25 Athens (Piraeus) Repositioning Cruise Reviews

This was our fifth Silversea cruise, our second on the Muse but our first repositioning voyage. As always, we flew to our embarkation city the day beforehand and had a fun 24 hours in Athens. We didn’t feel it necessary to book our ... Read More
This was our fifth Silversea cruise, our second on the Muse but our first repositioning voyage. As always, we flew to our embarkation city the day beforehand and had a fun 24 hours in Athens. We didn’t feel it necessary to book our accommodation through Silversea as it’s a major European city with good transport links. When you just need a relatively central location, a comfortable bed and a good shower, why pay over the odds? Silversea waived the “deviation fee” on this occasion so we booked a simple hotel 10 minutes on the metro from the Acropolis. We enjoyed exploring the city on the Sunday and spent Monday morning in the magnificent Acropolis Museum before taking an inexpensive taxi to Piraeus and boarding the ship with minimum fuss. We were sat outside La Terrazza having lunch within 15 minutes. We previously sailed on the Muse on her inaugural voyage in April 2017 and had a great time, despite the dining chaos complained of by some. It definitely felt like a home-coming, with some familiar faces amongst the crew and we easily slipped into the warm embrace of luxury provided onboard. The ship looked good and well-kept. For us, the public spaces achieve the balance between muted luxury and comfort - we are not interested in being surrounded by “bling”. Our suite, although on a lower deck than we have previously sailed on, was in all other respects exactly the same and very convenient for the “big beige lounge” (the Dolce Vita) and Team Trivia every afternoon. Over the course of the cruise, we ate in all the restaurants with the exception of La Dame. This was a conscious choice on our part as on our previous voyage we didn’t feel La Dame merited the extra charge when the food in Atlantide is particularly good. We dined in Kaiseki to celebrate a birthday and the chefs and staff gave us a memorable evening. We also enjoyed the sushi and sashimi for lunch at Kaiseki, which sometimes provided a quieter alternative to the buffet or the pool deck. The food at all restaurants ranged from very good to excellent. It was pleasing to see that the menu at Silver Note (previously our lest favourite option) had improved. The flavours at Indochine were spot-on and the bar there was one of the nicest on the ship. Not all guests appreciate Asian fusion, but it was heartening to see the Indochine dining room busier than previously. Where we had previously sailed on port-intensive itineraries with relatively few sea days, we had to make an adjustment on this cruise where it was roughly half port and half sea days. This was made easier with plenty to keep us busy. There were three guest lecturers on board, two of whom - Mark Elowitz and Tom Jones - were particularly popular. Team Trivia became increasingly popular as the cruise progressed. Cruise Director Vikki conducted matters with elan and confidence. We used the gym regularly and my husband attended a number of classes with the fitness instructor, who he rated highly. The jogging track was busy with walkers and runners first thing in the morning. We had a bridge tour, various cooking demonstrations in different parts of the snip, a galley tour and many other diversions. The Voices of Silversea did a really good job on this voyage and all the various musicians worked hard to support each other and devise new combinations of musical entertainment to offer guests. Charlie the guitarist was a particular star. In addition, there were two other artists brought in for different parts of the cruise - a singer/pianist and a flamenco guitarist. Both were very skilled. We took a number of excursions in the ports we visited. The desert jeep safari in Sharm El Sheikh was more fun and interesting than we had originally expected. The landscapes through which we drove were remarkable and the visit to the Bedouin camp was enlivened by both a whirling dervish and a belly dancer. The full day excursion to Petra was tiring but very well worth it. Again, the desert landscape we passed through to get there was quite spectacular. Everybody will say that there isn’t enough time to do more than skim the surface in Petra and I think that is true. Once we had passed through the Siq, we left the tour group behind and wandered on our own. There was enough flexibility in the lunch arrangements for us to maximise the time in the old city and just grab something quick back at the Movenpick Hotel. After all, there didn’t see a lot of point in going all that way to spend half of it sitting in the dining room of a hotel, however nice. In Safaga, we took the overnight excursion to Luxor. This gave us the best chance to see as much as we could in the time available. For us, the Valley of the Kings was the highlight and more time there rather than at a couple of the photo stops on the way back to Luxor would have been welcome. The evening buffet dinner at the Sonesta Hotel on the banks of the Nile was very relaxed and enjoyable. Having sailed through Pirate Alley and reached Salalah, we cancelled the excursion we had booked and took a taxi with another couple. This gave us the chance to see what the city had to offer at our own pace. It’s not a big place but there are still points of interest - the vegetable and fish markets were amazing. It always surprises us when we hear and read complaints of poor service on Silversea. We have never experienced anything less than exemplary service and this cruise was no different. Our butler and room attendant were efficient and friendly and did a beautiful job of decorating the suite for my husband’s birthday. The staff definitely deserved the applause at the crew parade on our penultimate evening on board. Disembarkation at Muscat was a little slower than on previous occasions, but that was more to do with the local immigration officials than with Silversea staff. All the arrangements for our transfers within Muscat went smoothly. We are looking forward to our next Silversea cruise - we have an open booking and are still pondering which itinerary to try next. Based on our previous experience, we are confident that Silversea will deliver the cruise we want. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
for the Itinerary - I never did the Greek Islands before, so this time I tried to "link-up" NINE Cruise Segments, starting on 1st October in ATHENS and finishing on 8th December in DUBAI. There were several "double" ... Read More
for the Itinerary - I never did the Greek Islands before, so this time I tried to "link-up" NINE Cruise Segments, starting on 1st October in ATHENS and finishing on 8th December in DUBAI. There were several "double" Segments through some of the Greek Islands, which gave me the opportunity to visit Ports twice or more = so that was a good experience. Unfortunately, this Ship caters mainly for the Spanish Package Deal Market, so everything is in Spanish - some Shows are (Only) in Spanish, and some of the English Announcements are hard to understand..... Whenever I book, I always opt for the cheapest INSIDE Cabin, so even though I had booked the 9 Cruise Segments on the same day - there were NO Upgrades - in fact I had to change Cabins after every Segment. What "riled" me, was one night when I wanted to eat in the Main Restaurant and ordered my Meal with the Waiter, I requested some GREEN Vegetables to go with the Meal, to which the Waiter flatly refused - NOT AVAILABLE!!! So after such a negative attitude, I took my meals at the Buffet Restaurant, where I could "help myself" to whatever Vegetables were available, even though many times only COLD Green Vegetables were there on offer. Another Negative point was, that the Dinner Plates were COLD, sand the food presented was also only "warm" or Cold - so I asked the Chef's there to re-heat the plate???? Which is not saying much for the quality of the Food or the Service. AND, the "COMPULSORY" Gratuity charge came to about 1000 EUROS!!!! With such a mediocre Service - this was a total RIP-OFF!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Background information: We are veteran cruisers with many years of cruising in different parts of the world on different cruise lines (includes Oceania, Disney, RCI, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Cunard). This was our 30th cruise, ... Read More
Background information: We are veteran cruisers with many years of cruising in different parts of the world on different cruise lines (includes Oceania, Disney, RCI, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Cunard). This was our 30th cruise, our longest cruise to date, our eighth on Oceania and our first on Sirena. I have done several other cruise reviews on Cruise Critic. This cruise was entitled “Voyage of Discovery” and was 28 days long, with embarkation in Athens, Greece and disembarkation in Miami, Florida. We booked this as a single Grand Voyage and not as two separate back-to-back Cruises. Sirena is one of the four R-ships currently owned by Oceania Cruises (along with 2 larger, newer O-class ships) and it has passenger capacity of 650-700 passengers and an international crew of nearly 400. The R-ships are scheduled for major renovations over the next few years. Oceania is a cruise company under NCL Holdings. Our trip began with flights on Delta Airlines from our home city through JFK to Athens, Greece. We purchased our own air. We also purchased transfers and a three-night Athens hotel package from Oceania. The hotel selected by Oceania was the Grande Bretagne, a beautiful five-star Marriott/SPG property located on Syntagma Square in the heart of the city. We thoroughly enjoyed the service and amenities at this hotel and its wonderful rooftop bar and restaurant with views of the Acropolis and other sites in Athens. Our pre-cruise activities in the city included visits to the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum and to the expansive Christian and Byzantine Museum, and we had a very enjoyable Greek cooking class in a Taverna, which we booked in advance through Trip Advisor/Viator. This was our first time staying in Athens and our second visit to the city. Embarkation: On the way to our ship, we selected an excursion from the Oceania representative at the hotel that included a bus trip to Cape Sounion and the Poseidon Temple, located south of Athens before heading to the port. It took mere minutes to be processed at the Piraeus cruise terminal and we were on-board Sirena having lunch. Our cabin was ready around 1:30 pm and our luggage arrived shortly after that time. Cabin: For this cruise, we selected an A3 category concierge veranda (cabin 7020, located on deck 7 forward on the port side). We are very familiar with this type of cabin, which has a total area of 216 square feet, including the veranda. The room was quiet and cozy, the bathroom is small but manageable, and the bed is heavenly (very, very comfortable). We did use our Veranda quite often on this cruise, with the hot weather. Our stateroom was maintained impeccably by our Room Stewardess and her assistant. The Concierge Veranda level comes with a new and very useful perk of three complimentary laundry services per sailing; since our cruise was composed of back-to-back sailings, we got six of these laundry services (maximum of 20 pieces per service). Public areas: The small size of Sirena limits the public spaces to a few areas - Library (popular with many folks but a complete waste of space in my opinion as I usually bring an electronic book reader), Deck 11 sports area, Pool Deck, Baristas/GDR bar (did not use), the Upper Hall (home of the string quartet concerts), Martini’s bar (strangely, a big favorite for us in the past but we only visited a couple of times on this cruise), a tiny casino, the ample Sirena Lounge (entertainment, lectures, trivia, and meeting place for excursions), and the beautiful and expansive Horizons Lounge on deck 10 forward (the Room with a View). There are two tiny boutique stores on deck 5 and a card room on deck 9. There is also a decent-sized gym/workout facility and the Canyon Ranch Spa area on deck 9 forward. The public areas are nicely decorated but the OceaniaNEXT project will certainly be welcome. Dining: Oceania is renowned for their cuisine and our experience ranged from good to excellent, with a couple of exceptions. We had most of our evening meals in the Terrace Cafe because of its convenience and outdoor seating, and the wide variety of offerings, including salads, pastas, grilled meats, specialty dishes, good side dishes, sushi, charcuterie, fresh