3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Cabin was clean and comfortable but I wouldn't want to be on for a long cruise 14+ nights as wardrobe space was at a minimum. There was a good range of public areas and bars. The accommodation round the pool was good with a bar ... Read More
Cabin was clean and comfortable but I wouldn't want to be on for a long cruise 14+ nights as wardrobe space was at a minimum. There was a good range of public areas and bars. The accommodation round the pool was good with a bar and outdoor grill. The buffet restaurant was spoiled by the smokers right outside the door. If you were entering from outside you had to run the gauntlet through the smoke. All in all the cruise was enjoyable but what spoiled it for us was the crew. They were unhelpful, unfriendly and down right rude at times. From reception to shops and bars you hardly got smile let alone an acknowledgement. No one greeted you or smiled as you arrived to be served or when you passed them in the corridor. Maybe we are just spoiled by the fantastic crews on board Fred Olsen cruise lines who are happy to meet you, remember you by name and are pleasant, smiley and engaging. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Title says it all. It is nowhere near as good as a Vikings Ocean Cruise. The ship is old has outdated decor (early Renaissance?) which is dark and dreary. The rugs are almost warn out. On the 7th floor starboard the hallway rug has a ... Read More
Title says it all. It is nowhere near as good as a Vikings Ocean Cruise. The ship is old has outdated decor (early Renaissance?) which is dark and dreary. The rugs are almost warn out. On the 7th floor starboard the hallway rug has a severe stain running the complete length of it which looks like there had been a sewage overflow on the cabin side of the rug. The intenet package was impossible to use, using Wi-Fi. I could seldom connect to the internet. When I did connect it would literally take many minutes to download material; uploading material was simply impossible. Internet support was very minimal and often unavailable. Had I paid the $239 for unlited service I would have been very angry. The food was good but not very good. The service was excellent though and very prompt. The same dishes were served almost every day with only a few different side dishes. We did eat in Windows,the buffet restaurant most of the time. The first time we ate in the Discovery restaurant it was so noisy that it was hard to have a conversation. We will not sail with Azamara again. That is sad because we had read so many positive reviews. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Overall, I would say we were happy with this cruise from Rosyth to Longyearbyen then back again. I'm not convinced I would cruise again with CMV, it would depend on the itinerary. The Good: The price was reasonable as we got a ... Read More
Overall, I would say we were happy with this cruise from Rosyth to Longyearbyen then back again. I'm not convinced I would cruise again with CMV, it would depend on the itinerary. The Good: The price was reasonable as we got a last minute deal, yet had a better cabin than those who did not get the same deal... The cabin was clean. There was a good choice of food at the buffet. The Bad: The food was mostly always look-warm/under-cooked/overcooked The fish on the menu was not fresh. Keep your receipts to check later. The Ugly: Some of the staff obviously did not want to be there. e.g This is the only cruise I have been on to date where upon returning aboard we were met with complete silence from the staff scanning the boarding passes. I reported something serious to be told by staff they were busy and "not to worry as we are almost home". Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Air Canada did what Air Canada does. Poor food, and a 3 hour delay on the tar mac, scrunched in a corner with a cricket team. Hotels: Edinburgh was the best part of the trip - mostly because of 3 interesting, but rushed tours. London ... Read More
Air Canada did what Air Canada does. Poor food, and a 3 hour delay on the tar mac, scrunched in a corner with a cricket team. Hotels: Edinburgh was the best part of the trip - mostly because of 3 interesting, but rushed tours. London was fancy and better maintained, but the excursions were optional and overpriced. (We were across the street from the British Museum)! The ship is dated, but might appeal to older passengers. New tenders are a must, if Northern ports are to be included. There is no wrap around deck for walking/talking. Due to inadequate tenders and inclement weather, my $10,000 cruise resulted in 5 missed ports, a cabin with thin walls, exposed rusty pipes (and little else). The ports offered in exchange were often travelled by myself and many of the guests so, of little interest or adventure. Shore excursions were generally included, but not all - (as advertised.) Entertainment was mainly covered by a few excellent speakers, and Richard's awesome cabaret. It saved the trip. The overworked Crew were amazing. Many thanks. Are they ever allowed off the ship? Visas should be provided for them. Would I sail with Voyages To Antiquity again? Do pigs fly? Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
My wife and I have sailed with Fred Olsen on the Boudicca before and enjoyed it, so thought we'd like to try one of Fred's other ships. The cabin was just about adequate in terms of living space although storage and wardrobe ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed with Fred Olsen on the Boudicca before and enjoyed it, so thought we'd like to try one of Fred's other ships. The cabin was just about adequate in terms of living space although storage and wardrobe space was fine. The one thing which spoilt the cruise for me was the vibration in our cabin which was persistent and very noticeable. I will come back to this later in the review. We chose the cruise because it went to a warm destination at a time of year which we thought wouldn't be too stormy, sadly we were proved wrong, but this wasn't the fault of the ship or Fred Olsen. As a result of bad weather we couldn't dock at Funchal so missed a chance to visit that lovely island. The Dining Room was well lit and clean and the food well presented. The food on the the cruise was very good. The choice on the menu and the quality of the food was exceptional. We were on the Drinks Package which was limited in choice but more than acceptable. The onboard lectures were limited and on very similar topics which sadly did not appeal to us. Daytime entertainment was fine especially the quizs and Bridge. Evening entertainment was varied and "entertaining". The vocalists in the bars were exceptionally good. The service from all of the crew was fantastic and couldn't be faulted. Embarkation and disembarkation went without a hitch. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Taste of Iceland (and Faroes). Third F.O cruise. We have gradually moved up decks each cruise and travelled paying near top-price for a suite this time. Four negative experiences took the edge of an otherwise excellent cruise. ... Read More
