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123 Hong Kong to Asia Cruise Reviews

chose choice air w/ azamara so I was delivered smoothly to the ship. the rep was not there to meet me so I had to find info desk and ended up w/ the hk police who tracked down the rep. lots of apologies and I am put in a cab and whisked to ... Read More
chose choice air w/ azamara so I was delivered smoothly to the ship. the rep was not there to meet me so I had to find info desk and ended up w/ the hk police who tracked down the rep. lots of apologies and I am put in a cab and whisked to the ship. boarding ship a breeze. since I cruise annually I have my routine -- ck to see if I can get into cabin. if not, check out the spa and from the moment I entered the spa my cruise went downhill. Holland America(hal) princess, rci,,ncl, oceania all offer an indoor 'sanctuary' in the spa usually for $100-120 per week. I was appalled to see what azamara offered -- an out door Jacuzzi w/ deck chairs. why in anyone's logic would I rent an outdoor Jacuzzi when I can go to the top deck and get one free. all the other lines mentioned offer soothing heated tile beds (except ncl, but they have a thermal pool, Jacuzzi and a lap pool and their lounge chairs overlook the ocean. I became committed to hal when I entered their room tiled in blue and white w/ flowers around the Jacuzzi and the phenomenal turquoise tiled beds headed to perfection. the huge floor length windows let the sun reflect off the ocean creating patterns on the ceiling. there r steam rooms, too. aza says they r a luzury ship - there spa is not only hohum it ls tacky. if u don't care about the spa this won't apply to u, but I go every evening to relax before bed. Disappointed. next the lunch buffet. adequate. nothing spectacular. Luzury ship? not in the spa or the buffet. finally settle into my cabin. I was thrilled to hear - no cutesy towel animals - 2 stewards. hal and oceania give me one steward and that's enuf. these two ran in and out pestering me w/ questions- did I want this, did I want that ,,,,, I finally told then I wanted them to get out from under my feet so I could unpack. 2 stewards created chaos and clutter. another marketing ploy that fell flat. it's only my first day and if I had to sum up my entire trip in one word it would be DISAPPOINTMENT. if u travel solo, like me, aza offers a mingle w/other singles dinner the second night w/ a crew member. very nice. after that u can meet a 6 ea nite and meet singles and join them for dinner at 7. unfortunately, ordering dinner at 7 -- soup/salad arrived at 7;15 and dinner at 7:50. don't plan to see the early theatre performance that starts at 8:15 unless u r a speed-eater and that defeats the purpose of meeting new folk over sustenance. the late show is at 10 or 10:30 -- too late for me .if I wanted to see a show and I only got to two in 2 weeks I had to order room service. good news. u can order from the dining room menu and have it delivered to your cabin, this is also a perk if u have been on a 10 hr. shore excursion and all u want to do is settle into your cabin for the evening. shore excursions marketed as land discoveries r a joke. I piled onto a bus w/ 50 others and drove to the site. disembarked w/many other buses and joined the hoards of tourists from our ship and others all following their tour guide dutifully thru the temple or palace or whatever. trust me renaming a tour does not change it from the hundreds of other tours I've been on w/ other ships. they r all the same. crowded and touristy. nothing special here except they r over priced. an identical tour on hal would cost half as much. I screwed up my courage and asked other tourists from other ships if they had paid what I paid. rip off!!!! not only that if u get a lemon for a guide and demand a refund. I did this twice. I was only given 25% of the overpriced shore excursion refunded. that is aza policy. Disappointed. Food - in the dining room excellent. good service, but slow. and yes, as advertised the maître de will have remembered your name after only one visit, if u care about that sort of thing. more marketing. in the buffet the food is equal to princess, rci and ncl, not hal or orceania. I was in japan and they served frozen tuna. and the seaweed salad came in bulk containers. no fresh food like oceania. food joined the ship when I did. Disappointed. I live in Vancouver and I know where I will get fresh fish and where I will get frozen sushi. Luzury ship? I don't think so. oceania serves fresh food purchased daily like a river cruise. azamazing evenings -- oh so touristy. I felt like I was on a trafalger tour which doesn't pretend to be luxury level. the hi light of the trip for me was pulling into Tokyo at 7 am and being serenaded by taiko drummers sitting on my balcony sipping my morning coffee. again, coming from Vancouver I am well