1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
This sailing was incredible from start to finish! The staff were all friendly, helpful, and couldn't do enough for you. The ship was an older classic style yacht, very comfortable but definitely a dated look to it. The cabins were ... Read More
This sailing was incredible from start to finish! The staff were all friendly, helpful, and couldn't do enough for you. The ship was an older classic style yacht, very comfortable but definitely a dated look to it. The cabins were small but comfortable, the beds were a little on the hard side for my taste but were still cozy enough to get a good night's sleep. The food on board was wonderful! The kitchen staff outdid themselves at every meal. I swear we barely ever stopped eating on board, as soon as breakfast was cleared, someone was out offering fresh slices of watermelon, then lunch, then a dish of sorbet on the sun deck, then an amazing dinner and cocktails, definitely overdid it but everything was impeccable. The cruise director was always knowledgeable about our ports, giving us plenty of insight on what to do while in each country (Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece). I do think the excursions could be improved upon though, they only offered a couple excursions in each port, and they were participation based, so if the one you wanted didn't have enough guests, it didn't happen. That being said, the only port I think an excursion is truly necessary is Albania. My favorite stops were Korcula, Kotor, Anti-Paxos and Paxos (Anti-Paxos had the best beach and bluest waters I've ever seen in my life!). I would gladly travel with Variety in the future, and look forward to the day I get to sail with them again! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We have cruised regularly on Thomson (TUI - Marella) and Cunard. We finally persuaded our friends to join us. The Marella Celebration itinerary was excellent as it included Venice, Dubrovnik and Korcular. Some of our favourite places. ... Read More
We have cruised regularly on Thomson (TUI - Marella) and Cunard. We finally persuaded our friends to join us. The Marella Celebration itinerary was excellent as it included Venice, Dubrovnik and Korcular. Some of our favourite places. Marella is less formal than Cunard, uses Sterling and had a great all inclusive deal when we booked. We did a cruise and stay holiday staying on the island of Kolocep just 30 mins from Dubrovnik. This was our first time on the Celebration but we knew her sister ship, the Spirit very well. Our first impressions were very favourable as though the deck layout is almost identical there is a much more modern feel to the Celebration - less vestiges of her Holland America past. The main dining room food was excellent - we ate all our meals there as it’s so much relaxed experience than the Lido. The included drinks were good enough for the most of us though one of our friends who deals in wine thought the Cote de Rhône to be excellent and good value for money. There were no sea days on this cruise - and I do miss a good sea day to relax. I think all that can be said about the age of the ship has been said before. I love the teak decks and the fact she is easy to get around. What gives this ship her heart are the people who work on it, the value for money and the entertainment. We would certainly return if it was the right itinerary. A first for TUI Marella is a welcome back party for loyal cruisers. You have to go to reception to let them know you have cruised with Thomsons before to be eligible. Cunard contact you and know your status - so me thinks Thomson’s weren’t keeping this info. We even received a little badge! We really found no fault with anything on the ship apart from the embarkation process that takes place on the ship - Long long queues We always choose our cabins after studying the deck plan as we like to be central and not near noisy areas. I do think a deck plan should be given out at departure - like other cruise lines. We knew the layout but our friends hadn’t cruised before. The cabin numbers and decks don’t tally. We were on deck 8 bridge deck but cabin 075. Dining - we dined in the Meridian for most of our meals and were very pleased with the food (better than on the Spirit). We celebrated our anniversary in the Mistral Restaurant which was excellent. Not so impressed by the food in the Kora La - the service was excellent in all the places we ate. Ports of call Bari Montenegro- There is a free port transfer bus to Bar - we then took a taxi to Stari Bar. It cost 5€ agree the price first. Stari Bar is no Kotor but still worth a visit. Korcula - tender port. Lovely old town - birth place of Marco Polo. We went for a wine tasting in a local restaurant- god wine but very expensive. It seems that most wine is produced for local consumption only. Zadar - ship to town transfer costs £7 - drop off near the Sea Organ. Lovely town with Roman ruins and great atmosphere. Venice - Get up foe the sail in - it is so peaceful and the only time you see Venicecwithout the masses. There was no organised transfer to St Marks Square but possible to buy tickets for transfer once off the ship. We realise that there appears to be a hop on hop off water bus that may be worth using. We used the People carrier to take us to P le Roma near the Station. We made a mistake of getting a gondola