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30 Athens (Piraeus) to Middle East Cruise Reviews

Fellow Cruisers, It has now been a further three weeks of cruising on the Seabourn Ovation for my wife and I and I have begun to like this ship quite a bit. Cruising on a relatively small ship (600 or less passengers) means that the ... Read More
Fellow Cruisers, It has now been a further three weeks of cruising on the Seabourn Ovation for my wife and I and I have begun to like this ship quite a bit. Cruising on a relatively small ship (600 or less passengers) means that the staff and fellow guests get to know you and vice versa in a short period of time. This makes for a more congenial and friendly family type atmosphere. Since my last review, it seems that the service on board still remains a challenge in some areas of the main restaurant and for a couple of waiters in the various bars. But in general I am much happier with the Seabourn Ovation now. The Cruise Director, Handré is perhaps the best that I have come across in my 40 or so cruises. He is extremely hard working and can be heard making the safety and shore announcements from the bridge, overseeing the trivia, announcing the entertainment and generally coordinating all the various events. He then still has time to perform (he is a gifted pianist and composer) and conduct personalised small group enrichment programs such as “how to tie bowties” and “how to fold a pocket square correctly”. Another shipboard star is the Executive Chef, Jes Paskins, who is a true talent both as a chef and as a fun loving foodie. His caviar in the surf (and pool) as well as his many theme nights are delightful fun. For a small ship, the Seabourn Ovation makes use of all of its spaces. The deck parties are amazing and the shows are very well done by the resident entertainment team and the guest artists. Of course, once in a while, there are some duds such as the quartet of ladies known as “Ida” who perform in the style of the Three Tenors or El Divo. Sadly they miss the mark. Did I mention the trivia? Handré and his team bring this iconic cruise staple event to a new level of entertainment with fun twists and prizes galore (sometimes for every participant and not just the winners). The cabins are amazing and the housekeeping staff a pleasure. In the “old days” Seabourn only hired pretty young Scandinavian room stewardesses but today they hire from around the world and I am pleased to confirm that they are still pretty, young and charming. But, lest you get the wrong impression, nobody is flirtatious, just pleasant and friendly. This is definitely not a Frat ship. It is a 5 star floating luxury hotel. Keep this ship in mind and on your short list if its itinerary suits. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Having recently returned from our second Seabourn cruise, we debarked the ship after 19 days wanting to stay on board. Alas, "duty calls", including back to work. Now, after settling in at home, herewith, in no particular, order, ... Read More
Having recently returned from our second Seabourn cruise, we debarked the ship after 19 days wanting to stay on board. Alas, "duty calls", including back to work. Now, after settling in at home, herewith, in no particular, order, are my impressions of our trip. Last year (December 2017) we tried Seabourn for the very first time, on the Odyssey for a Caribbean cruise. Interested readers can find my review for that trip. Suffice to say, we were by no means overwhelmed by Seabourn on that trip. Yet this most recent cruise met and in many ways exceeded our expectations. As a result, we indeed look forward to returning to Seabourn in the future. We sailed October 20, 2018 from Athens to Dubai, including a day on the Suez canal. When we booked this trip way back earlier this year, we knew that we were most interested in Greece before-hand, and Israel as ports of call. For the rest of the trip, for the most part for us "the ship was the destination", with the goal to relax, enjoy excellent food and service on a fine floating resort, and recharge. In that way, the Encore did not disappoint. A few comments first on Athens and the Ports: we very much enjoyed our three days prior to the cruise exploring Athens. People were friendly, the food was very good, and the museums and tours we did fascinating (Acropolis, Parthenon, etc.). Athens is a great place to begin a cruise! We did get off the ship in Israel. The first port of Haifa was a long port day, thankfully, so we used that day to go to Jerusalem, with a private car and guide our travel agent arranged. The next day (Ashdod) we were supposed to be in port until 3PM, with a back-on-board time of 2:30. Yet that changed to back-on-board of 1:30 due to a directive from the Suez authorities. That in our view made things very tight, so we remained on board and treated this as a sea day. Hopefully Seabourn can in future confirm a longer stay there, as there is much to see in a less rushed fashion. Unlike many, we did not venture to Petra. Due to arthritis issues, I did not want to try it. We were not alone as I was told those remaining on board numbered 150 people. Thankfully, Seabourn continues to make all facilities available, including not closing the dining room for lunch on port days. Those who went to Petra with whom we spoke told us they enjoyed it very much so, if you can do it, by all means, go for it! Yet they also confirmed that it was a lot of difficult walking on a hot day. We did get off in Oman (Muskat) and took the "hop-on/off" bus...ok, "been there, done that, got the t-shirt". We thereafter remained on board other than for the beach party at Sir Bany Yas island in the UAE. That was our last stop before disembarkation, and it was a lovely day ashore. A BBQ lunch served in a beautiful setting, after the famous "caviar in the surf". Ah, bliss! Our shipboard experiences: We had a regular verandah cabin on deck 8. Before sailing upgrades were offered to the PH category yet,for us, these were too expensive. While the regular verandah cabins on the Encore are a touch narrower than are the regular verandahs on the Odyssey, we still found the space to be quite adequate. Keep in mind that we are used to the larger "Neptune Suites" on Holland America ships. So, if we can be content for 19 days in a regular verandah cabin on the Encore, I suspect that most people can. Part of the reason for our satisfaction is in how well, ergonomically, the suites are laid out. There is little wasted space. A few things we did not realize until near the end of our trip: the main dining or multi-purpose table in the suite moves! It can be pulled out from the wall for much easier access (unlike, if I recall correctly, on the Odyssey sized ships where it is fixed in place). It is not obvious, or at least was not to us (and, we know, a few others too), that the table can be moved. The chairs are otherwise a tad tight in the space. Yet they are comfortable. The sofa and bed were also quite comfortable, as was the verandah. Our cabin was quite far forward, yet even when there was some "motion of the ocean", we just took the pills freely available at Seabourn Square (ask the guest relations staff) and were fine. On arrival on day one, our in-room preferences were not all present, but were quickly arranged by the stewardess. Unfortunately, our stewardess was otherwise not as capable as the one we had last year. At the evening turn-down, towels were several times forgotten, leading me to call for these to be delivered when we returned from the show, and her cleaning was slap-dash in some respects. I addressed this in my survey. Yet this was really only the one area where we had a few issues. Hardly a deal-breaker! We found the ship itself to be beautiful. It has an elegant look and feel. Even on the many sea days that we had, I did not find difficulty in getting space at one of the pools. My preference was the small plunge pool on deck 5, which offers many shady spots. Alas, as the sun moved, so must those seeking shade, but so be it. The one problematic issue with that area is that smoking is allowed on one side of deck 5--unfortunately, the smoke from those indulging did not know enough to stay on its own side, so would waft across, making it less than pleasant (there was a lady who almost chain-smoked in the afternoons). While I acknowledge that there must be one spot for smokers to indulge (or else folks will likely break the rules and light up anywhere), it should be limited to the upper deck sky bar, in my opinion, not by either pool. Bar service at the pool was excellent--staff were regularly swinging by with trays of "pool drinks" (Pina coladas, etc). Yet one could order anything one wanted and it would be promptly delivered, with a smile. Indeed, bar service generally was very good indeed. In the evenings, my "Rob Roy" was made as I liked it, with the Scotch I prefer (or I could try it with a single malt, etc.). My wife also got her cocktail as she preferred. We particularly enjoyed hanging out in the Thomas Keller ("TK") bar, enjoying the stylings of the pianist while having a pre-dinner cocktail. It was a very pleasant venue, not found on the smaller ships, and a nice addition to this class of ships. We found the dining experiences to be varied and well done for the most part. Were there a few glitches? Of course, as after all, in 19 days things can go a little wrong once in a while. Yet overall, it was excellent and, when there was an issue, it was quickly addressed and rectified. One advantage to having a drink in the TK bar was that, as late diners (usually after 8PM) when venturing into the bar around 7:30, we would ask the hostess to let us know if there was pending availability for a table for two. Often, there was. So, in addition to our one reservation at TK, we in total dined there five times, working our way through the menu. Overall, we found TK to be a nice venue for dinner--the food was well prepared and elegantly served in nice surroundings. It made a change for dinner. Yet we also enjoyed the dining room. With the larger atrium, it has a more airy and open feel than on the smaller ships. We enjoyed one theme dinner at the Colonnade (TK rib night, naturally!) and also dined there the first night for the lovely roast beef. We often had lunch in the dining room--a nice and quiet venue, although we tried the buffet at the Colonnade a few times too. Breakfast was via room service (for the most part prompt and well done) or a light snack at Seabourn Square. The caviar was often a tasty treat while getting ready for dinner. The best coffee was found at the Square! Other drinks such as brewed ice tea (meaning, not from a mix) were also available. Service overall was warm and welcoming. While we never met the hotel director, clearly, he runs a tight operation. We enjoyed meeting Jovan, the F & B director, and a few other managers. Everyone, from officers to servers at the pool bar, were always smiling and willing to do whatever they could to enhance your holiday. It was very cosseting and made returning to reality (starting with the airport!) that much harder! Entertainment was well done. The cast of singers were truly talented. In addition to the usual evening shows after dinner, two 6PM performances during the cruise were offered. One featured opera singing by the singers. The Seabourn band was also very good in the Grand Salon. Pianist John in the TK bar was excellent, as were the duo in the Observation bar. We found the "techno-pop" music in the Club to be far too loud, making conversation impossible. The young foursome were not bad per se, just too loud for us. So we did not hang out there. Guest entertainers were also for the most part quite talented. The Barricade Boys in particular were great. Also great was the Cruise Director Chelsea, and her assistant Henri. Both had a very engaging way with their passengers, making us all feel special. Some of the "conversations", referring to the guest lecturers, were better than others. Some were not to my taste--reminiscent of the university undergrad lectures which I often slept through. After doing that again once or twice, I decided to "cut class" and head directly to the pool. Yet others seemed to enjoy some of the lectures. A word on embarkation, which was a sore point last year for us. This time on the Encore it was truly "easy-peasy". We left our hotel in Athens at noon and were having lunch at the Colonnade by 1:20 PM. The rooms were announced as ready shortly before 2PM. Luggage arrived promptly. In other words, this was as it should be, and virtually stress-free. It was the sign of a well-run operation, so kudos to them! Disembarkation, on the other hand, was less stellar. Our stewardess banged on our door precisely at 8AM, when we were making our final checks in drawers, etc., to ensure that nothing was left behind. She had other rooms to clean and, if we were not gone by say, 8:15, then a gentle knock would be appropriate to check up on us. Yet we found her brusque approach disconcerting, to say the least. We also hope that Seabourn could emulate other lines (such as its sister company Holland America) which allow a later departure from the rooms. As the rooms are not available for new guests until 2PM, a 9 AM cut off to exit the suites for debarking guests instead of 8AM ought to allow enough time (a five hour window) to prepare the rooms, I would think. In any case, our plan was to leave our room at 8AM, and go to the dining room for a last breakfast, which we did. Fortified by a hearty breakfast, well served by the usual team, we easily left the ship (a very short and orderly exit line), claimed our bags, and found the Seabourn-arranged driver who was waiting for us with my last name on a card (very reassuring). Our post-cruise stay, also booked via Seabourn, was fine too. I will review the hotels we enjoyed in Athens and Dubai on the sister web-site, TripAdvisor, in due course. All in all, this was a great cruise, on a lovely ship, with a great crew. Fellow passengers were also most pleasant, and we enjoyed meeting a number of nice people. Hopefully next year, we can do it again on Seabourn. