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8 Europe - British Isles & Western Expedition Cruise Reviews

Embarkation went smoothly except for treacherous outside steps up to deck 4, even for the fit and able, with little evidence of staff to assist those with a mobility problem. The cabin was very clean and one of the best suites,as far as ... Read More
Embarkation went smoothly except for treacherous outside steps up to deck 4, even for the fit and able, with little evidence of staff to assist those with a mobility problem. The cabin was very clean and one of the best suites,as far as lay out is concerned, that we have had on any other cruise ship we have been on. Unfortunately , because the ship is old there were a lot of banging and creaking noises within the cabin in rough seas we had 4 nights of little sleep.All other areas on the ship were clean and well looked after and it was easy to find your way around. The ships daily programmes were adequate but the resident show performers were very good indeed. The swimming pool on the other hand was "out of action" for the duration of the cruise. Having had one lunch in the cafeteria where the "hot" food was just warm and the queues long, we ate in the restaurant for lunch and dinner for the remainder of the cruise. The food was varied and plentiful. We had breakfast in our cabin which was good. All cabin, restaurant and bar staff were very good and only too ready to please. We bought a drinks package which was good value for money but it would have been nice to have more than one choice of house wine. Coffee and water was excluded from the package. Just prior to sailing the advertised itinerary times in Orkney (8am-5pm) had been changed to 8am -2pm and Honfleur had been changed from 8am -8pm to 1pm -10pm without any apologies or explanation. The first port of call was Mull where I had arranged for Alan Robson www.mulltaxi.co.uk to provide a private tour tailored to suit our needs.This was to include a visit to the distillery.The weather was overcast and the sea slightly choppy so we were anchored way off Tobermory to be told that the captain was waiting for the weather to improve and an announcement would be made in an hour to let us know what was happening before making a decision. This did not happen and I was kept up to date by our taxi firm who told me that the harbour master had been told that the ship had decided not to tender passengers off to the harbour! Alan also cancelled our distillery tour for us.Two hours later an announcement was made informing us all that not only Mull was being cancelled but also Stornoway. We were sailing straight to Orkney and would arriving there a day earlier than planned. As I had arranged for www.hebrideanexcursions.co.uk to provide another tailored tour of Harris and Lewis for us and Orkney Taxis to meet us (now a day earlier) at the pier in Orkney I was now left to sort this out without a mobile 'phone signal. Clare the receptionist suggested that it must be my network provider at fault and that I should go as high as I could on deck to try and get a signal.It was now raining and blustery on deck. I know from past holidays in the Western Isles that mobile 'phone reception is very poor. I eventually asked if I could use the land line and was given the codes on how to get an outside line and was told that the first minute was free and after that it was £4 a minute.The land line did not work and after a long discussion and a flat refusal from Clare to do anything personaly to help, the ships communication officer, who had been asked to sort out our 'phone, contacted TG the guest relations officer who eventually agreed to send an email to Orkney taxis for me. As a seasoned cruiser I had never come across such an unhelpful attitude from those who were supposed to be there to help the guests, especially when none of the changes were of our own doing. My previous experiences with other cruise lines have always been very positive with staff who have a "can do" approach to their guests. Donald and Gail of Orkney Taxis met us at the pier and we had a wonderful day being shown around the Island by a local guide with so much knowledge of the Island. Nothing was too much trouble and we were able to stop whenever we wanted to.The time ashore was now 8am to 10pm. I managed to eventually get a signal and let John ,Hebridean Excursions know what was NOT happening. See Tripadvisor reviews of this company. A half day( 8am -2pm) in Invergordon was substituted at late notice for the loss of the other two ports of call. This is a repair port for the oil rigs and has little to offer. Two, expensive,organised tours were offered and no information was available for independent travellers as to how they could get around the area. We arrived in Honfleur at 12pm, (46 hours later) and had to wait until 2pm before we could get off the boat to get a shuttle bus into the town.We were "allowed" to get off earlier but would have to walk for at least 20 minutes before we were near to the town. I had a local taxi firm number obtained in the UK but the codes were confusing, again Clare refused to even try and find out for me what the codes were and suggested I walk to the harbour ofice to get a taxi. Again Independent passengers were kept waiting until the organised tours were all off the ship. There was also a problem at St. Mary's in as much that the ship was anchored a good 30 minute tender journey each way thus delaying and prolonging