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6 Darwin to Asia Cruise Reviews

If you want a cruise with everything "English", pick this ship - lots of formal nights (suits and tie and lots of guys in penguin suits), indifferent staff (with a few very pleasant exceptions) many of whom would walk past and ... Read More
If you want a cruise with everything "English", pick this ship - lots of formal nights (suits and tie and lots of guys in penguin suits), indifferent staff (with a few very pleasant exceptions) many of whom would walk past and not even make eye contact (in complete contrast to the staff on our last cruise with Holland America who went out of their way to be friendly and pleasant), average food (some good - but outdoor grill food was terrible), and activities frequently disorganised and inefficient (e.g. up to 3.5 hours to get a tender to shore). Evening entertainment shows were excellent, cabin rooms very good but basic and overpriced, and poor value compared to other lines. Tours were reasonable to expensive but really good guides, but at one port ship arranged for all tour buses to get back to port at same time leaving 2000 passengers standing in the sun for up to an hour while 4 tenders struggled to get us back on the boat. We have done several cruises (P & O, Princess, Carnival, Holland America, Avalon) and rate this ship the lowest. Next time, back to Holland America (for sea journey) or Avalon (for river cruise) - both were 5 star. For veranda suite only one restaurant and buffet to chose from, two other restaurants had ridiculous cover charge with limited menu. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
As part of a HoA package from DRW to SIN. Embarkation in DRW was a fiasco as 3hours after boarding we had to disembark to retrieve our passports from immigration, only to be immediately taken off us by a member of crew in the terminal. The ... Read More
As part of a HoA package from DRW to SIN. Embarkation in DRW was a fiasco as 3hours after boarding we had to disembark to retrieve our passports from immigration, only to be immediately taken off us by a member of crew in the terminal. The terminal was also full of people wanting tax refunds with no clear delineation of which "queue" was which ! Mind you we never needed a Chinese visa, another smart move by NT politicians! Balcony cabin was quite good, 5124. although the tenders were directly below the balcony which obstructed the view a little. Half bottle of champers was appreciated, gave a false impression of what was to come such as paying for a nondescript bottle of Australian water. Samsung TV was a smart TV, however, nobody on board smart enough to fully use its technology, eg., no bill display, no menu displays, no details of going ashore, nada ! In fact the secretariat generated piles of expensive heavy glossy paper, must do wonders for fuel consumption. No welcome aboard at DRW or cocktail invitation, in fact the only welcome aboard was when we returned to the ship in HKG. HKG arrivals also received invites, we did not. Major interest appears to be "Dress code" when what you really want to know is where do we need a tender. There were several "Gala h" evenings for which I wore my Galah tie !!. Had to wear a jacket in the Britannia restaurant. Food, service was excellent although several spelling mistakes on the menus & the Sea Brass, aka Bass, provenance was always from the last port of call, amazing how these Bass get around. Bottle of house red, which was from a good vintners in London, ended up at US$40 a bottle ! We found the Lido cafeteria most acceptable, as always pick your times, avoid 1pm. If you have a "see food" allergy it could be a problem, I see food & eat it ! The answer is to use room service for breakfast at least. Amazingly no extra charge, always arrived on time but often with elements missing, no QC on the trays going out ? Saving grace was the pub which served excellent lunches (no extra charge) with Guinness at US$6.90 a pint. Never bothered with the so called "speciality" restaurant, especially when you see the cover charge. Was neither fish nor fowl & did not offer anything special. One day out the Royal Arcade liquor store had a special so eg 2litres of Famous Grouse for US$42, which kept us going to SIN. All this kerfuffle about taking alcohol onboard is rubbish. We took a bottle of champers in carry on & our bags contained 1 litre of Plax mouthwash which had changed colour, funny that. If your bags are correctly labelled they are whisked away through the x-ray by the handlers Excursions, aka a necessary evil in some places. Nha Trang return to ship was a catastrophe with all the tour buses returning at the same time with just one tender in operation. Enormous queue of people, mostly open to the elements, until someone at least told bus drivers to keep passengers on board with the AC on. Reason given that only facilities for one tender were available. Appears to be a normal problem otherwise how come there were staff distributing cold towels & water? Disembarkation in SIN was a breeze once you eventually got off as the port staff had bags clearly defined by tag & colour, beats BNE hands down. In conclusion, if you are loaded, don't mind spending hours for something to happen when going ashore & into all the social climbing bling then no problem. Otherwise we shall stay with P&O which has a much more egalitarian approach. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We went to swim and snorkel with the whale sharks and that indeed was fabulous. They are beautiful calm fish and we got up close to them. Be warned though, it is a somewhat artificial experience. The fishermen on the bagans are paid to ... Read More
