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19 Athens (Piraeus) to Europe - Black Sea Cruise Reviews

Chose this cruise for the ports we were going to visit. Upon embarkation we were informed that two of the ports had been cancelled (egypt)-not happy! Then, the ship lost my passport! The most interesting thing is that when the ceo was ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the ports we were going to visit. Upon embarkation we were informed that two of the ports had been cancelled (egypt)-not happy! Then, the ship lost my passport! The most interesting thing is that when the ceo was contacted about our poor experince, his response was to send our email to a subordinate to respond. Her response was that the contract allowed them to change ports! The staff are phenomenal, cabin was ok and food was great. The cruise entertainment director made himself available to everyone and had well planned activities. Shore excursions were plentiful and informative. The only negative was that when shopping was allowed every shore excyrsion had a defined shopping experience- kind of felt like tge guide was getting a kickback! They may have been protecting us but nit sure about that! This was our second oceania cruise and based on this experience, our last! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
While we have sailed on various Holland America ships, this was our first on the Prinsendam. In reading other reviews before departure, I was somewhat nervous about what the condition of the ship would be. I don't know if the ship ... Read More
While we have sailed on various Holland America ships, this was our first on the Prinsendam. In reading other reviews before departure, I was somewhat nervous about what the condition of the ship would be. I don't know if the ship has recently had some refurbishments or not, but I found most of the criticisms I had read to be unfounded. Keep in mind, this vessel is 27 years old. I have been on ships that were only 5 years old that were more tired looking than this one. Our cabin on Deck 10 was in pristine condition. The carpet looked new and the furniture had no signs of wear. Everything worked as it should, with the exception of the hot water, and this problem was largely remedied as soon as I reported it, although for some reason the water at the sinks never got as hot as the tub/shower. The outside of the vessel was sparkling and all the public rooms were in great shape. Someone might nitpick that the furniture in the main dining room was a bit beat up, but you really had to be looking for this to notice. The only signs I saw that indicated the ship was old was the molding around the dining room windows was not in great shape, and the caulking around the outside of our verandah door had been patched over rather poorly. The ship was under the command of Capt. Tim Roberts, an affable, laid back Englishman. His personality seemed perfect for this small vessel. The cruise director was Bruce Scudder, who also seemed comfortable on this size of ship. I never heard him say if he works on larger Holland America vessels, but I assume he does. One of the guest entertainers remarked that this was a "happy ship". I would have to agree based on the interaction with various crew members. I have never encountered better or friendlier service, and the staff of the Front Desk were perhaps the epitome of that. Our Room Steward, Gede, was unfailing helpful and efficient, assisted by Hendra. They were constantly inquiring if everything was satisfactory in our cabin. The Dining Room stewards were also very friendly, but clearly overworked and it was hard to develop a personal relationship with them as they were too busy to talk. We were very pleased with the quality, and particularly the taste, of food, both in the main Dining Room and in the Lido. I felt the food had improved substantially since our last HAL cruise on the Ryndam in 2013. Whether it was because this ship gets special attention because it has the highest ratio of return guests of any HAL ship, or just because it is easier to do a higher quality job on a small ship, I don't know, but the food was almost always excellent, particularly the taste and most notably the desserts. I learned to trust my DR Steward's recommendations at dinner time. I noticed how perfect the temperature of the soups were, on a consistent basis. Our only disappointment was that we had to eat in the LIdo more than we would have liked. The food there was excellent as well, but we prefer to eat in the MDR for breakfast and lunch as much as possible. Service was just too slow at breakfast for us to eat there except on sea days, and it was usually closed for lunch on port days. We had one meal each in the Pinnacle Grill and the Cannaleto, and they were both excellent. The entertainment was not spectacular, but probably the most you could expect on a ship of this size. They had a troupe of 4 singers and 4 dancers who put on several shows. Unfortunately, one of the singers was taken ill in Sochi and had to be left behind, and they carried on as best they could. Several nights there were no entertainers in the Showroom. The ill crew member did return for the final night. They had an excellent comedian, a guitar player, and singer come on board and they all did individual shows and then all together for another show. Also, the "Station Band" that played in the Ocean Bar was excellent and could do just about anything, and we often enjoyed listening to them after dinner and before the show at 8 pm. We chose this cruise mostly for the itinerary. We had never been to the Black Sea before. I really enjoyed the scenic cruising in the Dardenelles and the Bosporus Strait. I understand this itinerary used to include a couple of stops in the Ukraine, before the hostilities with Russia broke out, and they were replaced with additional stops in Turkey at Sinop and Trabzon. Both were very disappointing. We also were very disappointed with our excursions in Sochi and Istanbul. But our overall enjoyment of the cruise made these disappointments seem trivial. Both embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly and we had very good ship transfers from Athens airport to Pireaus and return. We will be looking for another opportunity to cruise on the Prinsendam before she is retired, which seems certain in the next two to three years. The Captain said he didn't know the specific plans for the ship, but said one thing is clear - HAL would never build a new ship of this small size, as the economics just don't work. Hopefully they will find a newer small vessel on the used market that could be a replacement. Ships the size of Oceania's Riviera and Marina would be perfect. We have sailed on Riviera twice and loved that ship as well. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I just completed two back to back cruises, 9/5-9/12 Piraeus-Istanbul (Greek Isles) and 9/12-9/19 Istanbul-Istanbul (Black Sea Odyssey) This was my first SB trip. For comparison, I have done 8 prior cruises, most of them on luxury ... Read More
I just completed two back to back cruises, 9/5-9/12 Piraeus-Istanbul (Greek Isles) and 9/12-9/19 Istanbul-Istanbul (Black Sea Odyssey) This was my first SB trip. For comparison, I have done 8 prior cruises, most of them on luxury competitor lines. EMBARKATION was pleasant and efficient, took less than a half hour. We got on board on a very hot day around 12:30 for a 4 PM departure, then went to the nicely air-conditioned Colonnade indoor/outdoor venue for a sumptuous buffet lunch while the rooms were readied. Around 2PM we were notified our room was ready. My suitcase was there waiting for me from Luggage Forward, a company sponsored by SB, shipped from the US in advance, right on time. ATMOSPHERE Contemporary, well-kept ship, very clean, with obviously well-off passengers averaging 55-65. Overall, pax were younger than on Silver Sea cruises I have done, by about 10 years, though this may have been due to the itinerary. Passengers were mostly well-behaved, healthy-appearing couples with varying marital status, including a few gay couples, and a handful of singles (there seemed to be less of them here than on SS). Though there were a few people who appeared unhappy and were having problems they unrealistically hoped a cruise would solve, generally people seemed to be polite, well-traveled, reserved, and content to enjoy their trips and the company of their traveling companions without inserting themselves into conversations with strangers. At least a third seemed to be from non-English speaking countries (I heard at least Italian, German, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch, Flemish, and Portuguese). The rest were English-speaking Americans (some originally from other countries), Brits, Canadians, Aussies. Most of the port excursions on these cruises required a pretty good fitness level (cobblestones, hills, and/or walking and standing around in the heat for the majority of offered excursions), so not surprisingly I did not see any wheelchairs (though some pax had canes and were mobility impaired), or many pax who were young children. However, I heard from a crew member that a couple months before here had been an unusual group of pax on board with 50 children, so absence of children is not guaranteed on this line. Note for smoking phobics: there were a few small outdoor smoking venues which did not bother me at all but might bother some. Even though I am a non-smoker, I am not worried I will die from a few outdoor sniffs of smoke here and there, though I know some people are, and some perceive reactions to even small amounts. Smoking venues were on the starboard side of the 9th floor outside above the pool deck (five tables), and starboard side of SB Square veranda (a couple sofas and tables), plus smoking is allowed on verandas, but overall, VERY few people smoked, or even vaped. FACILITIES were overall very nice, though the contemporary style modern furniture in most public areas was often uncomfortable for me (I have musculoskeletal problems) so I set up coping strategies (see below). The ship had immaculate maintenance, tasteful art displays, a very uncrowded environment, and even at the pools on hot days it was tolerable and you could swim laps (there is also a smaller pool lower and aft). I could always find a place to sit in the public areas, including the wonderful Seabourn Square center aft where there are computers, printed newspapers, acceptable Internet, iPADs, easily available front desk personnel, coffees with snacks, ice creams, adjustable recliners, sofas, library books and games. Chairs and sofas in public areas were modern in appearance, some more comfortable than others. Poolside lounge chairs were uncomfortable for me without cushions. Chairs in the Colonnade were very nicely angled, padded, and comfortable, and this was my favorite dining venue (I love eating outside on a nice day). There were two modern styles of chairs in the main dining room: one style (rounded, yellow) was oddly shaped, such that I felt like I would slide off, whereas the others (white, more squared) were ok, though shorter than