61 Auckland Luxury Cruise Reviews

This was a special trip celebrating a milestone 50th birthday. We are well seasoned cruisers and have been on most of the lines except Silversea and Crystal with 60+ cruises under our belt. SUITE: We booked the lowest level suite with ... Read More
This was a special trip celebrating a milestone 50th birthday. We are well seasoned cruisers and have been on most of the lines except Silversea and Crystal with 60+ cruises under our belt. SUITE: We booked the lowest level suite with a guarantee to upgrade to a min cat 3, and received a cat 6 up on deck 11. The room was perfect and spacious. Tons of room, excellent layout, with perfect service from our room stewardess. We had everything we needed in this room and loved the ability to split the room with blackout curtains in half so the early riser didn't disturb the other pax. Bedding quality very high. FINAL SCORE: A+ FOOD; DEFINITELY not 6 star. BIGGEST disappointment of the cruise! The menu in the main dining room was repetitive. Colonnade food comparable to HAL/Princess/Celebrity buffets. Nothing special, too many carbs/starches not enough high quality proteins or veggies. Sliced meats and cheeses were what you would find on other CCL ships. BALONEY served as a tapas? Yup. They also put it out on the buffet and the "Epicurean extravaganza". SERIOUSLY. We paid $450/pp/day to be served baloney? We did enjoy Earth and Ocean several times especially the smoked chicken starter. Fun place to dine weather permitting. TK grill was very good, but doesn't measure up to land based TK restaurants. This was still the best dining spot on the ship. Sushi was nice, pretty typical of what you find on land serving average sushi. But at lunch, due to penny pinching, they didn't serve raw fish. Our best meals were the TK special nights in the colonnade. They felt the most authentic and had cheeses you wouldn't find anywhere else on the ship. Main dining room has some outstanding nights, others it was OK. Just not consistent especially with beef dishes. Our last surprise when it came to food was the ship running out of standard menu items...60+ cruises never had a ship tell me they didn't have the item on the menu we ordered. IF you're a foodie, skip Seabourn and go with another cruiseline (Oceania, Regent). FINAL SCORE: C SHIP: was a perfect size, and never felt crowded. No lines for anything and the layout had great flow. The colonnade could get crowded in the AM requiring you to sit outside during peak hours. This tended to be the only time noticing how many were onboard. Lots of places to hang out and relax. High quality furnishing and art work. FINAL SCORE: A DRINKS: Bars had just about any type of premium liquor you could want. Beer selections were more limited. Want an IPA beer? Nope. How about a wheat beer? Nope. Craft beer? Nope.. You could find a nice selection of complimentary wines some better than others, the staff were more than willing to change out the wine if you were unhappy. Bar service overall was great. Servers couldn't remember what you ordered (they weren't allowed to write it down) and made multiple return visits either to ask again or brought your the wrong drink. This happened in the Observation lounge only. No problems in other venues. Coffee in Seabourn square is excellent. FINAL SCORE: B ENTERTAINMENT: Best was duet in observation lounge, Rachael and Vladi. The lounge band was also fun and played popular music from the 60-80's. They did seem to get a little repetitive in their playlists. CD Chris was prior west end actor/singer and had the best voice on the ship. Wish he would have sang more than twice during 15 days. The main shows were OK and geared towards the 70's crowd. We felt it lacked the energy and excitement of Oceania's ships. Very little stage magic, just singing with no sets or costumes. FINAL SCORE: C ACTIVITIES: Sorry this was sorely lacking. Sea days had very few options. One cooking demonstration in 15 days? Trivia, casino (which opened at 3pm on sea days), lectures or sitting by the pool were about all you had for options. A few games of corn hole (baggo). They did offer nice prizes of high quality. We were so looking forward to the brochure selling us on the "Marina" on the back of the ship. We had several protected bays during the cruise they could have deployed it in, but that never happened. How about the famous and well marketed "Caviar on the surf"? Yeah, never happened. We heard this sometimes turns into "Caviar in the pool"? Nope, Band played ONCE the entire 2 weeks on a sea day by the pool for 1 hour. Maybe a dance party under the stars? Nope, didn't have any. FINAL SCORE: D PORTS: The highlight of the NZ/Australia trip was seeing the Penguins march from the beach in Phillip Island...or that was the plan. Instead the captain decided 14 hours before arrival we would be leaving at 2pm vs 11pm. WHAT? "due to high winds" we needed to leave 9 HOURS earlier than planned! The seas were dead calm when we left the protective bay we tendered at... Like 1-2 ft seas. Barely a ripple in the water. I checked my phone, and the winds were going to pickup slightly in the afternoon (below 20mph). The REAL reason we were leaving early? Terrible seas the next day (sea day) w/25ft+ waves and big winds over 40MPH. We were putting along the entire time at about 12 knots riding the waves like a giant surfboard. Actually most of the time the ship moved it was slowly at 12 knots. We could have cut the crossing from NZ to Australia down to 2 days from 3. We could have skipped Eden vs leaving Philip Island early. Eden had very little to offer. FINAL SCORE: B SERVICE: Employees are the strong suit of Seabourn. Most knew our names after a few days. We were very surprised they could do this with 600 pax on board! They tried to bend over backwards and help with any request. They learned your drink or food preferences. It was the saving grace of our cruise. The people are what makes this ship stay afloat. We felt like we knew crew members on a more personal level too. I will say the officers were invisible most of the time. The crew were always present; ready, willing, and able to serve with a smile! FINAL SCORE A+ IF Seabourn improved the food quality/variety and entertainment/activities, we would consider returning and they could refer to this as a 6 star cruiseline. Until then, we have booked a Silversea cruise leaving in 60 days and will return to Oceania in the future. Food is subjective to a degree, but we have a good idea of what other lines offer and how it compares to Seabourn. I hope someone is listing at corporate office. FINAL SCORE B-. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We thought we were going on a luxury cruise holiday. The ship needed an update. We were promised first setting of evening dinning for health reasons but we did not get this. When spoken to Maître-de & Purser this was denied and not ... Read More
We thought we were going on a luxury cruise holiday. The ship needed an update. We were promised first setting of evening dinning for health reasons but we did not get this. When spoken to Maître-de & Purser this was denied and not available to us. Some of the service staff looked and acted as though they didn't wish to be there. Disembarkation in Sydney treatment by Customs very unpleasant experience if you triggered the metal detectors. we were very disappointed with the whole cruise. Bar staff were very good chatty and always had a smile Room was serviced daily but when looking for something I dropped found a cigarette butt under the bed and a bottle top behind the sofa. No top sheet on bed and bed linen was not changed at all over the entire 10 nights. Mini bar was never refilled from day 1 Any of the entertainment was to loud and hard to hear correctly. Staff could not always be understood with broad accents. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Since we first started cruising, about 4 years ago, we always wanted to try Cunard and see what the real difference was at this level of cruising. This was our 15th cruise so we have a few ships to compare it to. First impressions were ... Read More
Since we first started cruising, about 4 years ago, we always wanted to try Cunard and see what the real difference was at this level of cruising. This was our 15th cruise so we have a few ships to compare it to. First impressions were amazing. Gorgeous decor, lovely stateroom, beautiful rooms to relax in, we were very impressed. On sailing might, we went to the Verndah restaurant which was first class, even the following night in the Britannia dining room, the food and service were top notch as was the first couple of shows that we went to in the main theatre. At this point of the cruise this was 'best cruise ever' material. Then we came to Sydney and 1700 people disembarked, with 1700 new people embarking and for what we could see a lot of first time cruisers, getting the chance to experience Cunard at a reasonably lower cost, given that this was only a 5 day cruise, to Tasmania and back. The whole vibe of the ship changed, people were older loud, rude and obnoxious, the English Pub was always full, so Trivia was standing room only, the buffet was full and almost impossible to get a seat there for breakfast. There were many old people with scooters and walking frames. I have never seen people with walking frames on a disco floor, but I guess there is a first time for everything and good on them for giving it a go! We really were ready to disembark after 9 days, a first for us. All in all QE is a beautiful ship with first class food and service but maybe it's that we are just not old enough. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Could not get the flight I wanted, even though I took Air Plus. Flight home was delayed 2 hours, so United dumped all luggage at LAX stopover and cancelled all connecting flights. We had a scheduled 3 hour layover, so there was plenty of ... Read More
Could not get the flight I wanted, even though I took Air Plus. Flight home was delayed 2 hours, so United dumped all luggage at LAX stopover and cancelled all connecting flights. We had a scheduled 3 hour layover, so there was plenty of time to catch our original flight. But, instead we had to rebook and ended up with crummy seats in the back of the plane. Many excursions were filled up before I was allowed to sign up. Much waiting in line for everything; this ship could not accommodate this many people! Had to go to everything a half hour early to get a decent seat. Restaurant service was very slow - waited in hall half an hour to be seated - by ourselves (we wanted to meet other travelers and the best time to do this is at dinner), then another half hour to order, then another half hour for food to arrive, for a total of 2 hours to eat - ridiculous! On previous river cruises, we had open seating (seated ourselves) and had food in 10 minutes, except France (took about a half hour). Why do you wait until 7:00 p.m. to open the restaurant? If you opened earlier (5:00), people could be served more efficiently. Food was not all that good either. We were so frustrated with all the waiting, we resorted to the World Cafe to eat the remainder of our meals, where the food was even less tasty - resembled cafeteria food, and there wasn't much variation in the menu. When I go on a cruise, I want to be pampered and waited on; not serving myself - I can do that at home.The only thing I had that was good was the stir-fry (offered only once). Breakfast was always the same. The apple pie in the explorer lounge was very good, as were the burgers at the pool grill. I liked the room arrangement - plenty of storage space. Entertainment - not much variety. I'd prefer something different each night. Bring in more local talent. Not much to do on sea days. Lectures were boring; Aida movie put me to sleep. Slow computers; difficult to use - took me 2 hours to print air check-in for return flight so I missed sailing into Sydney Harbor - something I really wanted to see. More help needed in the future cruise area - could not get an appointment until the second last day - best rooms were already gone. Also more help needed at help desks for booking excursions - another line to wait in. Very pricey for what we got; I could have gone on this same cruise with another cruise line for half the cost. I did book another cruise on this ship, so I hope you'll forgive my negative comments; I offer them as areas that could use improvement. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
If you want a ship with a casino, climbing wall, giant water slide, etc., ignore this review and Viking Oceans. If you seek a family cruise with you and your (non-adult) children, look elsewhere. If you like cruising with thinking people ... Read More
