28 Auckland Luxury Cruise Reviews

Auckland to Sydney. The only disappointment was the final day in Sydney being too short, and apparent confusion amongst Viking staff about water shuttles from wharf to attractions. Arrived Sydney at 1PM, and cruise ended next morning ... Read More
Auckland to Sydney. The only disappointment was the final day in Sydney being too short, and apparent confusion amongst Viking staff about water shuttles from wharf to attractions. Arrived Sydney at 1PM, and cruise ended next morning .. only half a day for this great city. Directions we received from Viking shore team sent us as pedestrians thru an active working dock area to a non-existent shuttle. Wound up taking taxis at $60 to access Australian Maritime Museum, one wharf away from the ship. Otherwise, everything aboard ship, and all the organized shore excursions and enrichment sessions exceeded expectations. Food in all dining venues was excellent. Even had a special cake for 50th anniversary in Chefs Table. The Viking label Aquavit ( aged aboard a Viking ship on a round the world cruise) only available on Viking ships, was excellent ... much better than any other Aquavit aboard. Be sure to ask specifically for it, as they tuck away the bottle in the back of the bar fridge. Participated in the Kitchen Table experience with the Orion Executive Chef on a trip to the market in Melbourne, and dinner prepared by him that evening. Excellent commentary as we shopped in the market, and an enjoyable meal. A couple participants were disappointed that they did not experience hands-on slicing and dicing food preparation, as they were led to believe from the event description, but we, personally, were not disappointed ... who could top the preparation by the Viking kitchen? Also went on the Best of Australia extension to the outback. Terrific experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Visiting New Zealand was on my bucket list. The trip was a way to celebrate my retirement. I was impressed by the beauty and cleanliness of the ship. Every room had an outside balcony. The food was made from fresh ingredients and ... Read More
Visiting New Zealand was on my bucket list. The trip was a way to celebrate my retirement. I was impressed by the beauty and cleanliness of the ship. Every room had an outside balcony. The food was made from fresh ingredients and beautifully prepared! I went to the spa often and felt renewed each time. The staff were friendly, competent, and available. I enjoyed the presentations from the historians and the beautiful music from the musicians. Even though the Orion was at capacity, the ship never felt crowded. There were lots of cozy places to relax and visit. I participated in the Kitchen Table experience, meeting a chef and preparing a delicious meal. I loved both the included and extra excursions that I participated in. Handing out water to us each time we left the ship was helpful . As a nurse, I also appreciated the emphasis on washing hands when entering the restaurants. A fabulous experience!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Love Viking, have done 2 ocean & a river. This cruise did not disappoint. Friendly staff, lovely ship, great food. Exactly what we've always experienced on Viking. Not a fan of the Chef's Table menu, but that's a ... Read More
Love Viking, have done 2 ocean & a river. This cruise did not disappoint. Friendly staff, lovely ship, great food. Exactly what we've always experienced on Viking. Not a fan of the Chef's Table menu, but that's a personal thing. The included excursions were good, if not exceptional. If you like visiting botanical gardens in every city, you'll love these excursions, but not a lot of variety. That said, we opted for mostly optional excursions. The port talks were enriching & usually entertaining. Did not partake of evening entertainment as we were usually tired after busy days. Some of our best times onboard were watching Chiefs playoff games - thanks for streaming Viking. The best part of this cruise however, was not the cruise, but the optional extension "Best of Australia". The 6 days took us inland to parts of the country cruisers would never see. Our guide Ronald & all of the drivers (one a native Maori) were exceptional. Knowledgeable, entertaining, creative & so organized. Even with 2 glitches, that they had could not have foreseen, they adjusted in ways that made the trip even better. So glad we opted for this extension, highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
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
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 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
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
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
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
Our first ever cruise in October, which happened to be on Seabourn, met all of our needs and it made us overcome our fears about crowding and herding on cruises....to the point that we signed up for our second cruise while on board ... Read More
Our first ever cruise in October, which happened to be on Seabourn, met all of our needs and it made us overcome our fears about crowding and herding on cruises....to the point that we signed up for our second cruise while on board Odyssey. Two Seabourn cruises in 5 months on two different ships. We were aware that Encore was a new ship and had only been sailing for 6 weeks or so before we boarded and knew that there could be some growing pains. We booked a Veranda Suite and expected some adjustment as our previous cruise was in an Owners Suite. We can say that we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise from Suite to restaurants to excursions. The only problem that we had was crowding and seating delays in The Restaurant on two nights of the 16 day cruise. Management was well aware of the situation and worked to figure out a way to alleviate the problem for the following cruise. There were many apologies concerning the delay. Our Suite was perfectly comfortable and we were not unhappy with the space as everything was laid out to be very functional. We would book a Veranda Suite again or possible a Penthouse Suite if we needed more space. We really did not need the added space of the Owners Suite. We enjoyed our excursions and the variety of choices. There is something for city lovers, nature lovers and active travelers. We especially enjoyed the Ventures offerings and the knowledgable Ventures Staff. We chose to get out into the countryside for hiking or walking or out on the water in kayaks and zodiacs. We ate in all of the restaurants and enjoyed the variety of food and style. The new Thomas Keller restaurant serves portions that are large enough to share. Good food but too much! Sushi was a nice change for both lunch and dinner on our 16 day cruise. We had breakfast in our Suite most mornings and ordered a light dinner one evening when we had been away for the entire day. Room service was excellent. We enjoyed the 5 sea days....a vacation within the vacation. We have always been independent travelers but we chose the Pre and Post cruise hotel offering for both of our cruises. It made for seamless travel . I doubt we could have put together a better trip to New Zealand and Australia ourselves. We will return to Seabourn for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