ideal on the backrest and with hard armrests, and thus not as cushy and plush as the main dining room chairs on competitor lines Regent or Silver Sea. I was a bit disappointed in the overall seating on this line (many hard seats and low backrests), but not enough to dissuade me from coming to SB again, as I can structure ways to get around these issues (e.g., target the venues or chairs that I like, and/or carry portable seating pads). Nothing looked worn out or tired. SPA: Beautiful spa with views of the ocean as you get serviced, with pleasant staff, (Tijan the manicurist from Serbia is a delight to talk to) and a special serene sitting area where you can lie on hard warm rocks if you choose (I did not, too hard), or wade through a serene area pool. You can also rent by the day or by cruise regular access to the serene area. Though I did not use the gym, it looked uncrowded and had a variety of equipment options, also with ocean views, and a trainer was available. ENTERTAINMENT: I went to several shows, which with the exception of a lovely and talented outstanding young classical pianist (Naomi Edemarian, whom I could listen to all day if offered), were nothing special, but I would never pick a cruise line for its shows. There were some competent Broadway-style singers and dancers, there was a magician, a talented and humorous female fiddle player, but unfortunately also a British comedian who was not too funny and a bit crude. Grand Salon is the main basic entertainment, gathering, and lecture venue, where attentive staff will bring drinks to your seats before and during the events if you want them. Chairs are a little stiff though padded, upright, not comfortable enough for me to want to lounge the evening away in them. There are also many on demand movies you could watch in your suite, almost all only in English, as well as the usual array of varying and mostly sparsely attended on-board activities common to other cruise lines (cards, dance lessons, trivia, casino, etc). TV showed BBC news, Sky news, FOX news, CNBC, MSNBC, Sky Sports, some TV shows, a view from the bridge, and had an interactive channel where you could book excursions and spa appointments (there were a few problems). There was also a cruise director who was a beautiful young American woman who looked terrific in a tight evening dress and very high heels, and tried very hard to be pleasant and amusing, but who seemed to have a somewhat false manner about her and periodically made jokes that I did not consider to be funny (e.g., about a particular classical music piano piece reminding her of Bugs Bunny themes). But to me, cruise directors (or event entertainment offerings) do not make or break a cruise, so she was mostly irrelevant to my overall rating of this trip as 5/5. ENRICHMENT lectures: not a strength of SB this journey; lectures were few and far between, weak and disorganized, with some misinformation provided on some topics (one British male speaker was particularly annoying in this regard, not sure if he is paid for his efforts). I would have been better off just reading about the referenced places and history on the internet or in books about the area I had brought on my iPAD, and watching online videos, rather than listening to the speakers with their poorly structured and barely legible slide presentations. But lecture availability does not determine my cruising choice or overall rating (here, 5/5). FOOD and WINE: Very good to outstanding, all venues, all meals. This is very important to me on cruises. There was a wide variety of competently cuisine, and portions were sensible so you could try more things (considering the constant ongoing feeding), with daily special themes. Also, personnel brought daily fresh fruit specials to the suite daily. I did not have a bad or mediocre meal the entire cruise though some courses were better than others. My biggest ‘complaint’ was that the delicate pheasant one night had a little too much rosemary on it, and the borscht on the Russian food night in the Colonnadede did not taste very Russian. Though I had some mediocre coffee here and there, it was usually good, and always served hot and well-caffeinated, even at room service. Seabourn Square personnel will make you espresso, latte, etc starting 6:15 AM, till 6:00 PM, no closures, and again 9-11PM, where you can also get little cakes, muffins, tiny sandwiches at will. Room service for breakfast was quick, (often arrived earlier than ordered) and except for one of the times I used it, the tray always had what I had ordered (the other time they had just forgotten to pick up the breakfast order from outside the door the night before). The included Nicholas Feuillatte champagne and international red wine offerings were decent to good, and though some of the included whites were not to my taste, personnel would bring me something different if I asked, also included in the basic fare (such as Stag’s Leap Chardonnay which drinks quite nicely with the wonderful assorted lovely fish dishes SB frequently offered). I did not feel compelled to constantly buy wine off the wine list in order to find something drinkable, like I did recently on SS. It was also not at all difficult to attract a waiter’s attention and the dining rooms appeared well-organized in true team efforts. Though food in all venues was very good, my favorite was the popular Restaurant 2 (multiple small gourmet portions served in a small quiet room, reservations are required there but there is no extra fee). Restaurant 2 also offered wine/food pairings on one of my two trips there, which were outstanding. Though I am not a vegetarian, I noted on SB there were always vegetarian options, quite tasty, and gluten-free choices were also marked. The main dining room and Restaurant 2 were not open for breakfast or lunch, which some people did not like but I did not care as I knew how and where to eat to get enough tasty food 24/7. For breakfast, most people either used pre-ordered room service for breakfast or ate at the Colonnade (7:30-10). Lunchtime people either ate at the pool (1-4), the Colonnade (12-2), or were on excursions. An improvement would be if advance dining reservations, e.g., for R2, could be made on the internet before the cruise, as on SS or some other lines, to avoid rushing around the first day trying to get a reservation in R2 (they booked out). SERVICE: Exceptional, and this is an important and distinguishing SB feature. Excellent, friendly and helpful staff everywhere I turned, and personnel did not seem exhausted or act overworked and annoyed with you: very good waiters and service in dining rooms, very good room stewardess (ours was the excellent Monica, from Slovakia). There were also helpful and readily available SB Square destinations and front desk service personnel, and computer tech support (e.g., Adrian — quietly competent and thorough). Personnel who interacted with pax front-line were from English-speaking countries of origin from all over the world, or from countries where almost all young people are required to learn English. I never had trouble getting front line personnel to understand what I was saying, and many were multilingual and picked up on pax language preferences if they were not English. Personnel were readily responsive to the few problems I had: e.g., I have a musculoskeletal condition which makes hard (i.e., new) mattresses difficult for me to tolerate, and my stewardess did not rest until she found a solution to my mattress and sleeping problem (an egg crate topper). Adrian the computer guy also came personally to my suite to help me with my internet and email issues (he resolved a very complex problem I had). I had a sense of “can do, no matter what” from the staff, as opposed to “not my problem." INTERNET: not as good as I’d like (especially in my suite location), but it was reasonably priced for unlimited service and one way or the other, I was able to get on and stay on to get done what needed to be done. This is not a problem unique to SB. SUITE review: I had a very forward PH Suite on the 9th floor, right behind the bridge. Surprisingly, I heard no bridge noise. There was a huge amount of storage space, and a luxury bathroom with a side-by-side modern shower and a whirlpool tub. Nothing was broken, but a minor flaw was that the bathtub had no rinse-off hose. There were deep double sinks, plus another sink in the separate toilet area which could be accessed either from the hall or from the bathroom. Though the stewardess was great, the suite overall turned out not to suit my needs: as noted, the bed with its new mattresses was, to me, too hard, and the very narrow living room sofa/chaise was even harder and I thought more appropriate for a dentist’s waiting room than a luxury cruise line. The Istanbul airport had seats more comfortable than this sofa. The sofa was too narrow to stretch out on (it was not wide, like in the picture I saw of the PH on the internet) and as there was also no comfortable recliner in the living room either, just a couple stiff chairs at the dining table, I did not want to sit in the living room/dining area at all. Also, the suite had poor to non-existent wifi much of the time, though it improved after the internet team performed some upgrades later in the cruise (this was apparently just a bad location for wifi I did not know about in advance). So I had to go to SB Square or closer towards the other side of the ship to use my reasonably priced unlimited internet service plan. The deck in the suite was spacious, and the outdoor chaise lounge chairs partially reclined, but had no pads and were thus hard to sit on for more than a few minutes (I put pillows on them when I wanted to sit outside). The stiff chairs at the eating table on the suite's deck (identical to the pool area dining chairs) did have some pads but were upright and uncomfortable. Lighting functions were confusing, i.e., the switches let the living room and bathroom be either totally bright or totally dark, no “mood” setting option except in the bedroom. In sum, in hindsight, the extra price paid to have a PH suite was not worth it to me as I could not comfortably use most of the space to lounge in the room that had the view. I typically wanted to leave the suite as much as possible to go sit somewhere more comfortable. I would have been better off with a simple veranda suite prepared in advance with just a bed with an egg crate mattress topper, which is what I have reserved for my next SB cruise to Norway in 2016, where I will be able to ignore the hard sofa but still see the ocean while lounging on the bed. EXCURSIONS AND PORTS: SANTORINI: a lovely, must-see, though very crowded, picture postcard island, tender required. We did the SB excursion to Mt Profitis Ilias and Oia Village, ending in Thira. It was a good overview of the area, though the trip up to Mt. Profitis, which was just a ride up a mountain and back yielded nothing to do at the top except look down at the rest of the island (there was some trash lying around, and a monastery you could not enter, no inn or place to sit or relax and enjoy the view). So next time we would probably