Taste of Iceland (and Faroes). Third F.O cruise. We have gradually moved up decks each cruise and travelled paying near top-price for a suite this time. Four negative experiences took the edge of an otherwise excellent cruise. They were: 1. F.O's paper map (and website) detailed the approach to the Rosyth port as via the town from the north. Like others including taxi drivers we found this was out of date - a barbed wire perimeter fence is erected across F.O's map! Actual port access is two miles to the east via a new flyover and roundabout (much closer to the M90/Forth bridge in fact). Should have trusted the car's GPS and ignored the cruise operator's information. Admittedly the basic nature of Rosyth as a cruise terminal was described in advance but the bomb site-like nature of the long stay car park was not. We unloaded our luggage like all the others in the open and left it there with a promise it would be collected. We hoped so. A bus to the terminal and another bus to the ship worked reasonably well though. It would have been soaked if it had been raining on embarkation or disembarkation. 2. Two examples of really snappy and rude catering staff this time, unlike before. We pad the extra for the Afternoon Tea but were greeted by someone in charge who clearly was rattled by not being ready for us/tea. We sat in an overcrowded lounge with other non-tea taking passengers who not unreasonably wanted to enjoy the views of leaving the Faroes. They/he was just not ready to serve tea. The scones are a minuscule mouthful by the way, someone saving half a penny per passenger? Second was a disbelieving steward in the Orchid Room restaurant (a rather pointless annex off the main dining room we thought) who demanded to see the paper proof we were entitled to eat in there in front of the guests and left us standing while he checked up on someone's error. We were right, settings had to then be provided. Did he say sorry? Fortunately our table partners were excellent company for the nine days. 3. Service in the Orchid Room came nowhere near the high standards we enjoyed on the previous two cruises: indifferent, error-prone, lacking any meaningful contact with the guests, what a difference. No extra tip this time. 4. Shore tours. In summary, these were rushed, time at advertised destinations minimal and in one case not as advertised. We booked for five, one at each port. The first one to the Skalanes Nature reserve (tour D), was advertised with a half page picture of running reindeer and a description including the 45 types of bird on the reserve. When we eventually got there after an unnecessary tour of the port town and a forced change of buses (to a fwd one), we saw ten domesticated ducks and a labrador dog. No host in sight, no wildlife, no information to hand - a case of riding the Icelandic tourism boom? Take the money and…The refreshments were pleasant but slight and it seemed somewhat comical having 35 people wandering around a domestic house and grounds looking for a toilet…Our local tour guide was otherwise very good though. (£88 each). Second tours fault - rushed - we had a bare 45 minutes in the hot volcanic spring pools at two locations, spent hours getting there on the coach and could easily have set off earlier with proper planning. A mere 45 minutes in the Blue Lagoon after allowing for the rigorous changing room procedures out of a port stay of over nine hours just isn't good enough. (£72 each). Similarly, a visit to an interesting botanical garden (not the oldest one as the F.O guide says, we discovered), was honed down to 20 minutes out of three hours, and eight of those minutes were taken up walking to/from the separate coach park. Pretty poor really. One cruise highlight. The captain stopping (near enough) in the fjord leaving Akureyri to watch for whales, who duly obliged, one Ridgeback surfacing right alongside the ship just below us on the open boat deck. Fantastic. Saved £70 each on a whale-watching boat trip. Of the elderly ship, all is spotless and one would be hard-pressed to find a single dent, scrape or paint blemish. Imagine having to mildly grumble about the smell of polish on the handrails. The ship's company show was again the best feature of the organised evening entertainment we thought. Unlike the previous two cruises, the photographer made noticeably less effort to be creative/take money off us! Not even one attempt to sell us some expensive picture frames! The coffee shop inserted into the library lounge on this and the other ships provided excellent coffees at not unreasonable prices with exquisite attention to detail from the staff. Good while it lasts. This ship had suffered a fire and lost a cruise earlier this summer. One wishes the F.O formula will go on forever but maybe the supply of retired Brits will diminish as the four old or ageing ships reach withdrawal dates? We booked another cruise while on board. Make the most of it while it lasts. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We chose this cruise because we have always wanted to visit St Petersburg and the 2 day stop at this city did not let us down. We chose the 2 day package and visited the Winter Palace (The Hermitage), the Summer Palace (Catherine's ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we have always wanted to visit St Petersburg and the 2 day stop at this city did not let us down. We chose the 2 day package and visited the Winter Palace (The Hermitage), the Summer Palace (Catherine's Palace) and Peterhof. The only disappointment was we did not get to see the Faberge Museum. We also chose the trip to Berlin and the 3 hour bus journey both ways was worth it as we had a wonderful guide who was very knowledgable and spoke wonderful English. The other stops we did ourselves - Copenhagen, Helsinki and Tallin. We did not get off the ship at Nynasham for Stockholm because there was not enough time to visit Stockholm at any length. The trips were expensive but we saw a lot of things that the independent traveller may have missed. However, I would suggest that you wait until you are on board to book any shore excursions because it is only by attending the shore excursion previews that you find out that courtesy buses will be provided at certain ports. The embarkation and disembarkation did go smoothly. The Marco Polo is a wonderful old ship and the 800+ passengers were able to meet new people and enjoy their company. Our cabin (615) was very clean and