breads, and desserts were superb. There were several special lunches or dinners in the Terrace, including Greek, Italian, Spanish, Mexican and Indian cuisine. Our breakfasts were divided between the Terrace Cafe (full breakfasts and cooked to order) and Waves Grill, which offers a continental style buffet. Waves Grill is also a great place for lunch (huge cooked-to-order burgers and sandwiches) and they have a salad bar, plus delicious ice cream and milkshakes. We ate a few times in the Grand Dining Room and enjoyed the selections, but preferred the more casual ambience of the Terrace Cafe and the ability to control portion sizes. The specialty restaurants on Sirena are Red Ginger and Tuscan Steak. We ate at Red Ginger once and Tuscan Steak twice. Red Ginger, specializing in Asian fusion cuisine, is not one of our favorites, but it was good. Unfortunately, my dinner at Tuscan Steak the first time we ate there was nearly ruined by an inedible ribeye steak. The first grey, over-salted, overcooked and tasteless steak I received was whisked away and replaced by another steak almost as bad. Apparently, the filet is a more “sure” thing; being from the western US, I am more of a fan of strip and ribeye cuts, but will not try most steaks again on Oceania. Everything else at that meal was excellent. Needless to say, my second meal at Tuscan Steak concentrated on the pasta selections, which were delicious. Another miss was the horrid lobster bisque in the GDR. Many folks complained about this over-salted and very fishy (in a bad way) soup selection. The service in the dining areas ranged from good to excellent; some minor issues with lack of service (set up, clearing of dishes) at the beginning of the cruise were rectified. Bar offerings, wine selection, and service: We did not buy a beverage package on this cruise. We tried to go to happy hour every evening to help with the costs. The drinks are very expensive, especially wines by the glass, and that cost is exacerbated by an 18% service charge. The wine selections were quite good, however, and we did buy a few bottles that can be stored on-board for more than one meal. Beer selections are somewhat limited (a negative with hubby, who is a craft beer aficionado). Mixed drinks are good to excellent. Service is very good to excellent from the bar staff and sommeliers. Most of our bar service experiences were in Horizons lounge or Waves Grill/Bar. Activities and Entertainment: We do not go on Oceania for their entertainment. The small entertainment staff is young and enthusiastic and the shows are fairly short and limited to one every evening at 9:30 pm, with a few guest performers in some shows. We usually head back to cabin to relax and read after dinner so we did not see most of the productions. The Sirena Show Band on our cruise was excellent and we heard them most often in Horizons before dinner. Other entertainment and activity options included enrichment lectures (did not attend most of them), trivia, bingo, sports activity contests, cooking demonstrations, and some pool deck contests (build a ship, country fair, crew contests). Our CD was Leslie Jon, who is very personable and an excellent announcer. Service: As noted in the other paragraphs, service ranged from very good to excellent and minor concerns were corrected immediately. This cruise also featured the best and most competent Destination Services staff we have dealt with yet on Oceania, a wonderful and helpful Oceania Club Ambassador (yes, we are going again), and very friendly staff at Reception and in Security. Officers are business-like, but approachable. Captain Vitaliy Silvachynsky was very professional and trustworthy. We called him Captain “Early” because he would often leave ports ahead of the departure time if everyone was on board. He also made the right calls on avoiding Hurricane Florence and other tropical storms that were brewing in the Atlantic; our 8-day crossing was very smooth. Ports and excursions: Separate port write-ups are included. This cruise was attractive because of its ports and the transatlantic crossing. We did ship excursions in almost every port and most were good to excellent. Sadly, two premium excursions we booked prior to the cruise that included gourmet experiences were canceled due to lack of participation. Our ports of call included Patmos, Rhodes and Crete in Greece; Limassol, Cyprus; Haifa, Israel (overnight); Valletta, Malta; Messina, Sorrento and Rome (Civitavechhia), Italy; St. Tropez, France; Barcelona, Cartagena, and Malaga, Spain; Funchal, Madeira; and Nassau, Bahamas. A planned overnight in Bermuda was replaced by a day in Nassau due to Hurricane Florence. We did not have any planned activities in Civitavecchia (Rome) as there were limited excursions on this cruise transition day and our choice of excursions was canceled, unfortunately. The top ports we visited were Haifa, Israel (two amazing and unforgettable journeys to Jerusalem on the first day and to Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee on the second); Patmos (beautiful island and fascinating history of St. John); Valleta, Malta (loved this unique and scenic small country); Messina, Sicily (we did a great excursion to Taormina, a lovely town south of Messina, and to a nice winery); Cartagena, Spain (a fantastic excursion to a Spanish horse ranch); and Funchal, Madeira (a gorgeous island with dramatic scenery and a fun city market). We also enjoyed all of the other ports and have good memories from each place we visited. Disembarkation: We disembarked very quickly in Miami and had a private transfer to Fort Lauderdale for our non-stop United flight home. Summary: Our overall experience on Sirena was excellent, with a few minor issues as noted in the details above. Usually, we are ready to go home, but we were reluctant to leave on our last day. We have already booked our next experience, a cruise on Nautica from Venice to Dubai in late 2019! We look forward to the renovated R-ships. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I have sailed a lot, probably close to100 cruises. On Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, I have spent over 360 days. But I was so impressed with everything about this voyage, I’m not sure I ever will go back to any other line; I think I have ... Read More
I have sailed a lot, probably close to100 cruises. On Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, I have spent over 360 days. But I was so impressed with everything about this voyage, I’m not sure I ever will go back to any other line; I think I have found my new home on the seas. embarkation and disembarkation both went very smoothly, a benefit of sailing with only 900 other passengers. This was not only the first and last day of the cruise but also for every port we visited. We were in Suite 4000, a ES1 category. Before sailing, I looked at the diagram for the owner’s suite on deck 7. I wondered if I would have wanted or needed everything provided in that cabin. Once we boarded and were settled in our suite, I was perfectly happy and would not have wanted to move upstairs. Heck, even the lowest standard cabins on Vining Ocean are better than many higher-level cabins on other cruise lines. I have often been a Grills passenger on Cunard. The Queen’s Grill on QM2 is considered by some to be the best restaurant at sea. Although Wiking does not offer dishes prepared table side, the quality and presentation and variety is equal to the food on other ships. Open dining was a delight and we never had a wait, It was nice to have the alternative dining restaurants and not have to pay extra. The rotating menu at the Chef’s Table was a deal. We ate there five nights during the month we were on board. Wine (which was not bad) and beer (which I don’t drink) were free during meals and I never paid for non-alcoholic beverages and coffee away from the restaurants. I consider it a benefit not to have a casino on the ships, photographers always wanting to take your picture, and on the shops on board lining the hallways as they apply their wares. I loved not having announcements every hour. The lecturers were very good and well-versed to discuss their topics, especially the port talks. Evening stage shows were above-average and well attended, but not the glitzy performances produced on larger ships. At least one excursion is free in every port. I participated in some of those and they were fine. The optional, paid excursions were well run and educational. Good variety of options. The gym is good, plenty of machines. Never crowded. A great spa and - since the line is Norwegian - great sauna, jacuzzi, ice water buckets AND a snow grotto. Imagine a snowball fight in the Suez Canal, I can’t say enough to complement the Viking professionals who made this such an enjoyable adventure. I liked it so much that I already have booked a one month journey next summer. I am sold on Viking! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
What sold us about the cruise are the destination. The Viking Orion is beautiful with plenty public sitting and relaxing area beautifully Scandinavian furnishings. What impress us is how friendly the crew are. They are always smiling, ... Read More
What sold us about the cruise are the destination. The Viking Orion is beautiful with plenty public sitting and relaxing area beautifully Scandinavian furnishings. What impress us is how friendly the crew are. They are always smiling, say "hello" to you even you walk by them. We love the World Cafe, their food and services are better than the other dinning rooms.you can find king crab legs every night there. The order to cook oriental dishes there are great. The only thing is the storeroom services can be a little more efficient. They don't clean our room until after 10 a.m in the morning or prepare our beds after 9 p.m. I wish they can do it earlier. Maybe too many rooms to clean by 1 storeroom stewardess. Overall it was a great trip with some minor excursions mix up. Too many days in Mumbai especially for those with the 35days segment. They should have an overland excursion to the Tah Mahjai. Also, 1 day in Sri Lanka is enough. Overnight should be added to Penang and Singapore so passengers can enjoy the night food market and night life in both places. Too little time in these beautiful places. Also, entertainment can be brush a little bit. Aiden Soon 's performance is incredible, one of the best we saw in our cruises experience. Need more entertainers like him. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was our first cruise with Viking but I am sure it won't be our last. Previous cruises have been on much larger ships so were looking forward to discovering the difference. From day one we were blown away by the spaciousness of ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Viking but I am sure it won't be our last. Previous cruises have been on much larger ships so were looking forward to discovering the difference. From day one we were blown away by the spaciousness of the ship.The decor is wonderful and restful. No where was crowded and you could relax anywhere. The cabin was of a good size with plenty of storage space. Bathroom was great with seperate shower and heated floor, not that we need that as everyday was hot. Our cabin stewards were excellent and nothing was too much trouble. Free laundry was a real bonus. Just had to make sure got back in time to remove from machines as they were in high demand. Having said that, I never has to wait to use one. The restaurants were of a high standard but we chose to eat mostly on the Aquavit Terrace as was so pleasant in the morning and evening. It also meant that our friends could always find us!!! The pools were never crowded and the water was usually warm but sometimes a little too warm due to the very high temperatures we were travelling in. Unlike other ships there was never a problem finding a sun lounge. Spa was fabulous and a lot of fun. We tried the golf putting greens which were a real challenge. Entertainment was of a fairly high standard but didn't perhaps have the variety of larger ships.We enjoyed every performance we went to.The enrichment talks were extremely good and we learnt so much from the varied subjects presented. Trivia was always fun even though no prizes but that didnt stop the competitive nature of the players. I think Viking will have learnt a lot from this cruise about the shore excursions. We found the included tours to be very hit annd miss and unfortunately mostly a miss.This was the first time the ship had been to many of these ports. The tour guides were sometimes very hard to understand and the itineraries lacking in substance. A lot of the ports on this cruise were a long way from the city which we were visiting which meant a lot of travelling time in very hot weather. We organised a lot of private tours which worked very well and were more cost effective. In summary Brilliant ship. Excellent staff everywhere on the ship. Fabulous itinerary. Met wonderful people who hopefully we will be able to catch up with again in the future as we had so much fun. Missing it all already Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was our second Viking Star cruise, first the Inagural year Venice to Istanbul. We arrived in Athens three days early an toured on our own. Once we boarded the Star, we felt we had arrived home. The most welcoming part was several of ... Read More