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Our friends had cruised on Azamara previously and had already booked this cruise. We have cruised before on large ships and didn’t really like the experience. So we weren’t really interested in cruising again until we checked out the ... Read More
Our friends had cruised on Azamara previously and had already booked this cruise. We have cruised before on large ships and didn’t really like the experience. So we weren’t really interested in cruising again until we checked out the itinerary which included Petra, Jordan and Athens, and that our friends raved about the cruise line. The ship, cabin, facilities and crew: Ship was nice and had everything we needed. Pool area was very nice with chaise lounges (used “at sea” days). Restaurants were clean; staff attentive although some staff stood out, but no complaints except for shore excursion staff (discuss later). The cabin (deck 4) was dated and not as clean as I would have liked. The cabin is small but manageable. We brought extra hangers for our clothes which helped. Bed was very comfortable and sheets were luxurious. The cabin has a TV with limited number of channels including news (if interested). Cabin was quiet. We didn’t hear the neighbors very often only when leaving occasionally. The ship has complementary laundry facility including detergent but it’s often busy and at least one washer and dryer was not operational. Suggest using early or when in port if possible otherwise you’ll have to wait. The staff takes ship’s cleanliness seriously to prevent illness from spreading. As far as I know the ship didn’t have any gastrointestinal illnesses (thankfully!). We ate at all but the Italian restaurant. The food, presentation, and serving staff were excellent. We did eat at the Prime C (upgrade $30 pp),which was good but I don’t think it was any better than the Discoveries dining room which is included in cost. No better base wine selection either (disappointing). Which leads me to the beverages ... base alcohol choices included in cost was disappointing especially the wine selection. Some (and I am being nice) were literally undrinkable in my opinion but others in party seemed ok with the choices (I don’t think I’m a wine snob as we typically drink California wines about the $10- $20 price range). These wines were worse than some box wine I’ve had! Many came from So Africa (the worst), Portugal, Spain, Italy; occasionally New Zealand, S America and California. We considered buying the upgraded wine package but with no opportunity to taste and unfamiliar with the wineries it didn’t seem worth it. I drank the wine when I could but generally opting for Newcastle beer and lemon drop martini! Azamara needs a much better sommelier. Entertainment was better than I expected. I typically don’t like ship entertainment and definitely didn’t attend all but the ones I did attend were enjoyable and quality. Tim Seals pianist was exceptional. There was a magician too which I thought would be hokey but he was very good. The cruise ship’s band Smooth Sensations were also very good. They had another singer “Big Red” who was also good. Excursions: since we were traveling with seasoned Azamara travelers they generally don’t use the cruise line’s excursions instead opting to book private tours for just our group (7 to 10 people). But we did book four cruise excursions (extra cost). One was to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. Several buses carrying about 20-25 people were used. While traveling to destination the tour guide spoke about the area and customs (and q&a) and discussed history of the site at destination. He was knowledgeable. The tour included a buffet lunch at a hotel which was good but I thought took too long because we felt rushed at the site. It was a long day about 14 hours. Other excursions (salalah, muscat, and Dubai) were enjoyable and local guides were knowledgeable. We are not fans of coach buses or touring with that many people - always seem to be waiting for someone. We had prebooked our ship excursions before boarding the ship, which I recommend. In conversation with other travelers, we were surprised how many travelers who did not. Some missed out on excursions because they were booked and Azamara wasn’t able to get more buses/guides. So book ship’s excursions ahead. Ship’s shore excursion staff: we noticed one of our booked tours that we paid more than the ship’s published price. Not much; $10 pp. we asked the ship’s staff and was told he would check with his manager and get back to us. A few days passed and we still hadn’t been contacted nor did we receive a refund. We contacted staff again but this time different person. He immediately refunded the difference. So the first guy forgot I guess? Suez Canal and Security: thought I would cover this because we hadn’t been to Middle East and wasn’t sure what to expect culturally and with safety. We never felt unsafe or threatened in any ports or cities. Our guides were local and were very patient with answering our group’s questions about culture, history, food, laws etc. I did some research on appropriate dress especially for women so I was prepared to dress more conservatively in Muslim countries (Jordan, Egypt, Oman) which was usually just covered shoulders and capris unless visiting a Mosque or religious site (head covered, pants/skirt full length, long sleeved tops). Jordan, Oman and Dubai are extremely safe. Guides insisted they have very little crime. they were clean and graffiti free. Egypt was dirty and very rural. If you have seen the movie Captain Phillips you know that Somalia has pirates. Don’t worry the ship is prepared for the unlikely incident. So during this section of the cruise near the gulf of Aden the Ship takes precautions (lookouts posted, fire hoses ready, dims lights at night). I also read that cruise ships aren’t usually targeted because the ship are faster and can create wakes that can sink a small boat). We didn’t see any pirates. AzAmazing and White Night: unfortunately because of a long private tour in Israel that returned late we were unable to attend the AzAmazing night. However other travelers told us it was great. We did attend the Ehite Night which was enjoyable and plenty of food. Cons: started to rain lightly and with some tables out in open that was an issue. Thankfully it didn’t last long! Tables are first come first grab. We had a group of 10. Even though we got there early we were still challenged to find a suitable table. I think seating should be assigned/reserved especially for larger groups. Also the food is buffet and was chaotic with everyone getting up at same time; some pushed/ shoved! They should number the tables and call just a few tables up at a time. A bit too unorganized in my opinion. Fitness and other activities: many travelers walk the upper deck above pool. There is a well equipped fitness center which we used a couple of times. They have spa services which we did not use. The ship holds discussions on locations, history, and art by professors in the field - not exciting but informative. Other activities are also available such as arts and crafts, casino, bingo but we didn’t do any of those. There’s a library and business center with internet and board games. We did not purchase internet so never used that service. We used our mobile phones service (T mobile international plan) in ports. Worked well for us and was much less expensive ($15 per month per device for text and data). Overall we had a great time. Most travelers were friendly and wanted to chat. Many were from Australia, Britain, NZ, and US. Most travelers were in their 70’s; we are about 10+ years younger. Only one or two kids under five. A couple of travelers in their late 20’s who appeared to be traveling with family. Mostly couples, single older women and some LBGTQ. They do offer mixers for singles and LBGTQ. Apparently if you book a cabin you can somehow place your name to be considered for upgrade at lower cost, but you need to do this in the website. Our travel agent didn’t tell us and our group forgot to mention it. About a month before embarking they were all notified of cabin upgrades for a discounted cost. We contacted our travel agent who said she would do what she could but we were never contacted. They all got veranda cabins on deck 7; we were stuck in steerage. Lol. They got better cabins for about the same price we paid. So be sure to sign up for the upgrade! We would travel again on Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Windstar offers an outstanding cruise. The crew and staff, in particular, were friendly and accommodating. The captain was capable and comforting. Our cabin was comfortable and had a large window. The food was spectacular and varied ... Read More
Windstar offers an outstanding cruise. The crew and staff, in particular, were friendly and accommodating. The captain was capable and comforting. Our cabin was comfortable and had a large window. The food was spectacular and varied (except Candles). Room service offered and delivered with no questions asked. Internet was quite difficult to access and was very expensive. Laundry charge high (charge/person) but convenient. The onboard speakers were excellent. More should be boffered and organized for the many days at sea. Windstsr’s home office is a nightmare. They demanded that we obtain our own VISAs and threatened not to let us on the ship without them. $600 for VISAs for two countries. THEN just a few weeks before we left we received a notice that these could be obtained on the ship at a much less expensive rate, It is impossible to reach anyone on the phone. Upon returning we discovered that one expensive blouse was kept by the laundry. I phoned; no answer, no message returned. We have been on a number of Windstar cruises and on each and every one of our cruises the home office has been tough. One had to do with an excursion conflict. On this cruise our dive excursion was cancelled last minute. No help finding other dive trips was offered even though this was one of our bucket list. The Star Legend is a beautiful, safe ship and its crew is memorable. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
The voyage to "Arabia & Ancient Spice routes took place over 34 nights. In a nutshell: 1. Shore experience in Luxor was disappointing as the Windstar Luxor tour put the group up at the Hilton as opposed to the superb and ... Read More
