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5 Cunard Istanbul Cruise Reviews

We have recently returned from a cruise on Queen Victoria and have to say our cruise was disappointing. We have been on Cunard cruises before and noticed a big difference in the standards from our previous experiences. It does seem ... Read More
We have recently returned from a cruise on Queen Victoria and have to say our cruise was disappointing. We have been on Cunard cruises before and noticed a big difference in the standards from our previous experiences. It does seem Brittania class customers are treated as 2nd class. Our biggest complaint was our dining experience. We were put on a table right outside the revolving kitchen door (so a very busy area). The table was for 4 people but the other 2 passengers didn't turn up for the whole week we were on board. We were therefore left feeling very conspicuous on our own. We brought this to the attention of the waiters, the maitre'd and the pursers desk on several occasions but nothing was done - the attitude was 'whats the problem?' We also contacted Cunard Customer Services on our return but had the same response, even though they acknowledged that the dining experience is a major part of the holiday. We also noticed the standard of meals was not as good as before and the extra courses, such as the salad, were not offered automatically. We asked for cheese to share one evening and there was hardly enough for even one person. The 'white glove' afternoon tea was also not a pleasant experience - certainly nothing special. We were sat in a 'corridor' and had passengers walking past us the whole time. When we were on QM2 this was more of a special occasion. Having said that we did have a lovely holiday apart from the dining experience. we enjoyed the onboard entertainment most nights. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We had not been on Cunard Line before, so were a litle apprehensive. The passenger demographic was not as elderly as we had expected, which was good! Although there weren't too many under 40s, and as it was term time, only about 5 ... Read More
We had not been on Cunard Line before, so were a litle apprehensive. The passenger demographic was not as elderly as we had expected, which was good! Although there weren't too many under 40s, and as it was term time, only about 5 children that we spotted - but as we are late 40s, we didn't feel out of place! The feel of the ship is quite sedate, but we found that very relaxing. The biggest difference that we noticed was that the public spaces never seemed crowded - there were always seats in the buffet, and at any of the bars and seating areas any time of day or night, even though the ship was full. We embarked at Istanbul after a great charter BA flight and a long bus journey. Embarkation was quick and painless, and our bags arrived within an hour or two. The ship was beautifully kept and spotlessly clean. Service was unobtrusive and mostly excellent, if not effusively friendly on passing. Entertainment was varied, something for all. We enjoyed the theatre offerings, didn't bother with the ballroom dancing. We took part in some quizzes and fencing lessons, and enjoyed the gym. We tried the nightclub once, but there were couples in there basically ballroom dancing (well, jiving etc), so it wasn't for us, so that was a disappointment. However all of the bars were lovely, and the live music very good, so we enjoyed just sitting and chatting. The food in the Britannia dining room was very good - nothing amazing, but very nice, portion sizes just perfect. The Lido was good also, although a slightly limited choice. Very nice that it is open all of the time. We enjoyed all of the ports of call, we did our own thing, no excursions. Disembarkation was organised chaos, but we made it to the airport in very good time and a good flight home. All in all, not long enough! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our 3rd cruise on the QV so we knew what to expect on the ship. We travelled in Queen's Grill on an upgrade from Princess. The suite was very comfortable. It was great to have a seperate shower, my husband loved the jacuzzi ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise on the QV so we knew what to expect on the ship. We travelled in Queen's Grill on an upgrade from Princess. The suite was very comfortable. It was great to have a seperate shower, my husband loved the jacuzzi bath! I loved the longer and deeper balcony than when in Princess Grills. We arrived in Istanbul at a remote airfield some 85Km from Istanbul. Our flight from Manchester was with Titan Airways. Cunard had not purchased any food or drink with the charter. There was limited choice available for purchase. Luggage was limited to 20kg plus 5kg with no option to purchase any additional extra baggage. (There is a discussion re this on the cruise roll call). As it was, the check in staff didn't seem too fussed. The flight is part of the cruise and when charted directly attributable to Cunard. p & O used to do it so much better - not sure if they still do? Getting through border control (an yes you do need a Visa) took ages as did baggage reclaim. Surprisingly as we were the only large plane at the airport - though having read the reviews re Istanbul airport, perhaps we were lucky. We finally arrived at the ship at around 5.30. We were soon on board. And made the most of watching the coming and goings on the Bospherous - a lovely warm evening. We had requested a table for two, by the window and this is what we got. We were however very near to the next table and it