2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
For those interested in a comparison, let's look at the differences between Oceania and Princess. We were on the 18-day Dublin-Copenhagen segment. This was our first cruise with Oceania. We are elite with Princess. We chose this ... Read More
For those interested in a comparison, let's look at the differences between Oceania and Princess. We were on the 18-day Dublin-Copenhagen segment. This was our first cruise with Oceania. We are elite with Princess. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary: Norway and northern Russian ports. Oceania has considerably less merchandising pressure. There is no crew of photographers. The crew seems under less pressure to sell extras. There are no "cruise ship art" events. Speciality coffees and sparkling water are available without extra charge. Speciality restaurants are available without extra charge. On the other hand, the cheapest bottle of wine on Oceania is about $10 a bottle more than on Princess. That generally put wine above what I was willing to pay. The ship felt less crowded and there was never a problem finding outdoor seating (although the Northern itinerary may have had something to do with that). 650 passengers instead of thousands does make for a different (and pleasant) experience. Oceania does live up to its reputation for good food. The dining room food was consistently a notch better than Princess. The buffet food was also very good. However, the buffet was typically more crowded than I'm used to on Princess. Our cabin (C1 ocean view) was equivalent to what we'd expect on Princess. Surprisingly, the cabin steward was good, but not as good as is typical on Princess. There were two ship lecturers. We only went to the lectures by one, but she was outstanding (https://cruisethroughhistory.com}. I liked the smaller venue for ship shows, although the noise level (at times 90db or more) was louder than I'd like. Passenger demographics: Oceania is a bit older and fellow passengers are on average wealthier. They also have a tendency to provide lots of details on their previous exotic Oceania cruises. At first that was useful, since we've not been on Oceania before, but enough was enough.... Shore excursions are overpriced. We generally don't book ship excursions, but we took their tours to make life easier for the three Russian ports, and we booked the bird safari at North Cape (a mistake). In Lerwick we hired a cab for the day. I tried to rent a car, but waited too long. I'd recommend planning ahead and getting a car. Even if you feel a bit uncomfortable driving in the UK, traffic on Shetland Island is thin. We walked around Bergen, a lovely port. Instead of the Oceania excursion to Mt. Floyen, we booked in advance on-line (https://www.floyen.no/en). Efficient and lots less money. In Kristiansund, there is a company that takes off from the cruise dock and heads up the local fjord for a lot less than Oceania. The Russian tours were fine, although private packages would have saved money. North Cape was a good tour — but we could have done it for less than half the Oceania price on our own. My advice is to rent a car (there is a company at the pier that will rent a car for 1500 NOK). That would allow both the bird safari and a drive up to North Cape, and save a whole lot of money. Thee is also a public bus, although an expensive one, from the pier to North Cape. The tourist office at the pier has the details. Although the cruise to Flam is spectacular, I can't say I'd recommend the railroad trip — but if you do take it, don't book with Oceania. You can either book on-line in advance or buy a ticket once you get there. Flam itself is a town of about 500 that absorbs thousands of cruise ship passengers, and is entirely uninteresting on its own. Cabs in Copenhagen (Uber withdrew from the city) are readily available at the cruise terminal and will set you back less than the Oceania transfer. In sum, Oceania is about twice the price (or more). If I had a choice between them I'd take Princess assuming identical itineraries. However, Oceania's smaller ships bring one to places Princess doesn't. I wouldn't hesitate to book Oceania again — but only if the itinerary was one that Princess could not match. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I chose this cruise because of its itinerary. This was my first time on Regent. I usually do Princess. If you want to try Regent, start with another ship. The Navigator is old, small, has very little entertainment during the night or ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of its itinerary. This was my first time on Regent. I usually do Princess. If you want to try Regent, start with another ship. The Navigator is old, small, has very little entertainment during the night or day and the decor is average at best. One of my biggest problem with this cruise line is their costs to book your hotel and airport transfers. They pay for your first night before the cruise, but obviously it has been figured into the cost already. If you want to stay additional nights, I strongly suggest that you book it yourself. They charged $419 per person for the additional night. Our room only cost about $300 a night for double occupancy. So by booking with Regent, I paid over twice as much for that second night. I had my daughter with me on this trip and even though she was staying in our suite during the cruise, I had asked for an additional room for her before cruise. They put her in our room on the sofa bed and charged an additional $769 to do so. So now this extra night has cost me $1,607. Apparently, a third person in a suite does not get a free room the night before. I was encouraged by Regent agent to book the room through them because they could not guarantee both nights would be in the same room if I did not. I ended up paying for my daughter to have her own hotel room for both nights and Regent would not refund me the $769 because it was not done 30 days prior. I did not realize there was only one hotel room until I arrived in Dublin. Long story short - I would have saved a lot of money if I had personally just booked two rooms for two nights and skipped on their "free" one night of hotel. The airport transfers are no better. They have a private driver pick you up at airport which is very nice but they forgot to notice that my daughter was on a different flight and then never picked her up. She took a cab for $56. Regent charged us $113 times 3 for airport transfers. It did include a ride on a bus from the hotel to ship but still very pricey. The positive things about this cruise were the staff and the food. Everyone that assisted us on the ship were top notch. The food was the best I have had on a cruise ship. Their one specialty restaurant was excellent but we could only get one night's reservation on a 12 night cruise. All alcohol is included with your cruise and they serve excellent choices of liquor, wine and beer. The downside is people can over drink when it is basically free. The excursions were also included and they were satisfactory. We ended up paying for premium tours 3 times but there are plenty of free ones. Be sure and book those early on and do not wait till right before the ship departs. The good tours fill up fast. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
GOOD - Nice Room with Butler/Concierge service, large bathroom and balcony, 24-hour room service. Main dining room and Toscana had excellent service staff and food was fantastic. Ship was nicely equipped and comfortable, albeit not very ... Read More
GOOD - Nice Room with Butler/Concierge service, large bathroom and balcony, 24-hour room service. Main dining room and Toscana had excellent service staff and food was fantastic. Ship was nicely equipped and comfortable, albeit not very large comparatively. BAD - Captain and officers were completely self-righteous and arrogant, to the point of being rude. The dining personnel in the "Polo Club" were incompetent and utterly unskilled in premier food service. We are not snobs and expect minor glitches in services, etc. However, the Polo Club is a "reservations only" establishment and one cannot simply enter at their leisure. The cruise was labeled "Gaelic Glory", but there was no glory about it. The theme was advertised as "Irish", but there wasn't an inkling of Irish theme aboard ship...no Irish food, music, or adornments...??? The entertainment was reminiscent of a theme park, with less than stellar performances. Shore excursions were offered by the cruise line at exorbitant prices, usually 3-4 times the amount charged by local companies at each port-of-call. If you did not book an excursion through the cruise line, you were not allowed to disembark the ship until all of those who purchased cruise line excursion packages had departed. This usually meant waiting 1-2 hours after arriving in port. The crew was extremely vigilant in enforcing this measure, to point of acting "Gestapo" like...very discourteous and unnecessary. I could list many more negative aspects about the cruise, but I think you get the picture. Overall...VERY DISAPPOINTED...!!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
After reading a review posted here, I want to post my own review of this same cruise. On our 8th Oceania cruise, our second on Nautica, this cruise was one of our best cruises for the total ship experience with the additional charm of the ... Read More
After reading a review posted here, I want to post my own review of this same cruise. On our 8th Oceania cruise, our second on Nautica, this cruise was one of our best cruises for the total ship experience with the additional charm of the Irish ports of call. If I get obvious out of the way, Nautica is way overdue for an interior refit. In no way did the condition of the ship detract from our onboard experience. If I compare our Nautica experience with our cruise to Cuba on Sirena, this cruise better organized, and, the crew had a better focus on the total customer experience. The food service, the quality in Polo, Toscana and the GDR was very good, at times our dishes were the best we have ever had on an Oceania cruise. It’s true that ship excursions board tenders before independent travelers. We booked all of our excursions with our Cruise Critic members on our Roll Call board. At no time did we find that this delay was a problem on this cruise. Yes, the Oceania excursion product is way overpriced. Oceania needs to do better in this regard. We prefer the Oceanis cruise product, and, we have booked another cruise for next year. I believe the Nautica is one of Oceania’s best ships for the overall management and for the total cruise experience for the passenger. Once the refit is complete, I expect the Nautica will continue as a top choice for Oceania travelers old and new. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We put three cruises together starting in Dublin 7/18 and disembarking in Barcelona 9/1. The positive was the crew and service was excellent for the most part. The negative is extensive. The ship was not particularly stable with a ... Read More
