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19 Athens (Piraeus) to Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

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
The itinerary was perfect for us giving us a chance to see Athens before sailing then 3 days in Israel docked in Haifa. The size of the cabin and Oceania's reputation aided in the decision. When we planned this we were looking for ... Read More
The itinerary was perfect for us giving us a chance to see Athens before sailing then 3 days in Israel docked in Haifa. The size of the cabin and Oceania's reputation aided in the decision. When we planned this we were looking for something going to Israel and the length of time we were going to be there was the most attractive aspect. Cruising to the Greek islands was an added bonus. The Oceania staff was superb both in the cabin and all the other venues. The were happy and courteous We traveled with friends and made new freiends. We found the food good and the specialty restaurants superb. The ship was clean and the shops adequate We were usually too tired after touring and eating late to avail ourselves of any of the entertainment Our shore excursions were done privately and I think were as good as or better than Oceania's and less expensive Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I’m going to focus on just a few issues and explain our perspective, as that may help you decide how relevant our opinions are to you. This is by far the biggest ship we’ve ever cruised on. Our experience has been with expedition ... Read More
I’m going to focus on just a few issues and explain our perspective, as that may help you decide how relevant our opinions are to you. This is by far the biggest ship we’ve ever cruised on. Our experience has been with expedition cruises, especially National Geographic Lindblad, and small luxury ships, especially Seadream. Some people might not think Riviera is large, but we do. We were in a standard veranda stateroom, no butler. The stateroom was fine, no complaints at all. The stateroom service was excellent. We only went to a couple of shows and heard a few entertainers, and listened most often to the string quartet. All performers were professional and enjoyable, but you wouldn’t leave home to see them. The food was good, but not as good as Oceania claim. At times it was excellent, at other times just OK, never poor. This may be a matter of opinion and comparison. The food last time we were on Seadream was slightly better than on Riviera, and that is notwithstanding Riviera’s four specialty restaurants, which - don’t get me wrong - add variety and are good. The wine prices struck me as exorbitant: nothing under $50 a bottle when the mandatory tip is included, but perhaps that’s because on Seadream all alcohol is included. The ship has a very spacious feel. It’s easy to find a secluded nook. On the other hand, while the staff are generally friendly and capable, no-one ever gets to know you and address you by name, even after 17 days. There were occasions where wait staff made mistakes, and a very few staff were less than friendly, eg on the reception desk, destination services and restaurant reservations. However, these were definitely exceptions. Using the lifeboats for tendering passengers ashore had the odd hiccup where staff miscounted numbers. The whole process for getting people ashore seemed a little less smooth than friends who have been on larger ships had led me to expect. We found that other cruise lines seemed to secure more convenient berths and shore tendering points. The wifi was hardly ever better than very poor. All in all, I would give the cruise experience four stars by forgetting the occasions when a breakfast or dinner order was messed up, and going ashore was uncomfortable and slow, but say that it is nowhere near five stars. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We cruised on the Riviera from 19 April through 29 April for the Sacred Sanctuaries itinerary. We cruised on other lines in the past, but decided to try Oceania for the stop in Israel and the particular stateroom that we selected. We ... Read More
We cruised on the Riviera from 19 April through 29 April for the Sacred Sanctuaries itinerary. We cruised on other lines in the past, but decided to try Oceania for the stop in Israel and the particular stateroom that we selected. We had a bit of a nightmare getting to Athens to get on the cruise, but that has nothing to do with Oceania. However, we made it! We found the embarkation process extremely easy, but that is probably because we were two of only a handful of folks getting on the ship at that point. It probably looked a lot different a bit earlier in the day. We went straight to our stateroom, 11080, an Oceania Suite on the aft. It is an amazing room. There is some noise from the Terrace Café above in the morning or during peak dining hours, but it was nothing that a cheap set of ear plugs couldn’t cure. The suite itself features a media room, a living and dining room combo, a bedroom with king size bed, a walk-in closet, one HUGE bathroom, another half bath (deck 12 Oceania Suites have a full second bath), and then the best part – a massive wrap-around