This was our second Viking Star cruise, first the Inagural year Venice to Istanbul. We arrived in Athens three days early an toured on our own. Once we boarded the Star, we felt we had arrived home. The most welcoming part was several of the bartenders remembered us from two years prior. When you are addressed as Mr. Lang and welcome back, that was it, this was going to be a great trip. Tours— Highly recommend Mykonos by 4X4 vechicle trip, Nazareth & Sea of Galilee Shore Excursion, and last and most memorable From Naples The Vistas & Villages of the Amalfi Coast Shore Excursion. The last one stops in Sorento shipping and Delightful 3 Star restaurant lunch. The road trip along the coast were as advertised most scenic, I finally got the Amalfi Coast off my bucket list after 3 prior visits. Food— My favorite Restaurant is Manfredi’s, memorable fine dining, Chef’s Table was disappointing both trips, the Restaurant is better. My breakfast and late night treat was Mamsen’s in the Explorer Lounge on Deck 7. Interesting note the Executive Chef David McDonald is the only cruise chef I have ever seen throughout the ship we’re food is served- “inspecting the troops”, so to speak, everyday. He has the time to talk to guests- a mark of a true professional. Future bookings and discounts were not available on this cruise because of the official reservations agents departure, a letter was given to some Explorer Members to use this code. I missed the window due to health issues, but will try now on an Amazon Cruise in December 2019. The staff in all corners of the ship were very professional, I believe this is due in part to the original crew who set and maintain a high standard for all new members. All in all Viking out got it right, I hope this experience is transferred the new Ocean ships coming on line. Last — This is not a family cruise for younger folks, I believe as it was modeled this way. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose this cruise because of the pricing, OBC, and itinerary. The Azamara Journey crew worked hard to prevent a ship wide outbreak of a GI virus and were successful. Someone(s) foolishly ate some street food. As always the rooms and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the pricing, OBC, and itinerary. The Azamara Journey crew worked hard to prevent a ship wide outbreak of a GI virus and were successful. Someone(s) foolishly ate some street food. As always the rooms and public areas were clean, the food was delicious, and the land excursions excellent. Every night a different cuisine was served in Windows, the buffet restaurant, giving guests a chance to try different foods. The best place for evening dining is The Patio with table service but one can also visit the buffet line from there. We were able to get to know the different countries we visited. We were delighted to see Eric, the Cruise Director, again. He is so much fun and so entertaining. Standard drinks and tipping are included in the cruise price which means you aren't trying to drink your way through a liquor package and you don't need to worry about tipping too little or too much. They still need to improve their Wi-Fi connection. This was another wonderful cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was our fifth cruise with Azamara and our third on the same route. We chose the route twice before as one or other of us had had knee surgery and this repositioning cruise includes many relaxing sea days. The itinerary includes the ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise with Azamara and our third on the same route. We chose the route twice before as one or other of us had had knee surgery and this repositioning cruise includes many relaxing sea days. The itinerary includes the option to visit both Luxor and Petra. On the previous cruises we weren’t fit enough to take these strenuous tours, but this time we intended to, and did, ‘tick off’ both these bucket list destinations. We had stayed in Athens twice before, so decided to look for a hotel in Piraeus and we found a great one. The Phidias Piraeus is a small boutique hotel very well located close to the Zea Marina, which has an interesting range of boats from luxury cruisers to small fishing boats. The road around the Marina has many restaurants and bars, so is an ideal place to find dinner. The hotel itself was great. The receptionist could not have been more helpful. Our room was small but very tastefully decorated in a modern style and the bathroom was nice - everything was very clean. Breakfast was great, too. They took us to the port the next morning at 12 on their free shuttle, along with about 12 other Azamara passengers who were staying there. As usual embarkation was quick and easy and well before 1:00 we were on board sipping a glass of bubbly. We went straight to the speciality restaurants reservation table in Windows(buffet) to buy a 3 meal dining package for the speciality restaurants and make our bookings, then had lunch in the Patio. By 2:00 we were in our verandah stateroom (7021) unpacking. Our steward, Luis, was happy to get us some metal coat hangers to supplement the ones provided. The cabin was very comfortable, with lots of storage space. We had asked for a queen bed configuration, and bed was huge and extremely comfortable. The balcony was small but had a table and two chairs - big enough for us to sit out there. We ate most dinners in Discoveries (MDR) and overall the food was excellent. We had some main courses that were outstanding - lamb chops, surf and turf, filet mignon, lobster with scallops and shrimp risotto. Azamara generally does soups well too - favourites include red pepper soup and Thai seafood soup. There were two or three misses though - garlic soup that tasted of rubber, veal chops that were tough and Thai beef curry that tasted like stewed beef, but these were very much the exception. We usually shared tables at dinner, often with the same group of people who all went to the Discoveries bar at about the same time (7:30) and had many lovely sociable meals. We ate twice in Prime C and once in Aqualina and these were all outstanding meals. We mostly had lunch at the Patio (my husband thinks the Azamara special burger is unbeatable) and breakfast in Windows. Although we were happy with the included drinks, we felt that the quality of the wine was lower than on our last cruise, a year before. After dinner, we often went to the Cabaret Lounge to watch some or all of the show. Mostly these were song and dance shows by the ship’s group of entertainers, including the talented Eric De Gray, the Cruise Director. During our 16 nights aboard there were two guest artists - a comedian and a cellist, but we didn’t see either of them. On a few nights we ended the evening dancing to disco in the Living Room, with the DJ Marcio. On this cruise there was a good crowd up there most nights. The Azamazing Evening was, unusually, a little underwhelming! It was in Wadi Rum, which is a beautiful setting, but the entertainment was folk dancing, which was very repetitive. It was men in white robes (plus a boy) waving swords and dancing. There was wine to drink but the only food was flat bread made by a couple of women sitting at the base of the stage. As we were sitting near the back we didn’t even get to try it! It also became quite cold once the sun set, as the sky was clear. We enjoyed the sea days, as we love sitting on a sun bed on deck 11. That means that I can’t comment on the lectures, art classes or bridge lessons - we didn’t get to any of them. From Aqaba to Muscat the ship was subject to high security - there was a team of security guards onboard and all outdoor areas had to be kept dark between dusk and dawn. We had to close our curtains at dusk and not use our verandah light. Deck 9 was only accessible after dark by ‘smoker’s corner’ - but the added bonus was that the view of the starry sky was wonderful with no light pollution! As always with Azamara the service was generally excellent. Senior Officers were very evident - we spoke to the captain a couple of times, and the Hotel Director, Heike, was everywhere - directing people to buses in port, welcoming us back to the ship. The other thing that always impresses is with Azamara is the general friendliness onboard - crew and passengers alike, and this cruise was no exception. Ports:- Crete - Agios Nikolas - we went on the little blue land train. We took the 70 minute tour for €13, which went up into the hills to a view point over Elounda and Spinalonga as well as back over Agios Nikolas, then had a walk around this pretty little town. Egypt - Safaga - we took a 2 day private tour with Your Egypt Tours which included Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, a sunset felucca ride on the Nile, an overnight stay at the 5 star Steigenberger Hotel on the banks of the Nile, the Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple and the Colossi of Memnon - all for $160. We also had some optional charged extras - the Light & Sound Show after dark at Karnak Temple and visits to King Tutankhamen’s and King Seti’s tomb. I loved the Light & Sound Show, but my husband found it boring. The two extra tombs were well worth the extra charge, especially Seti’s tomb - the paintings there were amazing, so fresh and vibrant. Jordan - Aqaba - we went on the ship’s excursion to Petra. A very hard day, but also well worth it. We walked for 5/6 miles on uneven ground - not so bad on the way there as it’s downhill, but hard work coming back uphill. You can pay to go in a carriage, but we didn’t fancy it, they went pretty fast and the passengers looked as if they were being thrown around a lot. The walk through the Siq is interesting as the rocks are amazing colours, then you get your first glimpse of the Treasury - the iconic building that you see in every bit of information about Petra. It’s amazing, but there is so much more to Petra - lots more carved buildings and even an amphitheatre. Oman - Salalah - we didn’t get off the ship as it was very hot (88) and the port was 25km from the town. Oman - Muscat - we took the ship’s free shuttle to The Muttrah Souq, which is huge. The main path is where all the souvenir stalls are, but it’s more interesting on the side and outer paths where there are stalls and shops selling goods designed for locals, such as shops selling abayas (Arab black dresses). We spent a couple of hours wandering around the Souq and the surrounding area. UAE - Dubai - took the ship’s free shuttle to the Dubai Mall. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
I'm on board Odyssey right now in week 4 of a 5 week cruise. We've sailed on most of the major cruise lines and there are so many ways Seabourn excels its hard to describe. Just try them, you simply can't lose. The service ... Read More