aquainted w/ taiko drumming and thoroughly enjoy it. sooooo when azamazing promised taiko drumming I was thrilled. twice in one day - what a blessing. Disappointed. these drummers were high school students, not professionals. then we had a play again w/ high school students. there was a man who would write your name on a serviette in Japanese letters. oh please. and a man who made candy and distributed it. it was a joke. yakatori was served. it was edible. there was sumo wrestles there, but I am not a fan so I can't review them. I ran to get the first bus out. it was packed, but being petite folk made room for me when I pleaded "pls. don't make me wait here for a half hour." people were kind. i had planned to cruise for another two weeks, but the ship's propeller broke and we were flown to shanghai and home. tks god I had bought choice air. I met folk who were really upset at trying to change reservations on their own to get home 2 weeks early. Now i move out of Disppointment and into Disgust. we were told we would receive a refund for the two days of the tour missed by the ship's staff. a group of yellow-shirted "care" team flew in the next day. I thought they cared about me, but no they cared about their company reputation. that became apparent all too quickly when we were informed - no refund - we had never been promised a refund - we would get 25% off a cruise taken next year if we booked it in 2014. they lied!!!! for those of us booked for 2 more weeks we received a full refund and 75% discount if we cruised in 2015. that was tempting. the insanity continues.. I cruised in feb. I got my 75% off certificate in April. the 25% taxed my ta's patience to the max. it took her a ridiculous number of calls and emails and FINALLY she got an email in OCTOBER for the 25% discount. I had no intention of using it, but it was the principle. I was promised a credit in feb. and I got it after a my t.a. fought for it, in oct. . this is not luxury cruise customer service that they brag about in their marketing. disembarkation was chaotic and insane. letters flew under my door w/ insufficient info or wrong info. the night b4 disembarkation i got 5 letters. the stress caused in the last two days by the 'care team' reduced me to tears. I had to break down before I got any caring. a lovely woman, dianne, and a gentle man, colin listened while I cried out my fear and frustration. I will be forever grateful to them. altho, as I write this I realize aza caused my stress. their hopeless handling made a unfortunate occurance chaotic by their incompetence. we were put up in the shanghai hyatt, a luxury hotel that served a great buffet breakfast and aza covered the hotel and meals. I flew home the next day. in summary, my cabin was a sanctuary for me since I couldn't access the spa. breakfast on the balcony is grand. they had taped british tv series on the tv and I am a big fan of british mysteries. ordering from the dining room menu and curling up w/ a br. mystery was a relaxing experience after a long day of touring. some of the tours were worth while and once I got a tour guide w/ a thorough knowledge of shinto and buddism, the primary religions of japan. I was lucky enough to see a bride donning a traditional Shinto wedding gown. she was lovely. we saw a turn-of the century village in Taiwan and I played w/ some friendly, but frisky monkeys. the ship itself is ho-hum. I will cruise occeania (true luxury) any day and Holland America, altho that is a step down, it's a small step. it's not the broken propeller that ruined my sense of aza. I was disappointed from the first day. it is their false advertising and horrific lack of customer care that solidified my opinion of azamara as dishonest marketers who don't deliver on their promises. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We are seasoned cruisers but had never sailed with P&O before; after experiencing the Adonia, we never will again. The problem is not that it is a small ship - we tend to choose those - and the itinerary was grand: the Great Wall of ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers but had never sailed with P&O before; after experiencing the Adonia, we never will again. The problem is not that it is a small ship - we tend to choose those - and the itinerary was grand: the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, Hiroshima - astonishing; the layout of the ship was good and the cabins were better than many. So what was wrong? For us, it was like little more than a faded Victorian sea-side hotel in the off-season: the food was acceptable but old-fashioned, sprouts and carrots served silver-service regardless of what menu option you had chosen; in general, meat was tough and an entire dining room had to send back steaks on one occasion: diners were unable to cut through them. Curries were served almost daily but it was