If you want a ship with a casino, climbing wall, giant water slide, etc., ignore this review and Viking Oceans. If you seek a family cruise with you and your (non-adult) children, look elsewhere. If you like cruising with thinking people and a remarkably intelligent, attentive crew visiting an itinerary of a lifetime on an impeccable, smallish ship, read on. We are just back from Viking’s Grand Pacific Explorer cruise that traced all around the Pacific, roughly following the Ring of Fire from New Zealand through Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Russia (Siberia), across the Bering Sea, and down through Alaska to Vancouver. Portions of this 93-day itinerary were also available in smaller chunks of 15 to 23 days. As we came to realize, the guests on shorter legs were taking a cruise on the ship. We lived there. And it was fantastic. There were roughly two dozen of us who traveled the entire way and another fifteen or so who embarked in Sydney for 79 of the 93 days. All tolled, we traveled 19,919 nautical miles on the ship. Convert to statue miles and add on the air travel, and our adventure went far beyond the distance around the globe. What we learned: You can be happy on a Viking Oceans ship for a long time and still be happily married. Although our Penthouse Veranda was not the smallest stateroom, several of the Grand Voyagers were in the standard size (all veranda) staterooms, and there was at least one couple who survived and celebrated their 50th anniversary just afterward. The secret is the many varied public spaces on the ship. The Explorer’s Lounge is great 24/7, and you don’t have to order any booze to just sit and enjoy the view and read. Or converse in comfortable seating clusters. Add the quiet reading area in the deck 1 library, the exterior wings outside the Winter Garden, and various nooks and crannies. There is always somewhere to go. Crossing the equator and the International Dateline can be fun. Viking made sure we celebrated on both occasions. May 14 happened TWICE (thus 93 days, not 92)! The seas are never what you expect. Yes, the Tasman Sea can be “lively,” as can the Bass Strait above Tasmania, but even the Bering Sea is not necessarily going to be bad. If you count on good or bad seas, you won’t get them. It’ s pure luck. Siberia did kick up a ruckus for us for one day, but the Bering Sea was crazy calm! You will get to know the crew very, very well. They will bring you just about anything, anytime. Room service delivers ANYTHING on their menu for free anytime. Ask for the things you don’t see but crave. This applies to those on the ship for two short weeks or for three months. “Another latte, madame?” “A scone from tea in the Wintergarden?… sure I will get that for you.” The only cost is if you elect to drink alcohol from the bar. Those with the Silver Spirits package pay nothing. Others like us paid very reasonable prices with no added gratuities if we chose to drink. Of course, the minibar in our PV cabin had standard level booze and mixers of our choice, so we could always carry our own drinks to the lounge. If we had brought a bottle of our own on board-- no problem. They’ll even provide the glass and ice. No nickels. No dimes. There is a bar waiter, Ardel, who introduced me to an excellent formula for a top shelf margarita, now dubbed the “Ardel Margarita” by several of us who enjoyed it! The senior officers are incredible. Kudos to the general manager for most of our cruise, Joaquim Scherz, and to the restaurant manager Gerome Venon, for making our group of voyagers feel especially welcome and for preventing monotony from EVER setting in – as if that could happen with such a rich itinerary! Even the entertainment team added some new performances so we could enjoy the talents of two different Viking Bands who were onboard during our tenure and especially the excellent ensemble of four young Viking Vocalists Aoibhin, Jorgen, Dan, and Beth, whom we got to know quite well. (These four, by the way, were the first to be awarded a new contract by Viking to stay together on their next cruise in the Caribbean.) Kudos to cruise director Spencer who rose to the role on this, his first cruise in the position. When Viking says they are a family, they are serious. That includes the passengers. They know you. They figure you out within a few days, and they are all eager to make the cruise p-e-r-f-e-c-t. Your cabin steward knows when you are likely to be out and about or when you have an excursion scheduled. The ice is there every day on time. The things you store in you bathroom are arranged exactly as you like them. After a few days, people know your names. (The general manager told us he actually looks over each guest list in advance and learns names and scans for those he has met before.) We learned much about the way Viking hires, trains, and rotates its crew and senior officers. We boarded Viking Orion and saw crewmembers we had met four years ago on Viking Star, now promoted to higher positions and happy in “the family.” The family extends to all the ships. When the Viking Sky encountered rough seas off the coast of Norway (while we were in Australia), every crewmember on Viking Orion was paying attention, praying, and even helping to send a video to the crew of Viking Sky in support and thanks for all their efforts. Family goes both ways. We Voyagers truly got attached to Joaquim and gave him a Viking umbrella salute send-off as he departed for a well-earned vacation. There were tears. Viking is truly fortunate to have such amazing people, and Joaquim is one who has been with VO since its launch. If he has any say about it, the quality will not diminish as the company expands. We sincerely hope his influence will keep things as good as they are! Speaking of family, our group of “Voyagers” definitely became one. People who take Viking cruises are fascinating folks with endless interests and stories. When you meet new people at home, you may see them once a week or a couple of times a month. When you make new friends on a ship, you see each other as often as three meals a day plus an excursion. Yes, we could avoid seeing them, but we enjoyed getting to know each other—really well! We avoided talking politics -- which was a refreshing change for over 90 days! We compared notes about our days (what excursion did you take?), drank a LOT of free wine (opened and closed the World Café many times), and watched out for each other when someone was “solo” on an excursion. These friendships will last for sure. We learned about the tons and tons of food they bring on board and when. We noticed that the chef went into town to pick up a few things while we were out on excursions – but only if he can find provisions that met Viking’s strict quality and safety standards. Within a couple of days, the cook at the breakfast fruit and yogurt bar handed me a bowl as I walked in each day and several times kept a few strawberries aside when the stock was dwindling before the next provisioning. He found the plain Greek yogurt that I like if it is not out on display. He was genuinely apologetic when the strawberries ran out in Siberia! If it wasn’t perfect, all we had to do was ask. Just when I was muttering to myself that there weren’t any chocolate options on the desert bar in the World Café, one of the supervisors offered to go down and get a chocolate mousse from the sit-down Restaurant downstairs…. “And where are you sitting, madame?” Or if the buffet choices were not exactly what we wanted, the chef custom-prepared a strip steak (“Medium? Four minutes, please.”) and delivered it to our table, with a potato and sour cream if that was what we wanted. All this in the “buffet” style World Café, our favorite venue for every day. Manfredi’s, the Italian specialty restaurant, is a gem. People seem to figure this out quickly, so be sure to book reservations as soon as you can. Book before you embark, as we did or stop by the laptop at the entrance to the world café to add more or make changes. We also learned that they will make every effort to change your numbers as you meet people and want a larger table. (Thank you, Ian!) Yes, we also ate in the Chef’s Table, but after trying each of the (mostly delicious) menus, we found we preferred the less formal and more flexible options elsewhere. We aren’t “The Restaurant” type people, though many of our friends were and enjoyed it just as much as we enjoyed the free-ranging exploration of the world Café – the same food, but you can graze and get up from your table at will. (Just hide your fork…. They clear TOO quickly!) The only nights I personally did not enjoy as much were the Indian Buffet theme nights, but my husband loved them. I just ordered a strip steak and tasted a few other things. I made the suggestion that perhaps not EVERYTHING had to be Indian… like the weird gelato flavors. We learned SO MUCH. The itinerary was loaded with places we had always wanted to see, and Viking offered many ways to learn about each one. The guest lecturers were great, and word gets out about which ones are REALLY good. The naturalist in the north Pacific and Alaska, the historian in Southest Asia, the archaeologist in New Zealand, the reef pilot on the Great Barrier Reef, and many others were terrific. If they can keep you awake in a darkened theater on a gently rocking sea, they must be good! The video replays on demand in the cabins were a MUST to keep up with the many things to learn. What we saw: It is a challenge to summarize forty-seven ports, but there were recurring themes: wildlife, history, religions, World Heritage sites, gardens, wine/beer/whiskey. We chose to take many optional excursions, mostly because we don’t like touring on buses much. A bus to GET somewhere is fine. We tend to like walking tours better. When we compared notes with our fellow travelers, we learned that by skipping some of the included excursions, we missed some good stuff. Some of the descriptions did not make it clear just how much time would be spent on or OFF the bus. As my husband says, the descriptions are a bit like real estate ads. Example: “Enjoy a panoramic tour.” Translate: bus ride. As Viking continues in these ports, we are sure the excursions will be refined and the descriptions edited for a better match to what is actually there. In the first season of a new itinerary, this is tough. We took this cruise knowing that would happen. Our priorities for tours may not be yours. My husband is a photo buff—both wildlife and street scenes, and I tend to enjoy culture, art, crafts, and people. Sometimes we split up to see what we liked best. We did not need to stay together every day of a 93 day cruise! Don’t miss the onboard cultural visitors. There were local groups who came on board in several countries to perform music and dance. ALL were amazing. Sometimes we did not find out about them until the day before or the day of. READ the Viking Daily! Port/excursion highlights: (Unless otherwise stated, all excursions/tours were VIKING offerings) Everything in New Zealand. Lots of wildlife and Maori culture options. We especially enjoyed visiting a sheep farm outside Napier, a foodie tour I did in Wellington, a seal watch my husband did outside Wellington, and wildlife cruises outside Christchurch and Dunedin. Others went to interior locations such as the Hobbiton tour. This may not be the best way to see interior New Zealand. I wish I’d had more time at Rotorua at the native (Maori) center there. Australia: Hobart, Tasmania. This port is right in town and we wish we had stayed MUCH longer. Just walk off the ship, and you were in a pedestrian area filled with shops and history. (Think Viking River Cruises.) We took a tour outside of town and visited a winery and the charming town of Richmond. Wish we could have done BOTH. We’d like to go back to Tasmania. The koala and kangaroo sanctuary outside Melbourne. Unlike many “sanctuaries” where the animals are caged or restricted, this one has animals on their own in the wild and shows visitors how to find and follow them respectfully. No koala cuddling, but fantastic naturalists who teach and let you participate in finding the animals. Sydney: Did a pub crawl in The Rocks on a HOT day. Saw lots of local color: weddings, crazy young professionals out having fun, and of course the Opera House right at Circular Quay. Since Viking Orion is small enough to pass under the Harbor Bridge, we were docked a short shuttle FERRY ride from Circular Quay. This could have been a pain, but it’s much more fun than a shuttle bus! We had a day on our own while others disembarked and embarked. Viking did offer an excursion for the in-transit passengers, but we elected to spend time with some new friends from Sydney whom we “met” here on CC. (They joined our cruise later in Hong Kong.) Great city. Almost anything you can do would be fun. Whitsunday Islands and Cairns: both are portals to the Great Barrier Reef. We went on a smaller catamaran out to snorkel in the Whitsundays and a very large one (but well managed) in Cairns. We are not experienced snorkelers and have never seen the reef before, so we enjoyed these. Experienced GBR visitors might like more private or selective tours, but these are hard to find and schedule within port time limits. Viking did managed the tendering in Cid Harbor (Whitsundays) very well. Thursday Island--- skipped because of an incoming cyclone! Darwin: wildlife options again. We saw Jumping Crocs, which we thought would be really touristy. It actually was fun. The Territory Wildlife Park was also good, though VERY warm. Take lots of water with you! Be sure to visit the aviary. Weaker Australia ports: Newcastle, Townsville. These are perhaps good ports for their access to other places inland, but we did not find the actual towns as interesting. Maybe with time? Indonesia: In general, Indonesia has bad traffic, hot weather, and lots of temples. The blend of religions is fascinating and varies from island to island. Get a taste by seeing some of everything. Komodo: The national park is going to be closed for 2020. We were lucky to see the dragons. Very hot, and the most aggressive vendors we saw on the entire cruise were in the tent as we left the park. Be prepared to be tough and to haggle. Otherwise just duck and keep on walking! TAKE WATER. Viking did an outstanding job of managing the tendering and keeping guests hydrated and safe. They were on the dock with COLD towels and drinks as we finished the tour. The really wanted everyone to drink and stay safe. Bali: another disembarkation/embarkation port. On the day on our own, we traveled by cab into Denpasar to visit the fabric street—a MUST for any quilter or sewing enthusiast. We did an evening dinner and performance that evening which was fun, though touristy. We enjoyed seeing Batiks being made and wood carvers in action on a Viking excursion the next day. Surabaya: We visited a temple that is actually within an amusement park. Though it looked like we were entering Wally World, the temple, right next to the water, was interesting. The seafood lunch served on the way was excellent though a bit crowded. Our highlight was a stop at a T-shirt place that had graphically bold shirts at very low (fixed) prices. Thanks to a good tour guide. We’ve gotten compliments on those shirts everywhere. Semarang: Entre to a daylong trip to Borobudur, a must-see. Don’t do the included tour. Not much there. The Rainbow Village is not as enthralling as they say. Those who went to Borobudur said the long ride was definitely worth it, especially with the police escort that accompanied the bus caravan, stopping the challenging traffic. Think presidential motorcade. Viking managed an unfortunate bus accident between two buses that were following too closely pretty well. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. Jakarta: Interesting but not worth two days? Went on a tour that included an inside visit to a large mosque and Catholic cathedral and a walk through Chinatown Had some time on the second day to go into town on the Viking shuttle to a shopping mall that offered great shopping for authentic batik shirts and much more. I think half the ship bought batik shirts. Weaker ports in Indonesia: Lombok? We actually did not go into this tender port. Those who did said we did not miss much. We really should not judge. Singapore One day, and not enough. Unfortunately, immigration stole over 90 minutes of our day—through no fault of Viking. If there were way for the ship to stay two days and not have to do this each day, it would be worth it. We did a walking “Odyssey” tour and saw little India, Chinatown, and an area called Arab Street. I’d do that tour again. We had time to explore on our own, which we always like. I’d like to have seen the gardens at Singapore Marina Bay, but we did not have time. I’d REALLY like to swim in the world’s largest infinity pool on the rooftop there, but you have to stay in the hotel to do that… unless Viking has connections? Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) Our one day was a quick stop. My husband and I did separate tours. He enjoyed the Batu Caves and Pewter factory tour, managing to avoid having his hat stolen by the monkeys. I did the Blue Mosque tour, which was a misnomer. We saw a view of the mosque at a GREAT distance. We did enjoy a tour of several sites in the city and a FANTASTIC lunch at the Renaissance Hotel. Of course, the last thing we needed was more good food! We honestly cannot say whether Kuala Lumpur is worth more time. Thailand Bangkok: The port is VERY, very far from the city, at least two hours drive if traffic is not bad. We had three days in Bangkok, the middle one a disembarkation/embarkation day for other passengers. We did Viking’s Bangkok After Dark tour, which was twelve hours long! The heat was oppressive, and the guide kept a pace that was a bit too enthusiastic for the heat. It did take us to great things and included a much appreciated foot massage after a lot of walking. We had a local dinner of SPICY pad thai and time shopping in the iconic night market. The tour is good, but plan on being totally soaked with sweat. Pace yourself and carry water. We took a private tour on the ship’s changeover day, and that was smart. We had a small van with great A/C and endless water. We could get back into the cool van often. We split the tour cost with three other friends, so it was quite reasonable. We visited locations our first tour did not include. Day 3 took my husband on the Viking tour out to the Summer Palace and Ayutthaya. He declared that tour to be excellent, including the golf carts! (I rested and did much-needed laundry out of the heat.) Cambodia Sihanoukville: This is the toughest port to talk about. It is not pretty, and the people lack hope. This port sparked great debate among our friends onboard. In my opinion, Viking needs to be honest about what you will see (poverty, loads of trash, hopelessness). The contrasts of the hotel where Jackie Kennedy stayed (a claim to fame in this miserable town) and the life in a local fishing village are painful. The Cambodian Cuisine tour we took involved riding in tuktuks through dusty, dirty streets. I did not initially appreciate the mask they gave me to wear, as I have never had respiratory issues. In the end, I actually needed it. The market offered a realistic view of what people buy and eat. The beachfront barbecue food attracted too many flies for us to taste it. Then we went to the Jackie hotel and had delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks while feeling hollowly fortunate. The second day we took the included tour, but we were warned by our friends to expect very sad scenes and sickening smells. They were right. The little children who should have been in school -- but had never even been REGISTERED to attend -- bore witness to the lack of hope of the Cambodian people. Yes, Viking should let us all see the realities, but the descriptions also need to be accurate. This port is a place to learn and think, not to enjoy. If the corrupt government is benefitting from Viking’s visits, perhaps this is not a good idea? Sadly, the countryside beyond the city has exceptional natural beauty, and the guides were very honest about their plight. Vietnam What a contrast to Cambodia. There is hope, and education is highly valued in this rapidly-growing economy. VERY. VERY. HOT. Ho Chi Minh City (known to the locals as Saigon): Three days. A fair distance from the port -- about an hour. Fantastic city to visit! We did the Saigon Cooking Class, which was excellent in both organization and fun. We shopped in the market, cooked, learned a lot, and enjoyed our own cooking. The next day we enjoyed a special visit to the Hotel Reverie with our fellow Voyagers (NOT an excursion) for high tea. This was arranged by the general manager and restaurant manager just for our group. WOW. If you have a chance to do this high tea on your own, DO IT. We’ve never, ever seen anything like it! Try the iced Vietnamese coffee. It’s addictive. The third day we did Viking’s “Iconic Ben Thanh Market” tour which was disappointing. We spent more time being served food than exploring the market (allowing NO time for this). I expect Viking will be clarifying expectations with the tour operator on this, as several of us spoke to the ship about it. Chan May (near Danang): Excursion to Ancient Hoi An. This city was swamped with tourists, and the tour was too commercialized for us. We had hoped for an interesting walking tour. We were herded into places to buy things, stopped ever so briefly amid the crowds to take pictures of landmarks with said crowds. Little to no time on our own as was advertised. Other guides were apparently more flexible, and our friends enjoyed their tours. Ha Long Bay (overnight): Wow. This place is drop dead gorgeous. Even the included tour is amazing. We did a longer, slightly different boat tour of the bay, including a stop at a floating village. Great tour! We also went outside the city to the mountains and Yen Tu Monastery. What a wonderful change of pace. We meditated and talked with the leader of the monastery, a man with remarkable charisma. The tour also included a delicious dinner at a resort hotel in the mountains. A winner! Hong Kong (3 days) Another changeover port. The included tour was good- Victoria Peak (in clouds), sampan ride in Aberdeen, and Stanley Market with free time. Spent our “off day” on our own with a friend who lives nearby then did more exploring on the third day with some fellow travelers. We then did the Hong Kong by Night tour which was OK but went back to some places we had already seen on our own. It would be great for people just starting out in HK. Taipei (Keelung port)- one day We did the tour to Yehliu Geopark with its amazing rock formations. Great photo op if you can go early enough for smaller crowds. Then went to mountain village of Jiufen. Cute, though filled with tourists. There were some nice places to have tea with a great view. The Taiwan landscape is very pretty! JAPAN! Japan was perhaps the biggest “surprise” of our trip. We had heard that it was beautiful, but it was MORE beautiful than we thought. We had also heard about the crowds during Golden Week—extended this year due to the installation of a new emperor. It was more crowded in some places than we could ever imagine. AVOID Golden Week. This was Viking’s first visit to the Japanese ports, so ALL of them did something special at the port: bands, dancers, etc.! Lots of fun. Japanese weather was a welcome relief from the heat in previous ports. Kagoshima: Great tour to Kamikaze museum and Chimai samurai historic district with classic Japanese gardens. Terrific intro to just some of the subtleties of Japanese culture. Nagasaki: (separate excursions). Imari and Arita pottery tour was outstanding. Learned a LOT about the aesthetic, the history, and the processes. Beautiful scenery en route. Husband did Historic Nagasaki tour for the atomic bomb story and more. Korea (a one day stop in Busan in the midst of Japan ports): Beomosa Temple and Fish Market tour was good. Lots of walking up hill. Fish Market is a true cultural experience, especially on the weekend! More Japan Hiroshima (2 days): Sobering as you would expect. The included tour to the Peace Park is good at hitting highlights on foot, though it was pouring rain. The museum would have been interesting, but the line stretched around a half mile! Optional tour to Itsukushima Shrine was great. Crowded because of Golden week. Go as early in the day as you can. We were on the 7 am ferry. Great photo ops of the floating torii gate you always see on brochures. Be sure to try some maple leaf shaped cakes. Osaka (Kyoto): We took the tour that traveled to Ancient Kyoto. Worst crowds we have ever seen. Heel to toe and shoulder to shoulder in a mob. Easy to lose the guide. (Others shared pictures taken by friends on “regular” weekdays showing NO crowds.) DO NOT GO during Golden Week. Very long path of thousands of torii gates, but too packed to enter. Scary crowded! The Golden Palace late in the day was less crowded and saved the day for us. Shimizu: (day and a half): Nice city with very friendly people. They had quite a welcome for us at the port since this was Viking’s first visit there. Amazing views of Fuji that cleared off for us. I went to Hiroshige Utagawa Museum. Speechless how good it was. Included tour also good… good photo ops. Tokyo ( 3 days): Port is immediately next to the Olympic Village they are building for 2020! This was our last disembarkation/embarkation port getting hundreds of new passengers onboard. Kamakuri tour to three shrine and temples very good but again crowded. 43 foot Buddha! Took Viking’s shuttle to downtown on the middle day, a Sunday, and discovered that NO ONE was in town during Golden Week. Walked to Iperial Palace Grdens (beautiful) and around the area near Nihonbaski Mitsubishi. The department store is worthy of a visit on its own, very old school and filled with amazing things, including a full basement are of food. See where people custom order their $50K silk kimonos! Third day took Edo-Tokyo Museum and City Tower tour. City tower not that great. The sky tower is better, I think, if you like that sort of thing. Museum and smaller local garden were nice. Tokyo is a gorgeous city, and SOOO clean! Be sure to try every Japanese bathroom. After Indonesia and others, they are a delight! Sapporo/Otaru: Beautiful location on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. We took the optional tour to Nikko whiskey. Lots of fun. It SMELLED of whiskey when you walked onto the grounds. Friend told us the included tour was also very good. Much cooler here. The cherry blossoms were out, as this part of Japan is weeks behind the more southern areas. Russia (Siberia) Koraskov: Did the included tour. Damp, cold, and cloudy/drizzly. Not much here, and quite sad after Japan. The people are clearly longing for the good old days of the USSR. The performance was fun, and the vendors selling crafts there were very genuine. Most are happy to take USD, though they may cheat a bit on exchange rates! Petrapavlosk-Kamchatsky: This city benefits from the large Navy base (out of sight from the port). Volcanoes abound. We did the military history tour. Too much talking at you. Choose a different one, perhaps just the included. Orthodox cathedral is less than ten years old! Someone showed us video from the helicopter tour over the volcano, and it was amazing. (But I don’t think I’d go with a Russian pilot in a Russian-maintained helicopter! Very pricey, too.) USA Dutch Harbor, AK: No tours offered, but there was a shuttle (school) bus into town. The locals are VERY friendly and talk on the buses. Go to the Alaska Ship Supply for fun, and perhaps to Safeway just to see how the locals live. Bald eagles everywhere—like pigeons! Take a hike or a walk. If you’re an American who’s been away for a long time, stop in a local bar for American bar food… nachos or a cheeseburger? If you watch Deadliest Catch, you’ll recognize many locations. Kodiak, AK: Nature photo cruise was a real highlight. Small boat with only 6 guests and a very knowledgeable couple guiding it. WELL worth it! Small town with simple self-guided (walking) tour and a shuttle bus. Very genuine. Seward, AK: Kenai Fiords cruise was incredible. Whales, dolphins, eagles, and a glacier thrown in. Entire pods of orcas! This was a MUST MUST MUST DO, even on a drizzly day. Stay in town for a visit to the Sea Life Center or some shopping, A regular shuttle goes back to the ship. Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), AK: This small town with its native tribe of 760 people owns the port through a small corporation that benefits the tribe. They market it well, with many activities and tours. The whale watch cruise we took was actually done by a separate company that cooperates with the corporation. It was excellent. Great photos of humpbacks, including mama and baby. Sea lions, and more. Another keeper! Warning: the bridge you walk across into the port area is COLD because of the wind, but the temps are much nicer around the corner and out of the wind. Wear layers. Friend did the zipline and loved it. Sitka, AK: Busier port with another ship in port at same time. Cute, smallish town. Walking tour went 5+ miles to see historic sites, totem area, and Raptor Center. All are worth seeing. Wish we’d had longer in totems and Raptor Center. People who took included tour said it was good, too. Note: if you are looking for the post office, you have to go outside of town, They closed the location right next to the port! Ketchikan: VERY, very touristy. We saw a total of FIVE other ships in one day, one of whom was waiting for us to pull out. Downtown is all shops, some owned by other cruise companies. We went out of town to a Fishing lodge for a crab feast. It was fun, including the boat ride out to the island. Good wildlife and newspapers-in-the-picnic-table crab boil. Dress for the weather because you are on an outdoor deck. You also get a walk in a temperate rainforest at the lodge. If you want nothing but shopping, stay in town and walk off the ship. Some ships dock a bit outside of town. Vancouver, Canada: Kudos to Viking for handling the challenge of disembarking over 900 passengers by tender! It went quite well. We were off the ship and on our way to the airport ahead of schedule. We hope everyone’s bags went to the right place. Ours did. Viking, you made a difficult good-bye palatable by keeping it smooth and easy. Suggestions for Viking: Consider changing the itinerary for Jakarta and Singapore. Maybe steal a day from Jakarta and add it to Singapore? You could play with some of Indonesia, perhaps. What about Lombok? Semarang is not great, though you need it for Borobodur. Think about solving that? Think about how you want to “sell” your port call in Cambodia Continue to refine the excursions. We know you do this because of wise changes that were made after Viking Ocean’s first summer in the Baltic. Suggestions for future Grand Voyagers: Plan for HOT weather and extreme high humidity on this itinerary of traveling Feb-May as we did. We live in the southeast US and know humidity, but this is FAR worse. Plan to change your clothes from the skin out 2-3 times a day in many of these ports. Take enough clothing so you can do that. If you are on a long cruise with people getting on and off for various shorter :legs, “ ask the management to gather the “voyagers’ for cocktails and /or dinner and get everyone’s first names and cabin number while they are at that first gathering, That way you will know where to find each other! Emails help, too, if you want to be able to contact everyone. The ship management cannot give you this info. Thanks to TL from our group who spearheaded this! A long cruise is a marathon, not a sprint. If one excursions or day is lousy, just look to the next one. Share your feedback in a constructive manner. It goes much further, and the crew will always want to help you. Vary your excursions. Don’t book too many temples, street market visits, or anything else. You’ll get tired of it! READ the Viking Daily—before you go to bed! Get accustomed to giving laundry advice in Viking’s free launderettes. You know how they work, and you don’t want the newbies to break the machines! Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
It is with great sadness that I am writing this review as I have never had to write a negative review before, however we have written to Seabourn since returning home and as they refuse to accept responsibility for issues then I feel it is ... Read More
It is with great sadness that I am writing this review as I have never had to write a negative review before, however we have written to Seabourn since returning home and as they refuse to accept responsibility for issues then I feel it is my responsibility to inform potential customers of potential problems.. We chose the cruise as part of a long holiday to New Zealand. We had travelled on Seabourn Encore the previous year to Australia and were mainly satisfied so we didn’t hesitate to book again. There was not much availability so our cruise consultant chose a cabin for us. Our cabin was appalling, ( see review below). We tried to change cabin, we were more than willing to pay to upgrade but the head of Guest Services said she would come back to us and never did.( we had already tried to get info about the cabin before leaving the UK) It was very galling to see the Seabourn Venture staff and even guest entertainers had cabins in better areas than we were allowed to purchase. Our first day was ok and then for some reason despite knowing of bad weather the captain decided to sail the ship to Norfolk Island. I had 4 days flat on my back with sea sickness as the swell was a constant 13-19ft and the ship was unstable, making it very uncomfortable to move around. At times it felt very dangerous. As expected we could not tender at Norfolk Island, In fact Seabourn have only tendered 2 out of the last 18 attempts!!!! Why did they attempt it knowing the weather was bad? And why do they not publicise how unlikely it is that the visit to the port of Norfolk Island will be successful? On the 6th day I made it out of bed and managed an excursion but then I started to feel ill. I was in agony. I was forced to see the ships doctor and found out I had streptococcal tonsillitis. Apparently there had been an outbreak on the previous cruise and a few of the crew caught it. We thought it was because nobody is asked to use the hand sanitizer anywhere on the ship and therefore hygiene standards are not as good as they should be. This was not the case when we were on the ship last time. Standards have definitely dropped over the year. I then spent another 3 days in bed, having to visit the doctor again to get stronger pain medication as I was in agony. It cost me 400 dollars through non of my own fault!!!! I have to say that Madeline our cabin attendant was fantastic and tried very hard to help me whilst I was ill. She was very sympathetic and genuinely cared. A credit to Seabourn. I recovered and then managed to enjoy visiting the other ports we did dock or tender at. The food standards have definitely dropped since the previous year. I can only describe the food as very boring, apart from the pool bar at night where at least the food had some flavour. We spoke to so many people who felt the same that we stopped speaking to people as we were not only bored with the food but bored with talking about it!! The entertainment was lack lustre and uninspiring. Cost cutting could be seen in all areas. On a positive the shore excursions were well organised and the staff very friendly. Please be careful when choosing a V1. It is very different to a V6 and I would hate anybody else to run off the ship at the end of a cruise as we did because we could not wait to leave. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose Azamara and this itinerary based on the recommendation of friends who did it a couple of years. ago. We too weren't notified of the change of embarkation point, but noticed the ship in the "wrong port" the night ... Read More
We chose Azamara and this itinerary based on the recommendation of friends who did it a couple of years. ago. We too weren't notified of the change of embarkation point, but noticed the ship in the "wrong port" the night before from the roof top bar of our hotel. Sailing on smaller ships is a great experience. More attention from crew and an altogether sense of community familiarity that just happens among the passengers. We had a balcony room, midship on the deck 6. It was very comfortable and the small shower was adequate. Because of weather or just being out and about we really didn't use the balcony much but it was nice to have. The crew was always attentive, the entertainment very, very good, and most meals were well prepared. However more attention should be given to timing and suggestions as when to eat in the dining rooms if you want to make a show. Any time after 7.15pm creates a rush. Prime C was a disappointment, the food was just ok, the service slow and the room needs to be refurbished. Aqualina though did not disappoint. My only other comment on the food was that there way too much. Something was always there, available and too inviting. We did several exercise classes. More thought needs to given to the space required as many were popular and people couldn't participate. However they were advertised as 45 minutes, but most were barely 30. The Amazing Evening in Melbourne was in a beautiful recital hall with a performance by a top Australian vocal artist. Very enjoyable. The White Night was well done, the production performers professional and personable. Dancing in the Living Room to the Sound Sensations became a nightly destination for us. The crossing to New Zealand was a day and a half of rough seas, but part of cruising. But we found there were too many sea days, especially when they were back to back. All the ports provided something to do, some more that others. Napier was special and unique with its art deco architecture. We don't do cruise sponsored shore excursions. We find better value and choice is always available at the port. Cruise lines ask you think about the environment when using towels, etc, but they don't do anything about the amount of newsletters, brochures, invitations and sale announcements they produce. There must be better and more efficient ways to communicate to your guests and cut down on paper useage. It was ridiculous on this cruise. Overall, there is no reason not to consider Azamara for fun and enjoyable experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Superb from embarkation to disembarkation. My daughter took me on this cruise to celebrate a milestone birthday and I could not recommend it highly enough. She has sailed with Silversea before so I knew what to expect but it exceeded ... Read More
Superb from embarkation to disembarkation. My daughter took me on this cruise to celebrate a milestone birthday and I could not recommend it highly enough. She has sailed with Silversea before so I knew what to expect but it exceeded my expectations by a thousand percent. The service, the dining experiences, the amazing staff, the excursions, the suite, our butler and cabin attendant, the pool, the gym and all the extra little touches were beyond comparison. (I travelled on a Celebrity cruise last year and I would give that half a star (only for the excursions). Silversea would rate 10 stars if it was possible. From the room attendants, the wait staff, right up to the Captain, everyone went out of their way to be polite, friendly and helpful. Our suite was so comfortable, even including a bath! and a seperate dressing room. Our needs were met promptly and efficiently and we never felt that anything was too much trouble for the crew. Every day another new surprise greeted us. From exclusive chocolates on our beds at night to a waiter complimenting me on my jewellery and even remembering that my daughter was wearing something similar several nights before. The meals were like dining in a 5 star restaurant each time. It’s very easy to put on some weight. Silversea is expensive but it’s all inclusive, so you never feel as though someone is fawning over you just to earn a tip, which is what has happened on other cruises I’ve taken. Will definitely be sailing Silversea again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This trip should b a no brainer for SS, but it's not. To many little issues turn into stupidity. Examples, a Milk shake in US is made with ice cream and milk, they use no milk but use ice. Very difficult to explain how to make ... Read More
This trip should b a no brainer for SS, but it's not. To many little issues turn into stupidity. Examples, a Milk shake in US is made with ice cream and milk, they use no milk but use ice. Very difficult to explain how to make since there order system doesn’t allow explanations. The restaurants have a set menu, which means no different meals. Oceania, Regent, Crystal all have new menus for dinner every day, they also post outside what that nights menu is. The food is good but trying to customize a meal is difficult as you must order at least 24 hrs in advance. All, except 2 restaurants, must have a reservation, even though they are not filled. With empty tables at 8PM, you cannot just walk in. When we boarded we were told we needed an Australian Visa...but why wasn’t that notification made prior to boarding? So, request was made by Muse, but they applied to agency other than govnmt. Which charged more than double, notification was made about the problem and I was told I had to solve it. Fortunately others had same problem, so Muse handled the problem. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
My travel partner and I had New Zealand and Australia on our must-do list. Previous Viking experiences in China and Germany led us to choose this cruise when it first became available. The food was extremely disappointing and NOT up to ... Read More
My travel partner and I had New Zealand and Australia on our must-do list. Previous Viking experiences in China and Germany led us to choose this cruise when it first became available. The food was extremely disappointing and NOT up to Viking standards. The breakfast buffet was the exact same many every day and lacked creative specialty dishes. Same for lunch. There were many days when we opted for pizza and ice cream because of the heaviness of the lunch choices. Restaurants were OK but often not prepared well and there seemed to be a serious shortage of waiting staff as there were long waits between courses, making us miss out on evening entertainment. The public areas were fabulous. There was so much available space that we felt we could have a private area of the ship to lounge. This was especially nice during the 4 days at sea. This itinerary had too many days at sea for my liking. One or two is OK, but we ran out of things to do after that. Booking the shore excursions was based on priority of how much you paid for your cabin. Sadly that left all the interesting excursions completely unavailable to us and there was no attempt to book additional groups for sold-out excursions. That was the most frustrating, since we came all the way to New Zealand and could not get to the things we really wanted to see and do. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