The voyage to "Arabia & Ancient Spice routes took place over 34 nights. In a nutshell: 1. Shore experience in Luxor was disappointing as the Windstar Luxor tour put the group up at the Hilton as opposed to the superb and historic Winter Palace. 2. Food management and organization was poor. The fruit was unripe during the entire voyage and they even ran out of bananas onboard when ashore in India plentiful supplies of good quality were available. Throughout the voyage, the French "baguettes" had the crust of a hot dog roll. 3. Thermostats in cabins didn't function and resulted in extreme cold or heat. 4. Lecturer had inadequate of the ancient history of the eastern Mediterranean. 5. Wifi charges were extraordinarily high. 6. The cabins are spaceous and well-appointed 7. In general, the serving staff were very courteous, pleasant and reasonably efficient. 8. Given the size of the vessel, both the embarkation and disembarkation were expeditious and easy. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was our first Seabourn Cruise, and what better way to begin than on Seabourns newest ship, Encore. We held high expectations, and we were not disappointed, We arrived in Athens a few days beforehand, and stayed at the Grande ... Read More
This was our first Seabourn Cruise, and what better way to begin than on Seabourns newest ship, Encore. We held high expectations, and we were not disappointed, We arrived in Athens a few days beforehand, and stayed at the Grande Bretagne, as did a number of other Encore guests, who had booked through Seabourn The embarkation was smooth, we were quickly welcomed on board, by Handre the Cruise Director and other crew. Guests were invited to lunch in the Colonade Restaurant, and soon enough our suites were ready. Our suite, 908, was far enough away from the elevators, but close enough to the pool area. It was of a generous size and tastefully decorated. The bathroom was well appointed with twin basins and a large bath, which we never used. The room lighting was initially confusing and power points were few. For a brand new ship, it lacked the technology we would of expected ( ie: USB ports). The towels were thick and fluffy, and obviously brand new, as were the sheets and other items in the room. The balcony was roomy and comfortable. The closet lighting was inadequate and there was not enough hanging space, and we could not have used it as a dressing room., We met our stewardess, and in conversation we asked about clothes pressing. She told us as there was no self service laundry on the ship, pressing was complimentary, however after we were billed, we had serveral conversations with the front desk before they agreed to remove it from our account. We were told that a laundry was going to be installed on deck 5, probably before the Singapore sail We dined that night at Sushi and thoroughly enjoyed the food, albeit a limited menu. Staff were very welcoming, enjoyed the sake was excellent. We dined at the Thomas Keller Grill the next night and found it a great dining pleasure, and dined there several more times. The Elysian Lamb was excellent, and we enjoyed everything that we ordered on each visit, however during the cruise many guests complained about Grill, mainly, we believe, because they were not willing to be flexible with simple requests. The main restaurant the staff were very pleasant and put in great effort. The food was always presented well and tasted delicious, howvever the food was very mildly spiced so as to appeal to a majority of palates. You cant please everyone! Many guests preferred to dine as a table of 2 or 4, and we felt comfortable with this rather than at larger tables. Breakfast was always at the Collonade Restaurant. I learnt after 2 days to skip a caffe latte, and order tea instead, as it the coffee always took far too long to arrive. As with other ships and hotels, having to make your own toast is an issue, but the staff were always happy to do it for you avoiding any hassle. The staff were always very pleasant and helpful, and the lunch buffet was always popular and of quality ingredients. We also lunched in the Main dining room, and it was much quieter and enjoyable. As Seabourn has a all inclusive policy, the quality of wine and spirits was excellent and any discerning palate would agree. The policy of asking for a special meal to be prepared the next night if the ingredients were available is a good option and we did have Thai food prepared one night which we shared with onboard friends. Most nights began at the Observation bar, and we enjoyed the music of Darlene and Raleigh, a very pleasant and talented couple.Other performers were pleasant, and always made an effort to interact with guests in their free time. We took Seabourn shore excursions in Crete, Israel and Petra. On the way back from Petra we were treated halfway through the journey to champagne and caviar, a Seabourn experience, and to top it all off we were welcomed back aboard the ship by all the crew who lined a red carpet. We felt like A list celebrities as we reboarded the ship. Also, whenever we took a Seabourn excursion, the coaches were full sized coaches but only two thirds occupied for each persons comfort, a great policy. Handre, the Cruise Director, and his assistant Jacqueline always had a smile on their faces and we enjoyed their company. We enjoyed playing Trivia on sea days, and unlike other cruises, we had to retain our original team for the entire cruise. We were also invited to dine with the Captain at his table one night. It felt very special to get the invitation. The Encore has a 'retreat' with 16 private cabanas, and is charged at $350US per day. One couple extolled the virtues of the retreat, to the extent that we felt they were on commission, but we could not see the value or the need. We found that afternoons on sea days lacked much in the way of activities, so many people just lounged by the pool, while others took the opportunity to play bridge Many guests are regular Seabourn cruisers and are fiercely loyal, more so than for other cruise lines. Some guests did not like the size of the new ship or amount of guests onboard. They will know which ships to cruise on in the future. Again some guests need to be more flexible. The front desk is a ridiculous set up with several entrances thereby no one knows who will be served next. The whole cruise was a delight. There were a few kinks, but overall a great introduction to Seabourn, We wonder how different Seabourn Ovation sister ship will be when it is launched soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The Seabourn Encore is a gorgeous ship inside (except the Club - more on that later); and will certainly be the new star of the fleet when she is up to scratch, fully-stocked and staff trained. BUT based on our recent experience aboard her ... Read More
The Seabourn Encore is a gorgeous ship inside (except the Club - more on that later); and will certainly be the new star of the fleet when she is up to scratch, fully-stocked and staff trained. BUT based on our recent experience aboard her first voyage, there are a few wrinkles to be worked out. The designer while talented with colour, texture and pattern, apparently wasn't an overly-practical man, nor did he consult with experienced crew when designing their workspaces, so expect to witness awkward encounters as barmen stumble around one another in their Goldfish Bowl bar in Observation (a stunning space otherwise); and other "traffic flow" issues. Don't expect full-length hanging spaces or mirrors in your suite, either. The lighting system in the suites is bewildering and unlabelled. The only way to hear midday announcements is to open your cabin door and stand in the hallway (really!). Electrical plugs are sometimes in very odd places or missing from logical places (our suite 800 didn't have one by the desk). The small pool area was crowded on our half-full voyage...cannot imagine what it will be like on a full voyage. The public spaces are all stunning and an improvement on the other ships, except Seabourn Square and the Club. The Square has now been made very open, which means any private conversation with the desk staff (say about money) will be overheard by everyone passing by; and the new design means that it is impossible to see who is free to serve you, so it's a total free-for-all to get help. That's a real problem on busy days. The Club has now been com-mingled with the Casino, so is no longer an intimate space, but is affected by the flashing lights of the slots. On the plus side, food is excellent (menus are repetitive, however, which may have been due to the inadequate stocks on our trip) and the best crew are really good. Thomas Keller is a bit overrated in our view (very limited menu and very salty food), but Sushi is amazing! The gym is terrific. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Being past Seabourn clients, we wanted to test drive this new ship and with a great price on offer for the first leg of its inaugural run, couldn't resist signing up even though the itinerary was not super enticing. Took the Flight ... Read More
Being past Seabourn clients, we wanted to test drive this new ship and with a great price on offer for the first leg of its inaugural run, couldn't resist signing up even though the itinerary was not super enticing. Took the Flight Ease program as well for convenience as finding our own flights out of Dubai was a bit of a challenge - and we were well rewarded for it. The very competitive price included an overnight at Athens at the Grande Bretagne and overnight in Dubai at the Intercontinental Festival City. The ship was beautiful, without a doubt. Wide corridors, standard veranda suites were spacious compared to the older ones in this fleet. Public areas also well designed. Usual layout for Seabourn Square with the Baristas working away from 5:30am to late in the evening offering all kinds of coffees including alcoholic ones! Dining room very attractively done although the much flaunted chandeliers were probably lost on us. Thomas Keller had its own restaurant on deck 8 rear and often even outside the Thomas Keller restaurant, there were theme nights in the Colonnade that featured Keller ideas and in the Restaurant, there were samples of his dishes. The Colonnade was well done and more attractively designed than in the other Odyssey type ships. There was even a Sushi restaurant offering very good fare accompanied by hot or cold sake. The Club on deck 5 seems smaller but each night, the energetic quartet played songs from the era of the majority of the passengers. The shows were quite good, comparable to other smaller ships in terms of variety and quality. One Beatles era show drew many in the audience to get up and dance and was probably the best received of all the presentations. The last night in Muscat was one where we were treated to a typical Seabourn affair : meet the crew and poolside dancing with very nice appetizers pre dinner. Service was up to its impeccable Seabourn standards. They no longer nauseate you with repeatedly calling you by your name within 1 day of boarding but there is no doubt that the wait staff is expected to know who you are within a short time of embarcation. The cruise director Handre was a veteran at his job and was the consummate cruise director: professional, affable, humorous but not obtrusive in any way. His assistant, Jacqueline was almost as good and was obviously his protegee. After an expectedly popular shore excursion at Petra, in typical Seabourn fashion, some 200 staff lined up to greet the returning guests as they got off the buses by the gangway, accompanied by music and cheering even though it took place late afternoon in the brisk wind. You can't forget things like that. Having said all these good things, I have to mention the bad. 1) There were no guest laundry on board! none were planned for. The majority of the passengers just shook their heads in astonishment. When you are on board for 16 or more days, on a cruise line that like the rest of the industry always provided laundries for their guests, it was an eye opener. Oh sure, you can send out your laundry at $50 a bag..... 2)The Sushi restaurant, although open for lunch, did not serve sushi except at dinner ! You can only have Bento boxes......They never ever made that known on the daily dining venue list. Incomprehensible. 3) Underneath the outdoor dining of the Colonnade (which was located on 9), there was a similar al fresco dining area also belonging to the Colonnade. This was barely used as few knew of it and fewer wanted to walk up to 9 to get their food from the buffet. The concept was puzzling. Furthermore, the outside area was 90% covered, so that sun lovers that choose to dine alfresco has to contend with shade. 4) Our suite had double sinks that would not drain properly, and it took 2 days before they were adjusted to useable conditions. Also a non-functioning bedside light took 3 days to be remedied. The day after it was repaired, we had a knock on the door in the afternoon and there were two engineers who came to fix the already fixed light.??? 