I'm on board Odyssey right now in week 4 of a 5 week cruise. We've sailed on most of the major cruise lines and there are so many ways Seabourn excels its hard to describe. Just try them, you simply can't lose. The service is great and the staff excellent. Being all inclusive means no chits, no "may I have your keycard" constantly. Other lines may offer drink packages, but you and the bar staff are still passing back and forth cards, receipts etc. The ambience is totally different when all that nickel and diming stuff goes away. Throw in more like hosted dinner tables, staff who actually know your name, remember your favorite drinks, previews of the next day's dinner menus delivered to your room etc. And stuff like no ship's photographer in your face all the time, almost no announcements all day long for Bingo, art auctions, pool games, and (usually) no, or almost no kids Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We chose this particular cruise line as we have sailed several times before with Seabourn and it has been excellent. We chose this particular cruise because of the time of year, and the ports visited in particular the Greek Islands, ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise line as we have sailed several times before with Seabourn and it has been excellent. We chose this particular cruise because of the time of year, and the ports visited in particular the Greek Islands, Croatia and the Dalmatian coast. Our cruise was made up of three cruises. Boarding was very good as usual and always great to meet the pleasant and welcoming crew. Our cabin was exactly as we expected it to be. We had a forward cabin on the 5th deck ( cabin number 511 ) and this proved to be a bit of a problem when the ship was mooring rather than berthing in an actual port. The noise and vibration of the anchor dropping and /or then raising in the evening was very noisy and intrusive. In previous trips although we were on a forward cabin we did not have this problem.The cabin itself was kept very clean and tidy by our stewardess and the bed as usual was extremely comfortable. Our breakfast every day was in the Collonade Terrace and was made especially enjoyable thanks to our favorite waiter Andre van der Spuy. Andre made a special effort to make us feel happy and could not be more obliging. We dined every evening at The Restaurant in deck 4. Service was impecable. The food was generally very good particularly steaks and fish. Desserts were not up to the same standard. We ate also twice at the Thomas Keller grill on deck 8 and the food was very good as well and service was outstanding. Activities on board were minimal. We really enjoyed the trivia afternoons when they were available. We went to a couple of lectures by Ambassador Karel Kovanda which were excellent. We also were lucky enough to be invited to share a couple of meals with him and his wife Noemi. Evening entertainment we did not attend many as we tended to linger over our evening meals with other guests. Guest services were excellent and would help in every way they could. Disembarkation was very easy and we were allowed to stay longer on board as we were not flying out of Barcelona until the evening. All in all an excellent cruise and recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Seabourn customers feel a strong sense of brand ownership and so are generally not amenable to change. Having cruised 4 times previously on Sojourn we boarded Encore with an open mind. The ship has a lot to live up to, Seabourn set the bar ... Read More
Seabourn customers feel a strong sense of brand ownership and so are generally not amenable to change. Having cruised 4 times previously on Sojourn we boarded Encore with an open mind. The ship has a lot to live up to, Seabourn set the bar pretty high. First impressions are of timber, textured fabrics, leather and stone. I immediately thought of boat shows and premium British motorboat manufacturers. There are lots of great spaces and some clever detailing, the area above the Observation lounge bar, the wood cladding to the central staircase, the panelling inside the lifts (elevators), even the public toilets. Passenger numbers are up from Sojourn, 600 as against 450 but we were still greeted by name throughout the day by the ship's crew. Ultimately it is these men & women who make or break a cruise and they were all focussed on ensuring our happiness. We never felt the public spaces were over crowded either. There are now 2 shows a night, 8.30pm and 10.00pm, more dining venues, extended deck spaces and the whole ship manages potential extra capacity well. Embarkation was the usual silky smooth experience. Hearing staff offer Flemish to Belgian clients next to us rather than the expected French or German demonstrates how far Seabourn are willing to go. Speaking of dining the highlight of any cruise must surely be the food. As well as the main dining room where we ate very well and the Colonnade which ran a series of speciality nights including a very popular Indian night there were 2 new options, the Thomas Keller Grill and Sushi. The TK grill has generated many column inches of debate on Cruise Critic. Having eaten there 5 times during our 34 night cruise I can say that for us it was a total success. The Rib Eye steak is almost too good - how can I ever eat steak again. The prawn cocktail starter featured prawns bigger than my fingers. The service was friendly with some nice table side theatre. The TK Grill Bar was a hit amongst every cruiser we spoke to. Bobby behind the bar and Katy on piano / vocals were a dream team. Sushi was also a great alternative to more traditional dinner options. The girls working in Sushi are super friendly and offer a guiding hand through what might be unfamiliar territory. The food was gorgeous with very talented specialist chefs. Lunchtime they offered Bento boxes with chicken or salmon. We never managed to eat in the Patio Grill at night but enjoyed several lunches there. The fries are still the crispiest on the high seas and the hot dogs just as I remember them. Entertainment wise Seabourn can never compete directly with mainstream lines such as Royal Caribbean with their multi million pound stages and expansive casts but they punch well above their weight. The 4 crew cast shows were a notch up on previous Seabourn productions and offered a broad appeal. We were lucky in having a very strong line up of singers and dancers who not only entertained on stage but also added immense value around the ship at social events. Hanré the cruise director and Jacqueline the assistant CD went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the happiness and well being of their flock. There were a number of guest entertainers who offered a diverse range of acts from classical musicians, magicians, comedians, even a Beatles tribute act. Something for everyone. Not everything was my particular cup of tea but more often I was pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed. I managed to make small inroads into learning the game of bridge. I'm probably 20 years too young and far to cheerful to be any good but under the tutelage of Katherine and her friend Veronica there were times when we cried with laughter as we learnt in our small beginners class. A real bonus to an already excellent cruise. Ports of call were OK but at times not spectacular particularly Mangalore, but we already knew that when we booked. Essentially this was a re-positioning and shakedown cruise. On the latter I was pleasantly surprised at the readiness of the vessel. Odd bits here and there gave a window to some hard work behind the scenes but no more disruption than routine maintenance on a ship that's been in service for a while. Our cabin was standard Seabourn fare which is to say class leading. Deck 6 around 300 square feet, separate bath and shower, his & hers wash basins, walk in wardrobe, seating / dining area, decent balcony, full service flat screen TV with free on demand movies. We also paid $400 for unlimited internet throughout our 34 days which worked as well as might be expected for a ship. Some of the spaces on Encore have been more controversial than others. The Retreat angers many who feel it creates a 2 tier community. I'm a bit more relaxed, there has always been a pay to play space on Sojourn above the Spa. I had a look round the retreat and it's lovely but never found enough hours in the day to make sense of using it. We also like meeting people around the ship. The bar in the Club came under a bit of flack because the bar staff had to keep retreating behind closed doors in the kitchen to mix drinks due to the design of the bar area. We never went thirsty and as ever the staff did their utmost to overcome the challenge. A bit of tweaking required but we still managed to strike up new friendships and in my case make a sorry excuse for dancing ! There were 2 house bands looking after us in the club. We didn't use the shore excursion team. I find the tours expensive and they start too early in the morning even when the ship doesn't leave until late at night. A taxi can generally be had for less than the cost of a single ticket from the excursion team. For that reason I haven't marked them. Overall a great cruise and it was with a heavy heart that we disembarked in Singapore. It would have been easy to stay longer ! My abiding memory would have to be the hard working and caring crew who constantly went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time. [youtube]HYAqTzEeOzE[/youtube] Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I have been on many cruises (over 85) and this is the most BORING cruise that I have ever taken. I am VERY disappointed with Celebrity and do not plan to sail them again. Our cruise from Athens to Abu Dhabi had many sea days. I love ... Read More
I have been on many cruises (over 85) and this is the most BORING cruise that I have ever taken. I am VERY disappointed with Celebrity and do not plan to sail them again. Our cruise from Athens to Abu Dhabi had many sea days. I love sea days because there are generally many daytime activities to keep me busy. I am not talking about the junk "seminars" which are actually infomercials to sell you something, I am talking about indoor games and activities such as trivia, tribond, bingo, battle of the sexes, scavenger hunts, name that tune, etc etc. During the sea days there were generally 2 daytime trivias and a name that tune. That's it. NOTHING ELSE. We had hours of down time which I don't like. I like being busy and going from game to game like most cruise lines and most other Celebrity ships offer. Bingo was canceled 3 out of 5 times due to lack of interest. I complained about the lack of game-type activities to Rich, the useless Cruise Director, as well as to Jess, the woman who did most of the trivias. My suggestions and complaints fell on deaf ears. There was really nothing to watch on TV (unless you paid for a movie) or wanted to watch the news (such as CNN or BBC) or Celebrity commercials which took up most of the channels.. They only showed a movie in the lounge once during our 8 sea days. There were some lectures on various topics during the cruise and they were taped and played ad naseum on the cabin TV. I have not been on Celebrity in 5 years and was SHOCKED at how this cruise line has fallen in quality. it is no better than Carnival or Royal Caribbean now. You are always hounded to buy something, the quality of food and service has gone WAY down and you are nickel and dimed at every opportunity. Staff cutbacks show at every turn - there is no longer a cruise staff to organize activities, there is ONE person! There is nobody in the library to organize and shelve books. Cabins used to have 2 people to clean them. Now's there one. Many of the crew speak English poorly and/or they are hard to understand. I also think that a lot of them don't understand English very well. My cabin steward and waiter and busboy are perfect examples of this as well as many crew in the Lido buffet restaurant. A few good things - the hollandaise sauce for the eggs benedict in the lido buffet restaurant for breakfast was awesome. So were the eggs benedict themselves. The Maitre'd and Headwaiters were very helpful. The price of the cruise was very good. They took our safety very seriously and I think that they even had armed guards on the ship when we were sailing in the Gulf of Aden. The WIFI was a bit expensive but worked very well and fast most of the time. I really appreciated having the speedy WIFI. I am sure that there are many people who took this cruise who enjoyed it but my mother & I certainly did not. Oh well. I did enjoy getting to Petra, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Also, Crete has great shopping! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We chose this cruise particularly for two reasons: 1 Transit id the Suez Canal 2. Embarkation from Istanbul (and so we could stay there 3 days prior to the cruise to soak up some of the sights of this great city) Our group was ... Read More
