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22 Cape Town to Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

Time and place was suitable. Cruise #1 was very attractive with visit to game reserves. Cruise #2 was not as attractive as we are not great swimmers. one of the few english lecturers was 82 yrs old, he sat during his mumbled talks. ... Read More
Time and place was suitable. Cruise #1 was very attractive with visit to game reserves. Cruise #2 was not as attractive as we are not great swimmers. one of the few english lecturers was 82 yrs old, he sat during his mumbled talks. Only one of the expedition team ( of more than 16) was an englishman so that the number of talks in english was very limited - though the french staff members tried hard. Only 15% of the 200+ passengers were english speaking, we were all felt to feel like second class travellers, not by the ship's staff (who were excellent) but by the expedition members. three couples, independently, said to us they would not sail with ponant again. Quality of the food, again needs mention, it is not up to the standard expected. This was our tenth cruise on ponant and we have ten more booked, so we hope that the company improves it attention to international travellers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
REVIEW Know Cape Town very well, studied other Cities on internet. Always loved Venice. 1. Embarkation and disembarkation very well organised and uncomplicated. 2. Cabin excellent, clean, neat and comfortable, bathroom great ... Read More
REVIEW Know Cape Town very well, studied other Cities on internet. Always loved Venice. 1. Embarkation and disembarkation very well organised and uncomplicated. 2. Cabin excellent, clean, neat and comfortable, bathroom great except for cramped shower. It is the first time that salt spray on cabin windows was bad. I could not even take photographs as I have done in the past. Windows not cleaned once during entire trip. (especially on a Grand Cruise, this should not happen) 3. Air conditioner did not work to well. We both developed colds and noticed that many other passengers also had coughs and colds, definitely due to faulty or contaminated air conditioners. 4 Dining in buffet area excellent, wide variety of foods available. Dining in Galeone good, but plates for salads and entrees oversized. My wife developed food poisoning from the boiled tasteless prawns. She took 2 weeks to recover. 5 Entertainment was excellent, we enjoyed all the shows (especially the singing Siblings and Danny Fischer). All performances were very enjoyable. A great variety of other activities all very enjoyable. Never at a loss to find something to do. I just think that the Theatre seating arrangements should be upgraded to match that of the MSC Opera, the tables between the rows of seats created problems, twice people knocked over drinks while trying to get to seats. Many more people can be seated if the tables are removed and replaced with full rows of seats. 6 The service all round was excellent. Sometimes difficult to find a table in the buffet area, but that to us is part of the fun of cruising, always meeting new people. The high teas were excellent full of variety. 7 Ports were excellent, enjoyed them all, the highlight being, coming into Venice. Malta was beautiful especially the colourful lights the evening when leaving. Shore excursions are very good, educational and exciting, except that they are very expensive. 8 We love cruising with MSC as it is excellent value for money. We definitely will be cruising again. Hope fully getting a free upgrade to a balcony cabin, as this will be our 9th cruise. Hoping to do the return cruise from Italy to Durban. The staff at Reception, MSC Club Members and especially at the Excursions Counter were all extremely helpful (A special thanks to Joline Coertzen ,whom we met on previous cruises as well) 9 a special thanks to the Captain, Officers and all the staff who do such great work behind the scenes Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
The main reason for myself and My husband making this wonderful cruise was that we did the reverse trip from fabulous Venice to our home city Cape Town five years previously on the marvelous MSC Opera and had enjoyed it immensely. So when ... Read More
The main reason for myself and My husband making this wonderful cruise was that we did the reverse trip from fabulous Venice to our home city Cape Town five years previously on the marvelous MSC Opera and had enjoyed it immensely. So when the opportunity presented it itself to once again cruise with the same company but in the opposite direction we were very quick to reserve our berths on board. It was also also interesting to meet all the different nationalities of people on board especially when using the breakfast and lunch buffet with the table sharing procedure, another very interesting part of the cruise Was the many and varied shows and talks that were given which were always of a very high standard. We particularly enjoyed the Old trial murder trials that were given and also the talks by Stephen Cloete. The various ports of call were most intereting, and from the very start of the cruise to the final disembarkation we were extremely impressed and even at the very end having the captain saying goodbye with a handshake and a smile made a lasting impression we shall never forget! We would certainly recommend it to anybody who was interested in doing it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and as a convenient way of getting to Europe. The Sinfonia is not to the same standard as the Opera which we have cruised on, on two occasions. There is too much pork served at breakfast and ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and as a convenient way of getting to Europe. The Sinfonia is not to the same standard as the Opera which we have cruised on, on two occasions. There is too much pork served at breakfast and lunch. Buffet in the main dining room with a full menu service is rather strang? If people want buffet, there is a whole restaurant dedicated to that style of eating. The evening meals were very good and the services was excellent, where one has a chance to get to know the waiter that serves the same table each night. The entertainment arranged for the cruise was very good. The cruise director was an excellent entertainer, singing, dancing, magic, mime and presenting enrichment shows. The captain was also seen on occasion walking the ship and acknowledging the passengers. When disembarking in Venice, he was present in the farewell party and was shaking hands with each passenger, which was a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
I am a marine engineer, worked on ships and tugs my whole life, for once I wanted to be a passenger. As I have spent my life in small cabins the size of the cabins on board did not bother me. The company that I work for have had new tugs ... Read More
I am a marine engineer, worked on ships and tugs my whole life, for once I wanted to be a passenger. As I have spent my life in small cabins the size of the cabins on board did not bother me. The company that I work for have had new tugs built, which also use passenger ship shower/ toilets and on these the shower curtain does not hug you as you turn. The ship was excellent, cabins I suppose, were normal size.Dining was as you wanted, dress up or not. Always something going on, entertainment laid on was pretty good, info at talks on ports of call were informative. Service, both in cabin and in the restaurants was excellent. The only complaint I had was with the vouchers purchased. Looking back,I will not buy them again, as each voucher was worth more than the item purchased. Would I travel by ship again, sure, but not on such a long voyage again. Seven to ten day maximum trips. It does not bother me, but then I have a wife who did not enjoy it, as for her the trip was definitely too long. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Drinks were ship, ship is great and we'll maintained, staff were brilliant and very helpful. However the food was terrible and I was embarrassed for the staff who had to serve this rubbish. Currently on Rhapsody Of The Seas and there ... Read More
Drinks were ship, ship is great and we'll maintained, staff were brilliant and very helpful. However the food was terrible and I was embarrassed for the staff who had to serve this rubbish. Currently on Rhapsody Of The Seas and there buffet is like fine dining compared to MSC. You need to live your game in this reason. Stephen Foster would have to be the best Cruise Director we have encountered in 30 Years of cruising. He is so wasted in that position and should be on the stage full time. Shore excursions were interesting and informative considering the history we encountered. Probably would cruise again but food would have to show a massive improvement to reach the level of other cruise lines we have travelled on over the years. Sinfonia is a nice ship and it's owners need to sharpen up their game to be competative in this industry. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Exceptionally good value for the cruise. The ship was well maintained with the exception of the cabin air conditioning which was contaminated and resulted in upper respiratory tract infection. There was the usual problem of people ... Read More
