Ambassador Cruise Line’s Ambition was renamed at Newcastle’s Port of Tyne cruise terminal in May 2023 by Shirley Robertson OBE, who won double Olympic Gold for Britain in sailing.
Launched in 1999 as Mistral by Festival Cruise, it’s Ambassador’s second ship and had a significant refurbishment during six weeks’ dry dock in Bremerhaven, Germany, before its latest relaunch.
Environmental upgrades make Ambition IMO Tier III compliant and therefore one of the top 10 to 15 per cent environmentally sustainable ships in the world.
Certainly the ship’s refurbishment is a triumph and the Promenade Deck’s lounge and bar areas flow particularly well, as a glance at Ambassador Ambition’s deck plan makes clear.
Ambition is for over-18s and aimed at over-50s Brits, offering affordable no-fly cruises mostly in northern Europe. It has discounts for solo travellers, themed cruises including Christmas markets and a partnership with sealife charity ORCA.
Ambassador Ambition’s deck plans reveal a spacious and flowing design that combines lively social spaces with quiet corners for a coffee or reading.
The lounge bars have such gorgeous interior designs that it’s a pleasure to linger and there’s even a velvet chaise longue for relaxing in the lovely Bronte’s Library.
Of the 10 passenger decks three are solely for cabins and Deck 4 is for tender embarkations, although the gangway can also be on Deck 5 near Reception.
There are six dining options, plus a paid-for ice cream kiosk on the pool deck when the weather’s hot. Ambassador Ambition’s main dining room is Buckingham Restaurant on Deck 5, a light-filled room which has two dinner sittings.
The more intimate Holyrood Restaurant at the back of Deck 6 has a more sophisticated décor, two sittings and is mostly for suite guests.
Borough Market on deck 11 is the buffet, with a small terrace for dining outdoors. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner it is the only restaurant that provides afternoon tea.
Alfresco Pizza Grill is a semi-covered area on the pool deck and is open for lunch and again from 3-6pm, which is handy if you’ve been off ship.
Paid-for options are Lupino’s with a Mediterranean menu, Saffron for Indian cuisine and Chef’s Table in a curtained off section of Buckingham Restaurant.
Lupino’s is £14.95 and offers a meze-like starter of six dishes, a choice of four main dishes, then a trilogy of three taster deserts. Saffron, at £16.95, also has a set meal where you just choose your main course, while Chef’s Table costs £89 and has 10 courses with wine.
Most of the lounge bars are on Deck 5 and 6, with the complimentary dining rooms at the back of each deck and entrances to The Palladium theatre at the front, so you can drift from dinner, to a bar and the show all on the same deck.
Pendennis Bar on Deck 5 has a pianist or other musicians every night, while The Purple Turtle Wine Bar is next to the theatre.
The Clifton Lounge on Deck 6 often has live classical music and The Angel Bar, just before the upper entrance to the theatre, is just a lovely place to sit and chat.
Deck 7’s The Cavern, with a stage and dance floor, is directly above the theatre and has quizzes and talks as well as game shows and live music.
There are also two bars on Deck 11 near the main two pools, where you’ll also find Borough Market buffet at the back and the spa and gym at the front.
Ambassador’s Ambition has 697 cabins including 237 Inside cabins, 444 Ocean View cabins with large picture windows, 12 balcony cabins and 113 suites.
While they’re not the most modern layouts all have been well refurbished with wood-grain vinyl wall coverings and many have new bathrooms. All have tea and coffee facilities and one or two UK three pin electrical sockets as well as USB ports, a hairdryer and flat TV screen.
Cabins range from singles at 7sqm to suites at up to 42 sqm with Ocean View and Inner cabins both 13sqm. The biggest suites – De Luxe – are at the back of Deck 7 and 8 (36-42sqm). Next come Premium suites, at the back of Decks 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 (25-36sqm), with Superior Junior Suites on Deck 10 and 12 (19-23sqm), while Junior Suites and Junior Suite Singles are on Deck 10 (21-22sqm). These all have separate showers and bath tubs, fridges and sofas, while the bigger suites have separate lounge areas.
Two cabins have been adapted for guests with disability and mobility needs.
• Full board (breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner) in the main dining rooms and buffet
• Captain’s cocktail party and gala dinner
• All theatre shows and most entertainment options including quizzes and deck games
• Range of fitness, dance and wellness classes
• Use of the gym, pools and hot tubs
• Use of the Spa’s steam room and sauna
• All drinks aside from tap water, tea & coffee at machines in the buffet and Alfresco Pizza Grill
• Speciality dining restaurants
• Gratuities (£6 per person, per night, or £5 per person, per night, for cruises over 16 nights)
• Shore excursions
• Some craft sessions (water colour painting is £19.99 for a set of paints, paper and a brush but free if you take your own)
• Spa treatments
• Port parking
Most Ambassador Ambition passengers are British, with a healthy contingent of Irish when the ship embarks from Belfast and a sprinkling of Continental Europeans with perhaps a few Antipodeans. There may be some 30 or 40-somethings but most are late 50s or early 60s upwards.
There are no multi-generation sailings on Ambition in 2023.
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