the time getting us off board, again priority was given to the organised tours. As the sea was choppy when we arrived I was waiting for an announcement that we would not be going ashore . However the boatmen of the Scilly Isles tender passengers on and off all the ships and know all the tides etc. They could not understand why we were so far off shore. DJ Cabs St. Mary's met us at the pier and we had an excellent tour of the island, stopping off whenever we wanted and had first hand knowledge of the Islands history, flora and fauna. The excursions are expensive and I would recommend the above mentioned private taxi firms to anyone, all were good value for money and even those that we did not meet up with have been in contact with me hoping that everything had gone alright for us and that we had enjoyed our cruise. Disembarkation went smoothly but again the steps were appalling with no help from the crew.The port staff were very helpful. This cruise was not cheap and unless the attitudes of some key customer services / guest relations personel change we will not use this cruise line again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We cruised on Lord of the Glens as part of a National Geographic Expedition, and we would travel again in a heartbeat on this wonderful ship. The ship is stylish and elegant, without being stuffy. Polished brass and wooden fixtures ... Read More
We cruised on Lord of the Glens as part of a National Geographic Expedition, and we would travel again in a heartbeat on this wonderful ship. The ship is stylish and elegant, without being stuffy. Polished brass and wooden fixtures recreate the by-gone days of cruising. There is ample public space for everyone to have a comfy spot (and, since the weather on many days was a bit damp, those spaces were well-used.) When the sun was out (and even when it wasn't), many passengers enjoyed time viewing the scenery from the teak decks. Our cabin was on the Alexander Graham Bell deck and, contrary to what I was expecting based on other reviews, the cabin was spacious, the bathroom was more than adequate, and we had absolutely no problem storing our luggage either in the closet or under the bed. The breakfast options were ample and satisfying. In addition to the buffet, guests had the option to order off the menu. Passengers sign up for their lunches and dinners in the morning. There were always several interesting dishes, thus making it often hard to choose. You had all day to anticipate a good meal, and that the service at mealtime was prompt and efficient. Bar service was terrific and you were encouraged to order your dinner drinks/wine ahead of time. Again, that made for very prompt service. The entire hotel staff, under Brian's capable and gregarious direction, were courteous and very friendly. The ship's company and crew were professional, and the captain was often about, mingling with the guests. It was a real pleasure watching him exercise his ship-driving skills through those narrow canals. We loved every moment aboard Lord of the Glens.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
After 20 years of cruising we discovered Regent in 2010. We are going on 100 days of voyaging with them now. This Baltic and circumnavigation of the British Isle cruise we just completed was outstanding. We had been cruising exclusively ... Read More
After 20 years of cruising we discovered Regent in 2010. We are going on 100 days of voyaging with them now. This Baltic and circumnavigation of the British Isle cruise we just completed was outstanding. We had been cruising exclusively with Princess and HAL prior to that. We toyed with the idea of giving Silver Seas a shot but received a hint that their quality was on the ebb, the debacle on the Silver Shadow in Southeast Alaska this summer confirmed that. Of Regent's three ships, we like the Voyager the best. We have never had a cruise that we didn't enjoy, although, as with anything in life, there was an occasional blemish. We prefer the longer excursion type voyages, three weeks or more. The longest was on the Prinsendam for almost three months. In May 2010 we happened upon Regent. Haven't really looked back since, I hardly even gloss others brochures and offers anymore. My wife discovered the first one, on the Navigator. She really likes the absence of nickel and dimeing. For me Regent stands out in these areas: Quality of shore excursions. (They go to lengths to arrange numerous and detailed itineraries while assuring knowledgeable guides who one can understand and most of the time keep the coaches to about 55% capacity).---Quality and size of suites. The size of their D thru H suites are almost unsurpassed. They have walk in closets that serve as dressing rooms, the bathrooms have walk in showers in addition to a separate large bathtub, on this recent cruise we had four large suitcases but only used about 35% of the drawers, hangars and cupboards, although these suite categories are smaller on the Mariner than on the Voyager and Navigator the Mariner does have extra large Penthouse suites.---Outstanding demeanor of all the crew, i.e. room stewards, bar tenders, waiters, wine stewards, officers, etc.--Staff to guest ratio. Ship design, size and condition. (The Mariner and Voyager have pod propulsion which offers a noticeable absence of vibration and noise, particularly in the stern area where most conventional shaft ally powered ships have this negative) I particularly appreciate the dining arrangements, no waiting, no assigned seating unless we ask to be with someone else and we almost always get a table for two.