It was going to places we had never been before and we had never done expeditions before.i It met all our expectations.it was unfortunate that we missed Sandakan and spend so long at sea.likewise the last day in Manila to catch up with ... Read More
It was going to places we had never been before and we had never done expeditions before.i It met all our expectations.it was unfortunate that we missed Sandakan and spend so long at sea.likewise the last day in Manila to catch up with the ship was as you know terrible.Aside from this the meals onboard the service onboard were great.The cabin was very good and the daily cabin person was very helpful.The shore excursions were enjoyable.Those that involved walking for distances in forest terrain should have warned us how undulating it accurately was!! The entertainment by the locals was excellent both on land and on the wharves.Maybe for those of us who not into snorkling more could be done to find better areas for safe swimming.this was our first time with Ponant and it has made us aware of what you have to offer and we will return Not known in NZ Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Background - My wife and I have cruised 12 times throughout the world. We live in Texas. We pick our cruises based upon the destination and ports. We do not like “days at sea” and we use cruises to see new places, in a short amount of ... Read More
Background - My wife and I have cruised 12 times throughout the world. We live in Texas. We pick our cruises based upon the destination and ports. We do not like “days at sea” and we use cruises to see new places, in a short amount of time. I was looking for a cruise that sailed around New Zealand but I did not want a cruise that crossed the Tasman Sea from Australia. Ponant was the only luxury cruise line that had such an itinerary. The cruise started in Auckland and ended in Milford Sound (and then to Queenstown). Prior to booking this cruise I had never heard of Ponant and the reviews on various sites were not great. Here is my attempt to give more information. Pre and post cruise hotels – We did not buy the Pre or Post cruise hotel options from Ponant. However, we stayed in the same hotels as these packages and arranged our own transportation to/from the ship, at a fraction of the cost. We stayed pre-cruise at the Sofitel Viaduct Harbor in Auckland. This Sofitel is a very nice hotel located right near the harbor area. We were able to take walking tours of the city, the wharf and the museums. Our cab ride to the ship took about 5 minutes. Embarkation – Once we arrived at the ship, within the check-in window of 4 to 5 pm, we were escorted directly to the gangway. We had our photo taken at the entrance to the ship and were handed our cabin card. They did not even ask for a credit card imprint. We were escorted directly to our cabin and our bags arrived almost immediately. This was the easiest embarkation we have ever had. Ship – The L’Austral can hold as many as 250 passengers. On this trip there were approximately 200 passengers and 140 crewmembers. The ship is small but seemed to have very good stabilizers, when we hit rough waters. The ship had a small pool with padded lounge chairs, a fitness center with very nice views, and several viewing decks. In addition, the Captain maintained an “open bridge” policy. If the sign was green on the door to the bridge, you were welcome to come in and watch. The ship is French. The Captain and his direct reports were almost all from France. When the ship would make announcements, the first announcement was in French and the second was in English. About ½ of the passengers were Americans. About ¼ were French. The remaining crewmembers were from all over the world, consistent with every other cruise line. Internet is available throughout the ship at a price per minute. The internet service was very slow and did not work very well, if at all. You would be better off going to cafes on shore and get free internet. Activities and children’s club – The ship had a small library and card room plus a couple of bars fore and aft. We spent most of our daylight hours on shore so we did not participate in any of the activities. The ship had a small children’s area. On our cruise there were zero children on board. Service – Our cabin steward was excellent. Our cabin was very clean and he was very timely. We never came back from a meal or excursion and found him working on the room. Our servers in the dining room were also excellent. They were very friendly and would know us by name. Dining – The ship has two dining areas. The main dining room is on deck #2 and can accommodate all passengers. The dining room on deck #6 always had a buffet set-up for the meals. This dining room could not hold all the passengers so reservations were required. We ate 100% of our dinners in the main dining room. In the main dining room, it was “open” seating. You could sit anywhere you liked. Sometimes we ate with others and sometimes just the 2 of us. Dinner service started at 7:00 each night but often we wouldn’t arrive until 7:30 or 8:00. Not a problem. Breakfast was served buffet-style in both dining rooms although you could also order eggs and omelets, as preferred. The dinners were French cuisine. At each meal you had a choice of 3-4 entrees. You could also order a generic steak, chicken or fish dish also. The only time selection was limited to one entrée was on the Captain Welcome dinner and the Captain’s Gala dinner. For these two dinners, they suggested coats and ties. The entrée was lamb one night and beef filet the 2nd night. There was always a vegetarian option. If you like French food and cuisine, this ship will thrill you. My wife loved the food. Personally, I would have preferred simple meat, potatoes and vegetables. The chocolate desserts were wonderful. Each night 8 lucky guests were able to eat at the Captain’s table. We assumed these “lucky” guests were the high-rollers in the Owners Suites. Much to our surprise, on the 6th night of the cruise, we returned to our 4th level cabin and were invited to eat at the Captain’s Table – What a wonderful man and a very special evening. Cabin – Most of the cabins are balcony cabins. The majority of the cabins are approximately 200 sq. ft., not including the small balcony. As others have mentioned, the toilet is in a small room, by itself. In the next small room is the shower and sink. In the main part of the cabin is the bed and a chair. The balcony has 2 small chairs and a small table. On most ships, we try to book cabins approx. 