This was our first cruise on this line. We previously have cruised with Radisson Seven Seas and Crystal. The ship is beautiful, and at first glance you would say it is a luxury cruise. But it does fall a bit short of our other luxury ... Read More
This was our first cruise on this line. We previously have cruised with Radisson Seven Seas and Crystal. The ship is beautiful, and at first glance you would say it is a luxury cruise. But it does fall a bit short of our other luxury experiences. There seems to be a lot of "nickle and dime" expenses. Not that it adds up to that much, but that it is annoying. I would rather have these items included in the price.
For instance: Charges for the laundry room (there is only one on the ship-always crowded and a line to wash) charges to takes exercise classes, charges for soft drinks and bottled water. It seems when leaving for a shore excursion that water should just be given to the participants (just add another $10 onto the price of the tour). It also seems intrusive to be in the middle of a 6 star dinner (food was excellent!) and have a ticket to sign for your soft drink (small glass, 1/3 of a can of soda for about $3.50) SOmething about having this great meal served and at the same time have to sign a drink voucher, destroys the atmosphere. We were in a suite with a lot of nice amenities, but one was not a complimentary stocked mini bar. Soft drinks should be included as part of at least the suite amenities. I know a lot of other people were complaining of the same thing, so really, the line should charge a little more in the overall cost and just include these things. At that point, when attracting the luxury cruise "crowd" they will be happy.
Otherwise service was good and again, the food was fantastic. I would suggest avoiding the pool food--or eat on shore-however. It is not even close to the quality that the other restaurants offer.
Another comment I have is there is really no entertainment at night worth seeing. I have come to enjoy the production style shows on the other cruises we have been on and kind of missed it this time. I did enjoy one guest speaker and found him very interesting. But again, missed the Broadway level talent I have experienced on other lines.
I hope that with time this line will come around and match their atmosphere with the experience and get rid of the little charges for things and give cruisers the sense of value for their money. I realize it is an illusion, but just include it in the price and we'll be happy! If this line included wine with dinner and complimentary soft drinks,add a little to the entertainment, they would be right up there with their other luxury competitors.
In terms of the itinerary, we were in the Black Sea area. Ukraine and Russia, while interesting in there own historical right, are not really ready for tourists. Just "okay" and I think this was the general thought of most other people we were with.
But, Nessebur, Bulgaria and of course Kusadasi and Istanbul, Turkey were fantastic. We had the pleasure of a fantastic guide for our Turkish stops. Lale Kosagan, of www.privatetoursinturkey.com, was a terrific guide and we achieved a great appreciation for the country and completely enjoyed our time there. We would return again.
Overall, if you are considering this line, the cruise prices are good, the service is good (not quite as good Crystal) but workable and nothing to complain about, the food rivals other luxury ships we have been on, and found the grand dining room (as well as the two satellite restaurants) to be extraordinary.
We arranged private guide/car through the ship for Ukraine and Russia and found this to be acceptable and easy for us.
We found the room in good condition and enjoyed the suite amenities. We did however find the ride at night was often very bumpy, and we think this was because we were at the front of the ship and that the Black sea has a lot of current because of a number of factors. But it was never enough to make us sick. We just have always been midship. However on this line, if you want a suite, you are either at the very back or front of the ship.
The exercise room has medium quality equipment. There is no room dedicated to classes. They just share the floor with the weight equipment. There were a few classes that I noticed, but not a big emphasis on this and the fact that they charge for yoga and perhaps others (I can't remember which classes were a fee) people were not interested. I have seen better exercise rooms on Crystal. But, if this is not important to you...who cares? The spa and restrooms with steam were very nice. So we would recommend the line with thought that you will have a lot of little silly expenses and just don't worry about it. Make sure you take water on the Ukraine tours because most of those countries only take their own currency and there was not money exchange available on the ship. SO in other words, you could be stuck with out anything to drink until you return to the ship, or are able to get to an ATM. Don't expect any fancy entertainment and make your own drinks in your room from liquor you buy onshore. Their drinks are expensive and not really a good value--like a soda is about two big sips, and that for $3.50. You'll see little ads in the daily brochure for "$4.99 martini day" and to me, this seems to not match the style of the ship. You don't go to a 5 star restaurant and see "today is pina colada day for $5.99!) But, hopefully over time they will get it and improve this one area.
One last comment, this is not really a ship to bring the kids. Not much for them to do and the ship does not make an effort to get what kids are onboard together so they can make friends, like we have seen on other lines. If it is a port-intenisve itinerary, with only a few sea days, it does not really matter because your kids will be busy the whole time in port. But if there are a lot of sea days, then your kids will definitely be bored.
I could not find a lot of reviews about this line before we booked, so hopefully this will help any of you luxury cruisers who are thinking about this line. Happy cruising. Read Less