balcony. We spent most of our time on the balcony watching the aft view. The ship was beautifully maintained. I found customer service to be perfect. Always a smile and an offer to make your day a bit easier. Our stateroom attendants and our butler were also wonderful. They took this cruise to another level. Our room was cleaned as soon as we left the suite. Our butler provided a level of professionalism and luxury that made our experience on the Riviera something that we will never forget. The food was great. We only ate in the MDR one night as we were invited to dine with the general manager. The specialty restaurants are like nothing we have tasted at sea. I would highly recommend Oceania for any foodies out there. The ports were everything you would expect and the weather was near perfect for the entire cruise. I would recommend looking into private tours for trips to Israel. We had a much nicer experience on a private tour to Jerusalem, but our Oceania tours were mostly wonderful. You are just at the mercy of your fellow tour goers and their pace. We didn’t use the pool deck as we were spoiled with the suite balcony, but it looked clean, comfy, and not crowded. We also didn’t go to any shows….with the itinerary, we were usually passed out asleep by 9:30pm. I used the running track on deck 15 on most mornings. It is a nice option for a run while you are entering a new port! The fitness center is also a very nice facility. There is a good variety of equipment. It is clean and well stocked with water and other fitness beverages. Having self-service laundry facilities on the ship is another benefit! Disembarkation was also seamless and easy. We were on our transfer to our hotel within 10 minutes of leaving the Riviera lounge. We were just sad that we had to leave :-). Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
My husband and I have cruised many, many times on different cruise lines. This was our first Oceania cruise and chose this particular cruise because the Riviera has a good reputation and this 17 Day cruise spent 3 days in Israel - in ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised many, many times on different cruise lines. This was our first Oceania cruise and chose this particular cruise because the Riviera has a good reputation and this 17 Day cruise spent 3 days in Israel - in addition to a number of Greek Islands and a few Italy ports. Oceania claims to have the best food at sea - and I tend to agree with that. Oceania also claims to have great service. Usually, the service is good but it lacks in a number of ways, including Cabin Steward service can be spotty. The Grand Dining Room service was so slow and poor that we never went back after our first experience there. We ate in the Terrace Café for lunch and dinner most of the time and the food there was mostly the same menu as the Grand Dining Room and you can get in and out much more quickly. Jacques Restaurant was good - both food and service. Tuscana (Italian) was my absolute favorite. The food and service were unbelievable and in my opinion could not be improved upon. Red Ginger was a disappointment - not because of the service which was very good, but because of the menu. Of course, Asian food is not my favorite but my husband really wanted to go and even he was disappointed that the items you would expect to be on the menu were missing. Polo Grill (Steakhouse) was definitely the most disappointing. The service was poor and the 20 oz. Porterhouse Steak my husband had was so tough and hard to eat that he could only swallow a small portion of the steak. He had really expected that experience to be exemplary but it was the worst of all. Unfortunately, the Reception Desk will tell you anything just to get you to "go on". Also, the Shore Excursions Department would tell us that we would be anchored in a particular area and then it would turn out to be a different place which would be must more inconvenient and harder to get to the desired areas - and more time consuming. If you do not take the Ship's own Shore Excursions, you are definitely at a disadvantage each day. Oceania says they provide transportation into "town" most of the time if they do not dock near the town. On this cruise, Oceania did not provide such complimentary transportation in areas needed. We had a Concierge Veranda and with the amount of money we invested in this cruise, we can honestly say it was tremendously over priced. We would much more recommend either Holland America or Celebrity (especially Celebrity if you are a "foodie") and take several cruises for the price of this one on Oceania. Yes, the food was good but not worth that many more thousands of dollars than say either Holland America or Celebrity. The bed was extremely comfortable - probably the most comfortable of any hotel, including the very premium hotels. Dr. Wulf, the Enrichment Speaker was very good and informative as well as interesting. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
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
We just returned from a back to back cruise. the Carnival Vista is a very beautiful ship. They are still trying to work out some quirks. Our Cabin was beautiful and our cabin steward was excellent and helped with any needs we had. The ... Read More