300 sq. ft. On this ship, that was not an option. You went from the 200’ cabin to the large suites. The cost of the cabins increases slightly as you go higher on the ship but the cabins are the same size whether on 4, 5 or 6. Try to get a cabin in the middle or towards the front for the best ride. On this itinerary, we traveled in a clock-wise direction so you really needed an “odd #” cabin (starboard side). Get “even” (port side) if taking in reverse. Entertainment – I never book a cruise for the entertainment value. This ship had 4 dancers and 2-3 singers. We did not go to any of the main evening performances. The theatre is small but could accommodate all passengers. Ports and excursions – We had $500 of shipboard credit and we used our credit on 2 shore excursions. The cruise line offered 2-3 excursions per port. The excursions were well selected but very pricey. If we did not have the shipboard credit, we probably would have arranged all of our tours ourselves. I have reviewed the ports in more detail in the Port Review section. Here are the highlights: Tauranga – Took a tour to Rotorua arranged via Zealander. We ended-up as the only guests so we got a very personal tour. Saw geysers, Rotorua Lake area, Redwoods, waterfalls, Kiwi farm and Maori show. Napier – Took a Whirlwind Tour arranged with Hawkes Bay Scenic Tours. Once again, we were the only guests so our tour was private. We saw all the sites of Napier and had a wine tasting at Mission winery. Wellington – We rode the Red Cable Car and then did our own walking tour of the city. Picton – This was the first shore excursion booked from the ship. Their vendor was Cougar Tours. We had a boat ride across the harbor and were dropped-off for a guide-led hike along a portion of the Queen Charlotte track. Very nice! Akaroa – We booked the “Swim with Dolphins” from Black Cats. The bay has Hector dolphins. We did see the dolphins but the water was too rough to swim with them. They refunded a portion of our cost. Dunedin – This was the 2nd excursion arranged from the ship. The tour took us, by bus, to the Ortago Peninsula. On this peninsula, we saw nesting Albatrosses, nesting penguins and many very young, baby seals. A great wildlife area! Disembarkation and Queenstown – The cruise ended at Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a beautiful area in the fiords of the South Island. We met the bus at 7:30 which was earlier than we expected from the printed material (which said 9:00). Disembarkation was no problem. The cruise fare included bus service to Queenstown. In Queenstown, we stayed at the St. Moritz hotel. This boutique hotel is located within walking distance to the CBD. Queenstown is a very vibrant area with many adventurous activities. We took the gondola to the top of the mountain and hiked some trails at the top. Summary ---- Overall, we enjoyed this cruise very much. The itinerary was great and I would cruise with Ponant again. In particular, we enjoyed the small size of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Having travelled with Regent seven times before we knew what to expect. No irritating on board charges, signing for drinks or tips - all included. As has been the case on all other Regent cruises the staff were 100% in every respect - ... Read More
Having travelled with Regent seven times before we knew what to expect. No irritating on board charges, signing for drinks or tips - all included. As has been the case on all other Regent cruises the staff were 100% in every respect - attentive, friendly helpful and smart. The restaurant menus are excellent and even more varied. Our cabin which had been refurbished was excellent. The redecorated Compass Rose is lovely - really relaxing. Food at the 11th deck Sette Mari is fabulous - we dined there several times in the 25 days on our cruise segment. The following points for potential improvement must be read in the context that we have already booked our next Regent cruise so they are not 'showstoppers'. Excursions varied - cannot generalise but be careful as to what is chosen - do the homework! Komodo visit - good. Bali overnight - a waste of time and a big disappointment - not Regents fault. However the Bird Garden was worthwhile. Could do with an overnight in Sydney but probably too expensive with Berth fees! The lounges are unchanged and the chairs are uncomfortable but stylish - there could be more consideration to these bearing in mind the age group of the 'regulars'! The cabin balcony chairs could do with an update. Delivery of the main courses and side dishes in Compass Rose could be improved with better coordination. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was very our first cruise (25 days) so we have nothing to compare this to. We were accompanied by friends who are experienced travelers - this was their fifth cruise on RSS which was helpful, especially getting adjoining state rooms ... Read More
This was very our first cruise (25 days) so we have nothing to compare this to. We were accompanied by friends who are experienced travelers - this was their fifth cruise on RSS which was helpful, especially getting adjoining state rooms so we could compare notes or decide where to dine. The staff was professional and polite from the moment we boarded in Auckland to disembarking in Singapore. It is difficult to describe the highlights beyond the obvious amazing ports of call. I really enjoyed the parties on the top deck and met some delightful people. We had pre-booked excursions for most of the port days and the staff was so accommodating whether it was my spouse and I or the four of us. Once I swapped an excursion with my friend she could not attend without a problem. I thought I would be bored on "sea days" but was not at all. I took part in fun group activities or did nothing but lounge at the pool deck to read or draw, even watched an occasional movie and felt like it was a good balance of my time. Zay Lynn made sure every wish came true, sometimes without even asking; having the bed made and room cleaned while we ate breakfast with amazing timing, other staff made sure I could get where I wanted to go when I was directionally challenged, the yoga classes were good, massage great, lectures were stimulating and informative. We were able to have a kitchen tour. We enjoyed a variety of foods we'd never had before and ordering specialty drinks was a treat. Our bed was very comfortable and we slept well. My husband has some food restrictions and the staff was great about getting his menu in advance and accommodated him at which ever restaurant we went to. I wish I would list all the names of the excellent staff. Sharing desserts became our tradition and ending our evening with either entertainment or preparing for the next day made this entire trip a dream come true. We would definitely cruise with RSS on another destination. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Our cruise began in Auckland and finished in our home town of Sydney this was my 4th cruise and my partners first. A first for Azamara for both but my closest taken cruise was with the mother company RCCL. It was port intensive with only ... Read More