We put three cruises together starting in Dublin 7/18 and disembarking in Barcelona 9/1. The positive was the crew and service was excellent for the most part. The negative is extensive. The ship was not particularly stable with a good deal of pitching and rolling in calm to moderate seas. Vibrations at the stern were noticeable even on the 10th deck. Some people in cabins at the rear portion of the ship demanded new cabins. The food was mediocre for the most part. The signature Prime steak restaurant had to recook a medium rare filet on two occasions. Surprisingly there was little local food and wine as we cruised Scandinavia and Europe. Wines were focused on primarily US wines and frequently ran out without resupply. The ship docked most of the time a significant distance from the actual place we were visiting. Long bus rides were the standard and cabs back and forth were extremely expensive. Tours were clearly not designed with the guest in mind but for the convenience of the cruise line. Many times tours were scheduled when venues or cities being visited were not open. the maddening thing was there was adequate time to run the same tour a few hours later in the day without impacting the scheduled departure times. Many times the "free time" did not occur due to the guide not managing the tour properly. 75% of the guides were substandard compared to other guides in Europe and on river cruises. It was a very expensive experience with such a negative result. Many people with hundreds of cruising days on Regent were complaining about the lack of quality on the cruise as compared to their other experiences. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
The Ship, Cabin, Dining, Entertainment & Service were Excellent. Unfortunately, Travel that far is also about, if not mainly, the location and that experience. Ireland and its people were a found Treasure in spite of the shore ... Read More
The Ship, Cabin, Dining, Entertainment & Service were Excellent. Unfortunately, Travel that far is also about, if not mainly, the location and that experience. Ireland and its people were a found Treasure in spite of the shore excursions Nautica offered, not because of them. For a Ship of this caliber and cost I expected hand picked and above average Excursions. 2 out of 3 Excursions were Horrible (Kinsale & Bantry) and we gave a detailed written complaint to the excursion manager. Their attitude was, "Too Bad, no one else complained." We’ve asked to be taken off their mailing list as other options at that level of travel will be explored. Cork/Kinsale: The commentary was cute and entertaining while on route. Town was a big disappointment. Basically a Tourist trap, overloaded with Buses, wasted time with tea and scones in a Hotel with no atmosphere. Walk to the City Centre was a challenge for some. After visiting a few shops, noticed the long bathroom lines around the block at the Tourist Information Center that took up rest of the time allowed. Basically a frustrating Pit Stop. Bantry: "Spectacular Beara Peninsula": Long drive at breakneck speeds. Cannot open windows on a large Tour Bus and when A/C isn't working, it's miserable. Tour Bus used for Giants Causeway showed us what a clean, well maintained, WC on bus, excellent driver and Excursion should be. The comparison was Night and Day. IMHO all Excursions should have been at this level. Independent walks of Ports of Call would have been better use of our time rather than those two horrible Excursions.We don’t expect travel to be PERFECT but expected Oceania to handle the complaint PERFECTLY. I suggest avoiding the OCEANIA sponsored excursion. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Excellent itinerary that included many remote islands; some, like St. Kilda, Lunga and Fair Isle are rarely visited by cruise ships. The food and service staff were both very good in The Restaurant and La Terrazza. We enjoyed one ... Read More
Excellent itinerary that included many remote islands; some, like St. Kilda, Lunga and Fair Isle are rarely visited by cruise ships. The food and service staff were both very good in The Restaurant and La Terrazza. We enjoyed one dinner in La Dame; food was excellent, the service was good and the more intimate ambience was appreciated. However, the surcharge of US$60 per person seems excessive, in my opinion. Silver Cloud's size is ideal for an expedition type cruise. Silversea did an excellent job with the recent renovation of the ship. The ship's interior decor is very tasteful, complimented by a superb collection of black and white photographs taken on early expeditions to the Antarctic, such as the one led by Sir Ernest Shackleton in 1914. The tasteful interior decor extends into the cabins, where warm wood trim compliments the neutral wall colours and the photographic prints from the Antarctic. Our Deluxe Veranda cabin was well fitted out. Our bed was extremely comfortable as were the pillows. Compared to other ships that we have cruised on, our Cabin #526 was the quietest one that we have ever slept in at sea. Our 'Butler' Chokhoni was first class and she was ready to attend to all of our requests, always with a pleasant smile ! Without asking on our part, she even gave our shoes a polish ! This attention to detail was much appreciated ! The Expedition team, superbly led by Tim Amm, was well prepared and their lectures were informative and entertaining. Overall, I would say that the on board lectures were of better quality than any that I have heard aboard other ships, including the much touted ones by Adventure Canada. Getting in and out of the zodiacs was made easy and safe by a very dedicated crew who were always ready to assist passengers. These able crew members ensured that no one was injured, even during some challenging sea conditions. I would have no hesitation in highly recommending Silver Cloud Expedition, but with one caveat. Her tenders are in my opinion unseaworthy and and unfit for duty on the high seas. How Silversea can have these so-called ancient "lifeboats" aboard the Silver Cloud is beyond me. Why were they not replaced during Silver Cloud's recent US$45 million refit ? I have cruised on various expeditions to the high Arctic, Galapagos and Cape Horn, plus cruises on Oceania, Regent and Seabourn. I have never experienced such inadequate tenders on any ship ! If the Captain of the Silver Cloud ever had to order "abandon ship", it would become a calamity, unless the seas were flat calm. Silver Cloud's tenders each have a bow door that leaks water, plus two entry portals on each side, covered by tacky canvas covers. These entry portals, being very close to the waterline, would be breached by the first wave of water hitting the side of the tender. Sea water would eventually swamp the interior of the tender. Imagining 150 people stuffed into each of Silver Cloud's two tenders is unthinkable, especially in locations such as the Antarctic, crossing Drake Passage or mid-Atlantic ! In general, cruise lines tend to provide tenders with minimal seaworthiness. The ones on Silver Cloud are the worst of an already low standard set for life boats. Now that Royal Caribbean has bought out Silversea, perhaps they will pay close attention and replace the inadequate tenders aboard Silver Cloud ? Despite the issue with the tenders, we would have no hesitation in doing another cruise aboard Silver Cloud - she is such a comfortable ship with a very fine crew ! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose Tauck small ship cruises due to reputation. We had a good experience last year on two river cruises. We would not recommend small ship cruises with Tauck. I had written a 5 page letter describing both the good and the bad on ... Read More
We chose Tauck small ship cruises due to reputation. We had a good experience last year on two river cruises. We would not recommend small ship cruises with Tauck. I had written a 5 page letter describing both the good and the bad on two small ship back to back cruises and I received back a one page letter addressing one item. Most group dinners consisted of chicken. Very little choice of local foods since we visited 5 different countries. We drove around after lunch to kill time before going to hotel. VERY boring!. We should have been given a choice of shopping since we were close or go to hotel to wait. the stop At Tallinn was rushed. In Saint Petersburg only overpriced souvenir shops were suggested. Should have gone to a market area and shopped for bargains. Too many people(40) on each excursion trying to meander thru the towns we visited. I had thought Tauck was different using local guides and smaller groups. Other excursions we have been on have larger groups for less money. We did have a good Swedish lunch and a good Russian lunch. Not chicken!! this cruise better than the first one two weeks earlier with Tauck. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Silversea is flirting with perfection with the Silver Muse and its crew. We just completed a 13 day cruise from Dublin to Barcelona with stops also in Portugal. This was our 5th cruise with them. This went off seamlessly without a ... Read More
Silversea is flirting with perfection with the Silver Muse and its crew. We just completed a 13 day cruise from Dublin to Barcelona with stops also in Portugal. This was our 5th cruise with them. This went off seamlessly without a hitch. I can’t imagine any other cruise line handling logistics better than they do. Pre and post cruise hotels, transportation, embarkation, and disembarkation were all handled seamlessy, every car, every driver was there when the were supposed to be. I can get used to going from hotel to airports in Mecrcedes limos. Anyhow. The star of this show is the Muse, Silversea’s new 600 passengere ship. It is absolutely gorgeous. Its interior is not showy at all, all muted tones, a palette of tans, greys and brown, creating a calm serene vibe. I was apprehensive about this trip because it was a bigger ship than the other Silvesea ships we have sailed, the Whisper, Shadow and Wind which were all 300 passengers ships. I was worried that the bigger number could play havoc with the client focused attention to detail the Silversea is noted for. The opposite was true. I think they have assembled their A-Team for the Muse. They crew paid more attention to detail than on the smaller ships. The 600 passenger ship is the future for Silversea while also going smaller with expedition ships for 100 to 200 passengers. They just took the Spirit and cut it in half adding space bringing it up to 600 passengers. The message here for Silversea regulars is not to fear they have lost their focus with the larger ships. They make it work. They also read these reviews and respond if needed, as they did by abandoning their reservations only policy for its 8 restaurants, after there was an outcry in Cruise Critic reviews, which was absolutely the right decision. A few words about the restaurants. The two larger dining rooms are Atlantide and Indochine. Atlantide is what Silversea regulars with know simply as the Restaurant. In this case it is posher, more elegant than its equivalent on the smaller ships. They nail it, the best food I have had on Silversea. The menu features steaks that are all identified as to source and type-grass fed or prime, from France, Argentina etc. The rest of the menu is what Silversea clients expect, they kill a lot of lobsters for example. The menu does not change every night as on their other ships but that is no big