skip this in favor of more independent time in Oia and Thira for browsing the interesting little streets and shops and enjoying some refreshments. RHODES — a worthwhile port. We just wondered around on our own here rather than taking a tour (ship was docked right at the key tourist areas, hard to get lost, just follow the old city walls ), and we also toured the extensive Archeological Museum, definitely worth a long stop, it also has shaded gardens. PATMOS — Nice. We did the "Patmos Highlights” excursion on a hot day, including the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse. This is an impressive very old religious site, and there was an active Greek Orthodox service ongoing. The tour included the 300-yr-old Simandris House, with the 90 plus aged female owner sitting there hosting as we toured, interesting, and then we went for a delicious plate of mezes, decent wine and Greek dancing at a local inn. A good tour, though quite strenuous going up the hills, especially if weather is hot, not for people who have trouble going up and down in the heat. KUSADASI — definitely do the Ephesus Evening Reception complimentary classical music concert, quite beautiful (though the acoustics at the site did not do the musicians justice, i.e., their music got partially drowned out, but this is a visually special event not to be missed. We did a separate Virtuoso tour of amazing Ephesus on the second leg of the cruise out of Izmir so I cannot comment on the quality of the actual SB sponsored Ephesus excursions out of Kusadasi. MYKONOS — I do not recommend the “Stroll through Mykonos.” The guide was boring, hard to understand, and we stood around in a poorly ventilated hot museum with no chairs to rest on, which had some interesting pieces but also a lot of echo. There was not enough strolling and too much standing. The ship is docked here, no tender, so you could do this high end town on your own. We bailed after the first 45 minutes and just wandered around independently, then ate at a local overpriced but pleasant inn on the water with a view of the interesting windmills. LIMNOS— did the Highlights tour, which was an ok tour of this more primitive island, which has quite a bit of military installations, rough vineyards, poorer people. Definitely not Napa valley style wineries. They do not get many visitors. We toured the beautifully situated Poliochnis ruins from 4000 BC as well as the British Cemetery and World War I Memorial, both are worth a look, though a private tour might provide more timing flexibility to explore the island ISTANBUL— we did the “Best of Istanbul” tour as this was our first time here and we were not sure what to expect. We would likely have done a private tour if it weren’t for the recent political unrest in the area. VERY CROWDED city overall, and this tour is not for the easily stressed or fatigued. The bus had stiff, closely spaced uncomfortable seats that did not recline. The palaces were packed, (though fascinating to view) as was the Hagia Sophia museum, (equally fascinating) and the lines were incredibly long at the Blue Mosque even for pre-booked big groups. The tour (at least on a hot day) was too tiring, with no significant rest or food breaks until close to 1:30 when we had an outstanding late Turkish lunch at a lovely air-conditioned upscale restaurant, Nar Lokanta. You may wish to skip the extra morning coffee that day if you are female, as the toilets offered in the area of the tour (other than later at the immaculate restaurant in the afternoon) were less than lovely, often the squat type (though western style at the Museum), with LONG lines as well, and at the Blue Mosque toilets some Muslim women were ritualistically washing their feet and bodies in the washroom sinks though posted signs said they should not do this there (there are other designated locations for this). NESSEBUR: we did the pleasant Bulgarian cooking demonstration. Seas were too rough to tender off this ancient town, so we docked 16 km nearby at the modern port terminal in Burgas and were then bussed to the colorful UNESCO heritage site of Nessebur where we did a walking tour, then had a wonderful 5-course Bulgarian feast at a local restaurant (Gloria Mar) with a cooking demo before, and recipes provided to take home. Unfortunately the lunch was quite late (close to 2PM before we actually ate) and we were tortured with the preceding cooking demonstrations and aromas around us without having even a morsel of food on the tables for the hungry pax who had not had anything since breakfast to munch on. So, some pax were quite cranky and expressed themselves accordingly. I should have brought some snacks with me to eat late morning in the bus, or perhaps to improve the experience the restaurant could have served the first course salad while demonstrating the rest of the food preparations. If you do this excursion, it might be good to plan on either eating a big breakfast or bringing snacks for late morning, and/or planning skipping a big dinner that night as you will be very full from the lunch feast. As it was, we had to rush through 5 courses, and the last course (a plate of ripe fruit) was mostly uneaten. VARNA, Bulgaria: a fairly large industrial port, not much to see in town other than a museum. We did the “Treasures of Varna” excursion, on which we saw some notable archeological treasures, also walked in soft sand through a petrified forest near the sea (interesting photo ops), then drove to a forest where we were saw some Bulgarian folk dancers perform (under a sign in German for some reason that said “Waldfest” , which means forest festival). Bulgarian music is not to my taste, too droningly repetitive, but the costumes were colorful and there was an audience participation option which some frisky pax took advantage of. We were offered a snack of lunchmeat and unremarkable cheese, one roll per person, and bad Bulgarian wine, while sitting on hard benches. The excellent, witty guide Elke (who speaks 8 languages) saved the day, though I would probably not do this organized excursion again. CONSTANZA, Rumania: “Constanza Highlights” excursion — unfortunately, there was not much to “highlight” here. This is an industrial port, a rundown town in a poor country, that shows significant evidence of the damage that communism did over the years. The archeological museum had some interesting treasures and there were a few other historical ruins, ancient and communist, to see. The bus then took us to the “Rumanian Riviera” beach town of Mamaia, which was mostly deserted as the season had ended. We took a gondola across town with a coastline view of the mostly shabby hotels lining a wide, sandy beach. We then were given too much time to kill in an uninteresting location with a few tacky shops and unfriendly locals, and there was surprisingly quite a bit of trash on the streets. I would not do this excursion again. IZMIR: we did a private group excursion to Ephesus. Ephesus is not to be missed, either from this end (longer drive) or from the Kusadasi access. The Terrace Houses were particularly interesting, fascinating history. Must be fit and able to go up/down uneven areas, best done when the day is not too hot (it was VERY hot, so I struggled). The additional Virgin Mary crowded site was not worth the trip to me but might be if you are a Christian following a pilgrimage route and must see this location. DISEMBARKATION in Istanbul did not go as smoothly as I expected, likely due to local port issues rather than SB fault. We ordered an early private car through SB to pick us up at 8AM and take us to the airport and were told to wait to be called to disembark at 8. We were given early disembarkation luggage tags. However, the way things evolved, in the AM we did not see any groups gathering waiting to be called, and it was close to car pick-up time, so we left the ship at 7:45 to make sure we did not miss our 8AM pickup outside the port. We and another couple with a 7:45 pickup got stuck in a huge passport and customs line of thousands of disembarking Celebrity pax, with no priority line for us with our early cars, and our luggage was not prioritized (it seemed to emerge randomly), so it was not until 8:45 that we had our delayed luggage and were finally in the car on the way to the airport, when it should have been at 8. We did not miss our flight, not even close, but some anxiety was created. CONCLUSION/SUMMARY: Despite a few minor glitches (I always expect something to go wrong when I travel) I had a very positive overall experience with Seabourn. My problems with hard mattresses and sofas are likely unique to me or a small minority of people. Food, wine, service, ambience, and a “can do” sense that everything is being taken care of in a professional manner, were and are the main features that I value (plus, of course, the itinerary). I had previously pre-booked a journey on SB with my husband on the Quest to Norway July 2015 (Copenhagen-Dover), and my current experience has reinforced my desire to retain that reservation (but with an eggcrate mattress pre-arranged with the future cruise services desk :). I definitely look forward to more SB excellence in the areas where it counts — cuisine, service, responsiveness, and class. I will also compare it with Hapag Lloyd’s equally highly rated but somewhat different style ultra luxury Europa 2 ship in December where I am booked with my husband as a new customer. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Staff very nice and pleasant. Balcony cabin b222 very good position clean and tidy. Shops on board well over priced, sale day on board like a jumble sale (junk) Food OK always found something to eat. Entertainment very poor kareoke ... Read More
Staff very nice and pleasant. Balcony cabin b222 very good position clean and tidy. Shops on board well over priced, sale day on board like a jumble sale (junk) Food OK always found something to eat. Entertainment very poor kareoke not entertainment just cheap penny pinching not putting on acts. Comedian nothing to right home about and magic show seen same old card tricks several times done better. Formal night people don't bother we felt very over dressed(disappointed) shorts don't count as formal ware. Staff were pleasant especially Richard in cafe All the ship wanted to do was try to sell sell sell. Photograph poor back drops why not use the elegance of the ship instead of false back grounds. After all of the above enjoyed cruise but disappointing as being American ship thought it would be be better. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My partner and I booked a 14-day cruise on the Emerald Princess last October. Cruising out of Athens, the itinerary was to include Odessa and Yalta, Ukraine. Unfortunately those two stops were replaced with stops in Bulgaria and Romania, ... Read More