Our cruise began in Auckland and finished in our home town of Sydney this was my 4th cruise and my partners first. A first for Azamara for both but my closest taken cruise was with the mother company RCCL. It was port intensive with only 2 full sea days which I thought was fabulous as I don't cruise to just sail about I want to see the new country that I am visiting so good on Azamara for excellent planning. So how did it compare well most of all I would have to say and was far better then on the Rhapsody mainly because of it small size. What made that better everyone was close and friendly the staff seemed to be free to talk to passengers which made the experience so much nicer then on larger ships. It made making friendships so much easier as if you talked one day you could be sure to meet again the next day on larger ships you sometimes never see people again. The food which on ships seems more important then when on land was very good quality the serves were small but when offered so many courses who needs large serves. I personally never had a bad meal. What I will comment is that although I only had one specialty meal I really couldn't see the value Prime C served very similar meals to the main dining and when paying US$25 extra pp I couldn't see enough difference to get me back again. Cleanliness our room was always kept very clean by our cabin staff. The cleaning staff were always cleaning stairways etc and the antibacterial wash was placed in all eateries as well as gangways and shorelines to try to keep all bugs at bay. The first 48hrs no one could serve themselves food until the all clear from medical staff. These measures worked as no one became ill unlike other lines in recent months. The only comment I can make is that windows were not cleaned whilst in port and they were very salt stained making clear vision difficult. I felt maybe this was because they will go into dry dock shortly and the surrounds were rusted so maybe cleaning was not so easy without spreading rust. Entertainment this is what was lacking for me. It came nowhere near RCCL most of the choices made were soloists and they were either lacklustre or not really showcased to their advantage. The production shows were good I enjoyed them as there was colour action and variety. The deck parties were also great for the same reason. I enjoyed both Polynesian performances on board as culture is what travel should be about. The Azamazing Night was a little disappointing for this reason as although I loved the quartet they had the traditional Maori culture could have played a much bigger part. Excursions well I only booked one through the ship they were terribly expensive some 3 times what private parties offer. I don't know why ships do this as if they were more realistic in price you would never look outside for better value I booked 3 outside money lost to Azamara. In fairness to them the one I did do was enjoyable organized well but at least $50 to 60 to much. I did however really want to catch one of NZ trains and the other on offer was plain straight out prohibitive for us because of the price. Room size in a word SMALL ours was the budget inside so I wasn't expecting much but is was even smaller then I imagined I saw inside some of the balcony suites and they were still small compared to RCCL. However I will say if room size is the most important thing for you maybe cruises is not something you should do as I would never spend much time in a room unless ill. Overall I think for the mature market please note I do mean not suitable for families or young Azamara offers a great deal it may seem more expensive to begin with but all is inclusive except excursion. There is no quota on drinks which I understand does happen on some lines. So plenty for all being food or drink. Yes rooms are small but currently there are enough places to sit elsewhere. I think the ship will seem much more 21st Century after the refit so those joining the Journey and soon the Quest will be pleased with what they find. I will recommend this ship to my friends and family and I would love to return in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Wow, what an amazing lifetime experience for us. Even before we boarded the ship we were notified that we were to be upgraded to a balcony stateroom and this was the icing on the cake. From the time we embarked at Auckland everything ... Read More
Wow, what an amazing lifetime experience for us. Even before we boarded the ship we were notified that we were to be upgraded to a balcony stateroom and this was the icing on the cake. From the time we embarked at Auckland everything was perfect and so professional. We were very quick to board and no waiting around, everything went so smoothly. The staff were very friendly and helpful at all times and nothing too much trouble for them. Our room was spotless and well appointed and thanks must go to Henrick our very fine room service man who was always there to help. Although we had a table reserved at the Britannia Restaurant where the food was great, we always seemed to end up at the Kings Court a buffet syle restaurant where the selection was superb. A special treat on most days at 3.30 p.m. were the devonshire teas where most people seemed to head. The library was very well equipped with lovely books as well. All in all a great memorable trip for us - could not fault it in any way. Maybe in the future sometime we may be fortunate to have a trip on this magnificent ship again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our second cruise but our first Seabourn cruise. We chose this cruise based on the destination and Seaboun's reputation. We were not disappointed in either. We traveled with two other couples, one who had been on Seabourn ... Read More
This was our second cruise but our first Seabourn cruise. We chose this cruise based on the destination and Seaboun's reputation. We were not disappointed in either. We traveled with two other couples, one who had been on Seabourn previously. We found the size and layout of the ship to be excellent. The public areas were comfortable and we always found someplace nice to spend some time both inside and out. We enjoyed all of the bars, however we found the Observation Bar too smoky after dinner. The service throughout the ship was excellent, whether it was help with the internet (which could sometimes be a problem), making shore excursion plans, or future Seabourn travel. Our room Stewardess was delightful. Food - fantastic! The Colonnade breakfasts were everything we could want. We had breakfast in the Restaurant one day and found the service slow. We had room service twice (breakfast and dinner) and found the service and food both good. Dinners in the Restaurant were outstanding. We booked Restaurant 2 for one evening and it was a special experience. The two dinners we had in the Colonnade were excellent as well. The special meals - Chef's Market Lunch and the "Crew on Deck" - were super. Lunches at the Patio Grill were good. Our only complaint was that there is often not enough seating (especially on "Team Trivia" days) and that on the few cold days when Patio Grill was our only option after a late tour, there was no place inside to sit where it was warm. Seabourn does a good job of providing varied activities. The all-inclusive nature of the ship makes it easy to socialize and participate in activities, whether it be the "Block Party", cruising Millford Sound where champagne and drinks are offered, or the early morning entrance into Sydney Harbour with, coffee, tea, juice, and pastries available. The six members of our group enjoyed Team Trivia, Bridge, golf, needlepoint, the magician's demonstration, and the fitness center especially. We only had two complaints about our Seabourn experience, both of which have been expressed to Seabourn. The first is the issue of smoking on the verandas. This was a problem for all of us in our group of six as smoke from a nearby cabin often prevented us from enjoying our verandas. We are aware that other luxury cruise lines have banned smoking on private verandas and we hope Seabourn will address this issue as well. The second problem was inadequate self-service laundry facilities. Four machines for 450 people for a cruise of this length and this distance from most homes was a problem. Many guests traveled before and after the cruise as well. Finding an empty machine was not easy. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise experience and we hope to be back on Seabourn in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This cruise was part of a 30 day extravaganza to celebrate a good friends 60th birthday as well as my 65th birthday and 40th anniversary. The core part of the trip was the cruise which was picked due to its itinerary and ... Read More
This cruise was part of a 30 day extravaganza to celebrate a good friends 60th birthday as well as my 65th birthday and 40th anniversary. The core part of the trip was the cruise which was picked due to its itinerary and "Solstice" style ship which meant we could travel "Aquaclass". First we had to get to Auckland from Boston. We decided to break the air flight into pieces and spent one night in LA and then 6 nights in Tahiti (Bora Bora was fantastic). This really made the flying reasonable and we would recommend this approach for all South Pacific cruises. Once we got to Auckland, everything went smoothly in getting on the ship. Our stateroom was 1610 which is on the "Hump". Again I think most readers would like the hump staterooms on this class of ship as they offer a larger balcony and give you some great view forward as the ship sails. We never had a wind problem. Now we have travel on Equinox and Eclipse and found them both lovely so the Solstice felt like being at home. It was immaculate with a familiar very workable layout. We particularly like Aquaclass and eating in "Bleu". It is like your own specialty restaurant without the cover charge (Although I guess you do pay slightly more for the overall cruise). The smaller dining room keeps the noie level down and the friendly service is always appreciated. No request is too small. The "Bleu" staff on the Solstice was outstanding. We did eat in Murano's two nights and the Asian Garden one night. Both offered good service and great food. It was a good variation to Bleu on such a long cruise. Entertainment was exceptional which I am beginning to believe is a Celebrity specialty. Again on almost a 3 week cruise never to have a duplicate entertainer or a bad experience is a credit to whoever puts the entertainment package together. The naturalist "Milos" was great. The cruise highlight were the two "Liars Club" shows. They were just hilarious. The itinerary was awesome. The two countries are very user friendly and the ports we visited we varied and beautiful. So we can highly recommend the itinerary, the cruise line and the "Solstice" class ships. Bora Bora was pretty special too but that's a different review. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
It has been close to a month since we embarked on our Crystal Symphony Holiday Cruise in Auckland, but the memories of it linger fondly. We thought we would share this review. For ease of reference, we have broken our review down by ... Read More
It has been close to a month since we embarked on our Crystal Symphony Holiday Cruise in Auckland, but the memories of it linger fondly. We thought we would share this review. For ease of reference, we have broken our review down by categories, more or less. 1. Embarkation: Embarkation was a breeze. From the moment we entered the shipyard it took less than three minutes to board the ship and registration under two minutes if that. Efficiently and quickly handled, we were on our way to the MDR for our traditional lunch of Cobb Salad and along the way we saw several familiar and welcoming faces. 2. Computer and Wi-Fi: The folks who staff the Computer University deserve a medal of valor. We were able to set up our iPads quickly to access the WiFi and though I had a bit of difficulty at first due to the demand for WiFi of all of the guests logging in at once, that soon resolved itself. Sadly, we saw several guests over the first week of the cruise who were terribly rude and disrespectful of the CU staff complaining endlessly about the WiFi connectivity and how much better it was on other ships and how it was not like being at home. To their credit the staff was consistently polite (far more than I would have been under like circumstances). Though Crystal makes numerous efforts in its materials to give guests a realistic set of expectations, some just don't get it and the rudeness was appalling. Through it all, though, the staff did their best and kept trying to please and offering suggestions. During the course of the cruise, connectivity was excellent for the most part in both common areas and in our stateroom on the 10th floor. 3. MDR, PREGO and SILK ROAD: The food was consistently excellent. Special ordered foods were prepared precisely as requested. Portion sizes were reasonable and we noted little waste of food or food left on plates at the end of the meal which is a great sign that the food was delicious and also of the desire to not waste food. The selection was always good. Service in the MDR was excellent (Kudos to Celso, Renjith, Hayley and our sommelier Kremena and her assistant Michaelangelo all of whom were top notch!) Service in Prego was outstanding as always and the food scrumptious. Service in Silk Road we found to be a bit intrusive at the wrong times and rushed, especially by the sommelier who looked like he was in a hurry to meet demand for his services. A special note about AI. We did not note any delay in sommelier service at our table for 8. Kremena was seemingly always there when a glass needed filling and extremely knowledgeable about the choice of wines being offered and other options. 