and off the ship but you are well assisted by the crew
Day trip to Maputo we enjoyed. You can go on guided tours arranged by the ship or go it alone as there are numerous taxis & tour operators waiting for you as you disembark. We went to the restaurant at the Marina for lunch and had a good seafood meal. They also have a swimming pool which is nice as it gets rather hot in Maputo.
All in all we will go again, stick with the same cabins if possible but spend the R450 per couple for Priority Boarding especially if on a weekend cruise. They whisk you past the queues to a seated area with a fan, a drink etc and then take you through to the ship before everybody else
Oh and the duty free on board is quite good as well especially for perfumes/cosmetics etc.