comfortable and our cabin steward (Edison) was a hard working, cheerful and pleasant young man. Dining in the Waldorf Restaurant was excellent. The menu was extensive and the food very good. Our waiter (Uros) was very attentive, happy and efficient. We used Marco's Bistro for breakfast - lots of choice but you had to be early to get a good table. The entertainment team on board were very hard working and good. The shows were very good in the main but one or two nights were very average. The dancers were excellent. We enjoyed the quizzes - but don't treat them seriously - have a laugh. The duo in Scott's Bar were very good. We paid for all inclusive and it was worth it though the prices were similar to lounge bar prices at home. It cost £17 per person per day but, if you had a glass of wine at lunchtime and another with dinner then that would cost you £10. The service in the various lounges and the pool bar was on the slow side as there was not enough bar staff and the waiters were very good at ignoring arms raised requesting service while they picked up empty glasses or stood at the bar waiting for the one bar person on duty to pour the drinks. All in all we had a great time and I would recommend the Marco Polo voyage. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Cruise of the Canary Islands on 1 December for 1 week. Was a bit worried as this was a last minute booking to fill cabins. We had a balcony cabin, had three to chose from went for 920 very pleasantly surprised plenty room good sized ... Read More
Cruise of the Canary Islands on 1 December for 1 week. Was a bit worried as this was a last minute booking to fill cabins. We had a balcony cabin, had three to chose from went for 920 very pleasantly surprised plenty room good sized balcony counted drawer space - 14 drawers 3 mirror wardrobes plenty wall plugs for charging items. Spotless clean had 2 cabin stewards 1 female and 1 male who looked after us extremely well. Dining very good with plenty of choice and very well looked after by waiters. Entertainment excellent far superior to much larger Cruise Ships that I have been on (this was Cruise No18) first time on A Thomson Cruise for quite a few years but it will not be my last. Well done Thomsons Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Azamara Quest Norway Cruise – July 18 to August 1, 2015. Why this cruise? I had been told by a friend that the Norway cruise was a good one. This particular trip started with the chance to see the last day of the Open at St. ... Read More
Azamara Quest Norway Cruise – July 18 to August 1, 2015. Why this cruise? I had been told by a friend that the Norway cruise was a good one. This particular trip started with the chance to see the last day of the Open at St. Andrews Old Course, an event to be seized with all haste. In addition, we have heard good things about Azamara, and we very much like the small Renaissance ships. The idea of being in the cool North while getting away from July in Phoenix also had its appeal. Cruise pre-planning Azamara uses the “no formal nights – ‘smart-casual’ attire” rule used by Oceania, but we had some weather concerns. The forecasts were for days in the 60’s and nights a few degrees lower. We had booked several tours, including an all day trip to the North Cape, so warmth and rain protection was important. I therefore packed no shorts, and Edith included a good selection of pants suitable for both evening wear and providing warmth. We think we did pretty well. I brought my favorite blue blazer and one tie in addition to my favorite Zuni bolo tie. I also brought my Aran Island wool fisherman’s sweater, and a marvelous cashmere sweater purchased many years ago in Inverness, a nice Scots town at the north end of Loch Ness. They know how to keep you warm in Ireland and Scotland. Embarkation We flew non-stop to Heathrow and then to Edinburgh, staying in a hotel there for one night. So we showed up at the pier in Leith (about a $30.00 cab ride) at 11:30. Check-in was fast for us because we had booked a Continental Suite and had a priority line, but it seemed to move smoothly for everybody. Once on board we had to wait until 1:30 to get into our cabin, but used the time to get books from the lovely Deck 10 library, (called “The Drawing Room” on Azamara ships); and to have lunch in the Waves Café (buffet). Our stateroom! We chose a Continental suite because our prior experiences on these ships showed us that the standard veranda cabin is rather small, and the Continental Suite on Azamara, or Penthouse Suite on Oceania provided enough room. When we walked into our stateroom, No. 8061, our reaction was – Wow! We soon found out why we had this response. It seems that Azamara is planning on upgrades of at least its Continental Suites, and ours was the prototype, the only one on this ship. The first impression was the “light”. Everything seemed white and bright, in contrast to the browns used in most cabins. The closets to the left as one entered were actually light brown, but the most striking feature was the “bureau-desk” arrangement stretching from the mini bar next to the closets to the veranda. The bureau portion was about six feet long, 18 inches high and about the same depth or slightly more. It was all white with some form of composition material on top. There were three deep drawers. About two-thirds of the way to the veranda, the desk portion started. It therefore was above the last drawer of the bureau portion so there was a covered, but open storage area. The desk was only about six inches deep until the final two feet or so. It had two wide, shallow desk drawers. It was also white, but the top had a glass surface. At the very end there were some light switches and electrical sockets at the front. There was a very modern desk lamp. There we a high backed desk chair, a small side chair, a round coffee table and a comfortable wing back chair against the back wall. The bed had a round small side table on one side and a larger square table on the other side. The bed had panels above as headboards, covered with a leather-like material with a raised pattern. More on this will follow. Every surface in this living area was white and the veranda went almost the entire width of the cabin, so the “light” effect was remarkable and delightful. The bathroom was completely redone. Instead of the tub/shower of the regular Continental Suite there was a very roomy six foot long stall shower with beautiful marble walls, a well-directed main shower head plus a hand held shower. We were told that there had been a design error in that the shower floor was virtually flush with the bathroom floor with no lip to prevent water getting out, but we found that with a floor mat there was no real problem. We thought this to be the best shower ever on a ship. The single