deal. Their other large restaurant is Indochine, which is a mélange of Thai, Indian, Chinese and just about every thing else under the sun. Dishes like lobster pad thai, Malabar chicken which is a jazzed up version of the familiar chicken tikka masala, the even do a good Pho. Unfortunately the passengers do not seem to be responding to this change of pace. There is less demand here than in Atlantide which is a shame, because its an elegant room, sort of art-decoiswith great food. Also on offer is the usual La Dame, the Relais and Chateux restaurant which is reservations only, with a surcharge of $60 pp. This is the best iteration, by far, of the three we have tried on the other ships. Worth the money. A tip is to make your reservations as early as possible because it tends to sell out. The other reservations only restaurant is Kaiseki, which unfortunately doesn’t work. It bears to close of a resemblance to a Benihana with the chef chopping and cooking food on a big grill. I think they have already abandoned this concept, reverting to the Seishin concept found on the Silver Spirit, which was superb. They do have a problems with La Terrazza which is they Italian restaurant found on every none-expedition ship. In the morning La Terarazza is the breakfast buffet. The waiters will take orders for different types of eggs, pancakes, waffles and toasts. The problem is that the waiters after bringing your waiter after bringing you your coffee and water, then use Ipad like device to place special orders. These orders go to a central source and then delivered by, it seems, any other waiter available. This results in confusion because no one is really responsible for your table, and orders seemingly get lost frequently in transition, which happened to us a few times. A similar problem exists with the evening version of it, which is reservation only but without a surcharge. One night our order got completely lost and after a 45 minute wait, and several complaints the food finally came out but cold. They also don’t change their change their menu. This is a shame because on other ships La Terrazza is a highlight because of its fresh pasta and other Italian dishes reflective of Silversea’s Italian ownership. On the Muse this needs some improvement. Also on offer is the Grill, their hot rocks concept found on all the other ships, which is an outdoor restaurant with tables aside the pool where the guests cook their food on super heated rocks. Personally I don’t like to work for my dinner. Other people seem not to mind it. It too is reservation only and without a surcharge. Above it on the deck overlooking the pool is Spaccanapoli a causal pizza only place that nails the Italian heritage thing by cooking great pizza. There is another restaurant, the Silver Note, a jazzy supper club kind of place which we didn’t try so no comment. All in all the quality of Atlantide, Indochine and La Dame make for the best food in their fleet. Then there was a problem which turned into a real treat and reflects the crews attention to detail and service. We were in a deluxe veranda, midship on deck 8. On the first night we heard a grating noise that was not the usual creaking of a ship. We complained to our butler, and there was an immediate response from the crew, who tried to find the problem. They ended up concluding is was in the duct work in the ceiling on the suite below which they couldn't get to while it was occupied. This resulted in a visit from the Hotel Director, who offered to put us in an Owners Suite. Sure we said. The butlers transferred every article in our room while we were at dinner even folding and hanging our clothes. So we ended up in a suite bigger than most one bedroom apartments in Manhattan. It had a dining table for eight, another dining table for four on the expansive veranda. I would never book a suite like this unless we were doing an extended grand tour of weeks not days. There is one other problem I would like to point out. I did say they read these things. Please lose the lunch part of full day tours. On an excursion to Granada to see the El Alhambra, which has to be on everyone’s bucket list, we stopped for lunch, which turned out to be a 4 or 5 course meal that lasted 2 ½ hours. As if people on the cruise aren’t getting enough food. I would rather spend the time visiting the sights. For those who must have lunch they could provide a box lunch with beverages. We have had similar problems on other excursions, including a disaster at beach club lunch that had a heavy metal cover band and a few hundred people from somewhere else drunk as hell dancing on the beach to horrid covers of bands like Metallica and AC/DC. This was in Cozumel while on the Silverwind. They ended up refunding the cost of the excursion everyone. This again due to need the see to include lunch on all day excursions. Lose the format, please. All in all our experience on the Muse far exceeded our expectations. Except for the few minor glitches I mentioned, this cruise was nearly perfect. I can’t imagine anyone, including Silversea’s major competition, Regent, Seabourne and Crystal doing it any better. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We are long time Silversea Cruisers. First time on Silver Muse. It clearly represents a new direction for Silversea. we are not sure who the cruise line is marketing too. Let me explain. Gone is the elegant dinning room, and in its ... Read More
We are long time Silversea Cruisers. First time on Silver Muse. It clearly represents a new direction for Silversea. we are not sure who the cruise line is marketing too. Let me explain. Gone is the elegant dinning room, and in its place is a collection of dining options. While they represent a more modern approach to the dining experience, the new venues lack any sense of the wow factor. Comfortable, yes. Elegance, no. In fact, the entire ship denotes a sense of soft colors, fabrics, and light paneling exuding blandness. There was a lot of use of artificial material for surfaces. Now, don't get me wrong. This all tied together in a decorators well thought out scheme. Unfortunately it turned out very uninspiring. I have loved cruising-partly for the grandeur which this ship lacks. I am talking today grandeur, hip grandeur, modern grandeur, all missing. The staff were as fantastic as ever. Best in industry in my opinion. The food was OK. Meat products we fine. The fish was consistently over cooked and dry. I think fish products were not left to get to room temperature before cooking thus drying out. in the cooking process. Fish was not taken off the grill and left to finish on the plate. We were surprised at this problem since on virtually all of our past Silversea cruises, fish was fantastic. And yes, we did frequently and politely share our concern with ship staff. Now, Silversea is planning two more sister ships to Muse. I hope there is still time to add elegance back in the mix. By the way, did I mention the seven day menu has to go. Silversea has lost its way with this ship and marketing staff better make sure that young hip as well as seasoned cruisers feel they are getting ship value for their money. Will we sail with Silversea again? You bet. There still no better cruise line out there. These comments hopefully will be helpful to the cruise line. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was our first cruise on the Muse and we enjoyed every aspect. The ship is beautiful and embarkation in Dublin was a breeze. The crew was very friendly. After reading some reviews I was a little concerned about the dining policies ... Read More
This was our first cruise on the Muse and we enjoyed every aspect. The ship is beautiful and embarkation in Dublin was a breeze. The crew was very friendly. After reading some reviews I was a little concerned about the dining policies with no Main Dining Room, but the number of restaurants was nice and just about every meal was very good. We had a Deluxe Verandah Suite on Deck 5 and we liked that we were near the Dolce Vita bar and just down the hall from the showroom. We did have to miss one port (Waterford) due to weather, but an extra day in Dublin was fine. The ports were all very fun, we especially loved all the stops in Spain, La Coruna, Cadiz, Malaga and Barcelona. We only attended a couple of shows and they were entertaining. Really liked Jimmy the Cruise Director. He made a very competitive trivia a lot of fun for all. Can't wait for our next adventure with Silversea. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
First off, all the people that work there try real hard. the Captain and his crew tried very hard to make the cruise comfortable despite tropical storm Alieen with 85 miles winds.However this is not a luxary cruise. Princess is must better ... Read More
First off, all the people that work there try real hard. the Captain and his crew tried very hard to make the cruise comfortable despite tropical storm Alieen with 85 miles winds.However this is not a luxary cruise. Princess is must better and it is not in the class of Oceanic. This is about getting room service 1/2 hour late. taking over 30 minutes to get a workable hairdryer, losing dining reservation for 18 at their special restaurant, despite confiming it the day before. Knowing what is jasmine tea vis green tea. Not getting a wheel chair, when requesting it. Little stuffs that relates to communication and the failure to delivery. The cabin was great and have lots of places for storages. The shower was huge with plenty of hot water. Cabin size was excellent. Love the one price cleaning and delivery within 24 hours. Love the idea of free soda and coffee. The $12 per day crew service charge was very reasonable and we got good service. Entertaiment was enjoyable. Port excursions by the cruise company was first class and having lunch at great places helps. Recommend it highly. Dining was so-so at best. Desserts was not good, not even ice creams. Worst roast beef i ever have. The specialize restaurant is much better, but you only get to it only once. The best was when they did a barbecue dinner with all the choices. Since the ship is smaller, it limited dining options. It can use a buffet.. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
Windstar Cruises maintains that they are 180 Degrees from Ordinary. After sailing with them four times, I cannot refute that statement. In fact, they are extraordinary. Recently my husband and I set off from Dublin, bound for Lisbon, on ... Read More
Windstar Cruises maintains that they are 180 Degrees from Ordinary. After sailing with them four times, I cannot refute that statement. In fact, they are extraordinary. Recently my husband and I set off from Dublin, bound for Lisbon, on their flagship vessel the Wind Surf. Cruising with Windstar is more akin to sailing on a large luxury yacht. As soon as the 1492: Conquest of Paradise Theme song begins to play, while the seven massive sails unfurl during sail away, you will know why. With room for only 310 passengers, the ship never feels crowded. Throughout your voyage, you can expect 5-star service with a personal touch from the crew. They are attentive and friendly and by the second day on board expect them to address you by name. Although Windstar Cruises have options for all-day dining, you won’t find any mega cruise ship style buffets on board. Rather, 24/7 dining comes only in the form of room service. We took advantage of this by having fresh coffee and croissants delivered to our room daily. It is the best kind of alarm clock I can think of using while on a cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2017