My partner and I booked a 14-day cruise on the Emerald Princess last October. Cruising out of Athens, the itinerary was to include Odessa and Yalta, Ukraine. Unfortunately those two stops were replaced with stops in Bulgaria and Romania, but they both turned out to be very interesting. After spending 5 wonderful days in Athens, we boarded the Emerald for our 30th cruise. Embarkation was fast and easy. The Princess Representatives were courteous and efficient and we were onboard within 30 minutes. The ship was fresh and beautifully decorated. We went to our balcony cabin on the Lido deck and were greeted by our steward, Jesada. He was wonderful throughout the cruise and took care of all of our requests. Our next stop was the Crown Grill to make reservations for dinner one evening. We had late seating in the Botticelli Dining Room (traditional dining), so we checked out our table which was near the front of the dining room, yet in a quiet location. After lunch, we went back to our cabin and our luggage had already been delivered, so we unpacked and were set for the cruise. After Muster Drill, we met some of our fellow Cruise Critic members at the Tradewinds Bar overlooking the pool for a Sail Away Party. We were a bit disappointed that more members did not show up for either of the two Sail Away parties (in Athens and Istanbul). Almost 100 people had signed up, but it was very nice meeting all of those that did turn out. Dining Room/Buffet We were fortunate to have a nice table for 6 with Tanya as our Waiter and Osbert as our Assistant Waiter (Table #66). They did an excellent job and were happy to bring you whatever you wanted. The food in the dining room was very good to excellent. They had Prime Rib, Medallions of Beef, Lobster Tails, Lamb Chops, as well as fish and chicken dishes etc. Don't miss out on the Goat Cheese Soufflé, Fettuccini Alfredo (with extra Alfredo sauce), Wild Mushroom Soup, or the Pasta with Fresh Clams (ask for extra clams in the shell). Also, the Head Waiter Missimo was fantastic. He stopped by our table every night and assisted the Waiters and Assistants. On several evenings Missimo also brought our table special appetizers, which was a very nice touch. If you are going to make a reservation for Crown Grill or Sabatini's, the specialty restaurants, do it as soon as you get onboard. There is a $25 cover, but well worth the experience. We dined in the Crown Grill during the first week and highly recommend it. The food was excellent, and the service was very good. You can select whatever you like. In the Crown Grill, we shared several appetizers, but the Spicy Shrimp with the Thai Chili Sauce was outstanding and we had the Scallop appetizer and a half portion of the mussel entree – both very good. My partner and I both had the Filet Mignon and added a lobster tail (no add’l charge) and did have several of the side dishes, which were properly portioned for two. I had the S’mores dessert and my partner had a Molten Chocolate dessert – both excellent. The Horizon Buffet was generally good to very good. The buffet area at the back was only open on sea days. There are different items on the back buffet area that are not on the main buffet area, so always check it out before you make your final dining decisions. We never went away hungry as there was a variable selection of food. Pizza and burgers at the outside grills were very good. Soft ice cream is available mid-deck. Entertainment The production shows were adequate, but not exciting. The shows “I Got the Music, “ “Disco…Blame it on the Boogie,” “What a Swell Party” and “ Boogie Shoes” tend to have musical numbers linked together with little rhyme or reason. The singers and dancers were talented, but they deserve better productions. Ventriloquist Kieran Powell was quite entertaining with an amazing closing. Nik Page, actor-singer from London’s West End was enjoyable. Many activities took place in the Piazza --The Champagne Fountain, The Captain's Welcome Party, various entertainers throughout the day, etc. The Officers were not as visible and mingling with guests as we always see on the Ruby Princess, with the exception of Roy Harley-Kelly, the Food and Beverage Director. Roy was always available to assist passengers. He printed out some information for us prior to arriving in Istanbul, since it was our first time there….very thoughtful and much appreciated. Captain Marco Fortezze was at the helm and Tim Donovan was Cruise Director. Bars/Disco/Casino There were several other venues for entertainment-- the Crooners Bar was a wonderful Martini Bar in a great location. A bartender we met on the Caribbean Princess last summer, Vladamir, was at the Calypso Bar on the Lido Deck. It was good to see him again. He also was part of the Martini Demonstration in the Piazza. The Skywalkers Disco was active every night and the DJ played a nice selection of music. We have been on some ships where it was Hip Hop most of the time which turns off middle-aged guests and leaves the disco practically empty. At Skywalkers, our favorite bartenders were Jigs and Fidel. Fernando was a very good Bar Manager. They all did a wonderful job. They were also there at Elite/Platinum Cocktail Hour. The waiters were warm and personable; all were sad to say goodbye on our last night. Other lounges had piano players and smaller ensembles, which was nice. Casino staff was also quite welcoming, especially Akshwan who always greeted us with a friendly handshake and a big smile every night. Black Jack tables were busy and amounts to play were generally $5 - $10 per hand. They also had Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, Dice, etc. My partner enjoyed the slots and I was a very happy camper at the Three Card Poker table. Cruise Stops/Excursions Athens - Too many sights to mention, but we saw most of them. The food was outstanding wherever we went. Try restaurants in Monastiraki. Though a bit touristy try Tabpena - excellent. Shop in the Plaka, but look around as prices vary widely for the same items. We found the subway safe and convenient and quite nice. We bought a 5 day pass for 10 Euros PP. It was a great deal. Volos, Greece- Took an independent tour of Meteora monasteries. DO NOT MISS. This was one of the highlights of the trip. Khios, Greece- Explored the port village and spent the afternoon at a local beach. Constanta, Romania- Booked a 12-hour excursion to Bucharest. We toured the People’s Palace, 2nd largest building in the world (Pentagon in Washington is largest); Parliament was in session at the time; toured the city and major sights. We had a lovely lunch through the ships’ tour. Pleasantly surprised and would like to go back sometime. Nessebar, Bulgaria- A charming resort on the Black Sea. The city had many historic buildings and ruins, shops with local arts and crafts, and sidewalk cafes. Istanbul, Turkey- It was our first time here. On the 1st day, we took the Princess shuttle bus to the Grand Bazaar-- 4,000 amazing shops to choose from; be careful to mind your entry point, as it is easy to get lost inside. The next day, we took a tour which included the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, and back to the Grand Bazaar for more shopping. A word of warning—Avoid taxis. Drivers are ruthless and will rip you off. We were out 100 Euros, and so were the folks in the taxi behind us. They are poor representatives of the city. This was our only bad experience on the entire trip. Mykonos, Greece- Our favorite island. Take the water taxi to Village center across from the ship docking area. The water taxi is much less expensive than the ships’ bus that you must buy on the ship before exiting. From there, we took the bus to Elia Beach (clothing optional). Other popular beaches are Paradise and Super Paradise (clothing optional). Buses go to all (2 Euros each way PP). Valletta, Malta- Keep your camera ready as you approach Valletta; lots of photo opportunities. Once docked, we took the elevator up to the city (1 Euro RT). It was a truly charming city. Messina, Italy- We took the ship’s excursion to Taormina, a mountaintop village and site of a partially restored Greek/Roman theatre; fantastic view of the coastline and Mt. Etna which, when we were there, was spewing smoke; excellent tour. Naples, Italy- Had been to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast before (both great excursions), so we took the Princess excursion to Capri via hydrofoil. It was an all day trip and do not recommend doing on your own, as we were late coming back (90 minutes) and the ship had to wait for us because it was their excursion. Rome, Italy- The end of our journey. We took Princess’ transfers (which we highly recommend and have used previously as well) to the Rome airport, stayed at an airport hotel and flew home the next morning. Miscellaneous The Princess Gem Series of ships is our favorite. We have been on the Ruby four times and Crown and Caribbean 1 time each prior to this cruise. The service on Emerald overall was very good to excellent. There were some wonderful standouts on the ship, as noted above, and they were rewarded accordingly, beyond the daily automatic tips. Overall it was a wonderful trip and we highly recommend the Emerald Princess. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We (a group of six) were on the Prinsendam on the October, 2014 Black Sea Explorer. This was our fifth HAL cruise in the past six year each on a different ship. We have been on the Zaandam (Alaska), Nieuw Amersterdam (TA repositioning), ... Read More
We (a group of six) were on the Prinsendam on the October, 2014 Black Sea Explorer. This was our fifth HAL cruise in the past six year each on a different ship. We have been on the Zaandam (Alaska), Nieuw Amersterdam (TA repositioning), Noordam (TA repositioning) and Veendam (South America repositioning). We are 3* Mariners and will be 4* when our Prinsendam cruise is credited. In part this review will be a comparison with the other HAL ships. We choose this Prinsendam cruise because of the itinerary a year ago We wanted to see the Black Sea ports including Odessa and Sevastapol in the Ukraine. When the Russians invaded earlier this year, HAL told us they were canceling the Ukraine stops and substituting Batumi, Georgia, Trabzon, Turkey and Sinop, Turkey we decided to stay with our original plan. We spent 11 days in Greece on a package arrange through Fantasy Travel (separately review on the Greece Forum of Trip Advisor). Embarkation was smooth. We arrive at the terminal at 11:30 AM and by 12:30 were in the MDR eating lunch. We had no problem carrying on six bottles of Greek wines we had purchased on our travels. We had SY cabins on the 10th deck. When we booked our cruise we had AA cabins on the 9th deck. We were able to get upgrades to the SY cabins with an additional OBC. As it turned we were assigned adjoining cabins. We were able to open the partitions between our cabins to create a large three cabin veranda. We never had a problem with smokers on other verandas. The SY cabins were large and comfortable. We like the large walk in closet and the bathroom with a separate toilet. We were under the Lido, but never heard any noise from above us. There is no doubt about it, the Princendam is an old ship, well maintained and clean, but nevertheless a ship showing its age. The crew was constantly cleaning, painting and doing upkeep. We had no problems with air conditioning or plumbing except on tdeparture day our