sink was a large square porcelain “vessel” sitting on a darker composition table, with a shelf underneath. There was a handy magnifying mirror on the wall and three long shelves to the side which had all the room needed for toiletries. The walls were marble, and the floor some kind of composition looking like grey wood. The same grey floor was present in the entrance to the cabin up to the “living” area, where there was a nice carpet with an attractive abstract design. The veranda had three wicker arm chairs and a table high enough to serve as a dining table, although a Norwegian cruise does not invite al fresco dining, even if we were room service types. The lighting system was excellent, and relatively easy to master. For example, there was an overhead light which was perfect for reading in the large arm chair. At the bedside there was a general area light, which actually emitted a small glow at night; and small “bullet” lamps that could be focused easily on a book for reading in bed at night, something we both do. The thermostat was adjustable, but the cabin never was very warm, and Edith’s feet were cold until she got back to the 110º of Phoenix. As usual, we had no problem storing all our clothing and other belongings. We had a few conversations with senior staff concerning this stateroom, especially since we were asked to vacate it for a short period of time on Sunday afternoon, while still docked in Leith, so that the President and CEO of Azamara could lead a tour of our cabin for the benefit of some cruise tour providers! I was at the Open, so Edith was the subject of this request. Afterwards, when we were visited by the Hotel Director to thank us, we mentioned that we thought the cabin should have had a mirror over the desk for the benefit of Madame putting on her makeup. He agreed and said this would probably be corrected along with the shower issue. What we did not mention was the fact that the coffee table in the cabin was much too small for any true room service usage. Since we never use room service this did not occur to us at that time. This may not be easy to cure given the three chairs in that area. Oh well, not our problem. What became our problem. The fifth night out I was snoozing away when, at 2:30 A.M. I was awakened suddenly with something falling on my head with a crash! I struggled up with this object in my hands and managed to turn on the light. I discovered that a quarter panel of our “headboard” had fallen off the wall. Examination showed that this headboard was in four sections, each about three feet wide and two plus feet high, made of pressed wood about a ½ inch thick and cover on one side with a leather like material with some raised pattern portions. This was a substantial object which came down, and I was very fortunate not to have been hit with an edge, which would have been extremely damaging. There were four of these panels, and this was the upper panel. When we looked at the upper panel over Edith’s side of the bed, and touched it, it seemed loose. We thought we should take it down and it required very little effort to pull it off the wall. The panels clearly had been attached with glue only, and obviously not enough. Since this was at 2:30 A.M., and we were safe and unharmed, and could not expect or need any help, we went back to bed. We called Guest Relations first thing in the morning, and they obviously did not understand what happened, probably because our stateroom was unique, and they sent up a carpenter with a hand drill to “fix” it. He took one look and sent for higher staff. The chief housekeeper showed up and was properly appalled. It was quickly determined that no attempt to reinstall would be made, so we spent the rest of the trip with missing upper panels, not something that interfered with our use or enjoyment of the room. I do have a picture of it however. The Hotel Manager, Philip, showed up again with profound apologies and the assurances that the home office had been fully informed. Guest relations offered to provide a tour, but we had made our own private tour arrangements as usual, so this was of no value. Later I asked for and received additional computer usage minutes, but, as I noted when asking for them, this did not cost Azamara anything. We have been off the ship more than a week now, and still have had nothing in writing from Azamara by way of compensation for this near disaster. This is not good public relations, and a poor reflection on their stated desire to make everything a joy for their “guests”. The ship As we noted, we love these Renaissance ships. This was number 8, so the newest of all. Their design is, food aft – entertainment forward, very handy. From the top aft, on Deck 10 there are the two specialty restaurants and the Drawing Room. Forward is the Looking Glass Lounge providing a marvelous viewing room, with a dance floor and bar for activities. Deck 9 holds the Waves Buffet aft, the pool area and the Spa and Gym area, along with the computer room forward. Decks 8, 7 and 6 are all staterooms except for the complimentary self-service laundry on 7. Deck 5 has the main dining room with adjacent cocktail lounge aft. Proceeding forward there is the Mosaic Café; the two stores; the piano bar/lounge and the photo gallery; the Casino and the Cabaret, which is the main entertainment venue. Deck 4 has the Guest Relations area amidships, with the shore excursion desk, future cruise sales and concierge. There are also additional cabins and the medical center. Deck 3 has only access to the tenders or gangway as needed, although there is also gangway access on Deck 4 from the Guest Relations area. Altogether it is a compact and efficient design, although the passageway along the photo gallery could get crowded when the audience from the Cabaret shows exited. The shipboard New York Times was delivered to our cabin as a suite perk, and we had 235 free internet minutes. The Times and international editions were available around the ship. The internet service was slow of course, but always available. Some TV stations were out of range at time, and generally the room television offerings were not much to entice long viewing. There were movies shown every day. Dining aboard This is where Azamara Quest really shines. We have always felt that Crystal Cruises offers the best overall dining experience, and we still do. We also have greatly enjoyed Oceania’s Marina with its four imaginative and wonderful complimentary specialty restaurants. But if Crystal rates a 98, and Marina a 96, then Quest gets a 95. It may seem strange, but two very ordinary, homely menu items reflect this – potatoes and soups. Potatoes were served in the buffet for breakfast and lunch (and probably dinner also) and always were fresh and flavorful. I am of Irish ancestry and care about