4. SHOWS: We enjoyed the shows and especially noted that there was not a single repetition of shows during the cruise. Every night had different entertainment. We did find the decision to have some shows for late seating diners at 7 p.m. to be confusing and as a result missed a show designed by Marvin Hamlisch that we really wanted to see. That being said, the artists brought on board were wonderful and we enjoyed them thoroughly. Our only criticisum would be that we noted that members of the Crystal Ensemble of Singers and Dancers on a couple of occasions took seats in what we woulc consider prime locations in the Galaxy meaning that passengers had to find seats way along the perimeter of the showroom. The same held true on several nights in the Avenue Saloon where an entire side of the room was taken with Crystal Ensemble dancers and singers and passengers had no place to sit. As we soon learned, Mark Farris is one of the hottest tickets on the 7 seas and he could sure use a larger venue to perform but probably the intimacy of the Saloon is what makes him so great among other things like his sense of humor and his musical skills. Special kudos for the great DIVA show which was tops and excellent shows by Will Martin and by Boys in the Band. 5. MAGIC AT SEA: We recall the catty postings about the prospect of Magic at Sea before it launched that we read on these boards. Magic at Sea this time around with Andrew Goldenhersh was a GREAT experience. Andrew is a world class magician and the chance to see him in an intimate setting with 20 passengers was not to be missed. Apparently almost half of those on board concurred as his shows were full and standing room only on some instances we are told. There was nothing but class and quality in his act. Best of all, he involved willing passengers and each attendee was within a few feet of him as he performed complex effects with great finesse. Furthermore, the tickets we each received to use in the future to get access to the World Famous Magic Castle pribate club in Los Angeles were an added bonus. Being one of the hardest tickets in Los Angeles to get (you either have to be a member of the Academy of Magical Arts or know a member to get in the door), getting a free pass to get in at some time in the future was icing on the cake. We hope Crystal keeps this program going. 6. USC CINEMA SCHOOL IPAD IMOVIE CLASSES: Dave attended this class and loved it. The instructors Claudia and David from USC School of Cinema were wonderful, patient and helpful. Both spent extra time outside of the class time with Dave helping him learn how to use the iMovie program. The written materials and the hands on help which were provided were stellar. Dave intends to take the class again when he is next onboard to refine his knowledge of the program. Having two left hands when it comes to this type of technology, Dave really found the classes great and the instructors patient and easy to learn from for which he is grateful. 7. SPA AND GYM: We both had spa services and used Brian to train us privately in the gym. The spa was lovely though smaller than the Serenity. Brian was simply fantastic. He was encouraging, put us through quite a work out each time, and very positive. He is clearly knowledgeable about personal fitness and health and we cannot wait to be back on board to train with him again. Dave tried his first spinning class with Brian and found it to be very challenging. Brian was encouraging and Dave will definitely do it again thanks to Brian's kind words and feedback. 8. SMOKING: We spent less than 10 minutes in the entire cruise at the Crystal Cove. The smoke was overpowering. Similarly we found ourselves having to leave the Avenue Saloon a few times due to smoking. We realize that smoking in those venues is soon to be a thing of the past and are sure that the performers and workers in those venues cannot wait for that day to come on both ships. We did not note a lot of smokers on the Lido deck, but then again we did not go looking for them. We did note a fair amount of Crystal employees smoking at the fore of the ship and imagine a smoking ban might really impact them more than one might have thought. 9. FORMAL NIGHTS: Call us old fashioned but being in our late 50's--early 60's we do still enjoy formal nights. It is a hassle to bring all of the items required for formal dress but we are always glad we did so. We noted that folks looked very nice on those nights and even on informal nights too. We did not see more than one instance of what might be considered inappropriate attire in the MDR at dinner. We hope Crystal will maintain the Formal Nights on the cruises. 10. ALL INCLUSIVE: Being that we are not big drinkers, free and unlimited alcohol held no allure for us. That being said, we only noted one instance in the Avenue Saloon where a woman was sleeping with her head in her husband's lap during one of Mark's shows. We do not know if that was excess alcohol or fatigue but it struck us that if she was that sleepy, she should have gone up to her room. We also, as is our custom, provided gifts to some of the folks who served us for XMAS and extra gratuities especially for our butler, room stewardess, Senior Waiter, Head Waiter, Assistant Waiter, Lido and Gym personnel and a few other folks all of whom looked surprised to receive anything and were very appreciative. COnsistently during our cruise we noted smiling and happy faces among the crew. Not once did we encounter a rude or sour or unhappy crew member. 11. CONCIERGE SERVICES: We need to express our thanks publically to Gareth and Patrick at the concierge desk for their excellent assistance. They promptly and very skillfully handled multiple arrangements for us and kept us informed of their progress and confirmed everything in writing. They are the very best at what they do and very personable to boot. 12: SHORE EXCURSIONS: We enjoyed the shore excursions and only wished that perhaps a few more culinary excursions or cooking experiences could have been arranged. And we were sorry to have missed the chance to bike around Napier but did enjoy that Art Deco tour in the old Packard auto with Tony! 13. LIDO DECK: Having sailed on both Crystal ships we cannot help but compare our last cruise on the Serenity in March 2012 with this holiday cruise. The difference was most noticeable on the Lido Deck. On the Serenity (before they went AI), we were constantly asked by Lido crew if we wanted any food or drinks. We found on this cruise that we were asked about drinks from time to time, but outside of the late risers breakfast service, the solicitation of our food and beverage desires was more sporadic. It seemed like there were fewer crew on the Lido deck during lunch and afternoon than we were accustomed to. Still, the guys who approached us and helped us were wonderful and the burgers and ice cream can't be beat! 14. OUR PENTHOUSE: We've sailed both ships before and the highlight of the cruises starts when we are greeted by our dear butler IGOR BABICK who makes each sailing a special joy. He and Sheetal our stewardess made sure we had everything we needed and were charming to deal with. We cannot say enough about our cabin crew and how wonderful they are. The room is a bit smaller than on the Serenity and there is less drawer space, but when IGOR enters the room and greets us, the space is just right. 15. NEW YEARS EVE: Crystal outdid themselves for New Year's Eve. Yes second seating dinner was a bit harried, but the views and location of the catamaran near the Sydney Harbor Bridge was the best seat bar none and we were front and center. We will NEVER forget the wonders of 12/31/12 and ringing in the new year in Sydney Harbor. We doubt Crystal could ever top that excursion though we suspect that they will continue to try to do so in coming years. 