universally acknowledged that they were bland: 'we can't serve real curries; the people wouldn't like it,' staff told.us Only once on the cruise was any tribute paid to the food of the location: Asian night buffet offered sushi and stir fried noodles ... as one would expect, the sushi was chilled - so were the 'hot' noodles dishes. And the dining experience itself was pretentious. We don't mind formality, in fact we choose ships where smart dressing is the norm and formal nights require black tie. But to dress for 'formal' dinner [on four occasions in just over two weeks] and then sit down at fixed tables where some guests were wearing the suggested 'ballgown' [!] and be presented with a menu from which most people chose battered fish and chips with mushy peas, seemed ludicrous. The service was intermittent and occasionally downright rude, [dreadful at breakfast]; the largely Indian staff were mainly extremely pleasant as individuals but casual, ill-trained, mostly unsupervised, seemingly uninterested and poorly motivated. This was hardly surprising as, bar the appearance of three or four unidentified chaps standing chatting at the entrance to the dining room, there was no evidence of anything akin to a maitre d'. In a sense, it was fully observed, but the three-tier dress code was ridiculous: 'ship's casual' [generally after port days] meant anything from clothes you would hesitate to garden in, through simple day-dresses and smart separates, to glittery, sequined gear and sparkly handbags, in short, whatever you had not sent to the outrageously expensive laundry. 'Semi formal' [11 nights] was worse: 'jackets' for men generally meant sports coat worn over open-necked shirt teamed with, on several occasions, bright orange trainers; for ladies, cocktail wear and costume jewellery; a great deal of visible and aging flesh seemed obligatory. The decor was dark and drab, public areas done up with endless swags of fabric, paneled walls hung with non-nondescript, un-themed oil paintings and water colours and, worst of all, teeming with dust-covered plastic plants and artificial flowers. And it was dirty: gigantic mirrors, door-handles, lifts and balustrades were covered in hand-prints, fixed chair covers were grimy, many occasional tables smeared and streaky. Public toilets were often un-cleaned, blocked, and un-checked. There was almost no evidence of attention to hygiene around the ship: hand sanitizers were rare [none at all in the main or speciality restaurants] seldom used and never policed; in the buffet, kitchen staff worked with holes in their plastic gloves and spills on the Conservatory floor were not wiped up until hours later at the end of service. This lack of attention to cleanliness and presentation had perhaps filtered downwards from the senior staff of ship's officers who keenly resembled the cast of Dad's Army in appearance and approach: as well as wearing a disastrously old-fashioned uniform [an attempt to ape Royal Naval Officers of a bygone era?] most wore 'whites' which were yellowed with age and wear, and we could only pity the female staff in their flapping, strained, ankle-length 'skirts', supposed, we assumed, to look like the wide-legged 'sailors' trews' of yesteryear. So what was good about the Adonia? In truth, not much. Administrative procedures, in general, were very smooth and efficient; most information was clear and straightforward Excursions were good but only because of the opportunities they presented; they were expensive, often ill-planned and on two out of four trips, we suffered from having really poor guides, boiling hot coaches and broken p.a. systems. The cabins were fine, the bathrooms newly kitted out and storage adequate though ill-planned. Many cabins, however, flooded; buckets stood along the corridor to catch drips and de-humidifiers ran to dry sodden carpets. Housekeeping was perfunctory: our cabin steward never introduced himself, we rarely saw him and toiletries remained unreplaced. Though a deal of it was mediocre or poor, the entertainment did include some class acts: a world renowned Chinese concert pianist, a fantastic traditional Chinese musician and singer, and a four man vocal group who put on a creditable performance. During sea days, terrific tutorials from the art specialist, Easa Ali, prevented me from throwing myself overboard in despair. The added-cost, speciality restaurants, to which we succumbed with increasing regularity, were excellent both in terms of imaginative food and perfect service, but we were dismayed to find that of the fourteen tables available, three served as the staff canteen on several nights. And just four members of staff made our voyage memorable: two Phillipinos in the Conservatory who served us with a smile and great warmth, a friendly, efficient and charming Indian/ Burmese lady in the Ocean Grill, and an amazing Indian, a