my potatoes. These were really something to look forward to. When they showed up on the dining room menus for diner, they were just as fine. The same can be said of the soups. There were always two at the lunch buffet and three, including one cold soup, in the dining room at night. They were always rich, flavorful and hot. We talked to the buffet maître’d about this and he described how they were made with a long cooking process from rich stock to extract all the possible flavors and rich variety of taste. This is how soup should be crafted. Edith, a vegetarian, was generally delighted with the offerings in this category, especially the wide choice available for lunch at the buffet. The only mild disappointment I felt was, oddly, with the filet mignon served with the “turf and surf” choice in the main dining room. It was comparatively tasteless compared to the lobster accompanying it, and the other entrees experienced on the balance of the trip. The breakfasts were up to the high level of the better cruises with a good selection of fruits for me and a number of hot items like mushrooms, beans, and potatoes which Edith loved. The coffee unfortunately was not that good, but we have seldom found good coffee in the buffets on any ship. The evening dinners at the Waves Buffet usually had an ethnic food theme; everything from Vietnamese to Middle Eastern to French to Tex-Mex. We went to this last, and found it very good, with a decent selection of offerings. The officers and crew It should first be noted that the passenger to crew ratio is 1.9 to 1. Anything below 2 is very good and shows a commitment to serving the passengers. This was apparent in the very quick room makeup and the generally excellent service in all the dining areas. In addition, the overwhelming majority of the crew was very friendly and helpful. The Hotel Manager, Philip, set the tone with his presence all over the ship, friendliness and generally pleasant attitude. The ship’s master, Captain Jose, also put in frequent appearances, and was very approachable and willing to enter into conversations. When I expressed one concern to the Cruise Director, Russ, he dealt with it quickly. The ship’s overall appearance was excellent, with cleaning and maintenance an obvious priority. Entertainment We would cast ourselves as a tough audience when it comes to shipboard entertain-ment, but we felt that Azamara did a pretty fair job, given the space limitations of the Cabaret Lounge. The usual “singers and dancers” were six in number, with two being only dancers, and the other four largely confined to singing. Their skill level was fairly high, and we enjoyed the fact that they kept the sound level to barely tolerable as contrasted to intolerable on some cruise lines. The choice of songs was decent. They performed four shows on a fourteen night cruise, which is a lot. We did walk out of one of the early shows, a male pianist who seemed to believe pianist skill was best demonstrated by pounding the instrument into complete submission. A female solo singer was good, as were a song and dance team. A second pianist doing mostly Broadway show tunes was quite good. We had a magician for two nights, and since I am a sucker for a magician, I enjoyed him thoroughly. The Azamazing Evening was Sunday night in the port of Leith before sailaway. I did not attend as I was tired from attending the Open at St. Andrews. But Edith and all we talked to who attended it were delighted with a tour of a castle providing lots to see, plenty of bagpipe music and spectacular fireworks. I should note that Russ, the cruise director, had been a stage production singer for many years, and he joined the regular singers and dancers for two of their shows, with very pleasing results. On board activities With one exception, this was quite dismal. The destination lecturer, Charles Richardson, was very good, with informative presentations about Norway and geology. We did feel that scheduling two of his talks at 9:00 in the morning was not a good idea, since it meant getting up very early for breakfast on a sea day when that would not normally be required. He did mention needing the Cabaret Lounge for rehearsals, but some forethought could have come up with better timing. The rest of the activities were a waste of time as far as we were concerned. They consisted of mainly of trivia games, bingo and pitches for the spa and art auction. Azamara need serious work in this facet of shipboard offerings. Ports of Call and shore excursions Bergen. We had arranged for a local tour beginning with a boat trip to another town with a museum. Unfortunately, we were a little late in docking and could see no transportation available to get us to our debarkation point by 8:50, so this was a loss. My ability to walk any distance is limited, so Edith went ashore herself and walked around the area near the ship. She reported it as a pleasant town. Flåm. The main attraction in this town is the railway journey into the mountains. The tour offered by the ship filled quickly, as did one other tour run by a local company, and I thought we might be out of luck. But the Norwegian Railway reserves some tickets and they are not available until 90 days prior to the use date. So I went on the railroad’s web site 90 days prior and purchased 2 tickets with no problem. The on-line cost per person was $81.50, while the Azamara price was $169.75 per person, more than twice as much. It was a very pleasant trip providing a great introduction to Norwegian mountain scenery. The grade is very steep, and you go up over 2400 feet in a comparatively short distance. After our return we visited the small museum attached to the souvenir store and were impressed by how much work and time went into the construction. Geiranger The reason for this destination is the very spectacular fjord, quite deep and comparatively narrow, with the Seven Sisters waterfall along the way. We had bought very reasonable tickets on a local tour in a boat that holds about 200 people. It provided frequent stops which gave us a great many fine photo opportunities in a 90 minute circuit. This was a tender port, with a number of other ships visiting, but the tender trips were fast and easy since the fjords are very calm. Svolvaer-Lofoten Islands – Troll Fjord This is a small town, but we had rented a car and with another couple drove about 50-60 miles south on this island which has a fjord on one side and the North Sea on the other. The car rental, with gas, cost about $120.00 for two couples, so we got to see a lot for very little, since the trip down and back took about 5 hours. There were a number of spots providing wonderful views, and at the south end there was a small harbor with a Norwegian Coast Guard cutter docked. We managed to find a spot with coffee and pastry, and