74 Cape Town Luxury Cruise Reviews

Where do I even begin to describe the best cruise we have been on? I guess, like everyone else, I need to start at the beginning. GETTING THERE Getting from Washington State to Cape Town, South Africa is a daunting task. We used ... Read More
Where do I even begin to describe the best cruise we have been on? I guess, like everyone else, I need to start at the beginning. GETTING THERE Getting from Washington State to Cape Town, South Africa is a daunting task. We used Regent Air (with a deviation so we could arrive a day early and select our own hotel). We flew British Airways Business Class from Vancouver to Heathrow. . .had a 5 hour layover and then on to Cape Town. Total air time (excludes layover) - 20 hours. We left on Wednesday and arrived on Friday. We enjoy the seats and service on British Air. The lounge in Heathrow is lovely - had enough time to shower, eat, drink and do emails. PRE-CRUISE We contacted a company that picked us up at the airport and transported us to the Peninsula Hotel. This is not your typical "Peninsula Hotel" - it is a 3 star, lovely hotel - not fancy or modern. The staff could not have been better. In the afternoon they set out wine and juice in the lobby. We took a shuttle bus into the main part of town where we noticed that the Voyager was already docked. Unfortunately, we had to wait until the next day to embark. We had a delicious fish dinner with a pint of local beer for a very reasonable price. The breakfast in the morning was local cuisine with wonderful fruit, omelet bar and the makings for a typical English breakfast (English bacon, beans, cooked tomato half and mushrooms). After breakfast, we were picked up for a 3-hour tour by the same driver we had the previous day. It would take a professional writer to describe this area - we were in awe of the beauty we encountered around every curve on this very scenic drive. We stopped to see the penguins. It was quite a sight to see penguins on a sandy beach in South Africa. Also saw baboons on the side of the road. Quick side story: In the outskirts of Cape Town, if you do not shut your house up completely, you will find that your home has been invaded by baboons. If a window is left open just a small amount, they send their babies in to retrieve the goods and pass them through the window. EMBARKATION Embarkation is almost always easy on Regent. We were on segment 4 of the Discovery Collection, so, there were not many people embarking. They used a small room for registration rather than the theater. After spending three minutes or so checking in, we headed up to La Veranda for a delicious lunch. Side note: There were quite a few crew members leaving on vacation at different ports on the Discovery Collection. Although we had been on the Voyager only 2 months earlier, a lot of the staff had changed. We saw some of the "old crew" departing as we were embarking. THE FOOD Dining in Compass Rose was always a wonderful experience. Upon recommendation of the Maitre 'D in La Veranda, we asked to be seated by Joey (a Head Waiter) and were seated in the section where Steven was server. I will write more about these people in the "Service" section. The soups were always hot, the food prepared as ordered and everything was delicious. No long story - just 6 star food on a 6 star ship. In the past, La Veranda had been hit and miss. One reason for this could simply be that the food is not prepared at the time you order it, but, rather is prepared in batches. Everyone has different tastes and I cannot say that you will love everything that is offered each day. I tended to take tiny portions of dishes I was unsure about (local dishes that I am not familiar with, for example). Inevitably I returned to get more (and more and more - but, that's another story). On this cruise, every time we had Signatures booked, we were unable to make it and had to cancel. So, there is no report on Signatures. Prime 7 had the only "hiccup" of the cruise. We booked Prime 7 for the first night we were on board. The staff had just changed, the Restaurant Manager had not arrived and things were not as they should be (with the exception of service). I relayed the story to someone with no expectation that she would follow-up with the Restaurant Manager, Luis Texeira Luis stopped by our table the next day in La Veranda and convinced us to give Prime 7 another try. The second time around, everything was total perfection. SERVICE The crew on board the Voyager during our cruise was perfect. The staff in the restaurants, the butler, the stewardess, bartenders. . .I could go on and on. Although the staff moves around through a rotation process which takes them on each of Regent's ships, you may be lucky enough to meet these exceptional people on one of your future cruises (and I apologize in advance for those whose names I cannot recall). Englebert Lanier Wartenberg, Hotel Manager. This is a man that cares deeply about both Regent and the guests on the ship. He is accessible and will do his best to insure that you have a wonderful cruise. Anthony Miller, Food and Beverage Manager. We had a lovely chat with Anthony and learned that he accompanied Captain Dag when he dove into the water to check out the fishing net that was entangled in Voyager's pod earlier this year. They spent an hour cutting the net off of the pod - unfortunately, water had seeped into the electronics. It was a very interesting story and he is a very lovely man. Luis Texeira, as mention above, Luis took immediate action when he learned of our experience in Prime 7. He seemed to be everywhere on the ship - one minute I would see him in La Veranda - then in Compass Rose and in Prime 7. He is aware of everything that is going on in all the dining venues. Luis will be on the Navigator this month to work with the team that will be opening Prime 7. I have no doubt that, under his guidance, it will be a success. Abigail, Maitre 'D of La Veranda. Abigail was on our cruise two months ago. In addition to being efficient and professional, she is one of the nicest people you could meet (and was the person who let Luis know about our experience in Prime 7) Joey, Head Waiter in Compass Rose and La Veranda in the morning (lunch too, as I recall). He makes certain that your dining experience is what you expect it to be. He is charming! Craig, Sommelier (formerly on the Paul Gauguin). We dine early and had the chance to speak with Craig on a few occasions. He is a "Master Sommelier" - there are very few Sommelier's with that designation. He knows his wine (and beer too:-) Steven, Waiter (want to call him Waiter Supreme). He always serves in Compass Rose in the evening. You may see him in La Veranda in the morning or at lunch. He goes where he is needed. We received impeccable service from Steven. He and my DH are from Britain and they had a nice time sharing stories. We are looking forward to seeing him again on the Navigator this spring. Francisco, Assistant Head Waiter, Compass Rose. I just had to add Francisco to the list. He has been with Regent (Radisson) since the beginning and recently received a much deserved promotion! Adriana (very misspelled - there is a "j" in her name somewhere) who serves wine in La Veranda. She is simply delightful. PORTS This was a South Atlantic crossing - not many ports which was a perfect opportunity to spend time on the ship. Cape Town - We signed up for a tour to an Ostrich Farm and wine tasting. This was an excellent tour (not one of the free ones, but, worth considerably more than what we paid). We had 6 tastings of lovely South African wine. At the farm we were able to sit on an ostrich and stroke his/her long neck. Note: We are animal lovers and do not feel the ostrich was hurt in any way. Namibia - We fell in love with both Namibia and Cape Town. The people in South Africa that we met are open, warm and giving of themselves. Our first tour was "Seal & Dolphins". In addition to seeing the seals, dolphins and flamingo's, a "snack" of oysters on the half shell and a tray of little canapE type dishes. They poured some sparkling wine and gave tastes of a local liquor. Outstanding! The "Township" tour touched our lives forever. It included seeing how hard these people have been working to better their lives. We saw the old "concentration camp" type facilities where they were housed and the new little homes with plumbing, water and electricity where they now live. They are so proud of what they have. The tour guide took us inside of his home which was quite a treat. A small buffet of local food was also prepared for us (quite good). Unfortunately, some people on the tour felt the excursion was "too realistic". Some would not get off the bus - most would not touch the food. I found this very sad. We visited a school and were touched by the children as well as the principal. If anyone is going to do this tour in the future, please bring an old laptop with you that is no longer needed -- the school has only one broken down computer. You can't ship them as it would never get to them. Just wish I knew in advance. St. Helena - The ship only stops for approximately 6 hours. The excursion on St. Helena was very good (and was one of the free ones). There are so few people on the island that it was a challenge to find enough vehicles to take us around the island. They used vans, a vintage car (well, not vintage - just very old), a school bus - just about anything with wheels. This was a wonderful port - glad that Regent stopped there (could have spent more time in the town). Rio - We took the tour that includes a train up to the "Christ the Redeemer" monument. It was lovely - the views spectacular. However, it was extremely sad to see the condition of the city. Graffiti in places that you would not think people could get to. . . . incredible traffic. . . . crime in this city would make anyone feel unsafe (cannot wear a watch as it is almost guaranteed to be taken. . . . women wearing necklaces or chains can have them pulled off of their necks). Some people will disagree with me about this city and they are free to do so. If you are with a tour group you will be safe. We will not be returning to Rio de Janeiro and hope they somehow get their city together in the next 6 years when they host the Olympics. ON THE SHIP This was a Spotlight on Food and Wine and Dance. There were many things to keep us occupied on the sea days (7 out of 14 days were sea days). We took Samba lessons, attended wine tastings, food demonstrations, attended "trivia" daily. . . . there was no way a person could have been bored on this cruise. With the perfect weather every day (except the last day in Rio), there were many people simply lying in the sun on the pool deck. DISEMBARKATION AND FLYING HOME Unfortunately, almost all flights out of Rio are at night and, as you know, you disembark in the morning. For guests with Regent Air, they set up a room in the Sofitel Hotel where we could leave our luggage. While not the most comfortable place (and they really should have provided bottled water), it was better than going to the airport. The rain was heavy - we ventured out to a small mall down the street and had lunch at a local restaurant next to the hotel (incredibly good Portuguese chicken and rice soup). The typically 1 hour drive to the airport took 3 hours as it was a Friday and a special weekend in Rio. The local Regent representative was in contact with the airport - they kept the doors to the plane open until we arrived - checked in - cleared passport control and got onto to the flight. The one thing I was not looking forward to on this trip was flying United Airlines (three flights to get home). United's service ratings have been amongst the lowest of all U.S. carriers. We found the service to be very good, some of the food excellent and were very pleased and surprised. The Business Class seats were the old type (not even semi-flat) and have not been upgraded on the 777 aircrafts as yet. We would fly United again (on the planes that have been upgraded). CONCLUSION We obviously have nothing but positive things to say about this cruise. Our only question is what to book next (in addition to our Alaska cruise in May 2010). The prices for 2010/2011 are quite high, perhaps due to the included excursions. This was our first taste of included excursions. While they are well organized and enjoyable, it appears that this "benefit" is raising the prices a bit too much. Between "free" airfare and "free" excursions, Regent is pricing itself above it's competition and out of the reach of many passengers. We continue to look at itineraries on Silversea and Seabourn. . . . however, at the end of the day, there is no place like home -- on the Voyager. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
The following is a day by day review of the Silversea Silver Wind cruise January 23 to February 2, 2010, Cape Town to Cape Town, South Africa. January 23 We are in Cape Town, South Africa and will board Silversea Silver Wind for a 10 ... Read More
The following is a day by day review of the Silversea Silver Wind cruise January 23 to February 2, 2010, Cape Town to Cape Town, South Africa. January 23 We are in Cape Town, South Africa and will board Silversea Silver Wind for a 10 day cruise Cape Town to Cape Town visiting East London, Maputo, Richards Bay (overnight), Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Mossel Bay. Silversea is doing 3 of these trips and we are taking the one in the middle, with another leaving Feb. 2. Some background: We've sailed Silversea Silver Wind before and were thrilled when we saw this itinerary because we have always wanted to see South Africa. We flew from Dulles airport January 18 on KLM business to Amsterdam, then transferred non-stop to Cape Town. The total travel time was 21 hours - long, but uneventful. The plane arrived at 11 pm January 19, and the driver arranged by our hotel was waiting for us and took us the 20 minutes to our hotel, the Cape Royale in Cape Town. A word about the Cape Royale: We had researched hotels in Cape Town since booking the cruise (we're cruise only) and had considered the Cape Grace, Table Bay, One and Only and Mount Nelson. However, the Cape Royale is one year old and has recently become a member of Preferred Hotels. It had great reviews on Trip Advisor and a package was available, so we booked. The package included return transfer from the airport/ship, spa, full breakfast and a two bedroom, two bathroom suite. The room is about 1,100 square feet, has a large living room with flat screen tv , a dining area, two bedrooms, two full baths and a full kitchen with granite counters, Siemens appliances including a washer and dryer. There also is a large balcony with views of the stadium and waterfront. Other rooms face Table Mountain. There is a pool bar on the 9th floor which has 360 degree beautiful views of Cape Town. The hotel is located in Green Point, within walking distance of the waterfront, and directly across from the new stadium being built for the World Cup Soccer in Cape Town this year. The location is great and there are restaurants within the hotel - a steak house and a sushi house, and a good Italian restaurant with excellent pizza next door. Also, the waterfront restaurants are easily accessible and have wonderful food and views. The best part of staying here is that the hotel provides a car (Jaguar) and driver, who will take you anywhere within a 5 km radius within Cape Town, on call at all times. We found this very convenient to get us wherever we wanted to go in the city and back and eliminated the need to take taxis. Even though the hotel is not directly in the waterfront, we found it nice to be away from the bustle over there at night. This morning when we woke up, we stepped out on the balcony and saw the Silver Wind docked in the harbor waiting for us. We would definitely stay here again. Our first day in Cape Town, we slept late and had breakfast. We then had the car and driver take us to the waterfront, where we spent time shopping in Victoria Wharf. We enjoyed the Red Shed Craft market and other stores and saw the Aquarium. The waterfront is lovely with many great restaurants and stunning views of Table Mountain. We the called the hotel car and were driven over to the Green Market Square. This is a market square with stalls selling all kinds of crafts and souvenirs, directly in front of City Hall. After the market, we walked along Long Street, stopping into shops and enjoying the architecture of the city. We then called the car and returned to the hotel. We had a lovely dinner in 1800 degrees, the steak house in the hotel and were happy to get to bed to catch up from a bit of jet lag. The next day we had booked a private tour from Hylton Ross of the Cape and the winelands. Our tour guide Deon arrived promptly in a comfortable van and we left for the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. We cannot say enough about Deon. He actually trains tour guides for the company and is exceptional in his knowledge and entertaining stories of Cape Town, South African history and the sites. We drove the entire Cape road, including Chapman's Peak, saw the 12 Apostles, Hout Bay, the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point, Simon's Town and the African penguins and drove through Table Mountain Park. We saw baboons, ostrich, bok, and penguins on the trip as well as fascinating scenery, entertained by Deon's commentary. We then drove to Stellenbosch, in the winelands and spent the afternoon walking the town, having a lovely lunch, and tastings. Deon took us back to our hotel after a very full day, worth every second. We had salad and pizza at Bravo the restaurant next to the hotel and turned in early. Yesterday we visited Robben Island, the site where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 29 years. It is a very popular tourist site now, so it is necessary to book tickets beforehand - sometimes up to 2 weeks during busy times. The tour begins next to the clock tower in the waterfront and takes about 3-1/2 hours. We took the ferry for the 20 minute trip to the island where buses met us for a drive around the island with a guide who gave commentary on our sites. We then left the bus and were taken on a tour of the prison by a former political prisoner. It was a fascinating tour of a piece of the history of South Africa. We then spent some time at the waterfront, had late lunch at Den Anker and did some more shopping. Today we will visit a few sites and then board the Silversea Silver Wind about 2. Sunday January 24 At Sea Yesterday, after breakfast and some shopping in the city center we took the hotel car to the cruise terminal at 1:30PM. The Silver Wind looked lovely in the harbor. We walked into the small terminal and were the only passengers there. We were greeted by a medical technician who asked us to fill out a survey on our health in the past days, and, after we handed it in, she took our temperature. When she saw it was normal, she said "Welcome aboard please proceed to check in." We turned in our passports, got our keys and walked onto the ship. Our cabin was ready and our Butler Anita was waiting at the door to welcome us. It was wonderful to be back on board. The Silver Wind has gone through refurbishment since our last cruise and she looks great. The cabin was spotless and the bathroom beautiful with the new wood and granite. A bottle of Dom Perignon, a gift from AMEX Platinum was