Exceptionally good value for the cruise. The ship was well maintained with the exception of the cabin air conditioning which was contaminated and resulted in upper respiratory tract infection. There was the usual problem of people reserving sun loungers for long periods of time but not using same, this needs to be addressed by MSC crew. The cabin was adequate but the shower was too small. The cabins on MSC tend to be smaller than other lines but that reflects in the price of the cruises.The cabin steward was OK but charged to the mini bar for water that was not provided by him. Our waiter in the restaurant was exceptionally good, but the quality of the food in all restaurants was inferior to previous cruises with MSC. The entertainment on board was excellent and has improved compared to previous cruises. I was on the Sinfonia 18 months ago and several of the presentations were repeated this cruise (Court cases) The on-line booking with touch screens was a significant improvement. The credit card authorisaion was good although there was some issues with the internet connection (CPT) The service staff on board were efficient and friendly There was a significant improvement on embarkation process in CapeTown Shore excursions were good but a little expensive. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
The return trip from Cape Town is a long cruise, but allows you to settle into cruise life and really relax, as opposed to the short cruises, where its go, go, go. One gets to know the crew a little better and also to meet and mix with ... Read More
The return trip from Cape Town is a long cruise, but allows you to settle into cruise life and really relax, as opposed to the short cruises, where its go, go, go. One gets to know the crew a little better and also to meet and mix with the other passengers, which greatly contributes to the experience. MSC shipboard life is extremely well organised, the ship is well maintained and expertly run. Add the excellent catering, professional shows and interesting excursions, which all add up to a very relaxing holiday. The excursion details were not clearly indicated by the travel agent before the cruise, as some options were termed "sold out" and yet were available on-board. The on-board excursion team were absolutely excellent, however our bookings were already made before the cruise. The Visa requirements were also not clearly indicated with some confusion regarding Dakar, when the Ship's card was acceptable and yet we were required to obtain visas. We are committed MSC cruisers and are thinking of the next one. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We were looking for a relaxing cruise that was value for money. This cruise fitted the bill rather well... but don't expect great food or "modern" entertainment and activities. The drinks vouchers were good value for ... Read More
We were looking for a relaxing cruise that was value for money. This cruise fitted the bill rather well... but don't expect great food or "modern" entertainment and activities. The drinks vouchers were good value for money. We bought the coffee, cocktail and "all drinks" packages. The cocktail package didn't make much sense: the "all drinks" package was more versatile and costs less. If we bought the vouchers again, we would get the wine package (bottles of wine and water). It would have been more efficient if the drinks vouchers were loaded on the cruise card: carrying paper vouchers was cumbersome. PORTS OF CALL / EXCURSIONS Most of the ports of call were very good (Valletta was our favourite, Walvis Bay / Swakopmund was average, while Dakar was disappointing). The unplanned stop at Gibraltar was a pleasant surprise. The Dakar MSC excursion (Goree slave island) was not value for money: our bus travelled about half a kilometer from the ship to the port entrance and then broke down. We walked the 200m to the train station entrance and waited an hour and a half for our ferry (it was almost an hour late). The tour guide gave almost no information on Dakar or Goree Island. Most of the information came from the curator of museum. This was very interesting, but relatively short. We then walked to another history museum approximately 500m away, with no further guidance (all the installations were in French). SHIP The public areas in the ship appear a little worn out (seating, table tops and carpets), but were spotlessly clean. CABIN Our cabin was comfortable with sufficient space, although the clingy shower curtain was an irritation. Our cabin attendant (Ferdinand) cleaned the room twice a day and was always helpful and friendly. The beds were less firm than we are used to, but the spring mattresses did the job. DINING Our dining experience was the highlight: our dining companions were wonderful, the service attentive (Adi and Ashwara from Indonesia) and the food ranged from merely average (bland and repetitive) to very good (some of the meat and vegetable dishes were very good). The soups and risottos (a staple of an Italian cruise line you would expect) were awful: the soups were always watery and devoid of identifiable ingredients (including the chowder) and the risotto used the incorrect rice night after night and were stoggy. The seafood was generally very food (especially the fish), but the prawns were undercooked (causing diarrhea in our dinner companions) and were not deveined (as is the norm in South Africa). There were limited vegetable side dishes, and the vegetables always tasted as if they had been frozen (watery and tasteless). The best vegetable dishes were baked (such as the delicious aubergine / tomato / cheese bake). The wine and spirits selections became limited within the second week of the cruise: Aperol and Bells Whiskey had run out early and were not replaced. Amarula liqueur ran out for one week in the middle of the cruise. Some of the South African wines ran out, but were replaced by Italian ones in the Canary Islands. The buffet meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) were acceptable but generally uninspiring. Vegetable dishes were invariably quiche-like dishes. BARS The Shellagh's Bar has a separate smoking / cigar room that seats approximately 15 people. This was always empty, with patrons smoking in the open areas of the bar (on the starboard / right side). The staff told us that the port / left side was the "non-smoking" area. The only problem was that the lounge does not have doors separating these halves (or to the rest of the ship) nor separate air conditioning systems. So there was no difference between the smoking and non-smoking sections. I raised this with Guest Relations, but was told this was "normal". Smoking laws in South Africa or western nations prohibit this. This would be fine if the products available there were available elsewhere in the ship, but they were not (two types of beer on tap were exclusive to Shellagh's). ENTERTAINMENT / ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES The majority of cruisers were over 60 years of age, originating from South Africa (+/-40%), Germany (+/-25%), France and Italy (the latter two based on the languages used in announcements). We met other English speakers from the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand. There were exactly 17 children on board (out of less than 1900 passengers). The under-50s segment was a really small one. The entertainment therefore catered well for this older multi-cultural passenger make-up. For the few of us under 50, the entertainment and activities mostly missed the boat (excuse the pun!): it included music from the 1950s - 1970s (with a sprinkling of Adele and Michael Buble), classical music (generally very good), opera (also good), origami lessons, foxtrot / cha-cha / salsa dancing, etc. The shows also included Cirque du Soleil-type acts and dancers performing "Moulin Rouge" and other types of show-dancing. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
You can't argue with the price for this 21-night cruise from Cape Town to Venice, with return flights included in the price. It was a good value for money cruise. Would I go on the MSC cruises again? Most probably not because :- 1. ... Read More