It appeared we would see all coasts and important ports of New Zealand - that was not the case. We missed 2 ports due to high seas. One was major. We did not see any of the western coast. We discovered later that the ship frequently ... Read More
It appeared we would see all coasts and important ports of New Zealand - that was not the case. We missed 2 ports due to high seas. One was major. We did not see any of the western coast. We discovered later that the ship frequently cannot go to the west coast. See we spent 4 days in a row at sea. We also went to two small dingy towns instead of staying longer in two quaint towns. We never stayed over night in any town so we’re unable to book nocturnal tours to see penguins or kiwis. Luggage handlers were painfully slow. Food was adequate, nothing special. There were only 4 restaurants. One required reservations to be made before the cruise. It was nothing special. One was poolside but closed for 3 nights. So it was sushi or cafeteria food. On arrival our room had a bowl of over ripe fruit. We had brown lettuce in our salad twice. Room service food was cold so we reverted to only ordering coffee in the morning. They could handle that. The bathroom outlets will not support any hair appliances. You must do hair drying and curling in a dim hallway outside the bathroom. Showers are very small. Entertainment offered was for for the over 70 crowd or lounge lizards. We contacted customer service day 1 of our cruise and have not heard from them yet even though we called our travel agent to nudge them. We were approached by some managers in the restaurant who apologized and asked how they could help. However it was in front of groups of people, so we were uncomfortable with trying to resolve issues in that venue. However the maids and waitstaff were wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This is a nice cruise ship. Before going I had read some negative comments about the larger Seabourn boats. This proved to be completely unfounded,as at no point did it feel crowded and we did not have to wait for any meals in the ... Read More
This is a nice cruise ship. Before going I had read some negative comments about the larger Seabourn boats. This proved to be completely unfounded,as at no point did it feel crowded and we did not have to wait for any meals in the main restaurant or the Colonaide. Bar service was brilliant in the Club and Pool Deck. Overall cleanliness and repair is first class on what is addmitidly a new boat. The crew were without exception pleasant and easy going. There were obviously a few new people on the crew but they seemed to settle down quickly into the routine. The passengers were a nice mix of Americans,Europeans and Antipodeans which gave the ship a relaxed and pleasant vibe. We failed to get into a couple of places due the weather but unfortunately that’s the thrill of cruising. The issue was dealt with well by customer services in my view.They did however take a bit of unnecessary grief from a small group of passengers but most people carried on relaxing and eating and drinking. Embarkation and disembarkation were well run. The only issue that in my view was a problem concerned passports.These were kept by the ship for the entire cruise,however you needed photo ID in the ports in NZ, this was not advised prior to travelling and caught a few people out. I have registered my displeasure with Seabourn and my agent. Purely by chance my wife and I were carrying our driving licences as we were going to hire a car later in Australia. The cabins are lovely with loads of storage and everything worked. The only unpleasant room on the boat is the gym which as on all cruise ships is ludicrously hot. Overall great cruise with some nice people and a good crew. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
My wife and I go on a cruise almost every year. We have cruised with Crystal, Regent, Ocena, Princess, Cunard, Holland America over the years. Crystal has always been our preferred cruise line. We chose this cruise for three main reasons: ... Read More
My wife and I go on a cruise almost every year. We have cruised with Crystal, Regent, Ocena, Princess, Cunard, Holland America over the years. Crystal has always been our preferred cruise line. We chose this cruise for three main reasons: (1) I badly wanted to visit my mother's grave in Hobart (Tasmania) and this cruise included Hobart in its itinerary; (2) we wanted to go to Australian Open tennis tournament after the cruise; and (3) we wanted to see the main cities of New Zealand and Australia. Additional considerations for us included the newness of Viking Orion, good reviews of Viking ocean cruises, being only for adults and no requirement for formal attire. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. The ship was beautiful; eveything on the ship had been tastefully designed. Our cabin was on deck 6 and classified as deluxe veranda; its size was perfectly satisfactory, the bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was fine. There was an excellent fridge in the room and the WiFi signal was acceptable. In commen areas WiFi worked very well about 80% of the time (10-15 Mbps), which is excellent considering the remote areas we were sailing at. Dining: There were two specialty dining venues in addition to the main dining room and the "world cafe" where food was served buffet style. There were also three other locations where one can have open sandwiches, hamburgers etc. Entertainment: Compared to other cruises there was minimal entertainment of relatively low quality. Since we didn't much care about the generally low quality stage performances on cruise ships this was not an issue for us. The lectures were fine. Now, why do I give this cruise only 2 stars: The captain decided not to go to Christchurch and more importantly Hobart for weather related reasons. In his announcements he repeated that "our safety was his main priority" and provided only scant reasons for his decisions, which didn't satify anybody because weather, as far as we could determine, was not particularly bad at either port. That is two ports of call out of seven. I was very disappointed and angry as I wondered when will I ever have another chance to go to Hobart. So we ended up spending two extra days at sea and one extra day in Melbourne, which meant nothing to us because we were going to be in Melbourne for Australian Open anyway. The food was prepared by non-specialist cooks and the quality was in general quite poor. Our first dinner on board was just awful and I knew right at the outset we were going to have problems with food quality. Dinner on December 31st, New Year's Eve, was nothing special. They made no effort whatsoever to celebrate the arrival of the new year in the dining room. The variety of the food items included in the menus of the main dining room and the World Cafe became absolutely monotonous and boring. Fruit selection consisted of melon, watermelon, pineapple, apples, and strawberries all of which were tasteless. There was plently of meat but very little edible seafood. They even managed to cook salmon welldone! Shellfish was also plenty but tasteless. Imagine, you are travelling in the middle of summer in places that are well known for their vegetables and fruits (e.g. kiwi fruit, mangos, peaches, grapes) and none of them made an appearance at our dinner table. Same for seafood. The fish served were all of European origin and frozen - that's probably why they always cooked the fish until it was compeletly dry. Barista coffee was bad - we were told by one of the coffee baristas that the machines, not the coffee beans, were to blame. The staff clearly needed more training and better language skills. Often they did not understand what we asked for. Poorly selected music (rock, country etc.) played loudly on deck 7 where everyone congregated most of the time. The cover over Deck 7 would often be closed when the weather was hot with no wind making the place like a sauna and open when it was windy and cool. I mentioned this to staff and got no response. The included shore excursions were good. We received an email from Viking offering us $250 credit towards a future Viking cruise for missing out on two ports of call. I also received a phone call from a Viking representative after we returned home who tried to sell me another Viking cruise by offering "additional (to $250) cruise credit as further compensation". That is not an acceptable service recovery in my book. I will not go on another Viking Cruise and my wife feels the same. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I picked Viking For my ocean cruise because they did such a wonderful job on my river cruise in Europe. Unfortunately they are beginners on the ocean. The cruise was disappointing On many levels to the point of me feeling I had wasted my ... Read More
I picked Viking For my ocean cruise because they did such a wonderful job on my river cruise in Europe. Unfortunately they are beginners on the ocean. The cruise was disappointing On many levels to the point of me feeling I had wasted my money. Unlike the river cruise which was leisurely with a pampered and elegant feel, the ocean cruise was hurried And low budget. We missed several ports of call because passengers got seasick and there was too much wind? Unlike other cruises that pass out nausea medication prior to hitting open sea, Viking waited until passengers got sick and then rationed seasick pills. Some bought them in the pharmacy. There were barf bags On every floor. I saw one passenger vomit in the dining room. I didn’t see any wind. I do get seasick without medication but the water looked fine to me.There were rumors that the crew Lacked Ability to get into the harbors. The staff were all very pleasant and agreeable but lacked real comprehension of English. I was told my laundry was included in my cabin but was charged for it. A communication misunderstanding. I qualified for a free pressing but not for free washing.At dinner the waiters explanation of the meal described a casserole but it was just a piece of roasted chicken. The gentleman who gave the daily slideshow presentation had such a thick accent that we understood little of what he said. We were stuck for several days On board with Little to do Unless you play bridge or drank all day.Even our TV didn’t work. It took four calls for maintenance for them to replace the remote Which we said was the problem during the first Maintenance call. Unlike my river cruise where my gluten-free meals were arranged daily by one wonderful staff member, there was no coordination of meals On this cruise. I had to ask at every meal for gluten-free options. Sometime I got a stare. Often I got a cold roll after I had finished all of my meal. One time I was told to go stand in line at another location, ask for the bread and then come back to get the rest of my meal. I was told at times that there wasn’t a gluten-free option. I got daily letters at my cabin addressed to Mr. But I am a woman not a man. They never did fix it. Considering how many thousands of dollars I paid for the trip you would think they could at least know that much about me. My brother got food poisoning after eating mussels in the restaurant. My sister made several trips to the infirmary From riding in the wheel well Of a Jeep during A long day excursion. They missed several day excursions and Viking would not refund what they paid for them. I wrote a detailed letter to Viking when I returned home listing all of the above problems and more because there were more. All I got was a voucher toward another cruise which expired in 12 months. Absolutely insulting! After a cruise like that who would want to repeat it ? Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
It was a wonderful cruise, we visited some remote islands which we found very interesting, the lectures were informative relating to the region. The food at all of the restaurants was very good with a good variety, the wines were of ... Read More
It was a wonderful cruise, we visited some remote islands which we found very interesting, the lectures were informative relating to the region. The food at all of the restaurants was very good with a good variety, the wines were of excellent quality and we particularly like the caviar service which was available 24/7! The premium restaurant was very good, no cover charge, was an added bonus, however you must book this venue. Our cabin was in a very good location for us. It was spacious and well appointed, with walk in robe, the bathroom was a good size with a full size bath and glass door type shower (no shower curtain!). The ship and crew were excellent at all times, no hard sell of tours, for that matter did not push any agenda, and were most helpful if you wanted to do your own thing. Nothing was too much trouble. Can’t wait to get back on Seabourn! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Without a doubt, we had a great cruise on Sojourn Oct-Dec 2018, pretty much flawless, so we booked a 94 day cruise( Auckland to Cape Town). Total disappointment, the entire cruise was fraught with inconsistency in service and chaos in ... Read More