was almost impossible not to talk to them without appearing rude. I think the demand for tables for two exceeds the space. So in reality it is a table for 6 with space to get the waiter in between. The food selection was excellent. The first day was at sea as we cruised through the Dardenelles. It was a very relaxing day. Lots of things to do if you wanted but we just chilled or in my case warmed up as I purchased 5 day access to the spa. The spa isn't as large as on the QM2 but the hot tiled loungers are very relaxing and the pool is more like a very warm swimming pool than a jacuzzi. The first port of call was Santorini. We have visited before whilst staying on Crete. The tour itself was fine, the downside was, and it turned out to be a big downside, is that it finished in Fira for some reason rather than at the Ferry port where we were tendered at the beginning. There were 5 cruise ships in the Caldera so the Island was swarming with people. The tour guide gave us all a ticket for the cable car and said the other choices was to walk down the 800 odd steps or take a donkey to the tenders. Well to cut a long story short, we walked the 800 steps down. The temp that day was over 40C. The queue for the cable car was 2 hrs long and there were people stood in the hot blazing sun who would have struggled to walk down. We struggled as there are mules going up and down as well as people. The steps are very slippery and I know of at least one person who took a very nasty fall and may have broken her wrist. Those who were visiting Santorini for the first time said they would never return. The people of Fira didn't benefit from tourists as most were in the queue and it didn't do the reputation of Cunard or Santorini any good. On my previous trip we had time to shop in Fira before been taken back by coach to the ferry port rather having to use the cable car, donkeys or shanks pony. I am sure if only one ship had been in it wouldn't have been a problem but it was and was one of the hot topics of conversation for the next few days. We didn't take any trips at Katacolon and just chilled beside the seaside. One more sea day and then a lovely early morning approach along the Amalfi Coast (port side) into Salerno. We visited Herculaneum, great guide shared the history and the horror of that final day. we all jumped we he said that Mt Vesuvius was quite wihena sudden clap of thunder suggested for on brief second, that it had woken up! The only downside was it took us 45 mins to get out of the port area. We arrived in Rome the next day and transferred to a hotel so we would have more time to see Rome. I would like to commend Cunard in using the services of Aloschi travel for our transfer to the airport. We were picked up on time and transferred in a luxury car to the airport where we were met by a gentleman who took us to the priority check in desk. He then walked us down to the right security gate and told us what to do to find the 'little train". We flew back scheduled BA flights, delayed due to the airport being closed because of thunderstorms. We went to 2 shows, the first based on well know artists which was OK, the second where the 4 lead singers sang songs from shows and films which was very good. All the musicians we heard were very good. The Verandah restaurant was outstanding and well worth the money though our own waiters couldn't understand why we wanted to eat there. The chap talking about smuggling was informative and gave a good insight into what happens behind the scenes. All in all a very good cruise and we have booked for next year In October when it will be a lot cooler. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Victoria is a well appointed ship and this was a good cruise at a reasonable price. Staff are good and food was excellent! All the extras add up (drink!) and if you have any spa treatments the bill will climb quickly.. Cabins are ... Read More
Victoria is a well appointed ship and this was a good cruise at a reasonable price. Staff are good and food was excellent! All the extras add up (drink!) and if you have any spa treatments the bill will climb quickly.. Cabins are good and clean. Entertainment was excellent with the singers and dancers - especially the 4 Tunes group! We had great weather and this is a good mix of ports and 2 sea days. Overall a friendly ship that gives a good experience! On the down side, the tours are badly run. What is it with Cunard and coaches that they just can't seem to get right? Beware if they offer a shuttle bus at the local port (Salerno). Long delays in the heat upset many people and one extra bus was all thats required. We cancelled our tour to Olympia after Victoria took 45 minutes to get us off the ship......not good. If you complain, Cunard get quite stroppy and arrogant. Only the strong will get their money back! A pity really, but a bit more organisation and stronger customer service skills would sort this out. Embarkation at Istanbul - hot and humid in the basic warehouse! Give out some chairs and water please..... Rome - Leaving for the airport - ok, but need more time to cope with Rome airport. Please note. Jane Corbin - guest speaker - excellent!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We sailed on Queen Victoria to celebrate our 25th Wedding anniversary, and this cruise was our first. We are both in our mid 40’s. We booked this 14 day Western Mediterranean cruise Embarking from Istanbul and returning from Rome ... Read More