We chose this cruise particularly for two reasons: 1 Transit id the Suez Canal 2. Embarkation from Istanbul (and so we could stay there 3 days prior to the cruise to soak up some of the sights of this great city) Our group was three adults - one, my mother had some mobility issues. Unfortunately with the civil unrest in Turkey and the increased risk to tourists the cruise embarked from Athens so we altered our plans and stayed in Doha for two nights and Athens for one prior to the cruise. Our cabin was no different in size than the balcony cabin we have had previously. The differences we noted were: a. Higher cabin location b. No cover over the balcony c. Extremely good service from the Concierge Class room attendant d. Dining for breakfast and dinner in BLU e. Free access to the Persian Garden steam/sauna facility Dining for breakfast and the evening meal in BLU was a pleasure. All the team members in BLU were extremely courteous and just so helpful and of course every meal was a joy to eat. I have one major criticism of this cruise and the previous Celebrity cruise I have recently taken. The extraordinary price charged for a real cup of coffee made by an espresso machine on board. I Australia an espresso is a normal coffee and it tastes like coffee, the dirty water served as coffee is an insult to ones taste buds and stomach. We took shore excursions in Jordan, Oman and Abu Dhabi All were extremely good and worth the expenditure. We did book, on board, a transfer from the port to the airport, at booking we were not given any direction as to the nature of the transfer and where to go to join the transfer. Passing through the port terminal we asked people with CELEBRITY name badges where we how we would board the transfer and were told that our name would be held up by someone outside the terminal. This information was totally incorrect and we discovered that our transfer was via a bus which had already departed. This was the only poor service we experienced with this cruise, but it left a poor taste in our mouths non the less. We ultimately secured a cab to the airport - I think this may have been the best option anyway. We are still waiting upon a communication from Celebrity about this botched transfer and a refund for this cost! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Oceania always provide good services, food and entertainment. The only disappointments were the cancellation of Istanbul and Cairo within the lists of Port of Call. Those cities were the reasons for the initial booking of this cruise. ... Read More
Oceania always provide good services, food and entertainment. The only disappointments were the cancellation of Istanbul and Cairo within the lists of Port of Call. Those cities were the reasons for the initial booking of this cruise. Some travelers mentioned receiving shipboard credit after complaining to Oceania (which would need confirmation). If that was true and correct, Oceania should have done across the board for all passengers. During the passage of the Suez Canal/Red Sea, the ship was attacked by flies. The crew had to do extra duties every night to fumigate the Terrace Cafe and other public areas. Oceania is very concerned of the safety of the passengers especially when sailing through the potentially high-risk areas. The captain advised all blinds or curtains would need to be pulled together after dark to avoid the attractions of the privates and the open decks were closed for public access. Closing the deck after dark caused some inconvenience because some passengers such as myself would normally have their exercise walks after the big dinners. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We choose these cruises for the itinerary : Mediterranean and Transatlantic. Overall we thought it was terrific. The ship was beautiful, great expansion of outdoor sitting areas, more subdued, classy decorating and fabulous staff. The live ... Read More
We choose these cruises for the itinerary : Mediterranean and Transatlantic. Overall we thought it was terrific. The ship was beautiful, great expansion of outdoor sitting areas, more subdued, classy decorating and fabulous staff. The live music entertainment was very enjoyable from shows to groups playing around the ship. Our cabin staff and dining room staff were great. I was concerned about having only 2 closets, but it worked out fine. The configuration of the cabin seemed to have more room than other interiors I have had. The only thing I found disappointing was the lack of table cloths. I had to mop my eating area several times per meal with my napkin or I'd have water dripping on me. Food around the ship was very good, especially lunches ( the seafood shack, though a pay extra for was excellent) and dinner at JiJi was terrific. The main entrees in dining room just fell short of being very good. Appetizers and desserts usually very good. I truly had no complaints and enjoyed the trip/ship immensely. STAFF WERE A#1 !!! Note: Did 1 Carnival excursion in Rome : Train, then on your own in Rome. Train was very uncomfortable ( had to interlace our knees with person sitting opposite. You thought economy class plane seats were cramped ? This seemed like a train for children) and the guide wasted our time insisting that tour (hoho bus) ticket sellers were all fake except for her friend. Waited to find her friend who proceded to run out of change and then out of tickets. Not impressed . Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We did the Europe trip and was very port intense but we had a really good time! Once on the TA we had time to enjoy ship. We were in Athens for 4 nights prior to cruise explored as much as we could. Embarking and disembarking was ... Read More
We did the Europe trip and was very port intense but we had a really good time! Once on the TA we had time to enjoy ship. We were in Athens for 4 nights prior to cruise explored as much as we could. Embarking and disembarking was smooth as silk. Our cabin stewards great ! Cove Balcony excellent cabin. The serenity area was very nice. My husband and I are scuba divers we went diving in 3-4 ports. everything was excellent. every cruise is great Yes I would go again and again. Negatives were size of show rooms. Very small. Dining room had a few issues it took a long time to be served, Cabin was a bit too small. Not enough closet space. The décor is not as nice as other carnival ships. On balconys there was already signs of rusting... Seems no one was winning in casino LOL ! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
HAL put together a 7 day Greece with a 19 day transAtlantic cruise calling it a "Collectors Journey". They promised different meals and shows over the 26 days but repeated the menus and the shows from the first 7 days into the ... Read More
HAL put together a 7 day Greece with a 19 day transAtlantic cruise calling it a "Collectors Journey". They promised different meals and shows over the 26 days but repeated the menus and the shows from the first 7 days into the transatlantic. The ports brought the magic: Athens, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Katakalon, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Barcelona, Palma de Majorca, Alicante, Malaga, Cadiz, Punta Delgado ,Horta and Nassau The ship shows its age (2002) with cabin furniture stained and damaged ; public rooms have mis matched decors of incomplete revisions; toilets failed often in public areas and cabins including ours; drip buckets were found often in hallways from leaks . The recent drydock did not effect the average voyager as it added upper deck VB cabins on Deck 10 and retreat cabanas on Deck 11. They minimized the Crow's Nest. The Screening Room for movies is ludicrous with 24 seats on a ship for 1948 potential passengers to enjoy. The computer classes max out at 12 seats. The lack of synchronization was obvious in the menu-food department. Greek food did not appear until we left Italy, Spanish paella appeared upon our last embarkation from Spain(Cadiz). Dining room service was poor if seated at a table for 8-10 and could soar to excellent service with 2-4 persons. The "On Location" newsletter was difficult and misleading at times. I went to the beginner's bridge lessons to find it was a series started the day before and I was shut out for this cruise. The staff was well trained to smile and be pleasant no matter how awkward or rude the guests were . Dining and room stewards were courteous and always accommodating. We had relatively mild seas for a trans Atlantic cruise and this ship handled the 10 foot seas well despite some histrionic passengers. The entertainment in the main lounge was pitifully amateurish. the instrumentalist were the best of the lot and the house dancers and singers were the worse. The piano bar man Tom was professional and excellent as also "The Band" . We found both sets of classical "Adagio" duos ( 2 separate cruises) as a bit over hyped. The gain on the sound systems routinely appeared turned up too high as if we all are Deaf. The lecturers were inappropriate and boring. As an educated person I would think something on our ports or the history of the region would have made sense. But there was a series on historic airplanes and airplane engines. Really! The other speaker had no purpose/focus The high moment was the destination specialist KK who spoke clearly and honestly about independently visiting each of the ports. She did not discourage use of the HAL shore excursions but she did not discourage the independent traveler. We did not use HAL for shore excursion but used independent sources for 5 excursions in 16 ports . Embarkation in Athens was the worst of our more than 20 cruises. Chaos with insultingly inadequate staff, signage or assistance. many took 2-3 hours standing in the heat trying to get on board HAL took no responsibility to assist getting onboard. WE arrived to be handled a number 16 as they handled number 5 being told it would take at least an hour or more to be called with no chairs or place to sit. Crowded into a cordoned off area. cattle get treated better. Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale was smooth and professional and all that could be done well. It was stunningly simple and quick. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I booked this cruise/crossing at the last moment, when I was able to get a good rate as a solo traveler. I was able to get a ticket to Athens using Amex reward points, which eased my conscience about taking a second cruise in 4 months! (I ... Read More
I booked this cruise/crossing at the last moment, when I was able to get a good rate as a solo traveler. I was able to get a ticket to Athens using Amex reward points, which eased my conscience about taking a second cruise in 4 months! (I just retired in June and am still celebrating). I flew into Athens the night before and the cab driver my hotel had booked for me was waiting with a sign; he delivered me quickly and smoothly to Piraeus. The Piraeus Theoxenia Hotel was very comfortable, the staff was very helpful, and the included breakfast offered many tasty options. At my request, the desk called the same cab driver for me the next morning for the short ride to the port. Embarkation was smooth through my check-in with HAL, but as it was a national holiday, the Greek government had provided only one passport clerk to inspect all 800 passengers' passports. That line got very long! Moreover, the shuttle from the building to the ship was hot and slow to depart - but soon enough I was on the ship and unpacking in my comfy stateroom. I always book an outside cabin on a lower deck amidships, and Prinsendam's staterooms in this category are extremely comfortable. In particular, since the ship does long voyages, there is a roomy walk-in closet - plenty of storage, even when on a previous crossing I shared the stateroom with my sister. As it developed, there were quite a few days of strong winds during the cruise, and between the rocking of the ship and the comfiness of the bed, I slept extremely well! My favorite feature of this ship is the wrap-around promenade deck. I don't want a balcony; I might want to take a photo from the other side of the ship, and the wrap-around promenade deck lets me look out in any direction, often with other people along the railing to talk to. A covered place to walk laps is also important to fair-skinned people, especially as we grow older and start having sun damaged skin. I don't know how other lines can consider an exposed track on the top deck to be an acceptable substitute! Finally, I also love the old-fashioned, cushioned deck chairs on the promenade deck - best place to relax I know of. The other outstanding feature of the ship is its people. The staff are absolutely lovely - kind and smiling whatever the circumstances. The only exception was the beverage waiters in the pool area, who could not be bothered to deliver a glass of ice water. I complained about this on the mid-cruise survey, but it did not improve. The staff and crew are constantly polishing the ship; I heard someone in the self-service laundry say the ship was "dirty and shabby," and when pressed for specifics all he could come up with was that the canvas deck lounges on the aft promenade deck had faded covers. He had also noticed a bottom railing somewhere that wasn't adequately polished. The lesson here is that negative reviews without very specific details should be taken with a tablespoonful of salt. I like the food. To my taste, HAL does a better job of providing varied and properly-cooked vegetable side dishes than any other line except possibly Oceania. I have encountered less-than-perfectly-tender beef on previous cruises, but the filets and strip steaks on this cruise were exquisite. I especially liked the pasta station in the Lido for lunch; the zucchini lasagne and the baked macaroni and cheese were my favorites. The croissants didn't seem to be made from scratch on the ship, but I guess none of the lines do that any more. This cruise was technically listed as a back-to-back, and there were differences in emphasis between the Athens-Civitavecchia segment and the Civitavecchia-Fort Lauderdale segments. The former was very port-intensive, and the latter mostly sea days. I am not especially healthy, having back, knee and breathing problems, so I only went ashore every other day during the first segment but I enjoyed even the ports I only viewed from the ship. The itinerary had been changed to avoid possible unrest in Egypt, and some of the ports were relatively small - but that is one of the advantages of a small ship. The ports in Turkey were especially pleasant. I took three ship's excursions and all were satisfactory; the guides were particularly well-prepared. I don't care much about entertainment, but the English comedian and the violinist whose shows I attended were very entertaining and the classical duo was pleasant. I really enjoyed the lectures - typically one in the morning and one in the afternoon - and the library is excellent! Disembarkation was smooth as soon as they convinced me I really did have to get off the ship! (joke) I purchased the ship's transfer to FLL and it was a mixed success; I have trouble walking long distances and the driver let us off about half a block away from the Southwest counter. There were no carts, porters, or other forms of assistance nearby. I titled this review "my favorite ship," and she is. There is a definite charm about her, and a beauty to her hull, that is missing from so many newbuilds. She is a real ship, not a resort barge! I will sail on her again every chance I get!   