toilet stopped working. They were working on it as we departed. The Prinsendam is a small ship as compared to the other HAL ships and a minnow if compared to the mega ships. As a result everything is smaller. The fitness center has half the number of exercise machines, the swimming pools are smaller and the MDR is smaller. On the other hand the fitness center was never crowded. The one thin the Prinsendam lacks that is a feature of the other HAL ships is the sliding cover on the Lido pool. On other cruises it is nice to sit around the pool on cool days with the cover on. The food is typical HAL quality, no better, no worse than other HAL ships. There were old friends on the menu, onion soup in the MSR, different Asian dishes and sushi in the Lido buffet, and great eggs Benedict at breakfast. There are two sides to the Lido which may serve different items. The two sides are connected only by public hallway. I heard one passenger comment that she did not know there was a another half to the Lido buffet until the third day. i ate all my breakfasts in the Lido as well as the lunches on sea days. About half the time we at dinner in the MDR and the other half in the Lido. The line for all meals in the Lido was reasonable. My only complaint about food, and this complaint applies to all HAL ships, is that the Lido stops serving dinner at 8:00 PM sharp. The only food available after 8:00 PM was the MDR, room service or bar snacks in the Ocean Bar and Explorer Bar. We did not hang out in in the bars, so I cannot comment on the music. There was a piano violin duo in the Explorers lounge. They were good, but their play list is limited. I liked the quartets before HAL made the staffing cut backs. We saw a few shows in the show room, and the musical acts were good. The entertainers were adequate. Because this cruise was so port intensive, we were usually early to bed. The ports were incredible. High lights included two nights and two days in Istanbul. We went out both evenings to the New District on our own. We ate excellent dinners both nights and were back on ship by 11:00 PM. We never felt unsafe, although we stayed in high traffic areas. On day 1 we explored the Grand Bazaar and the surrounding area. On day 2 we visited the Blue Mosque, Haga Sophia and the Spice Bazaar. On both days we had excellent local lunches. Other highlights include Ephesus, Meteora Monasteries in Volos, Sumela Monastery in Trabzon, Turkey, spa day at the Ilium Hotel in Cesme, Turkey, food market walking tour in Thessaloniki and wine tasting and Nesebar Tour in Burgas, Bulgaria. All of these tours were privately arranged went off without any problems or surprises. We explored Batumi, Georgia, Constata, Romania, Sinop Turkey and Kavala, Greece on our own without a tour our guide. Disembarkation was smooth. We did not leave the ship until 9:00 AM. Since our plane flight home left at 6:30 AM the next day, we spent the day further exploring Athens. We spent the night at the Sofitel Hotel next to the Athens airport. A nice hotel convenient to the terminal.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This cruise was very disappointing. The ports of call were mostly very interesting but the crew were totally unhelpful to the independent traveler. The shore trips generally did not live up to the advertising. For example three of the city ... Read More
This cruise was very disappointing. The ports of call were mostly very interesting but the crew were totally unhelpful to the independent traveler. The shore trips generally did not live up to the advertising. For example three of the city tours purchased had no city component, just lots of war memorials and dull dull monuments . Local guides were good and were happy to discuss their city when asked but they seemed more interested in the dull stuff. The food was entirely British style and uniformly second rate to non Britishers like myself. Meats cooked to death , vegetables always overcooked, mushy stodgy puddings and cakes , tasteless sauces and poor presentation. The Galley is staffed exclusively by Filipinos under the guidance of a Scottish Chef. Most of the galley staff in the self service restaurant had really lousy customer service skills along with a very poor attitude. This coupled with a far from clean room on occasions made for some depressing days. The main dining room was much nicer but also had a lot of staff with a poor attitude . However they were mostly technically efficient and food was served promptly and hot. There were two excellent speakers on the cruise but I felt they did not give enough talks. The entertainment team were a very mixed bag with the exception of the singer Rachelle. This cruise ship is geared to a very specific market , older Brits, and is not at all suitable for the North American traveler. Cabin was acceptable and adequately furnished. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Food: Absolute non memorable in anyway. The eggs served are classified with a number 3 stamps meaning these are battery cage eggs. Nowadays these eggs are strictly forbidden in the EU but apparently Regent knows her way to get them ... Read More
Food: Absolute non memorable in anyway. The eggs served are classified with a number 3 stamps meaning these are battery cage eggs. Nowadays these eggs are strictly forbidden in the EU but apparently Regent knows her way to get them on-board serving this animal cruelty eggs to her passengers. The above only states the way Regent is looking at food quality, animal welfare and at cutting costs. The overall impression of the food is mediocre at his best. Most items are cheap and tasteless. The selections (especially at breakfast) are poor and the same every day with no change at all. We can’t really think of one thing we ate that was memorable or very good. The best place to eat on the ship is Prime 7 where most of the food is ok to good. For the rest of the ship (with Compass Rose being the worst) the food is cheap, tasteless, non memorable and simple. Complementary wines are also very simple and cheap. To give you an idea. One of the so-called premium wines (the ones that have to be paid for extra) was a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. This “Cloudy Bay” is sold in the supermarket over here for € 6,= per bottle. Regent sell this one for US$ 60, = on-board. It only goes to say what the quality is of the “free” wines served. Poor in every way. Service: Majority of the staff is cheap labour from poor countries. Most of them are very friendly and trying to do their best. Major problem is them only a very few of them are trained for the hotel business and almost all of them miss the proper education to give a real 5 star service. They seem to not know anything about etiquettes or class. On top of that the service is very spotty and extremely disorganised. It’s almost impossible to take a seat at one of the dinning places without having at least 3 but mostly at least 5 people asking you if you want water. Despite telling them you don’t water, within a few seconds the next waiter is asking for water. This will repeat on and on without any exception. We mentioned this to one of the Maître’s and the responded advising that they considered this as good service instead. For us however it has nothing to do with good service however. It’s a clear sign of how disorganised things are and at the end no one really knows what the other one does. It’s a lack of clear and good leadership. Cabin: Just ok. It’s of a proper size but cannot be called a suite in anyway. The cabins seem to be very used and are in need of a refurbishment and proper, deep cleaning. When we arrived the air-conditioning did not work properly. We mentioned this at 15:00 for the first time and after 7 more attempts to have this solved, at 21:30 nothing was solved yet and the temperature was still 24,5 degrees Celsius. We then went to the hotel manager who, after visiting our cabin, stated that nothing was wrong and that this was the normal temperature. He offered us a FAN in the cabin and promised that things would be checked once more the next morning to see if the temperature dropped. This should be the case, as nothing was wrong. The next morning however they checked again and nothing had changed with the cabin still being very hot. Then the head engineer arrived once more and we were told that all of sudden they discovered a major problem in the main unit and that it would take the whole morning to solve the problem. And indeed, after hours without any air-conditioning at all, the system was started up and now the airco was working properly. No excuses were given at all. Despite the promise in their brochure, the bed is NOT European KING size and the promised amenities are not all there. Furthermore the slippers are not cotton (as promised) but synthetic and the abundant flowers shown in the brochure is a poor twig only once on board. Overall: We feel that Regent is not delivering a ultra deluxe experience at all. It’s not coming close to the acclaimed 6 stars at all. It’s not even 5 stars but mostly it’s a trimmed and upgraded version of Princess Cruises coming close to 4 stars at it’s best. For the prices asked this is a real laugh and ridiculous. We had a very good deal at the end, but if you’re about to pay more than € 500,= per night (for 2 people together, so 250, each) you will face, in our opinion, a complete rip off. We are seasoned travellers sailed on all major luxury lines, including Silversea, Crystal, Hapag Lloyd, Azamara, etc and for us Regent preforms far below the standard of all those others.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Having just completed our second cruise on Minerva we think that its still doing things right. We shopped around the cruise lines at one time, and have sailed with some that we find too opulent, some with excessively expensive alcohol ... Read More
Having just completed our second cruise on Minerva we think that its still doing things right. We shopped around the cruise lines at one time, and have sailed with some that we find too opulent, some with excessively expensive alcohol prices, some are too crowded, and some where the on-shore trips are just too expensive. Minerva prices are all inclusive, so do the maths and you'll see that the up-front price isn't always the cheapest in the long run. The ship itself is comfortable, well staffed and the space per passenger is sufficient never to feel too crowded. its principle plus factor though is the supremely high quality and relevance of its in-board guest speakers who without exception combine erudition with entertainment, and who mix freely with the passengers. Does it have a downside? Well, its quite small by modern standards and because of its loyal following, some "Swans" as repeat customers are called, are getting on a bit so don't expect a wild rock-n-roll atmosphere. They all have a 'can do" attitude though, and after dinner conversation is always interesting and sociable. Give it a go, but don't take the kids! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We selected this cruise for two reasons; to celebrate our 25th anniversary and because of the originally scheduled itinerary. Unfortunately situations in Ukraine forced the cancellation of the ports of Yalta, Sevastapol and Odessa. I am ... Read More