waiting on ice. Anita took our orders for our room bar and other requests. We went up to lunch in La Terraza. We recognized Faye and Rudolpho from our last cruise and it was nice to see them and chat. After lunch we unpacked and explored the changes in the ship, including the beautiful new forward observation lounge. I also set up our internet account and so far the internet has been very quick. The Captain is Michele Macarone Palmieri, CD is Jimmy, Matire' D is Jorge and Hotel Manager is Roberto. We did our lifeboat safety drill at 5 pm and then went back to the room to watch the video of the first port lecture on East London. The sailway from Cape Town was spectacular with the sun shining brightly, Table Mountain in the background and the rest of South Africa ahead of us. Jimmy introduced his staff, and said that the majority of passengers are from England, with a handful of Americans, Canadians and Australians aboard. Fellow passengers have been friendly and interesting so far. The majority of passengers have not sailed with Silversea before. Dinner in the main dining room was excellent. We had foie gras terrine, prawns and a wonderful chicken stuffed with spinach, foie gras and cheese. It was excellent. We drank a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc which was lovely. After dinner, we walked around the deck and retired at 10. Seas were a little high for about an hour, then settled in. The weather is great. The last cruise, which did the same itinerary, had lots of rain and actually skipped Mossel Bay due to high seas and inability to tender. We are all hoping for better seas and weather throughout the trip, and so far, no problems. This morning we had breakfast in La Terraza and attended an interesting lecture by Malcolm Ainscough on Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, entitled "From Darling to Despot: Africa's Most Spectacular Failure." It was well attended and we are looking forward to more talks from him. I'm writing this as DH is at a French language class. Then we're off to lunch and ballroom dancing. Tonight is formal night with the Captain's welcome reception. The show tonight is "Broadway Rocks" with the Silver Wind singers and dancers. January 25 East London, South Africa The Captain's Welcome reception last night was well attended with most everyone in formal dress. Dinner once again was excellent, with lobster and filet among the offerings. It was smooth sailing into port this morning at 8 am at East London, South Africa. Weather is a bit overcast, but warm, with a shower predicted this afternoon. East London is known as the Buffalo City because it lies on the Buffalo River. It is South Africa's only river port city and has one of the most attractive stretches of the Eastern Cape Seaboard. Its white beaches are famous for surfing competitions. The natural history museum is home to the only dodo egg in existence and an exhibit of the coelacanth. Tours today include the Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve, a city orientation, and Khaya La Banthu - Life of the Xhosa. We will take the third excursion, which leaves at 1 pm. This gives us time to relax this morning. The ship's arrival was greeted by a group of Xhosa ladies singing and dancing in native costumes, and blowing whistles and horns. Also along the pier were stalls with local goods such as beaded necklaces, wood carvings, bowls and other souvenirs for sale. The ship is running a shuttle service into a mall in the city if guests choose not to take a tour. Later: Back now from our afternoon excursion to Khaya La Banthu. This was one of the best excursions we have taken. Upon arrival at the village after a 40 minute drive, we were greeted by 91 year old Mama Tofu, who greeted us on behalf of the Xhose people of her village. There was a chorus of women, men and children who greeted us with song. We then walked across a small red carpet into the village serenaded by the chorus. We were seated on benches in one of the huts made of sticks, reeds and thatched roof. Mama Tofu addressed us on the culture of the Xhose and traditions. We then were separated, men from women and taken to separate places to learn of the traditions in raising the boys and girls to adulthood. The men went to a kraal, which is the "bank" of the Xhose man, because it contains his cattle and other important animals. The women were taken to the kitchen to watch corn being ground, and a meal being prepared in huge cast iron pots over a fire. The bread being made in one of the pots was spectacular. We had an interesting discussion on the traditions of the village and then went to another hut to join the entire group in eating the meal prepared for us. It was delicious. We had more entertainment, and were invited to join in the dancing with the children of the village. Upon leaving, we had an opportunity to shop for some of the hand made crafts available from their creators. Beaded items are the specialty of the Xhose and there were many purses, necklaces and bracelets available. We then drove the 40 minutes through East London, back to the ship. We arrived too late to join our trivia team, but relaxed and had a drink in the bar with new friends from England and California, before we all went to dinner. Snapper or prime rib were enjoyed at the table this evening, along with great conversation. An enjoyable evening. Tuesday, January 26, 2010 At Sea We are at sea about 4 miles off the coast of South Africa, having just passed Durban on our way to Maputo, Mozambique, tomorrow's port. The Indian Ocean is calm and warm at 25 degrees C. It also is rather shallow, being only about 150 feet deep at this point. The outside temperature is a sunny 29 degrees. Beautiful day at sea. Today's lecture by Malcolm Ainscough was "The Creation of De Beers Diamonds and how it shaped Central and Southern Africa," an extremely interesting discussion of the influence of Cecil Rhodes on the formation of South Africa and the consequences of his actions. Galley lunch was served in the restaurant at noon. The chef, Laurent, outdid himself in the food and presentation of all items. The dessert buffet was wonderful. Tonight's entertainment will be "Fiesta Latina" with the Silver Wind Singers and Dancers. Wednesday, January 27 Maputo, Mozambique We spent yesterday afternoon relaxing, attending trivia (our team tied for first place) and had dinner in our cabin, enjoying the Dom Perignon we had gotten as a gift. Watched a movie and went to bed early. We awoke to our dock in Maputo and opened the curtains to find rain absolutely pouring down. Torrential actually, and we have been told the roads are flooded and it is difficult for anyone to get to the ship. Water in the streets is waist high in some placed. Originally there were three excursions for today: a city orientation, a taste of Maputo which is a lunch in the wild, and art of Maputo which is for 15 people and visits one of the local artists famous in Mozambique. The taste of Maputo and the art tour have been cancelled. Malcolm gave a lovely talk on safari travel in Africa with wonderful photos to fill the time this morning. The city orientation now is on for 1:00 rather than the morning. The ship is running a shuttle to town and we have opted to do that and explore a bit on our own. We have been warned, however, to be very careful, not conspicuous, and not take any valuables ashore. This is just good advice for wherever one travels. There is a Visa charge of $23 per person to disembark in Mozambique, which the ship has charged to ship accounts. There also has been a bit of controversy because Silversea sent out a letter a few months ago that all passengers on this sailing MUST have Yellow Fever Vaccine or would be denied boarding. We had our shots. Then, some passengers called the cruise line and were told they did not need the vaccine. Then, their documents arrived (quite late - just a week before sailing) with a letter saying they must have the Vaccine. There understandably has been a lot of confusions and concern over the shot, the cost of the shot, potential side effects for older people and the communication regarding this requirement. When we checked in, I mentioned that we had our Yellow Fever documents and was told we did not need them for this trip. So, the shot is good for 10 years and perhaps we will need it on other travels. But we didn't need it to board for this cruise. We took the shuttle bus to town. The original destination for drop off was the Paloma area. However, the vendor changed the location, and we were taken to the Maputo Mall. After getting off and walking around for 15 minutes, we decided there was nothing there. The city is a typical third world city and in need of serious investment to bring it back to being ready for tourism. Unfortunately, our time here is too short to actually explore the rest of the country. There are many run down buildings in need of repair, including what was a beautiful train station. The shuttle guide offered to take us on a tour of the Central Market on the way back to the ship, but her supervisor told her she could not and we returned directly back to the Silver Wind. We could not explore on our own, because we are not allowed to walk back into the port and must be on a shuttle. Also, it is illegal to take photos of any government buildings here. The city orientation excursion is still out, so we will see what those passengers have to say upon their return. But suffice it to say, this is not our favorite port. Tonight is formal night and it is Venetian Society cocktail party. We have been invited to have dinner with Rachel, the HR Manager and we anticipate a very pleasant evening. On the menu are rack of lamb, Veal Shank and Coquilles Sant Jacques. Tonight's entertainment is "Strike Up The Band" by Gary Guthman. Thursday and Friday Jan 28 and 29th, Richards Bay It was a little rocky last night, but not bad. However, the Captain later told us that the port of Richard's Bay was closed until just before we arrived, due to high winds and waves. Just about 8 am a helicopter hovered over the ship and dropped down the pilot and asst. pilot on lines to the 9th deck. They guided us into port. We will overnight tonight in Richards Bay. Some passengers will disembark at noon for an overnight trip to Phinda Game Reserve. Others will visit Zululand, the Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park or Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve. The Hluhluwe Reserve covers 96,000 hectares and has hilly topography. It is home to 1,600 white rhino and 370 black rhino as well as the Big Five. It is world renowned for its white rhino conservation. St. Lucia Wetlands Park was declared South Africa's first Natural World Heritage Site. It has 280 km of coastline and 328,000 hectares. The protected area is home to a large population of hippopotamus and 1,000 crocodiles. We visited St Lucia on the afternoon tour and, despite rainy weather, enjoyed sightings of many pods of hippos, a kudu, and crocodile. In addition, many species of birds and leatherback turtles. It was a very nice excursion. We returned back to the ship and ordered room service and watched a movie. We woke up Friday at 4 am in order to be on time for our 5:30 am Hluhluwe Game Reserve Drive. We had room service breakfast which was great, and headed for the bus. There were a lot of hardy souls ready for the early morning drive of about 1 hour to the Reserve. We then transferred into vehicles which held about 10 people (but we had less) and took off with cameras at the ready. It was overcast with no rain, but the ground was wet from heavy rains. The temperature was perfect for viewing. We were told that last cruise the temperature had been 40 degrees C and was very difficult to see game. We were rewarded with close encounters with elephants, giraffes, zebras, nyala, spotted hyena, water buffalo, the famous white rhino, gnus, impala, warthog and loads of birds, including yellow weavers and stork. The lions, although present in the park, were not out during our drive. But, we had a great time and took lots of great photos. We returned back to the ship and took a nap for an hour. Our team tied for first in trivia. We were scheduled to have the deck Barbeque and Variety show under the moonlight. However, due to possible rain, it was cancelled. We enjoyed drinks in the bar with some new friends. The Barbeque food was moved to La Terraza, and we had a great casual dinner up there before returning to our room. Saturday January 30 Durban, South Africa The seas were high last night but we arrived on time in Durban at 8 am. Durban is the third most populous city in the country and the busiest port in Africa. It has a subtropical climate and beautiful beaches. It is situated in the KwaZulu-Natal area and was first mentioned by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama who landed here on Christmas in 1497. The tours today were a City Tour of Durban, Tala Private Game Reserve or the Valley of a Thousand Hills. We took the latter tour. It was a one hour drive through Durban out to the Thousand Hills area which is a beautiful setting in Zulu territory, and included a visit with the Zulu people and their culture. The landscape goes for miles and is indeed made up of a Thousand Hills. The weather again was overcast and a bit cool. The scenery and information on Durban and its changes since 1995 was interesting. We arrived at Phezulu which is an opportunity to see ethnic customs, song and dance by the Gasa clan. It also was possible to visit the traditional beehive huts and visit the reptile center which contained many crocodiles and snakes. While the visit and dancing were fine, it, in our opinion, was amateurish and touristy, not the best creation of Zulu culture available and not our favorite excursion. The visit to the huts was cut because there were too many of us on the tour, according to the guide. I would recommend the Xhose village tour I discussed earlier out of East London, rather than this one. We arrived back at the ship at 1 pm and the pilot took the ship out at 2 pm. Malcolm gave another talk today entitled "Apartheid-Democracy-Forgiveness: The Enduring Inspiration of Africa's Most Spectacular Success." Now we're off to trivia. Tonight is formal night and the Captain's Farewell cocktail party. Two comments on this cruise: We've sailed on the Wind before and are really enjoying it this time. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful. Service overall has been excellent. We have used room service a number of times and have never seen it better on any cruise ship. Everything has been served promptly and to order. Dinner has been served course by course and beautifully. This cruise, since leaving Maputo, has been very port intensive with no sea days. Excursions have been long and some early and some arriving back late. They have been great, but it also is tiring and has led us to take advantage of our own time in the suite rather than attend all the evening entertainment. So I apologize for not giving more details on that. Sunday January 31 Port Elizabeth We arrived in Port Elizabeth at 2 pm today and the ship sailed at 7 pm. This morning we did some laundry (3 washers and dryers on the ship), had breakfast in the restaurant and played trivia with our team. We came in first again! DH played golf putting, we had a light lunch at the pool grill and got ready for our excursion. We chose the Addo Elephant Park excursion. It is a sanctuary of more than 450 elephants. The Addo elephants are smaller than the elephants of central Africa but do not belong to a subspecies. Only the bulls have tusks, and they are fairly short. They were almost hunted to extinction early in the last century, but the creation of the conservation area has helped their numbers return. The Park is located 70 km north of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. It is 370,000 hectares in size and one of the largest safari areas in South Africa. Other animals such as the Cape buffalo, lion, black rhino, eland, hartebeest, zebra, kudu, velvet monkey and mongoose are also in the park. Birds such as the Knysna Loerie and eagles are present. The drive was wonderful. As we turned a corner on the trail, we approached a lake bed where a bull elephant stood alone, taking water. In a moment, over the rise came a group of about 15 females and babies. They greeted the male and all soon were bathing, drinking and socializing. The head female rubbed heads with the male and trunks were intertwined. After 10 minutes, about 10 more elephants came down the path, and there soon was a huge group, all within about 15 feet of our vehicle. They were gorgeous creatures and the babies were adorable. There also were a large number of warthogs with tiny babies, Cape Buffalo, kudu, red hartebeest, leopard tortoises, rhinos and zebra. The drive was about two hours and we all agreed it was definitely worthwhile. The only part of the trip that bothered us was the driver of the tour bus who, on a road full of potholes, drove more than 100 km an hour to get back to port on time. He also was on the cell phone talking a lot, which we disliked. Port Elizabeth itself was very quiet because it was Sunday. It had a long tradition of auto manufacturing going back to the 1920s. We were told not to walk in the city center. We arrived back at the ship about 6:30, quickly changed, and had drinks in the bar. We dined in the restaurant and had roast duck and chateaubriand. By the way, we asked for a table in Rudolfo's area every night. He was an excellent waiter this cruise and on our prior Silversea cruise . Monday, February 1, Mossel Bay It was a rocky, rocky night last night and many guests were not feeling well. We were fine, and up early for our last port day in Mossel Bay. The ship skipped this port on the prior cruise with the same itinerary, due to high winds and waves. Well, the winds were still here, but it was sunny and the waves moderate. It is a tender port and so the decision to go for it depended on the ability to launch and return the tenders. The Captain decided it was doable and we gathered for our excursion in the Parisian Lounge at 8 am. It took longer than normal to load the tenders as the waves were a bit high (actually water was coming above the loading platform). But it was not too rocky in the tenders and we made shore easily. What a lovely area Mossel Bay is. It is probably the most picturesque next to Cape Town of all the ports. It is a harbor along the world famous Garden Route and a popular holiday town. It is blessed with a mild climate year round and is an international docking area. The town was developed as an export harbor for wool, ochre and ostrich feathers. The area right around the harbor has some lovely restaurants and a wonderful local craft building. Among the excursions today were trips to the Kongo caves and an ostrich farm, and a game drive at Botlierskopf. Some of the crew were looking forward to doing shark cage diving! We chose Botlierskopf private game reserve (not a national park like Addo or HluHluwe) for one last try at the animals. It was about 30 minutes from the port and was a gorgeous setting which has a lovely restaurant and tented accommodations where visitors can stay overnight. We loaded into vehicles which held about 20 passengers. This was the most passengers per vehicle of any of the drives. It was a 2-1/2 hour game drive. We were rewarded with seeing 3 lions, 3 elephants, many