You can't argue with the price for this 21-night cruise from Cape Town to Venice, with return flights included in the price. It was a good value for money cruise. Would I go on the MSC cruises again? Most probably not because :- 1. The problem with the food. Simply put, the food was awful, boring and repetitive in both lunch and dinner. The worst food in my 50+cruises so far. Part of cruising is about enjoying and appreciating a diversity of food cultures. I didn't come across any passengers who appreciated or enjoyed the food. One passenger commented that "he eats for survival". This neatly summed up what we thought of the food on the MSC Sinfonica. The good thing was that I lost weight after this cruise. 2. It doesn't cost anything to smile or to say "good morning, hello, or good evening". Simple things like this could make a difference to how passengers feel about the services. Unfortunately, these simple things were not there on the ship. It just gave an impression that the staff were not interested in their jobs: serving and helping passengers to enjoy their cruise experiences. 3. We were charged 3 Euro for a bottle of water in the restaurant for dinner, and the reason for that (or for the change from providing free tap water) was beyond comprehension. This was the first time in my over 50+ cruises that drinking water needed to be paid. Out of principle, we (7 of us) brought our own water from the buffer restaurant upstairs to the restaurant for dinner. Some passengers also did the same. 3. On the plus side, the entertainment was good in comparison, especially the broadway shows. I always enjoy cruising, as it gives me a comfortable feeling of being "at home". Being able to sample a variety of food is one of the attractions with cruising. Sadly, it wasn't the case with this MSC cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We had spent 5 weeks in Dubai and Southern Africa and saw this 21 day itinerary from Cape Town to Venice as an attractive way to travel to Europe. The ship is older, but has been refurbished and cabins added a few years back. We found ... Read More
We had spent 5 weeks in Dubai and Southern Africa and saw this 21 day itinerary from Cape Town to Venice as an attractive way to travel to Europe. The ship is older, but has been refurbished and cabins added a few years back. We found the ship to be immaculately clean, well maintained and attractive. We sailed in an outside cabin (non-obstructed view) and this is where the wonderful begins! Our cabin appeared to be a little larger than normal on the ship's map, but imagine our surprise when we discovered it was actually 2 rooms! The first room had the bath and a sitting area with a sofa underneath a starboard facing window. Upon opening the interior door, we found ourselves in a bull bedroom with a forward facing window and a complete set of additional closets, drawers and desk. This alone made the cruise one of our favorites! Our itinerary was Cape Town - Walvis Bay, Namibia - Dakar - Gran Canaria - Tangier (weather forced us to detour to Gibraltar instead, but it was a great port) - Malta, Dubrovnik and Venice. Plenty of sea days also. Entertainment in the evening and was varied and very good to excellent. Everything from classical music to pop, plus 5 productions shows and a number of other singers, impressionists. In fact, every night was exceptional (except one - a magician and shadow artist who was mediocre at best) and we never missed a show. Stephen was our cruise director and was top notch. I would not hesitate to sail with him again. The enrichment series was well done and interesting and I found it a pleasant and informative way to pass many mornings. Stephen also gave 3 of these, and I have to admit they were the most entertaining of the series. Embarkation was simple and quick and our cabin was ready 1/2 hour early. Same in each port. Gangways were clearly marked and it was easy to leave and return. The ports were good and well spaced out. We were given 3 shore excursions as part of our cruise fare, and again confirmed why we always book our own private tours. Gibraltar was well done and interesting and the group size of 16 really helped the enjoyment factor. Great guide and good stops. The other 2 however, Malta and Dubrovnik, consisted of 40 people which missed the best sites in both cities in our opinion and provided only a modicum of information for 2 spectacular locations. We did our own arrangements in the other ports and had much better experiences.\ Service was 5 star at all levels, from officers to the Cruise Director staff, to the hotel staff, bar waiters, shop attendants, cabin stewards and food service workers. I cannot say enough good things about these folks. Our Captain was extremely visible throughout the cruise, and was even on the gangway at disembarkation to bid us farewell. Now for the food. Alas, but for a cruise with such amazing features it could have, and should have, been better. We were at early seating and our waiters were exceptional, but they could not make up for the mess that was the menu. Usually there were 3 menu items, plus a pasta dish. The recipes were a mess, with ingredients that did not work together, meats that were tasteless and so tough that you couldn't chew them and desserts consisting of sponge cake with a variety of "different" toppings. (Have you ever had blueberry cake that was red?) In 21 days, I managed to lose something like 15 pounds. On a cruise! If it hadn't been for the decent breakfasts, I would have been constantly hungry. We have cruised her sister ship, the Armonia, in the past and did not have this experience. In total, we definitely enjoyed the cruise - our cabin was a major contributor to that satisfaction, but the entertainment and the ship itself were most enjoyable. If it had not been for the inedible lunches and dinners, I would have given her the highest rating. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Embarkation: The lines were very long and the signage was minimal. It was difficult to figure out which line to line up in and what to do. Some people also just skipped the lines and did not line up properly. This was not managed well. ... Read More
Embarkation: The lines were very long and the signage was minimal. It was difficult to figure out which line to line up in and what to do. Some people also just skipped the lines and did not line up properly. This was not managed well. Once we were inside the hall, the process was smoother and we did not wait in line too long there with check in. Ship: Ship interior seemed old and outdated, but overall singage of where to find certain areas was good. The public bathrooms appeared to not always be clean and could use a bathroom freshener inside the stalls. The theatre is awkwardly designed as it was difficult to see if you had people sitting in the chairs ahead of you. Dining: The food was very bland. Our servers were good but at times when you asked for something specific they were confused. For example, one night I ordered a quesedilla from the menu and asked for no cheese and the waiter said ok. Once I received the quesedilla it had cheese inside of it. I asked again for another one with no cheese, but once again received one with cheese. The food quality was very poor. The quesedilla consisted of processed cheese, shredded carrot and lettuce. It seems like the chefs do not really know what a quesedilla actually is. It was also served with marinara sauce (pasta sauce) for dipping and not salsa. We were very disappointed with the food. During the Middle Eastern night, the falafal main came with only two small pieces of falafal, althoug it was a main. The waiter apologized that it was so small, obviously not his fault. The beef we were served another time was very fatty and very salty. The food never seemed to have any flavouring but seemed very bland overall. It seemed that many corners were cut with the quality of the food to save some money. The buffet always seemed to have the same items every day. There did not seem to be much variety. The hot dog was very cold and never served warm. However, we did like the pizza selections and the gelato. The fruit and the desssert was also very good, especially the tiramisu and the pistachio parfait were our favorite. We would have like to see healthier options available. The salad bar seemed sparse and it would be nice to see some spinach and other greens. Also for the oatmeal in the morning, there were no bananas, cinnamon, berries, or crushed up walnuts as we have had on other cruises. It was just clumped up old raisins that you could put on your oatmeal. The tea selection was great and the cappucino in the La Baroque Cafe was very good. Water at the filling stations was of very good quality, although you need to make the signs on the water stations bigger to advise people not to use their own water bottles but