--Wine selection is above average.--- Prime 7 is pretty good. We weren't too enamored with the Signature. The reservation lash up for the Signature and Prime 7 needs some work and improving. However, on this trip, their regular dining room, the Compass Rose, was outstanding (better than the Signature even). What we have taken to doing is to determine right off which head waiter we want, then stick with him. Then, we "always" get the type table we want and the waiters know exactly our tastes, our names and how to set up the table. Beats the old traditional seating all to pieces, you know, the old way where you run the "luck of the draw" for tablemates and take a chance on getting stuck with nimrods for the entire voyage. Free and fast internet (The Voyager has an excellent and large internet cafe which is the best we ever experienced)---Good selection of newspapers delivered every morning (I like the New York Times & USA Today) and their TV news channels offer an excellent ideological selection, from left progressive to hard core right wing.) Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We spent 1 1/2 days in Tromso on our own prior to embarking. The Arctic Church and the cable car to top of mountain to overlook all of Tromso and surrounds are musts! From embarkation to debarkation, this was a terrific trip. ... Read More
We spent 1 1/2 days in Tromso on our own prior to embarking. The Arctic Church and the cable car to top of mountain to overlook all of Tromso and surrounds are musts! From embarkation to debarkation, this was a terrific trip. LOVED the small size of ship. Our cabin #311, low & midships gave us a smooth ride (except for one rolling night when everyone was bouncing!) The staff/crew were great! Rueben kept us ship-shape in the cabin. Dinesh, our butler, couldn't do enough for us, especially when BOTH of us were sick with flu AND seasick at the same time--ugh. The ship's Dr. was a blessing. They all looked after us like family. ALL of the staff & crew, DenDen, Bobby, Dominic, Shane, EVERYONE were so friendly, knew our names, treated us like royalty. The food? FANTASTIC! Pretty much anything you could possibly want/need or imagine, it was there or you had only to ask. I would echo another reviewers comments on the ships boutique. Skip the fragrances, watches, etc. Have more clothing sizes (purchased a fleece jacket first day and wore it almost EVERY DAY, after realizing what I had brought wouldn't be warm enough). The Expedition Staff was superb! Colleen Batey, our archaeologist and Viking expert gave wonderful lectures and on-site explanations. You could almost hear the whispers and footsteps of the Vikings. And who could forget Aiello? Every member of this team was first rate. The itinerary initially drew us to this trip, taking us to spots we would never have managed/considered on our own in Norway, Scotland, UK & Ireland and we were not disappointed in any regard. We would happily cruise on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Bagpipe music was playing as I walked to the ship and was settled into my gorgeous single cabin with a big window. We sailed off to the first of 15 ports in the Inner Hebrides. Each day was worth the price of the entire trip. If you like ... Read More
Bagpipe music was playing as I walked to the ship and was settled into my gorgeous single cabin with a big window. We sailed off to the first of 15 ports in the Inner Hebrides. Each day was worth the price of the entire trip. If you like adventure by day and a luxurious 5 star experience in the evening this is the ship for you. We zoomed off on the tenders each to a windswept and gorgeous island each day. Some had gardens, some had castles, some had geologic marvels like kilt rock. Fellow passengers had stories of their days' outings and many of us are friends now with email addresses exchanged. For foodies: you will have several courses at lunch and dinner and your bar tab is included throughout. The purser will attend to your every tiniest wish; if you like your soup extra hot it will be DONE every day just the way you prefer. Bring elegant clothes for evening wear and warm walking/hiking gear for day. Or bring good books and relax all day. This is a cruise you will go back and do again Scotland is so gorgeous it would make a stone weep. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We spent 4 days in Dubai at the Traders Hotel before embarking on RCI Brilliance of the Seas. Hotel was OK for the airport and cruise port, but a bit too far away from the tourist attractions of Dubai. Embarkation was the easiest that I ... Read More