Without a doubt, we had a great cruise on Sojourn Oct-Dec 2018, pretty much flawless, so we booked a 94 day cruise( Auckland to Cape Town). Total disappointment, the entire cruise was fraught with inconsistency in service and chaos in dining rooms and bars. To say the least, we were disappointed in Seabourn Service standard not even 1 star. These are the highlights (tongue in cheek): Bar staff totally disorganized and inexperienced ( served gin/tonic with stick of olives) Terrace outside dining chaotic and inefficient, sometimes service other times not Main dining room food bland, monotonous,poorly prepared, service inexperienced Sometimes staff indifferent and other times friendly were not knowledgeable What was good: The itinerary and ports of call fabulous The ship itself and captain great The Ventures tours interesting with competent staff The emphasis on safety in tendering excellent The cabin a haven of refuge Summary Clearly, the cruise industry is struggling with high fuel-costs,labor costs and commissions to travel agencies. So revenues from passenger bookings are off set with cost cutting in services areas such as labor and food etc. to achieve operating margin and profitability curves, a sad commentary and unhappy experience for passengers. Seabourn did not meet. mission or vision for this cruise: What's so special about poor service and poor food?, Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Background and Hotel information This cruise was rather a short one for us. We received an email from a travel agent with a fantastic sampler package flight to Auckland, transfers from airport and to port, a two-night stay at the ... Read More
Background and Hotel information This cruise was rather a short one for us. We received an email from a travel agent with a fantastic sampler package flight to Auckland, transfers from airport and to port, a two-night stay at the Sofitel, then embarking the Regent Seven Seas Voyager on day three. In our opinion this package was relatively good value and an opportunity to experience a 5 plus star luxury ship and a 5-star hotel in one package. We stayed overnight at Sydney airport (Travelodge) as I have previously mentioned in other reviews I repeat it is currently reasonably good value, recently built, clean, close to two parking stations, and close to Mascot Railway Station. We flew with Qantas to Auckland, one of our preferred airlines currently, seamless flight as per usual. We were picked up by a private vehicle as part of the package and transferred to the Sofitel, on a very hot day in Auckland; we were quite shocked how hot it was for the time of year. The hotel is located close to the canals and a 10-minute walk to the port. Really stylish hotel with the little extras that we found just embellishes the experience. Large rooms with quality inclusions throughout. We ate breakfast in the hotel cafe the next morning at a reasonable cost and the food was of good quality. Auckland appears now as a vibrant city with a waterfront now occupied by trendy somewhat quirky bars, cafes, and restaurants. Round the world sailing race competitors were in town and the waterfront was a buzz the first night and next day. We took the ferry over to Devonport a beautiful old suburb full of stately homes and a quaint village atmosphere. Worth the ferry trip, yes indeed. On day 3 we were taken to the ship by a coach along with about 10 other people who were also staying at the hotel. After arrival at the port our bags were taken to the ship from the coach and we were ushered into the terminal, filled out our forms, and took the escalator upstairs. We were seated with the other 150 people who were embarking for the Auckland to Sydney cruise and waited about 20 minutes prior to being asked to provide the usual details required to embark the ship. We were also provided each with a bottle of water whilst waiting, a nice touch we thought. On entering the vessel after clocking on with the card we were welcomed with a glass of bubbly, the ship is fully inclusive (yes premium alcohol is included) and a few smiling faces, including us! First impressions were extremely good, we were invited to look around the ship and have lunch in "La Veranda", bistro by day, Italian restaurant by night. Excellent variety of good quality food, hot and cold meats and seafood, also it includes a delicious gelato bar, with a large number of creamy treats. First night we had booked Prime 7, the speciality steak restaurant, we shared a table with two ladies from Australia. My wife and I both ordered and consumed melt in your mouth fillet mignon, delicious, I also had a small lobster (surf and turf) that was also very tasty. More information on eating venues and food later. We booked a Concierge room, and were delighted when we entered the room, it was huge, on the left HS upon entry existed a very large bathroom with a huge shower with a glass door, a bath, and gigantic marble vanity with L'Occitane bathroom products, my wife felt quite pampered. Next door on the left had side is a large walk in wardrobe where the large safe is also located and a large number of coat hangers. It also contained super soft bathrobes, an umbrella and a tote bag for us. Next was a separate bedroom with a nice firm bed, and firm pillows for great neck support while sleeping. The refrigerator was stacked with water, tonic water, soda water, lemonade and beer, no extra cost. On the large dressing table sat an Illy coffee making machine with coffee capsules, nice touch! The balcony was reasonably large with two comfortable chairs, and a medium sized table. Best room we have ever stayed in on any ship and even in top hotels, it rates near the top. In a word sumptuous! Ship information The RSS Voyager is a beautiful ship of approximately 45,000 tons, it has several restaurants, including two speciality ones, at no extra cost, however, book well in advance; with a concierge room, we were able to book months in advance. There were several public areas, a large lounge and balcony area at the rear of the ship, a reasonable sized theatre, and several other bars on various levels, pure luxury on this ship. The ship shows little sign of wear, it is in very good condition, and relatively easy to move around. It also has a cafe that serves reasonably good quality coffee and teas, an area where fresh food is available at all hours, and there are a large number of tables and chairs to be seated. Activities The activities were similar to most ships, with one exception. There were speakers from the United States, from a group known as Artful Travelers. The first speaker was the primary writer of the comedy series “Frasier”, he spoke of writing and launching the show for television, he showed humorous clips from the show. He described how the show was developed, interaction with the actors, and that Frasier actually sang the song at the introduction to the show. The writer was visibly moved when he discussed how the actor who played Frasier’s Dad had passed away recently, apparently the cast and crew on the whole became very close during the filming of the show over the years. There were clips of some very funny episodes over the years, the audience and us enjoyed the presentation immensely. We were also fortunate to be present when another person from show biz in the USA, also a writer and producer of documentaries, described in detail the life of Bob Hope. How he had interviewed Mr Hope’s daughter and many others in relation to his life, on and off the screen, how he gathered clips of his TV shows, his movies with Bing Crosby, and described his private life in some detail. He also showed clips of Bob Hope and other artists, led by Hope entertaining the US troops in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. We watched a large part of the documentary on TV in our room a day later, excellent production. Bob Hope left some of his fortune to build Bob Hope centres for US troops, ex-service women and men at various major airports in the USA for them to relax, have a shower, and supply them with refreshments, these centres are still funded currently for them. Service Excellent service on this ship, as you would expect, the staff are allegedly the best available, and we were very happy with the service overall. Room stewards, female and male, kept the room very clean, were super-efficient, and nothing was too much trouble. We ordered a bottle of wine and spirits, we left the room for a few hours and returned to find same in our glass front cabinet, excellent. Bistro and restaurant staff were courteous and efficient, although at times in La Veranda seating was very hard to find. We ate outside at tables in the grill area, the temperature outside was mild and pleasant. One slight constructive criticism, one of the staff brought me a beer that was quite warm, excuse being the refrigerator was not working properly. I asked for a container with ice in it and placed the beer in it, 15 minutes later, all ok. Thanks to the young Russian lady all was saved, I did mention to her that they should place some beer in a large container with ice and that would suffice if cooling beer was a problem. She came back 20 minutes later and brought a cold beer out of the container full of beer she had arranged, I thanked her and said very well done, she will go far that young lady! The very next day we went out past the bar in the grill area and in sight of all on the bar sat a large container full of ice and various beers in the ice, very impressed. I am not a big beer drinker, my wife and I prefer a nice wine with our meals, and a good gin and tonic or two before dinner. Port & shore excursions Most shore excursions are included with Regent. We were only on the ship for 4 nights, the only excursion available was in Bay of Islands, we had previously been on this tour to the treaty grounds, however decided to go again, it was quite ok. Travel to embarkation port See background information above for remarks. Cabin As indicated above we had a concierge balcony cabin midship on deck 8. Cabin overall was in very good condition, bed was very comfortable, pillows firm for great neck support, large cabinets with glass doors, fully stocked bar, coffee maker, fruit. French champagne on arrival, was a nice touch indeed. Bathroom was huge, big bath, huge shower marble twin vanity unit, L’Occitane products. Huge walk in wardrobe, safe, sofa and large table with marble top in bedroom, medium sized balcony with quality chairs and medium size table. Huge elegant room with the “works”! Dining We ate breakfast in La Veranda every day, it was convenient and all the food was quality, eggs made order, and various hot and cold delicacies, juices, coffee and tea. We ate Lunch in La Veranda on day one, as mentioned previously the food quality and variety was very good. At night La Veranda become an Italian restaurant, service was good, food was of good quality and good variety of Italian specials, seafood, pasta, and veal dishes. We ate the veal scaloppini for main meal, there was too much salt in the sauce, which spoilt an otherwise good meal. Appetiser and dessert was very nice. We ate in Compass Rose for lunch on two days, delicious food, particularly the best quiche we have aver eaten on any ship, or any restaurant for that matter. We ate dinner in this restaurant on the third night, jumbo shrimp was superb, fillet mignon was also superb, however, lobster was not, it had been cut into pieces, was cold and unappetising. The surf and turf at Prime 7 on night one was far above in quality than the meals at LA Veranda Italian and Compass Rose restaurant dinner meals. The last night we ate at Chartreuse French restaurant, the food and décor lived up to expectations, an excellent dining experience, finished off with a delicious cheese plate and port! We consumed food from the grill on deck at sail away from Auckland, and Bay of Islands, hot and cold barbeque meats and snacks, very tasty with a nice red wine in hand. We also ate a burger and chips for a late lunch on the last day, as we were late into Sydney, we had very rough seas and arrived at 4.30 pm instead of 1.30 pm, we didn’t complain it allowed us to spend more time on board. Entertainment First night the Cruise Director sang a few songs and another female vocalist sang, it was fairly average. The guest entertainer was supposed to sing on night 3, however she was seas sick and could not appear. She also did not appear on our last night, she was very unwell. Disembarkation We were late into port, unfortunately we docked at White Bay cruise terminal, white elephant is more like it, passenger unfriendly area. Lucky we were late and Regent hired coaches to take us into Darling Harbour, we caught train from Wynyard station, changed at Central to go to Mascot to pick up our car and then home. Being docked at White Bay is a major hassle, it is unsuitable for boarding and disembarking ships, it is near no transport, buses or trains, just expensive taxis, however there only one or two taxis when we disembarked. Summary Fantastic experience, we most certainly would like to cruise with Regent Seven Seas again, all-inclusive means not worrying about onboard costs unless you want absolute top shelf wine and spirits, or private shore excursions, it is the whole package. Apart from a few items such as a few food items not up to standard, and disembarking at an unsuitable location, we loved the ship, the food, beautiful room, food, and great service. We will be looking for some special package deals again on a Regent Seven Seas vessel, magic experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We love regent and as usual this was a great cruise. Loved the itinerary. Pre and post cruise was very good. As always, the food and service were great. Voyager was refurbished over a year ago but was still beautiful. The staff and ... Read More