warthogs, eland, black and brown antelope, buntebok, giraffe and zebra. It should be noted that the owners of this game reserve had rescued some of the game like the lions and elephants. One surprise was that they thought they were rescuing a male and female elephant and a few months later, she gave birth to the baby, so there were three. It is important to note that if you go on this excursion, it is off road on very bumpy tracks. It is extremely steeply pitched and at times at dizzying heights, so if you have a bad back or neck or are afraid of heights, this might not be the one for you. We were provided a lovely lunch of Koroo lamb and all the trimmings, along with local South African wines in the beautiful dining room of the reserve. The interior is lovely and made from all natural stone and wood with thatched roof. Our drive to the ship along the coast was very nice. We arrived at the tender at 2:30 and got in. Well, the waves by that time had risen and the wind picked up. The Silver Wind was listing visibly from side to side. The tender crew attempted to make the landing platform 4 times before we finally were able to reach it. About 6 men passengers got off and then the waves hit the tender, flooding it and the platform. The tender had to move away. We then waited for the ship to actually change its position to try to make landing easier. The crew did an excellent job and really took personal risk to help us try to make it. At about 3:40 we finally were able to make the platform and among rising and falling tender, flooded platform and the with the great help of the crew, got aboard the ship. There was a last tender leaving at 3:30 from shore and they also did make it. However, Mossel Bay once again proved to be a tricky port to visit for the Silver Wind. Final trivia was at 4:45, so we changed our wet clothing and shoes and made our way to the Bar for the final competition. Jimmy gave us 30 questions this time, and our team came in second. However, we were first place overall on the cruise for trivia. We went up and exchanged our points for a nice travel clock. Then, it was time to pack. We got most of our things together, had a quick dinner and went right to bed. Tuesday, February 2 Cape Town This was the rockiest night at sea yet. The ship arrived at Cape Town at about 6 and waited for the pilot to take us into port. We had room service breakfast, served beautifully once again by our Butler Anita, and watched the sail-in to one of the most beautiful port cities in the world. At 8 am we left the suite and waited in the lobby until we disembarked with no problem at 8:30am. Overall this was an outstanding cruise. Some things we would change are very small things: 1.add better programming on the tv and movies - more channels and less looping of Fox and the same movies over and over. 2. A bit more accurate information on the ports and shore excursions, and 3. for breakfast, better eggs. For some reason, the eggs were often either cold or totally overcooked. We'd also eliminate Maputo as a port. Our return to the Silver Wind was an extremely pleasant one. We have to say the food was excellent for the most part, the crew some of the friendliest and attentive we have met, and the majority of ports very interesting. Addendum: Our driver and car were waiting to take us to an area about 3 hours north of Cape Town in the Cederberg Mountains. It is near Clanwilliam, SA, and the place we are staying at right now is Bushmans Kloof Game Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat. It is a member of Relais and Chateaux group and in 2009 was named the Best Hotel in the World by Travel and Leisure Magazine. The private car and driver are part of the package the resort is offering. The drive to the resort is absolutely breathtaking through eye popping limestone rock formations reminiscent of Utah or Colorado. The Reserve itself is 16,000 acres and the resort accommodates 32 guests in individual houses and suites. Upon arrival each guest is assigned a guide, who will conduct game drives, sunset drives to spots for sundowners before dinner, assist with fly fishing and conduct drives to the caves on the property which contain primitive bushman cave paintings. The guides are incredibly well versed in the archaeology, flora and fauna and culture of the San bushman who inhabited this area. There also are talks on astronomy and star-gazing lectures at night. There is also a small museum with curator on the grounds. It is an astounding place of beauty and nature. We are in the Patterson suite, which consists of a large living room, huge bathroom with copper tub and separate shower, large bedroom, separate lanai off the bedroom, and a huge verandah overloading the mountings, river and lily ponds. We enjoyed a braai or barbeque out on a ledge in the mountains with incredible views. The resort is all inclusive with the exception of liquor and has a full service spa. We are winding down here nicely for a few days after our great cruise on Silversea and before our return to Cape Town and home. We certainly will sail SilverSea again and hope to return to see more of Africa. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
As this was our first experience of cruising we have nothing to compare it with. We could only go by the descriptions given be Silversea and some reviews we had read. It was promised to be a 5 if not 6 star cruise, we are well travelled ... Read More
As this was our first experience of cruising we have nothing to compare it with. We could only go by the descriptions given be Silversea and some reviews we had read. It was promised to be a 5 if not 6 star cruise, we are well travelled and do have very high expectations and these were not met.I would say it was more like 4 star. We found the food bland and a little boring, with nothing local on the menu. The wine was very mediocre, although there was plenty of choice it was not high quality, even the Champagne had been changed to a cheaper one, which was not a good one. It was evident that a lot of cost cutting had been done. We spoke to lots of people who had been with Silversea before and they commented that they found a difference in the food and wine quality. Also that the cabin staff was now all (almost) Philippino. The service in the cabin was very poor, the butlers did not seem to understand our requests for replenishment of drinks, toiletries etc. Lots of the passengers were unhappy, in fact we met many that left the cruise early because they were so disappointed with it, also some of them were ill with food poisoning. We spoke to eight people who suffered from this and there were lots more. The Gym was closed for half of our cruise and the Observation lounge had a problem with the Air Con and did not smell very nice. The water in our bath came out of the taps a nasty brown colour so we did not use the bath and cleaned our teeth with bottled water. I would not cruise with them again, maybe our standards are too high. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
As previous Silversea cruisers, we were very excited to be joining the Silver Wind on February 2nd out of Cape Town after our private 10 day safari in Namibia and short stay in at a great new modern boutique hotel-- Harbour Bridge Hotel ... Read More
As previous Silversea cruisers, we were very excited to be joining the Silver Wind on February 2nd out of Cape Town after our private 10 day safari in Namibia and short stay in at a great new modern boutique hotel-- Harbour Bridge Hotel and Suites in Cape Town. Try and visit Namibia before it changes. Namibia has some of the most diverse landscapes in Africa. Dunes 1000 feet tall, game parks, dramatic coastlines, shipwrecks, etc.. . Plus try and save your money to do a private safari. There is nothing like the feeling of telling your guide, that you need a few more perfect shots of that rhino in Etosha game park and not worry about offending someone else in your group. Well maybe, my husband got a little tired of my 2000-3000 pictures taken in the month we were in Africa. ----And our guide called me, Mrs.Spielberg on the next to last day of our trip. What the heck! Doesn't everyone carry 5 cameras/camcorders? We took a great all day excursion with Rob of the Cape Convoys Tours in Cape Town, plus the next morning he took me at no charge (my dear husband slept in) with others up to get the cable car up Table Mountain. We hadn't been able to go there because of the clouds, which covered Table Mountain for about 10 days. After we came down, the line to get up the mountain was 3 hours long. Well enough about the pre-cruise experiences, we got on the Wind and were shown our suite along with our room attendant and butler (female). Believe it or not, our butler got seasick---thought that was cute, plus she was new and it showed with service issues. Things happen. Did that dampen our cruise--heck, no. Never had a bad cruise, just some better, than others. I wish I cared about drinking more, but alas I told the butler to load the refrigerator with fruit juices. You can have anything within reason ie. Grey Goose, champagne, Scotch, wines, etc. all okay. The food was good, but not as memorable as our last Silversea cruise on the Shadow. The size of the Wind is great with just under 300 passengers. We lost one port due to high winds and waves, but since it was our last one before the disembarking port, that was okay. No one wants to tender in 12 ft seas, besides we had a great "dolphin safari" after we left the port area. Would we go on another Silversea cruise---sure, but only if it is discounted and has a really interesting itinerary. If you would like to see some photos from the trip, please free free to email me ---shesurfs@comcast.net. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Embarkation in Cape Town: Brilliant! Booking at the International Convention Centre was so easy and so fast, easily the best embarkation we have yet experienced. Our Balcony Cabin: We were right down the stern, and it ... Read More
Embarkation in Cape Town: Brilliant! Booking at the International Convention Centre was so easy and so fast, easily the best embarkation we have yet experienced. Our Balcony Cabin: We were right down the stern, and it felt like we were also right over the propellers! We slept badly the first two nights until we got used to the "thud thud thud" and the rattling of items in the room from the vibration. Otherwise, the room was quite nice. Our cabin steward was great, an experienced Cunard staff. The room was kept very clean, regularly completely refreshed: absolutely no complaints whatsoever. Brittania Restaurant: Disapointing, on the whole. No where near the menu choice or varied range we have previously experienced, and really seemed to cater to perhaps the English taste? Mostly less expensive meals - eg: Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, pies, rather stodgy food, not the light flavourful meals we usually prefer and one can usually get on other ships. Service at night was great, again because we had a very experienced waiter. At breakfast and lunch, though, much less so - one really had the impression that at good percentage of the staff only made the effort when they thought there might be tips at the end of it: hence the more lackluster efforts at breakfast and lunch. We were also regularly "hurried" away from tables. Kings Court: On this voyage, some of the Aussies dubbed this "the Coles Cafeteria", and I have to say that pretty well sums it up. This would have to be the WORST buffet experience we have ever had on any cruise. Long queues for a very small range of very uninspiring dishes. Then, there was the business of parts of the buffet becoming a-la-carte at night and charging $10 a head. What the???! It really seemed like Cunard either wanted to funnel people into the Brittania dining room or paying the extra charges, as no one could possibly call the evening buffet a desirable alternative choice. I honestly couldn't believe what a poor standard this was. WHY were we paying so much more for so much less??! Decor: At first I was inclined to find the decor rather oppressive and uninspiring, but then became interested in the history tour around the ship, which was excellent. The public rooms were reasonably comfortable, although some venues definitely didn't have enough tables to cater for demand: Pub Lunch at the Kings Lion was the obvious one, it wasn't worth trying to go until 1.30 because of the crowds. Entertainment: Loved the Planetarium, and its popularity was indicative of how good it is. HOWEVER: the practice of staff just dumping the tickets at 9 am on a counter and walking away is REALLY bad. People queue there for ages, and then don't end up getting a ticket, mainly because people at the beginning of the queue will take up to 6 or 8 tickets each for all their friends.I met one lady who had queued for 3 days running before actually getting a ticket. The movies: Well, I thought some of the choices were not good choices, especially for older folks. THE QM2 would be the perfect place to showcase old classic films during the day, instead we had only mostly dodgy recent releases, repeated 3 times a day. As for the entertainers: very mixed. One was appalling, (long waits of five minutes or more for costume changes, many people walked out), others were just ok. The comedian was just great. Late afternoon tea dances in the Queens Room were rather nice, a lovely spectacle even if one didn't dance. Not a terribly good range of afternoon tea items, though - again, no where near as good as experienced on other ships. Ports: We enjoyed Dunedin, even though the ships tour we took to Howick Falls and Ardmore Pottery Studio really wasn't worth what we paid. Howick Falls was great, but we only had 20 minutes there (so no chance to explore what looked like some fabulous shops), as opposed to an hour at Ardmore Pottery Studio - indeed amazing pottery, but too expensive if one only wanted gift souvenirs, which was our main interest. Our tour guides also got quite lost, and we ended up back-tracking twice and turning the bus around, which wasted about an hour all up. We did enjoy the day, though. If Cape Town was the best embarkation, Mauritius was the worst dis-embarkation we have yet experienced. People queued for over an hour to get off the ship, only 4 customs officers processing and taking their time to boot. Watch out for the dodgy taxi services, too: a sign read" 150 euro for half a day, 1-4 passengers). There was a fellow "speaking for" the taxi drivers, and it was he that informed us it was 150 euro EACH PERSON! WHAT?? $600 AU for a taxi for half a day?? GET OUT! Something very wrong there..... So we took the shuttle : 45 minute wait in the queue for one, and then 30 mins to get into town because of all the road works. Disembarkation: We needed an early one because of an earlier flight, and have to say this wasn't really done as well as it could have been. Instead of smaller tenders, they had bigger cataramans which took ages to fill up - thus creating more time pressure, and then also created longer queues at Glebe Island. We were in the first group to supposedly disembark, and still didn't get away from Glebe Island until nearly 11 am. General: There is no doubt that, as a ship, she is beautifully steady and handles rougher weather with great ease. This would have been the smoothest trip we have experienced, and the seas weren't necessarily slight all the way, either. Would I go again on QM2? Quite frankly, I would rather spend the same amount on another cruise line and get much more "bang for my buck". Sorry to say, but we definitely found QM2 to be the worst value for money yet, nowhere near the standard its hyped up to be. The only real plus is that it IS QM2, and there is a fuss made when she comes into port - that was rather fun - but is she worth the fuss? Quite frankly,we didn't think so. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We had booked the cruise from Cape Town to Adelaide 12 months in advance and I have been that excited to get on board. But months before departure I started reading many negative reviews about Cunard and the Queens in general. That I ... Read More
We had booked the cruise from Cape Town to Adelaide 12 months in advance and I have been that excited to get on board. But months before departure I started reading many negative reviews about Cunard and the Queens in general. That I started to get paranoid and was thinking should I cancel this trip. I even rang Cunard and raised my concerns. Well I am so glad I didn't. This was my wife and I 10th cruise, so we were not beginners. We had the best most relaxing time ever. The food was excellent, spa excellent, great movies , the addition restaurants with surcharges was some of the best meals I have ever tasted. The staff were excellent, we even tipped our restaurant staff on top of the Cunard's automatic tipping. Our standard inside cabin was spotless and excellent steward "Jason" kept it that way all trip. The decor was amazing, I just loved the art deco theme with the history mixed in. The wide passageways and the whole experience was very Grand. The trip on Queen Mary 2 was full of lifetime memories we will never forget. 1/ The minor negative to mention was when the Ship arrived in port and you had day tour guests and people planning to do there own thing the movement in the passages seems to be disjointed and there were never enough staff to guide people in the right direction. 2/On elegant casual nights men should be able to dine Jacket free. 3/When the get into Australian waters they should broadcast Australian Sky TV - not the one from London So I just cant get my head around so much negative feedback - things are always never perfect in life but when you are on holidays, there is no need to stress and whinge the whole time - enjoy life enjoy the fact that you had the funds to board a Cunard liner - Life is to short to whinge about every little detail. I know there are thousands of travelers out there that compare the QM2 to the QE2 that it's not as good but it's not the same liner and now it's not the same operators. Final Comment - Cunard in my mind is very good value for money if you are content to stay in a inside cabin (sorry stateroom). Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My husband and I purchased this cruise in July, 2011 while Myanmar was listed on the itinerary, along with Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and the remaining ports of call. All 3 of the aforementioned ports were deleted, and replaced with ... Read More