16. REMI AND OUR DINING ROOM TABLEMATES: As always we asked for a late seating and a table of 8. Remi, ever the magician, put together an absolutely splendid table of dinner mates for us. We enjoyed every dinner together, periodically becoming so lost in the conversation and laughter that we practically were the last ones out of the MDR at night. We do not know how he does it, but it is a special skill. We had such a great time that we have all agreed to sail on the Northern Cape July 2014 voyage together and to request the same table and table mates again. We know we'll keep in touch with Mary, Fran, Lyn, Nancy, Cathy and Ernie and see them from time to time if our travels permit either here where we live or in their home towns and we can't wait. 17. COMPLAINTS: Aside from our observation about crew taking prime seats at some entertainment venues, we only have one other complaint and it is one which Crystal cannot do much about. As we expected, a holiday cruise has children on it and sadly, some of the children onboard had parents who were not attentive to their children's behaviors or chose to ignore it. Running up and down the hallways, playing in the elevator, trying to glide down the bannisters and running around on the dance floors was hardly appropriate conduct. We noted young children teetering on bar stools near the ice cream bar, picking through the cookies in the box there and putting cookies back that they had touched. We heard of children pushing doorbells late at night at certain staterooms. As noted above, sadly, some folks do not know how to behave and therefore do not teach their children about appropriate behavior on the ship. Again we do not fault Crystal for that and we did note several families with extremely well behaved children. Finally, as we have found to be consistently true, we ended our cruise longing to stay longer and realizing that we simply had to wait until our next cruise comes around (in a mere 130 or so days). We left the ship feeling so relaxed and having seen such marvelous places and sights, and having made some wonderful new friends and acquaintances and concluded, as we always do, that there is simply nothing better than a Crystal cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Setting foot on all seven continents was on our "bucket list" and only one continent remained to be conquered, Australia. So my husband and I booked passage on Oceania's "Coral Seas and Australian Adventures" - a ... Read More
Setting foot on all seven continents was on our "bucket list" and only one continent remained to be conquered, Australia. So my husband and I booked passage on Oceania's "Coral Seas and Australian Adventures" - a twenty-one day cruise to New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Australia aboard Oceania's Regatta. Getting There & Embarkation Our air arrangements were made by Oceania. We had a non-stop flight from San Francisco to Auckland on Air New Zealand. What can I say, twelve hours of cramped quarters, inedible food, and stale air. This of course is no fault of Oceania. Long-haul air travel for the serfs in economy class is usually miserable. We arrived in Auckland at 4:15 am. After clearing immigration and customs we were met by representatives of Oceania. Oceania had arranged to take us to the Pullman Hotel where a much-appreciated buffet breakfast awaited us. After breakfast we waited in the hotel's lobby until about 11:00 am, when we were bussed to Princes Wharf and our waiting vessel. The Regatta makes a beautiful first impression. She is much smaller than today's popular mega-ships. She actually looks like a ship and not like a top-heavy barge with a high-rise hotel grafted onto her. Regatta is graceful, gleaming white, and ready to take on the sea. Getting on board is another story. With only 684 passengers embarkation shouldn't be too difficult. Our cruise documents indicated that Oceania assigns staggered boarding times to avoid long lines. This was not the case. It seemed as though all the passengers arrived at once. We were herded like cattle from one long line to another. Stateroom We chose stateroom 6001, a standard veranda stateroom all the way forward. If you enjoy the pitch and roll of a ship at sea this stateroom will not disappoint. Stateroom 6001 is located directly above the Regatta Lounge so you can definitely hear the muffled drone of the band playing until about 10:30pm. The balcony looks down on the forecastle so you see the crew on deck every morning getting the ship ready to dock. You pretty much have the view the captain does two decks up. The stateroom was small, but comfortable with plenty of storage and a nice little sitting area with a loveseat, table, and vanity. The bed was marvelous, good support yet soft and comfy. The bathroom was the usual cruise ship facility, compact and efficient. Our stateroom stewardess did an excellent job of keeping our stateroom spotlessly clean and our refrigerator stocked with our favorite beverages. Dining Oceania has a well-earned reputation for excellent cuisine. Main Dining Room - The dining on the Regatta is open seating. There are no table assignments or assigned dining times. This was our first experience with open dining and we were both a little skeptical. We have always enjoyed getting to know our dinner companions. I guess we have been fortunate to have wonderful tablemates for all of our previous cruises. We like the opportunity to get to know people over the course of a cruise. We also like having the same waiter each evening. It's nice to have a waiter who knows what you like and how you like it prepared. After this cruise I may be sold on open dining. My husband is still on the fence. I appreciated the option to share a table when we wanted company or to have a quiet table for just the two of us. We got to know more of our fellow passengers than we would have had we dined each night with the same people. If we were running late from a shore excursion we could take time to recuperate and prepare for dinner without the pressure of a set dining time. The dinner menu in the main dining room is continental with a definite French accent. The food was well prepared and beautifully presented, but after about a week of fine dining I found myself craving a simple meal. The herb-roasted chicken on the every day menu was just what I needed. Order it with mashed potatoes and green beans and you have an uncomplicated and satisfying meal. On sea days we enjoyed leisurely breakfasts in the main dining room. I highly recommend the lamb chops for breakfast. Toscano - Toscano is one of two specialty restaurants. We ate in Toscano three times. All three meals were excellent. The experience begins with a basket of warm Italian breads, including grissini and facaccia. You are offered a selection of flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars for dipping. The Osso Bucco was fall-off-the-bone perfection served with a creamy and satisfying polenta. Polo Grill - My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy so the Polo Grill is right up his alley. Polo Grill serves up great steaks and chops. Dinner at Polo conjures up the atmosphere of the great supper clubs of the mid-twentieth century with its dark wood paneling, leather club chairs, and celebrity photos on the walls. You half expect the "Rat Pack" to walk in at any time. So if you are