(11:39 a.m. EDT) -- As cultural cruise specialist Voyages to Antiquity approaches the final months of its inaugural season, a new brochure for 2011 has been released. And although the line has only been in operation since May 2010, significant changes have already been made -- all based on feedback from cruise consumers like you.
Voyages to Antiquity, with its single ship, the 36-year-old Aegean Odyssey, got off to a shaky start, what with strikes in Athens and crew and equipment being left in the wrong place due to the ash cloud. Add to this a problem with soot from the funnel -- and one cruise with faulty air conditioning due to a piece of plastic being stuck in a cooling pipe. The picture was beginning to look a bit grim.
Also, David Yellow, the line's managing director, told Cruise Critic today there had also been issues with the management onboard. "It took us five cruises to get to where we wanted to be," Yellow said. "The management situation is fine now; we changed some personnel. The soot has been reduced by 80 percent and the final modifications to the pipes will be made in the wet dock in December, at the end of the season."
But the main lesson learned, Yellow said, was the length and style of the culturally focussed itineraries, all of which were two weeks long in 2010.
"We looked at where we were getting our business from and the type of packages people want," he continued. "So we have reduced the length of our cruises without taking out much content and we have added hotels rather than, say, a night onboard in Piraeus. So where we had a 14-night cruise, we now have 12 nights with two nights in a hotel."
There are also shorter itineraries, including a seven-night Greek islands cruise, and new destinations, such as the Black Sea and Corsica. Two cruises call at Libyan ports, feasible now that the entry restrictions for American passengers -- who, along with Canadians, make up 60 percent of the line's business -- have been relaxed.
One thing hasn't changed, though -- the emphasis on immersion in ancient cultures is just as strong. A full nine pages of the new brochure are dedicated to a Mediterranean history lesson, leaving no doubt about the line's target audience.
If you've cruised on Aegean Odyssey, we would love to hear from you. Submit a review to Cruise Critic!
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
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