5)The eating area (The Patio) on the pool deck was placed on the aft end of the pool deck and so when the ship was sailing, any breeze was magnified at that end of the deck. If the tables and the serving area had been located on the bow end of the pool deck, we would have had more meals there. We had the most delicious steak and Nigerian prawn dinner there one evening. All the more ironic since the previous night, we ate at Thomas Keller and had a tough and less than mediocre rib eye steak. 6)The Thomas Keller restaurant was a tremendous disappointment to us. We were not alone in that opinion. One is greeted with a dose of pompous air when arriving for dinner. The menu is not extraordinarily varied. The wait person immediately pointed out the wine list (not mentioning that one could have the many complementary wines that are available on board) encouraging extra charges in the name of "Thomas Keller thinks that these wines pair better with his dishes". We ate there twice and there were less airs the second night but we remained unimpressed with the whole thing. I would never eat at a Thomas Keller restaurant again. 7) The very last comment refers to The Retreat. On deck 11, where there used to be an open area with golf putting and loungers has all been enclosed by a series of cabanas with a private hot tub. The passengers had the choice of paying a significant premium to be pampered for half or a full day. That became an immense white elephant. I don't think it ever paid for its overhead during our time on board. Just think about it, if all your drinks are free and you have several hot tubs elsewhere to use as well as a spa that offers a variety of treatments already, Which business school to you have to go to in order to realize that it makes no sense to build this area? Several passengers in private conversations suggested that they should convert the cabanas to laundries for the guests. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We booked this cruise very late and got an amazing last minute deal . We had been on the Connie only 2 cruises (see other review) prior to this one and had a great time. This was a different cruise in that it was a re-positioning cruise ... Read More
We booked this cruise very late and got an amazing last minute deal . We had been on the Connie only 2 cruises (see other review) prior to this one and had a great time. This was a different cruise in that it was a re-positioning cruise and so was primarily sea days (5 in a row at one point) whereas on our other cruise we had 6 port days in a row. The main thing that did not change was the service, it would be understandable after so many sea days for the wait and bar staff to be exhausted but their service levels never wavered. So impressive. Embarkation was quick and we quickly settled by the pool and had a great day waiting for the late departure. The ship is definitely older than the 2 others ships we have taken (Equinox and HAL Koningsdam) but it is still in reasonably good shape. The outside windows were very dirty on both cruises but all other areas were clean. We feel that there is much more space on this ship relative to the others we have sailed except in the MDR which feels incredibly packed. We had an OV cabin (3017), this was our first non verandah cabin. I prefer having a verandah but did not miss it as much as I though we would, we were rarely in our cabin. The strange thing was we only had a single doona placed sideways in the cover which we didn't notice until we went to bed very late on first night. We told the attendant the next day and he said" I noticed that but wasn't sure why" ... why not just replace it????This cabin did feel more worn than our previous one on deck 7 and the exhaust fan in the bathroom did not work and the a/c did not seem as efficient. Our attendant also was not as good, regularly left pillows on the floor, dirty rags in the cabin and forgot to restock toiletries. Overall it felt like you were treated worse on level 3 than 7. Noise was not a problem even though our door faced the lift well. Dining - on this cruise we bought the 3 restaurant specialty dining package. There is no doubt the food is of a better quality than that served in the MDR. The prices for the restaurants are very high but there was no limit on how much you could order. Tuscan grill had great quality produce but we did not care for the sauces they felt sweet relative to real Italian cuisine. The layout of the restaurant makes it feel cramped compared to on Equinox. Service was good. Oceanliners - much better sauces. Loved the dining space, very nautical and very spacious. Service was friendly but not polished for what they are trying to portray. Good overall experience. Sushi 5 - on the package you could order as you like which made it very good value as normally a la carte pricing. We ate more than 3 times what would have been provided under the package price. Good food but lack of hot asian dishes. Restaurant was virtually empty. MDR - the 2 tops are too close together and may as well be shared 4's. Can make it a little uncomfortable if you want a private evening. Eventually the maitre d fixed this and gave us a 4 seater just for the 2 of us - made it much more relaxing. Our sommelier was superb. Our waiters were busy but very good. As on the last cruise the food improved the longer the cruise went. Buffet - easy to find tables compared to other ships. Good range of food but quality is a bit basic. Entertainment - superb. The productions shows were the same but the performance level had improved even more. All the guest entertainers were superb and very varied (most passengers and us included did not quite understand what the Chili Gold show was supposed to be - but the only disappointment). Plus they often did matinee performances. The lounge acts were also good. There was so much in the way of activities - dance classes; colouring classes; at least 3 lectures; more trivia than you could fit in etc. Our only wish is that the lectures had been more staggered as we are late risers on cruises. They really increased the amount of activities in accordance with the amount of sea days - there was no way you could be bored. I would like to see a few more complimentary gym classes though. Oh and there were several dance parties and silent disco as well ... we partied ourselves to a standstill. Service - first class. Again easily the best we have experienced on a cruise ship. The bar staff in particular the waiters at the bars are first rate - serious kudos. Guest relations were friendlier than we normally find them and were quick to get back to us. The only issue I have with the service was that our big issue from the last cruise was not addressed by head office before we departed for this cruise yet they acknowledged we were cruising again so I thought I might have heard from someone onboard given we had returned to the same ship and head office knew we were but no one addressed it or us ... strange. The few ports there were were very good. Chania is very cute; Petra is outstanding; Muscat interesting except that it was a Friday and Abu Dhabi is ok. However there was ZERO information about these later ports, I know the ship hasn't sailed there before but surely the company has done some research on this??? Disembarkation was easy but we were the last off the ship. In summary - this was a really fun and relaxing cruise with great activities and service. The cabin was average and some of the food could be better but at the price we paid we have to give it a 5 star rating. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
I am a very, very experienced cruise traveler. I enjoyed this cruise, had a good time. There are some big BUT's though which unnerved me. Here my opinions, which will most likely resonate more with fellow Europeans: + Ship ... Read More
I am a very, very experienced cruise traveler. I enjoyed this cruise, had a good time. There are some big BUT's though which unnerved me. Here my opinions, which will most likely resonate more with fellow Europeans: + Ship beautiful, (if you like modern ship design, which I do), looking new. It did not look full, although it must have been at 90% of capacity. Except the pool deckchairs of course. Staff very good, dining staff exceptional (incl. remembering preferences and satisfying special wishes). Entertainment program very good (important on a cruise with many sea days). Guest lecturers were knowledgable and interesting. I like that they include also off-mainstream subjects, like cave exploration. Dining was good and variable at the dining rooms, no variety at the casual buffet any time of the day, and day after day the same items. Nothing to eat after 10pm. MINUS Cabins small relative to other cruise lines, but nothing was missing. I knew that from earlier cruises and was traveling solo anyway, so I had enough space. Nice touch: Night light in the bathroom. Only small tubes for generic shampoo, conditioner, body lotion. Constant music, too loud, everywhere. Including the main pool area, which is probably desired by the guests during a Carnival Caribbean cruise but not on this cruise with more mature passengers. Not one quiet place where you could read a book without having to order a drink or without loud music or with some sales event going on there (gym courses, wine tasting and selling, art selling, adult coloring class, bingo etc. etc). Library is a minimal room with 4 seats (on a 2000+ passengers' ship) burried in the interior, with probably less than 200 books. One thing I really disliked: There is an extensive and detailed "code of conduct" for passengers which lays out a regime I did not sign up for when I booked this cruise and foresees severe consequences at the sole discretion of the ship's management. I think common sense, courtesy and if necessary the applicable laws are more than enough. And body cams on security staff at all times, in addition to the omnipresent fixed video cameras, obvious and hidden. A person I had met (a young lady in her first trip ever outside her home country) was forcibly disembarked in Muscat, Oman for climbing over a reeling. Another major objection is the prices of side services, which Celebrity describes as "reasonable" in their website but they don't publish detailed pricelists anywhere. Here below I will compare prices with Holland America because I was on a HAL ship just one week before this cruise: -Many items included in the price with other cruise lines are charged here, and handsomely: Certain drinks at breakfast-juices, more than half of items listed in the room service menu and even for the free items a delivery charge of $4.50! -Pay per view movies in the cabin at $13.50 each, compare with the extensive free library of HAL on dvds AND one new movie daily at the movie theater (versus one big screen movie in 16 days on Celebrity). -Prices for drinks and beverages are outrageous: Why is a cappucino priced $7 incl. 18% gratuity and Holland America charges $4 incl. 15% gratuity? Is it so much better? Similar with wines and cocktails. Small plastic bottle of water $3.50+18% gratuity? A scoop of ice cream $4+18%? It is forbidden to bring even a glass of wine on board, for no other reason than to consume their own overpriced items. -Prices for laundry are outrageous too (no self laundry possibility on Celebrity): A bag of laundry at $49 on "one time special offer"? A 2 piece suite for $19? A pair of socks $3? Double the price of HAL? They clean double as good? -Internet package for 16 days $299? Or $23.50 for 1 hour? Prices for one device only! Again almost double the price of HAL for the same satellite service. -"Optional" but automatic gratuity $13.50 per person per day? (HAL $10.50 for no worse service). No adjustment of the amount is possible, either nothing or the full amount. -Shore excursions similar, but in this Celebrity is no worse than other cruise lines and critically the consumer has alternative options with local tour operators. -Specialty dining for a charge and spa services: I didn't try, cannot compare. - Shops on board: I compared prices for items I had earmarked earlier for purchase such as alcohol and certain perfumes with other duty free outlets (airports and airlines). Don't bother, Celebrity's "duty free" price is 20-30% more expensive at every single one. Seems to me they reduce the state tax and add the difference directly into their sales margin. -Shoe shine service as on HAL? Let alone complimentary? Not here! So this cruise was only a good value if you restricted yourself to the absolute minimum of consumption, did not drink wine, cocktails, coffee, did not watch movies, did not use laundry or internet and checked if your conduct fits Celebrity's regulations at all times. But if you consumed all of the above, you could easily spend on board 3-4 times more than the price for the cruise. Hmmm... Quite the cheap trick of "get them on board first and sell them every little thing or service expensive"... not my idea of relaxed vacation or fair pricing policy folks and counterproductive. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