from here. It costs €80 but not the most picturesque trip. Walk further on - there are plenty of gondola’s around in better settings. We followed the signs to the Rialto bridge. The streets/canals up unti this point are relatively quiet. We then visited St Marks Square. We have visited Venice before so wouldn’t have bothered visiting again as it is always heaving but our friends have not visited before. I would strongly suggest pre booking St Marks or Doge’s palace and trip to Guggenheim art gallery.Eat anywhere away from St Marks or Rialto. Trieste - short walk from ship to main shopping area. Hike up to the castle and church well worth it. Public transport runs up to the castle as well. Split - Diocletian palace and medieval town within is amazing - very game of thrones. Well worth a visit. Dubrovnik - We visited Dubrovnik at night on a sunset trip from Kolocep. We sailed into the old harbour - it was a fabulous trip. For those who are only cruising - the ship doesn’t sail till 10 pm so if you have the energy and inclination get the bus to the Pile gate and spend late afternoon/early evening there before she sails. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I decided to book the Greek Mystique cruise as my wife has had surgery recently and really needed to recuperate and recover. After check in at Gatwick we didn't see our luggage again until delivered to our cabin I can not tell you ... Read More
I decided to book the Greek Mystique cruise as my wife has had surgery recently and really needed to recuperate and recover. After check in at Gatwick we didn't see our luggage again until delivered to our cabin I can not tell you how amazing that was not to have to face the hustle and bustle of the airport baggage carousels! I rater enjoyed the main resturaunt as they operate an open seating dining plan so we were able to dine with new people every evening, which when we usually cruise on Seabourn and Azamara we have a fixed table and dining companions for the duration of the cruise -so Marella has hit on a good idea on the occasions where one may be sitted on a dining table with 'cruise snobs'.Which in the past we have had to endure! We are retired although a young 59 and 61, we tend to book 4 cruises per year one for each season. We have one Seabourn and one Azamrara then 2 cheaper options which this year is Marella and Cruise & Maritime to try the other end of the market. The ship Celebration was old as described on CC.reviews,but it was perfectly clean and comfortable. We prefer to have waiter service at meals as my wife isn't always able to stand and queue for periods of time and apart from the very last morning when there was literally not a seat to be had this worked perfectly for us. Our cabin steward was superb so although tips are included we left him cash in an envelope cabin was cleaned and towels replenished twice daily. My wife purchased two Radley handbags which she said were great value. we are not drinkers so didn't opt for the AI Drinks package(due to my wife's medication). We did take excursions which although costly were not exhorbitant but much more importantly safe for my wife's comfort. We ate in Mistrals which was a delight -highly recommended especially drunken prawns delicious! The Ports of call were delightful especially KOTORin Mo ntenegro and sailing out of Dubrovnik at night ! STUNNING. keeping the best till last- just has to be the entertainment. THE showteam were leaving and a new team and Cruise Director was starting the week after we disembarked. They were amazing and the show Africa was wonderful. We really thought it couldn't get any better until Monday when the Guest Act came on to do his show. His name was Christopher Gee and he was superb, my wife laughed so much it was sheer joy to behold.And his comedy impressions were stunning-the thing we could't work out was how can every voice he did be so accurate and yet he even manages to look like each person he takes on. His Tommy Cooper had everyone in stiches, and his Eric Morecambe had us all fighting off a tear at the much loved comedian but the absolute hIghlight was his one man tribute to Dave Allen it was so perfect even down to him holding a whiskey glass with only half a forefinger, his attention to detail was astounding. He recieved a richly deserved standing ovation! The neXt night was his second show and there simply wasn't a seat to be had and extra chairs from the bars were brought in, but the show was totally different Alan Carr/Michael Macintyre/Ozzy/he also did an hilarious BORIS AND Donald Trump had us ill with laughter very up to date you could hear a pin drop and that was after midnight. He was very personable young man and told us he will be on Marella Dream later in the year so we are booking that one too! We love the shows and we don't watch a lot of comedians to be fair- but I just had to post this review as everyone is quick to complain but not always ready to say a big well done Marella for booking a comedian impressionist that did nor offend one single person no un PC material or smut involved just FUNNY!!! The entire ship was talking about him the next day. in all one has to commend Marella ,especially at their price point as I assure you we have got much less from paying 4 times more!!! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