Being welcomed back to the Wind Surf by our Captain Gerry Hogan and his spectacular crew made us feel as if we were being welcomed home. This particular cruise from Dublin to Edinburgh was a dream for us and almost unattainable after a ... Read More
Being welcomed back to the Wind Surf by our Captain Gerry Hogan and his spectacular crew made us feel as if we were being welcomed home. This particular cruise from Dublin to Edinburgh was a dream for us and almost unattainable after a sudden serious health issue earlier in the year. Seeing "the Surf" tied up at the dock brought tears to our eyes. Being greeted by staff who remembered us from other sailings not only made us feel instantly at home, it is also a testament to a company that must be great to work for as the crew members have choices in employers and they keep coming back. There is so much to say about this cruise starting with the ports which were all interesting with each one very different in landscape and culture. Going to Isle of Man and learning the history of this country and its part in WWII was enlightening. Kirkwall and all of the Orkney Islands, going to Scapa Flow feel like a step back into history, both modern and ancient. Portree, Isle of Skye, is one of the most beautiful places on earth; Tobermory charming and Portrush all of these rolled into one. Disembarking in Edinburgh was easy and it's understandable why people fall in love with this charming city and continue to return. The Wind Surf is in wonderful shape with excellent services, continuous smiles and a true effort to make every guest feel special. The reception staff and dining room staff are eager to do whatever it takes to satisfy each request. We eat anything an everything but met lots of people with specific food needs and all were exceedingly happy with the abundance of choices. The cabin stewards are the best in the business, keeping the cabins immaculate and will appear at a moments notice to take care of any personal need. We are always amazed that our names are remembered from day one. This particular itinerary is one that should not be missed. There were lots of fellow passengers who were interested in these countries as part of their ancestry. And if one isn't into ancestry and/or the history of Ireland and Scotland, there are always the breweries and distilleries! Great trip! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
After more than a dozen previous cruises on the Wind Surf, this was our first ever back to back cruise. The first leg was Edinburgh to Dubln, visiting many smaller ports in the British Isles, followed by Dublin to Lisbon, visiting the ... Read More
After more than a dozen previous cruises on the Wind Surf, this was our first ever back to back cruise. The first leg was Edinburgh to Dubln, visiting many smaller ports in the British Isles, followed by Dublin to Lisbon, visiting the Scylli Isles, France, Spain, and Portugal. It was also our first booking in a suite, a definite upgrade from the regular cabin. Having access to two separate baths and two separate closets, was much appreciated. The spacious sitting area was also nice, as we were traveling with friends. Windstar was also gracious enough to comp us for the laundry package for our second voyage, which was a real treat. No more rinsing out underwear in the sink! I learned later that Windstar often does this for back to back cruisers. Thank you, Windstar! During our stay in Dublin, we booked the excursion to the Guinness Museum, which was a real treat. The museum is housed in a huge converted warehouse, which is worth a visit unto itself. There are 5 stories of exhibits, showing the brand's celebrated history, the unique brewing process, the equipment and technology, advertising campaigns, and finally, a pint of Guinness in the Sky Bar, with a panoramic view of Dublin. After dropping off all the other passengers at their hotels, the bus took us back to the ship, and we got back in time for a late lunch. Our first stop was in Waterford, followed by the Scylli Isles, where we had a real treat. Prince William spent many vacations there as a child, and he and Kate happened to be there for a Royal tour. So they came out to the Wind Surf in their Royal launch, and gave us a wave as they motored by! All the Wind Surf passengers were lining the rails, cheering, waving and snapping photos. During those first few days of the cruise we also had some other VIP's on board, new Windstar President John Delaney and Vice President Doug Santoni. I took the opportunity to introduce myself, and found them both to be highly engaging, and interested in my opinions and experiences, especially about my 3 cruises on the Wind Surf's sister ship, the Club Med 1. After our first conversation, Mr. Delaney set aside another hour in his busy schedule for a more in-depth meeting. He has big plans for Windstar, mostly focusing on ways to improve the cruising experience. Bravo! On our cruise, very much like many others I have been on, almost 50% of the passengers were Yacht Club members, including one passenger with almost 40 previous cruises, going back to the late, great Wind Song. Windstar must be doing some things REALLY well to earn that kind of loyalty. Lately I have seen some less than glowing Cruise Critic reviews, almost always from first-timers who apparently expect white glove table service, and caviar in the hot tubs. I prefer the warm personal service from crew and staff who not only welcome me back, but remember my name. The true stars of the ship are the officers, especially Hotel Manager Nick Bulger, and the fantastic team of Steve and Amanda Millar. We have already booked our next cruise in February to Costa RIca and the Panama Canal, where we join President John Delaney for the "Presidents" cruise. Then next October, we will be back on the Wind Surf to visit the Canary Islands. Join us! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
The old ship with an outdated decor and a very few amenities. The entertainment was limited to an OK band and a duo (husband and wife) singers. The food was OK, but not great. The cabin was small with a peeling wallpaper and some ... Read More
The old ship with an outdated decor and a very few amenities. The entertainment was limited to an OK band and a duo (husband and wife) singers. The food was OK, but not great. The cabin was small with a peeling wallpaper and some rusted spots in the shower. It was also dark with pothole windows which were advertised as the ocean view cabins. A poor quality TV reception, limited to 4-5 channels. Internet is slow and expensive. Wi-Fi was available only close to the reception desk not in our room. The "Fitness Center" was so small that 2 people felt as a crowd. The 24 hours food court (pizza, sandwiches, tea, coffee), typical for all the cruises I've been to, is not available. There is a room service alternative that I've never used. The only positive detail of the cruise was friendly, service-oriented staff. Not a luxury cruise that I've hoped for! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We had never sailed with Azamara before, but will certainly do so again. We have always had good service on a cruise but the service on Azamara was extraordinary with incredible warmth, from the captain to the lovely young man who took ... Read More
We had never sailed with Azamara before, but will certainly do so again. We have always had good service on a cruise but the service on Azamara was extraordinary with incredible warmth, from the captain to the lovely young man who took care of our cabin. They must treat staff well, because they seem to have worked there throughout their career at sea, and remember all the returning guests, including people who had last been onboard 3 years ago. The people we met were from all over the world and delightful. We have dietary restrictions, but the main dining room staff, particularly Monico, made sure these were accommodated. We also liked that we did not have to dress for dinner, but could wear nice jeans. Quibbles: We could never have dinner in the buffet restaurant, because their menus did not usually work for our diet. I am sure if we had asked, they would have helped, but it was easier to just eat in the dining room We certainly enjoyed our breakfasts in the buffet though and lunch on the patio. The ship docks in the port for a longer time than most, yet they did not take advantage of this by allowing a half day tour in the morning and another in the afternoon. Instead almost all the tours left at the same time. They also chose odd itineraries that missed the attractions we really wanted to see and did not seem to take full advantage of the port, so we ended up booking most of our land tours privately - not a cost effective move for Azamara. This seems to represent a problem in head office/ land tours, that appears to operate separately from the otherwise excellent experience on Azamara. The policies they set are silly at times. For example, they changed the port at Ayr to a far less convenient location for those going ashore, and automatically cancelled our land tour reservation with them, although the tour was unchanged except for costing $5 more. What any one experienced in providing customer care would have told them was to rebook the excursion, eat the increased cost, and advise people that they could cancel if they wanted. Instead I had to waste my time rebooking. When I tried to contact someone in head office to give this feedback, it turned out the customer service agents, who were all very good, don't have this info, only an email address where the response might as well have been automated. But these are quibbles. Azamara offered a great itinerary, facilities and crew. They have so many returning passengers that they are clearly doing most things right. We will be among them. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This was our first cruise ever. Azamara did not miss a trick for the most part. Service was exceptional. Amenities were terrific. Good gym and spa. Food was good. Speciality restaurants offered variety. Stewards took great care. Everyone ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever. Azamara did not miss a trick for the most part. Service was exceptional. Amenities were terrific. Good gym and spa. Food was good. Speciality restaurants offered variety. Stewards took great care. Everyone on board greets you. Getting on the ship was easy. People were inviting and helpful. Leaving the ship was simple. Luggage was slow to come out but easy to get to once it came up. Cabin, with a balcony, had plenty of room. TV offered easy to follow apps. Casino was okay. Pay out and slots is not at the same percentage as Vegas. Duty free did not typify duty free prices. Furla purses on sale were over priced. Port and accompanying shuttles were exceptional. Info tables at the Port of call were very helpful. Wifi is not free. It is pricey. Bridge tour is a must. I would definitely take this cruise line again. Review what excursions entail. We went to the Open championship and it was very costly. We got ticket and bus ride. No tent access or food. A box lunch would have been an idea. Read Less