the glasses for refilling the water bottles. The sign was very small and staff did not remind passengers of the rule even when walking right by the passenger using their water bottle. It was not very sanitary. Towards the end of the cruise, many people had a cold and were coughing everywhere, I would recommend more hand sanitizer stations. Lysol disinfectant sheets in the gym, as the spray and paper towel that were there did not seem to be utilized. Many passengers who were using the gym did not clean their equipment right after use and the girl in the gym (supervisor) did not enforce the rule. The equipment was very sticky and there was sweat all over the machines. More signage for that please and the gym supervisor needs to take on a more active role to enforce the equipment cleaning rule and not just stay outside the gym area, socializing with the spa staff. Two times, passengers were using the treadmill wearing sandals and there was no one there to advise them to wear proper shoes. The gym did have good equipment, and I loved the mats with suggested workout routines printed on them. Entertainment and Activities: Entertainment was ok, nothing spectacular. I did not like that the MSC female dancers wore such skimpy clothes and the male dancers were almost always fully dressed. The dance routines were great, but the thong outfits are a bit much. I thought it was very distasteful and inappropriate. I felt at times that we were all watching a striptease show and not an actual dance show. The port talks were not detailed enough and some misinformation was given as well. The Italian language classes were fun. There did not seem to be much going on and the activities seemed rather boring and not engaging. I would also have liked to have the captain do a morning announcement as we did not see or hear from the Captain very much. Service: For the most part it was ok. No one seemed to want to go above and beyond. We only saw our cabin steward a few times and were never asked if everything was ok in the cabin. We noticed that the items in our mini fridge were disappearing and asked our cabin steward were everything was going, and he said he was taking it to replace items in other cabins. I don't understand why he never explained this process to us in the first place, but just sneakily took the items away. We never heard more than a hello from him. Cleaning service was ok, again nothing spectacular or above and beyond. At times, it seemed that the carpet was not vacuum often. The staff we saw in the halls who walked by us, rarely smiled or said hello. The dining service staff was good. Ports: We did not purchase shore excursions. We thing tht Dakar, Senagal was not a good selection for a port stop as there was not much to see and do. The port itself was very chaotic. We did enjoy Malta and Dubrovnik the most. We would have liked to have stopped in Tangier, Morocco and were disappointed that it was cancelled. Overall, we had an average time on the cruise. We were mostly disappointed with the food. We would maybe use MSC cruises again, if that was the only option. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We are retired and live in a small town (Montagu) some 180 km from Cape Town and chose the cruise for its length of 21 days as well as for the countries visited culminating in Venice. The embarkation/disembarkation processes were well ... Read More
We are retired and live in a small town (Montagu) some 180 km from Cape Town and chose the cruise for its length of 21 days as well as for the countries visited culminating in Venice. The embarkation/disembarkation processes were well organized and stress-free. the dining facilities and food were tops as were the entertainment programmes. The staff in all sections of the ship were great and gave great service, especially our watrons/stewards on table 587 in the Il Galleone Restaurant.Of the ports visited we decided not to go ashore in Dakar as our travel agent advised us that no inoculations were required for any of the countries visited. We therefore had no protection against Yellow fever and were not prepared to take the chance of going ashore there.We loved all the other excursions with the harbours of Malta and Dubrovnic being spectacular and with the awe-inspiring entrance to Venice being the cream on the cake! I would recommend this cruise to anyone who loves cruising. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We enjoy the repositioning cruises as gives one time to settle. However compared to previous Northbound cruises this cruise had minimal stops. Looking forward to the East Coast Northbound. The food both in the buffet and dining halls has ... Read More
We enjoy the repositioning cruises as gives one time to settle. However compared to previous Northbound cruises this cruise had minimal stops. Looking forward to the East Coast Northbound. The food both in the buffet and dining halls has deteriorated and very repetitive. Take breakfast in the dining hall as the choices are far better than the buffet offering. The shows and presentations have also been done at least 3 times before. Service in both dining halls and bar/entertainment areas excellent. Cabin steward not good, constantly had to request further toilet rolls, towels etc. Was the best embarkation and disembarkation of our 9 cruises so far, even though disembarkation in Venice is generally a nightmare! Rather get accommodation in Mestre or Tessera - much easier access and more reasonable. Good wine in the dining hall generally runs out after 2.5 weeks, so advise you order all your wine and put away early on during the cruise. We will continue to cruise on MSC as generally they offer good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
I agree for the most part with Old Jazzer's review. This was my first cruise on Oceania. The cabin service was first rate. The social hostess Tammy was very good. The itinerary is why I took the cruise and it was more than I could ... Read More
I agree for the most part with Old Jazzer's review. This was my first cruise on Oceania. The cabin service was first rate. The social hostess Tammy was very good. The itinerary is why I took the cruise and it was more than I could have hoped for (except for the cancellation that left us in Sao Tome for 2 days - when it was my least favorite stop). I also could do without another Caribbean cruise but it was OK. The bar staff at Martinis was the most professional staff of all. From the Captain on down, the people who staffed this cruise should be evaluated as unsatisfactory. It started with the aloof captain, the gossipy GM, the arrogant cruise director (or whatever he was - Andy) and progressed on down to the service. The Grand Dining room maitre de was particularly offensive to those traveling solo. I can join Old Jazzer in that I was one of the few on this trip who did not get the "great deal". I paid full price (without discount for traveling solo) for a concierge level room. I did not get a big ship credit. Others on my floor had been upgraded with all its benefits from ocean view and inside cabin rooms for which they paid minimal amounts without any significant supplement. I don't see me traveling Oceania again (as other first time cruisers on this line told me they would not do either). But, if something were to happen where I was offered one of these "great deals" that other travelers got, I may consider it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We started the cruise with a ATL-JNB flight aboard Delta. We stayed at the Oceania suggested hotel of 54 on Bath in JNB for two nights. The hotel is excellent. As part of our cruise we booked Oceania's pre-cruise tour to the Chobe ... Read More