section head and head waiter, the only man on the ship who was consistently doing his job to the standards we would have expected, with efficiency, enthusiasm and concern. Other than that, staff wise, the experience was impersonal: when we left the ship and returned there was a mechanically voiced 'Goodbye!' and 'Welcome back!' from a taped message; most staff failed to offer a greeting in the corridors, unless spoken to first and, on the first formal night, having made the effort to dress and queue to greet the captain we were utterly shocked to be informed that 'the captain will not shake hands with you'! Why on earth not? Infection risk? On this ship, you must be joking: use a sanitiser or wear gloves! If the queen can do it .... Undoubtedly, this is a negative review yet we believe that some 70% of passengers will have enjoyed the cruise, indeed have always sailed with P&O and would not dream of sailing with any other line. 'You stick with what you know,' we were told by one of the many fantastically loyal customers. And therein lies the problem: these customers are loyal; they take multiple cruises, they travel the world, they are the niche market to which P&O caters: British standards, British tastes. But what will happen when they go ... and go they will; they are assuredly a dying breed. We had a wonderful cruise: we visited amazing places, saw fantastic sights and met some delightful people ... but we also encountered on board narrowness and staidness, arrogance, unwillingness to try the new, and at times, real intolerance and even racism. So, if that's what P&O wants in its passengers, they have succeeded wonderfully. As for the rest of us? We must find another line where cruising is about liveliness, light-heartedness and joy, about a sense of delight and awe at your experience and an openness of attitude that suits the 21st century. .   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
What a disappointment after all we had heard about HAL and particularly after paying an extra $2,000 for a upgrade and being placed under the lido deck and being woken up at 5.30am every morning by the crew scraping chairs and tables ... Read More
What a disappointment after all we had heard about HAL and particularly after paying an extra $2,000 for a upgrade and being placed under the lido deck and being woken up at 5.30am every morning by the crew scraping chairs and tables around the deck. It is very hard for me to say anything nice about this cruise from the cold food to the weird thumping at the rear of the ship that mysteriously stopped in Ho Chi Min. The whole ship was just badly managed. Unfortunately from day 1 the signs were there ,at lifeboat drill one of the officers made a man pushing his wife in a wheelchair stand in a different line -even when the wheelchair started rolling off down the deck with the woamn still in it all the officer did was put the brake on and still made them stay in different lines ? We went to the service desk and all five people in front of us were there complaining (still day one) We went for dinner that night and ended up on a table with Seven people (we asked for a table for Two) when we ordered all the meals placed in front of us were wrong -then the waiter with the senior waiter worked out the meals weren't even for our table -by this time they had been there 10 minutes -but they just picked them up and delivered them to another table -they must have been stone cold by then (still day one). I could go on and on - with the waiting for shore trips, camera shop not selling batteries (go ask the general shop we're told -general shop -sorry we are stocked out) people being charged on their on board accounts for returning a video a few hours late ($30.00) without being told - they discovered it on the last day. This cruise was purely a money making exercise - which can be expected but not with poor management -food that looked a million dollars and tasted like 20 cents- bland!! Docking in places hours away from the advertised destination - $70.00each for a shuttle to Ho Chi Min city (for one day -we were there for Two) so had we used this ship service both days myself and my wife would have payed $280.00 US dollars just to get a ride into town -similar situations in other ports. Most of this we shrugged off determined to enjoy the holiday we had worked so hard for all yearhowever we could not get past Two things -One the pompous attitude of the Senior officers & the arrogance of the service desk (they walked right past you without even a glance your way like you didn't exist -and the other was the fact that breakfast ,lunch or dinner -the food was served luke warm at best - and I could just go on - but whats the point this will fall on deaf ears just as it did with everyone else at the service desk every day complaining. HAL time you got out of the game ,there are many better cruise lines and ships better value than yours. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our sixth cruise, but the first one on a "6" star ship, and the first on a small ship. Our initial exuberance was immediately impacted by the embarkation process in HK - basically you have to drag your bags through a ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise, but the first one on a "6" star ship, and the first on a small ship. Our initial exuberance was immediately impacted by the embarkation process in HK - basically you have to drag your bags through a shopping mall, very poor signage and little assistance. The disembarkation in Singapore by contrast was excellent. Our first impressions of the cabin were good until we saw that the desk chair was ripped and needed to be replaced immediately, which happened, but its replacement was also in poor condition. The rest of the ship is dated and bland - there is no wow factor on this ship that you might find on newer vessels. The outdoor furniture was worn, the pool towels were brown, and even though there was plenty of space for more loungers, there were non available once the existing ones were taken, even though there was plenty of space. And bizarrely, what I expected to be teak decks looking over the pool, were covered in green artificial turf which retained the water from overnight rain and so anything you put on the ground was immediately wet. For a 6 star ship this was a disappointment. The general level of food was inconsistent. First night was a shocker - I ordered a Laksa from the menu in the main dining room, which, being in Asia I thought would be terrific. I was served a warm broth with rice which had no resemblance to the dish I had ordered. The food in the Italian restaurant was promoted as being the only slow food Italian on the sea. We saw no evidence of any slow food - and when I ordered the Veal ragu I got minced Veal. The level of service, which I imagined would be a quality "European" feel, being an Italian ship, was provided entirely by Filipino and Indian staff, who were not well trained or well dressed. In fact their did not seem to be a spirit on board where the crew were all helping each other and having a bit of fun, which we have seen on other ships. The quality of the wine however was surprisingly good, and we did not need to order from the premium wine list. The entertainment in the bars was very poor - everything dumbed down, with no real interest by the entertainers. The Theatre entertainment was limited to the same six people singing, of whom three seemed to have good voices. Not comparable to other ships we have been on. All in all we could not see where the value was , the service was probably worse than we have had on other ships, the food was average - the bakery and desserts particularly poor. The highlights were our butler and maid who were excellent and provided great service. This line needs a wake up call - looks like they are living in the past and there is far better quality and value elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Surprised at the poor quality of the food and the staff attitude. We are easy to please but the food was boring, tasteless and very disappointing. The buffets were same food every day. Distinct lack of vegetables with many dinner entrees. ... Read More
Surprised at the poor quality of the food and the staff attitude. We are easy to please but the food was boring, tasteless and very disappointing. The buffets were same food every day. Distinct lack of vegetables with many dinner entrees. Repetitious choices. Looked pretty but tasteless. I have never sent food back before but I did on this trip.We were with 14 people- 10 of which we were Elite Captain Club members and all remarked on the decline in the food. Some had been on the ship in October and said this was a real step down in both quality and service. Never have I been on a ship where the crew seemed clueless- asking 2 people working the same job the same question: get 2 different answers contradictory to each other. Called for the room steward and got "sorry they are working right now ( 4 pm in the afternoon) " can you call back later?. Asked the staff person near the Service desk:Where's the gift shop? I think it is on the 5th floor no maybe its the 4th floor. Some days ice in room, some days not. Bed linens had dirt on them and were not changed. Had to ask for more bath room products and they never left any shower gel. Until the outbreak of what they said was Norovirus never saw crew cleaning in any of the common areas. Crew in general was not friendly in the bars and restaurants with the exception of the Olympic and the group that served our table in the Main Dining Room. Fruit flies swirling around the juice dispenser, tables not wipe cleaned in the buffet and bar areas. The ship was suppose to have been updated last year but sure didn't look it. Truly this trip shaped a bad image for me of Celebrity under the leadership of their new CEO. I would not sail this ship again and not sure I would ever sail the line again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Millennium 11-25 April 2013 stateroom 9033 After so many cruises with so many cruise lines it is so easy to "carp" at Celebrity failures. Which would not be altogether fair. So let's start at the top. After the Equinox, ... Read More