51 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Review from a first-timer! To give some context, our cruise experiences have run the gamut – from mass market (RCL, NCL & Princess) to premium (Celebrity) to luxury (Seabourn and Silversea) and on ships of a wide variety of sizes ... Read More
Review from a first-timer! To give some context, our cruise experiences have run the gamut – from mass market (RCL, NCL & Princess) to premium (Celebrity) to luxury (Seabourn and Silversea) and on ships of a wide variety of sizes from the 10K ton Seabourn Legend to the 140k ton Navigator of the Seas. We cruise on the larger ships with our children (now 19 and 23) and the smaller, more upscale lines as a couple. We have never met a cruise we didn’t like, although I have to say our Celebrity experience did not meet our expectations and we probably wouldn’t sail that line again as, among other issues, we did not like the obvious “class” system and just didn’t think it was worth the additional cost as compared to Princess. SB and SS is now mostly out of our price range, especially for longer cruises (we are working professionals with a child in college) so we were anxious to try the Azamara experience to see if it was a good fit for us as a couple. When we found the 11-night Irish Seas cruise with the Perry Golf package that coincided with our 30th Anniversary, we were very excited as it seemed tailor-made for us. To cut to the chase, we enjoyed our experience enough that we have booked another Azamara cruise with the golf package for next year. We had read a lot about the benefits of the “R” class ships and in that regard the Quest did not disappoint. It had all the amenities we enjoy without the challenges of a large ship such as long lines (especially for embarkation, disembarkation and tendering) and crowds. Loved the fact that we could get anywhere on the ship in 1 – 2 minutes and Deck 7 was a good location as it is only 2-3 flights up or down from everything. I think we only took the elevator twice the entire cruise. Plenty of dining options for us and an upscale on-deck experience with couches, Bali beds, blankets if needed and no fighting for space. We were particularly lucky with the weather so spent more time on deck than we expected to. A favorite place were the couches on the forward sun deck. I had obsessively watched the “reimagination” of the Journey and Quest online and really like the new décor, particularly the carpets and color schemes. Very relaxing and upscale although I do wonder how all that light carpet is going to hold up! Love the Living Room and the Tapas every evening from 5 – 8, a delicious snack to tide us over as we like to dine on the late side. Other food standouts included the extensive Dim Sum buffet offered one lunchtime in the Discoveries Restaurant, the delicious soups, and the Chef’s Table experience. We also tried Aqualina and Prime C. We were disappointed in our Aqualina experience. We were a table of 2 seated between two extremely rowdy tables of 8, the food was not great and our dessert soufflés were delivered underdone. They also did not have our wine selection and had to substitute a different bottle. Prime C was a much better experience. Note to Azamara: please, please regularly wash all the windows for the dining venues as the dirty windows in Aqualina and Prime C really obstructed the view. The window washing was the one area of maintenance of the ship that let us down. The food and the included wines. Well, I really thought the food was on par with Celebrity; it was good but wouldn’t call it great. We were underwhelmed by the breakfast buffet and this is where a larger ship probably has the edge as you find more selections: for example, on the Quest we would have enjoyed more variety in the hot dishes such as Quiche, Eggs Benedict, breakfast tacos, Frittata etc. And certain items such as Oatmeal weren’t offered every day. But the fruit variety was outstanding which was a plus. Burgers at The Patio were particularly good and a nice option if you didn’t want the lunch buffet. We enjoyed being able to eat outside even though it wasn’t a warm weather cruise! Desserts were just okay but the Gelato selection was great. The included wines, particularly the whites, were not really to our liking although the addition of sparkling wine now being included is a big plus in our opinion. It’s nice that two whites and two reds are offered every day but we really missed a good Chardonnay being included. We priced some of the wines being served when we got home, and they are around $7 a bottle. That’s a lower quality than we usually drink. The list of included cocktails was extensive (really only lacks after dinner options such as Cognac and Grand Marnier) so we always found something to drink and would not purchase a beverage package even if we do think the quality of the included wines is lacking. We purchased some after dinner drinks and one bottle of wine and our entire beverage bill was less than $100. Just don’t think the package is worth it to us. Where we feel lines like SB and SS have the edge is somewhat better food, better wines and especially, much larger cabins, especially in the lower categories. Anyone familiar with the R ships knows this is an issue. No getting around it, the veranda cabins are small and the bathrooms tiny. Our balcony cabins on Princess were larger and the layout better, with the “walk-in” closet area adjacent to the bathrooms which just makes it easier to navigate the space. And our basic balcony cabin on the Celebrity Silhouette was quite a bit larger with a full size couch. And it’s a lot more money for a Club Continent Suite which is 50% larger. Since we don’t spend that much time in our cabin, we don’t think it’s worth paying for, but that’s us. And apparently the Oceanview cabins’ interior space is even smaller (at least that’s what someone staying in one told us). Only took two land discoveries tours with Azamara and they were pretty good but as others have mentioned they are pricey. We had some excellent independently booked all-day tours of Wales and Scotland with BusyBus – an overall exceptional value and exceptional experience. The aspect of port calls where I think Azamara shines is the included shuttles to the center of town (this made it very easy for me to get to town and tour on my own when my husband was playing golf) and the fact that at every port tourism representatives come on board in the morning to provide you with maps and information. This was so incredibly helpful. Going to commit sacrilege here and admit we did not take part in two signature Azamara events – the Azamara evening and the White Night. The golf schedule was rigorous (often requiring 9 hours off the ship and also including four cocktail parties – oh woe!) so husband after returning late just did not want to venture off the ship for another 3 ½ hours in Liverpool and we actually enjoyed a quiet evening on the ship with the majority of guests gone. The reviews from friends was that the Azamazing Experience (focused on the Beatles) was just okay so didn’t feel we missed much, although we would have liked to have been informed that when everyone returned to the ship there was going to be a fireworks display, as we missed seeing it. The White Night was not the typical buffet and party on deck because of the weather, just ended up being an inside dance party so we weren’t sorry to miss it. Passenger demographics – we are in our mid-50’s and were definitely on the younger side, I would say average age on this cruise was 70 although there were some young people (mostly with family groups) including several very small children. Did not see many children in the 5 – 17 range which is as it should be because there is little on this ship that would appeal to this range. Our young adult children would not be happy on this ship as they like to meet others their age and stay up late dancing and experiencing young adult games & activities. Enjoyed the casual atmosphere on the ships, the fact that a sportcoat was not needed, although we actually don’t mind dressing up on occasion. Our anniversary was also well marked with cabin decorations, a card, and a bottle of Taittinger champagne, and cake. Apologies for the length of this, just one more thing to comment on – the service. Overall it was good, particularly in the main dining room (we had terrible service in this regard on Celebrity). Cabin service was superior. Two weaknesses we noted were The Patio and checkout. I realize The Patio is supposed to be casual, but several times at lunchtime our server did not return to check on us/ask if we wanted anything else. And checkout was a bit of a snafu because of an issue with our bill that we are still trying to resolve now that we are home. There is an unfamiliarity onboard with the dining packages and associated cost and that is what has caused the issue. I hope this review does not seem too nitpicky because overall we had a wonderful time and as mentioned we are returning to Azamara. It was a good overall fit for us but obviously not for everyone. The golf partnership with Perry Golf is an advantage that is also encouraging us to return as well as a current sale and the onboard booking benefits. I can see why people who like larger ships would prefer spending their money on the higher-level Celebrity categories for the same cost or less, but we prefer the intimate, upscale experience of the smaller ships. We will see you again, Azamara! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We love Azamara. On this trip, the crew was absolutely fantastic, as always. As a matter of fact, 3 of the bar tenders remembered us from previous cruises with them. The whole bar staff in the Living Room was fantastic. The casino ... Read More
We love Azamara. On this trip, the crew was absolutely fantastic, as always. As a matter of fact, 3 of the bar tenders remembered us from previous cruises with them. The whole bar staff in the Living Room was fantastic. The casino bar was also great. There is definitely a family feel to the crew and it makes the guest feel welcomed and special. Itinerary was good - Ireland, Scotland, England, Isle of Man, Channel Islands. We had been to some of the stops before, so it was nice to go back and see things. The Isle of Man and Guernsey were particularly interesting - very small and laid back lifestyle. In Liverpool, all of the Beatles experiences are within walking distance of the ship. Also, the public bus system is easy to figure out and a great way to see the city. The ONLY reason I didn't rate this excellent is because of the size of our cabin. See that review. Read Less
89 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We just returned from the June 26, 2016, Journey To The Arctic cruise on Voyager. This was my first cruise with RSSC since 2009, and my husband's first time. Overall, we had a great cruise because of the fabulous itinerary. Greenland ... Read More