We love regent and as usual this was a great cruise. Loved the itinerary. Pre and post cruise was very good. As always, the food and service were great. Voyager was refurbished over a year ago but was still beautiful. The staff and crew were so friendly, it is like coming home when we get onboard. We booked a basic veranda cabin and it was very roomy and comfortable. The entertainment staff was great and cruise director, Ray Solaire, was his usual charming and entertaining self! His poolside portrayal of Neptune, as we crossed the equator, was hilarious. My only disappointment was scuba dining on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns. The weather was beautiful but there had been a recent typhoon and the water was stirred up so visibility was too poor to see much. Although most of the guests were middle aged or older, there was a young couple onboard with an infant. They often took her into venues that were inappropriate, such as the specialty restaurants, bars, and shows. This caused some disturbances at times. Can't wait to sail again with Regent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This is my 3rd Regent cruise and if I was wealthy it would be only cruise line for me. Top notch from beginning to end. Sad to disembark. Good waa invredible and staff is unbelievable. Suites are spacious and all have balconies. Specialty ... Read More
This is my 3rd Regent cruise and if I was wealthy it would be only cruise line for me. Top notch from beginning to end. Sad to disembark. Good waa invredible and staff is unbelievable. Suites are spacious and all have balconies. Specialty restaurants have some of the best options but Compass Tose is no slouch. Every night the menu changes and there is always some to choose from. If not the go to was Dover sole which was excellent. The entertainment on board was fabulous and having Artful on board was a great perk. Broadway singers, playwrights, directors and producers! Every port was different and every excursion we chose unique. Our captain Felice Padrone was extraordinary in his skills with the 20 foot seas we encountered. We had 3 cyclones out there and only missed one port! Has lea time in Sydney but we were all safe and that's what mattered! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose this cruise, as we usually do, based on itinerary. We experienced an incredible bonus on the first “leg” (Auckland to Bali). It was an “Artful Travelers” cruise. This group, in cooperation with Regent and PBS and NPR, ... Read More
We chose this cruise, as we usually do, based on itinerary. We experienced an incredible bonus on the first “leg” (Auckland to Bali). It was an “Artful Travelers” cruise. This group, in cooperation with Regent and PBS and NPR, had a special program focusing on documentary film making and Broadway. There were extra speakers (all excellent), Q & A sessions, cocktail parties, special documentary screening, a wine tasting, a sumptuous dinner, excellent cabarets, small dinners with the presenters - all without an extra fee. Artful Travelers has been in existence since 2004 but came as a surprise to us. We will back for another of their programs next February. That portion of the trip included wonderful ports such as Sydney, Cairns, Komodo island, and Bali. We remained on the ship for the next segment from Bali to Hong Kong. We especially enjoyed our stops in Borneo (loved the cultural experience) and Brunei. As usual, service throughout the trip was excellent. Food is uniformly very good and often excellent. We especially liked the newly designed/decorated Compass Rose. Regent is expensive, but the experience is exceptional. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
My husband and I decided to join a friend on a five-week cruise on Crystal's Symphony. She gave it glowing reviews and we were excited about the trip from Auckland across the Pacific to Valparaiso. That dream soon turned to a ... Read More
My husband and I decided to join a friend on a five-week cruise on Crystal's Symphony. She gave it glowing reviews and we were excited about the trip from Auckland across the Pacific to Valparaiso. That dream soon turned to a nightmare, as explained toward the end of this review. Let me start with the really great part: Crystal employees are devoted and loyal and give first-class service. This part of the trip did meet expectations. It could not exceed them, because they were so high I would have felt harassed if they had tried to do more. Also, we met lots of great people, though that's generally the case however and wherever we travel. And, having wifi available most of the time at no extra charge was great. However, once aboard we discovered not all was as described. Contrary to Crystal's hype, the ship has not been entirely refurbished. The public areas of the ship have been refurbished and reconfigured. Suites may have been upgraded and electronics redone in all staterooms. But aside from electronics and a spotlessly clean bathroom, the condition of our small stateroom was less than we'd expect on an aging, economy-priced ship. The sheer curtains were filthy and so creased they did not meet in the middle and our window overlooked the Promenade deck. Wallpaper was peeling from the walls. Decorative tile in the shower has been scrubbed for so many years half the design has worn off. The carpet was beginning to show ground in grime and wear. That was just the beginning. Three different times we were freezing to death with the thermostat set on high and had to call to have the ventilation adjusted. At least one day the entire ship was uncomfortably cold due to HVAC problems. The plumber was in the room at least once a week. The first time a clogged pipe soaked the carpet, requiring two days of heat and fans to dry out. What a nuisance! A faucet leaked from the top, causing water to puddle on the counter and later the floor. White bubbly slime oozed from the floor drain a few times, and once water emerged, soaking the bathmat. The bathroom smelled like sewer gas half the time. I will give them credit. The plumber always arrived promptly, and when I mentioned the state of the room to the hotel manager, we immediately received new sheers. They would have replaced the wallpaper, but we didn't want the disruption, and we already knew the room was a mess. We just expect better than this from a cruise line that doesn't discount cabins even when the ship is half full because, according to one travel agent I met aboard, "They don't want just anyone on this ship!" Food was a disappointment. Many did rave about it, but I'm not one of them. If only for this reason, I would not sail on Crystal again. Waterside, the main dining room, had a monotonous dinner menu in that it always featured French-inspired or other innovative cuisine and each dish seemed an effort to out-sauce and out-do the others. Veggies were generally used as garnish for modest portions of meat, not nutritional elements. Room service dinners I ordered while ill were awful. A steak I'd ordered medium rare was huge, totally gray, cold, and tough. A pasta dish the next next night was as salty as sea water. Specialty restaurant alternatives to the Waterside were a disappointment. Two of the three main dishes I ordered in Prego, the Italian one, were tasteless and not well prepared. They should have been sent back, but I didn't want to hold up my fellow diners. The third was edible but not memorable. My previous experience with Tuscan food has been great. This was not what I think of as Tuscan. We are not fans of Asian food and the other two specialty restaurants were Chinese and Japanese, so that didn't leave us many options. The buffet varied a few items each day within each category (breads, pastries, soups, casseroles, meats, etc.), but within that variation everything remained the same. One sandwich may have been offered each day, but constructing one to our own taste involved running up and down the line a few times and was not easy to do. I missed the panini station I enjoy on Celebrity ships. I also missed PIZZA. The Trident grill offered something called pizza ─ a wafer thin crust with a smear of sauce and hint of cheese. The one day I ordered it, it was charred on the bottom. The buffet morphed into Churrascaria in the evening. This semi-buffet venue offers a variety of side dishes and Brazilian barbecue. Like the French food in Waterside, ostensibly is a key concept. French and Brazilian cuisine offer inspiration as a starting point for innovation, some more successful than others. Desserts were, I'm told, awesome. I'm not a dessert eater myself, but they did look delicious. Appetizers offered in cocktail venues at Happy Hour were tedious and generally tasteless. Each evening two would be offered from a lineup of prosciutto-wrapped melon balls, cream cheese stuffed green olives, some green paste they called guacamole, and small burger sliders or tiny pigs-in-blankets. Once or twice they had tiny quiches. These were passed by circulating waiters and after the first week they were boring. Which brings us to beverages. The list of included alcoholic beverages was extensive, and servings liberal. While it's a kick to order a drink, and then another and perhaps yet a third, without signing a thing or reaching for a tip, this temptation may not be in everyone's best interests. Coffee was first rate. Some of the shows, like the ventriloquist and similar acts, were great. Music performances were always way too loud for me and I generally skipped them, as I do on other cruise lines. Small venue performers were good, especially the violinist and Crystal Cove pianist, but these people come and go. Also, on the second leg, at least two evening performances were repeated. What's with that?! Visiting speakers were generally first rate. We enjoyed most. Presumably we could watch lectures later on screen in our stateroom if we missed one, but I never figured out how. Now for the nightmare that occurred early on. I became ill a couple of days after we left Auckland and was ultimately ordered off the ship to be hospitalized in Fiji. Thank God, unlike the ship's doctor, the hospital doctor is not obliged to practice defensive medicine on behalf of the cruise line, and I was not admitted to the hospital in this third world country. My husband left the ship with me, and we were able to catch up with the ship in Tonga a couple of days later. To our horror, the ship decreed that since we'd both left the ship ALL OUR BELONGINGS had to be packed for shipping home. Our cabin had to be emptied. The cabin we'd paid to use. That meant when I got back on, instead of falling into bed to relax, I had to spend several hours sorting things in the suitcases left on the bed and figuring out once again where to put things, and arranging to have the rumpled clothes packed by strangers pressed. To their credit, after two long, tense meetings, Crystal did a lot to calm us down. I do understand and respect why the doctor made the decision she did, though perhaps my options could have been made more clear. This part may have been the same on any cruise line. I have no idea whether other cruise lines require belongings to be packed if all occupants of a stateroom leave. Be aware this could happen and don't hesitate to push back should the occasion arise. Finally, shore excursions. We generally make our own arrangements for these and our limited experience with official Crystal excursions validates the wisdom of this. Neither of the two we took lived up to expectations. The second, on Easter Island, was unacceptable. A large group was divided onto two small busses with a single guide. We had no narrative as we drove through the countryside and had to spend valuable minutes during short stops at each site listening to cursory explanations. We all felt rushed. Furthermore, the windows on the busses were smeared with a muddy film, so no pictures from most seats on the bus were possible and the general view was obscured. This excursion cost more than twice what others paid for a private tour the same length of the same sites, and they were in small groups in vans with constant narrative from their guides. When they left the vans, they were ready to start walking and clicking shutters. We had similar experiences with pick-up tours at other ports. Something is VERY wrong with this picture! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call ... Read More