We started the cruise with a ATL-JNB flight aboard Delta. We stayed at the Oceania suggested hotel of 54 on Bath in JNB for two nights. The hotel is excellent. As part of our cruise we booked Oceania's pre-cruise tour to the Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana. Our only issue with the hotel stay was that we were not provided with information about the pre-cruise tour, even though I asked for it upon check in. We were supposed to have breakfast and dinner provided with the tour, but ended up paying for dinner as the hotel staff had no information as to what was provided as part of the pre-cruise tour. On our day of departure from the hotel to Chobe we met three other couples who were also on the Oceania tour. It appears we were not provided information as they were, including a special room for our meals, time of departure, etc. The Chobe Game Lodge was great. Oceania did an excellent job in having the four couples transported to the airport going and returning. The lodge itself was really a neat experience and it seemed like the four couples had the place for ourselves. Food, room and service were great. We had the chance to see a number of different animals on the different drives or river cruise. The travel from Chobe to Cape Town for ship embarkation was great. Then, we hit the second issue of our trip. When we arrived at the cruise dock in Cape Town, there was no Oceania personnel to check us in or direct us where to go. We found our way and passed through the security checkpoint dragging and carrying our luggage with us all the way to the Marina's reception desk for check in. The next day when we spoke to the concierge aboard the Marina, he indicated the reason we had to carry our luggage was because we arrived at 9pm and said it was our fault for arriving so late, even though our arrival was dictated by the Oceania travel itinerary. It has been two months and I am still not happy about his comments and even unhappier that nobody from Oceania has contacted me about the complaint I filed on board or on my post cruise survey. We had one day in Cape Town and booked a private tour through Luhambu Tours to visit the Cape Winelands. We really enjoyed the day even though we were still tired from the game lodge safaris and long day of travel the day before getting to Cape Town. We visited four vineyards doing wine tasting and just had a great time. Our next day on the cruise was a sea day, which was really needed to catch up on rest. Our first cruise port was Luderitz, Namibia. We took an Oceania tour to the ghost town of Kolmanskop. Kolmanskop (Afrikaans for Coleman's hill, German: Kolmannskuppe) is a ghost town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, 10 kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz. It was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman who, during a sand storm, abandoned his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement. Once a small but very rich mining village, it is now a popular tourist destination run by the joint firm NamDeb (Namibia-De Beers). Our next two days were spent in the port of Walvis Bay, Namibia and we booked private tours for both days through Edward Taylor. Our first day was spent with a tour of Walvis Bay where we had the opportunity to climb the 383 meter Dune 7. Also during the tour we visited a moonlandscape site, Swakopmund and then a tour of the Walvis Bay tour. Our second day was very exciting as it was spent 4x4 riding in the Namibia Desert. It was fun as we climbed up sand dunes and then plunged what seemed to be straight down. The sand dunes drives took place in the Namib Naukluft Park, Sandwich Harbour. We then had two sea days before arriving at Jamestown, St. Helena. We had booked a private tour with Horizons Tour, a small company owned and run by Patrick and Pamela Young. The day long tour took us to: Heart Shaped Water Fall, High Knoll Fort, Diana’s Peak National Park, St. James Church, Jacob’s Ladder, Longwood House, Napoleon’s Tomb, and the Plantation House and Jonathon, the oldest tortoise in the world. St. Helena was quite a surprise I believe for all the cruise passengers as not much was expected from this port. Everyone was mistaken as this place is truly a gem. I think, unfortunately for the island and its inhabitants, the new airport is opening and this island will be changed and not for the better. We then had four sea days before arrival into Rio de Janeiro. Again, we booked a private tour for the two days in port. We booked with Vicente Cardone and enjoyed ourselves a great deal as he made sure we saw every site there is to see in Rio. He had contacts at a number of places, so we were able to cut queues and get through lines quicker. We disembarked after an overnight stay in port and checked into the JW Marriott on Copacabana Beach which was a great location. We enjoyed Vicente and his girlfriend so much we spent our last day with them on the beach before departing for home on the Sunday evening. This was our 5th Oceania cruise and our second aboard Marina. I think the ship is due for a shipyard visit in 2016 and it is probably needed as it has a few areas of wear and tear. The dining was great as it was for us aboard our previous four Oceania cruises. The service was up to Oceania standard and our only issue was the Concierge who sits outside the reception area. We ate at each of the dining venues once, although we could have visited more staying in an Oceania Suite. We found the dining room to be good enough for us on this cruise and we laughed because on our last Marina cruise, we ate in the dining room only once and normally ate in the Terrace Cafe. This cruise, we only ate in the Terrace Cafe one night. We were invited by another passenger to dine in The Privee' one night and really enjoyed the experience. We did not take in any of the entertainment on the ship. We visited the casino a few nights, but the craps table was never open so did not spend much time in the casino. Disembarkation was very easy as many passengers had disembarked the evening we arrived into port, while many others stayed on board for the next cruise, a ten day to Argentina. Oceania offered the passengers a really good cruise fare if you wanted to stay on board, but it meant getting home on Christmas Eve, so we past on the offer. From our stateroom to our luggage took about 5 minutes. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Selected because of Itinerary from the South Atlantic from CapeTown to Namibia and then the volcanic mid-South Atlantic Islands of St Helena, Ascension Island, Cape Verde and the Canaries. Itinerary up to expectations but almost everything ... Read More
Selected because of Itinerary from the South Atlantic from CapeTown to Namibia and then the volcanic mid-South Atlantic Islands of St Helena, Ascension Island, Cape Verde and the Canaries. Itinerary up to expectations but almost everything else poor. I will make the exception of the crew which were the best we have come across - it is such a pity they are let down by such a poor ship, which in no way comes up to the level of the previous 'Disciovery' used by this Company. VofD air transit arrangements pathetic and discriminatory with some passengers being given a comfortable relatively quick 11 hr flight from Heathrow to Cape Town with seat preferences taken into account and the unfortunate remainder having to endure a 17hr round trip to Dubai with a 2hr changeover in the middle of the night and fixed non-movable seating allocation- result of the latter no sleep and arrival 8hrs after the direct flyers. BEWARE for any potential VofD fly-cruise passengers - they may take no account of preferences > on this flight separating family members all over the plane - it is in their terms and conditions. Anyway in our case the first two days in CapeTown were ruined because of this excrutiating journey with, in this case, an appalling Emirates Crew (eg drinks delivered 1hr after the meal they were expected to accompany) and just awful flight timings. The failings on the cruise are just too numerous to go into detail here but the 'star' summaries give an indication. Juist a few snapshots - Entertainment poor/'flow' of the ship poor/meals adequate but much less in quality that many others you may be used to. Noise on the upper open deck deafening. Lectures/Crafts sessions are well known for this Company and they were reasonable on this Cruise. Port Lectures very good. Public Rooms cold - no real difference after complaining - passengers were putting clothes ON in the tropics when they came inside the vessel, often having to wear jumpers - sightlines in the main entertainment lounge awful >front 20/30 are OK but view of remainder few hundred passengers largely blocked - we mostly gave up and watched any interesting lectures in the cabin, but of course that wasn't an option with the evening entertainment Worst failing was sea-keeping qualities of the vessel - BEWARE anyone who is a little uncertain of ship motion - it is absolutely awful with this small vessel - really did wear you out and made many feel unwell- steer clear of any itineraries crossing large sections of ocean - should be OK near coast. Just very disappointed about this after our past experiences with 'Discovery' and wanted to write a good review for the benefit of the really excellent crew, but you have to be honest and this review here is our honest opinion of this vessel - at least the places visited lived up to expectations. Some diehard VofD 'regulars' appeared to not be bothered by the shortcomings - I believe they are looking through 'rose-tinted' spectacles with perhaps limited experience of what is available for similar prices elsewhere - the experience is so much lower in quality than should be provided with modern day cruising, and most times is, elsewhere within the Cruising Industry. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