My husband and I purchased this cruise in July, 2011 while Myanmar was listed on the itinerary, along with Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and the remaining ports of call. All 3 of the aforementioned ports were deleted, and replaced with Mangalore, Cochin, and Trincomalee. All three of the latter were poor substitutes. BUT, it WAS Oceania, so we knew, having cruised on Insignia, that we were in for a pampered 35 days on the seas. We had previously inhabited a penthouse suite on Insignia, so the Concierge level suite was a bit small, but we made it work. Our first night at happy hour we had the pleasure of meeting Sasa from Croatia, and Philmar from Philippines, at the Martini Bar; both were delightful. When we encountered them a week later, each remembered our names and what we liked to drink. Impressive. We enjoyed our excursion in Cape Town atop Table Mountain, even though the wind and cold were at times unbearable. In Durban, we experienced an amazing game reserve, getting up close and personal with giraffes, rhinos, hippos, ostrich, zebras, wildebeast, etc. Madagascar was an uneventful stop, as was French Comoros. We enjoyed Mauritious well enough. In Seychelles we thoroughly enjoyed snorkeling at Coco Island, and found the Maldives to be attractive and picturesque. Enter Mangalore. Here is where things begin to go south. The excursions offered by Oceania proved similar to one another, in that all involved temples, churches, and shopping (par for the coarse on cruise ships), but the sheer poverty at every turn was saddening and a bit uncomfortable, what with trash everywhere, and the plight of the underclass so underscored by the itineraries of the expensive excursions. Sri Lanka, while much cleaner, appeared like an extension of India, and we were glad to get to Kuala Lumpur, Phuket (where we rode elephants), and Penang. We agree that 35 days was, for us, much too long on one ship, on one trip, with one group of 650 passengers. We met very interesting people, both on and off the ship, but each of us was more than ready to disembark to head for home when we reached Singapore. Having used Oceania's air itinerary, we flew for 34 hours to get to Cape Town and 49 hours to return home from Singapore. We will never again allow Oceania to book our air travel. Overall, Oceania is #1 for food qualilty and service, and crew. It is apparent they hire personalities, not just people. The friendliness and knowledge of the crew is Oceania's strong suit. We plan to sail on Marina later this year, and hope to try Riviera as well. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was a Christmas and New Year cruise for us getting away from wet and weary England. With over 20 different ports of call -many at islands and other locations not regular cruise ship stops - this was fairly special and we have came ... Read More
This was a Christmas and New Year cruise for us getting away from wet and weary England. With over 20 different ports of call -many at islands and other locations not regular cruise ship stops - this was fairly special and we have came home with many wonderful memories. Service, food and general attention were well up to Oceania's normal high standard. However we feel that Nautica is beginning to gently show her age and facilities like the gym are falling behind modern ships. Nautica attracts well travelled, interesting fellow passengers - always courteous and well mannered. A spirit of great harmony was evident throughout this long cruise and we enjoyed excellent companionship throughout I have no time to list and describe the 22 ports of call.Cape Town is brilliant and well worth visiting for a few days in advance of a cruise starting there The Seychelles are stunningly beautiful islands and everywhere else on this cruise is,well, different! On the negative side, entertainment was poor.We don't ask much - just a good professional singer or instrumentalist every evening. We had some + local dancers on 2 occasions but this was inadequate. Other efforts were just cheap and evidence of miserably cut back budgets. The itinerary for this voyage endured a number of late changes with some poor substitutes in India and Sri Lanka for Burma. There was no apology from Oceania in Miami whose approach to criticism or challenge from passengers seems to be to ignore letters that they would find difficult to answer. This was a widespread feeling on board and is beginning to alienate previously loyal supporters. Oceania would do well to take note Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We have sailed with ten cruise lines, and find Oceania to be the best for our needs and lifestyle. Our first experience was in 2010 on Insignia, Nautica's sister ship, from Buenos Aires to Barcelona. Our experience was superb. Crew ... Read More
We have sailed with ten cruise lines, and find Oceania to be the best for our needs and lifestyle. Our first experience was in 2010 on Insignia, Nautica's sister ship, from Buenos Aires to Barcelona. Our experience was superb. Crew service, including our butler, was excellent. Food is Oceania's strong suite. Every meal, in every dining room pleases the palate. Wine lists are a cut above the average cruise lines, a 35 day cruise, regardless of ports, ship, or cruise line can become monotonous. Oceania offered more than 20 ports on this itinerary, most of which were pleasant experiences. Nautica's food service staff goes out of their way to learn guest's preferences for drink, restaurant accommodations, and breakfast delivery times. We have booked an upcoming cruise in December on Riviera, in a concierge suite. We very much look forward to being pampered and well fed by Oceania and their superior staff. You can not go wrong with Oceania....... very classy, no formal nights, just elegant casual relaxing evenings aboard. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We have cruised fairly extensively for nearly 20 years but this was the smallest ship we have experienced. We arranged our own travel to Capetown as Silversea had used up all their "block" before we booked. We stayed one night ... Read More
We have cruised fairly extensively for nearly 20 years but this was the smallest ship we have experienced. We arranged our own travel to Capetown as Silversea had used up all their "block" before we booked. We stayed one night at the Table Bay Hotel and would recommend it very happily. Embarcation was a very simple matter - taxi from the hotel - 5 minutes to the ship and abouit another 5 minutes to board and have photos taken etc. Our cabin (suite)was very clean and tidy - the only downside was the rather small bathroom. Our butler fixed us up with toiletries and, more importantly, stocked the bar with our requirements. No champagne! We thought it must have been an oversight but it seems there was no champagne on board - we certainly did not receive any. Our balcony was a bit tight and showed signs of wear and tear. The staff on the ship were excellent and many remembered our name. The entertainers tried hard but it would be unreasonable to expect top class entertainment on such a small ship. Dining,of course, is very important on any cruise and we really liked the main Dining Room. La Terrazza was up and down a bit - we had dinner twice there - once was very poor the other very much better. Hot Rocks was good fun and most enjoyable. The big disappointment was Le Champagne - we went once and had the North American Dinner. The main course was prime rib which was exactly the same as we had eaten in the MDR the evening before - not fine dining, in our opinion. We cancelled our second booking and noticed that Le Champagne had 0 customers on several nights and only 2 or 4 on others. It certainly was not worth the $130 which we paid. A rethink by Silversea is overdue. We took two ships tours - one in to the desert in Namibia which was first class and one in The Gambia which was awful. Both tours were grossly overpriced. The shuttle buses which were laid on at all the ports were very good - some even had local guides to give a commentary on the way in to town.The tender experience at Porto Novo was a bit lively to say the least! It was so rough that the Captain had to suspend the service for a while. the passengers were (nearly) all good fun and good company. The makeup was UK76 US44 Europe54 Canada10 Australia12 other 5 so the ship was about 2/3 full which made for a very comfortable cruise. We have now had 3 cruises on Silversea - would we go again? Yes - but probably not on Silver Wind or Cloud as we prefer a larger ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We chose this cruise strictly for itinerary. Our whole vacation, taking 3 months, included Seabourn Quest Fort Lauderdale to Cape Town, 2 weeks in South Africa and Zambia with Kensington Tours, this cruise up the coast to Gran Canaria, ... Read More
We chose this cruise strictly for itinerary. Our whole vacation, taking 3 months, included Seabourn Quest Fort Lauderdale to Cape Town, 2 weeks in South Africa and Zambia with Kensington Tours, this cruise up the coast to Gran Canaria, ferry service to Tenerife, flight to Malaga, and the container ship Coral to Savannah! This cruise was simply the best way we could find to get from Cape Town to anyplace with freighter service to North America. And what a find it was! We'd never been on SilverSea before, but will be back! Great people, beautiful ship, we couldn't have been happier. Dining was superb, Main, La Terrazza and Hot Rocks. We don't drink, so La Champagne wasn't tempting. Even though alcohol is free aboard, the staff soon learned we preferred not, and didn't pester us. There was a decent selection of non-alcoholic wines and beers for those so inclined. Fresh pasta, superbly prepared fish, fresh fruit, great service and friendly people made for wonderful meals every time. Entertainment and enrichment was much better than we'd expected on a ship this small. And the best theater of any ship we've been on. Cruise director Colin Brown and his staff had a wonderful mix of big and small activities throughout the day, including our favorites of bridge and water volleyball. And the breadth of topics, and depth of knowledge, by all the lecturers was incredible. Cabin was exactly what we were expecting. Bathroom a little small, but more than adequate. Ample storage space. Big picture window. We like to be close to the water, and happily trade a balcony for a lower window. Only went on one shore excursion, in Namibia, and it was average. No better or worse than any other bus tour on any other ship. Passengers were the friendliest of any ship we've been on. This being our first SilverSea cruise we don't know if that is typical or not, but it sure was fun. Made several friends we hope to keep. Having just been on Seabourn Quest, we couldn't help but compare the two. Quest is new, Silver Wind isn't, and it showed. She's not a dowager by any means, but she is a little worn in places. However, to more than balance that out, the old style theater on Wind was a welcome treat. Pool is much bigger and deeper than Quest, and also salt water, so that was a big plus. Food was so excellent on both ships I can't rank them. Same for service. Entertainment was quite a bit better on Wind, even though she's a smaller ship. Bottom line - we WILL cruise SilverSea, and Silver Wind, again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We joined the Silver Whisper 30 days into the World Cruise which had started in Fort Lauderdale. Our parents had been on board for all that time and we were glad to be on this trip with old hands as many friendships had already been ... Read More
We joined the Silver Whisper 30 days into the World Cruise which had started in Fort Lauderdale. Our parents had been on board for all that time and we were glad to be on this trip with old hands as many friendships had already been formed. The ship was unable to dock at the V&A Waterfront as planned. This appears to be due the local authorities having security worries. The working dock is only a 10 minute walk from the Waterfront and a shuttle was provided on the 2 days we were there. We boarded at lunchtime, before the cabin was ready and were welcomed in the Panorama Lounge where we had a coffee. Our cabin had two single beds made up as a good sized double. There is a walk-in wardrobe with plenty of hanging space and drawers and a safe. The bathroom has shower, bath and two basins. Good toiletries are provided and you can choose from three different ranges. There is a balcony with two chairs and a table and a sitting area with large sofa, two more chairs, a table, a desk, fridge and TV. There is also an ipod player. We had a charming butler and stewardess who were around morning and evening and could be contacted easily. The laundry service was excellent and free to us as we have cruised more that 100 days. All the restaurants offer free seating and if you have not already made up a table with friends, Maitre D will do this for you, or you can eat at a table for two. All drinks are included at all times. The Main Dining Room is the most formal of those on offer. The menu is extensive and service excellent. La Terrazza offers a buffet breakfast with egg, waffles, pancakes etc. available or cooked to order. There is a buffet lunch in Terrazza too and Italian dining in the evening. There are about a dozen tables outside this restaurant. The Pool Deck offers light lunches of burgers, grilled fish, a dish of the day, salads and sandwiches. In the evening they do hot rocks where you cook fish and meat to your liking and it is served with jacket potatoes or fries and salads. Anyone may eat anywhere whenever they like. Reservations maybe needed in the evening at La Terrazza and on the deck. Room service is also available 24 hours a day and any dish from the menu of the day can be served. We had two excellent lecturers on board who spoke about the places we were visiting from a political and financial angle. There is a group of five entertainers who put on shows in a low key way after dinner some nights. Soloists also came on board and were excellent. There is the usual mix of bridge (with World class coaches), Trivia, Yoga, Pilates, golf putting, bingo. The trips organised by Silversea are expensive. They do keep groups to a small size when they can and queueing is not something that you ever have to do! In summary, the Silver Whisper is small enough that you feel very much at home and the over-riding feeling of fantastic service is always upheld. The crew and officers are outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Embarkation went smoothly. The transfer from Cape Grace Hotel to Silver Whisper was so efficient that I was onboard before official embarkation time. I sneaked down the corridor to my Vista Suite to drop off my carry-on bag then went up ... Read More
Embarkation went smoothly. The transfer from Cape Grace Hotel to Silver Whisper was so efficient that I was onboard before official embarkation time. I sneaked down the corridor to my Vista Suite to drop off my carry-on bag then went up to the Viennese Lounge. The classic Silversea hospitality had begun. Cape Town is a marvelous port for a 5-day visit before departing South Africa. Signal Hill, with the noon-day gun is a fine local tradition and the impressive Table Mountain looms over the harbour making the departure especially beautiful. In a stunning coincidence, Saga Ruby the ship was tied up at a wharf in Cape Town Harbor. It is always a treat to open the door of a Silversea suite and see again the handsomely decorated large suite, even at steerage level. My requests for fresh fruit and bottled water with a full ice bucket were waiting for me thanks to my excellent butler, Reynaldo, who anticipated my needs before I knew what I wanted. For the first time in decades of cruising, early in the cruise, I woke up at 2:00am thinking I was starving. I called Room Service which promptly brought a marvelous club sandwich and chips to my suite. A tip of the toque to the Executive Chef, Anne-Marie Cornelius. She provided exciting menus from around the world which were delicious. At dinner, my tablemates showed off their dessert plates to display the latest brilliant artistic offerings from the pastry chef. The food was consistently the best I have had onboard ships in many years with extensive choices plus the service in the MDR was excellent. Late in the cruise, we had a BBQ grill on Pool Deck for the entire ship. A generous buffet was such fun under the stars. The evening was well-organized, the food was bountiful, the waiters ably helped us walk around the deck with plates, trays, and drinks. On the penultimate day of the cruise, we were in the Caribbean headed to Fort Lauderdale and our "lunch" was a parade of nations spread out among three decks. This particular cruise was coming to the end of the World Cruise and passengers could choose exotic food offerings from Asia, Africa, Europe, and America - everywhere the ship had visited. The various food choices were impressive and it was quite fun to indulge in these many exotic dishes. The only entertainment I attended was the guitar maestro, George Sakellariou, whose topnotch skills and musical offerings are always outstanding. George's performances were well-attended as word spread through the ship about his polished technical skills which produce fine bass notes and warm tones. His CDs are excellent but a live performance brings home the point that only a master guitarist can produce such excellence because, in live concerts, there are no do-overs. I particularly appreciated the many boat drills performed by the crew. In case of emergency, the crew was well-trained to provide safety for the passengers. The cruise director, Fernando, did a fine job. I had heard about him prior to boarding Whisper and he was as good as everyone said. It was such a treat to receive a handwritten invitation to his dinner table. All CDs are like Energizer bunnies and Fernando, with his many announcements and gift for languages, is top of the mark in his field. Begonia in Reception seems to have the ability to turn water into gold. Her social and technical skills are amazing and appreciated. My main focus for choosing this itinerary was to sail the western coast of Africa which completes my African collection and also to enjoy living in the lap of luxury on the ship. Both goals were accomplished with full marks and Dinner in the Desert in Namibia was, indeed, an abfab experience. My thanks to the entire staff and crew onboard Whisper. Each and all of them made this solo passenger feel comfortable and warmly welcomed onboard this luxury small ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My husband and I sailed from Cape Town to Sydney and the the whole experience was fantastic. If only people would realise that the Queen Mary 2 is not a cruise ship it is a liner. If they want glitz go to the other companies where it is ... Read More
My husband and I sailed from Cape Town to Sydney and the the whole experience was fantastic. If only people would realise that the Queen Mary 2 is not a cruise ship it is a liner. If they want glitz go to the other companies where it is virtually impossible to get a sun lounger but with QM2 it was no problem and lots of space. The liner is elegant as it should be I admit there are a few issues but that is just being picky. We have been on many cruises and the Kings Court yes was busy but all I can say is don't rush for lunch at 1.00 leave it for half an hour w,hen things calm down. The Britannia restaurant I thought was going to be a problem as I have a few food problems but the maître de bought me a menu every evening so my choice could be adjusted. The shows were excellent I really cannot think of one which we disliked. Unlike other cruise lines they were varied and enjoyable. I think one thing that I think people ought to realise is find your way around its a huge liner and needs a bit of research but personally I have started saving to go again. Can't wait. Thank you Cunard we'll done. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
The best food and service we have experienced over six cruises with other similar companies. This was our first with Silversea . The ship however was a great disappointment. It was shabby and dated. It needs to be sold off as I think it is ... Read More