Millennium 11-25 April 2013 stateroom 9033 After so many cruises with so many cruise lines it is so easy to "carp" at Celebrity failures. Which would not be altogether fair. So let's start at the top. After the Equinox, Eclipse and Reflection with their first rate reputation it was inevitable that the Millennium (older and smaller) would leave something to be desired. We can only concur with fellow travellers on the Reflection (cruising the Med last October) who.....having sailed on the Millennium before and after "Solticization" ....found the upgrade claim totally bogus "from a passenger viewpoint." Celebrity can claim what it likes "technically" and no doubt full marks would be obtained. However from a passenger view it looked very tired and in need of a lot more care ,especially in the (not so) hidden corners. Doors, balconies, decks to name a few plus a LOT MORE organisation in the Ocean View diner. Certainly a TOTAL absence of "luxury" was surprisingly apparent. That said we did not book the Hong Kong to Shanghai cruise expecting too much. Of far greater concern was the fabulous itinerary via Japan, Korea and China. In this respect and we know, despite considerable difficulty from immigration ( Turn off the whole ship's passengers and crew and not allowed to return until EVERY passport accounted for ???) Through "gritted teeth no doubt" the crew did an extremely good job. The food everywhere was first class.... every day every meal....The BRUNCH was the highlight of all the onboard experiences....and if it wasn't right first time? only moments to correct. Which leads me nicely to the crew. Without exception Celebrity's high standards of service were apparent throughout the ship. To a "man" nothing was too much trouble and all questions/requests were taken care of with a smile (NOT through "gritted teeth" we felt)! A word of warning!? A satisfactory INTERNET connection might be beyond the resources of the boat but there were so many complaints about costs and quality they might have given a free service rather than regard it as "a nice little earner" Our "stateroom" was looked after superbly AND .....considering the age of the ship adequate. Certainly by QE2 standards positively spacious ! Was however difficult to match the wardrobe space with sufficient space to allow for extra clothing including formal wear. We think Celebrity could easily rationalise it's policy to formal nights by cutting them out all together thus allowing more wardrobe space ?????? NOT a policy we would favour but bowing to modern trends perhaps. From here springs our FIRST major complaint. Dining room dress code on non formal nights. Frankly the absence of ANY form of standard was totally obvious and we direct the fault directly to Celebrity. It beggars belief that "smart casual" for dinner whilst dictating no swimwear or bare feet should allow the following as personally witnessed and abhored by many......... Grubby T shirts / shorts from all day use, trust they used the pool to clean up? ...track suits with trainers, pumps, call them what you will .....camouflage trousers and "fatigues" ....these were not isolated events but witnessed in many forms every evening. I should add we were booked into "select dining" A totally different conotation from our expectations. We looked on in horror and did not witness a single refusal of entry to the dining room. The dining staff from "top to bottom" were most apologetic when brought to their attention and we felt they were totally embarrassed by what must be seen a a fatal relaxation of Celebrity standards. Our SECOND major complaint refers to the obviously DELIBERATELY set cold temperatures in the public areas ....but not the staterooms. It was impossible on several nights to enjoy the activities or bars due to uncomfortable low temps. There were complaints (manyfold) by fellow passengers as we grouped in the elevators complaining as to the necessity to shorten the evening to seek the warmth of our cabin. Despite visiting the relations desk more than twice to be told they had not realised the problem (rubbish!) the ship remained cold. The problem was compounded by the fact that NOT A SINGLE crew member when asked would give any opinion as to "are you cold as well"? Many MANY passengers concluded the low temperature was Celebrity policy to reduce the possibility of any virus