generally enjoyed being on land all day and seeing real Norwegian living. After departing Svolvaer the Captain took us into the Troll Fjord, about 2 hours away. This is a very narrow passage, and while we were not quite able to touch the sides of the mountain as hinted by the Cruise Director, we were within a few feet. This was quite entertaining. When we reached the end of the fjord the Captain did a 360º turn, within the ships length, by using the bow thrusters and stern thrusters in opposite directions. Since Quest is only 593 feet long, it could do this but I doubt that many other cruise ships would be able to accomplish such a maneuver. In fact, while we saw a number of other ships in several ports, they all seemed less than 75,000 gross tons – none of your massive floating hotels. It is not the depth of the fjords that limits ships, they are all quite deep; it is the narrow quarters. Tromsø Tromsø is a good sized city of more than 70,000 people, partly on an island and partly on the mainland with a bridge connection. It has a number of attractive buildings. I stayed on board, but Edith walked through the town up a hill to a pleasant lake surrounded by nice homes. The weather was very mild, and she said that this was one town she would like to visit for a few days. It has an airport capable of handling jet flights to Bergen and Oslo. Honningsvåg This is the gateway to the North Cape, the northernmost mainland point in Europe at 70º10” North. Six of us rented a car and first proceeded to the Bird Safari located on the west side of the peninsula. This provided a 90 minute sea tour through neighboring islands, in a boat holding about 60 people, for the purpose of seeing the nesting places of a wide variety of sea birds, and photographing them. They included cormorants, gannets, puffins and Norwegian eagles which is about the size of the bald eagle, with grey markings, and the classic raptor flight. We also saw seals, but they were difficult to photograph against the rock backgrounds. The boat provided complete waterproof coveralls, which kept us totally warm and dry, although the weather was basically good. This was a good trip, which cost us $80.00 per person on line; but $264.75 on a ship’s tour. We then drove up to the North Cape itself, about another 30 miles. There is a 225 NOK ($28.00) per person entrance fee which lets you into a modern building with a cinema room featuring a 20 minute film about the Cape, a small Thai museum commemorating the 1907 visit of the King of Siam to the cape, a small chapel, a large souvenir store and a buffet restaurant featuring reindeer stew. There was an outside area leading up the Cape itself. It was extremely windy, with some rain, and we felt that the high fence was necessary, but we could see the neighboring capes and get a sense that we really were at the top of Europe. We then drove back to the ship. The cape area has no trees, and is quite barren, but we passed several reindeer herds, and were thrilled when one herd, stags, does and fawns decided to cross immediately in front of us while we stopped to let them by and had a good look at these very attractive creatures. The fawns are dark brown, which makes them highly visible, while the adults are a soft dun color. Our stop in Honningsvåg was from 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M, and we would have had a midnight sun if it had not been cloudy, but it still was light out at midnight. Our car rental was $26.00 apiece, so the total day was $132.00 per person. The ship’s tour of the North Cape was $179.75. per person. This meant a total of $444.50 compared to our cost, and we had the freedom to take as much time as we wanted, and travel in a nice small van while saving over $300.00 apiece - $600.00 per couple! Altogether, we were delighted with this adventure. Olden This did not work out well. I had booked a tour of one of the few attractions at this stop, the Briksdalen Glacier, for a five hour van tour. I was a little concerned when I received no response to my request for an e-mail telling us where we would make contact. The firm I dealt with was called “Porttrips International” which still has a website. I had paid for 8 people by credit card, and received checks from the three couples joining us. When we walked off the ship, there was no Porttrips vehicle in sight in the very small dock area. We walked into the small town (about four stores) and back, and contact with the locals told us no one had heard of this company. We had little choice but to take either a local bus up to the glacier for a quick round trip tour, or take a small ”train” trolley with two small open cars around a local lake for 150 NOK, about $18.00. We chose this option which took about 80 minutes and was quite pleasant. The good news is that my credit card company has issued me a full credit, and my fellow passengers have all been reimbursed. Disembarkation The passengers taking a ship provided bus directly to the airport seemed to do quite well; while those of us taking taxis had a wait, mostly spent on board with trips outside to check the line for cabs. There were seven cruise ships docked in Copenhagen, but Azamara seemed to have the pier closest to town, which was nice. When we got our taxi the fare to our hotel in central Copenhagen, near the Tivoli Gardens and main railroad station, was less than $10.00. Reflections and Miscellaneous Norway is a pleasant, very scenic country, with a population that by and large speaks excellent English. While it has the fourth highest standard of living in the world, there is no great display of wealth and little of poverty. There is a lot of graffiti, which surprised Edith. We were surprised by the fact that homes were scattered all along the fjords, seemingly far from anything. While some remote farms were abandoned, most of these homes were served by roads with regular auto and truck traffic. All the homes appeared to be in excellent condition, and the neighborhoods well cared for. Everyone we spoke to or dealt with was very pleasant and helpful. If one can deal with the dark, cold winters, it is a fine country to live in. Our fellow passengers were mostly American, with the usual leavening of our northern neighbors from Canada, and a fair representation of New Zealanders and Australians. There were few Germans, perhaps because it is easier for them to cruise on ships based on the continent. And the English travel on Fred Olsen and P&O cruise lines. Most passengers were in the retired age bracket, but there were others and three or four teen-agers. Final words Was this a worthwhile trip? I felt so although Edith was perhaps not as enthusiastic. There were times when it was a bit boring, and the fjords have a lot of similarity. But I felt it was so unique and beautiful that a bit of repetition was acceptable. I would recommend this cruise, and Azamara has a lot to offer; a neat small ship, really excellent food, great service and friendliness. If the activities are weak, and the standard veranda cabins on the small side, these defects can be tolerated. So my overall rating would be 4+. Bon Voyage! 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18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