We just returned from a back to back cruise. the Carnival Vista is a very beautiful ship. They are still trying to work out some quirks. Our Cabin was beautiful and our cabin steward was excellent and helped with any needs we had. The dining service took some getting used to. Carnival has changed some things up. No more table cloths. Not as much doting, smaller wait staff, and not as much selection on the menu. We didn't go hungry and there was always plenty to eat, but from our experience of Carnival in the past it was just different. The entertainment was great. I loved the live music playing while you waited for dining. Port and shore excursions, so much to pick from. Loved the Imax and the Dive in movies. There was a lot of new staff so there was a learning curve. Loved the Sky ride and the water fun. I will be interested to see the changes now that it will be based out of Miami now. I'm sure we will book on Vista again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Getting on the ship, a mass of people pushing and shoving and no clear lines to move through in orderly fashion. A disaster in the making. New ship = confusing directions at each of the elevators (not enough of these), and poorly laid ... Read More
Getting on the ship, a mass of people pushing and shoving and no clear lines to move through in orderly fashion. A disaster in the making. New ship = confusing directions at each of the elevators (not enough of these), and poorly laid out public space. People trying to sell you photos/spa services at every turn was annoying. Food was ok, better on formal nights. No table linens was inviting germs. Free burgers (not that good) free pizza (not good) free stuff on Lido was ok, but nothing great. Room was dirty when entering. Took four times before it was clean, of "gunk" (previous person's hair and "other stuff"). Steward was not friendly and did nothing to make the experience better. Theater seating was horrid, entertainment "shouted" their way through each production. And some wandering man stayed on stage for one entire performance which did not make sense to many people. Lines to the theater were horrid with people pushing and shoving older people with disabilites out of line or taking seats that should have been reserved for those with physical limitations. Rude passengers may be the norm, but this ship seemed filled to the brim with them. First cruise and last cruise on this cruise line. Too many other cruise lines offering better pricing, less "people herding" and better food to pay this company for their lack-luster performance. I felt sorry for the customer service people who had to field long lines of complaining passengers. Internet service was poor and cost way too much, tv channel selection was poor, and movies were average. Did not use the spa, over priced. Exercise area was ok; sky ride was fun, as was the ropes course. Had to find alternative routes around the casino with the noise and smoke. Bars in every corner of the ship offered over priced drinks and with the added VAT tax in the Med, did not use this service at all. There were exceptions in service, some dining room people were excellent, while others took forever (three hours for a meal is way too long). Some passengers said their room stewards were good, while the one my family had was horrid. Lack of training and consistent reinforcement was a problem, as was the issue with so many people getting ill on the ship. Decor looked cheap and the atrium was a huge disappointment. Carpets were being replaced on Med cruise. One coat of paint was already flaking off with many rusty areas showing through on interior window areas. All in all, gives rise to the question of safety of the part one could not see. Tried to find something positive about the ship - it did not sink. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Old ship, many issues Boarding in Athens took nearly 3 hours, leaving us standing in the street, then feed thru cattle gates to wait again, and then again. Food... Lido, the food is left out for 4 hours at room temperature, not iced, ... Read More
Old ship, many issues Boarding in Athens took nearly 3 hours, leaving us standing in the street, then feed thru cattle gates to wait again, and then again. Food... Lido, the food is left out for 4 hours at room temperature, not iced, or kept hot, shrimp cocktail pool side in the heat of the sun not iced, salad bar had slimy lettuce mix and spoiled sliced breast of chicken, hair in the brioche. When we brought it o their attention, first we were brushed off, then a junior officer met with us and explained that they followed U.S. regulations for handling food, which allowed to be left at room temp. for 4 hours. the dining room food was unreliable, and even though the menu warned about eating under cooked meat I was served a lamb chop that had not even touched the stove, as i guess we needed to state how we wanted our food cooked (we were never asked that question by the staff). The bacon often was deep fried and served in a clump. The main courses and desserts were either good or poor. Stateroom with balcony, heating and air conditioning was not controllable, freezing