The staff and our Itinerary made by our Travel host ( Expo Cruise)were outstanding. Rooms were clean, service was outstanding. Food was great. Everything was handled with great efficiently. I think it helped that the majority ... Read More
The staff and our Itinerary made by our Travel host ( Expo Cruise)were outstanding. Rooms were clean, service was outstanding. Food was great. Everything was handled with great efficiently. I think it helped that the majority of our fellow passengers were a happy, well travelled group. Entertainment on board is fine, but with our travel group we were able to dial it up. The Crew read the group well and adjusted to making fun loving , action pack trip . The food was fresh and good. I would not say a gourmet , but well presented. If you had a special request they did there best to accommodate. We found the all the staff eager to help and learned individual request quickly. The Captain was engaging and available at any time. You could see he was well respected, and his leadership skills were evident thru out. Would most definitely cruise with them again. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Cruise report – Le Lyrial 2nd to 16th August 2016 Greek islands by John Lombard Commandant Rémi Genevaz is an old hand who practically built Le Lyrial as he was involved in the planning right from the beginning. He is a big ... Read More
Cruise report – Le Lyrial 2nd to 16th August 2016 Greek islands by John Lombard Commandant Rémi Genevaz is an old hand who practically built Le Lyrial as he was involved in the planning right from the beginning. He is a big advocate for this newest of the Ponant cruise ships (launched May 2015) which has all the latest technology and wins environmental prizes for being the least polluting etc. Dep Dubrovnik Tues 2nd August - Tonight, we docked in the Dubrovnik harbour not far from the old town after slipping away from Gruz at about 6.30pm. The evening started with the usual introduction by the Commandant followed by Tin, our Hong Kong born French/English speaking cruise director, taking us through all the staff and then the whole ship got involved in the compulsory safety procedure. Dinner in the 2nd deck à la carte restaurant with its usual magnificent food, small but tasty serves, and pleasant wines, followed by a show that had five modern ballet dancers. It was excellent, in fact much better than either of us had expected. But we still felt the need to adjourn to the 6th deck bar for a nightcap whiskey… Wed 3rd August – Early 7.30am start for an excursion, a 4 ½ hour boat trip around the Dubrovnik Riviera including a swim in a cove, and visits to beaches, caves and little islands but there was very little historical interest in the tour and there wasn’t much explanation. A bit disappointing. After a splendid lunch on board (note: discipline is needed but it’s hard…), we sailed at 1pm. Then, for two hours we visited the magnificent gulf of Kotor bay. It reminded me a bit of the fjords of Norway of last year. Only a ship the small size of Le Lyrial could get into it and it was spectacular. At 7pm the Commandant’s welcome cocktail party followed by a gala dinner with caviar, shrimps, dorade, fillet of beef, chocolate mousse, plus their usual array of wine. What’s not to like? The cocktail was in the open air at the back of Deck 6 with copious quantities of Veuve Cliquot (I kid you not…). Thursday 4th August - When we woke, we were at anchor just off Paxos, part of the smallest group of Ionian islands. Paxos is an island of endless olive groves, and the neighbouring Anti-Paxos island is virtually one large vineyard. Lazy morning on board till lunch (fresh Paxos oysters and mussels) followed by a four-hour excursion circumnavigating Paxos visiting caves, including one where Poseidon, God of the sea, hid his mistress Amfitriti, daughter of King Aheron. Excellent Greek guide filled us in on the history. Stopped at tiny village of Lakka for a snack of olives, fresh bread, tomatoes, potato salad and a glass of wine or beer. Just what we needed before a slap-up dinner on board. Friday 5th August - We woke as we were dropping anchor just off the very attractive island of Zakynthos. An early rise at 6.30am to catch a 7.45am tender to the port where we had a four-hour bus ride with three stops around the island. The first inhabitants arrived here about 6,000 BC. Our bus tour included the top of the island for a precarious above-view of the famous Navagio Beach which has a reputation of being the most beautiful beach in the whole of Greece. It is only accessible by sea but cruise ships are now barred for environmental reasons. There is also a wreck on the beach that was supposedly a smuggler’s boat carrying illegal cigarettes that was shipwrecked in a storm. Lunch on board included local fresh prawns as we sailed. At about 10pm, we entered the Corinth Canal that cuts through mainland Greece. There are no locks, it is 6.4 kilometres in length and only 21.4 metres wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships. It was completed in 1893 and going through at night is awesome because it is so narrow and it’s dark. We had two pilots, fore and aft, and we crept along at a snail’s pace. The Commandant decided it was such a significant crossing we were all served Veuve Cliquot champagne or Ouzo on deck while we passed through. It was quite an experience. Saturday 6th August - At 8am we dropped anchor just off the port