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Noordam – October 20/13 Mediterranean and Tran-Atlantic cruise We love cruising and we particularly love cruising on Holland America ships. We'd had a lovely long cruise in the spring and did not plan on this holiday but the magic ... Read More
Noordam – October 20/13 Mediterranean and Tran-Atlantic cruise We love cruising and we particularly love cruising on Holland America ships. We'd had a lovely long cruise in the spring and did not plan on this holiday but the magic word 'Sale' appeared and we could not resist. We have taken more than a dozen trans-Atlantic cruises in the past so there had to be new (to us) ports of call to tempt us. This cruise fitted that requirement. One of the biggest expenses for us in the airfare. I spend many hours researching flights on line and finally determined the most economical way for us to get from eastern Canada to Greece was to fly from Halifax on Icelandair to London, spend a night in London and then fly to Athens on BA the following day. Instead of paying out $3500 per person to Air Canada - it cost us $800 per person and we flew in a lot more comfort! We spent our London night in the Premier Inn on the Bath Road at Heathrow. We have stayed there many times and it is always a favourite of ours. Our second night was at the Savoy Hotel in Piraeus. The hotel itself was reasonably comfortable - nothing special. The food in the dining room was very good - huge (far more than one could eat) servings and very reasonable prices. On October 20th we boarded the Noordam. We have previously cruised on the Noordam and find it a nice mid-sized ship. We prefer the smaller ships however this size is still very nice - not one of those behemoths where you get lost, still a size to get to know and recognize staff during your vacation. Embarkation was smooth and we thoroughly enjoyed our Mariner luncheon before re-acquainting ourselves with the ship. HAL ships have wonderful libraries and our first stop was to pick out some books to enjoy. I mentioned 'sale' earlier. Usually we cruise in an inside stateroom as it is more economical and we are really only in our cabin to sleep and change clothing. This time, however, the price of a balcony was so good that we booked it. And then received an upgrade to an even nicer balcony. We were thoroughly spoiled!! Our cabin was large, very comfortable with a nice sitting area inside and another couple of chairs and tables on the balcony. Dave spent many happy hours reading on the balcony. And I thoroughly enjoy being able to step outside and get a breath of fresh sea air whenever I like. The cabin bathroom was a revelation - there was even a bathtub. After cruises where you felt like you should just soap the walls and then turn around in the shower - it was a treat to have so much room. We definitely loved our accommodations - lots of storage room for all our things and lots of comfort for us. This cruise was very port-intensive at the start so other than playing a lot of trivia, we did not get very involved in other ship activities until the sea-days part of the cruise. We opted for traditional dining and had a nice table for two and were thoroughly spoiled by our waiters and wine stewards (two lovely ladies). Meals are always excellent on HAL ships. We feel they have the best meals of any line. We adore spices and look forward to Asian lunches in the Lido, There is always so much variety that no matter how long the cruise - one always has lots of choices. Quite frankly - my idea of heaven would be about 6 months on a HAL ship - however I would doubtless need a whole new wardrobe as it is very difficult to exercise will power all the time. We especially appreciate the fact there there are a variety of safe sugar free desserts for my diabetic husband to enjoy. The Rijsttafel luncheon on longer cruises is a real treat for the both of us. I appreciate the fact that rather than hiding their recipes - HAL has available for sale several wonderful cookbooks with recipes that have become favourites. It is nice to make a particular dish when back home and bring back memories of enjoying it on a cruise. We had the ship as our "hotel' for the night before sailing away from Piraeus. I really enjoy this - usually we have sail away a few hours after boarding. Somehow this seemed so much more relaxed and it was a treat to watch the sail away from our balcony. The weather was perfect - sunny and comfortably warm. Ports of Call Our first port of call was Kusadasi. We had not been here before and most of the folks going on tours headed off to visit Ephesus. We have been to Ephesus twice and chose instead to wander about and explore the city on our own. We had a wonderful time exploring the market, bargaining for our purchases and enjoying the sights and sounds. We walked up to the Caravanserai. It is a beautiful stone building and is now a hotel with some shops around the interior square. One can just picture many years ago and travellers on camels arriving there – the camels sitting down in the square and their owners in the many rooms resting after their travels. So many wonderful streets to stroll and shops to explore and then a stop at a sidewalk cafe for Raki for two and turkish coffee for Dave. Our next port of call was Rhodes. It was lovely getting off the ship and walking around the harbour to enter one of the gates to this ancient walled city. We love history and have read a great deal about the history of the Crusades and Rhodes figured heavily in any mention of that era. We visited the Archaeological museum - as much for the wonderful art treasures on display there as for the building itself. This building was originally the hospital run by the Knights Hospitalers who cared for ill pilgrims and injured and ill knights. It is a marvelous place - bigger than modern day hospitals in small towns - spread out over a large area with a variety of levels. There are wonderful courtyards with flowers and herbs and fishponds to sooth the spirit as well as the physical ills. Next we headed up the Street of the Knights towards the palace - stopping on the way to visit an interesting (and free) costume museum. It was a little gem - do not miss it. The Palace was the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitalers. After the Turkish empire attacked and battles the Knights - they earned such respect that they were allowed to leave Rhodes with all their weapons and they left and settled in Malta. There they became the Knights Templar and their focus was on amassing wealth instead of ministering to the ill. We found it very easy to explore Rhodes on foot and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Our next stop was Haifa. We decided to take advantage of a ship tour and it was excellent. Our guide Sharon was wonderful. She had a degree in History and in English Literature and her knowledge of history really added to the enjoyment of the tour. First we were driven up Mount Carmel to the church of Stella Maris – the church of the Carmelite nuns. Next we visited the Bahai Gardens. They stretch down the mountainside with a beautiful golden shrine half way down and the gardens were absolutely beautiful. Then we were off to Akko which is the modern name of Acre – of fame in the Crusades. The Turks who over-ran the country and drove the Crusaders out of it – wanted no reminders and buried the fortress at Acre under tons of rubble. We visited the excavated buildings and went through one of the Knights escape tunnels from the fortress to the harbour. It was all fascinating. We visited a shop that made beautiful items in copper and silver. This was the 5th generation creating such beautiful items – the family originally from Iran. We brought some wonderful souvenirs back from that shop. We had a walk through a suq and then a lovely drive back to Haifa and the ship. It was an excellent tour and our guide Sharon was a fount of knowledge. We highly recommend that tour. Limasol in Cyprus was our next port of call. We did not book any tours and actually had a rest day as had done so much walking the day before in Haifa. This is not a port that offers a lot to do – it was a port that the ship visited after the Egypt ports were cancelled due to the political situation in Egypt. Our next port of call was Katakolon – which is actually called Katakolo by the local people. We had a most interesting visit there. There are three main streets and walking along the middle one we came to a lovely little Greek Orthodox church that had been destroyed in WWII and had been totally rebuilt by one man (who was there in the church at that time). It was a labour of love that has taken many years – and well worth a visit. We walked along towards a little park and there purchased tickets for €6 each for a ride on the train up in the hills. This was a 30 minute ride that took up up through a little village , to visit a winery, and then to stop at a big hotel that had access to a beach for swimming. If we ever go back there I will get that train first thing in the morning and enjoy some beach time as the train goes back and forth while ships are in port. One can get off at the winery (which we did – to sample and purchase some wine) and at the beach and get later trains back. This is a small town but we noticed lots of signs advertising Guest Houses and Hotels. A lot of tourists visit here because of the lovely climate and peace and quiet. Many visitors head off to Olympus and there are cars and scooters and mopeds and scooters to rent and a bus that goes there regularly. Messina was our next port of call and we were just there for a few hours in the afternoon. We wandered around the streets a bit but because we just arrived there at noon – it was much like a ghost town as everything was closed between noon and four. Sensible in the heat of summer but I would have thought having stores open for a ship load of tourists in the autumn might have benefited the economy a bit. We heard there was a tour bus – not a HOHO but it would have given a bit more insight into the town but could not find a location for it. Tourism does not appear to be a priority there. Naples was next and we had wonderful weather there for our tour of the city. Last time we were here Dave visited Pompeii and Herculaneum while our travelling companions had a tour of the Amalfi coast. This time we wanted to see more of the city so chose a HOHO bus and were delighted with our choice. There is so much to see in the city but be prepared to do is slowly as traffic in Naples is unbelievable. There are two HOHO routes – the red and the blue. We took the red line tour which is advertised as a one hour tour if you are staying on the bus rather than getting off at each stop. It took well over two hours because of the traffic. The tour was enlivened by good commentary, wonderful Neapolitan music and the