We selected this cruise for two reasons; to celebrate our 25th anniversary and because of the originally scheduled itinerary. Unfortunately situations in Ukraine forced the cancellation of the ports of Yalta, Sevastapol and Odessa. I am not stupid. I know this is not the fault of Oceania and this is something they had to do. The big issue was their communications on the situation (and lack thereof), their suspicious timing on cancelling these ports after the cancellation period had passed, even though they cancelled these ports on later cruises much earlier, their lack of any attempt to compensate for these changes, and their lack of imagination in revising the itinerary. Many cruisers I spoke with had experiences with other cruise lines which handled situations in much better ways, such as waiving cancellation penalties, onboard credits, free internet, future cruise discounts or applying the money to future cruises. We were offered nothing. The ship had apparently just emerged from dry dock and refurbishment. This was noticeable in the common areas, but in the cabin we had, there were dents in the doors, scuff marks on the hallways, and scratches in the walls, the railing in our room had faded varnish (however this was redone during a day ashore). Not terrible but pretty off putting for what is marketed as a luxury cruise experience. I found the bed way too soft. The cabin temperature wasn't very comfortable most of the time, but we never really got a good answer in response to our complaints. The food was generally OK. The quality of steaks was not really that good, IMHO. They lacked seasoning in a lot of dishes. I don't know if that was to cater to older and duller palates or what. The salads were especially disappointing. They offered a Caesars salad, but the dressing was bland, and barely passable for calling itself a Caesars salad. Hardly a shred of parmesan cheese. But they were free with the anchovies. Apparently throwing anchovies on a pile of lettuce makes it a Caesars salad. In the specialty restaurants they offer 'table side preparation of Caesars salad". What a joke. They wheeled out a cart with lettuce, anchovies, some meager and often stale croutons, and bunch of anchovies, and a previously prepared container of the same bland dressing you get at the buffet and main dining room. The exception to this was the food in Toscano which was superb. Polo Grill didn't compare to most of the finer steak houses we dine at here in Denver. The service was impeccable however, and I cannot criticize a single person we dealt with onboard. The cruise director Leslie John was very nice and we enjoyed his work. The entertainment offering was typical for cruises. Decent but not great singers and musicians. There was a couple of good specialty acts. A lot of the music arrangement was very odd to my ear. Didn't like the fact that they shut off the TV sound and video during PA announcements, but the announcements didn't play over the TV, only in the common area, so we had to listen out the door in our bath robes. It seems to me the proper way to handle this would be that if I already have the TV on, play the announcement over the TV. If the TV is off, don't play it over the TV. Overall I don't think the premium we paid over another cruise line was worth the value at all, and we won't be returning to Oceania. We did enjoy the small ship experience so we will probably look at Azamara or another of the Oceania competitors in the future. We only did one of the Oceania provided excursions, because of the cost. This was the one in Sochi which we did because of the visa restrictions. Just OK. Too much drive-by sight seeing in my opinion. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Booked the Oceania Insignia for its historical Black Sea ports which were cancelled due to crisis in the Ukraine. Although this was not the cruise lines fault they failed to provide any consideration to make up for the missed ports. We ... Read More
Booked the Oceania Insignia for its historical Black Sea ports which were cancelled due to crisis in the Ukraine. Although this was not the cruise lines fault they failed to provide any consideration to make up for the missed ports. We booked all our tours privately (except Sochi Russia) due to high cost and herding cats atmosphere of cruise line tours. The Sochi tour was an expensive waste of time and money. Called the highlight tour - Sochi has no highlights. Stalin's Dacha was the only thing worthwhile and it could have been done in a couple hours; of course the cruise line would not have made much on that. We took advantage of the extra night in Bulgaria and spent the night in Bucharest which was the highlight of our cruise. We strongly advise experienced travelers to book private tours in order to save 30-50% and have a small group. It allows you to pick the exact places and times spent at each.With Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor there is no problem finding tours at all the major ports. The Insignia is a fine ship with an outstanding crew and staff. Can't say the same for management. The food was excellent in all dining rooms. Entertainment was weak and enrichment lectures were tour talks. The Oceania small ships are the same as the Azamara ships yet Azamara gives you better value in that they always include pre-paid gratuities, beer, wine, and spirits with better entertainment. If you like the small ships you really should give Azamara a try. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This is the first time I cruised with Oceania. I picked the cruise because the itinerary is one I have wanted to do for a long time. Unfortunately, because of the situation in Ukraine we were unable to go to Sevastapol, Yalta or Odessa. ... Read More
This is the first time I cruised with Oceania. I picked the cruise because the itinerary is one I have wanted to do for a long time. Unfortunately, because of the situation in Ukraine we were unable to go to Sevastapol, Yalta or Odessa. This was not Oceania's fault but they were very sneaky in not informing us until it was too late to cancel. And worse was to come - we lost 3 ports and they didn't put any others in! We had one day cruising, 2 nights in Constanta instead of one and arrived in Istanbul a day early. Everyone on board had complained to Oceania before and during the cruise but management in Miami ignored it all and we were offered nothing to compensate for our disappointment. Now for the good things. The ship is small so there is no scrum in the buffet or getting off the ship in port. It's tastefully furnished and the food is superb. Our cabin was fine, kept clean, although the bathroom is a bit small. Service is first rate in the restaurant but could be a bit slow in the bars. All the staff are very friendly and efficient. But ... there is very little atmosphere. It was like a ghost ship after the entertainment finished at 10.30; most people went to bed! Now I'm 63 but I still like to dance and enjoy myself on holiday but the main lounge had a terrible 'disco' every night with music being played by the Cruise Director on his iPad while he sat at the bar. Only usually 10-12 people up there. Most people we spoke to liked the small ship experience and weren't interested in the entertainment. We did private tours in port but from what we heard the ship's tours were very expensive and not as good as ours. Several people told me the ship's tours were very poor value. I think we were in Constanta for 2 nights so the ship could sell their overnight tour to Bucharest for £500 per person! Otherwise our 4 hour tour covered everything there was to see so the second day was a waste. And it wasn't a pleasant place to wander on your own. After the appalling treatment from Oceania, I won't be back. This was an expensive cruise and I have to ask myself - was it worth £1000 per person more than a Celebrity cruise? And the answer is a resounding 'NO'. So Oceania have lost my custom and next time I want a special cruise, I'll go with Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Although the cancellation of 3 ports was unavoidable, the delayed timing was later than was needed to cancel without a large loss. The included air far gave us such bad connections that we had to pay $175/pp deviation & another $100/pp ... Read More
Although the cancellation of 3 ports was unavoidable, the delayed timing was later than was needed to cancel without a large loss. The included air far gave us such bad connections that we had to pay $175/pp deviation & another $100/pp = $275/pp to get reasonable flights. Beware. They hold the cards. Although I was assure that our 40 minute transfer time in Munich was no problem, it was a disaster with our names called to say we were to go to a gate as we ran up 3 flights of stairs(no escalators), through a very slow security line & along a very lengthy corridor. Thank God they held the flight. I think one other couple didn't make it. We upgraded to a Concierge Level & then learned that there was 1 concierge in the lobby for everyone!! Beware. We were forwarned about needing a Turkish visa & they were collected as we boarded. 2 days prior to the port of Socchi we were told we needed a Russian visa unless we took an excursion with Oceania. Their excursions are overpriced but it was also a complete loss. The 4 hour tour($195) lasted 3.25 hours. The visit to Stalin's Dacha included 45 minutes in a room waiting for 40 people to use 1 washroom. The spa visit was 35 minutes standing outside looking at a building. Everyone expected to go in but it didn't happen. One of the excursion reps was with us & agreed that it was a short tour with problems. The excursion dept got back bad news from Miami. Too bad! The concierge, Diego, & the Destinations person, Jenn, were very busy contacting Miami head office but I talked to no one who received any satisfaction. And complain we did. I thought it was about to be a mutiny. Oceania told their staff not to talk about the problems. I have cruised over 750 days with many companies but had more problems & least satisfaction on this 13 day Oceania cruise than on all others combined. I love Azamara & the small ships but Oceania will never be an option again. In all the terrible flight connections with expensive additions, the no Concierge upgrade, the lack of Russian visa info, the delayed cancellations of ports, the shortened, expensive uninteresting excursion, the lack of any positive response from Miami made for a memorable cruise but most of them negative. How low can I rate this? Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I chose this cruise because of its Black Sea itinerary, mostly places I have never seen. Spending a few extra days in Athens was the icing on the cake. Check-in and boarding staff were efficient and cordial. My stateroom, a free upgrade ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of its Black Sea itinerary, mostly places I have never seen. Spending a few extra days in Athens was the icing on the cake. Check-in and boarding staff were efficient and cordial. My stateroom, a free upgrade surprise, was large and luxurious with a bathtub and walk-in closet. Cabin stewards were gracious and eager to please. The small size of the ship gave me a chance to get to know some of the guests I saw regularly. What a delightful, well-traveled group. The food was excellent with extra emphasis on local specialities. Our first port, Volos, Greece, gave me a chance to visit the breathtaking Meteora Monasteries on a excellent shore excursion. This is a must see site with religious communities perched on top of pillars of rock formations that are like something out of a sci-fi movie. The guide was wonderful. The Dardenelles and Bosporus cruising was narrated and a wonderful scenic tour in both directions. Our entrance into the Black Sea was cold and blustery so the crew did everything they could for our comfort. Sinop, Turkey was a delight. It is small, walkable and a great view of seaside life. I enjoyed a talk with a young weaver who spent her time telling me about her country and shared a traditional Turkish coffee with me in her shop. Others I encountered were equally gracious. It was a delight to visit a place not built just for tourists. Sinop is historically significant as well as delightful Sochi, Russia was an interesting Russian experience as well as a preview of the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. My chosen shore excursion was to a Caucasus nature reserve but most of the time was spent visiting the high mountain Olympic Villages that were still under construction. It will enhance my enjoyment of the Olympics but we never got our walk in the nature reserve. Due to rough seas the captain arranged an early and overnight stay in Sevastopol as a treat and it was. I enjoyed a dinner in town where the restaurant staff were gracious and negotiated with us about a meal since we couldn't read the Ukrainian menu. The food was wonderful and the service was cordial and efficient. My shore excursion the next day was a half day that included the ruins at Chernosses, a wonderful experience. I spent the rest of the day strolling around the clean, beautiful city. Constanta, Romania was a view into a post-Communist city that is struggling to reclaim itself after years of neglect. I walked around visiting mosques and churches and enjoyed a coffee with pastry in a bakery. People were friendly and eager to speak English. It was a day of enlightenment and hope for the future of these lovely people. Burgas, Bulgaria, a substitute port due to stormy weather, was a surprise treat. It is full of parks, boulevards, beaches, shops, cafés and delightful people. I walked around alone, resting in coffee shops as needed, enjoying this beautiful city. Istanbul was a return visit for me. I spent the entire day strolling alone through markets, visiting mosques, shopping a bit and people watching. Since it was the beginning of an extended holiday, locals packed the streets providing a great opportunity to observe this diverse culture. My evening shore excursion was to the Whirling Dervish service in a mosque. This was a rare treat that was graciously explained and beautifully presented. Our last port was Mykonos, also a return visit that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is hard to think of a more beautiful place on a bright sunny day, with Sunday church services and low tourist crowds. People are friendly, food is good and scenic views are all around.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Me and my father had participated in a Holland America cruise with MsPrinsendam from 2 to 14 October this year at Black Sea. It was a round-trip, we sailed from Piraeus and disembarked there after visiting the following ports and places: ... Read More
Me and my father had participated in a Holland America cruise with MsPrinsendam from 2 to 14 October this year at Black Sea. It was a round-trip, we sailed from Piraeus and disembarked there after visiting the following ports and places: Volos-Pelion in Greece, Sinop in Turkey after cruising the Dardanelles and Bosporus, Sochi in Russia, Sevastopol in Ukraine, Constanta in Romania, Burgas (though initially Nessebar was out port of call) in Bulgaria, Istanbul (Constantinople) in Turkey and Mykonos in Greece. I would like to make a few comments on the destinations, before I go on with our experience on the ship. I come from Greece and three ports were actually in Greece, but I’ll try not to let this color my review. • I am sure Athens was a top destination for many travelers who flew from other continents, as Americans, Canadians, Philipinos and Australians. • Volos and especially Pelion with its unique architecture and autumn colors was a marvel even for us who have visited before. * Cruising Dardanelles and Bosporus, this area so heavy from memories and history, where different continents and cultures meet, was a special opportunity for lovers of history and for photographers as well – watching Constantinople from every angle as the ship sailed through Bosporus was spectacular! • Sinop was the first port where many of us wandered: “why did we really stop here???” It’s a small provincial town with almost nothing to show in terms of natural or urban environment, apart from the Walls, some Mosques and a few old Greek style houses. Though for Greeks (7 out of 750 passengers) Sinop might have some sentimental value (we visited an interesting Archaeological Museum with Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine relics), I am wandering how much money Holland America has saved by wasting one day here and not at some other important port as Samsun, Giresun, Ordu or Trabzon. Nevertheless people at Sinop were very hospitable and warm and they offered tasty pies and the traditional tea in their shops. • Sochi in Russia was a good example of how a communist city transits to black economy “development”. This usually means: ugly expensive hotels, casinos and malls, where all the upstarts –God knows how- come to show their culture or the lack of it. This could be a gate to Paradise, built across the coast of Black Sea and at the roots of Caucasus with all its beauty and botanical diversity. Anyway, we didn’t see much of it, since we needed Visa, and our travel agent had given us the wrong impression that the ticket to the off-shore excursion to the Nature Reverse would be the ticket, for a few hours, to the land of the (still) highly suspicious Russians. • Sevastopol is a city which we will have nice memories of: built on hills and small peninsulas entering Black Sea, gave me the impression of a city of Ancient Glory, as we were entering the harbor at sunset and its simple but imposing buildings were turning into gold. It’s a very clean city, very friendly to pedestrians, with a lot of open public spaces and trees. However, there is something always and everywhere present, in a rather disturbing and loud way: the Russian Army and the monuments for its participation to the great wars. Russian Army and Navy still uses this place as its basis, so there are numerous buildings with the Russian Flag on the top and people in uniforms coming and going in and out of them. We didn’t follow any excursion, it’s a waste of money anyway, and we took an old small bus (marshrutka) from their bus station and went to Bakchisaray, an old village with the Khan’s Palace, once the capital of the Crimean Tatar Khanate, where Khans had ruled for 400 years before Russians came to impose their dominance. On the way, the Cave monastery is a very interesting place, with monk cells caved in the rock, but unfortunately there was no time to make a stop. I would come back and explore the whole Chersonessos of Crimea. It’s a very cheap destination anyway! • Constanta takes the “Decadence Award”! One a charming and vibrant city is now full of deserted buildings and houses one step before collapse and it’s a shame. When we visited, the municipality was undertaking restoration and reconstruction work on streets and public areas and hopefully they will save some of the city’s previous glory. As for saving their culture, I do not think there are many hopes for that! Along with the poverty everywhere you would turn your eyes, you see the signs of a lustful consumerism: on cars, on west-style malls and on people’s behavior: aggressiveness and indifference, especially of their drivers. Constanta has left a rather depressive feeling in most of the travelers… • Next day we couldn’t dock at Nessebar so we went to Burgas, which was a pleasant turn of events. In spite of the obvious poverty and cultural confusion due the fast development of Bulgaria (some get rich but a lot of others stay in the dark), Burgas is a clean city with very interesting architecture. However, we still wanted to visit Nessebar, since we had heard a lot for this World Culture Heritage Monument. We used public transportation to get there. Today, it is solely a “tourists’ exploitation” destination: all its numerous 12th century churches, wonderfully restored, have a fee and they are surrounded with taverns and shops with souvenirs. Still, it is a picturesque place with cute wooden houses, but its lack of connection with today’s life has created a “fake” feeling in me. Like Sinop, I do not think this should be a destination by itself. Burgas or Varna, with the option of an excursion here, could be better . The company’s interests once again… • And then Istanbul which I visited for the second time – what can I say! It is the City of Cities – we should have spent 2-3 days here, but they are never enough. It’s a place you have to visit many times in your lifetime. Words are poor… • Mykonos at last is always a disappointing destination for me: picturesque but so exploited and so badly used. Lesvos or Chios would be a much more interesting destination. To end with, from all the ports we visited I would only choose Sevastopol and Constantinople: the first will stay in my mind, the second in my heart. Cruise experience As it is obvious above, only a few destinations in the cruise itinerary were worthwhile. In general, the cruise was unjustifiably expensive for what it offered. The whole ship is old and needs either to be removed or renovated, especially the cabins/staterooms. Though the bathroom was OK, the furniture in the room and other amenities are not even close to the “luxurious” ship we were told about. The air condition was horrible in many rooms and we spent two of the coldest days in rough sea …with cold air, so we had to cover our sea-sick heads with a duvet and a blanket. Then they supposedly fixed it and we spent the rest of the journey in a tropical envrionment with super-warm air. At the same time, the toilet blocked, but at least that was fixed after a few hours. Noisy room, near the machines of the ship. The food was mediocre. The choices were not as many as one would expect from a “luxurious ship”, so we had chicken, beef and salmon over and over again. In two occasions, fruits were one step before rotting and the slices of bread had signs of mold. In general, it was OK and the choices helped you maintain