of Hydra (derived from the Greek word for water). It is a glorious sight from the ship, it is a tiny island separated from the Peloponnese by a thin strip of water and there are no motor vehicles allowed. Donkeys, pedal bikes, and water taxies are the main form of transport or else by foot. We booked for a 2 ½ hour walking tour that started at 9am while it was still cool-ish… we had our English-speaking Greek woman guide from yesterday who is a walking encyclopaedia of information. It is a classic example of one of the small Greek islands that are barred to the big cruise ships. At 4pm to 6pm, we were invited to swim in the crystal-clear waters off the back of Le Lyrial… this was sensational. Three Zodiacs roped off an area about 50m x 50m. Dozens of people took advantage and it was great fun. Again, to me the most remarkable thing about swimming in the Aegean Sea is how easy it is to float. The salt levels are very high so it is dead easy just to lie back in the water in a very buoyant way. Sunday 7th August - we had to get up early for a 7am breakfast as our tender taking us to Delos left at 8am. This uninhabited island was one of the many highlights. According to Greek mythology, Delos was the birth place of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis. But in its heyday, Delos was the greatest commercial centre in the whole world! It has been called the Wall Street of the ancient world. It was a free port from 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. Rich merchants, bankers and ship owners from around the world settled here attracting many builders, artists and craftspeople who built luxurious houses with rich frescoes and marble floors. Today, it is an archaeological gold mine and researchers are still working away finding all sorts of evidence of life in a former age. The streets are laid out beautifully and it is not hard to imagine the houses, the markets, the shops and bustling crowds all around. We enjoyed a three hour walk around with Ioanna, our English-speaking Greek guide, who makes history interesting. We could have spent much longer here. But the program meant we had to go to nearby Mykonos which, thanks to Tom Hanks and other celebrities buying property here, has become a tourist mecca. It is very beautiful but not at all well maintained. The result: massive crowds, exorbitant prices, and a lot of junk in the shops. Monday 8th August - We pulled up at 7am at the northern island of Lesbos which had been much in the news over the past year as a destination for thousands of Syrian refugees, many of whom drowned at sea. But the policeman at the harbor of Petra said the flow had stopped now. The main source of income on the island is olive oil which is of very high quality and sardines that they export all over the world. Our excursion took in panoramic views from Molyvos castle above the town of Petra. But the highlight of our tour was a visit to the historic Limonos Monastery which dates to the 16th century founded by a local St Ignatius. It has a significant collection of manuscripts dating back to the 9th century. The main church in the inner courtyard is a magnificent building but women are absolutely forbidden to enter! The ban is causing some heartache at the EU headquarters in Brussels where such discrimination against women is not allowed. But nobody is making any effort at the monastery to do anything about it! At 7pm, the Commandant hosted a farewell cocktail around the deck 6 swimming pool. More bloody Veuve Cliquot, naturally, followed by another gala dinner! Hard to believe we’ll be starting our second week-long cruise on board tomorrow night… Tuesday 9th August – We arrived in Piraeus early for the change-over day for a lot of people, most leaving, a few like us staying, and new arrivals this afternoon. We hired a taxi for four hours to take us to the Acropolis, then to the Museum where we had a very welcome beer and a sandwich and back at the port. The Acropolis defies description, it was absolutely stunning. It was hot, there were millions of tourists, but the sheer beauty and enormity of the whole enterprise just had us gob-smacked. We walked to the top and even the bloody tourists, their guides, and their cameras couldn’t dampen the experience. The museum is relatively new and contains an amazing collection of statues and memorabilia from the Acropolis. A great trip. We sailed overnight back to Lesbos. Wednesday 9th August - Beautiful morning – again - back in Petra where at a civilised hour of about 9am we were taken ashore to do a long bus ride for a special tour to the petrified forest museum which was spectacular. This is a unique geological phenomenon: about 20-million years ago the region was covered with dense sub-tropical vegetation with trees that reached incredible heights like the Sequoia trees in the US as well as conifers, pines, oaks and cinnamon trees. Today, they are all petrified because of the presence of sediments from a volcano. We visited the museum built in 1994 to study, collate, research, conserve and protect the petrified forest which is a Greek national heritage. The only downside is that it is such a long way from Petra although the drive through the hills is spectacular. Another Commandant’s cocktail party tonight followed by another gala dinner… sigh… Thursday 11th August - We arrived in the port of Syros island early in the morning. This