I chose this cruise line due its reputation for providing the finest cuisine at sea, and its reputed service provided by the high crew to staff ratio. We sailed from Piraeus Greece to Dubai on a 20 day cruise and were really looking ... Read More
I chose this cruise line due its reputation for providing the finest cuisine at sea, and its reputed service provided by the high crew to staff ratio. We sailed from Piraeus Greece to Dubai on a 20 day cruise and were really looking forward to our concierge balcony stateroom which was our first disappointment. The cabin furniture had seen better days and was covered in a dark varnish which gave the room a gloomy feel. The carpet badly needed a shampoo as it had a stained and dirty appearance. The bathroom was very small and god help you if you dropped the soap whilst in the shower cubicle. We have had better cabins on other cruise lines and wonder how Oceania can label it concierge and price it as such. On the plus side, were the efficient and friendly cabin staff. The two speciality dining venues whilst imposing no surcharge failed to impress. The steaks in the Pole Grill were overcooked (my medium rare steak came well done) and was as tough as old boots The grand dining room was probably the best choice for evening meals as It provided adequate fare on a consistent basis and occasionally provided excellent meals. The terrace cafe was simply a disgrace. Food that should have been served hot was barely warm. Food hygiene was poor. Whilst in some ports, the food was left uncovered and much enjoyed by the large number of flies that chose to settle on it.. When asked why the food was not covered, I was told that it should be!! I then asked why it wasn't, I was given a shrug. Little things like warm milk being served with breakfast cereals or pots of tea filled with water that clearly wasn't hot enough to make a proper cup of tea are examples of the lack of detail one wouldn't expect on a ship of this class. Food overall fell short of the boast that Oceania provides the best cuisine at sea. The coffee shop was serviced by the most surly of staff who clearly didn't want to be there Entertainment and guest speakers were second rate at best Excursion were overpriced as were the drinks on board. I have enjoyed cruising on many different lines and can say in all honesty that Oceania Nautica's cuisine, entertainment and service fell short of all of them. In short Nautica was overpriced and overrated. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
What a pleasure to be back on the Quest - - my four most recent Azamara cruises were on the Journey, which I also love. The two ships are equally welcoming; however I would give the Quest a slight edge for one reason: the entertainment. I ... Read More
What a pleasure to be back on the Quest - - my four most recent Azamara cruises were on the Journey, which I also love. The two ships are equally welcoming; however I would give the Quest a slight edge for one reason: the entertainment. I never thought I would say this, but this cast of singers (and dancers) were a cut above! And they worked on a ship! Herewith some random observations and comparisons: Embarkation and disembarkation: both were a breeze. We took our own suitcases on and off. Never a problem, and cabins were ready in Piraeus at 1PM. Food: There were a couple of disappointing meals in the Discoveries Dining Room: food arrived less than hot, and once it took an hour for the second course to arrive. (This did not happen on the Journey.) All was forgiven as most of the meals there were just fine. The two meals in Aqualina and one in Prime C were stellar. Just delicious. Of the three souffles, the current winner is the Grand Marnier (both the chocolate and the limoncello were not to be dismissed). We ate outdoors in Windows three times, and these three were themed buffets: Greek, Middle Eastern and Thai. There were plenty of delicious options, and the occasional miss: the felaffel was not crispy, for example. But what a treat to be able to dine under the stars in late October and early November. Service: As usual, an Azamara strength. A shout out to our server in Aqualina, Milena. She is a jewel. AzAmazing Evening: Our one night of rain in 15 days occurred during this concert at Kolossi Castle, a Crusader stronghold on the outskirts of Limassol, Cyprus. It was an evening consisting of a song cycle by Anastasia Guy, and it was a world premiere. The venue and the music were special and memorable. Yes - it would have been amazing indeed had the concert been outdoors with the illuminated castle behind the stage; however a huge tent was set up, and despite the torrential rain (it had not rained in Limassol in several months, and they needed it badly) and noise, the musicians and singers persevered beautifully. We all made it back to the ship safely, thanks to the Azamara and local staff. Bravo. In fact, by the time our bus #5 departed, the rain had stopped! The storm made this an evening to remember. Entertainment: I admit to being a snob: living in New York, I see hundreds of shows and ballets each year. Cruise ship entertainment has rarely been top-notch. I credit Russ Thomas Grieve, the Cruise Director, for good taste: several shows were intimate, cabaret-style entertainments, with the seats pulled closer to the stage, using one to four of the singers involved. Examples: "Double Standards," "Divas and Duets" and "Unsung Broadway." For my money, the one "big" show which should be retired is "Voices." Ugh. The penultimate night's Broadway tribute, "Stage Door to Dreams" was a lot of fun, culminating in Russ's delicious turn as Edna Turnblad in the "Hairspray" finale: You Can't Stop the Beat. Overall, the guest entertainers were just fine too: I even liked the magician. The ship: The Quest will be in drydock in April (the Journey in January) and all the cabins will be renovated.The carpeting in all areas will be replaced, and the Looking Glass will be reconfigured and renamed The Living Room. The decks will also be replaced: the Quest is showing its age a bit more than the Journey, especially around the pool. But the basics that please so much will remain: the R ships are a perfect size. You never get lost. They never seem crowded. You hardly ever have to wait for a dinner table. White Night: Again, a highlight. This time it occurred on October 31st, in Muscat. So it became White/Fright night, and it was so much fun to see the crew in costume. Captain Jose made a terrific pirate, all the more apropos as we spent a few days cruising the Gulf of Aden, a hotbed of piracy just a few years ago. The only thing I would change: Get rid of the art auctions. The art is just terrible. A shame because what is actually on the walls throughout the ship is very good. The Park West stuff is execrable. Thanks again, Azamara. I'll be back. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We went on Holly Lands cruise Athens -> Istanbul, with Israel, Turkey and Greece ports. Azamara managed to completely ruin Israel, Phahos Greece) and Kas (Turkey) because all 3 days in Israel were a holiday and Shabbat: Thursday ... Read More
We went on Holly Lands cruise Athens -> Istanbul, with Israel, Turkey and Greece ports. Azamara managed to completely ruin Israel, Phahos Greece) and Kas (Turkey) because all 3 days in Israel were a holiday and Shabbat: Thursday through Saturday. Why Azamara named this cruise Holly Lands (the main attraction of this cruise) just to schedule Israel on a holiday and Shabbat when everything is closed? Azamara docked at Phaphos on Sunday and the main attraction, market and a church, where closed. In Kas (Turkey) Azamara printed out instructions that going to Meis (Greek island) all we need are our passports. It was absolutely wrong information. We brought our passports and bought the tickets for a ferry to Meis. 1.5 hours later, we were denied boarding a ferry to Meis because it is not allowed to cross the Turkish border to go to Greece (Island Meis) with papers that Azamara gave us. Since it was already 10am, we missed other options and had to stay in port. If Azamara would plan this cruise just one day earlier, we would not be in Israel on Shabbat and in a Greek port on Sunday. Azamara planning office was absolutely clueless about their own itinerary which was inexcusable and we, the passengers, lost. The food was inconsistent in buffet: some days good, some bad and some average. The captain scheduled the most inconvenient times for his Bridge tours (ex: 11:30am on port days) which made it impossible to attend. Azamara also increased a booking cancellation period with no penalty from 90 days to 6 months starting in 2015 and then lowered prices during a penalty period. I gave Azamara 2 stars instead of 1 star only because the tenders were well organized and the special event in Ephesus was very good. It was my first and last time with Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We chose for the smaller of the three types of ships that they have. We have, in the past, sailed on the Silver Cloud and the Silver Spirit. We did not really like their largest ship the Spirit. The trip went from Athens, four ports in ... Read More
We chose for the smaller of the three types of ships that they have. We have, in the past, sailed on the Silver Cloud and the Silver Spirit. We did not really like their largest ship the Spirit. The trip went from Athens, four ports in Egypt as well as the Suez Canal, Aquaba, two ports in Oman and our last stop was Dubai. What a great trip this was, the very best ever with Silversea. Not one complaint. But we sail for specific reasons with them. We want a small ship, we want 4 - 6 real sea days, with no land in sight. We go for great food, good wines and very very good and friendly service. We like the all inclusive prices that they have. We like their suites, but moaners and groaners will probably have some reason to bitch about the size of the bathroom or a little bit of wear and tear. So it is not 100 % perfect, but it is cozy, homely, classy, european, friendly and luckily with few nouveau riche, noisy complaining, non cultured windbags. We loved it and have booked again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We booked this repositioning cruise because we are both due to have knee operations in November, so we wanted a destination-light cruise. We have cruised before on HAL, but never on Azamara. We had a good flight with EasyJet and loved our ... Read More