My wife and I have been on a number of cruises, but this was to be a first with MSC. Boarding on the 28th April in Cape Town was a shambles - no porters to assist the elderly with heavy bags, no trolleys, 3 hours of queuing, and when ... Read More
My wife and I have been on a number of cruises, but this was to be a first with MSC. Boarding on the 28th April in Cape Town was a shambles - no porters to assist the elderly with heavy bags, no trolleys, 3 hours of queuing, and when finally aboard, told that cabins not ready. We had an Ocean View (no.3086, just below the balcony cabin deck), which was considerably smaller than on any other cruise ship we've been on - a two bed cabin, but with two more bunk beds folded back against the bulkhead, further reducing the space therein. Cupboard space was well planned, allowing everything to be put away after unpacking. A safe for valuables was provided, as was a small fridge stocked with limited supplies. The television was of the old square boxy type (why no flat screen wall mounted TV..?), taking up unnecessary cupboard top space. No CNN or BBC news channels until we reached the Canary Islands and others - from experience we know that mid-Atlantic there is a "blind spot" for a day or so, but all African countries have satellite reception, and we were never that far away (we called at Walvis Bay & Dakar), so we should have had these programmes... The en-suite constantly had an aroma of sewage, the toilet was of the vacuum type, but a fault (reported but never rectified) meant that the toilet bowl constantly filled up with water almost to the rim, which was alarming. It never overflowed, but had to be constantly flushed... Most of the hangers provided in the cupboard were broken (no crossbar, so no hanging trousers..), and replacements offered by the room steward were of the flimsy type commonly given out by dry cleaners. For those holidaying aboard a cruise liner, the quality of the food served is usually of paramount importance, and usually a most enjoyable experience, but it was here that there were some serious shortcomings. The grandiose menus produced each evening for dinner each evening in the two restaurants promised something that never materialised - indeed, our first evening's dinner was totally inedible (mussels marinara, but not cooked, as none of the shells were open - the second attempt produced open shells, but no mussels..!), my wife had a "minute steak" that was simply a thick slice from an overcooked roast..! Granted, standards did improve as the cruise went on, but never up to the quality of dinners we have had the pleasure of experiencing on RCI, Celebrity and Fred Olsen boats. Theme dinner evenings were yet another unwanted experience - for example, on a "Greek Evening" the dolmades (lamb mince & rice flavoured with herbs & wrapped in vine leaves) turned out to be some kind of Japanese sushi roll, sliced into 2 inch tubes.. - and the kleftiko was beyond description, and tough as well... The Il Patio cafe on deck 11 provided a buffet style menu, and the quality of the food was better here, although quite basic when compared to other cruise lines. The main problem here was that it was too small to accommodate large numbers of passengers during inclement weather (half the cafe was open to the elements above, although protected at the sides) - on such occasions it was an absolute bun-fight, particularly for breakfast and luncheon, at which time one of the lower deck restaurants was always closed. Mid-morning snacks were always available, in the form of pizzas, hot-dogs, burgers, and it has to be said that these were excellent - without doubt, the Italians do excel in such dishes, and various breads, as were the pastries produced. Coffee and tea were available here 24/7. An unusual and quirky procedure was in the library, which seemed to consist solely of grubby and well thumbed paperbacks, in about 4 languages. A $15 deposit was required from the borrower against a non-return, and each receipt was laboriously hand written, so the whole exercise of borrowing a book was a lengthy process..! All this for a grubby paperback worth no more than 25p on a flea market stall - quite ludicrous..!!! The entertainment on board was mixed. During the day, there vere various activities, mainly centred around the pool on deck 11, but there were the other usual shipboard activities, such as lectures, bridge, etc., etc..The lounges (all 6 or 7 of them) had live music each evening, some of it very good, and variety to suit all tastes. The theatre produced two shows each evening, but by the time we had reached Teneriffe, everyone was a little tired of repeatedly seeing the stage dancing & singing boys & girls (some of the singing was a little off key) and the classical singers (tenor, baritone & two sopranos, plus pianist and flautist) who were very good, it has to be said - but after evening after evening some change was needed.... Unusually there was no ship's orchestra, and there wasn't a separate cinema, either. In general, the staff were willing and pleasant, but clearly hard pressed, and in some cases lack of proper training and language skills was apparent. Waiting staff in public rooms were overstretched, andseemed to be fewer in numbers by comparison to other cruise lines, and as a result were often unfairly critisised for service delays. Certainly, if one wanted a drink in a hurry in a moderately crouded lounge, better to get it yourself... A non-optional service charge of 15% was added to any food or beverage taken outside the main restaurants or cafe. Ship organised shore excursions seemed to be the most expensive we've ever come across, in some cases costing in excess of $100 per person - another example of unrestricted pricing was the shuttle bus organised on behalf of passengers who wanted to be transported from Cherbourg pier to the centre of town, a mere 5 minutes away - that's $13.90 thank you..! We have been on 10 cruises now, including SAGA, Fred Olsen, RCI and Celebrity, and whilst not as experienced as some travellers, it's enough to make fair comparisons. The general impression gained was one of economy at all costs - fewer staff in the lounges than one would expect, no satellite news coverage for over half the voyage, no free daily news sheet, minimalist buffet meals, poor quality food in many casses, no ships band, no counterpanes on our beds (apart from the first night, then they disappeared..!), and many other little touches experienced in other cruise ships which are done as a matter of course, such as no chocolate on your pillow in the evening, no ice in the ice bucket, etc., etc.. This ship and what it offers is most DEFINATELY NOT in the same league as those others I have mentioned, and light years away from the likes of Cunard, Silversea, and others. Based on my own experiences, I wouldn't classify this ship above 3* at best. Without doubt, this ship is too small for the number of passengers capacity (2,200 pax in a ship of 59,000 tonnes, equalls 37 passengers per 1,000 tonnes, compared to Independence of the Seas, 160,000 tonnes carrying 4,400 pax, equalling only 27 passengers per 1,000 tonnes). It may be OK for the short Indian Ocean cruises around the East African coast and Madagascar plus other islands, where the "Opera" and its other sisters regularly operate, catering for a largely South African clientèle (many of whom do not have experience of other cruise lines, possibly on the grounds of lack of affordability), but if the "Opera" is going to be a success when operating out of Southampton, and in a competitive market, then something needs to change. Having said all this, we did enjoy the cruise, once we had shrugged out shoulders and got used to all the shortcomings, and as always, we met new people and made new friends, which is what cruising is all about... - just wish I'd chosen another ship. Would I use MSC again in the future..? Not if I can help it - there is much better value & quality out there. Would I recommend MSC to other would-be cruisers..? In short, NO..!!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
THE GOOD THINGS: A very pretty ship....lots of outside space for deck chairs and eating. Maps on every floor by the lifts to remind you where you are. We've been on a number of other cruise ships and the balcony cabin was one of the ... Read More