is an amazing town, utterly beautiful white-washed houses snuggling in a bay. Syros is the administrative centre for the whole Cyclades islands group. In the 5th century BC, the Phoenicians occupied Syros and it was a major commercial sea port. In 1770, the Russians won the island in a battle with the Turks and took just about everything of value. But it fell back into the hands of the Turks after three years. When the Greek revolution started in 1821, Syros was under French protection because more than 50% of the population were Roman Catholic. Syros is so far the most stunningly beautiful place we have visited, today it is a thriving town that sees huge ferry boats come in several times a day. But it is the streets and town centre that are of major interest. We had a walking tour with Ioanna, our guide, which took us first to the local archaeological museum which had a couple of new discoveries the director was very excited about. Then we walked up the hill to the Greek Orthodox church of St Nicholas, the patron and protector of the island’s seafarers, followed by the Catholic church which is almost exactly like any Greek Orthodox church with its masses of icons. But what is interesting here is an icon by Domenicos Theotokopolous better known to the world as El Greco which showed for the first time that the lad had started his career as an icon painter. After lunch, we went back into town alone and unescorted and walked to the top of a nearby hill to another church. It was a gruelling climb over hundreds of steps. We favoured the most direct route which is also the toughest. Some of the old women and a couple of old men watching us go past were amazed we were tackling the steps when they kept pointing out a perfectly good cobbled roadway which of course was extremely twisty and therefore twice as long. No matter, we got to the top in good condition considering the heat. One of the significant aspects of these Cycladic islands is the amount of marble about the place. Syros has marble footpaths and marble streets. There is marble everywhere you look. One of the guides said the local joke is that marble is cheaper than wood. There is certainly a lot more of it than wood. Friday 12th August - We sailed from Syros at 4am arriving in Paros at 7am; another beautifully sun-drenched port of white-washed houses. This is a very popular island among the Athenian wealthy who have weekend homes whereas Mykonos is home to the international wealthy. By 8.30am we were being loaded into tenders for a four-hour walking and bus tour of the island. We went by bus first to a beautiful mountain village of Lefkes, stopping on the way to admire the massive trunks of 1000-year-old olive trees that are still producing fruit. We wandered around the tiny narrow streets of the village. Next we arrived at the fishing village of Naoussa with dozens of boats. We walked again to see the Byzantine church of Ekatontapyliani, the lady of the hundred doors, one of the greatest of early Christian monuments in Greece built in the 6th century. Saturday 13th August - Another very short sail to the nearby island of Amorgos. We left Paros at 4am and arrived at Amorgos at 6am. It is another of the Cycladic group first inhabited around 3300BC. The island is stunning. The capital in the hills is Chora, a winding labyrinth of whitewashed houses, shops, and bars with windmills alongside. But the real purpose was to visit the spectacular Byzantine Monastery Moni Panagias Chozoviotissas which looks as if it has been stuck on the side of a cliff face. It is a huge fortress built into the rock and you wonder how on earth they built little paths to get up there let alone the monastery itself. And you wonder why on earth you would even consider this as a suitable position. The monastery houses a so-called miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a tiny chapel. The building itself is reached by climbing a very steep 269 steps up 300-m and you don’t want to suffer from vertigo – or claustrophobia when you get into the monastery. There are eight floors but the rooms are no more than 5-m in width although we saw only two. There are very strict rules about men and women having to cover up their knees, shoulders and arms. There are only three resident monks but in the daytime an army of guards keeps us well-dressed! Sunday 14th August - We sailed at 10pm last night and reached the remote tiny island of Symi which stands between Rhodes and Turkey. It is a rocky barren island that owes its early success to its sponge diving fleet and boat building industry which once launched 500 ships a year. There was no excursion planned, so we did our own. This is now the most beautiful island we’ve seen! The port is bustling, a myriad of houses of subtle colours that blend easily into the steep hills around it. We decided to explore the upper part of the town and that meant climbing 500 steps in the heat. We then decided to take a mini-bus to the other side of the island to see a 6th century monastery – that didn’t involve any climbing. The bus ride took about 40 mins and was nail-biting in parts because the roads over the high mountains with stunning views were very narrow and there was a lot of traffic which involved several times reversing quite a distance to allow other vehicles and bikes to pass. But once there, the village was very beautiful. Almost nobody about, just