I went on a previous cruise in March - see my review "Absolutely magical experience" - this time with my wife, so the previous cruise was fresh in my mind and my descriptions in hers. This time departing from Rosyth, we found ... Read More
I went on a previous cruise in March - see my review "Absolutely magical experience" - this time with my wife, so the previous cruise was fresh in my mind and my descriptions in hers. This time departing from Rosyth, we found the port facilities inferior to before when I departed from Southampton, although actual embarkation was much more painless.There is no left luggage facility which made if complicated sending luggage ahead. It was not made clear that there is no taxi rank at the small Rosyth station, better to stop off at Inverkeithing which is a more major station (indeed some of the London trains stop there). The actual cruise got off to a slow start because the first and second days were taken up with port visits - there was no captain's welcome until the third night (and the captain couldn't even come to that) - this meant that ship-bound activities such as Bridge and similar (which we were looking forward to) didn't start until the third day, which was very disappointing, for example for disabled people unable to go on trips. The "at sea" days where there were more activities so crowded the timetable that many things we wanted to go to all clashed. The Bridge sessions were very well-run and enjoyable. Having come up from London on the train, we were disinclined to launch into 4-hour bus trips to Loch Ness and such on the first full day so we stayed on-board feeling we were wasting time. However with the first sea day things picked up well. We didn't end up going on port excursions as we chickened out of going on tenders to some places and I had had the experience of missing trips I'd booked because of injury before. I thought that the food, although very good, wasn't quite in the same league as before. The soups weren't as good and the desserts were mostly very disappointing. The main courses remained excellent. Unlike before there wasn't wholemeal bread, which we like, and none of the speciality breads such as walnut were on offer. We took out the "all-inclusive drinks package" which was a huge mistake. The only things included in the price for free were the very poor house wines, a cava which we soon got bored with and a limited ranges of beers and spirits. Yes you can get other drinks for 50% of the price (reducing good wines from 3 times the price to 1.5 times) but not basics like tea and coffee for which full price was still applied. I think we averaged out losing out by about £10 per night between us. We definitely won't get that again unless they refine it sensibly. We didn't go to many of the entertainment offerings, but those we did go to were very good, all things considered although the lack of a proper theatre hampered things.There was a theme of a detective mystery run over several nights which was good fun. I even got the answer right (but didn't win the prize). The crew were uniformly good-humoured and friendly - some remembered unprompted my likings from my previous trip which was amazing! Still we enjoyed it enough to wander round to the "future cruises" office and book one for next year - this time on the "Black Watch". Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Motor Ship Marco Polo, what to be said?  She is without doubt a clean ship, a manageable ship and a ship well organised for the ‘Adult’ clientele they intend to and do cater for. Our cabin 505 was quite spacious for this class of ... Read More
Motor Ship Marco Polo, what to be said?  She is without doubt a clean ship, a manageable ship and a ship well organised for the ‘Adult’ clientele they intend to and do cater for. Our cabin 505 was quite spacious for this class of vessel and had more than average storage space. A good size picture window gave an overall pleasant aspect to the room and though the modest shower room was a little cramped this too was more than adequate for our needs.We sailed from Edinburgh on May 26th and the collection of luggage at the port was efficient and quick. It must also be said that the departure from the ship was also well organised, speedy and painless. Food on board was adequate and even for the picky vegetarian that I am varied enough not to be boring. On the one night I absolutely did not want the ‘Vegetarian Option’ they found me something else that was more to my taste. You might think that due to the daily £5 surcharge that is applied instead of tipping there would be no incentive toward care or courtesy but on the whole the staff were kind considerate and dedicated to their task. The crew with the exception of the officer class were in the main of east European origin but had a good level of English which is the lingua franca of the boat. The one down side were the other passengers! Now I admit to being in my 69th year and I have not yet lost any of my taste for life or any strength of will, however; some of this boat-load were rude inconsiderate and obnoxious to an extent not even expected from the geriatric go-grabbers of this the 21st century. The Cruise Director did miss out on some tricks, for along with the already organised games he could have prepared for ‘The Zimmer Frame 100 meter dash’ ‘The Walking stick Fencing Final’ and the Wheelchair Diving Championship where those not bent on eating themselves to death could throw themselves into the ocean while those around cheered giving points for both suicidal style and corporal commitment..Strangely I would venture on the Marco Polo a second time as overall she is not overpriced for what she is. This old lady surrounds herself with passengers of her certain age and most feel comfortable with her faded grandeur.Overall a good voyage with inexpensive drinks, good modestly priced excursions and a generally pleasing crew. At Least Three out of Five for Cruise and Maritime Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2011
The posts of call are tremendous this being the main reason that we booked Thomson's. Kotor is really nice and I am surprised that Thomson are not visiting next year its really special. Food not to my taste if you like meat & ... Read More