The best food and service we have experienced over six cruises with other similar companies. This was our first with Silversea . The ship however was a great disappointment. It was shabby and dated. It needs to be sold off as I think it is past saving. The common areas are underwhelming even allowing for a smaller size overall. The bathrooms were so small we could hardly turn around. The shower over the bath was poor and very difficult to stand in. Everything about the bathroom was awkward and not a pleasant experience. The door stops on the bathroom and wardrobe were broken so could not be lodged open. The bed was not Queen size as on other ships and the linen was tatty and does not have the same finish as that on Regent hence it is not at all silky and luxurious. The entertainment if you can call it that is dire! Outdated and very poor. The singers could not sing. The pianist made so many mistakes which he covered up by singing out of key. The quartet looked like they had been programmed to play dreadfully old fashioned tunes. There was no atmosphere and dancing on the deck was limited to one night at the BBQ when it was obvious to us from the number of guests dancing that it was a popular event yet it was not continued down in the bar at 9.30 as promised and the next day we were subjected once more to the quartet. The cruise director did nothing to make this an enjoyable cruse. He just made short garbled announcements every morning about activities such as bridge and italian language lessons! The table tennis never took place and when we got the table put up it was so close to the rail that the one ball they gave us was soon lost overboard. This was probably the worst cruise from the point of view of entertainment and that is saying something as our experience on Regent has not been much better. When will these top end cruise lines get the message. We don't want music from the old days. We want to dance and have fun under the stars if possible on a warm night. It would not have taken much for the Dj to be on the deck for say three evenings for a couple of hours. We don't want extra food laid on just the bar where if necessary we could get our own drinks and have some fun. We are in two minds whether to sail with them again. If we do it will be on a different shop and on the basis that we will get the same fantastic food and friendly service. Ann Marie the executive chef is wonderful, very pro active and always on the case. She is everywhere she should be and her team produce and serve marvellous food. If only the entertainment were as good. I was tempted to see if I could plug my IPAD in to their system and set up my own dance night. We would certainly have rocked the boat!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
To sail with Cunard has been a boyhood dream. So when I saw an opportunity to sail on QM2 I grabbed it. My Cunard E Ticket said embarkation details to be advised.We flew from Sydney to Cape Town to join the ship and enjoyed a few days in ... Read More
To sail with Cunard has been a boyhood dream. So when I saw an opportunity to sail on QM2 I grabbed it. My Cunard E Ticket said embarkation details to be advised.We flew from Sydney to Cape Town to join the ship and enjoyed a few days in this excellent S.African City. I checked my emails for boarding advice but none was forthcoming. No problem really as the ship dominates any harbour so finding her was easy. But that is where the "easy" bit ended. Our taxi took us to the ship where a large marquee was erected. As we were about to get out a Cunard officer came over and having confirmed we were joining the ship instructed us to go back into town where the check-in was being conducted. So we were up for double taxi fare straight away. Check-in was ok and we were bussed back to the ship. When I made a complaint to the Pursers Office that we had not received advice as the ticket stated the young lady informed me I should have contacted Cunards agent. As there was no contact info I asked her who was the agent and what were the contact details. She said she would check on her computer. I indicated to her that if she,a Cunard employee, did not know why was I expected to have that info? Our cabin was smaller than other ships I have been on despite Cunards claim the ship was the worlds largest ocean going liner. Here-in too, lies another problem. The ship is not designed for cruising, particularly in tropical climes. There is no area for outside dining. Consequently seating in the Kings Court dining area near a window is at a premium. Also it is limited. As I explored the ship I was amazed to find areas for the exclusive use of "World Cruisers" and deck areas restricted to Queen and Princess dining passengers. Hello! Why are they afforded this Cunard? Sure they pay a lot for their cabins, but these come with large balconies and are well appointed. But why extra deck area for their exclusive use? Also world cruise passengers are not the ones that take the ship around the world. It is the many thousands who join and leave at various ports along the way. This antiquated "class distinction" infuriated me! Find a toilet in the ship is a lottery. Many of the men's toilets have no urinals, and the Men's outside the Queens room, a major venue has no urinal and only one cubicle. I came to the conclusion the ship was designed by a committee! Food is no better that that provided by Princess and P&O. We could not use the disco as smoking is permitted in the upper gallery but the smoke still permeates down. A claim for illness caused by passive smoking by a crew member or passenger can only be a matter of time. Some of the staff, particularly those from Eastern Europe, need some additional customer service training. However, having said that overall they all work extremely hard and provide very good service. A cabin levy of $US11.50 per person per day and 15% service charge on every purchase pushes up cruise cost. Our cabin charge added over $500 to the cost. I have yet to work out what the additional service charges added to our cost. One can opt out of the cabin charge if one wants. Except for saying "I sailed on the QM2" I see no reason to recommend Cunard for a cruise. Many who had cruised with this line before were disappointed as they saw a big downturn in food/entertainment/service quality compared to previous trips. Unfortunately my dream from the 1950's was not realised. Very sad Cunard.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This is the first cruise review I have written after approx 40 cruises with many different cruise lines - this I mention only to say I have experience in various lines and price brackets. This voyage for my husband and I had very high ... Read More
This is the first cruise review I have written after approx 40 cruises with many different cruise lines - this I mention only to say I have experience in various lines and price brackets. This voyage for my husband and I had very high expectations - we booked a Queens Grill suite and thought 'it shouldn't get better than this'...... How wrong we were. The ship itself was in a state of poor repair with rust everywhere and beautiful viewing windows on the lower decks had their seals gone and so completely covered inside with water to no viewing here..Nowhere on the ship did the ship have a Wow factor for decor - all bland and boring. The indoor pool area was completely bland with crumbling wall areas and no decoration apart from a few potted plants... Our suite was spacious but again not as oppulent as say on the Oceania Cruise line or the top Holland America suites. Complete lack of tea/coffee stations around the ship. When we asked the bar tender to bring us some coffees in the Pavillion pool area deck 12 we were told we would have to go along the corridor, down 5 flights of stairs, into the buffet and bring 2 mugs up ourselves.........????? On warm days we could lie on the Queens Grill area sun deck where you could get cold juice and water but no hot drinks. There was two waiters there Sergi and Maryna who were great but they had no access to hot drinks either apart from the buffet... We ordered in room dining one night which we have done many times on say Oceania where they would bring it course by course when you were ready - here All at once......? Queens Grill restaurant - All the waiters were friendly but definitely untrained as far as we and our other fellow guests discussed in Fine dining and what is expected. We were delivered our menu, another asked if we wanted bread etc and then a simple 'Are you ready to order?'. No going through the menu, recommendations etc. One day I ordered a Beef Wellington. The waiter brought the whole Wellington to the table in the pan for our inspection and taken away to presumably be carved. A few minutes later the whole thing had simply been halved and I had a whole joint on my plate with the meat on one side of the plate and the pastry on the other???? Many similar experiences were conveyed to us by fellow diners. The food was certainly not bad but it certainly wasn't exceptional either. The restaurant Palo on Disney cruise line for surpasses this and even the main dining room on Oceania cruise ships. The Kings Court Buffet - what can I say - a total and utter nightmare. Food average, layout of the whole area confusing and absolutely felt like a canteen. It is the first time I have seen the soup placed out in just a trough next to other food items such as rice and hence you can imagine the result.. The staff on the whole in the shops were extremely rude and unhelpful - again not just my observation. All the bar staff we came across were friendly but a lot of the bars were empty and had no atmosphere apart from the English pub which was usually quite busy. It really is just a myth - The Queens.......... Will never book with Cunard again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Went with Oceania from Capetown to Singapore . Don't do it sounds exotic but African ports other than Capetown not worth doing . Maldives and Seychelles were good but not enough to warrant this expense and time . As far as Oceania ... Read More
Went with Oceania from Capetown to Singapore . Don't do it sounds exotic but African ports other than Capetown not worth doing . Maldives and Seychelles were good but not enough to warrant this expense and time . As far as Oceania goes the food was very good and the general staff were excellent , but that's as far as it went . The cruise director was terrible as was the lack of entertainment and activities . The seas were rough which was not the ship's fault but being smaller it moved a lot and I don't believe stablerlizers were used . We paid $900 US for tips but had no say in how they were distributed . To make matters worse , their baggage handlers managed to break a full bottle of rum securely wrapped in the middle of my suitcase just moving it from our cabin to the dock . How is beyond me they must have thrown it from the deck . I didn't realize until we got to our hotel and I had rum through everything as well as broken pieces of glass . Two letters that we paid the ship to post never arrived to our relatives . . A letter to their so called customer service has gone unanswered .I hopoe this report helps other people to not make the mistake we did .All this is fact and the first time I have ever written a complaint about a cruise line . Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
1. I was let down by the booking agent, but accept that was not Cunard's fault. 2. My cabin should have had a Queen bed......it had 2 single beds. When I pointed out the booking the beds were just pushed together leaving a very ... Read More
1. I was let down by the booking agent, but accept that was not Cunard's fault. 2. My cabin should have had a Queen bed......it had 2 single beds. When I pointed out the booking the beds were just pushed together leaving a very uncomfortable ridge in the middle. 3. Advice was to stow bags under the bed....on doing so I found socks from a previous passenger! And realised the carpet was none too clean either. I reported this to the purser's office, returning the socks of course (the officer's face was a picture!). I was told the deck supervisor would contact me. This never happened. What did happen shocked me. The following evening on my return from the dining room the cabin steward saw me in the corridor and shouted at me in front of several other people. He told me I should have reported to him first, and now he was in trouble, etc, etc. I kept quiet and walked on to the cabin. 4. For the next 4 nights I had no turn-down service. Then just as I was about to go to bed on the 5th night following this the cabin phone rang and the steward demanded to know why I had changed my dinner time and not told him......I had been on first sitting from the day of boarding! 5. I did think of going back to the purser's office, but was afraid of repercussions from a man who had access to my cabin. 6. The shower area had cracks and grey discolouration. The shower curtain had pulls in the fabric. Sheets were changed once in the 22 days voyage, and the second set had some small holes in them. 7. In contrast the dining room was great and food was good apart from breakfast where service was slow and food often cold. 8. In all, I enjoyed the trip because I was determined to do so, but that was despite the poor service and accommodation. 9. I have tried to contact Cunard direct on many occasions with no success and therefore resorted to this report. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
SILVER WIND– CRUISES 2406, 2407 AND 2408 CAPE TOWN TO BARCELONA, 27 FEBRUARY TO 5 APRIL 2014 PART 1 WEST AFRICAN WANDERINGS Review of the ship for all three cruises and the ports visited during Cruise 2406 from Cape Town, South ... Read More
SILVER WIND– CRUISES 2406, 2407 AND 2408 CAPE TOWN TO BARCELONA, 27 FEBRUARY TO 5 APRIL 2014 PART 1 WEST AFRICAN WANDERINGS Review of the ship for all three cruises and the ports visited during Cruise 2406 from Cape Town, South Africa to Tema, Ghana SHIP REVIEW Silversea revised its passenger documentation arrangements around the start of 2014. Out went the large document wallet, that few used, and luggage tags; in came a smaller silver box containing a booklet, which included the cruise tickets, and itinerary notes. Whereas we previously got our silver box three weeks or so prior to departure, this time our pack came only a couple of days before we left for Cape Town, the pack being produced in Italy. The reason being our third and final leg from Las Palmas to Barcelona had not been printed. Beware world cruisers! Whilst waiting to embark Silver Wind in Cape Town on 27 February, we were talking to Asta, the Future Cruise Consultant and Venetian Society hostess when we noticed her gaze looking beyond us. We turned to see our old friend, Captain Gennaro Arma, in civilian clothes and looking for the opportunity to renew our acquaintance. He had flown in from Valparaiso two days’ previously, having left Silver Spirit and was taking over command of the Wind. After some pleasantries, we embarked. After our photo was taken at Reception, we were met by Cruise Director, Colin Brown, who was sadly disembarking for a well-earned holiday. After a quick exchange of news we sought a warm, shady table outside the pool bar for our introductory Pimms. Passengers came and went but we were in no rush to get into cabin 718. About 3pm, Captain Arma came along his well-trodden route around the port side of the pool. Dressed in uniform, he came to our table, leaned over and whispered ‘I’m in charge now!’ He asked if he could join us for a coffee and this gave us a better chance to catch up on his news. 45 minutes later, the queue of staff wanting his attention meant that he had to go and so did we, to see whether our cases had arrived and unpacking could begin. The ship was full, with 270 passengers, of which about 15 were travelling solo. There were two party bookings. One was a group of around 50 from Hawaii, who were not actually travelling as a unified party. The other group of about 30 were all followers of an American radio broadcaster. We kept getting different explanations about this guy, who seemed to be ultra-conservative, embrace Jews and Christians and boasted he was now on his third wife. They had events some nights, which closed off venues to other passengers, but were otherwise unobtrusive. These parties serve as a warning about how a large party could (and have) effectively dominated a small ship. Cape Town’s wind had abated on the 27th after several days, and we set sail in fine weather. Next day was at sea but that night we ran into fog as we headed for Luderitz. Reviews of the ports will be dealt with later in this document. A number of these were first calls for a ‘standard’ Silversea ship and this explains why the voyage sold out so quickly after bookings opened. Everyone without exception that we spoke to said they had booked because of the itinerary. Sadly, some passengers seemed to think the ports we visited would mirror the Italian or French Riviera. Luanda in Angola was far from the poorest place we visited, being the capital of an oil-rich country, yet one passenger berated the Tours Manager that she should not have been taken there. Cotonou, Benin, was deck barbecue night and it proved to be a hot, humid tropical evening. By 10pm, several people were in the pool, cooling off after exuberant dancing. Meanwhile, Captain Arma was clearly not happy with the state of Silver Wind, as inherited from his predecessor, who we shall refrain from naming. Several members of the crew described his predecessor as ‘lazy’. Most noticeable to us was the work he put in train around the swimming pool and wet areas. Subtle, largely un-noticed other upgrading was progressed but there was a limit to the resources available to the onboard team; more extensive work would require a dry dock visit. Talking of which, we love Silver Wind; it’s our favourite ship, maybe because it was our first Silversea ship. We accept that it is far from new and getting tired in some areas. We heard that, in very heavy seas which we encountered, the windows in the Deck 4 cabins leaked, whilst water came through some Deck 5 balcony doors. During packing in Barcelona, we were concerned to find many of our clothes coated in dust and small hairs, far more in fact, than we found in our home on return after six weeks! This most probably came from the air conditioning but our butler was dismissive about it, so had a vacuum cleaner sprayed the dust accidentally in the wardrobe? One of our cabin chairs resembled a rocking chair and did not stand as stable as it should have done, whilst the sofa was badly worn. The dark brown wood and marble in the bathroom looks dated and should be changed, and the wash basin taps are now legendary and spray water everywhere! In the tropics, the air conditioning in the cabin opposite was excessively cold, yet ours struggled to cool our cabin at all, and we hate a/c! In fact turning the dial either way seemed to make no difference. The seal on our balcony door was ill fitting, and the paintwork on the outside was virtually non existent, with a screw missing from the handle. Taken together with the leakage on balcony doors and windows, the suites need significant expenditure to bring them up to 5* standard. Suite doors are also poor at suppressing corridor noise. Lady