craving cool martinis, rare steaks, flavorful chops, Caesar salad prepared tableside, and great New York cheesecake, Polo Grill is a must. There are no surcharges for dining in the specialty restaurants, but reservations are required. You will be allowed a certain number of guaranteed reservations depending on your stateroom category. Waves - Waves is located on the pool deck and serves up hot dogs, hamburgers, gourmet sandwiches, and salads along with great crispy fries and creamy milk shakes. Waves is a great place for a quick lunch. Horizons - The window-lined Horizons Lounge is all the way forward on deck 10. Warm wood paneling, richly textured fabrics, small tables, comfy chairs, and tufted leather banquettes create a beautiful place to sit and watch the world go by. From early morning to 11:00 am cruisers will find fresh Danish, croissants and brioche along with coffee, juice, and a selection of teas. High Tea is served at 4:00 pm in this lounge and is not to be missed. There is something far too civilized about sitting in a beautiful room noshing on perfect little teacakes, savory tea sandwiches, and fresh scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, as you watch the sea roll by. All of this is set to music of a lovely string quartet. Terrace Cafe - This is the buffet restaurant on the regatta. The food and the service are good. The tables are a little too close together and often scarce. Fellow Passengers Without a doubt the passengers on the Regatta were the most well travelled, interesting and diverse group of travelling companions we have had the pleasure to sail with. The majority of passengers were in the 65 to 75 age range. There were only two children on board. Kudos to the parents. The youngsters were very well behaved. Oceania really doesn't cater to children. There are no programs for children, teen nightclub, or daycare. I understand Oceania is attempting to attract families on their Alaska cruises by offering activities for the younger set. Ports & Shore Excursions The Destination Services department onboard the Regatta did a very good job booking and coordinating shore excursions considering many of the places we visited were not quite ready to accommodate modern tourism. Tauranga, New Zealand - We booked the "Tauranga & Maori Culture" tour. This was a wonderful experience. The excursion began with a scenic drive to a Maori meetinghouse and community center. There was a beautiful performance by the community's dance troupe. Fortunately, this was a not a glitzy "dance for the tourists" event. The tour guides and dancers were all members of the Maori community and very eager to share their culture. I was struck by how personal and warm the tour was. This shore excursion gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for this rich and fascinating culture. Nuku'alofa, Tonga - The Kingdom of Tonga is working hard to develop its tourist industry. They are planning to build a cruise ship terminal. Currently, ships may dock at the freight terminal or tender in. The Regatta docked in the morning, but the conditions at the dock were so poor the ship moved and anchored in the bay. We chose the "Oholei Beach & Hina Cave" shore excursion. There were no air-conditioned tourist busses available at this port so we used school busses for the trip to Oholei Beach. Oholei Beach is an absolutely gorgeous white sand beach. The excursion included a traditional Tongan lunch and a dance performance in Hina Cave. I must admit that my palate didn't appreciate Tongan cuisine. I did enjoy the musical entertainment provided by the band both before and during lunch. The dance presentation was very good. Warning: In order to get to the beach and other facilities you must negotiate a very steep path and staircase. The facilities on this excursion were rustic to primitive. If you have mobility concerns this shore excursion may not be for you. Suva, Fiji - We enjoyed an excursion to the Pacific Cultural Center. The excursion begins with a scenic drive through the countryside, again, no air conditioning. The tour includes a dance and cultural performance including a demonstration by the Fijian Firewalkers. Noumea, New Caledonia - Noumea is a sophisticated pacific paradise with a French accent. We boarded the cute and very touristy "Yellow Tchou Tchou Train" for a two-hour tour of the city's highlights. This is a fun way to get your bearings and see all the major scenic attractions. The train will drop you in the center of the city where you can shop to your heart's content. Oceania provides a free shuttle to and from the city center and the ship all day long so it is very convenient to explore Noumea. Townsville, Australia - In Townsville we took the "Charters Towers Gold Rush" excursion. This is an all-day trip and the only excursion going through the outback. We had a great local guide who gave us interesting insights into Australia's past and present. The city of Charter Towers reminded me of the gold rush towns in the Sierra foothills of California. The architecture is well preserved and there is a charming 19th century frontier sensibility. After an enjoyable lunch in a local restaurant we went on to the Venus Battery gold mine. My husband took the tour of the battery and said it was very informative and a great look at the gold mining industry in Australia. Brisbane, Australia - Oceania provided a free shuttle from to and from the port and the city. Once we were in the city we discovered a great hop-on, hop-off bus. We toured the entire city for about $46 AUD. Brisbane was clean and friendly with many great places to shop and eat lunch. Entertainment The regatta is a small ship. The Regatta Lounge has a small stage area and minimal technical capabilities. The glitzy Broadway shows of the big ships simply can't be done in this venue. Frankly, I didn't miss the big production shows. The Regatta had a resident cast of four immensely enjoyable and versatile singer/dancers, as well as a first-rate string quartet, and an excellent pianist. Oceania also booked in variety acts for a night or two. If you enjoy entertainment on the more cerebral side, Oceania booked two lecturers on our cruise. Both of these gentlemen gave interesting and entertaining presentations. If entertainment for you is curling up with a good book, the Regatta provides a beautifully appointed and well-stocked library. My only complaint was that the chairs were so comfortable I kept falling asleep while reading. Disembarkation The Regatta sailed into Sydney Harbour at the crack of dawn. The Sydney Cruise passenger terminal is located near the Opera House and Ferry Terminal with a great view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Disembarkation was swift, efficient and well organized. This was our first cruise with Oceania and we hope it will not be our last. We prefer small ships with interesting itineraries and we enjoy the feel of being on a ship at sea. We appreciate great food, attentive service, and gracious manners. Our cruise on the Regatta gave us everything we had hoped for and more. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012

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