outbreak. Commendable at one level but deplorable at another. Embarkation should include an easy to read sign "THIS SHIP IS COLD ...YOU WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE " Of course there was the option of taking overcoats into the dining room for after dinner activities ......which we did on 3 occasions ! Overall the cruise remained good value for money. Sadly despite our delight with previous Celebrity cruises and to paraphrase a memorable line from a film " Not only have you lost our friendship ...you have lost our vote" to be automatically number ONE Finally a very bizarre event in the otherwise stunning Olympic Restaurant where we dined for our first night before sailing....and resolved not to return. It is difficult to impart the totally honest nature of the following experience. The restaurant decor, menu, food, presentation and overall attention to detail by the staff was victim of a ridiculous "mind set" when it came to desert. Our table was shared by two others and the desert choice was excellent. I however elected for the cheese board having noted the wonderful ( and brimming over) trolly earlier. I requested biscuits with 3 types of cheese ...Blue, Manchego and Brie. The reader of this review will understandably doubt the accuracy of my description but we have witnesses as to what followed! The Blue and the Manchego would have been lost behind a standard postage stamp ? and about the same thickness. This is NO exaggeration. The Brie compared to a pat of butter ...I do not lie. Feeling the plate had been presented as "tasters" for my approval I resolved to remind the head waiter of a quote from Oliver Twist ...of whom he had knowledge ( full marks) " Please Sir ...I want some more" Whereupon at THIRD time of asking I received another plate EVEN SMALLER THAN BEFORE. Bewildered by what seemed an act of pure "Seppuku" on the part of the Maitre, we departed ...never to return. I deliberately chose cheese again the following night in the main dining room. More than enough for a sandwich the following day Concluding thoughts on Celebrity . The Soltice ships are beyond limits for faultless cruising but with the ever rising competition and oversupply of ships Celebrity have currently lost their cutting edge Fortunately not a situation beyond redemption..... just needs a personal overview of current opinion and NOT rely too heavily on the automaton responses to the "obligitory" review cards .....which I refused to complete. BTW upbeat comment ...Disembarkation had military precision ...best ever. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
I have just returned after being on board from Hong Kong to Bangkok. I will do a full review once I have recovered from the jet lag and have the time. The ship looked very old, sad and worn (I have sailed on a lot of old ships). The funnel ... Read More
I have just returned after being on board from Hong Kong to Bangkok. I will do a full review once I have recovered from the jet lag and have the time. The ship looked very old, sad and worn (I have sailed on a lot of old ships). The funnel belches out lumps of soot, the 'black bottom' being the symbol of a V2A passenger, especially after eating on the Terrace! They have to clean the decks and funnel regularly. Exposed furniture is permanently soot stained. I think that this ship's carbon footprint must resemble the Sasquatch. The decor is either old and dull or industrial looking. We sailed between two typhoons, without any warning from the Captain. This ship is not good in high seas. People who never get seasick were feeling ill as she bobbed about like a cork on the swell. Then the AC broke. Again the Captain ignored it, then started lying to us in spite of knowing full well they they needed a replacement part. They kept telling us that it was being fixed and yes, couldn't you feel it getting better!!? The ship was full of University alumni and VERY experienced travellers, but they treated us like children. Even the free drinks were kept a secret. Offer the passengers free drinks to keep them happy, but do not tell them in case they actually take advantage of the offer. People only heard by word of mouth! On a three week cruise across the equator in very hot and humid conditions, we have no AC for a week and only partial and intermittent AC for another week. It was fully functional by Singapore. Our inside cabin was like an oven. Someone registered 100 degrees F in their cabin. Sleep was fitful and uncomfortable. After waking up, feeling like I was suffocating, I resorted to sleeping on the deck for two nights till they moved us to a slightly larger cabin. These things happen, especially in an old ship, but as a previous poster said, it is how the company handles the situation that either saves or aggravates the situation. V2A failed miserably. Their communication was very poor. They were not