butlers seemingly cannot carry trays as heavy as their male counterparts, and are therefore provided with trolleys as an alternative. These trolleys rattle noisily and from 6am there was a regular ‘run’ by the butlers, taking room service breakfast to the (typically) half dozen suites who were early risers. Silent trolleys need substituting and cabin door insulation upgrading, to stop passengers being woken by butlers servicing those passengers who wish to rise at 6.00am. The first cruise Voyage 2406 ended in Accra Ghana; actually Tema, Accra’s port. The weather began to change as we sailed north from the Ivory Coast. Banjul had been chosen for the deck barbecue and at 5.30pm the ship reported the temperature as 99.7’F! Once the sun set, the cold wind put a different complexion on things. The dining room had been set up with just two waiter stations on the expectation most would dine on deck. The cold wind, however, brought a steady stream of passengers into the dining room and the ship’s managers had to begin moving waiters from the deck barbecue to the dining room to cope. When we went out on deck at 9.30 pm, there were hardly any passengers and large quantities of untouched food was being taken away. In our experience, the deck barbecue is always a hit-or miss affair due to the weather. It also brings out the worst behaviour among some passengers, who push and shove others, and we have said many times the work and effort by the crew is just not worth it. Have a post-dinner deck party but scrap the food aspect. The strong, cold wind that blighted the Banjul deck barbeque continued to plague us. After the next turn-round day in Las Palmas, came Arrecife, Lanzarote, also part of the Canaries. Leaving here, the Captain’s welcome cocktail party was cancelled due to the motion of the ship caused by the strong wind. Only 75 out of around 230 passengers made it to dinner that night, the rest presumably remained in their cabins. Chairs, with passengers on them, slid around the wooden floor in the dining room! Pity the poor crew, who could not retire to their cabins, but had to keep the ship fully functioning, and not just on that evening. Even in the Mediterranean, leaving Cartagena (our final port), the Captain announced he had revised his navigation to hug the coast. The last 12 hours before Barcelona, however, found us again encountering very rough seas due to the wind. By now, the crew looked really worn out by the effects of the high seas, and many had to resort to pills for seasickness. The weather’s impact caused us to miss Agadir, Morocco. Leaving Madeira, the Captain explained that a complex low pressure was forming in the vicinity, whilst there was high pressure over Morocco. He had been advised that, even if he managed to get into the port of Agadir, he would not be able to get out. He therefore headed at full speed for Casablanca, where we stayed for two days, instead of the planned one. For some passengers, this was a good outcome as they could visit both Marrakesh and Rabat should they wish. Unfortunately for us who have visited Casablanca on many occasions and seen most of what she has to offer, it was a huge disappointment not to land in Agadir as it would have been a first! By virtue of the overnight stay in Casablanca, the deck barbeque for this cruise was moved from the night we were due to be in Malaga, to Casablanca. The reason was because the weather prospects for Malaga were not good, and at least it was forecast to be only showery in Casablanca. As a precaution, only half the usual number of tables were set up on deck, and the dining room staffed for half capacity. This proved to be well judged in terms of passenger preferences, but a (personally) surprising number of hardy souls braved the cold evening air to dine on deck. The Executive Chef changed in Arrecife, Chris replacing Anne-Marie. The latter had included Oriental items at meal times to cater for the handful of Chinese passengers on board and we enjoyed these dishes, and some menus included specific African dishes. We were less pleased with the dinner menus after Arrecife. English pub lunch was the day after Gibraltar, when we were in Malaga Spain. Despite three calls in Spanish ports, tapas dishes were never offered at either lunch or dinner. This was a surprise, not least as Silversea states that menus featuring regional specialities unique to the voyage destination are routinely offered. Baked Alaska, specially requested for a private party of eight, was botched. The ship also had no mandarin liqueur to make a proper crepe suzette. Cooked shellfish, especially lobster, was always salted to excess, a trait about which we have complained on other Silversea cruises. The menu in Le Champagne had seemingly not changed since we were on Silver Spirit last April. Despite the specifics mentioned, the food was of a generally high standard which we now expect from Silversea. Enrichment and port information was clearly delineated between the two cruises from Cape Town to Las Palmas and the final cruise thereafter to Barcelona. During the first two, we had ‘enrichment’ speakers on different aspects of Africa. One disembarked in Accra and was replaced by another enrichment speaker, who discussed world security issues. All three were very interesting and informative. The Shore Concierge Manager described the ports in her presentations about the trips offered by Silversea. From Las Palmas we had Corey Sandler as a ‘destination expert’. Corey is a nice guy, whom we have sailed with previously, but he is/was a journalist and was no more an expert on the ports being visited than we were, as a result of our in-depth research. We know Madeira much better than he and picked up errors and omissions during his presentation. He tries to give the proper pronunciation for the country being visited, in this case, Spain and Portugal. However he has the infuriating habit of using American pronunciation for place names, such as “Lanzer Wrote” for Lanzarote, not pronouncing the “e”, which helps no one to learn the correct name of the place. He also referred to the “Aye Zores”, which as an American, is the way they say it. If he wishes his listeners to learn the correct way to say a place name, this being Portuguese, it should be pronounced “Az-or-esh”. After all, the passengers didn’t all come from the US! As always, the crew worked really hard to deliver the Silversea standard and to meet personal expectations. Our butler had 13 cabins and her hours were from 6,00am till 12.00 noon and 400 pm to 10pm, seven days a week for eight months! Some of the idle, benefit-addicted unemployed in the UK and US should do a spell on a cruise ship and then they would know what work really means! The butlers are not alone on this regime, dining room and bar staff work to a similar routine. Captain Arma had referred to the voyage from Cape Town being an “adventure” and we suggested to the Hotel Director, Flavio, that the Captain might like to host a cocktail party for the 37 “doughty” adventurers, who were sailing from Cape Town all the way to Barcelona. He thought it was a good idea, but in the event the Hotel Director and the Cruise Director were the hosts, as unfortunately it coincided with our arrival into Gibraltar, and Captain Arma remained on the Bridge. A nice touch was that we were all given a “certificate of recognition” that “we had sailed through the pirate infested waters of West Africa/Nigeria from Cape Town to Barcelona”. We realised that we may have been the adventurers; but it was left to the Captain and his team to safely steer us through these difficult waters and the challenges they faced in dealing with the different countries’ immigration authorities and potential stowaways, which was handled with the utmost tact and diplomacy. We have booked to travel on Silver Wind again because many aspects suit our lifestyle and preferences. The onboard service is more intimate than on the larger Silversea ships and the staff get to know passengers and their preferences more quickly and so give better service. We just hope that when we travel again on the Wind in March 2015, she will not be looking as “tired” as she was this time when we boarded in Cape Town. LUDERITZ, NAMIBIA SATURDAY 1 MARCH 2014 Silver Wind docked at 08.00 and all passengers were mandatorily required to attend a face to face inspection, before proceeding ashore. The Immigration officials were due on board at 8.15am. However it was 9.15am before two arrived, with another two following behind, and it was 10.15am before we were cleared to leave the ship!! The Silversea shuttle bus dropped us off right at the beginning of the Main Street, which was only five minutes from the container terminal at which we had docked. In the near distance it was just possible to discern the end of the tarmac which demarcated the end of the town! So after a ten minute walk we had seen the highlights of Luderitz and spent the rest of our stay wandering around the lowlights! In a manner reminiscent of what I had been told, each of the two banks had a queue of people outside. Seemingly in Southern Africa, it had occurred when I was in Jo'burg, people were only admitted inside when there was a teller to serve them, otherwise they waited outside. We inspected the merchandise in the pharmacy, which was quite “old fashioned” in its way, but not so marked as two pharmacies found in Spain! A fellow passenger from Australia bought some mothballs, something that is unavailable in both Oz and the UK. A twelve hour flight from home still seems to transport you back 50 years! The cashier never batted an eyelid when we proffered South African Rand to pay for the antibiotics, and we were in fact a few cents missing. On leaving the pharmacy, we continued our walk up the main street and found the long abandoned railway station, which still sported a rotting sign board displaying the name of the town. Luderitz railway station site adjacent to the town’s main street Despite being down at heel the town was generally clean, with no litter in the streets. As is customary in many countries, the church was on the highest point in the town, reached by a sand strewn road which was fairly steep and quite slippery because of the amount of sand which had blown onto the road. Like many other churches in this region, it was a simple Lutheran building, with a couple of lovely stained glass windows. The view of the coast from outside the church was quite stunning and you could see for miles. After asking a couple of locals, we found a Wi-Fi cafe, and were directed to sit on a little dais with two armchairs. This was all very comfortable and we enjoyed a local ginger beer whilst checking emails. Our sightseeing over, we caught the shuttle bus back to the ship. WALVIS BAY, NAMIBIA SUNDAY 2 MARCH 2014 Being of course of a Germanic background, this place's name is pronounced "Valvish By" (the Afrikaans spelling being Baai). The port authorities were being particularly awkward concerning tour bus and coach access into the dock area, and it appeared they were only allowing so many vehicles in at a time, the upshot being that we were all congregated on the quayside, with no one knowing which vehicle they were supposed to get into. We were doing a 4 x 4 trip and some of the vehicles appeared to be based on a Land Rover, but one of the first produced in the 30's! Luckily the one we had was at least a fairly modern and comfortable, long wheel base 4 wheel drive vehicle. There were five of us, David being the only man, apart from Lawrence, the guide. He was an ex South African from Pretoria, who had been a clinical psychologist who had come to Namibia for a better life and to escape the rat race. Leaving in a convoy of three, there were only about 14 passengers doing this trip, which was called the Treasures of Namibia. We left the container port finally and made our way through the streets of the town, deserted, being a Sunday. First impressions were of low rise houses, in neat rows, with clean un-littered streets; the population is about 60,000. We left Walvis Bay and drove along the coast to Swakopmund, about 170 miles from the capital, Windhoek. Smaller in population by about 10,000, to Walvis Bay, there appeared to be one long Main Street lined with shops. Swakopmund is a beach town, but maybe because it was a Sunday, it seemed like a ghost town, with few people in the main street and little activity in the surrounding ones. We then turned inland, roughly following the course of the Swakop River, before turning off and heading into the gravel desert. We then drove along the dried up river bed for some few kilometres. The landscape changed from lunar, to flat, to valley as we progressed through the desert. We stopped in various places along the way where the guides showed us various plants, one of which resembled a succulent from which he obtained a great deal of water, proving that you wouldn’t die of thirst in this desert! We also saw a springbok in the distance and the famous Welwitschia plant, endemic to this area, and truly unique. Really weird looking, it consists of two leaves, a stem base and roots and that’s it! The two initial leaves are never shed and continue to grow and become tatty, torn and bedraggled with age and can grow to about 20 inches. It is said by some that it resembles a collapsed octopus which in fact is quite apt! Many of these plants are hundreds of years old, and are both male and female. We stopped in the middle of the bush at the Goanikontes Oasis which is residential and offers both camping, with bungalows and chalets, where we were offered a drink of champagne - actually a cheap moussec which was quite sweet but nicely chilled. Leaving here we drove back onto the road and went to Dune 7 so named as it is one of seven. It is the nearest to the airport and is therefore the one that everyone visits, although it is certainly not the tallest. It was very windy when we reached here and one guy actually from our party ventured to the top and came down sliding on his bottom. We then returned to the ship and subjected to a final face to face exit interview with immigration, so that the ship could leave the country in the sure knowledge no one was trying to remain in the country! Dune 7 LUANDA, ANGOLA 5 MARCH 2014 Arriving around 8.00 am we entered the large bay and docked in the container port. We caught the shuttle to the central square, which was only a short distance from the port entrance, and walked across the road to the President Hotel in the hope of using the internet. We were directed to the top floor café but our hopes were dashed when the staff member there asked for our room number. There followed a fruitless search along the Marginal, Luanda’s palm tree lined road running along the Bay for any cafe or internet facility. This road unfortunately appeared to house only banks and government offices with never a decent cafe or restaurant in sight. After a 15 minute walk we gave up and retraced our steps to where we had left the shuttle bus, this time walking along the sea side of the Marginal. The Marginal has obviously been upgraded recently with a play area set aside for children and landscaping with various trees and plants and we met others from the ship, similarly promenading Our ship’s tour left early afternoon, and we passed the Marginal and the Baixa district and headed to the Cidade Alta area, as its name implies, which is the upper part of town. The traffic was heavy and we first stopped at the cathedral, which was nothing special, and thence to an anthropological museum with a variety of old figures and musical instruments which was quite interesting. The highlight came last when our coach swept in to the São Miguel fort, once the home of the Governor and built by the Portuguese in 1576. This stands on an imposing site, high on a hill with a lovely view of the ocean on one side, and the urban area on the other. The large courtyard had an array of heavy weapons used in the struggle for independence which included a "shot down” Puma helicopter and a Mirage jet, both of which were little more than twisted pieces of metal. Entering inside one of the rooms we were surprised to see all the walls were covered in azulejos (the Portuguese blue and white ceramic tiles) but depicted African wild animals rather than the pastoral agricultural scenes found in mainland Portugal. Unfortunately there was not a "shopping opportunity”' and indeed the Alta area appeared just as run down as that we had seen in the morning. We were obviously not taken to the Luandan upmarket shops where jeans cost £000's! Our final stop was to the President's mausoleum housed in huge grounds with some marble statuary. This covers three floors and we were taken up in the lift, and unfortunately all the floors were polished marble and extremely slippery, and it was very difficult to keep your footing, so we tiptoed very carefully round the exhibits. The top floor was open to the elements and apparently President Agostinho Neto's favourite flower was the Welwitschia which was carved out in marble on the floor. We remained here for about ten minutes and then returned to the ship. An interesting codicil to our visit to Luanda; we not only had a police escort, but also an ambulance equipped with the latest apparatus and staffed with both doctors and nurses. Apparently this was due to the fact that should any passenger be taken ill, they would probably not survive, should they need to wait for medical help due to the horrendous traffic! This also probably accounts for the very high cost of the shore excursion SÃO TOMÉ & PRÍNCIPE 7 MARCH 2014 The first weather-related casualty of the day was the crossing the line ceremony due to be held at 11.30 am, a great disappointment to me as I was going to be one of the "victims". The reason was a very violent thunderstorm and torrential rain. We were due to anchor at 1pm and tender ashore but unfortunately the weather had caused a poor sea state. Despite waiting for a period of time for the sea to calm, Captain Gennaro that the authorities in São Tomé reluctantly decided that it was too dangerous to lower the boats. With nowhere else to go, we spent the rest of the day sailing round the island! BOM BOM ISLAND 8 MARCH 2014 With a little bit of fear and trepidation, we awoke early in the hope that the weather had improved and that our visit here would not be aborted, as this too was a tender port. Luck was with us and the tender boats were lowered around 8.00am and as this was a free shorex, almost everyone went ashore. Our destination was a private resort on the island, which lies a few miles off Príncipe. Portuguese speaking, these two islands, Sao Tome and Principe lie around 140 miles off the northwest coast of Gabon. We came ashore at a small jetty, close to the resort’s restaurant. From here the main part of the resort was reached a fairly long wooden walkway. As you would expect, very lush foliage and plants cover this small island. Guests staying here are accommodated in chalets dotted round the resort. There are several little coves as you walk round and many passengers swam in the sea. We had considered taking a towel, but decided against it. We were very pleased we had not ventured into the water, as one of our quiz team members had seen a six foot sea snake lying asleep on the sand in knee deep water and had very nearly disturbed it Being an Aussie, she was only too aware that it was highly poisonous! Bom Bom island, with Silver