frequent wailing of ambulances trying to get through traffic. I do not think anyone would ever die of old age in Naples – they would die of traffic – trying to get through the cars and buses to hospital. There are so many lovely churches and interesting museums in Naples – one really needs a week there and all we could spare on this visit was one day. Any before leaving the HOHO we asked about the wonderful music and the guide had CDs available for sale – a lovely souvenir of our day there. Citavecchia was our next port of call. We were in port from 7 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. This was the end of the first cruise for many, with more people joining the ship for the Trans-Atlantic crossing. Had we been in port longer – we might have taken the train up to Rome for the day. Having been to Rome several times before (even spending a week before embarking on one cruise) we decided that there really would not be enough time to enjoy the city as the train there and back takes a good hour or more each way. We opted for a ship day. Alicante was our next port of call. The last time we visited Alicante there was a huge rainstorm and we did not get to see a lot. We skipped the busy shuttle and walked through the port to the stop for the HOHO bus. This time it was sunny with a marvellous 27 degrees and fortunately a nice breeze while the bus is moving. We were just in port until 2:30 in the afternoon so had to be very selective about what to do. We decided to enjoy the sights of the city but stay on the bus until we reached the castle of Santa Barbara. This was a fortress built by the Moors on the top of a hill. It was renamed after the Spanish drove the Moors out of Spain. It is a wonderful place to visit and the views from the castle over the city and the water are simply magnificent. Thank goodness for digital photography as I would have run out of old fashioned film if I had been using that kind of camera. We only got to scratch the surface – would need a lot more time than we had available to explore all of the castle. There are other lovely spots in the city to explore but time was so limited. We came back to the port stop and then decided to walk about for a half hour – enjoying the lovely streets with the patterned tiles that look like waves, and the many stalls and vendors of local products before we headed back. There is a beautiful old sailing ship in the harbour that has been turned into a restaurant , local markets to explore and a casino for the gamblers. This is a city I want to visit again as so much more to see and not enough time to see it all. Malaga was our next port of call. More sunshine and hot temperatures greeted us and we headed for the HOHO bus here. Because we had been on the HOHO in Naples – our tickets were discounted here! The trip here is an 80 minute route with about 15 different stops – a wonderful way to really get to see Malaga. So many people go from this port to visit Granada. Having visited Granada twice on previous cruises we wanted to see more of Malaga and this bus tour was definitely the way to explore it. There is everything from a Moorish castle to cathedrals, museums, lovely gardens, a roman amphitheatre – so much to see and enjoy. Malaga was the home town of Picasso – so the Picasso Museum is a must for fans of the artist. Cadiz was the last mainland port of call on this cruise. Some folks opted to visit Seville but we love Cadiz. It is one of the easiest cities to walk around as different walking routes are painted on the pavement. . We love strolling the streets – finding new and interesting spots on each visit. This trip we discovered the Church of San Francisco which looks tiny on the outside but is big and amazing inside. There was a lovely little restaurant on that same square where we had lunch. Shrimp tortillas are a speciality of Cadiz and they are delicious! Those along with potatas bravas and some local wine – heaven... We always head over to Cathedral Square and explore the little side streets and visit the market. After all our walking we decided to head up to the Cathedral stop and catch the HoHo back to the ship. The hop-on hop-off bus here is wonderful and despite having taken it on other visits here, we could not resist taking it again here. Two sea days after leaving Cadiz we stopped at our last port of call Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores (or Acores as the locals call it). Ponta is a lovely place to visit and most people opted to go ashore – either to explore the city or take a tour. Because we had been there at least 10 times in the past we decided to take advantage of a quiet day on ship. Having covered the ports of call - which are secondary in my opinion - here is my view of the ship. The ship itself was immaculately clean and that was evidenced by the fact that there were no signs of illness on board other than colds. No gastric problems. That takes a lot of work to avoid on a ship as passengers are not always honest about health issues when boarding - bring Norvo type diseases on and spread them. Not this time though. No matter where one was on the ship - there was staff industriously cleaning and polishing. The entertainment on board ship was very good. The production shows were thoroughly enjoyable and we went to them despite having seen these new shows on the Ryndam in the spring. This ship is larger and has a larger cast so it gave these productions a different look. The guest entertainers were good - something for everyone there. Our favourite performers were Graffiti Classic – billed as 16 strings, 8 dancing feet and 4 voices. And they were a riot – great music and wonderful musical comedy. We actually enjoyed it so much we went to both the early and the late show and purchased their CDs. We enjoyed guest lecturers, and thoroughly enjoyed all our trivia matches hosted by Jeremy Hales of the cruise director staff. The music on ship was excellent, the HAL Cats, and the group in the Ocean Bar played wonderful music for ballroom dancing. There was a wide variety of music from guitar to piano bar to classical to dance groups. I enjoyed a few trips to the spa for the wonderful massages. It is the Holland America crew that make the cruise for us. The service is outstanding – far superior to any on shore. Our waiters and wine stewards quickly learn our likes and dislikes, our cabin stewards manage to restore order to chaos several times a day and everyone we meet on ship is pleasant and helpful. We thoroughly enjoyed the Rijsttafel luncheons, the afternoon teas and all of the lovely meals. We had fun at the Black and White Officers Ball, and all the crew was always adept at making us feel welcome and wanted in their home (as we are guests in the crew's home). Because we have sailed with HAL ships several times (we were awarded our bronze Mariner medals on this cruise) we often run into crew members that we have met on other sailings. Once again we renewed acquaintances as well as making new friends. The only downside of our whole cruise was the arrival in Fort Lauderdale. This was in no way the fault of the ship. We were delayed in leaving by almost an hour and as we moved off the ship found we were in long hot and uncomfortable lines because the authorities at Fort Lauderdale had insufficient staff to promptly process the passengers leaving the ship. They certainly would have been aware of the size of the ship and the number of passengers likely to be disembarking as well as any crew heading home on holiday. We were totally disgusted by the lack of preparation and organization by the emigration staff. We finally arrived at the airport an hour and a half later than the proper check-in time and were just lucky not to miss our flight. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, enjoyed the ports of call, loved the crew and the ship and just wish we could be back on the Noordam when it heads back to Europe in March. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Just got back yesterday from my 26 day med/transatlantic cruise. Overall it was great cruise except for a few rough nights coming across the Atlantic. Was disappointed with the activities onboard during days at sea. Can see why some name ... Read More
Just got back yesterday from my 26 day med/transatlantic cruise. Overall it was great cruise except for a few rough nights coming across the Atlantic. Was disappointed with the activities onboard during days at sea. Can see why some name this ship the BoringDam. The food was just average. Did eat several times at the Pinnacle grill and it was well worth the extra money that it costs. Highly recommend it to future passengers. The ship was in excellent condition, the staff was friendly. The entertainment was below par and did improve once we departed for the transatlantic crossing. Embarkation and transfers from the Marriott Ledra, in Athens went well. The entire embarkation process went quickly and baggage was delivered to the room I think in record time. The itinerary and ports were interesting though I limited my excursion travels due to the costs involved. Even with the 10% discount that HAL offered the excursion prices were on the high side. Ephesus the first port of call was beautiful and was able to book my own tour off the ship at a much cheaper rate with another couple. In town Kusadasi, the atmosphere was lets rip off the tourists with all the counterfeit merchandise and overpriced carpets. Definitely need to know your prices before you go on rugs and leather products. The next stop was Haifa, Israel. A wonderful place to go, just wish HAL would overnight there as there is so much to see and so little time. Shore excursion prices were pricey. If you can plan well ahead, book your own tours. Going to the ports of Limassol Cyprus was a little disappointing as a port of call. Took the bus into town and walk around a bit. Good place to buy linens and buy a cold beer to drink. Nothing really stands out. On to Katakolon, Greece. What can I say, the ancient grounds of Olympia was a great tour. The town of Katakolon is a small quaint town with a little bit of shopping. Highly recommend going to the Greek Art Gallery there if you want a nice piece of art work. Virginia the owner is from the states and will make you a honest deal on a nice piece of art. Not a rip-off like Christos across the street, where I bought something and I am still waiting to see if it gets delivered. If you want cheap internet, go to the back street as there is a great place for internet at a cheap price as well as a nice little café. And the Gelato Yum! Messina, Italy was disappointing. Should have taken a tour to Toramina, but the tour price was too high. In Naples for the day took the hop-on hop-of bus. Great way to see Naples and feel safe in doing it. Recommend taking the both routes that are offered. If you want to do shopping take the red line and get off at stop 3. If you want excellent pizza, take the red line to stop 9 and try Lombardi, or onto stop 10 and go to Toraminos. Excellent Pizza. Once you eat pizza in Naples and you will not be able to stand the crap they serve here in the states. Also, don't forget to get the Gelato. The next stop I wish to mention in my review is the port for Rome. Have a hard time saying it as well as spelling it. Civitavecchia??? In lieu of going to Rome, I decided to explore this little city. I was surprise by it. If you decided to see the port, make sure you take in the open air market and explore some of the back streets. For internet service at very cheap price go to a little hole in the wall place called SeaMen. From the place where the port bus drops you off, you will see McDonalds then go to the right about 2 blocks and cut in towards town on the narrow street. SeaMens is on the right and is a grocery store up front but a has in internet service in the back along with a little café off to the side. Show them your ship card and then get on their computers. It was just a little over 1 euro for about 45 minutes. Beats the ships rates. Besides the internet, the wine and beer prices there are cheap. The crossing of the Atlantic was a long journey especially with the seas being choppy for many days and the port of calls Allicante, Malaga, and Cadiz were just ok to me. Recommend doing the hop-on- Hop-off buses. Nothing really stood out. Nothing like going like going to Barcelona or Lisbon. If I had to do it all over again, I would skip the transatlantic portion, especially in the fall. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
"Pacific Princess" Mediterranean and Transatlantic Cruise 23 November to 22 December 2010 We know the "R" ships well, having sailed on Insignia, Journey and Quest, and we like the size and design. We were ... Read More