THE GOOD THINGS: A very pretty ship....lots of outside space for deck chairs and eating. Maps on every floor by the lifts to remind you where you are. We've been on a number of other cruise ships and the balcony cabin was one of the best we have ever encountered, spacious, a very comfortable bed, plenty of hanging space for clothes, masses of drawer space and a nice two seater settee. Enough electric sockets in the right places and good lighting. The bathroom (bath with shower over) was not huge but perfectly adequate for the time spent in there. A lovely spa with a very nice private space with lounging chairs at the front of the ship where you could sit and enjoy quiet time. Breakfast in the main dining room was a pleasant experience with a good choice of dishes and nicely presented food. The evening entertainment was very good, particularly the dance shows and the classical evening concerts being very popular. The bar areas were lovely, plenty of nibbles supplied with the drinks (15% charged as per American ships) and the two female Ukranian bar staff we chatted to while having our pre-dinner drinks were pleasant and efficient. THE BAD THINGS: Embarkation at Cape Town was a mess with long queues in a dismal area. Took us over 2 hours to get on board. Most of the balcony cabins are on Sibelius deck are under the pool and recreation areas so there was a lot of banging and general noise from 6.00am onwards. Although MSC pride themselves on providing a "gourmet" menu, with the exception of breakfast in the main dining room, the food was seriously bad both in the buffet area and, very disappointingly, at dinner in the dining room. The evening menu had six courses and I think I only had one really good meal in the nearly three weeks on the ship. One course was always risotto or pasta which I, my husband and two friends love but they were tasteless and stuck together in a gluey mass. The lunchtime buffet salad usually consisted off some lettuce, tomato and cold, soggy, cooked vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans etc). The pizzas, bread, pastries and chips were the only good things but who wants to live on those for nearly three weeks. I know many passengers complained verbally or in writing. Our waiting staff, whilst pleasant, were badly trained and the Italian maitre-de's spent the evenings walking around the dining room without seemingly either checking the waiting staff or interacting with passengers. The staff in the outside eating area by the buffet were at best disinterested and at worst downright unpleasant. We cleared our own table most lunchtimes and carried the dirty dishes to the clearing-up area after we had eaten or we could have sat there an hour or more without the plates being cleared. The evening buffet menu was the same as lunchtime with nothing being done to make the area more attractive (tablecloths, low lights etc). For the very first and, I hope, only time on a cruise ship we actually cancelled all the tips and only gave personally to the efficient young chap who was our room steward. I spoke to a number of other passengers who also reluctantly did the same.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Previous reviewers made me wonder if we'd made a mistake booking this cruise again (we'd enjoyed it so much 2 years ago on the Melody) but we need not have worried. Also having paid a very low price we expected that there may ... Read More
Previous reviewers made me wonder if we'd made a mistake booking this cruise again (we'd enjoyed it so much 2 years ago on the Melody) but we need not have worried. Also having paid a very low price we expected that there may have been lots of cuts to the quality of the food, service and entertainment. Not so. The food in the restaurant was perfectly acceptable, at times really excellent, and even the buffet food was fine seeing that we eat only fruit for breakfast and salads for lunch. The theatre entertainment was good and varied, and the inclusion of 6 classical concerts made it for us, as well as the excellent performers in the La Caballa Piano Bar. Roberto's piano and singing ensured that we never had an early night! Derrick and his girls and boys were delightful. While we didn't take part in the deck games or dancing much, one had to pat the entertainment team on the back for their fun and enthusiasm. The ship is beautiful and perfectly maintained and clean - our cabin and the public rooms were spotless, and the service of the cabin attendant, waiters and bar people could not be faulted. Complaints: 1.Halfway across the Atlantic white wine ran out in the deck bars. However, a word sent to the Bar manager fixed this quickly. 2.Poolside loungers were all taken before 7am reserved by towels. A familiar problem and not policed. Irritating but not a train smash.3.Thankfully there were very few children on board, but a couple of them were unsupervised at the pool, and were using the hot tubs against regulation. Again, no policing, but thankfully this only happened a couple of times. 4.The pools have no shallow end, so it is not possible to do aquacises - a design fault, and no one could have put that right for me. We were a bit nervous about smoke as on other MSC and Costa cruises smoking has been a huge irritation - but we were grateful that this was not the case on this cruise and smoking was confined to one small space on the deck and to a 'smokers' pub' which we could avoid.So - so problem this time. We must give kudos to all the officers, crew and staff we came in contact with. Without exception they were friendly and helpful and went out of their way to make the cruise pleasant for the passengers. It was a truly relaxing, fun and memorable experience. Well done MSC. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
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
Cruise from Cape Town to Fort Lauderdale   It started out with a price I could not turn down. It was an outside cabin on the lower promenade deck on a 22-day cruise from Capt Town, South Africa to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for less than ... Read More
Cruise from Cape Town to Fort Lauderdale   It started out with a price I could not turn down. It was an outside cabin on the lower promenade deck on a 22-day cruise from Capt Town, South Africa to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for less than $60 a day per person. Florida was still relatively cool and dry. That means that the daytime high is below 90 degrees and the humidity is around 80 per cent. I usually wait until the first of June before leaving Florida for most of the summer. That is why we had the time available for this "last minute" cruise.   Looking for more justification, I perused the ports of call. There were nine ports of call that would be new. In fact, the only place that I had been before was Fort Lauderdale. To be perfectly truthful, however, the only place that was really on my "to do" was Cape Town, South Africa. Most of the rest I had never even heard of.   Another motivation was that my last cruise four months ago on the Holland America, Veendam had been less than sterling. Don't get me wrong! It was a very good cruise but just a little to "Carnivalized" for my liking. I wanted to see if the Rotterdam was still in the tradition of the Holland America I had come to adore.   With all those sea days scheduled, I thought my wife and I needed another couple for cards etc. so I asked my brother and his wife to join us. They jumped at the chance so the decision was made to join the Rotterdam in Cape Town for the 22-day cruise to Fort Lauderdale, a leg of the Holland America 2009 World cruise.   We decided to schedule the flight to Cape Town a few days early to see some of the South African sights before embarking upon the cruise.  There was so much that we wanted to do that the few days turned into five. We stayed at the Clarendon in Bantry Bay and the guesthouse was fabulous. The people were great. The breakfasts and tea times were not to be missed and the view from the guest rooms was to die for. The five days were jammed packed with day trips to the wine country, Robben's Island, the Cape of Good Hope, table rock mountain, the Victoria and Alfred shopping malls and a one day photo safari to the Aquila animal preserve. We were so exhausted that by the time we boarded the Rotterdam, we were looking forward to that first sea day.   Embarkation was a dream. Since the cruise was part of a World Cruise, there were only about 300 people embarking in Cape Town. Twenty minutes after we got to the dock we were in our cabin unpacking our hand luggage before hitting the buffet line on the Lido deck. There, we had the preview of the quality and variety of great food we were going to receive for the entire voyage. This was our 38th cruise and by far we had the best dining experience ever as far as variety, quality and service is concerned. In fact, my advice to HAL is "you got it right, don't change".   We quickly got into our routine. We had early seating for dinner so we would go to the show lounge after dinner that was about one hour before the show started. This usually assured us of a good seat down front. My wife, Velma, would read and I would work my Sudoku while waiting for the show to begin. The first evening the routine went off like clockwork.   