Wind at anchor and one of the resort’s chalet’s on the left. There was the option of a "city" tour in a safari type vehicle to the town centre at a cost of 20 dollars each, which we thought was expensive, considering it was not very far. Those that did, said the town consisted of a few dilapidated buildings, so we were glad we hadn't gone. The resort has a quite small swimming pool. The reception hut had free Wi-Fi and a few expensive souvenirs and we did make use of the internet service which was surprisingly fast. After a short walk round the perimeter of the resort, we returned to the ship by tender for a deck barbecue, which on a previous visit had been held on the Island, when everything from food to cutlery had been taken ashore. There were various speculations as to why this had not taken place this time, from the resort's management not wishing us to do so, to the expense and logistics being too difficult. In the event, Anne-Marie and her team surpassed themselves with lobster and crab claws on the ship’s pool deck. Silversea gave us a 50 dollar per head credit for the "disappointment" of the barbeque not being held ashore. LIMBE, CAMEROON SUNDAY 9 MARCH 2014 We arrived in the very large bay of Limbe where there were several oil drilling platforms and a backdrop of the mountain range, at around 8.00am, from where we tendered ashore. We were so fortunate with our Captain, as on initial contact with the Cameroon authorities, they wanted us to anchor much further out in the Bay, which would have meant a 15 mile trip to tender to the shore! Luckily, he insisted that he was not a container ship, and proceeded further inshore to where he thought we should be, and dropped anchor! The Captain told us later, that he had been trying from 6.00 am to raise someone onshore, and having heard nothing, he sent a tender ashore at 8.00 am, to try and find the immigration authorities. They found 15 officials waiting to come on board to conduct immigration and inspection. Therefore the ship was not cleared until later than intended. We eventually touched land, after about a ten minute journey on the tender. The jetty, along with the whole of this small, unmodernised, port was dilapidated. From here, the Silversea shuttle took us on a five-minute drive to the edge of Limbe and we were dropped opposite the Presbyterian church. The streets were paved, just (see photo below), and deserted, it being a Sunday. However this proved to be an advantage to us. We went across the road to look in the church, which was fu and a service in progress. We then walked up the street after asking where the market was, and after a few blocks turned left, away from the coast and up towards the hills. We dubbed this street Church Street. Along both sides of the street church services were in progress, with various different denominations. These were being held, not in churches as we would know them, but in ramshackle warehouse-type buildings. In one the sermon was in English with another man translating into the local patois. There had been a very bad thunderstorm the night before and the streets were very muddy, wet and potholed, but despite this, as usual, everyone was dressed in their Sunday best. It was nice to see little boys in crisp white long sleeved shirts, little waistcoats and long trousers, and their sisters attired in pretty, elaborate dresses. Along this short stretch of road there must have been about a dozen services taking place. Limbe main street, with Sunday producing only a few market stalls; note the state of the pavement! We continued to the "market", consisting of what were a few street-facing stalls, selling a variety of goods from screwdrivers to soap, to vegetables. We could see other small stalls disappearing into narrow mud alleys, but because of the terrain we did not proceed any further. Retracing our steps down "Church Street", we continued straight down from where we had turned left, and came to a little bay and the ocean, with the tide coming in. The sand was dark, although not black, and there were a few people walking about. We sat on a little bench for a short while, and then went back to our shuttle bus pick up. Impressions were of a very run down town, with few "good" buildings, enhanced by the absence of much traffic and no hustle and bustle because of the day of the week. However there were a few large SUV vehicles, so there obviously is some money in the town. We felt fortunate that we had seen a different aspect of Limbe to that which we would have seen had it been a weekday. On arrival back at the jetty, there was a very small boat, not much bigger than a canoe, where men were loading hand over hand, cardboard boxes labelled "Vin rouge". On enquiring, I was told that it was indeed red wine, and its destination was Nigeria! In conclusion, it was interesting to hear from Captain Arma privately that he was more concerned with stowaways than he was with pirates, and indeed in all these African ports he deputed boats when the ship was at anchor and look-outs when tied alongside a quay to check that no one could gain unauthorised access onto the ship. Leaving here Captain Arma planned a wide berth out into the Gulf of Guinea to avoid too close a proximity to the area frequented by pirates to reach our next country, Benin which lies on the other side of Nigeria to Cameroon.. COTONOU, BENIN TUESDAY 11 MARCH 2014 Docking at around 8.00 am at the above port, the largest city and economic centre of Benin, although the capital is Porto Novo, we arrived into a very big container terminal with much activity. Mustering as usual on the quayside ten minutes before the departure time for our shorex to the Ganvie Stilt Village, we set off around 9.00 am for the drive to the south east and Lake Nokoue, passing through the city of Cotonou. This country still practices voodoo, and there are many markets selling fetishes together with all its associated paraphernalia. This was altogether a different kettle of fish to that of our previous port in Cameroon, with many 4 x 4 wheeled cars, and a general ambience of more money and a greater French influence. The roads were busy and there was a lot of traffic. Turning off the main highway, built by the Chinese, we came to the Lake where we left our coaches to board small "pirogues" basically dug out canoes, for the trip on the Lake. I was fortunate, by waiting until most of the passengers had streamed down the purpose built steps to get in their boats, as ours only had about 6 passengers which included one of the ship's company accompanying the tour. We had been led to believe that to reach these little boats would be a hazardous trip down rickety stairs. In the event this was a complete and pleasant surprise. The sturdy construction was a broad wooden jetty with hand rails on both sides, and wide wooden steps leading down to the boats. The lake is so reminiscent of the sail up the Saigon River from Phu My in Vietnam, although this is much narrower. There are areas on both sides roped off for fishing, and also lots of plant life floating by, with many boats similar to ours packed with goods and people sailing back to sell their wares at the watery market from where we had embarked. We had a mixed reception from these boat people who were all ages, from young kids to large ladies expertly manoeuvring their boats within the crowded channel. Some were very friendly and replied to my greeting in French, but others hid their faces, and scowled as we went by. Some were openly belligerent, regardless of whether it was a wave of the hand or a verbal exchange. I can understand that they do not like having their picture taken, and it would not have been possible to ask permission whilst passing, but the reactions of some of the people were surprising, considering we had no cameras in our hand. The only conclusion we could come to was apart from the picture taking, we may be, in some way, disrupting their normal everyday lives, and perhaps churning up the waters by using the number of boats which constituted our party. We had been instructed to take our ship’s life jackets for this trip, as the boats did not carry the requisite number for all our party, but that we did not need to wear them, but just to carry them. You can imagine the chaos that reigned, when despite being told not to, many trailed their belt straps along the ground, making it very dangerous should you happen to be anywhere near them! The trip round the lake took about 45 minutes until we arrived on the outskirts of the stilt village. The village houses were fascinating, were many and varied. Some were little more than pieces of wood, or corrugated iron, with bits of material slung round openings to preserve some privacy, and others were more elaborate affairs more hut like. All had one thing in common, they were on stilts, and in some cases it was difficult to see how they could gain access, as some were very high off the water. Several had washing strung out on makeshift pieces of string and you wondered how they would ever dry in these very hot and humid conditions. We eventually arrived at the grandest building of them all, complete with no less than four thatched roofs. Here was a small jetty and steps where we disembarked our boats. This was the "Carrefour Hotel" and restaurant, with I think three rooms! This was a square with one side, a door less room with various shopping opportunities, facing three other rooms which could have been the accommodation, but seemed to double up as toilets, of which I did not partake. Next to the little shop, was a small bar, not sure whether it sold alcohol or just soft drinks. We were treated to a band of about 8 musicians and a couple of dancers. We were here for about half an hour or so before returning to the little boats and back to the landing stage and our waiting coaches. Produce was sold not only on the river, but also on the little road leading to the main highway but unfortunately we only saw the colourful fruit and vegetables on offer from our departing coaches. Artisinat (Artisan market) From here we returned to town and the Artisinat. This is a large area selling local goods, from paintings to leather goods and basketware, and is the centre for promoting what Cotinou has to offer. On driving in, we saw a sign for an Internet cafe supposedly open from 8 am until midnight, so we decided to come back later as this was the same place that the shuttle dropped off passengers doing their “own thing”. On returning, we were annoyed to be told that the cafe had closed three years previously!! Hadn’t anyone thought to take down the sign? After being directed to another cafe, which surprisingly we managed to find despite the directions, we found that they would only accept CFA (local currency), would not entertain dollars, and that there was a bureau de change down the road where we could change our dollars! We therefore returned to the ship disappointed. This was doubly so because the CDFA price, when converted into US$, worked out at 50 cents for an hour! We did not sail until 11.00 pm, which enabled Silversea to do their dinner under the stars, which we attended just for the dancing. Surprisingly it didn’t rain, but was exceedingly hot and humid, so much so that several passengers went into the pool to cool down around 23.00. LOME, TOGO WEDNESDAY 12 MARCH 2014 Here for 13 hours, docking at 7.00, and not sailing until 20.00, Silversea offered two shore trips, neither of which we decided to do. One of the ship's tours was to a voodoo village which included a Zangbeto dance performance which I had initially wanted to see. A cross between a Zulu dance and a whirling dervish, and very African, it is very rhythmic. We were therefore very pleased to be greeted on docking in the above container port by a group of these people, playing instruments and dancing. Fascinating to see were two stilt men. They must have been at least 8ft off the ground, and to adjust the stilts around their legs they sat on the stacked containers lined up on the quayside! These two guys twisted on their stilts, gyrating and appearing to be about to fall. They were performing for about an hour, in tremendous heat, and one wonders why the women were still so large! Getting the complimentary shuttle bus into town, we were dropped off at the Superamco Supermarket in the city centre. This is, as its name suggested, a retail outlet for the locals and sold mainly food, cosmetics, alcohol and some small electrical goods, so of no interest to us, other than looking at the sort of goods on offer and the prices. For the first time this trip, we encountered Magnum ice creams with a flavour not hitherto seen. Maybe a new variety for sale for the summer of 2014 in Western Europe!? Lome street market scene Leaving this supermarket, we walked down towards the ocean, and the road on which we had come into town. Wide and straight running alongside the ocean, with a central reservation, also built by the Chinese, for all the world like an upmarket Californian beachfront, one end goes to Benin and the other to Ghana. There are a few hotels along this road and we went into one on the corner of the road on which we had left the supermarket. Unlike in Luanda, the business centre not only took foreign currency, but allowed us an hour of internet time for $5. The unfortunate circumstance, being French, the keyboard was completely different, and combined with a not very fast connection was a bit of a nightmare. However we did manage to get one of the documents we had not previously been able to open and printed at a cost of a $1 per page, so the whole episode had cost us $17! Before returning to the ship, we retraced our steps to the supermarket and the market stalls on both sides of the road. We bought a few postcards, and wandered into the small simple cathedral where a service was in progress. The music and singing appeared to be hymnal but with a strong African beat which was very infectious. We stayed to listen for a few minutes and then we wandered down another few streets with lively vendors selling everything from gold watches to smoked fish, and thence back to the ship via the shuttle bus. TEMA, GHANA THURSDAY 13 MARCH 2014 This was the turn round port and the end of the first cruise, however roughly 200 passengers were staying on for the next leg to Las Palmas. Tema is the port used for the city of Accra and lies some 16 miles east of the capital, and the Greenwich Meridian - 0 longitude, passes directly through the city. It was a pity that we were unable to sail out into the Atlantic to 0 degrees longitude and latitude, but Captain Arma told us that it lay some hundreds of miles to the south west, and we had neither the time nor the money to expend on the extra fuel. Tema is nicknamed the "Harbour Town" because of its status as the largest Ghanaian seaport. Docking on time at 8.00 am once again in a soulless container port, we were fortunately not “shore side”, so had a better view of the town in the distance. We had opted not to do a ship's tour, but fortunately with Silversea, they had provided a complimentary shuttle service. Unfortunately this was not to the town which was some distance away, but merely to the port entrance where taxis would be waiting and the likely cost would be $15 an hour to hire. In the event they had either been misinformed, or inflation had happened very quickly. The first guy we spoke to wanted $25 to which we said we had been told that it was only $15. He didn’t seem interested, so we walked away to another taxi driver who quoted $50, and when we said that was outrageous, he replied that Americans had paid that earlier. We then agreed on $20, realising that no-one would be any cheaper, so we accepted this price and sped off into town. Fortunately English is the language spoken, although they do have their own patois. Our chap seemed friendly enough and pointed out various things of interest that we passed. His name was David and he chatted as we drove in his un-airconditioned seen better days Nissan Primera! Leaving the port we drove along the oceanside and then reached the main part of Tema which was very much down at heel with shops and "houses" intermingled, portraying a very bustling scene. It was here we encountered the traffic, virtually nose to tail, with big heavy trucks nearly all of whom had seen better days and appeared to have major bits missing. There were also many small minibus-type vans which were obviously local buses. These also seemed to be old and in a bad state of repair. The road was generally of a good surface, but with a few large potholes, where David was careful in slowing down. The road into Accra ran along the ocean until we reached the outskirts of the capital, where a series of large roundabouts took us inland. Here the buildings were grander and better kept. These buildings included the Old Parliament House, the Supreme Court, and the Central Library. Arriving in the outskirts of Accra, we made our first brief stop to take a picture of the Independence Arch, followed by a visit to the Accra Sports Stadium and Conference Centre. This holds 40,000 people and covers a wide area with seating at either side. They had just celebrated their Independence Day and chairs and decorations in the country's colours were being stacked away. Having taken some video footage we then went to Nkrumah's mausoleum and Memorial Park. This stands in lovely gardens with a large rectangular lake with fountains and beautifully carved statues. At the end of this lake is the mausoleum in which lies the "great" man. You can walk inside and everything is marble, from the walls to the floor and of course, his coffin. Outside is a headless statue of Nkrumah, with his head on a plinth next to it. Apparently when he was overthrown, his statue was toppled, and his head was recovered by a loyal supporter and hidden until the furore died down, when it was decided to re-erect the two side by side - presumably as a reminder. Nkrumah's mausoleum, Accra We retraced our steps to return to Tema and passed by the Arts and Crafts Market, but as time was going on, we decided not to stop here. The journey was quicker on the return drive as David was able to utilise the motorway, something not possible before, due to roadworks. He dropped us back safe and sound to the port gates and was very happy with the extra dollars we gave him. Part 2 - Tema, Ghana to Las Palmas, Canaries follows under a separate posting called – Amazing Atlantic Adventures   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This was our second cruise on board Sojourn. Our first was an excellent experience so much so that we were a little nervous returning. Would this trip live up to the previous experience? Fireworks look amazing because you aren't ... Read More