a healthy diet. I will remember one night we had Indonesian food served by staff dressed with traditional clothes. The food tasted more authentically, perhaps because it was closer to their hearts… We found entertainment awful, and this was how most non-Americans felt. Despite the talent of some of the performers, there were very few “canned” choices that were mostly directed to elderly Americans. The only performance I would distinguish was that of Mr. Cristian and Mr. Valentin on violin and on piano respectively. They performed with real passion diverse peaces from different parts of the world which created a very romantic and nostalgic atmosphere. These two gentlemen, who are also very kind and interesting people, have literally saved me during this cruise. Another issue that was inconvenient and unpleasant for us and many other passengers was the amount that was withheld from each passenger (60 dollars per person per day) and the tips that were mandatory. I do not know which policies apply to other cruise lines, but to find out that a couple needs more than 1300 dollars to be disposable, even if they do not intend to spend it them on the ship, is still incomprehensible for me. A cruise is not for everyone something they do whenever they wish. For my father and me it was a “once in a lifetime” thing and personally I didn’t have 700 dollars extra. “Tips’ policy” is another issue. I do not disagree that this is a way to honor those really hard-working people, and I do that wherever I go. But it is me who judges who deserves it and I make sure that she/he gets and not the owner of the company/store etc. I am almost 100% that the tips do not go to these poor people’s pockets and that they rather make up the minimal salaries of hunger they are paid for 16-18 hours of work each day. And this leads me naturally to the service from the lower staff in the rooms, restaurants/bars and machines of the ship – all those people we never really see and to whom our journey relies on: it was excellent, human, warm and thoughtful. It was overwhelming for me to watch these low-paid tired people smiling even though their feet hurt and needed sleep. Someone would say that they are treated better than in their homelands (mostly Philippines and Indonesia) and that they have the chance to see the world and make a budget to build the house or the shop of their dreams in their hometown when they return. But they deserve much more: better salaries, better work conditions. And this is something Holland-America should have in mind: these people never complain but many passengers know what happens. The shore excursions then: “canned” just like the entertainment aboard. Much money for less time and fewer places. Do not follow. Use the local transport: you’ll get a deeper look in everyday life than when you’re lead by others stacked in a bus in a predetermined root. Should this option intimidate you, book a local guide before your journey. And of course, read before you travel. Before I conclude, I feel that I should mention the cruise director of Ms Prinsendam which me and many other passengers found arrogant, rude and disrespectful of other people’s cultures and status. A lady from Turkey was insulted in a multiply racist way when she dared to complain about certain incindents on the ship: her origins, her experience from the rest of the world and her ability to speak and understand foreign languages were questioned. Holland-America should consider her replacement. Of course, I could have made all these complaints to the company directly but you know what? Although, they asked us to feel in a form with our e-mails, nor me nor the lady from Turkey have ever received their survey to complete it… Am I suspicious?...   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I start with stating that I am quite a seasoned cruiser at all levels, We decided to go on this cruise largely because of the destinations. Not expecting too much as the price was more than reasonable. * Itinerary started with the rather ... Read More
I start with stating that I am quite a seasoned cruiser at all levels, We decided to go on this cruise largely because of the destinations. Not expecting too much as the price was more than reasonable. * Itinerary started with the rather uncomfortable " squeeze em in Thomas Cook Airways to Athens. Not the best way to start a holiday, but for the price we paid more than acceptable. Met at Manchester by very helpful Cruise and Maritime Staff. Mirrored in Athens. Once we had located our luggage Cruise and Maritime took over. Cases direct to Cabin. *The refurbished Discovery is more than acceptable for a budget cruise, with the majority of decor and services bordering on 4 to 5 Star *Cabin was a little tired but immaculately clean, with plenty of wardrobe and draw space, refrigerator and largish bathroom with bath. Cabin steward Taiwanese gets a FULL 5 star rating . *All lounges and bars, refurbished to a high specification, waited on by numerous waiters, mainly Eastern European. Again 5 star Service could not be faulted for professionalism. *Food RESTAURANT. Again 5 star plus, as good as if not better than other ships of all standards we have cruised with. 6 Course meal every evening with 2 formal evenings.TOP DECK SELF SERVICE RESTAURANT. Very clean with efficient cleaning and mopping up staff. Food quality very good but not a large selection. *Pool Space. Limited but not necessary on this cruise * Relax areas- Plenty of deck and indoor space with no crowding *Entertainment - Headed by Cruise Director Kate who is very talented and an excellent host, heading the most amazing and talented 10 person Entertainment team, all duplicating with late Cabaret. Cabaret Theatre is excellent with NO area having obstructed views, and the Cabaret Lounge spacious with large dance floor. The guest speakers were very good, giving numerous interesting lectures. If I was to pick a week point it would certainly be C & Ms choise of commedian who was on 2 evenings and unfortunately fell flat We personally did not do any ships tours, but upon listening to other guests, a few of these fell short of professional. But overall A GREAT CRUISE at a very reasonable price. We did hear the usual complaints from the Professional Moaners, but I can recommend this ship to anybody wishing a good cruise experience at a good price.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Our first trip with Oceania and we loved it. Previous cruises include Seabourn, SeaDream, Le Ponant, Island Sky, Windstar, Star Clippers, Hapag-Lloyd's Hanseatic, Paul Gauguin, and others. Embarkation -- Seamless, speedy and we were ... Read More
Our first trip with Oceania and we loved it. Previous cruises include Seabourn, SeaDream, Le Ponant, Island Sky, Windstar, Star Clippers, Hapag-Lloyd's Hanseatic, Paul Gauguin, and others. Embarkation -- Seamless, speedy and we were sipping a glass of bubbly before we knew it. Luggage placed outside the door which was just fine by us. When the day comes that we can't move our cases a few feet, it's time to pack it in! We bought the booze package and never found it intrusive to have to show the card. In fact, the best waiters/bartenders (here's looking at you, "D" in the Grand Bar) memorized our cabin number so did not ask for it repeatedly. We had a PH cabin with a balcony and butler. We used the balcony only a couple of times as this was a port intensive cruise. We used the butler once. We loved our cabin category due to the size, but did not need the butler. Excursions -- did all private one with people we "met" on our roll call. Food -- nearly the best I have ever had at sea. The dining room took only 2 days to get my boiled eggs correct (and my odd way of breaking them into a bowl to eat). Other ships never did get the concept! The breads and especially the croissants were terrific. One night I commented how great the bay scallops were and the next thing I knew I had another order in front of me. Decor -- we loved it. Yes, I know it is not very nautical and is reminiscent of an English Country house, but it fit our tastes. Was it all perfect? No. Our room was not made up one night. Our first meal in Toscana was not the best (veal limone -- skip it), and we had an annoying problem with the Oceania Ambassador re a future cruise. Nothing is perfect but for us, Oceania comes close. We'll be returning and I heartily recommend Oceania to others Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
These smaller ships are much more pleasant than the 2000+ passenger ones and you get to know your fellow passengers, as you meet them around the ship much more often. Getting on & off the ship's quicker, the restaurant is far ... Read More
These smaller ships are much more pleasant than the 2000+ passenger ones and you get to know your fellow passengers, as you meet them around the ship much more often. Getting on & off the ship's quicker, the restaurant is far superior and there's plenty of room on the top deck (never any need to worry about getting a sunbed at any time of day). OK, the entertainment is not so good, but it's still enjoyable and at least you're never too far away from the stage. The restaurant is particularly pleasant and the food/choice of was excellent - much better than the sister ship Ocean Princess, that we sailed on in May. Choice at the buffet breakfast was superb and freshly cooked eggs to order. The only let down as far as staff were concerned, were the rude Reception staff - but we've found this on other ships and it must be something to do with the job. Our cabin & restaurant staff were excellent. The cruise itself was interesting - good to see some of the places in the Black sea, but I'm not sure I'd want to back. we couldn't get into Yalta (Ukraine) because if high winds & rough seas, which was a shame. Weather in mid Sept was generally fine, but I'd not want to go any later. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
My wife and I are Elite members of Princess's Inner circle club. We picked The Pacific Princess because of it's itinary and it's smaller passenger capacity. Our embarkation was smooth and easy. We went a day earlier and ... Read More
My wife and I are Elite members of Princess's Inner circle club. We picked The Pacific Princess because of it's itinary and it's smaller passenger capacity. Our embarkation was smooth and easy. We went a day earlier and stayed overnight in Athens. The crew of the Pacific Princess was exceptional. The service in the dinning and buffet areas exceeded our expectations. The food was excellent, well presented and very tasty. Our room stewardess Mila made our stay very pleasant by keeping the room clean and well kept. The ship itself is showing it's age. You can see rust, and repair needs throughout. The pool had to be shut down to make much needed cosmetic repairs. The hot tubs are disgusting and also should of been painted. The entertainment was very good, especially the production shows. All in all we had a good time, only wished Princess took better care of this Ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013

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