to sweaty hot, thermostat not reliable. Entertainment was mostly poor. The only exceptions were the Adagio duo who played each evening, one Black comedian and Jazz Club BB King. The screening room had over sized and uncomfortable seating, an outdated screen and seated two few, and poor choice of movies. Culinary Arts was poor, uninteresting and lacking in originality. We were charged for bottle water when we left for cruise arranged outings. here was no on board laundry, as other ships offered in the past, and the cost for laundry service was expensive and things came back creased, poorly ironed and with spots. One off shore outing had us wind our way thru the medical wing and I noticed that area was dirty, the hand sanitiszer in that area, (they are located all over the ship) had collected dirt in the catch all basin. The staff were polite but only one person stood out the Gentleman who directed seating in the dining room. Even though we were in the wrong line (not with reserved seating) he was gracious, knew our name and never told us of our mistake. Towards the end we could see the backing on the carpeting on the stairs..the ship is is need of much care and love. The staff is overworked. this was our 4-5 cruise with Holland, but it will be our last. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
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
Taking the Ocean Princess on a month long Mediterranean/repositioning cruise from Athens to Ft. Lauderdale was a wonderful choice for our recent vacation. The highlights were the personnel on board, which considering that we were on board ... Read More
Taking the Ocean Princess on a month long Mediterranean/repositioning cruise from Athens to Ft. Lauderdale was a wonderful choice for our recent vacation. The highlights were the personnel on board, which considering that we were on board for a month, and there are only 650 passengers, allows you the chance to get to know the crew pretty well! The cabins were fairly large and well designed. public areas were efficient and the décor was tastefully done in dark woods and tones vs. the "fluorescent"/modernistic approach on most newer mega-ships. Of course, with a cruise this long during the fall, most of our fellow passengers were older than us, and we are upper-50's, so keep that in mind. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
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
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
We just returned from a 26-day cruise on the Oceania Marina (back-to-back Athens to Civitavecchia and Civitavecchia to Miami). We've sailed on more than two dozen ships, but it was our first on Oceania. When we boarded the Marina, ... Read More
We just returned from a 26-day cruise on the Oceania Marina (back-to-back Athens to Civitavecchia and Civitavecchia to Miami). We've sailed on more than two dozen ships, but it was our first on Oceania. When we boarded the Marina, we were immediately impressed with the luxurious appearance of the ship and of our cabin (Concierge-level veranda). The bed was the most comfortable we've ever had on a ship and, together with its elegant headboard, could have held its own in a fine hotel. The bathroom was beautifully appointed with gray marble on the floor and the walls, and it had both a full-size bathtub and an extremely uncomfortable diminutive shower stall, smaller than a phone booth. The shower head is mounted directly above and may work well for shorter people. However, if you are tall, you will have to learn to contort your body and especially your neck to avoid hitting the shower head. Oceania's unquestionable strength is in its attention to food quality. From the baked goods at breakfast (comparable to those in a good boulangerie in France) to the top-notch specialty restaurants that carry no surcharge, we were dazzled by Oceania's culinary offerings. The service in all the restaurants is unfailingly attentive and efficient. Even the various chefs walk around the dining rooms periodically to make sure excellence reigns supreme. Add to the high quality of the cuisine a full Starbucks-style barista set up serving all sorts of specialty coffees at no charge and you get an idea of Oceania's strongest points. The food at the Terrace Cafe is superb as well. Next to it, yet another eatery, Waves, serves up made-to-order Kobe burgers and grilled pannini. We particularly enjoyed the traditional high tea service every afternoon accompanied by the sounds of an extremely talented string quartet, the Tatra Strings. We wish we could give equally high praise to the rest of the entertainment on board, but time and again the shows were disappointing. The small theatre is quite comfortable with ample leg room between the rows but lacks a state-of-the-art stage. In fact, Oceania calls the theatre a lounge which is probably more appropriate than calling it a theatre. Unfortunately, the quality of the performers is the poorest we've ever seen on a ship. On the other hand, the onboard activity program was quite good: language classes, photography classes, etc. There are other bizarre problems with the Marina. For some reason, the designers of the ship decided to put four elevators in