We just returned from the June 26, 2016, Journey To The Arctic cruise on Voyager. This was my first cruise with RSSC since 2009, and my husband's first time. Overall, we had a great cruise because of the fabulous itinerary. Greenland was amazing, and we are so glad we got to see it. However, for a cruise that cost us $34,000, we had too many issues and these need to be addressed by Regent - by the way, we filled out all the comment cards on the cruise and no one reached out to us. - The room was in poor shape and we had a broken tv remote and a broken DVD player. Really disappointing for an upscale cruise line. I know the ship is going into dry dock, but for this amount of money, we shouldn't have walked on to a ship that felt run down. - When we called reception to have these items repaired, they said someone would be right up. An hour later no one had come by, so we called again. They sent our stewardess (what was she supposed to do?). She hit the DVD player really hard twice and said, "Yup, it's broken". We told them to forget about repairing it. But then a maintenance guy showed up after bedtime. Very poorly handled. - Service around the ship was very off. In the bars and restaurants, either the wrong drinks were delivered to us, no drinks were delivered to us, or it took a long time for drinks to be delivered. One night in the dining room, we asked for cookies & cream ice cream (which was not on the menu that night, but had been the previous night). They told us that it wasn't available. But then it showed up on the menu the next night. Dining room servers seemed rushed and disconnected. This was not a luxury experience. - Shore excursion desk was very disorganized. They had a very poor grasp on what was happening. In Isafjordur, were given tour tickets for a tour time that didn't even exist (around 1pm). That morning around 9:45am, we were leaving the room for breakfast. We saw tour tickets on our door and noticed that the tour time was for 9:50am, I believe. We went to the desk to ask about the afternoon tour and they said that a mistake had been made and there was no afternoon tour. They seemed annoyed that we were late for this morning tour. We were rushed off the ship without getting any of our belongings, with shore ex staff shouting at us, and showed up to the waiting group about 10 minutes late. Shore ex staff also left two guests behind at Godefoss Waterfall and blamed them for missing the bus, when it was she and the tour guide who miscounted. Very poorly-handled. We are not complainers, and take things in stride, but this cruise was off. I doubt we will return to Regent after this experience. Crystal and Azamara provide a much better product for the money. We walked away from the trip feeling a little ripped-off and a bit disappointed. Read Less
54 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Virtually unknown in the UK, this French company has four ships with capacities of around 250 and a three-masted ship with 27 cabins which offer unique experiences and expeditions with a French Touch around the world. The ships are ... Read More
Virtually unknown in the UK, this French company has four ships with capacities of around 250 and a three-masted ship with 27 cabins which offer unique experiences and expeditions with a French Touch around the world. The ships are stunning in appearance and elegant and luxurious on board. They promise a French crew, attentive service, excellent cuisine, fine cheeses, artisan breads and pastries, and a selection of grands crus. The restaurant on deck 2 provides an elegant, sophisticated and refined cuisine in the finest French gastronomic tradition, or one can choose deck 6 restaurant for a more casual, relaxed atmosphere. It is quite difficult to find reviews of Ponant cruises, and this review of our experience on board L’Austral may be helpful to anyone considering a cruise with this line which aspires to a luxury rating. We chose an eight night cruise for the itinerary from Dublin visiting Douglas, Liverpool, Belfast and on to Ullapool, Stornoway, Skye, Mull and Iona. Advertised as a Gastronomic Cruise, we understood that there would be some gala dinners and cooking demonstrations presented by Michelin starred chefs together with the world’s best sommeliers pairing the food with fine wines and hosting tastings. We are by no means gourmets or wine connoisseurs and were fondly anticipating some French onion soup, boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin, and possibly crème brulees, crepes or souffles. Unfortunately for us, we had completely failed to appreciate what Ponant intended. On six of the eight evenings we were instructed to be seated at 8pm and during the next two and a half to three hours we were presented with culinary masterpieces created by the chefs. The first meal consisted of cold aniseed flavoured potato soup with a raw oyster, an extremely lightly cooked piece of foie gras, and some very pink lamb accompanied by a few grams of delicately diced vegetables. The chocolate dessert was deliciously calorific. Every other meal included very undercooked or raw fish, meat or eggs the presentation of which was painstakingly exquisite, but could only be appreciated by a more refined palate than ours. Between courses the world famous sommelier went into considerable detail regarding the origin and nature of the wines. We may have become more knowledgeable about what we were eating and drinking had the information not been given entirely in French with very little attempt to translate. We did however manage to understand the information provided in French at breakfast, warning about the possible hazards to health from eating raw or undercooked food. Despite having expected to be able to dine in the more casual dining area on deck six, or possibly take advantage of the free room service, these facilities were not available on gala evenings, neither were we permitted to select an alternative to any of the courses from the vegetarian options. During the cookery presentations, wine tasting, cheese conference, and champagne and whiskey tastings we were offered earpieces in order to listen to a very limited translation to English. Unfortunately the microphone of the French expert was so loud that we could not hear a word and gave up after two attempts. Perhaps we should blame ourselves for having failed to appreciate that there would be little attempt by Ponant to be more accommodating to us as foreigners. The situation in which we found ourselves and the stress caused by trying to communicate over dinner with six other guests who claimed not to speak English was considerable. Tables for two were not available. Our O level French was sadly inadequate and we were relieved to find that some of the other English speakers felt the same. Together with the other 17 English speakers that we managed to find we were in a minority of less than 8%, the remainder being French speaking. Perhaps Ponant could have arranged for us to have had an opportunity to meet at an early stage instead of leaving it to us to meet by accident. It would appear that Ponant is happy to take bookings from English speakers but after this are not particularly concerned for their comfort and needs. We booked the cruise via Ponant’s brochure (published in English) in June 2015 and arranged for hire cars in four ports. Quite by chance in March 2016 we noticed a different itinerary on their website-same ports, but different dates. After two emails to Ponant and their failure to respond, our t/a discovered that the itinerary had changed but that they had not been notified. Our car hire bookings were changed. Embarkation in Dublin was scheduled for 4pm to 5pm for a 6pm sailing. We therefore travelled the previous day as the flight arrival time would have been very close to 4pm. Actual sailing time turned out to be 9.30 pm. Do not believe everything they tell you. A very limited tender service was provided in the four tender ports- usually only one per hour each way. After a short 5 to 10 minute journey the tender would remain in position with the engine running until the next scheduled time slot. On the penultimate day we were instructed to attend an important meeting about disembarkation procedures at 6pm although we did not sail until 8pm. As we had pre-arranged car hire until 7pm we missed the meeting but did not receive any written instructions of the type normally provided until after 10pm on the last night of the cruise. There was no requirement to complete the usual health questionnaire and we never saw anyone use either of the two hand sanitisers outside the restaurants. Despite the language and gastronomic problems, we enjoyed many aspects of the cruise. The ship was immaculate and the crew were pleasant and efficient. There was an open bridge policy. The breakfasts and lunches were very good. The open bar offered a good selection. There was a quiz one day. I believe that the evening entertainment was good but by the time we left the dining room we were too exhausted to watch. The Scottish islands were beautiful, the sun shone, the locals were friendly and our hire cars enabled us to see much more than the ship’s excursions would have allowed. Although it may be unfair to downgrade our score due to our inability to appreciate the food we were offered, had we been able to dine a la carte we may have given an extra star. The inaccuracy of the pre cruise information has also impacted on our rating. We sincerely hope that this review of our experience will be helpful to anyone English speakers who may consider a cruise with Ponant. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2013
My wife and I have cruised both mainstream (Celebrity) and luxury (Regent, Silversea) lines, and we had been looking for something in between those, so Azamara had been on our minds for a while. We had also been looking for a cruise around ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised both mainstream (Celebrity) and luxury (Regent, Silversea) lines, and we had been looking for something in between those, so Azamara had been on our minds for a while. We had also been looking for a cruise around the British Isles, so when we saw the Quest was going to do a "British Open (golf)" cruise, we decided to ignore the golf aspect and sign up. We are delighted that we did. Azamara proved to be exactly what we were looking for: a small ship experience, an all inclusive product, and a casual, relaxed atmosphere at a price well below the luxury lines. We did not use Azamara for transportation. We flew into London 10 days prior to the start of the cruise and then took a short British Air flight from there to Dublin, where the cruise embarked. The actual embarkation process was easy and prompt. They were also quite forgiving. I showed my credit card authorization form to a security person and neglected to get it back, so when we got on the ship, I did not have it to give them. The woman at the desk said not to worry, that they would track it down, which they did. I volunteered to fill out another authorization form, but she insisted they would handle it. Nice touch, and an indication of how the cruise was to go. The safety drill was a dream. We did not have to wear our life preservers, and there were plenty of seats for everyone. Thank goodness we did not have to repeat the bad memories from prior cruises of standing for 20 minutes on a crowded deck with my life preserver on.The first enrichment lecture was at 6 that day, and my wife and I always like to hear the local history and