a couple of cafes and a tavern where we adjourned for lunch. We went to the monastery which is spectacular, intricate woodwork surrounding a mass of icons, wonderful wall and ceiling paintings. We head out tonight for our last full day at Patmos. Monday 15th August - We sailed last night at 10pm for our last port of call Patmos in the eastern Aegean, a mountainous small rocky island in the Dodecanese group with lots of pretty coves. It is a Christian mecca because of the St John monastery. It is here that allegedly St John the evangelist wrote the book of Revelations, the last chapter of the new Testament which was, according to legend, revealed to John and he instructed a colleague to write it all down in Greek. There are only about 15 monks still living and working there and the one who kept an eye on us was very strict about men and women taking off their hats as well as insisting everybody’s knees, shoulders and arms were properly covered up. After wandering around there for about an hour, we were taken to the Apocalypse cave which is where St John had his revelation. This afternoon is basically packing up, getting debriefed about disembarkment tomorrow, the captain’s farewell cocktail party tonight (back on the Veuve Cliquot) and the gala dinner. We are asked to have our bags ready for pick up at 8am tomorrow as we will be off the boat by 9am! Then it’s going to be Athens for two nights before back to Geneva. Comments: Le Lyrial was a very happy ship, all the staff and crew seem to enjoy their work. Nothing is ever too much trouble or everything seems possible. The passengers are about 70% francophone but all the announcements, excursions, and protocols are in both English and French. Everybody on board is bi-lingual. Not speaking or understanding French is not a disadvantage. The age group depends on the tour. Our cruise to the Norwegian fjords last year were mostly our age, no children. The Greek islands tours had more families (August holidays) and the ship had a kids’ club with staff to look after the little darlings. They didn’t inhibit our enjoyment at any stage. It is a significant Ponant advantage that they operate an open bar system which means all drinks at all meals and in all bars are included in your ticket. The only exceptions are if you order a premium drink (a Johnny Walker Blue label whiskey, for example), you pay. But everything else is on the house. This means not having to worry about a bar tab at the end of the trip, nor having to shout a drink for your new best friend. The cabins are all external and most have a small balcony. Unless you take a suite, the cabins are what I would call compact, they’re certainly not spacious but we found them all right; the beds are very comfortable and the showers excellent. There is a free mini-bar and an ice bucket that can be filled up in the bar. They provide you with a whole range of free toiletries. There are three bars, one on the third floor that’s open 24/7, one on the 6th bar that’s only open at certain times of the day, and an open air one on the 7th deck again only open at certain hours and not at all in cold weather. There’s also a fully-equipped theatre that they use for lectures, classical piano recitals, movies etc. The food is excellent and enticing. Being French, there are two full-time pastry chefs. In fact, there is an army of chefs. And they will basically cook anything you want. There is room service at all times although we have never used it. There are two restaurants on all Ponant ships: the 6th deck buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the 2nd deck à la carte restaurant that serves a buffet breakfast and lunch but a menu dinner where they prefer you don’t wear shorts or thongs! On our cruise, the 6th deck was very popular for dinner because you could eat under the stars and bookings were essential. If you didn’t book by breakfast, you didn’t get a table. The excursions are an extra, but they’re not compulsory and they are very varied but always interesting. Some require a degree of fitness and/or agility. But staying on board can be just as relaxing. Our view of the excursion is that they are bucket-list excuses and you/we are never likely to get another chance. There is an excellent library on the 6th deck. There is no casino and no flashing lights disco although on the 7th deck open air bar there was nightly music which people could dance to. That certainly didn’t operate in the Arctic Circle last year… The reception desk is open 24/7 and there is a fulltime doctor and nurse who usually take it in turns to accompany the excursions. Ponant runs an excellent loyalty scheme and although these back-to-back cruises were only our second and third trips, we were upgraded because we had made reservations for our fourth cruise next year which qualifies us for Admiral status. This gave us free laundry throughout (invaluable on a hot weather cruise), four hours each of us for each week (ie a total of 16 hours) free WiFi use, plus we got 400 Euros worth of discounts on our excursions. We met other passengers who were on their 12th and 15th cruises which qualified them for Grand Admiral status! Not sure what they get for that but it would be considerable. Maybe Veuve Cliquot on tap… We’re very much looking forward to our next cruise, a 17-day cruise in August 2017 under the title of Ultima Thule, the Horizontal Everest, which