We sailed on Queen Victoria to celebrate our 25th Wedding anniversary, and this cruise was our first. We are both in our mid 40’s. We booked this 14 day Western Mediterranean cruise Embarking from Istanbul and returning from Rome around 5 weeks before departure and at that time took advantage of a Cunard ‘Saver Fare’ and opted for a balcony stateroom with an obstructed view, which best fit our budget. Nearer embarkation time we received notification from Cunard of our stateroom being upgraded to an unrestricted view on Deck 5 Aft, Stateroom 5161, which was a lovely surprise. In total, the cruise cost a very reasonable £1349pp for the 14 nights including flight supplements. The cruise number was V517D in the Cunard brochure. Flights to Istanbul and return from Rome were included in the fare excepting a small supplement of £50pp due to us flying from Manchester (flights from London did not incur supplement). The charter flight carrier was Titan Airways, and flights both ways were pleasant enough, and flight times good, 8am out and 4pm for the return. It would have been beneficial, and I would recommend to all, to extend the holiday by staying on in Rome for a couple of days afterward or prior to embarkation in Istanbul or indeed both destinations, so that both these cities could be explored further but sadly, time and work pressures were not on our side. Just a note on the Titan Airways flights, the information we were provided prior to the holiday was that a very restrictive 20kg hold luggage and 5kg cabin bag was imposed and no possibility of paying for extra weight; it turned out at the check in desk, that no such restriction was in place, and essentially our packing anxieties were unfound, I guess as long as you don’t go over the top, checking in an extra few kilos would be fine. We flew into Istanbul Corlu, which is a tiny military and civil airport so getting through customs and onto the awaiting coaches was swift, transfers to the port in Istanbul was around an hour and a half, but this accounted for by heavy traffic in Istanbul, a city of over 15million people! Embarkation was an easy process, registering ourselves and our credit card for onboard spending was a speedy 5 minute process; passports exchanged for the ships card that provides you with identification to gain access and exit to the ship, port customs, stateroom key and as your currency on board ship throughout your stay. Our luggage was delivered to our stateroom within an hour of us boarding. Queen Victoria We remain in awe of this magnificent ship, and I cannot think of enough superlatives that quantify the feel good factor of being on board. The ship is fitted out beautifully, the public areas decorated and furnished to an extremely high standard and the deck areas nicely laid out and well provided for with equipment such as deck chairs and loungers, in the shade or in the sun. Despite the heat and humidity outside, the public areas and the stateroom were always at a nice comfortable temperature throughout, and the air-conditioning in the stateroom is nicely independently controllable. Dining In terms of dining, as per the booking conditions, dining allocated on embarkation, we were allocated the early 6.30pm sitting in the Britannia Restaurant, and we were disappointed by this initially, due to us having pre-booked several all day tours and we did request a change to the late sitting, the Maitre d’hôtel did get our reservation switched the second week, but actually, we much preferred the early sitting, as by the time you finish dinner following the late sitting, we were unmotivated to take in all the entertainment on offer due to the late hour and our tiredness, I guess its always to be careful what you wish for! The food in the Britannia Restaurant was fantastic; service was impeccable, unrushed and attentive our waiters Marlon & Mark were a great team; and the wine waiters were equally as diligent, but they were quite stretched and at times, they weren’t able to provide the service they are clearly capable of due to having such large stations to attend to. We were allocated a table for 2 on both weeks, early and the late sitting. We also took advantage of the Verandah Restaurant on two occasions for dinner, and it certainly is a worthy upgrade, the food and service ratcheted up a notch from the Brittania dining and we thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance and service provided there and its certainly good value for the $24pp it costs. Lunch, when not on tours and sea days, we took in the Britannia Restaurant which was always a pleasant experience and we did on occasions elected to sit with other diners which was nice to catch up with other people, their experiences and stories. We also lunched in the Golden Lion Pub and again, the food and service was great. Breakfast we also took in the Britannia; breakfasts there unhurried and relaxing, we took one room service breakfast on the balcony, but being a bit old-fashioned and much preferring a proper table we didn’t take advantage of the room service as much as my wife would have preferred to have done. The Lido buffet restaurant: I need to disclose that I’m not a buffet fan (it reminds me so much of queuing at a works canteen and also, my lack of self control would have led me to have eaten far too much!), so my comments are limited to the several breakfasts we ate there when necessary as some of our tours required an early start, and it was always an ok experience; the food plentiful and hot. We took a couple of snacks from the Lido on deck, but other than that, we stayed clear of the Lido, preferring dining in the Britannia, so I cannot comment on lunch and dinner provided. The upgraded dining menus in The Lido typically costing $10- $15, of which waiting