We went to swim and snorkel with the whale sharks and that indeed was fabulous. They are beautiful calm fish and we got up close to them. Be warned though, it is a somewhat artificial experience. The fishermen on the bagans are paid to feed them for the tourists. Also, to get the most out of the experience one needs to be able to free dive if not scuba dive. Snorkelling on the surface is third best. That would have been good to know before departure. The staff were polite, friendly and helpful. One rescued me when I drifted away in a strong current while looking at the whale sharks and another gave me helpful lessons on free diving. I didn’t nail it, but that’s no criticism of the instruction. The food was just okay. It’s basically pub food trying to be gourmet and very meaty, which was surprising on a cruise costing this much. In contrast we went to the Kimberley on Great Escape a few years ago and the food was fresh, varied and top restaurant quality. My main criticism is of the helicopter rides. They are provided by Air Bali and are a complete rip off. We paid $750 per person for an hour long trip during which I had to sit facing away from the direction we were flying (and so could see little without turning my head 90 degrees) and the commentary could have been written on half a page. Further, it was barely comprehensible. We didn’t meet the pilot and I didn’t get a safety briefing. I’ve done helicopter rides in the Kimberley and in Africa and loved them all. This one was awful. I gave the cruise director my feedback and she merely said she would pass it on to the head office. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a ... Read More
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a part of the world that I had long wanted to visit. Le Soleal and Ponant exceeded expectations. The accommodations, crew, amenities, excursions, and food were all first class. We spent a day in Sydney before flying on to Darwin to meet the ship. Sydney was great fun, exactly what we expected from prior reading, surfing and recommendations. Darwin is just a place to meet the ship. Embarkation involved a long, boring wait in a typical but uncrowded, unadorned, unsupported boarding room. Disembarkation was fine. The ship has all the amenties I consider important. No casino but not much time for one. We upgraded to a suite which was a first-time, outstanding luxury to which we may become addicted. The French cuisine was outstanding, despite our various dietary restrictions. The combined MIT and ship's lectures were excellent. Service was impeccable. The shore excursions were interesting, educational, and fun. SCUBA would have been a plus but wasn't offered. However, the snorkeling sites were great. Yes, I would go again. In fact, we did, five months later on the same ship, in the same cabin, to Western Alaska and Siberia. Another great trip, albeit with somewhat lesser excursion quality. Great wildlife photo ops, though. But that's another story... Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Hi everyone My husband and I recently sailed on the Diamond Princess We had a fantastic time The food was great and ports were very interesting Unfortunately we missed a port in Vietnam but what can you do We had the ... Read More
Hi everyone My husband and I recently sailed on the Diamond Princess We had a fantastic time The food was great and ports were very interesting Unfortunately we missed a port in Vietnam but what can you do We had the most wonderful singer on board She did 2 incredible shows and just blew us and the rest of the ship away We bought her cd Davidia iwas her name she was amazing what a voice and so funny too The weather was good the whole trip and we thoroughly recommend this ship and itinerary Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My husband and I hadn't done a cruise before and were intimidated by the larger, floating shoe box style ships with an RSL style feel. We wanted to have an intimate cruise experience that was elegant and allowed us to experience ... Read More
My husband and I hadn't done a cruise before and were intimidated by the larger, floating shoe box style ships with an RSL style feel. We wanted to have an intimate cruise experience that was elegant and allowed us to experience destinations that the bigger ships couldn't provide. We can't speak more highly of our holiday. When the 3 horns sounded as we left Darwin, I felt we were transported back to a time of the 'romantic cruise liner' days. We met other Australian's who shared our same interests which made it easy to have engaging conversations - it was great to learn from other people and hear what they had achieved in their life. The interpretation between French and English was very exciting. We knew we were travelling with a French cruise line and had read the reviews about translation, but couldn't agree once we experienced it ourselves. It was just another feeling of being on a romantic cruise line voyage. Their service was impeccable. I loved the recognition after just a short time and the effort that was made to remember how we liked our breakfast, what wine for lunch and dinner, even cocktails at five-zizzies! The light afternoon gatherings and activities were always great fun. It was a non-pressured way to get to meet some of the other guests. Again, the other passengers were very interesting and we made some great connections with people from around the world. Our stateroom was absolutely beautiful - lazy afternoons sitting on our balcony, looking out to the passing islands, sunsets and sharing a glass of champagne with my husband. The design of our room was very stylish and tasteful with enough space to feel comfortable to stay in or spend the day out. One of the highlights was when we stopped at a sandy island and in the distance we could see a strange looking cloud, and then realised it was an active volcano way off in the distance - doubt we would have seen that on a bigger ship! Overall, we realised that starting our first cruise experience on a luxury cruise ship like PONANT would make it hard to try a different one... but we don't mind at all! We are going again this year to the Med and can't wait! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015

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