the front of the ship and only two in the back. Can you guess where all the restaurants are? Yep, in the back. You can imagine the long waits at 6:30 PM when all the restaurants open and hundreds of passengers try to take one of two elevators to have dinner. To make matters worse, one of the two is periodically out of service for repairs. The cabin door locks have a nasty habit of resetting themselves randomly and they need someone from security to come and reprogram the lock completely. This is not a problem of cards getting demagnetized since it happened more than once to several cabins in our area simultaneously, including ours. Imagine getting back to your cabin at 6 PM to change for dinner only to find that you cannot get in. You go down, get new cards, and they don't work either. Then someone comes to take a look and leaves. Then security comes and reprograms your lock. Then someone else comes up with new cards. Now you've spent a half hour waiting to have the lock on your door fixed and you no longer have time to change for dinner because your reservation is for 6:30 PM. The Internet service on board is also frustrating. It is not only the most expensive we've ever encountered (as much as 95 cents per minute), but it also has a maddening habit of disappearing while one is on line, making it impossible to log out. The Internet manager tried his best to help during the limited hours he was on duty, but there were way too many instances when Internet service crashed for several hours. One of the oddest of Oceania's practices is the confiscation of all passports, allegedly for "immigration reasons." Nobody on the staff was able to explain to me why Celebrity, HAL, Princess, and other cruise lines don't see a need to confiscate all passports at boarding. The concierge on deck 5 became ornery (unusual among the generally ultra-polite staff) when I asked for my passport back, throwing all sorts of nonsensical excuses and scoffing at my point that no cruise line had ever taken my passport in over a dozen transatlantic crossings. I protested (in writing) and the head concierge contacted me and admitted that the passport confiscation was Oceania policy rather than governmental policy, but he could offer no logical explanation for the practice either. There are laundry facilities on every deck and each is equipped with a large-screen TV and with a comfortable couch and chilled mineral water. Speaking of water, all mineral waters are complimentary in both the dining rooms and the cabin. Passengers also get complimentary bottled water as they get off the ship at the various ports they visit. The ship has one small pool that is hardly used. Why? Because the water is ice-cold even on warm and sunny days. Shopping on board is limited and Oceania makes no claim that the prices are better than one would find back home. Draw your own conclusions. In a departure from other cruise lines, there are no photographers snapping pictures and then trying to sell them at exorbitant prices. However, Oceania does charge lofty prices for its excursions and for post-cruise transfers ($199 for a transfer from the port of Miami to Miami airport!). The bottom line? The Oceania Marina is a great ship if you are a foodie, but it falls short in many other areas: dismally bad elevator service, uncomfortable showers, and a lame entertainment program. And for me personally, the confiscation of the passports for the duration of the cruise is also a strong negative, particularly when Oceania staff either lies about the reason ("it's for immigration") or cannot provide a coherent explanation. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
"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
As a long time SSS member and Radisson cruiser, we have continued our cruising with the Regent product and each time, bringing our expectations and hopes that the experience remains the same despite the corporate change of hands. Our most ... Read More
As a long time SSS member and Radisson cruiser, we have continued our cruising with the Regent product and each time, bringing our expectations and hopes that the experience remains the same despite the corporate change of hands. Our most recent foray was on the Voyager from Athens to Rio. Sadly, that Radisson famous service is no longer available. For the very things that used to make cruising unique on this line and encourage longetivity and loyalty amongst their guests, all have gone by the wayside in favour of the bottom line. A fellow SSS passenger reported to me that the new president Frank DelRio himself gauchely stated to guests that he no longer wanted to world cruisers or long-term travellers, "there was no money to be made off them". In essence, it's a slow destrcution or "Carnivalization" model this company is moving towards, and they are taking no prisoners, and in our opinion going the entirely wrong way about it. Solid shoreside staff who used to be well equipped to deal with the unforseen, or resolving issues pertaining to guest relations have been replaced by managers with no practical business experience and who have instead ridden up the corporate ladder and weild their newfound power with an unqualified sword. One such manager (name eludes us- French guy?)was apparently boarding in Puerto Rico but outright refused to meet with any guests despite a group of us approaching the chief purser. Perhaps he was ill equipped (crew told us he was a former maitred!!) to deal with questions on his and other's decision making that are substantially affecting the cruise experience itself. Consequently, they are allowing all those wonderful and memorable staff you would recall from past cruising who genuinely cared about the company to mass exit, and instead replacing them with crew who will work for less, and be entirely too busy to pay attention to the finer details we had all come to love. Less crew and more work means they aren't happy. We noted a number of the former crew have relocated employers on our last Silverseas cruise, and in conversations with some of the key individuals still onboard, expect to see more of them mass exiting in future with little or nothing to be done in attempting to keep the very folk who made these ships worthwhile. Indeed, a sad state of affairs and points very much to the possibility of unqalified and foolish corporate decision makers. This is the only reasoning as to why they are willing to destroy the very product that set them apart from the rest of the industry. Compass Rose The best this has to offer is the flexibility for it's diners in both menu and seating. The food has certainly gone downwards, and although they do their best to disguise it, in quality it is apparent. Maitre'd Luis was on for part of our segment and is the consummate professional. The sommolier Craig is the finest we've come in contact with and knows his wines inside out. Ordering items that are off the menu still permits for those with discerning tastes, and this is a gesture appreciated in the ever-evolving cruise industry. A good meal, but has lost it's sparkle. Verandah Buffet style, and often destination based, the offerings up here are hit and miss. Certainly kudos go out to the effort in which it takes to serve up a large variety, and it does break the monotony of the other onboard offerings. But expect chewier, cheaper cuts of meat, less exotic fruit and veg, and instead more mass production. When we requested a specific regional wine, we got the impression that we were somehow putting them out, and yet, throughout our lengthy voyage this was the same wine we had requested with nearly every suited meal. No strike against our hard working wine sommolier or waiter, as it was apparent they were not the ones at fault. Evening and Day Entertainment Although the lecturers are still for the most part, top notch, the narration while arriving or going through interesting spots at sea or in ports has been lost, and the captain is the only one who manages to deliver some personality in his announcements. The shows are decent, but dated, but some recognition should be given to the Cruise Director Lorraine who seems to be everywhere at once, and even if out of breath, always professional. Elsa is a living doll and is also full of boundless energy and compassion, and from our observations, along with Elsa really took the solo travelling people under her wing. Ports- no complaints here- we chose this run based on our past visits to the same ports. Our only problem wast that the french tour manager was exteremely difficult to understand in her announcements, and attempts to coral the geusts at times were noteably futile. Onboard Activities There were good cooking classes, excellent crafts instruction and activities with Marsha,, interesting and relevant computer courses up for offer, and a large internet cafe and in-room wireless internet that was although agonizing in it's lack of speed, left one in good hands with the gracious female computer instructor. The gift shops were polished but lacked local and seasonal items, staffed with friendly folk and not too many of them! It always seemed someone onboard could dig up whatever it was a passenger lacked, which is also lost on the larger ships. There is no photo department any longer which is refreshing,although there were times a picture would have been great to have the option to buy. Not having the ability to purchase camera related items like memory sticks, etc was a let down. The manager onboard Englebert seemed to be more of a yes man than a man who got things done. Friends of ours in a gruop onboard had somewhat unpleasant dealings with him and although he had some decorum and professionalism, he clearly had limited or no power to change or adjust the arrangements that had been problematic. His overall impression he gave off was that of padding/bandaging the issues rather than truly working to fix things. All in all, rather ineffective. Debarkation was fairly smooth and the low passenger count definitely makes this a difference of night and day compared to much larger vessels. All in all, if you are expecting the personalized, stand-out treatment of the Radisson days, that is all but lost, along with most of the staff who facilitated that. Decent value but overpriced for the service they are touting that just simply isn't the same. 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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