staff are provided to serve you at the table, such as the Indian, Italian and Oriental speciality evenings looked very nice, but I found it difficult to come out of my comfort zone to take any of these dining options. Afternoon tea was extremely nice in the Queens Room and served with care and attention, and always accompanied by a pianist, the small cakes were gorgeous. I believe that afternoon tea is also available in the Winter Garden and Lido. We didn’t use Café Carinthia, and I’m really not sure why, probably just because of our schedule, as when passing by, the food and coffee always looked great. To sum up dining on Queen Victoria; there’s bound to be something to suit all tastes and palettes and dietary requirements, my wife did on occasions take the Royal Spa selections which are suggestions at meal times for health eating, in hindsight, perhaps I should have done the same. In short, you could never go hungry on Queen Victoria. Drinks All the bars provided great service and we tried them all out! The Golden Lion, great for a cooling drink following a tour, and a great place to have fun, such as quizzes, bingo etc. Midships Bar and Chart Room a really nice place to take a cocktail or G&T prior to dinner and pre dinner always served with a nice selection of complimentary small eats such as nuts and canapés. Fantastic views in the Commodore Club, but we found this space a little bit too stuffy and formal for our liking. The bars on deck were also very pleasant. I feel the drink prices were in keeping with the service provided and I feel that if Cunard provided an ‘all inclusive’ drink package add on, it would only serve to lower the quality and service standards and might cause over indulgence by some. We did take wine in the restaurants with our meals, and there’s plenty of selection to suit all pockets, ours were at the lower end, but there were some great wines, red, whites, rose and fizz in the $30 to $50 range that amiably accompanied dinner and made every evening special. The odd bottle of bubbly we had was a real treat. Entertainment This must be so difficult for any cruise ship to get the right balance and to suit all tastes, but the entertainment we participated in was great fun or interesting. Wine tasting was great, unlimited quaffing of some great wine and I did learn a lot from the experts on hand; lectures were engaging, particularly Jane Corbyn; sing bingo, quizzes etc. in the Golden Lion were great fun, the comedian Mick Miller attracted great big belly laughs all around the theatre. Dance classes were hilarious, due to my two left feet and the Royal Cunard singers and dancers put on some great shows, and clearly they are very well organised and proficient in what they do. Didn’t use the Hemispheres Club as we were simply too tired after all the days activities but perhaps we should of pushed ourselves that little bit more, as the advertised music on offer there sounded like great fun. My wife used the Spa on a couple of occasions and also the hairdressing, she would have probably used it more but the costs were for our budget, prohibitive, $70 for your hair putting up prior to dinner is cost prohibited, but probably is about right to stifle demand on the available hairdressers! Shopping on board was great, and the duty free prices seemed reasonable. There appeared to be some great deals on premium products. Photos Here’s my only gripe of the cruise, and not down to the quality of the finished product or the expertise of the photographers, but both the costs and the delay of getting to view the photographs. $24.95 for a photo at dinner or on quayside and $34.95 for the formal compositions are, I feel simply too high, particularly in this digital, everybody having a camera in their pocket day and age- maybe photography has become just too common place and taken for granted by me, but even my wife, who is usually over zealous and Gung-ho when it comes to photo purchasing at any location we visit, balked at the prices. Photo packages did not seem good value. I clearly don’t have access to Cunard’s balance sheet and cost of sales in the photographic department, so maybe for the quality and overheads of employing the experts they do, the prices might well be fair, but what I do know is, that if the prices were pegged at say $14.95, my wife would have certainly purchased a dozen or so photos, but as it was, she only purchased one! Extremely out of character for her. A suggestion I made on our feedback post cruise to Cunard was to raise my pricing concerns and at least suggest to make all the photo’s available as a digital download post cruise, for a more reasonable fee, or even at the same fee, but giving some time to consider the photo’s and buy them at a later date when you can save up a bit for them, rather than the inevitable and wasteful shredding and recycling of the printed article. Ports/Tours Istanbul. Fantastic city with so much to see and do and welcoming and friendly people and fantastic food and drink. We were so lucky to have an overnight stay there the first day before setting sail the following evening, and even better was a return to the city several days later. We used the first full day to take a marvellous excursion taking in the highlights of the city, so that when we returned, we could concentrate on taking a look in more detail of the sights, smells and sounds. The call to prayer from the many mosques around the city was fantastic to wake to in a morning and listen to at sunset. The tour we went on ‘Best of Istanbul Four Seasons’ took in all the major sites and included lunch at a fantastic hotel. The sites were