The posts of call are tremendous this being the main reason that we booked Thomson's. Kotor is really nice and I am surprised that Thomson are not visiting next year its really special. Food not to my taste if you like meat & two repetitive veg this is for you. Far too many roasts and stodgy puddings! Staff excellent and could not fault. Cabin VERY NOISY, located beside the entrance to the engine room smells of diesel. Not my idea of luxury. Avoid the rooms to the Aft as you need ear defenders in to sleep......... The Thomson fleet are very old ships and past their sell by date. Beware if you are near the medical centre as the vibration and noise of the engines might seriously damage your holiday. I am a light sleeper and have never encountered anything like it on a cruise. Have cruised with other lines. Found the beds to be comfortable but the towels in the bathroom I would not use for dusters. They are thread bare. This is not a cheap cruise but the value for money is seriously woeful compared to other cruise line. Fortunately for Thomson most cruisers do not try other cruise line so have no idea what they are missing. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We would consider ourselves to be experienced cruisers who go for the itinerary rather than the ship. If the ship is a good one ,then thats a bonus. We've sailed with 10 different cruise lines,some up to four times and on different ... Read More
We would consider ourselves to be experienced cruisers who go for the itinerary rather than the ship. If the ship is a good one ,then thats a bonus. We've sailed with 10 different cruise lines,some up to four times and on different vessels in the same line. Embarkation: Best ever! we joined at Rosyth, and as we live in Scotland's central belt we were on board one and a half hours from leaving home, plus we both 90kgs luggage allowance!! Just as well we did not load our luggage up to the mark as one of our cases was damaged during embarkation. Fred Olsen completed a form for our insurers. P.S. get a lift to Rosyth as Forth Ports charge over £7 per day to park Cabin : We were on the Main deck, starboard and towards the stern, we would normally book a balcony cabin but were not prepared to pay the prices asked for, we spoke later to one disgruntled couple who had paid almost £6000 more than us albeit for a suite. First impressions were that the (twin) cabin was small compared to what we are used to,but we got used to it. At least we had natural light coming in the double window, but we did find the cabin stuffy, in fact some of the public rooms were stuffy, but when you see the prevailing age of most of the guests you know thats what they like! The beds were comfy and warm, we had a bath and shower,safe,space for clothes ok, enough drawers as well. Coffee and tea maker provided but we never used it, would much preferred to have a fridge. Dining and Service: Have to say that we were pleasantly surprised here, We were not looking forward to the fixed 1st sitting after having got used to freestyle type eating, however, even in the main restaurant, breakfast and lunch was buffet style,so only dinner was served. The buffet area got a mite busy at times but there was never any shortage of food. Staff would fetch and serve breakfast and lunch to those less mobile. Breakfast was fine but repetitive, lunch options really good, dinner likewise, service was smart and friendly (as it was throughout the ship) There is an informal restaurant(secret garden cafe) which looked interesting,but we never used it, probably as its really too small and there was normally a queue waiting. Afternoon tea was served here and was very nice. Activities: We had a lot of sea days so activities were important..the lectures were good, Library and games room pleasant, gym well equipped,pool and jacuzzis fine, so the days passed reasonably well, but you would be advised to take plenty of reading material,or catch up on some writing, the Boudicca is not a resort ship! Entertainment: Generally very good,although the passenger talent show had a high cringe factor. Good tight dance and singing troupe, we had a Scottish comedian who was able to make us all laugh with clean material, an excellent crooner, and the musicians dotted around the lounges were also to a good standard. Of course its all geared to the older clientele so dont look for a disco! The Cruise Director was a very nice and experienced guy but I would say he is probably by his sell by date. Excursions: We only went on a few as two of the Greenland ports are really just walk off, however, the trips we did use were well organised and reasonable value, got to say this is when the smaller ship comes into its own,when waiting for tenders especially, dont have to get 3,500 people off !! Ship : Our last time with Fred Olsen was in 2000 on the Black Watch and it was hard to believe that in 2011 we were going on a ship nearly 40 years old. I suppose that Olsen will be able to cash in on the Vintage/Classic market soon! Best thing is that the main sailing crew are Norwegian and I always feel safe sailing with the Vikings, Captain Jan Thommessen is by a long way the best captain we've ever sailed with. He was informative,humourous,walked the ship and had a chat with everybody,instilled confidence when we had a few shaky hours in ice and fog, takes part in a jazz jam session,playing a good trumpet. When we had to miss an Icelandic port because of the ice problems the previous night he told us the reasons why he had to make straight for Reykajavik. OK the ship is a little tired in some public areas and the main theatre is really just a big lounge,so you have to be early to make sure you are not seated behind a pillar! Disembarking: No problems, little bit chaotic in the terminal(Rosyth)as its not really big enough. Summary: Despite our concerns about an older, smaller ship and being with the "blazer brigade" we would travel with Boudicca and Olsen again. We were concerned about the ships history of Norovirus, but we were exorted at every turn to use the hand sanitisers,even in the library! We felt the shop prices and bar prices were reasonable, and the photographers were excellent again with good value prices. The ship has a homely feel about it,but also has some character, a real nice touch was having the great grandchildren of Fred Olsen on board who assisted the Captain to throw a wreath over the stern during a small service of remembrance for Olsen merchant sailors who perished in WW2. We think though that as the older Olsen returnees(most of the guests we spoke to had never sailed with anyone else) pass on, they will have to address a few things. A wee bit too formal, we dont mind "proper formal" nights, but there were too many jacket and tie nights for us. Also need to enlarge the informal anytime dining area as more of us want dining flexibility. Read Less

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