We spent 4 days in Dubai at the Traders Hotel before embarking on RCI Brilliance of the Seas. Hotel was OK for the airport and cruise port, but a bit too far away from the tourist attractions of Dubai. Embarkation was the easiest that I have experienced. No wait at all at the terminal and luggage delivered in about an hour.The ship was only half full, having had the itinerary much modified to account for problems in Egypt. From Oman to Rome was 9 days at sea. The longest stint at sea I and the crew had experienced. However, the first few days of the holiday on land and sea was hectic and the rest was welcome.My first experience of RCI and will probably be the last. Apart from some brilliant musicians on board who entertained several times a day, I am unable to give a 10 out of 10 for almost any other feature of the cruise.Most notable feature of on board life was the over the top cost of extras, particularly drinks. Even the discounted wine packages were over the top. $4.50 for a bottle of water was perhaps the biggest excess. I am not a heavy drinker, just one or two alcoholic drinks per day, but my bar bill ended in being twice what I have expected ti pay compared to recent cruises with other lines.Food in the buffet was better than the dining room. The dining room food did not have the good, strong taste that is the hallmark of American cuisine. Very bland. Entertainment was quite varied, but about as good as you will get in a local club or pub back home. Quite a few acts were cruise regulars, with acts that have hardly changed in two or three years.I wanted to see Dubai and the Middle East, and I have and have memories that will stay with me, especially the central mosque in Abu Dhabi, but the cruising part of the holiday did not inspire me much at all. Disappointing really, when conversations with other RCI regulars painted a much brighter picture.One other first too. We had the SAS on board for a few days whilst sailing the Gulf of Aden and into the Red Sea just in case Somalian pirates fancied their chances. Black clad individuals casually carrying heavy shoulder bags. They were taken off by tender whist still at sea. Ship sailed blacked out at night, and a 'safe haven' drill was carried out. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Left Tampa Bay on HAL's Ryndam, suite 171, great ship, clean, good crew, good chow. 12 ports of call. Really liked the stateroom and patio. Some of the entertainment (particularly the four young female Ukrainian violinist, in a nice ... Read More
Left Tampa Bay on HAL's Ryndam, suite 171, great ship, clean, good crew, good chow. 12 ports of call. Really liked the stateroom and patio. Some of the entertainment (particularly the four young female Ukrainian violinist, in a nice quiet lounge, just before dinner) and cruise pertinent lectures were excellent. Captain did a super job as we ran into a storm, mid Atlantic, he went far south, almost to the equator to get around it. Put us a little behind schedule but no big deal. Entire trip, the ocean was like a mill pond. Particularly liked the eat any time feature. First time on HAL where we that option. No getting stuck with the same political bores every evening at the dinner table. Never had a delay getting a table either, usually ate by ourselves. We used the Pinnacle Grill three times, it is the best of any lines alternative dining options the we have been on. First became aware of the Pinnacle quality on the Prinsendam during a three monther. Also the Canaletto alternative (no extra charge) was great. We used that one at least 10 times. Tables were a little too close but other than that we certainly liked the cuisine and table staff. I like the Ryndam, just the right size ship and well taken care of. Shore excursions were all good. HAL does a great job on these, but so does Princess and Regent, the only other two lines we use. One of the best port excursions they don't have listed here. St Malo, France. France. Great day, a rare super surprise, visited Mont Saint Michel and toured that historic little island and then stopped at Cancale for oysters and local white wine. Best oysters I have ever tasted. Same with the wine and I'm a red drinker. Beautiful little fishing village where we were served. I give that day a five plus rating. Don't list Cherbourg,France either. Normandy beachheads. Wow, best long one day excursion ever, and we have been cruising for over twenty years on the high seas and I missed that until now. Be sure and do Omaha Beach, don't take just Utah Beach tour. Also Mulberry B and the museum there are a must. Five plus plus. Not enough space here for me to tell how great it was, you have to see that yourself. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
The Dangerous rope ladder' we climbed up to board this ship should have been a warning of what was to come. My cabin was shabby box-like and basic and after cruising on the Princess line it was a shock! The noise from my cabin was ... Read More
The Dangerous rope ladder' we climbed up to board this ship should have been a warning of what was to come. My cabin was shabby box-like and basic and after cruising on the Princess line it was a shock! The noise from my cabin was horrendous especially when the chain passed under me when the we were about to anchor and when the engines started up. I paid more as a single traveller, I discovered, than most of the couples and had one of the worse cabins. More fool me for not complaining! I couldn't, eat the food the first two nights but to be fair it improved slightly as the cruise continued.My dream of travelling around our beautiful coast line turned into a nightmare as the gale force winds threw the ship around like a yacht in a storm. We couldn't land at the Orkneys or the Scilly Isles because of the weather and those were the places I wanted to see. When we couldn't dock at Hornfleur we were pretty fed up by this time!! The ship is old and past its'sale by date' and although it has had a makeover this is only apparent in some public areas eg reception! Never again! this has put me off cruising for some time!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010

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