of course the Blue Mosque but also Hagia Sophia; Topkapi Palace and the Harem; spice bazaar and so on. The tour guide was engaging, funny and knowledgeable and lunch a pleasant adjunct to the afternoon activities. I just wish Cunard would refrain in all of the Turkish port tours to include carpet making and the clearly commissioned sales pitch at the end! But I guess they are an optional feature of the tours. Shopping in Istanbul or any of the Turkish ports is a must, particularly clothing and jewellery, spices, tea olives, nuts and sweets such as Turkish Delight, which are all good value for money and high quality. On our second day visit we went to the Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar as well as chilling out in several squares and cafes and simply wandering the streets and parks taking in the cities warmth and culture. Marmaris. Beautiful port for Queen Victoria to sail into and berth, sailing into Marmaris is reminiscent of fjords, narrow channels, tiny islands and a backdrop of mountains shrouded by pine forest. We didn’t take a tour there, and simply walked to a beach for a day there swimming and sunbathing, followed by a traditional Turkish lunch. People we spoke to told us that the tours were great value, particularly the river cruise tour. Heraklion. We took a tour to Knossos, in hindsight, it would have been better and much, much cheaper to have done this tour independently and it’s a small site, cheap to enter- 6 euros and transport there by bus is only a couple of euros. Although the tour guide was good, we could hardly hear what she had to say due to it being so busy and because of the constant chirping of the Cicadas, which were extremely loud! The lack of the tour guide providing radio audio commentary hamstrung the tour. Piraeus. My wife’s favourite. Athens was a fantastic port of call; lots to see and do and we took a tour of The Acropolis and visited the Plaka area. Worthwhile and good value and the sights of the city from the Acropolis amazing. The Plaka is a great place to lunch and shop. Dardanelles. At sea passing the Dardanelles was amazing, and gave time to contemplate the strategic position that Turkey holds and the reason why so many lost their lives during the Great War in order to attempt to hold this. There are poignant memorials to those who fell are visible clearly from the ship. Kusadasi. My favourite port of call. Tour to Ephesus is not to be missed, and we took in two other landmarks also, Miletus and Didyma- all I can suggest is to visit, I can’t begin to sum up how wonderful and amazing Ephesus is, the tour guide was fantastic and lunch included on the full day tour, which engaged so much that the day whizzed by. Kusadasi itself is a fantastic port, lots of great shops, fantastic places to eat and drink, and don’t forget to treat yourself to beauty treatments; massage and a visit to a traditional Turkish barber who will coiffure your hair, massage your head and shoulders and give you the closest shave you’ll ever get for 30 TLi, a lot less than £10 GBP. Santorini. Now this was meant to be one of the highlights of my journey, but sadly I probably placed too much expectation on this port of call. We anchored in the bay, and tenders took as ashore to awaiting coaches to visit the village of Oia, and then a wine tasting, neither impressed, Oia was thronged with people, and the streets jam packed with a sea of people. Oia itself is without doubt beautiful, but too many people spoil the experience and the village is essentially one big gift shop! Santorini wine was uninspiring and not to my taste, but again one mans meat is another mans poison. To finish off the tour, a ‘free’ ticket was given for the cable car down to the old port from Thira, unfortunately, the demand was such that if we had queued we would never have got the last tender, so a horrid walk down the Donkey manure encrusted steps ensued, a horrid experience, made worse by people riding up and down the steps by the clearly exploited Donkey’s which lacked shade and water. If I do return to Santorini, it will have to be out of season. Transit Messina Stait. Amazing! Salerno. Not a pretty port! We were all tripped out by the time we berthed in Salerno and didn’t visit any of the obvious choices of excursions such as Pompei; Vesuvius; Amalfi or Sorrento but instead had a sojourn around Salerno, nice trip to the beach for a swim and the most glorious pizza and ice cream to round the day off. Civitavecchia. Our last port of call, and again, not pretty but if only we had time to stay on for a day or two in Rome but we did take in a city tour en route to the airport which was informative, but sadly not enough to satisfy much at all of what Rome has to offer. Disembarkation Much the same as embarkation hassle free and smooth. In Summary All in all, this was the best holiday we have ever taken. It was a special occasion for us, and we spent much more money on this two week holiday as we would taking our three sons away for a couple of weeks in the sun on our usual annual holidays. In terms of value for money and quality, the whole experience far exceeded our expectations, impeccable and friendly service delivered with care, attention and professionalism. Its great to get dressed up and make every evening a special occasion. The only difficulty for us now, is that Cunard has set the bar for our first taste of cruising and it would be so difficult to choose any other cruise line, in case the experience we had with Cunard wasn’t replicated. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
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