We booked this repositioning cruise because we are both due to have knee operations in November, so we wanted a destination-light cruise. We have cruised before on HAL, but never on Azamara. We had a good flight with EasyJet and loved our Hotel,The Herodion, which is located just below the Acropolis. Although embarkation was not officially until 1:00, our agent had booked the transfer for 10:30 so we were at Pireus by 11:00. However this proved not to be a problem as embarkation started at 11:30 and by 11:45 we were on-board enjoying our glasses of bubbly. We left one of our cabin bags in the secure area near guest relations and had a wander around the ship, before going for lunch at the Pool Grill. Our first impressions were very favourable. Although there is a lot of wood panelling, the overall look of the interior rooms is much lighter than we had expected from the photos we had seen. Lunch was excellent, with beautifully cooked burgers and brochettes and free flowing wine. At 1:30 the staterooms were ready and we found our cases already there. The cabin was pleasant, with lots of storage space and plenty of hangers. There are two available electric plugs, one European 2/3 round pin and one digital style square pin(NOT UK square pin). There was also a safe and a fridge. The soft drinks in the fridge and the water that was provided every day were included, but the wine, beer and spirits were not. There were fresh flowers and a bowl of fruit that was replenished as required. The bathroom was small, especially the shower, but there was always plenty of hot water, the towels were thick and fluffy and the shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap and moisturiser were lovely. The stateroom steward Ahmed and his assistant Erlinda worked hard to keep the stateroom immaculate. Every night there were lovely chocolate based petit-fours left in the cabin at bedtime. We ate breakfast in the Windows buffet restaurant. I especially loved the smoothie bar - particularly the ginger based energiser which was a great start to the day. There is a terrific choice, the usual bacon, sausage, eggs cooked however you like, a roast and cold choices such as smoked salmon, herring, cold meats, cheese. We had a coffee 'to go' from the Mosaic cafe most days. For lunch we mostly ate in the Pool Grill. Our favourite part of the day was having dinner in the Discovery MDR. We shared tables every night, at tables of 4, 6 or 8. We met some great people that way. The food was exceptional - much better than on our previous cruises. We loved the way you can swap courses around, for example asking for a small portion of a main course salad or pasta dish as an appetiser. The service was generally very good, but on one night it was very slow, however a complaint was made to the Maître D which resulted in a glass of vintage port for the whole table as compensation. We also ate in both the speciality restaurants. The food and service in both was terrific, but we really struggled to eat all the food. Although you could pay to upgrade from the basic all inclusive drinks package, we were happy with the choice available in the basic included package. There was a different pair of wines every day, but you could always ask for a previous days wine if you preferred it. The bar staff were very good, especially Dale who ran the pool bar during the day and the Discovery lounge bar in the evening. The evening shows were generally very good. In the past we have spent very little time watching shows, but this time we watched quite a few of the shows all the way through. The Cruise Director, Eric, is amazing. His energy has to be seen to be believed. His voice is good too. We enjoyed all the song and dance shows, especially the Broadway and ABBA show. Kaitlin, who played the Celtic flute, penny whistle and violin and sang beautifully was tremendous too. We spent most days on the sun deck, where the breeze tempered the hot sun. Crew members regularly brought round cooling drinks and cold mist sprays to cool us off. There were only four ports in the whole of the 2 weeks. In Rhodes we had a walk around the old town, which was lovely. We didn't go ashore in Limassol, Cyprus, except for the Azamazing evening, of which more later. In Oman we went on a tour outside Muscat, to a fishing village, a fort, some hot springs and a resort for lunch. We had booked it before we went and found it very good value for money. In Dubai we booked the Big Bus Hop On Hop Off bus through the ship. This was the same price as booking it online and had the advantage that the bus came to the terminal to pick us up. We found it an excellent way to see a lot in a day. We did both routes, but only got off to do the 1hour included Dhow cruise, to see the gold and spice souks and to see the Dubai Mall and Burg Khalifa. The Azamazing evening was in Limassol. It was in Omoodos, a small village in the Troodos mountains, which took about an hour by coach. It was a lovely village with a beautiful monastery church. Lovely snacks,wine and liqueurs were provided and there was a local dancing display. Unfortunately there were far too many of us (500+) for it to work. It was impossible to see the church properly in our guided groups (1 guide per coach). Also being up in the mountains it soon became very cold and as a result the evening was curtailed. On the other hand the White Night,which was whilst we were docked in Muscat, was terrific. The barbecue and buffet was great, the song and dance show was marvellous and there was the biggest conga line I have ever seen - right round the pool and the jogging track. The Suez Canal was not too interesting - mostly just sand, although we did provide entertainment to the Egyptian soldiers on watch along the canal. They seemed to enjoy waving to us and us waving to them. The blackout was no problem at all. We had to remember to close our stateroom curtains at 6 if we had the light on. The whole pool area was in darkness, but you could walk across it and it was great to lie down on a sun-bed and see the stars without any light pollution. So far I've described the physical parts of the cruise, but what makes Azamara so special is the people - crew and passengers alike. The tone is set by the captain and senior staff such as the cruise director, hotel director and food and beverages manager. Nothing is too much trouble for anyone at whatever level. Ask and it is done! The daily announcements by the captain (Johannes) and the cruise director (Eric) were a joy to listen to. They have a terrific relationship and are both very funny. The whole atmosphere on board was just so happy - very different from any ship I have been on before. Would we go on Azamara again - you bet your life we would, tomorrow if we could. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
WOW! Seabourn did it again. This was our third voyage on Seabourn and it keeps getting better and better. I will be sad to see the smallest ships leave the fleet. There were 7 days at sea but so much going on that we barely had time to ... Read More
WOW! Seabourn did it again. This was our third voyage on Seabourn and it keeps getting better and better. I will be sad to see the smallest ships leave the fleet. There were 7 days at sea but so much going on that we barely had time to take a nap. Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Fowler gave lectures that were wonderful. As did the former Oxford Professor. Both are articulate and inspiring speakers. I was impressed with the food and the food service. Portions were within reason and one does not leave the table overstuffed. The food is a good as any fine restaurant any where. The presentation is elegant. The wine glasses never seem to get empty. This goes for room service as well. Attentive service served course by course. We have sailed on the other high end lines but Seabourn never ceases to amaze. Have you ever been to a block party on a ship? Does the Captain call you by name? Do you know what a BBC is?( Sit out on deck and one will be put into your hand.) . Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We did Athens - Mumbai in 2012 - first time with Azamara and as a result resolved to return. So 2013 saw us cruise Athens to Dubai. A lot of crew remembered us from the year before - How do they do it? Within an hour it was as though we ... Read More
We did Athens - Mumbai in 2012 - first time with Azamara and as a result resolved to return. So 2013 saw us cruise Athens to Dubai. A lot of crew remembered us from the year before - How do they do it? Within an hour it was as though we had never left. Everything you hear about Azamara service is true. I now wouldn't cruise with anyone else. Food remains excellent. Despite the complimentary drinks now available I paid for a liquor package which allowed us to have Pimms, Grolsch & Pilsener Urquell beer, Bombay Sapphire gin [essential; for that pre-dinner martini!] al for about an extra £8/day. The new sunbeds are even more comfy than the old ones! Captain Johannes and Cruise Director Eric - what a team! We'll be sailing with Azamara in 2014 without doubt Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We had never cruised with Azamara before and were encouraged to do so by friends who were frequent travelers on Azamara. We can't thank them enough. Having worked in the airline industry my whole career I understand very well the ... Read More
We had never cruised with Azamara before and were encouraged to do so by friends who were frequent travelers on Azamara. We can't thank them enough. Having worked in the airline industry my whole career I understand very well the importance of a first impression. We were greeted on our arrival at the port by a representative who helped with our luggage and immediately made us feel welcome. We lined up for max 5 minutes to check in, a process that only took a matter of minutes. When we stepped onboard we were offered champagne or juice and greeted very warmly. Just from the initial contact I knew that the staff were very well selected and it was obvious that they liked their job. After a buffet lunch we were in our cabin by 2:00 and settling in. Our balcony cabin was an adequate size, of course we would always like larger but we had everything we needed and it was immaculate. Our cabin stewards arrived to greet us and could not have been more friendly or helpful. We felt at home. We have cruised in the past with Cunard and P&O but never felt as though the staff really wanted to be there and thoroughly enjoyed what they were doing. Everywhere we went on board we were greeted with a genuinely friendly smile and nothing was too much trouble. We ate mostly in the Traditions restaurant, initially with others which enabled us to meet lots of other guests, and later sometimes just at a table for 2. I was surprised to read a previous reviewer said that he was coerced into always eating with others. Any night we said we would like to be at a table for 2 it was no problem. Sometimes we had to wait a bit for one to come free and if so we sat in the bar and they came to find us when it was ready. Every effort possible was made to accommodate anything we wanted. The food was terrific, always. We ate in the specialty restaurants one night each and although the food and service were exceptional we preferred the ambiance of the Traditions Restaurant. By the way, the specialty restaurants are in the stern of the ship, not the bow as was previously stated by a reviewer. We used the gym facility frequently and found everything there that we needed and it was always available. I did not attend any classes but there were often classes in Pilates going on and were very well attended. The entertainment was first class, always. The cruise director, Eric, is an exceptional entertainer with a terrific sense of humour. The shows every night were not to be missed, there was definitely something for everyone. Hours spent in the Looking Glass bar late at night topped off wonderful days with lots of new friends. I cannot say really enough about the Journey and the wonderful time that we had. I struggle to think of one thing that I could criticize. We will definitely be back, many times I hope. We can certainly understand why many we met on board had already traveled with Azamara...you will want to return. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We have sailed on the Mariner before, but the atmosphere on this cruise ( Empires of Antiquity) seemed to be more relaxed and organized. Perhaps it was due to Captain Felice Patruno and Cruise Director, Lorraine Weimerskirch. We've ... Read More