get guidance on what we should try to see. We were unfortunately very disappointed in the lecturer. He did not appear to be well versed in the history, and the talk seemed disorganized. Ordinarily enrichment lectures are a very high priority for us, but we did not return for another one of his talks. Dinner the first evening in Discoveries was good. If you are a real foodie, Azamara's mainstream restaurants may not be for you. I was generally more satisfied than my wife, who had a couple of disappointing meals. Overall, though, the dinners were fine, and the service is top notch. In addition, Azamara has recently gone to an all inclusive product with alcohol included throughout the cruise. The included selections have generated some controversy among a few critics, but we were quite satisfied. The few times we did not care for the wine of the day, we simply asked for something else and they always produced it. Near the end of the cruise, after the last disappointing meal my wife was to have, we decided to try one of the specialty restaurants, Aqualina. Food quality there was definitely a significant step up and should satisfy the most discerning guest, but unless you are in a suite, it costs an additional $25 pp. Well worth it once or maybe even twice, though. Blissfully, there are no formal nights on any Azamara cruise. I did not even take a tie or dress shirt. We ate breakfast the next day in Windows, which has a wide buffet each morning. The food was quite good, with all of the usual items and stations (freshly cooked eggs, waffles, etc.) plus some more substantial brunch-type dishes. For those of us trying not to gain weight on the cruise, they also had lots of fruit, yoghurt, freshly squeezed juices, and smoked and pickled fish. Coffee in Windows, however, is disappointing. We learned from this first morning to go to the Mosaic Cafe first for wonderful lattes, and then proceed to Windows to eat. Later in the cruise we went to Discoveries once for breakfast, and we really liked the atmosphere there. They are only open from 8-9:30 (except on the last day of the cruise), and you order from a menu. But you can get anything you want, and the coffee is excellent. Further, apparently most people haven't discovered it, so it is very quiet. Thereafter, Discoveries became our breakfast of choice place unless we needed to eat before 8. We ate lunch each day at Windows. Again it is a buffet. They always have 2 soups and a special entre that change daily. Sandwich and salad selections are very good. We had a cabin with a veranda. The room is not as spacious as on the luxury lines, and the bath is especially small. But the accommodations are on a par with the mainstream lines, and we don't spend much time in our room on a cruise. So we were quite satisfied. The veranda was quite adequate for what we wanted: a place to sit, look at the ocean or the shore, and read our books that we had brought. The staff that were responsible for cleaning the room were exceptionally good and knew our names from day 1. We were on deck 7, which is where the free self-service laundry is. I had expected to use the laundry when were boarded given that we had been in London for 10 days, but we wound up using it later in the cruise as well because the weather was so unusual. Having kept up with the forecasts on weather.com, we thought we would see highs in the 60's in Scotland, but instead it was in the 80's. So we went through tee shirts very quickly. Because of the weather, the demand on the laundry was heavy. I found that putting a load in before breakfast was best. I know we are unusual passengers, but we go to bed every evening after dinner, so we never saw any of the late night shows. We did go to a couple of bars before dinner. The Looking Glass is on deck 10 at the bow of the ship, so the views are really nice. A guitar player was there during our cruise, and he was OK. A better guitar player than singer, which I think he recognized, but he did take requests. It was our first choice for pre-dinner bars. We also went to the bar next to the casino, where there was a piano player. Unfortunately, because of the golf-oriented passenger profile, he was booted out during the golf tournament so people could watch the TV coverage of the Open. My wife made this a clear point of disappointment on the end-of-cruise evaluation. The first port of call was Belfast, Northern Ireland. We took a morning tour to Hillsborough castle and then a bus tour of the city, including a trip into the area that suffered through "The Troubles." Our guide was very candid about the continuing tension, which is visible as you drive through the area. The castle was somewhat disappointing, but the bus tour of Belfast made up for it. That afternoon we went to the spa for the first time. We each had a massage, which was very good. Azamara automatically includes an 18% tip in all spa treatments, which some might not like but I was quite satisfied with. I hate having to worry about tipping if the cruise is billed as all inclusive. We signed up for spa treatments as soon as we boarded the ship the first day so we could get our times of choice. (Otherwise we've found it is difficult to visit especially on sea days, although I did manage to add a facial for myself later in the cruise on a sea day.) We were generally satisfied with the spa personnel and facilities, although my wife did feel like she was shorted a bit on her last massage. We used the exercise facilities a couple of times, and we never had problems getting a machine. There is a very good rowing machine that I liked, but it did not have a TV attached to it. My wife used the elliptical each time. The Azamazing Evening for this cruise was at the Titanic Museum in Belfast. Transportation to and from the event was handled well. Overall we liked the event, but it did have a few glitches that need to be worked out. The museum is great, but we had to rush through it a bit to meet the dinner schedule. We were not provided with audio guides, probably because they could have slowed our progress through the museum, but it detracted somewhat from the presentation. Dinner was a buffet with a menu from the actual Titanic voyage. Unfortunately, the food quality at the museum was a good bit below Azamara standards. Further, the advertisements on the Quest were that we would be able to enjoy "champagne, Manhattans, and martinis" like the Titanic passengers would have, but in fact we only had very mediocre wine. One white and one red, neither of which was very good. After dinner the captain of the Quest and a couple of local people, including one politician, made brief remarks, followed by a Irish band and Irish dancers. The band was outstanding and very funny, and I am sure the dancers were also quite good, but the logistics of the building simply did not allow many passengers to enjoy them. The lighting in the area was abysmal, so the screen showing a video of the dancers simply appeared as a black screen. The room where we ate is not slanted like theatres are, so unless you were on the front row or in the small balcony, which apparently was reserved for a large golf group, you could not see anything but the tops of the dancers' heads. Hence they did not generate the crowd enthusiasm that Riverdance-type dance groups are accustomed to experiencing. They were as frustrated as we were, and they consequently refused to do their final dance. The next port of call was Glasgow. We did an afternoon tour of the city, including a stop at the Kelvington art gallery. Our guide was a hoot; I told him afterwards he should be a stand-up comic. After a much-needed sea day, our next port was Invergordon, where we did both morning and afternoon tours. First we went to LochNess, where the Urquhart Castle is absolutely spectacular. We did this tour simply because we felt like we had to try to find the Monster, and the area was beautiful. But the castle was an unexpected treat. Highly recommended, but lots of climbing if you really want to see the castle. We definitely did not need to go to the gym after this excursion! That afternoon we went to the Glenmorangie Distillery and the village of Dornoch. Again a pleasant surprise for us. Dornoch is quite lovely, and my wife made a significant contribution to the local economy at their quaint shops. I visited the castle; walked around the links golf course, which is very different from US courses; and visited a local pub for a Scottish ale. And of course we got to sample the Scotch at the distillery. Delightful excursion. After such a busy day, thankfully we had the next morning free. The ship arrived at the next port, Edinburgh, around noon. We did this city completely on our own. The ship docked in Leith, so we could walk over to the former royal yacht, Brittania, which was nice. We also visited the Royal Botanical Garden, which was highly recommended, but we were both disappointed in it. Perhaps we were still tired from the previous day, and this day was especially hot. But after less than an hour, we returned to the ship. We put on our bathing suits and went to the pool, which was almost empty. It's a salt water pool, and is properly heated. What a nice, cooling break from the heat. My wife sprang for a bourbon not on the included drink list for her Manhattan. I stuck with the mojitos that I drank throughout the cruise. Because the British Open was in its final weekend, the ship remained at Leith for two and a half days. While others went to see the golf, we spent the next two days touring the Royal Mile, visiting both castles and numerous other tourist spots. We generally used Rick Steves guide, and we loved the city. But Edinburgh is a very hilly town, so again we did not need to go to the gym to get our exercise. The next day was thankfully a sea day and our last day for spa treatments. Our final port was Hamburg, Germany, where we arrived at 10 a.m. We took an all-day excursion to Lubeck, which is a wonderful city. The weather continued to be quite hot, and the included lunch was in an ancient restaurant that did not have air conditioning. Fortunately the beer was good and cold. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable. The ship remained in Hamburg for the evening. I turned down Azamara's transportation package the next day because our flight left earlier than they recommended. We walked off the ship with our luggage at 7:15, and Azamara personnel were there to help us get our bags to the taxis that were lined up. We had plenty of time in the airport before our flight. For us to have any hope of arriving back home that same day, I had to book flights that gave us only 1 hour in the Paris airport. Say what you want about CDG, they do have a wonderful web site for telling you how to navigate their terminals. From that site, I knew what terminal we would arrive into, and I knew we would depart from one of three places. So I had very clear maps and narrative descriptions of how to go from the arrival gate to whatever gate we were ultimately assigned. We made the connection easily, and arrived home at a reasonable hour that evening. Here's the web page, if anyone has a Paris connection: http://www.aeroportsdeparis.fr/ADP/en-GB/Passagers/Access-maps-car-parks/guide-connection-flight/guide-connection-flight.htm Overall, this was a great cruise. Despite the few flaws here and there, we were very happy with the cruise line and the ship. We will definitely be cruising with Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Since my husband and never done "small ship luxury cruising" before we were both looking forward to experiencing this ship. I was disappointed from the time I stepped into the main lobby and saw only a small staircase going up ... Read More