"Pacific Princess" Mediterranean and Transatlantic Cruise 23 November to 22 December 2010 We know the "R" ships well, having sailed on Insignia, Journey and Quest, and we like the size and design. We were not disappointed with Pacific Princess, the library had been left as a library, with a good selection of books, and somewhere quiet to go for a read, and plenty of space in the other public areas. The itinerary was : Athens, Santorini, Patmos, Kusadasi, Haifa, Ashdod, Port Said, Sorrento, Civittavechia, Livorno, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Ceuta, Casablanca, Ponta Delgada, Bermuda, Fort Lauderdale. Rather than write a travelogue, I thought I would mention the high and low points of this trip, so here goes...... High Points: The main dining room was excellent, first class staff and the food of an unfailingly high quality. So good we did not venture to the specialist diners! Cabin service was also exemplary, from the routine through to specialised when I went down with the dreaded tummy bug. Medical services were also top rate. The Cruise Director, Sammi, and her staff we also good, organising and participating in many activities to keep us all amused. The resident entertainers, mainly young Australians, did an excellent job. Kusadasi and Ephesus - we booked a private tour with Ekol travel, truly wonderful! Guide and Driver were brilliant, we were able to wander through the site and the terraces at our own speed, so we really enjoyed the day. The design of the viewing platforms inside the Terraces site was superb, and our guide knew all the best vantage points from which to take pictures. Alexandria - Four of us took a taxi to the Library, which is stunning! We went downstairs to a variety of other demonstrations and exhibits, and explored the Museum of Antiquities Civittavechia and Tarquinia - Short rail trip North to Tarquinia, a walled town. Shuttle bus from the station to the Town gate, and a very unspoilt place for a gentle Sunday stroll. Livorno, Pisa, Lucca and Florence - we were lucky enough to hook up with a party using "RomeinLimo" for this trip, and again it was wonderful. Ponta Delgada, Azores - What a delightful surprise this Island is! We went walkabout on our own, and took advantage of the local tourist board staff who provided us with maps and advice as soon as we had disembarked. We speak no Portuguese, but the friendliness and courtesy of the local people made us feel very welcome. Low Points: We used a Princess organised tour to go to Jerusalem - mistake, it was poor! We saw very little, we seemed to hang around for long periods doing nothing, and the Guide was not good. The Internet service was appalling, expensive and slow. As an ex professional in that field I know it could, and should, have been better. Finally, the Front Desk staff, specially trained to pat you on the head (metaphorically!) and send you away without doing anything other than the simplest of tasks. For example, we were delayed by bad weather between Bermuda and Fort Lauderdale, and it was obvious that most of us would have to rearrange our onward travel. Whilst I accept that there is limited capacity on the ship - to - shore phone, that capacity could have been better utilised had accurate information been forthcoming. It took me five visits to the Desk and four hours of frustration before I was given the correct phone number for my airline. Further, it is now over four weeks since we landed and I am still, despite repeated requests, awaiting a copy of my final account. The disembarkation was also poor; the need to get us off the ship quickly sometimes overwhelming both front desk the shore side organisation. We did manage to get to Texas to stay with our family and spent a wonderful Christmas and New Year with them, and we are now back in the UK planning the next trip, though it will not be with Princess...... Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Sailing out of Athens is not my favorite port, and true to form the baggage handlers broke the strap on my new suitcase. HAL was really good about it and tried to fix it but could not. Embark was smooth, but with no Mariner´s lunch ... Read More
Sailing out of Athens is not my favorite port, and true to form the baggage handlers broke the strap on my new suitcase. HAL was really good about it and tried to fix it but could not. Embark was smooth, but with no Mariner´s lunch featured nor any express lines for suites or 4star Mariners. The Westerdam is in great shape and one of HAL´s most attractive ships. The crew were excellent as was the food and entertainment. The superior suite in my opinion is a better choice than the deluxe. The Neptune lounge really doesn´t justify the difference in priceto me. The space and the bathrooms in the superior are perfect to me. Room stewards were terrific. Open seating was great and hats off to an excellent dining room staff. The ship was in code red for 2 days on the transatlantic portion which puts more pressure on the LIdo (which it doesn´t need). Room service is the best bet for breakfast and always delivered hot and on time. The food on the Med portion of the trip was much higher quality than the transatlantic but this is to be expected with the difference in cost per day to sail. Overall, I would rate this ship one of HAL´s best, however these change with the crew changes. When booking a Med cruise bear in mind there can be alot of walking from the ship into town if you don´t book a ship´s tour. HAL doesn´t always provide ship to town transfers if the pier doesn´t provide them. The Mariner´s lunches were held later in the cruises as there were 1,600 Mariners on this cruise. HAL has the highest return percentage. The Chef´s dinner was one of the best on any HAL ship. Depark was fine unless you were flying out that day. Never a smart idea unless you have a later flight. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
The Prinsendam is twenty years old and you can see it in her elegant furnishings, teak decks and walk in closets. It is also somewhat apparent in the occasional overly worn cushions or rusted spots. This didn't in any compromise my ... Read More
The Prinsendam is twenty years old and you can see it in her elegant furnishings, teak decks and walk in closets. It is also somewhat apparent in the occasional overly worn cushions or rusted spots. This didn't in any compromise my amazing vacation on this small, elegant ship. My room was fine - it was quite a bit forward but this didn't bother me unless the seas were significantly rough. We were lucky and only experienced this on two occasions. The room stewards were fantastic - really efficient and friendly. I ate in the Lido, La Fontaine dining room and the Pinnacle Grill. Lido was fine - nothing special though an hour sitting on that aft deck is quite nice. Yes - they got rid of trays. By doing so, according to one report, they've saved about 38% in food waste - significant and I approve. There was always a waiter with a tray happy to help me cart my goodies. La Fontaine was fine - we had really consistent service and no complaints. Yuli, my little favorite guy always had a huge smile and can-do attitude. The Pinnacle was special - superb service, delectable filet mignon, attentive wine steward... I didn't love the lobster bisque or the souffle but can't win them all.Day two was a lovely sea day spent lazing on deck and exploring the small ship. Note, the bingo calls were typically only once a day - either in the morning or the afternoon, depending on when the event was taking place. It was included in the culinary center, putt putt golf and spa specials announcements and in no way affected my enjoyment of my own pursuits. Anyone that tells you different is just a grump! I visited the spa one time, taking advantage of an in port special. Jo was my massage therapist - she was very thorough and I felt great when I left her. Sam was my stylist...she did a great wash and blow out and my hair looked nice after she was done. The wine policy is glorious - I bought wine in every port and consumed it in my room or on deck. Christopher in the gift shop was helpful and wrapped up the remaining bottles for transport home - I managed to get 8 back to Los Angeles! Sea days were my favorites...the transatlantic crossing was really something special and I'd love to do it again. We had beautiful weather, smooth seas and lovely sunshine. It was all such a gift!I wanted to mention a few specifics - Embarkation was a breeze - I was basically hand-held through the procedure. Internet is EXPENSIVE...$100 for 250 minutes. Crew pays only $20 for 250 minutes so HAL clearly makes big bucks here. My bags were never checked - I was known to buy wine but it was easy to bring vodka on board from a port too. One of my tablemates bought beer each port too. Brendan in the Explorations Cafe was fantastic - very friendly and one of the few people on board close to my age :) Entertainment was better than I expected...if you have the opportunity to see Aaron Shaw, Tenor or "The Unexpected Boys", do so - they're great performers who put a lot into their crafts. The casino is so small...but it has craps, roulette, black jack, Texas hold 'em and slots. It was never crowded when I was there. Smoking wasn't a problem - I would say of the 700 passengers, maybe 30-40 smoked? They stuck to their side of the lido and there was never an issue that I could see. The crow's nest is nice - a great bow view with cushy chairs for reading or gazing. If you want a fridge, ask them to empty the honor bar - I did and enjoyed chilled drinks the whole trip - no cost. Everyone works hard to please - they all smile (with the exception of the ice cream guy...) and seem happy to be there. I had such a fantastic time, no complaints, though there were initial hiccups with my room, I wish to make this a positive review of HAL in the Prinsendam.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
I called my husband on day 21 and requested that he pick me up at Port Everglades with an empty car. My mom and I live in Ft. Lauderale so we left with 2 suitcases and returned with 8. The trip over to Athens was tremendously stressful ... Read More
I called my husband on day 21 and requested that he pick me up at Port Everglades with an empty car. My mom and I live in Ft. Lauderale so we left with 2 suitcases and returned with 8. The trip over to Athens was tremendously stressful with my 80 year-old mother in tow. We left Miami with a connection in Toronto for London. My plane was delayed in MIa by 20 minutes; I had a 1 an 1/2 hour to catch the next plane. Do not connect in Toronto from US. It is a tremendous airport and we had to go through security and customs. Long story short, after running and huffing and puffing we got on the plane. The plane was about to take off and a very official lady with a walkie talkie said I couldn't get on. I looked at her and said I will miss my cruise and if you don't let me on I will have a heart attack. Anyways... We landed in London. Heathrow is not an easy airport either. Many people on the ship had similar stories of delays and lost suitcases. We arrived in Athens one day early as planned. Stayed at the Grande Bretagne and ate at restau reccommended near the square. Next morning went to the market and bought many spices at good prices,a little ouzo for the cabin. All ports were wonderful;can't detail them all. Weather was great. I was worried about Iskenderun,but it turned out to be a welcome adventure. I did a lot of research before the trip on each port. I do like to eat the local food. I did not eat much of the ship food ,only when I had to. Passengers of all sorts-a lot of old people. Good for them they are still traveling. Even many handicap people. The crew always smiling and friendly. The officers also personable. The German head chef had a great sense of humor and I enjoyed his demonstrations. The days at sea a bit boring. They should have music by the pool even if it is just a guitar player. Hey ask Justin Miller!!!!!!!The sea was calm on the transatlantic part. I enjoyed eating alfresco at the back of the ship.The entertaiment was for the most part the 70-80 age bracket and the singers had 4 shows that they repeated. I caught up on my sleep and enjoyed stress free days. I shopped in every port; but, I do enjoy it. I was adventurous and in ports did take local trains and buses. I never felt unsafe. This is my tenth med cruise will I go again? for sure. I will eat in different restaurants talk to different people and have a different experience. Will I travel on Holland America ? Of course. I pick my trips by the itineraries. They have great ones. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009

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