We have sailed on the Mariner before, but the atmosphere on this cruise ( Empires of Antiquity) seemed to be more relaxed and organized. Perhaps it was due to Captain Felice Patruno and Cruise Director, Lorraine Weimerskirch. We've been sailing on the Seven Seas ships since 1992 and this is the first cruise with Captain Patruno and Lorraine. The crew seemed to be very happy with their jobs and to be on the Mariner. The included wines were some of the best that we have had on a cruise ship. Chef Kelly Osborne came around each evening to ensure that guests were happy with their meals. Embarkation and Disembarkation were a breeze. Tours were well planned and organized in that you were given a time to meet in the Constellation Theater where you turned in your tour ticket and were given a bus ticket and waited for your number to be called. There was never a mass push or crowd in the theater. We had cabin 934 that was mid ship. Ports included Athens, Santorini, Aghios Nikolaos on Crete, Haifa, Ashdod (overnight), Limassol, Cyprus, Antalya, Turkey, Rhodes, Ephesus, and Istanbul. While some of the ports were repeats for us, there was enough new ports. For example, Santorini was a repeat, but the archaeological site of Akrotiri has re-opened and should not be missed as it dates back to the Minoan period. On Crete (Aghios Nikolaos (new), we visited the Palace of Knossos. While the site could have been interesting, there were just too many people (cruise ships in) that one couldn't move or the lines to see something were horribly long while standing in the hot sun. To view this site, one should go in the off season for cruise ships. Jerusalem (Haifa) was a repeat for us, but a visit to Zippori National Park (well worth it) and the Golan Heights was new. From (Jerusalem) Ashdod, we visited the Old City (repeat) and nothing new there, but if you haven't visited the Old City, one should do so. At the end of this tour though, we stopped at a shop that was a total rip off so no one bought anything. An example, the shop owner talked to us and showed us some of the items that he had available for sale at a discount. The Ahava products he said were 50% off. I like Ahava products and took a look. At 50% off, a serum was full retail price! Some discount!!!!! Another tour from Ashdod took us to Caesarea National Park that has the ruins from the city that Herod designed and developed that shouldn't be missed as the site is well preserved and beautiful right on the sea where one could take a quick dip during the brief free time (extra cost for this) as there is a changing area at the site. As part of the tour, we drove through Tel Aviv that is nothing special and stopped in Jaffa for lunch at an Arabic restaurant that could have been good except for the packed in tables that had no elbow room and the rip off for a beer ($6) or glass of wine $8. The cost was not disclosed until they came around to collect. Limasosol, Cyprus (repeat) - Pafos - New to us was a visit to the Tombs of the Kings (not really) that were very interesting in that the tombs were those of wealthy families that were underground and as large as some homes and as palatial. From Pafos we continued on to the House of Dionysis to view the mosaics that was a repeat for us. So much more has been excavated since our last visit that we were very happy that we chose this tour. Antalya, Turkey (repeat) -Perge & Aspendos - Our tour took us to the ancient ruins of Perge (new to us). One can view the ruins of the Hippedrome and the city that has been beautifully excavated and work is continuing. At the site, one can visit the bath house and see the remains of marble, mosaics, and the plumbing and heating systems. It's really hard to imagine how construction of these old cities were completed without heavy equipment. The theater of Aspendos that we had visited on a previous trip to Antalya is even more impressive than our last visit. Rhodes (repeat) - touristy and nothing new here. We repeated a tour of the Grand Master's Palace. One should note that on Rhodes public toilets are almost non existent and if you find one, they are Eastern style, you need your own toilet paper, and a clothes pin for your nose. Ephesus (repeat) and the Terrace Houses (new to us) - Wow! It's definitely worth a visit to the Terrace Houses and to see the discoveries, how they are putting the pieces of the puzzle together, the sheer size of some of the homes, and the frescoes! Well done! On this visit too we were able to visit the ancient toilets and the inside of the library. Istanbul - Prior to the cruise we spent 4 days in Istanbul at the Millennium Suites (highly recommend) in the Sultanahmet district and walking distance to the Topkapki Palace, Hagia Sofia, and the Blue Mosque that's always a pleasure to see before flying over to Athens (King George Palace - highly recommend) for a few days before joining the ship. Restaurants to try in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul are Magnaura Café restaurant that is across the street from the Millennium Suites and the Albura Kathisma Café (many thanks to Dremehmet, our waiter, for an enjoyable evening) that is just up the street. At Albura, be sure to ask to view the hidden Palace. If you want a food factory dining experience, rather than a quiet meal, try Develi Restaurant in the Samatya district. This restaurant can serve 700 meals at a time, service is rude, but the food is very, very good. Restaurants to try in Athens are Strofi and Dionysos that have outside dining with magnificent views of the Acropolis. While in Athens we stayed at the King George Palace. Check Trip Advisor for reviews of the above restaurants and hotels. We chose the ship's tour and transfer to the Istanbul airport for $149 each that was well worth it as Regent helped us through security and with the luggage. At the Istanbul airport one goes through security first with your luggage. then you go to drop off your luggage and get your boarding pass. Then you go through security again! We're not critical and the entertainment. On this cruise it was all, in our opinion, very good and thankfully no jugglers or magicians.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This trip was exceptional from start to finish, with a few middle-eastern style 'quirks', which were down to the locals not the ship. I would highly recommend Silver Wind to anyone who values the personal touch, the very very ... Read More
This trip was exceptional from start to finish, with a few middle-eastern style 'quirks', which were down to the locals not the ship. I would highly recommend Silver Wind to anyone who values the personal touch, the very very best of service and personality over cutting-edge design and gimmicks. Silver Wind met my every expectation, it was a joy to be on-board. The people really make this ship, the crew, staff, managers and fellow guests were the best I have come across. We arrived into Athens during an anti-austerity demonstration outside the parliament and where was out hotel, King George Palace, but in Syntagma Square. Luckily George's Taxis were able to get us there even though all the roads were closed and the army and riot police were standing in a line blocking the streets in case things started to get lively. Our rooms in the hotel looked out over the square, it was interesting to watch the protests from the balcony. We didn't for one moment feel unsafe and as soon as the demonstration was over, ten minutes later the street sweepers were out, tidying up and things quickly returned to normal. Our transfer to the ship was again with George's Taxis, all went to plan. Dropped us right outside where Silver Wind was berthed. We were met by the car door by a porter who whisked us to check-in, no one was waiting, there were NO QUEUES! 5 minutes and we were onboard and it was only 12.30! Our bags went to our cabins and we went for lunch, outside at the back of the ship. The whole ship is friendly, comfortable, welcoming and very professional. When our suite was ready our butler and her assistant unpacked our cases for us, a real treat, whilst we relaxed and explored the ship. The fridge in the suite was stocked daily with whatever you desired, champagne, fresh juices, spirits. The staff knew our names by the second day and were addressing us by our first names by day 3. Food in all restaurants was invariably excellent and there were invitations to dine with various members of the ship's crew throughout the voyage, all very memorable. Onboard there is very much a have whatever you want, wherever you would like it policy and if that means curry, prepared by one of the Indian chefs, in the main restaurant, them so be it. You only need to ask. Entertainment was excellent,pianists, the ship's band, a young, very talented acoustic guitarist was exceptional. We participated in 'L'Ecole des Chefs' a cookery school with a series of demonstrations, tastings, lunches with wine pairings and workshops. All were excellent and included in the fare. Disembarkation was well organised and civilized. Obviously sorry to be leaving, but looking forward to a few days in Dubai. We will definitely be back onboard the Silver Wind some day, hopefully soon! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
I booked this cruise as a present for my husband's 65th birthday & retirement. To be honest it has never appealed to me, but my husband has always wanted to go on one. I absolutely loved it. We had booked an outside balcony ... Read More
I booked this cruise as a present for my husband's 65th birthday & retirement. To be honest it has never appealed to me, but my husband has always wanted to go on one. I absolutely loved it. We had booked an outside balcony stateroom, but was given a free upgrade to a mini-stateroom which was lovely, very roomy with loads of cupboard space. The bathroom, which included a bath was of ample size. The bed was especially comfy as were the pillows. As first time cruisers we didn't really know what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised. This was a 12 day cruise from Athens, via Patmos & Kusadasi, Turkey to the Holy Land. We booked two shore trips, one to Jerusalem, the other to Bethlehem, & Nazareth. Both trips were really full days visiting some wonderful historic sites. The price included a delicious buffet lunch with wine in a Kibbutz on both days.On returning to the ship we were met by staff with trays of cold drinks & cold face flannels with which to refresh ourselves, a very nice touch I thought, this was all before we embarked. The food in the Club restaurant was very nice, & the service impeccable. We preferred to eat in the Panorama Buffet restaurant,where you could eat when you wanted not timed as the Club was. The food in the Panorama was plentiful, fresh & very nicely presented. As the passengers aboard were from numerous countries, there was something to please all tastes.There were never queues for tables or food, maybe because this ship is of a smaller size with just over 680 passengers. Small but perfectly formed!! The entertainment was mainly in the cabaret lounge, resident singers & dancers young & energetic. When we were docked in Egypt we had local dancers, including an authentic belly dancer, & a young male dancer who was absolutely amazing. The pool, which isn't huge, had plenty of sunbeds to relax on & even on sea days was never really crowded. There was also two hot tubs in which to unwind. All too soon our holiday came to an end, & like everything else during the cruise the disembarkation went like clockwork. This may have been our first taste of cruising but it certainly won't be the last. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Azamara Quest review From our outset at the embarkation port, we quickly identified how much more engaged this ship's staff was compared to any other of the numerous upscale cruises we have previously completed. Even though we ... Read More
Azamara Quest review From our outset at the embarkation port, we quickly identified how much more engaged this ship's staff was compared to any other of the numerous upscale cruises we have previously completed. Even though we arrived much too early to go aboard as a result of our very early arrival flight into Athens with nowhere else to go but wait at the port, the Azamara Quest staff were immediately friendly and helpful to us even though they were still occupied with completing that day's disembarkation of the previous cruise's guests. The warmth of the greetings from the directors of both hotel and guest relations, and their welcoming of early arrivals with an assortment of continental breakfast items in the port was impressive when they could have been dismissive until they had completed their tasks of the cruise just ending. This introduction set the tone of the entire staff's attitude throughout the 24 days: every staff member whom we encountered was not just eager to serve, but also to add their extra personal warmth of inquiry, or helpfulness. The friendliness of this staff, and their pleasure and pride in working on this ship, built a tone of congeniality throughout the trip: even the captain and officers mixed amongst us on a daily basis, chatting and overseeing that all was as it needed to be. How much clearer an understanding management had by daily visitations throughout the ship while chatting with guests and staff. How much more serious the recognition was here that each guest has a broad array of travel choices, and that this ship really wanted our experiences to cause us to return eagerly. Dining choices were outstanding whether in the very elegant main open seating venue, in the two a la carte restaurants, or in the attractively presented cafeteria selections. An assortment of outdoor deck party dinners, gracious afternoon teas with harp music, and dining room brunches with live musical accompaniment rounded out these choices. In each, a very high standard of both choice and quality was present. The accommodation was attractive and comfortable, and the 8th floor suites had considerably more living and storage space than the veranda cabins. Entertainment covered a range of options from Broadway to classical, but more space could be set aside for those who enjoy dancing other than at the disco. Excursions covered the port highlights well, and were fairly priced. The exotic itinerary of this cruise was what brought us the first time to Quest: the excellent staff and delightful on board atmosphere will have us return. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We arrived in Athens two days prior to embarkation, so we could see the sights, and had a marvelous time, not a HAL excursion, but taken about by Constantine with AthensTaxi.org. This is a family run taxi/tour company that will go out of ... Read More