goes from Kangerluassaq in Greenland all through the Baffin sea around the east coast of Canada to Straeling island, the northernmost point reached by the Vikings. Only a year to wait… and we are eagerly anticipating the announcement of cruises for 2018 when we will have a certain significant celebration. Finally, the secret to Ponant cruises in our experience is to book early to get the full discount of 30%... and the best cabins. And this is the link to a blog with photographs written about the cruise by my wife Jean Lombard: http://taxidotle.blogspot.com/ Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This was my first cruise ever and I really loved it. It's amazing to be sailing with a small ship. There were only 17 guests on board so you had a feel of having the ship for yourself. We did the adriatic cruise and visited 4 ... Read More
This was my first cruise ever and I really loved it. It's amazing to be sailing with a small ship. There were only 17 guests on board so you had a feel of having the ship for yourself. We did the adriatic cruise and visited 4 countries in 1 week: croatia, montenegro, albania and greece. Unfortunately we weren't able to get a close spot in the harbor/port in every city so sometimes you need to walk or take a bus/cab to get to the nearest city center. The crew is extremely nice and helpfull! Every day (except for one) we were able to do an excursion on shore to see the sights. I could really recommend the excursion to Butrint in Albania, the palace of queen elizabeth of austria (sissy) in corfu town and the city of Budva in Montenegro. The other cruises were not really worthwhile. Due to the fact that the ship arrived early in the morning we were able to avoid the big cruise ship masses. That's another advantage of a small cruise ship. On the minus side: * The food is okay especially breakfast and lunch but for dinner we only had 2 buffet style dinners and the rest was a strict menu (you could choose between fish or meat). I prefer buffet type of dinners. * You can buy wifi access on board (€20 per 500Mb). The data limit is a problem because lots of people have their smartphone settings tuned to wifi (to transfer photos etc). I also use a travel app to inform family and friends which I was unfortunately not able to use due to the limit. * We had less guests on board which is great but on the other hand you pay the max price for the excursions which made it very expensive. * During dinner/breakfast time the servants grabbed your plate out of your hands and brought it to your table (even if you were one step away). This felt extremely awkward for all of the guests and although they must have felt it (guests were saying no) they kept on doing that. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2016
For the 3rd time we chose to make a cruise with Variety Cruises. This time we sailed the Adriatic and Ionic Seas. Again we had a great experience. A very friendly and helpful cruisedirector, captain, hotelmanager, crew, comfortable ship, ... Read More
For the 3rd time we chose to make a cruise with Variety Cruises. This time we sailed the Adriatic and Ionic Seas. Again we had a great experience. A very friendly and helpful cruisedirector, captain, hotelmanager, crew, comfortable ship, well-equiped cabins and delicious diners, buffets and drinks. We visited 4 countries: Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece, where we did almost all the offered excursions, to get a closer look of each one of them. You also could go your own way if you wanted. The number of guests was 17 and during this week we had so much fun together! Being on a smaller cruiseship means: having a swimstop near a beautiful bay (they can bring you to the shore with the Zodiac if you want to), arriving before the big cruiseships so less crowded in places you're going to visit, getting to now the other guests (if you want to) is easy becouse of te small number, a very luxurious experience. As I said: this was the 3rd time, but it certainly won't be the last. Looking for a next destination... Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Disliked: Two of the six life boats were old with damaged GRP hulls (the outer resin layer broken and the under-lying fibreglass matting was visible) - not very reassuring ! Old fashioned cabins, difficult to adjust air conditioning due ... Read More
Disliked: Two of the six life boats were old with damaged GRP hulls (the outer resin layer broken and the under-lying fibreglass matting was visible) - not very reassuring ! Old fashioned cabins, difficult to adjust air conditioning due to variance in control instructions, very small shower cubicle though water pressure was good. Most of the people on board were of the 70-90 age group. Very limited sun deck area that was devoid of inlet and a/c outlet motor noise. Lots of people went down with a nasty chesty virus on this cruise. Liked: Food, small ship size and able to make friends, ship can get nearer to the shore than massive ships, good stability in rough seas, all the ships staff were really friendly offering excellent service. Cruise designed for adults would have liked to see more of a mixed age group though! Good excursions and excellent guides especially Butrint and we had an archaeologist guide in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Read Less

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