Since my husband and never done "small ship luxury cruising" before we were both looking forward to experiencing this ship. I was disappointed from the time I stepped into the main lobby and saw only a small staircase going up to the next deck. The lobby was small and there was no glass elevator or soaring atrium. Our verandah cabin was a decent size, but the bathroom was extremely small. The verandah had nice furniture, but the table was much too large for the space. The entertainment was just okay. There seemed to be only one show per evening and it was usually at 9:45. The show lounge wasn't very large and since it was mainly one level it made it hard at times to see the show over people's heads. The show time was sometimes too late for us if we had really early shore excursions. I would like to have the option of an earlier show. The dining room was a good size and the service was great. Actually, everywhere the service was great. The food in the dining room was always presented very nicely, but had absolutely no taste. Overall, I found that without thinking about and realizing it ahead of time, I missed the glitzy parts of the larger ships I have been on - the glass elevators, large lobbies with a bar, two story dining rooms (even the singing and dancing waiters) and the multi story show lounge. I didn't care for all of the dark wood on the ship. The daily fruit and flowers in the room were unimportant to me and just took up space. My husband and I are not big drinkers so the unlimited alcohol didn't matter to us either. If you like to drink, don't care for the glitz of some other ships, are really focused on great service, only want to see a handful of children and are at least 65 years old, this ship may be for you. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
In early 2012 we booked the Norway cruise on the Azamara Quest after reading so much about the line and then viewing the itinerary, it wasn't long after this booking that we noticed the preceding cruise on the ship was of the British ... Read More
In early 2012 we booked the Norway cruise on the Azamara Quest after reading so much about the line and then viewing the itinerary, it wasn't long after this booking that we noticed the preceding cruise on the ship was of the British Isles focusing on the British Open, more about that later. Although we wanted to book a cabin on Deck 7, it was only available for one of the cruises and we would have to change cabins for the second leg. So we booked 6088 for the entire journey. 6088 is a suite located aft and you will experience some vibration when docking or in rougher seas, fortunately this was not an often occurrence although we will book a higher deck in the future. The suite in itself is very comfortable but the furniture is quite dated and needs to be replaced badly. I will say the bed is VERY comfortable and I believe the mattresses were recently upgraded which is quite evident thankfully. Having a guest bath will spoil you for sure and as spacious as the main bathroom is, it would be nice to have a walk-in shower in addition to the jetted tub as it is quite a step to enter the tub/shower. Service in the suite was exceptional from butler Rafael (24 year cruise industry veteran), steward Mario, and assistant steward Edwin. Rafael always kept my boots shined (I am from Texas)and our dry cleaning and laundry were always promptly returned and hung in our closets (btw, the closet space is almost larger than the room). Mario and Edwin did an impeccable job keeping the cabin cleaned, fresh, and stocked and like many others, we believe they were sleeping under our bed. I cannot say enough good things about the three of them. After a 4 day land trip in Ireland prior to the cruise, we arrived at the Dublin cruiseport around 15:30 only to discover we were the only ones there and we cleared security and boarded the ship where we were greeted for our photo and directed to the cabaret lounge to check in and receive our key cards. No lines, no hassle, and smiling faces all around...and of course, champagne (sparkling wine, whatever). We were escorted to our cabin where we learned of the cruise critic party in the looking glass lounge that would follow 17:00 muster drill. The CC party was hosted by Russ (cruise director) and attended by several officers, management, entertainers, and of course the "cruise critics". It was a nice gathering and a nice preamble to sail-away. The smallest ship we had ever sailed was the Celebrity Century in 2010 and we were concerned the Quest may be too small for our liking. We were also concerned that the age demographics may be a bit more reserved than us. The Quest feels spacious mainly because there are fewer people on board. The night life is a bit light although this first leg of the cruise had an average age range 45-60 and was somewhat livelier than the second leg which was closer to 65-80 age range. Quite a few nights had us watching the lounges and casino close forcing us to retire...not necessarily a bad thing :) Azamara proves its luxury lean in the little things like fully set tables in the buffet and fully attentive waitstaff at all venues. We enjoyed going to the buffet at breakfast and ordering our waffles or omelettes and immediately finding our table instead of standing at the buffet awaiting their completion, the staff would find us and bring our food orders to us, a nice touch we have never experienced on a cruise short of main dining venues. We also enjoyed the frequent pool grill parties often served by the chefs and officers, I lost count how many times this occurred. The food was excellent in my opinion and head and shoulders above any we have experienced on a cruise line. I am still missing the Prime C ribeyes of which I had several in our 24 day quest. Entertainment was very good on the Quest and being close to the stage is an added bonus that larger ships/theatres cannot effectively duplicate. We would've enjoyed more live music by the band. Max did a FANTASTIC job on the piano and guitar in Luxe and the pool stage, we camped out next to Max most nights in Luxe. Simon was very entertaining on guitar, but his schedule often conflicted with ours and we did not see him playing much in the later hours, Azamara may want to re-visit that. We missed music at dinner that Celebrity often provides in the form of string trios/quartets. We also would've enjoyed string or harp music in Mosaic, but understand that was eliminated as a cost-cutting measure, such a loss for the guests. The afternoon teas had nice music which were better than the food offerings in my opinion. Were not real impressed with the brunches either except for the music. Speaking of music, on several occasions we were sitting by the pool spending money on libations and enjoying the atmosphere only to have the music volume decreased because an older guest complained...WE ARE AT THE POOL! If you want quiet go to the library, or your cabin or ANYWHERE else on the ship or just TURN DOWN your hearing aids. So we left and many others as well when the music all but vanished. I know it is a tough job for Azamara to please everyone, but I think they do a good job with a difficult task, but some areas should be a bit more liberal concerning music volume. Azamara does a GREAT job of onboard activities. I have no complaints about the ports on either cruise and we booked more private excursions as opposed to ship excursions. I will say most of the ship excursions were no different than any other cruise line excursions we have been on which explains why we booked private ones. EXCEPT the Azamazing evenings which in my opinion were FANTASTIC (especially the Titanic museum). There were a few hiccups but to no fault of Azamara like the cold food in Alesund, Norway venue...a great event, but the kitchen fell short. The extended and overnight stays are EXACTLY what sets this cruise experience apart from any we have ever read about or experienced first-hand and it is what will help keep guests returning to Azamara in my opinion. Philip Hebert is the BEST hotel director we have ever met from a guest's standpoint and we have met quite a few, both on land and sea. His wife is a gem and I believe Azamara's policy on allowing senior staff's family to "tag-along" is a positive one for both the employee and the guests. Happy staff, happy guests. I will say as pleasant as all of the staff was on board, the only complaint I heard from various staff members in various positions was that they do not get enough time off and I believe that statement from what I witnessed. Many stated they would return to a bigger ship at the end of their contract for that reason alone. Azamara may want to take a hard look at that. Meeting the chief engineer, Ole, and Capt. Stig was a treat in itself mainly due to them being very approachable and friendly. the special unplanned treats like stopping the ship in the fjord to pick up rasberries at a local farm, stopping at the arctic circle monument so Ole and his wife Jan could present a commemorative plaque marking our visit to the local residents (and Ole's extended family), enjoying Capt. Stig's bountiful catch of fish earlier in the day at a port at dinner one evening, the blue nose ceremony, and the white nights parties are something that one will not experience on other lines IMO and also something we will probably never duplicate. When transitioning from one cruise to the next we were docked in Hamburg, Germany for 2 days and I must say that this experience was seamless compared to only one other B2B we did last year on Celebrity. We were not forced out of our cabin, but rather left that morning after breakfast and quickly received our new seapass cards as we were leaving the ship to explore Hamburg a bit more. It was no different than leaving for a port day...no lines, no waiting. We returned to the ship several hours later and once again no fuss and our cabin was ready once again. Azamara does B2Bs very nicely. 14 days later when we returned to Hamburg to disembark, we had breakfast in the room, gathered our carry-ons, said a tearful goodbye to many of the staff, and walked off the ship at our leisure (although they did have a tag system which happened to coincide with our planned departure time), no sitting around waiting and then battling the departing crowd. Philip was at the gangplank to wish all well and safe travels, another nice touch. Luggage assistance at the port and into the taxis was provided (by Azamara I believe). What would make us return to Azamara? Itinerary mainly. We loved the guest count and the guest/staff ratio, but a newer and perhaps a bit bigger ship is needed to confirm our loyalty. If this does not occur, I still see us returning for the right itinerary(s). Once again, the service on this line is impeccable and Azamazing. Enjoy cruising and safe travels to all.   Read Less

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