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call included two stops in Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. Overall Crystal lived up to its reputation among the best of the upper tier of cruise lines. It is essentially all inclusive other than shore excursions, and naturally the price reflects that. Other than some minor areas for improvement, I have little reason not to rate the experience highly. As with any cruise the experience starts long before boarding as you register online and if so desired, reserve excursions and make speciality dining reservations. Unfortunately Crystal was in the middle of transitioning from their legacy web site to a new site and they made the classic rookie mistake of going live with the new site before it was fully checked out and functional. This certainly detracted from the initial impression of Crystal as this was our first cruise with them. Through several attempts over a period of weeks and exchanges of phone calls and emails with Crystal eventually everything was set. Interestingly, Crystal is one of the remaining lines that still sends paper brochures and boarding documents. For a line that prides itself on being “Green” sending duplicates of everything to a couple sharing a cabin is quite wasteful. My one other minor complaint is that none of the theme nights were mentioned in the advance information and thus we had not packed for these. These minor annoyances were all forgotten once embarkation began. Crystal has a unique process where the health forms, clearing security, registering your card and getting your cabin key are split between the terminal and onboard in stages. This spreads out the activity and minimizes congestion. It proved to be efficient and fast (helped by a passenger load less than 700) and we were quickly in our cabin, which was ready as soon as we boarded. Our luggage also arrived promptly. We had a verandah cabin on deck 9. We found it roomy enough and were impressed with the closet space, more hangars than we have seen on almost any of our previous cruises and ample drawer and shelf space so that our clothes and accessories for 35 days onboard could all be stored with room to spare. The refrigerator was larger than the standard minibar size one usually found on ships and the safe was large enough to fit two iPads and the rest of our valuables. The Symphony had only recently emerged from drydock and the cabins now feature large flat screen TVs. Regrettably our cabin still had only one 110v and one 220v outlet, a serious shortcoming in today’s wired world. The bathroom was adequate and the only minor issue was that the lighting could have been a bit better. As always my pet peeve is the light switch is on the outside, making for the usual acrobatics at night to try and turn on the light and quickly close the door without waking your partner. The balcony was large enough for the two of us to enjoy it comfortably with a nice table in between. With so many sea days on this cruise we took full advantage of the balcony. Returning to the TV, the interactive system was superb for accessing information on entertainment, dining, etc. I particularly loved the fact that any enrichment lectures you miss are available on demand or can be viewed live in your stateroom if you don’t make it to the venue. The number of TV stations is dependent on satellite coverage and so varied greatly during our voyage. Internet access is totally free and for most of the trip was surprisingly fast. Once we got into the more remote parts of the South Pacific it did slow down considerably as satellite coverage there is spotty. The pool on the Symphony is large enough to swim short laps. Obviously not Olympic size, but reasonable for a ship of this size. The one downside is that it apparently uses ocean water because it was very salty to the point that I stopped using it as my eyes were getting irritated. There is an oversized hot tub that was very relaxing after a long day of touring and I frequently had it to myself. There are three main shops onboard. All were focused on higher end merchandise (clothing, jewelry, watches) with only a token amount of souvenir cruise wear like polo shirts and tees. There was a small section of sundries. Dining is probably the most subjective and personal topic to comment on. The Symphony has switched to an all open dining format for the main dining room, called Waterside. We never had to wait for a table whether we wanted to dine alone or with a group. We found the food quite good and there were always at least 6 choices of entrees, often more. There are also several speciality restaurants including Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Brazilian steakhouse. Passengers get at least two complimentary meals in the Italian and Japanese restaurants per segment and unlimited dining in the others by reservation. In addition up until 6 pm the Trident grill serves sandwiches and other light food and the Bistro has some snacks and deserts throughout the day and evening. One nice feature is you can order off the Waterside menu for room service during their regular dining hours, plus a more limited room service 24/7. With all these options you should never go without! Our one “complaint” is that we are used to having access at night to a buffet for casual dinner if we did not feel like a sit down meal and this option is no longer available on Symphony. Without question Symphony’s entertainment offerings are world class. The resident singers and dancers are multi talented and professional and their production shows were as good as any we have experienced. The guest performers included opera singers, a famous pianist, an array of well known vocalists and more. There was no decrease in quality in the lounges either, with a magnificent violinist, pianist, a Quartet in one lounge and a dance duo in another. If none of these were to your liking, the ship also has a dedicated movie theater showing first run films. During our cruise we could see the Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, Three Billboards and many more feature films. The enrichment lectures were generally first rate. The mix included marine biologists, military generals, a CNN reporter, a cultural anthropologist, and a Hollywood talent agent/former performer. If you wanted to skip all that and curl up with a good book, the Library had an extensive and varied collection. We generally opt for doing independent shore excursions wherever possible in lieu of the ship’s offering. Due to the extremely limited infrastructure on many of the islands we visited this was not always possible, so we ended up with a mix of independent and ship’s tours. For the most part the ship’s tours did the islands justice with a good mix of culture, nature and history. One tour was a bit subpar but I feel it was more due to the limitations of what the island had to offer than the tour operator. In Tahiti we took a ship’s tour one day and a private tour the second day and I can honestly say the ship’s tour was better than the private one we arranged. As far as our port stops the one area for improvement is the research done by the shore excursion staff. For the main islands the information was adequate and with the Internet there was lots we could study on our own ahead of time. However for some of the smaller islands, particularly two atolls, there were no excursions available either through the ship or privately due to their small population and size. The information on what to do in port from the shore excursion desk was meager to nonexistent. Thankfully the local population had set up information tables at the tender pier to provide the information on nearby beaches and points of interest. It would seem that the shore excursion folks could have contacted the island tourist information center or local government for advanced information. The island of Rangiroa stands out as an opportunity missed. The beach on the Pacific side was quite rocky and had a notable undertow so it was not suitable for anything but wading. The lagoon side had clear waters and looked inviting but the only beach within walking distance was at the island’s one resort. Crystal could have explored making arrangements for day use of their beach for a fee, as many other cruise lines do. Beyond the all inclusive nature of the cruise, the real standout was service. Even if the ship was full the passenger to crew ratio is less than 2:1. On the second leg of our cruise because of the lower passenger count there were actually more crew than passengers! Every single crew member we encountered from the Captain to dining service to housekeeping was happy to go out of their way to help and provide an above and beyond experience. Disembarkation in Chile was quick and as easy as possible given the logistics of the port. The cruise terminal is away from the place where the ship docks so one has to board a shuttle to get to the terminal where one clears customs and security and retrieves one’s luggage. This went smoothly with one glitch. When the people from Pitcairn Island came onboard one of their sales items was pure honey. Because of the island’s remote locations the honey is certified as disease free and we were assured by both the folks from Pitcairn Island and the Symphony folks who oversaw the operation that we would have no trouble getting the honey home if we showed the certificate of purity. Not so. The Chilean Customs folks amassed a large collection of jars of honey. All in all it was a cruise to remember and I would not hesitate to recommend Crystal to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This is our 2nd trip on Journey but our first to NZ and Australia. The ship is an ideal size. Big enough to have plenty of activities and a good selection of dining options but small enough that you hardly ever have to stand in line for ... Read More
This is our 2nd trip on Journey but our first to NZ and Australia. The ship is an ideal size. Big enough to have plenty of activities and a good selection of dining options but small enough that you hardly ever have to stand in line for anything. Both this trip and the last trip we were on, the Adriatic Sea, the service was excellent. The crew is friendly from the cabin stewards to the Captain and other officers. The ship is tastefully decorated - common areas and the cabin. The cabin was roomy enough for our 2 week cruise. There were plenty of areas to relax in - quiet and lively, indoor and outdoors. We especially like that you normally have plenty of time in port, so you can get to know the countries and towns you are visiting. My only small criticism is the excursions seem a bit pricy so we mainly made our own arrangements. I would recommend a broader selection and more competitive pricing. They also were very concerned on making sure we all stayed healthy with hand sanitizer dispensers every where and requiring the staff to only 'fist bump' with the passengers and each other. The service really stands out on Azamara, whether you are in the restaurants, boarding the ship or just having your cabin cleaned. High grades to Azamara and we would recommend them highly. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
This cruise was a good way to see New Zealand and Australia and Indonesia in a short time. We visited interesting places and particularly enjoyed the Ventures excursions in zodiacs and kayaks and hiking. The ship is spectacular with ... Read More
This cruise was a good way to see New Zealand and Australia and Indonesia in a short time. We visited interesting places and particularly enjoyed the Ventures excursions in zodiacs and kayaks and hiking. The ship is spectacular with excellent speakers and restaurants.The food is varied and really good although it tended to be very salty and more information about fat content and better descriptions on the menu would have been appreciated. Some favourites were the soufflés and the Japanese restaurant. The Thomas Keller was rather disappointing as there was the same menu every time and the portions were enormous.Much too big. The entertainment was superb and all the singers and dancers excellent. Very enjoyable. The only one we were not enthusiastic about was the Piano player at the Thomas Keller. The new Seabourn ship is about to launch and consequently many staff have left for it so there were a lot of staff who did not know what they were doing. The beverage service was really slow and we had often finished breakfast and lunch at the patio before getting a drink.the staff were super friendly but rather disorganized. The cabin attendant was not as efficient as she could have been too and the carpet had stains on it when we boarded. Surely it could have been cleaned? The enrichment lectures we’re mostly interesting and sometimes excellent and it was great to be able to treat children them on the cabin TV. Some of the shore excursions were not very well described and not worth the money but others were really worthwhile.We loved the ventures trips. It was disappointing that we did not have a marina day as we had enjoyed those before but swimming in the ocean was limited due to jellyfish stingers and the weather. Altogether the fitness facilities were severely lacking. A huge amount of space had been devoted to a retreat to bring in more money. This could have been used for yoga or Pilates or running track. We definitely will sail again with Seabourn . Best cruise line we’ve been on. Complaints are just nit picking really. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
The ship is a significant upgrade over the Odyssey class ships, with the addition of The Grill by Thomas Keller, the Sushi restaurant, an enhancec Seabourn Square, among other things. Although there are a few more guests, it never felt ... Read More
The ship is a significant upgrade over the Odyssey class ships, with the addition of The Grill by Thomas Keller, the Sushi restaurant, an enhancec Seabourn Square, among other things. Although there are a few more guests, it never felt crowded. The food in The Grill and Sushi was great, as were the 3 Thomas Keller family dinners in the Collonade. Otherwise, thevfood was just OK. Our weather was not very good, but overall we still had a nice experience. Our main issues were: 1. Lack of excursions and excursion availability. On the first day after sailing,mwe discovered that almost all of the popular excursions had been pre-sold out, and the customer relations staff were unwilling to add additional excursions despite waiting lstsvof 25-30 passengers, or to help passengers make their own arrangements. We were left to book excursions usingbthe very same onshore operators that thevship used. Most disappointing, we learned that the overland excursion to Queenstown (which was to be the highlght of the cruise) had been cancelled and were given no real explanation as to why. 2. Seabourn has a internet policy that is decidedly not “all inclusive”. Plus, the internet quality is extremely poor. 3. We had a large number of onboard credits, half of which were non-refundable, with half characterized as “redeemable” (i.e. to be credited against our credit card) if not used. When bad weather prevented a stop in the port where we had been able to book the only ship sponsered excurion of our cruise, on the last day before the cruise ended, we were left with no ability to use these credits. In addition, to our surprise, Seabourn continues to refuse to give us back even the full amount of our redeemable credits. So, seabourn has taken for itself $300 or credit that was a gift to us by our travel agent. This was my fifth cruise on Seabourn. I,m not sure if or when I’ll take another of their cruises. Looking forward to a 16-day cruise to South America on Regent Explorer early next year. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018

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