We arrived in Athens two days prior to embarkation, so we could see the sights, and had a marvelous time, not a HAL excursion, but taken about by Constantine with AthensTaxi.org. This is a family run taxi/tour company that will go out of their way to show you the sights and a good time. He picked us up upon our arrival at the airport at 9:AM, took us to The Athens Gate Hotel, where we checked in, checked our luggage since the room was not yet ready, and we went on a 1/2 day Athens tour. I admit to being awed by the ancient ruins, as I studied classical Greek in high school, but this was my first in-person exposure to the area. It was super-hot on the acropolis, but we took our time and saw everything - Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, looked down on both theaters from above, took a zillion photos - then went to a great casual outdoor restaurant near the agora for a gyros lunch with fresh feta & tomato salad, and tried to local beer. The beer was probably a mistake, after a long flight, no real sleep, and the heat on the rocks, began to be very tired. But, we sucked it up, toured the agora, then took a drive up Lykavittos Hill, stopping for several views of the area below. After a tour past some of the important government buildings, the university, we drove thru the main downtown business area, and then back to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel was great, we ate at a rooftop outside table with a view of the acropolis - I don't think we'll ever top the ambiance of that evening. We took off the next day to the Peloponnese, stopping to watch some ships go thru the Corinth Canal that connects the Adriatic Sea to the Aegean Sea. Then, on to Ancient Corinth, with the Temples of Apollo and Octavia and other fascinating ruins. Then on past vineyards, farms and goat herds, to Ancient Mycenae - again left to wonder at the amazing history from nearly 4000 years ago. Constantine then took us thru the resort town of Nafplio, a resort frequented mainly by Greeks, then on to the small seaside beach town of Tolo, where we had a lunch of local sea bass and Greek salad, with some delicious local white wine overlooking the beach at Maria's Cafe - remarkable! He stopped by a local grocery store where we bought some wine to take on the ship - the local Peloponnese white wine was a "must buy", and cheap!!! Note: the red was not so great, but what do I know when picking Greek wine? Oh yeah, the cruise, almost forgot. On day three, he picked us up at the hotel, and took us to Piraeus to board the ship, and we said farewell to Constantine. We got on board, and had heard that there was a luncheon in the main dining room beginning at 11:30 for Mariner's club members, but we were directed to the Lido, and could not go elsewhere on the ship. It's probably just us, but we don't like the Lido. We go on a cruise to enjoy great service and luxury, but the Lido seems hectic, too much standing in line, racing here, there and everywhere, your food gets cold before you can start, because your busy collecting salads, beverages, main course, etc. The Lido on the Westerdam was a step up from that on the Veendam, but still not 'our cup of tea. But, on embarkation days, what can you expect, or do? Just enjoy it. After lunch, no announcement, but I went to check anyway, and "sure enough", ours was ready, and I found our luggage in the elevator lobby, so brought it to the stateroom myself. Pleasant surprise - two bottles of wine in the room, compliments of our travel agent, Cruise Club of America. Didn't think much of it, but noticed there were no excursion tickets in the room as on the Veendam last year for our Alaska cruise. The next thing I noticed was that the balcony room was "well worn", bordering on seedy. Carpet was obviously old by cruise ship standards. Couch was worn on the arms, edges. Furniture on the balcony was very basic, one comfortable chair with ottoman, one not-so-comfortable chair, and a small table. But, OK, this is not the Waldorf, I'm not complaining. When the excursion tickets did not show up the next day, I went to the desk, waited in line, and they said: "Sometimes this happens", they reprinted the tickets. I began to worry that someone else would show up with our tickets, and there might be a donnybrook on the Istanbul evening excursion, and on each one thereafter, so I carried the "boarding passes" with me on each excursion just in case - more to worry about just when I went on vacation to get away from worrying. Cruise went smoothly; we had "open seating", and we tried to make dinner reservations for the Vista Dining room "open times", but could only get 5:30 or 8:PM. Eventually, they explained that if we wanted other times, "just show up". That worked, no problem, no long waits. I never could figure out why no reservations for other than 5:30 or 8:PM. About day 3 or 4, they began announcing that people were getting sick in excess of normal, and the announcement about "vomiting and diarrhea" during dinner didn't add positively to the ambiance. A hand washing lecture while trying to select dinner was unnecessary, we thought. They re-implemented serving measures to try to prevent the spread of the virus, but we seemed to be doing just fine - until the last port. We had to forgo the Kusadasi - Ephesus excursion (and lost about $300) because we fell victim to the virus - felt OK, but couldn't risk being too far from a bathroom. You couldn't buy any meds in the shops, so had to go to the med center, and be charged $46 each to visit with a nurse and get 1/2 a box of Imodium, and a bunch of other stuff that we didn't need. We were then confined to our cabin and threatened that the captain would throw us off if we were out of the cabin. Thank God there was only one day left. They claimed they would do anything for us, and they did provide unlimited room service, and continue to offer "anything". The one thing we asked them to do was to get a box of Dristan cold tablets from the store and charge our account, but they would not do it, so our respitory symptoms went untreated and ignored by the nurse - they focused like a laser on vomiting and diaharrea, and totally ignored the fact that half the passengers were coughing, hacking, sneezing, etc. Go figure. We didn't pay much attention to the entertainment; the Adiago Strings (string quartet) were excellent. We saw the beginning of one show, but left to get to bed due to an early excursion the next day. This seemed to be an "early excursion intensive cruise", and it was our fault that we booked the most intesive, longest excursions offered. Coupled with the heat experienced in Athens, Antalya, Antakya, Israel and Egypt, the long tours were exhausting, and the return to the ship late in the evenings meant standing in long lines at the Lido hoping there was some food left. It was a little grueling at times. Fortunately, there were 3 days at sea that relieved some of the hectic pace. At the end of the cruise, they whisked us off the ship early, along with the other "recently sick" people, and onto a separate bus for the airport. That was good for the other poassengers so they would not be exposed to potential virus. But, we did not get a final bill, nor the "cruise log" that passengers are supposed to get before leaving. I need to figure out how I can get a itemized bill for the charges that came after the preliminary bill, and the credits that were supposed to show but were not yet posted to the preliminary statement. No comments for the Kusadasi port, because we were "confined to quarters" that day. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Review of Azamara Journey Cruise - October 11-25, 2009 - Southern Mediterranean This was the trip of a lifetime. The ports coupled with the exceptional cruise experience will make it a vacation that's hard to top. We had previously ... Read More
Review of Azamara Journey Cruise - October 11-25, 2009 - Southern Mediterranean This was the trip of a lifetime. The ports coupled with the exceptional cruise experience will make it a vacation that's hard to top. We had previously sailed with Royal Caribbean and others, most recently on the Liberty and Freedom of the Seas. Everything good we heard about Azamara was true. We loved the small ship experience that the Journey provided - few lines, usually easy to get a lounger by the pool, etc. The food was exceptional. I never thought that I could be tired of jumbo shrimp and scallops, but by the end of this cruise, I was! The attitude of staff on the ship was amazing. Generally, staff really take pride in their ship and the service they provided. This was most evident when commented on the mid-cruise survey that the service in the Breezes cafe (buffet restaurant) was inconsistent -- there were lots of waiters around, but they weren't helpful in getting drinks or anything else we needed after we got our food. Within 1 day of that comment, the food and beverage manager approached us directly to thank us for our feedback. We saw immediate, though short-lived improvement. A couple of nights later we were dining with a couple that ordered some wine at the start of dinner. They finished their dinner and the wine still hadn't come. Not impressive, especially considering it didn't seem passengers (in general) were drinking very much and liquor sales are a major source of revenue. The service in the main and specialty restaurants was exceptional. We witnessed the bread basket (that we didn't finish) being recycled to someone else's table! Our room was switched at time of embarkation to 4018. Unfortunately this was directly above the gangway, and we received an early wake up call from all of the noise each day the ship was docked or tendered (12 out of 14 days). The noise and duration made it next to impossible to sleep through. I would highly recommend that you avoid this room if sleeping past 6 a.m. is important. We had a lot of excursions for the first week of the cruise, so we were getting up anyway, but by the second week when we were taking things easier, we decided to comment to Guest Relations. They suggested we could move rooms, but at this point to pack and unpack felt like a lot of work. The creative solution was to offer us another room to sleep in. Ideally, we wouldn't have had to go through any of this, but the solution that was offered was creative. (I don't know what they would have done if the ship had been full....) As I mentioned earlier, the food was exceptional in all restaurants. The homemade ice creams were incredible. I really appreciated the healthy choices that were always available. The "If there's anything you would like, even if it's not on the menu" was a delight! Previous reviews have commented on the entertainment. It is what it is. The Staff Captain said that they recognize it's not the best and it's a deliberate choice in order to keep the prices of the cruises less than Oceania. We had dinner with the Staff Captain one night. It was refreshing to hear him speak so candidly about the ship and the cruise industry in general. Towards the end of our cruise the president of Azamara and several Celebrity executives came on board. In the days leading up to this, we saw a tremendous about of painting and polishing being done! On the day the boarded the ship, a fresh red carpet was on the gangway! It felt like Royalty was arriving! Talking with some of the Journey's management following their meetings with the executives, they indicated that Azamara's prices will be going up, as well as they will be looking for additional ways in increase on-board revenue. My hope is that Azamara retains the quality and value that they provided on our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009

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