The next morning I got to the Lido deck for coffee at my usual six o'clock and went out to the pool deck to work Sudoku and people watch. My wife joined me at about seven o'clock and Dick and Mary (brother and sister-in-law) joined us about half passed seven. We met a few people that had been on the cruise since the beginning. This was day 93 of their cruise. Needless-to-say, we had a lot of questions about such a long cruise.   On sea days, after breakfast Velma would do her water aerobics and I would lounge around and before you knew it, it was time for lunch. On days that we were in port we would take shore tours or go ashore on our own in the morning getting back in time to get a snack and rest before dinner. On sea days the afternoons were spent taking in the many activities on board or playing cards with Dick and Mary. One of our favorites activities was the afternoon movie. For the most part the movies were good considering the number of movies needed for such a long cruise and the differing tastes people had. There was so much to do that I could not see how anyone could not find something to his or her liking.   It was the third day on board that the routine was interrupted. When we got to the show lounge at our usual time "our seats" were taken. There were only two people in the theater and they chose to sit in our usual place. No problem, we just sat a row back. The next night when we arrived at our usual time we found four people in the theater and the other two were sitting where we sat the night before. No problem, we found seats in the same spot but on the other side of the theater. Evidently, these seats were not worth the effort for those world cruisers who embarked before we did to get to the lounge early enough to get them. From then on we watched the seating drama that took place each evening. Some times it was even more fun than Sudoku.   We soon found out that there was a difference between the "newbies" and the veteran world cruisers. Many of them had over ninety days to form their cliques. However, most of the passengers accepted us and some even liked the new blood on board.   We had our favorite cabin on Holland America. It was 3388 near the center of the lower promenade deck and just ten steps from the lifeboat station and about the same distance to the elevators and staircase. This minimized our walking and swaying and I thought that we would get enough exercise walking from the dining room to the theater anyway.   The music on board was outstanding. From 4:30pm until dinner, the Station Band played dance music in the Ocean Bar while the Peacefulls played in the Crow's Nest. They were both very good. However, we had to choose since they played at the same time before dinner. We finally settled on the Station Band simply because they were closer to our cabin and the dining room. However, we did get to listen to the Peacefulls during lunch on the Lido deck. After the show it was up to the Explorer's Lounge to listen to the Rosario Strings. The group were outstanding musicians and could play just about any song you requested. Here again we had to choose between the Rosario Strings and the piano bar and the strings won out.   Our ports of call in Namibia were Luderitz and Walvis Bay. They were quiet laid back towns and we enjoyed just walking around the towns for a few hours and getting back on the ship to enjoy the on-board activities. Many of the passengers took tours and had nothing by good reports but we preferred our favorite pastime, relaxing in the lounge chairs on deck or the easy chairs in the library when the weather got warm.   After Namibia, we island hopped all the way to Fort Lauderdale. St Helena was noted for the place where Napoleon spent the last six years of his life in exile. We also found it to be the home of Jacob's ladder, 699 stair steps from the town to the top of the nearby mountain. I climbed the first five steps, took some pictures and called it quits. We walked up the main street to the post office for some stamps, rested awhile in chairs on the porch of the local hotel and chatted with some locals before retracing our steps back to the dock to tender back to the ship. It was hard to believe that people lived on such a small island 1200 miles from the nearest land but they seemed to enjoy it.   Two days later we anchored off the coast of Ascension island. The sea was a little rough so we decided not to try getting on the tenders for the ride to shore. Their main claim to fame was their postage stamps and the fact that they were once a down range tracking station for NASA in the 1960's. On-board activities were going strong. "Yes Man" was showing at the theater and it was Dutch night in the dining room. We all donned our Dutch hats and had a ball. It was the birthday of Queen Juliana, the mother of the current Queen Beatrix and is called "Koninginnedag".   After four sea days we arrived at Devil's Island. We had not been able to visit Devil's Island last year on a repositioning cruise to Rome because of high seas so we were looking forward to this visit. After all we had paid dearly for those yellow fever shots last years and wanted to get use out of those shot records that nobody even asked about or looked at. The island was a pleasant surprise. It was beautiful with lots of flowers, greenery and animals the likes of which I had never seen. No matter what they call them, they still looked like giant rats. After about an hour of walking around the island it was back to the ship and on to Trinidad.   There was a light rain in Trinidad, the only bad weather we encountered the entire cruise. We took a tour of the city, the botanical gardens and took in a show at the local playhouse. The city of port of Spain was much larger than I had expected and had the usual traffic jams of all large cities we had visited all over the world. The government was renovating much of the city but the going was slow and the money scarce. When the older buildings are restored and the new convention center is complete, it would be nice to go back and visit the city again.   Barbados was the next island we visited and it was like most Caribbean islands but showed more affluence. We enjoyed a walk through Bridgetown where we bought some souvenirs before taking a taxi back to the dock.   Our final island stop was in St. Barts and it was a surprise. It is the most affluent island that we had visited in the Caribbean. The harbor was full of million dollar yachts and the town was full of up-scale shops. St Barts is a collectivity of France and the currency is the Euro. When we walked around the harbor, I stopped to read the menu at an outdoor restaurant and a hamburger with fries went for 18 Euros or about $25. It was time to return to the ship where dining was good and free.   Two days later we disembarked in Ft Lauderdale in time for my brother and sister-in-law to make a 10:00 am flight to Atlanta. It was tight but he made it. Disembarkation was quick without any problems. I love those small ships.   In addition to comfortable cabins and common areas, outstanding service, exceptional food and great music, the entertainment was as good as we have seen, especially on a long cruise. From production shows that were fabulous to Folkloric shows that were both entertaining and educational the shows covered just about every aspect of the entertainment spectrum. There was something for everyone and I liked it all. Steel drums and flaming limbo dancers, singing and dancing with costumes by Mackie backed by a band that could play anything was a joy to behold. There was a ventriloquist, violinist, mind reader, pianist, classical guitar player and male and female comedians, male and female vocalists and several singing groups.   Chita Rivera showed that she could still sing and dance on the stage of a swaying cruise ship in high-heeled shoes at an age approaching that of the Holland America passengers. It was hard to believe that it had been 50 years since I had seen the "West Side Story".   However, my favorite show was the singing group, The Unexpected Boys. They were four exceptionally talented young men with energy to spare that put on two great shows plus a cameo appearance that brought down the house even though we had heard the songs before. They could do it all. Whether it was songs from Les Miserable or solos from Jekyll and Hyde, barbershop or modern, they did it with a flare.   If you want to cruise, I suggest you start with the best, Holland America, and the best of Holland America is their world cruises. If you are like me and are not ready for a 100+ days on a cruise select a leg of the world cruise you like and go for it. You will not be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009

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