This was our second cruise on board Sojourn. Our first was an excellent experience so much so that we were a little nervous returning. Would this trip live up to the previous experience? Fireworks look amazing because you aren't expecting them. You know you're going to see some and the organisers use flowery words like "extravaganza" in their promotional material but you aren't exactly sure what will happen in the sky. They light up the night sky, you see colours and shapes for a brief moment then it's all over and hopefully you walk away with a smile on your face and excitement in your voice. Having been on Sojourn last Christmas we knew what was going to happen. It was like knowing each firework in advance having seen it before. That,"startled in the headlights of luxury" feeling wouldn't be there this cruise. Would it all come crashing down when we knew the script? The answer is absolutely and unequivocally no. If anything I would say that knowing the ropes helped us enjoy our time on board even more. We didn't feel pressured to use the main dining room for evening meals choosing to take ourselves off to the Colonade a couple of nights for a delightful dinner. Sitting under cover on the back deck in particular was wonderful. The service was still just as sharp but this time we knew a lot of the people looking after us and more importantly they knew us. Even 12 months on there were a couple of times when we were amazed when a favourite item arrived without our asking. Vladan in the observation lounge remembering a cocktail, Temur and Paul remembering a wine choice. The food was excellent. Although we ate in restaurant 2 one evening it wasn't to seek out better offerings, merely for a change of scenery. The New Years dinner in the main restaurant for example was spectacular. Chef Neil and his team are at the top of their game and he was to be seen regularly doing the rounds making sure everything was in order. But the headline act onboard Sojourn is the service. Little moments like Antonio popping down to the square to fetch a coffee whilst I was playing cards by the pool in spite of my saying not to, I'd grab one myself later. At no time did the staff feel overwhelmed, not even one morning when the world and their mother descended on the Colonnade just before they closed. In fact at no time does the ship it's self ever feel overwhelmed such is the space per passenger ratio. Last year we had a problem during embarkation, they were so quick we didn't get to have a drink in the check in area! This year we got one but only just, once again the check in process could have been measured in seconds rather than minutes or the hours of some cruise lines. Speaking of other cruise lines the one area where Seabourn are scuppered from the start is entertainment. Where other ships have gargantuan theatres with hydraulic stages and flying gantries Sojourn has to make do with far more modest facilities. Once again though Handré and his team punched well above their weight. In particular we were delighted to see Sergii and Anastasia the two dancers on board again. They not only put on some amazing shows for us but also helped out around the ship and meeting up again was a genuine pleasure. The trivia quiz was, as expected full of controversy and inter team rivalry. Sadly we fell somewhere short of winning the key ring but enjoyed ourselves none the less. More successful was name that tune where we stormed to an unexpected victory amongst stiff competition. As per last year we had a V2 balcony cabin, or suite as Seabourn refer to them. To be fair size-wise it slots in between a Royal Caribbean Junior and Grand suite, worth bearing in mind when comparing prices. Ports of call this time were ok although we found ourselves in some pretty dire surroundings on a couple of occasions. The overnight stop at Richards Bay was taken amongst coal and scrap metal. Will be be coming back to Seabourn? Categorically yes. We paid a small deposit on board which gives a modest discount off the next cruise. Our concerns that the sparkle might fade on a second cruise were unfounded. If anything it might have been a better cruise. We met some great people as seems always to be the case on Seabourn. The ship helped us host our own table of new friends on New Years Eve, they even went to the trouble of printing out invitations for us then delivered them to cabins. Once again no additional charges were made. We met up with some people we had cruised with the previous year. Because Seabourn ships are smaller and there are fewer of them the guests form part of an elite club bumping into each other from time to time. This is particularly the case on special cruises such as the Christmas / New Year trip. Seeing familiar faces and trading stories from the moment you step foot onto the ship really helps you to get into the spirit of things. If I was to look for fault service in the main dining room was a little slow at times, but probably down to the individual rather than an institutional failing. The menu on the day, when we and other guests arrived probably all played a part and it certainly didn't detract from and otherwise tremendous product. I can't recommend the experience highly enough. Until the next cruise..... Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
What sold us on this cruise: The two features that sold us on this cruise was the itinerary and the all visas would be included. Getting visas to some of the more exotic places is a real challenge, so having that as part of the ... Read More
What sold us on this cruise: The two features that sold us on this cruise was the itinerary and the all visas would be included. Getting visas to some of the more exotic places is a real challenge, so having that as part of the trip's inclusivity was great. Besides that, being on a grand voyage we'd also get almost all the perks the top tiers of Seven Seas Society members get including my favorite: free laundry and dry cleaning. I can't say this is typical on Regent, but it was a great differentiator on this trip. Embarkation: Upon embarkation we had a bit of a rough start, I have to assume because port authorities in Cape Town did not allow Regent personnel to help with embarkation. The impression was terrible. We got herded into a tent, with no one telling us what to do, I deduced that we had to sign a statement that we didn’t have Ebola and then “optionally” put some of our luggage through a bag x-ray. There didn't seem to be much enforcement so who knows what the purpose of lugging our bags around was anyway. To use an analogy: this was like being invited to a grand ball and arriving in our finest having to wade through raw sewage to get to the front door of the palace, and then trying to forget all that with a glass of champagne. First impressions: The first thing my wife noticed while first walking through the ship was the lack of flowers. During past cruises there were a lot more plants and orchids in our room, rest rooms etc. The new décor was interesting, I suppose the trend is to move away from wood grain (I personally love wood grain and the old style of the explorer lounge). My wife noticed that the lighting outside the Horizon lounge in the bar area was very bright, perhaps it needs a dimmer? Otherwise it might serve a very good place for the security officer to perform interrogations :) I also noticed that there were no pens in our cabin, most likely an oversight that we did rectify through our steward. Speaking of housekeeping, now even standard cabins have both a steward and stewardess as a team which is an excellent idea. It solves getting your cabin cleaned quickly and efficiently and solves almost all issues regarding cabin needs. We have sailed on Regent more than any other line and can't help comparing the current cruise with our past ones. Ever since our first cruise it seems more and more obvious how the company has been applying cost savings and cost control measures. Having been in the corporate world myself, I can certainly understand it from the corporate and investor side however, the risk is to make sure your customers can’t tell the difference, otherwise you are on the very bad trajectory of the airlines. I haven’t met anyone in recent times that ever says airline travel is a joy. I'm sorry to say that on each new Regent Cruise, the accounting side of the company seems to shine, and repeat passengers tend to be left wanting. I realize it is very difficult to maintain the level of luxury and "features" that existed in the past while still making money, but it is sad if it can't be done. To be fair to new Regent cruisers, I don't think what we're referring to as lacking would even be noticed since as a new passenger you're evaluating the cruise as is, and not comparing to something else. Don't shy away from Regent because of this. Regent is still an excellent cruise line, it just isn't as good as Raddison used to be. Entertainment: On the entertainment/lecture side, it seems we experienced a watered down version of what we used to have. On this cruise, aside from the destinations loop on TV there were no destination lecturers which really diminishes the ultimate experience one could have in visiting new places. While the handouts etc. are fine, having an experienced traveler on board who can give you tips on where to go, what to see, the history etc. is really important. I had heard a rumor that the destination lecturers had their stipends eliminated by Regent which, if true is a pretty short-sighted way of cost controlling. I am aware of the new partnership with the Smithsonian, but that didn't help us on this cruise. While the on-board entertainment has been good, its still a “lite” version of what we use to get. In past cruises, especially trans-oceanic, we’d have the destination lecturers, special interest lecturers and possibly up to two celebrity speakers such as Terry Waite or a former Apollo Astronaut. On this cruise we have a very good aviation historian who I enjoyed – but he was not essential to the itinerary we were on, and a very nice cook book author who I’m afraid was misplaced. She should be doing cooking lessons in the Horizon lounge with small group not a show and tell in the theater. I was surprised there wasn’t an astronomer on board as we’ve had on previous cruises to help us enjoy the unique experience of viewing the night sky in the middle of the ocean. Needless to say with such a small group of speakers we couldn't have Liar’s Club or other game shows since there just were'n't enough lectures/entertainers on at one time to do that. We had Name that Tune on some evenings which was good but we used to have all sorts of other games after the show in the evening. Fortunately Teatime Trivia was very popular and fun. On the positive side our cruise director Jaime Logan and his wife Dana along with the singers and dancers were top notch. To us they made all the difference and salvaged our entertainment experience. We found all of them very approachable, and the shows were absolutely fantastic. Some shows were repeated in our second segment, but we enjoyed them as an encore. All these people work tirelessly to put on a great show 24/7 and make our cruise stand out. Bravo to all of them! On our second segment we had an excellent author and historian to help us enjoy the ports of southeast Asia. What a shame she did not get on in Cape Town. I have never sailed on Oceania, but I have talked to other frequent cruises who have sailed on both and the consensus is that Regent is a pre-paid pre-packaged version of Oceania now, rather than a true luxury “whatever satisfies the customer” line that it used to be. Kudos goes to all the onboard staff, who despite having one hand tied behind their back by corporate rules still manage to make our voyage wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our first time on Cunard. We embarked the QM2 in Cape Town which was shambles due to large number os people embarking and a colour blind co-ordinator. We were offered tea, coffee & biscuits but some lunch would have been nice, ... Read More
This was our first time on Cunard. We embarked the QM2 in Cape Town which was shambles due to large number os people embarking and a colour blind co-ordinator. We were offered tea, coffee & biscuits but some lunch would have been nice, even if only a sandwich. The ship itself is a bit tired but everything was clean and nothing was too much trouble for the staff who were cheerful, helpful and polite. There was so much to do on this ship. Shows, talks, concerts, quizes, games, instruction classes, library, spa etc etc. We were not bored! Even with all the choices of food I did find some of the meals unpleasant. Horrible gravy like sauces on beautiful pieces of cooked fish, or meat, which I think should have been served separately. Even the vegetables were soaked in this gravy sauce. Good vegetable dishes were very lacking all round. I do think the QM2 could do a lot better. The Spa area was very good but ridiculously expensive. I once visited the hair salon for a blow dry and was given the third degree about the condition of my hair and what product I use which was completley unnecessary and stopped my going again. Sadly we also caught colds but managed to shake it off but were left with the Cunard cough which did linger even after returning home. Our ports of call were Walvis Bay, Gran Canaria and Madeira. We did a tour of the Namibian desert and dunes in Walvis Bay. In Gran Canraria we took the two-stop bus vsiting Maspalomas and Puerto Mogan. In Madeira we took the shuttle bus to Funchal and spent time exploring on our own. I realise that the QM2 likes to call itself a liner rather than a cruise ship but it was a cruise. Overall we had a nice time and it was certainly an experience. Would I go on Cunard again? No, mainly because of the standard of food and because there are better cruise liners offering the same but better. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This is a very personal view of the cruise based on our previous experiences. This cruise ship is very smart. Very well looked after and spotless clean. Posh. Upper class. Pretentious. It seemed to me that it was trying very hard to be ... Read More
This is a very personal view of the cruise based on our previous experiences. This cruise ship is very smart. Very well looked after and spotless clean. Posh. Upper class. Pretentious. It seemed to me that it was trying very hard to be something it is not. Everything is very, very expensive. For instance: Bus shuttle from port to airport. $109. (Taxi. $20)! Small bottle beer. 330ml. $7.5 Single spirit. $11 Small glass cheap wine. $11 (Including the 18% service charge) Etc.etc. Staff were the best I have come across. They seemed genuinely cheerfull and very helpful. Service was excellent. The food, as advertised by Oceania, is the best at sea! I agree, it is generally excellent. Particularly in the main restaurants. However the buffet I found disagreeable in its content. The breakfast was particularly poor, well, for a Brit anyway! The desserts seemed to be mushy, and very small. All food is given to you by buffet staff. You cannot help yourself! All tea, coffee and soft drinks were free. However I only saw one coffee machine on the whole ship. Also, restaurant times were quite short. The buffet servery area was poorly laid out with poor passenger flow, scrum. Often waiting for a table. How come a GPS based computer system can guide the 27000 ton ship to all of its ports automatically, yet they can't build a machine that can provide decent toast. Eggs cooked to order by a person using just two small pans. Not a griddle. 15 mins wait for an egg some mornings. The ports of call all looked fantastic on paper. In reality some of them were quite poor, almost a waste of a day! If you were to arrange tours in all these ports, particularly to the myriad of "game reserves", then ok. But the decision to explore the ports themselves sometimes led to a tedious few hours ashore. This was very evident when the shuttle buses provided by Oceania took all passengers using them to a shopping mall in most ports. These malls were mostly in urban fringe. We arranged private tours via internet in 4 of the ports and had a great time. We did not leave the ship in Maputo!! Right, now for the entertainment. Concert Flautist twice. Virtuoso Mandolin player twice. String quartet every evening and afternoon. 2 Film shows, both on port days? Comedy musician twice. Another comedy musician twice. Zzzzzzzz. Enrichment lectures. Zzzzzzzzzz. Photo show. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Pretentious. Too posh to have a good time. Everything aimed at a demographic with musical taste, fine gourmet foodies, wine buffs, and money! Almost forgot the "piped music". Very quite, everywhere, all the time. The same music tracks everyday. Zzzzzzzz. Free style jazz. Zzzzzzz. Rat pack. Zzzzzzzzzzz. Freestyle piano. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I could go on, and on. But I must learn from my experience! We did not really enjoy the experience of Oceania cruising. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
When I discovered the cruise in June 2015 for nov/dec 2015 around South Africa and a reasonable rate, I did not hesitate , certainly that a few years ago we were already on the Nautica and for once there is an interesting program for this ... Read More
When I discovered the cruise in June 2015 for nov/dec 2015 around South Africa and a reasonable rate, I did not hesitate , certainly that a few years ago we were already on the Nautica and for once there is an interesting program for this area. If fact after dep from Cape Town we went to Walvis Bay Namibia (2days) and then Port Elisabeth, East London, Durban (2d), Maputo (former Lorenço Marques) , Richards Bay, Mossel Bay and back to Cape Town. I have been surprised by the visiting possibilities to several excellent Parks rather close ( 50- 70 km) from the different ports. (Addo Elephant Park, 1000 Hills Valley, Bantou and Zulu Villages, St Lucia Wetland Park, Botelierskop Private Reserve, etc) Not having "experience" in this continent, we took the majority of excursions with Oceania. Yes perhaps a bit more expensive but well organized and interesting. (In Port Elisabeth we used a local operator Pembury Tours). As Oceania has the advantage to stay correct time in the ports, it was without problem. We have a an excellent souvenir of the quality of this cruise. The Nautica has been renewed since our previous cruise. Quality of the food in the different restaurants is above the levels. Honestly Oceania is proud to have the best food on sea and I agree. There are no extra costs or reservation fees for the different restaurants. Now, the non alcoholic drinks are included. OK wines are a bit more expensive as on some other cruise lines (exemple HAL) but ok it is still within norms. The service on board was excellent. The ship is comfortable, clean, nice. We stayed a few days before sailing in Cape Town Double Tree Hilton. The disembarkation was early 8H en our flight late (past midnight) but we arranged a full day trip with Pembroke Tours in the Wine Yards to end in the evening at the airport. During seadays we were lucky with the weather already nice in this season. (Pool facilities). Cape Town is a nice city and is reasonably safe (of course always with the normal precautions) The port is in fact in the middle of Cape Town center (Waterfront). The airport not to far out. You have of course to check the medical requirements for South Africa. There have been some discussions about the Yellow Fever which Oceania required, and which is however NOT required by International Tropical Institute of Antwerp it is clearly mentioned that this vaccination is NOT required for South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique!! Finally they accepted this official rule. I really recommend it this cruise. More other companies are also offering is such as Regent Seven Seas and also Compagnie du Ponant. Regarding Ponant the cruise is only 7 days which is too short! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click