honest with us and did not keep us informed. The crew were wonderful in terrible conditions. They must have been finding sleep impossible but still had to work very hard, sweat pouring off them. They even had to continue wearing their double layered formal attire in the evenings. We would have been happy with salads and sandwiches but no, the full menu was produced. The management seemed very hard on the crew, showing little understanding and respect. Working in the kitchens must have been hell! The food was good though. We almost always ate outside, aft of the Terrace. The dining room was too hot and often closed. General organisation was poor, with a lot of miss information and conflicting information. One of the major disappointments was the quality of the tours. I decided on this cruise because I read that the tours were so good, We usually dislike ships' tours and these were no exception. They were often rushed, very repetitive, the guides often had such poor English that they could barely be understood and there were the usual quota of aggravating passengers (loud, late, lost, unable for the activity level, rude, selfish etc). Sometimes there were just too many people in one place. The cherry on the cake came on the last night and was almost laughable. We were invited to dine with the Hotel manager. We replied as requested but still received an afternoon phone call asking if we would be attending. In the evening, we excavated our unused semi formal attire and dressed up for our third venture down to the dining room. We arrived at the specified time and announced our presence, to be met by a blank stare from the Maitre'D, who led us to the empty table (no Hotel manager there to greet his guests). As we stood in the middle of the dining room, feeling quite conspicuous (everyone else was casually dressed), the name tags were examined at both hosted tables, but our names were nowhere to be seen! The Maitre'D then fled to the telephone, leaving us standing there like a couple of spare (well you get the idea!). After a while we slinked off to a corner, but still the M'D was anxiously talking on the phone. Feeling quite uncomfortable, I eventually said that if this was some sort of mix up, I would rather retire gracefully from the situation. We returned to our cabin, changed into casuals and went to the Terrace for our dinner, feeling less than pleased. The Maitre'D did attempt a weak apology and feeble explanation later. We passed the Hotel manager on the way off the ship next day but he said nothing. It was funny in a way, because it was so typical of their lack of organisation. It wasn't all bad though. We saw a lot of places, enjoyed the crew and service in the Terrace. Eating outside as the world passes by, is nice. The food was good. The cabin stewards were good too. I also enjoyed some of the lectures. The pre- and post-cruise arrangements were good and embarkation was smooth. Would we go with them again? NO WAY! Not because of the AC, but because of the way they handled the situation and because of the poor shore excursions, shabby ship, uncomfortable beds, thin walls (noisy neighbours), unpleasant management etc. We were berthed next to the Swan Hellenic, Minerva in Saigon. She is beautiful, like a little Prinsendam. I would certainly like to sail on her. The Aegean Odyssey looked like an old rust bucket in comparison. If you have already booked with V2A, do not worry, the AC is working now (or was) and many people seem to have enjoyed the experience. Do not let me rain on your parade. Oh, I forgot to mention the lifeboats. Ours was a small open, old fashioned type. Judging by the 'bum' marks on the seats, we would have been sitting on top of each other, so I am glad that we were not cast adrift on the South China Sea in that. The tenders did have covers, but on the two occasions that we needed to tender ashore, they had great difficulty in launching them (they gave up on the second occasion and used a shore tender instead). Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Our trip began in Hong Kong after a long flight from Kansas City. We added the extra night at Holland America's hotel of choice which was a great hotel but we were there for a very short time due to travel time that it hardly seemed ... Read More
Our trip began in Hong Kong after a long flight from Kansas City. We added the extra night at Holland America's hotel of choice which was a great hotel but we were there for a very short time due to travel time that it hardly seemed worthwhile. We were at the hotel by midnight and left to go to the ship at noon the next day. Comment about the Zaandam: We think that Holland America and the ship personnel would agree that the ship needs some work to restore and update the ship. A lot of rust, faded carpet in common areas, plumbing issues, safe malfunction, dated decorations, etc. We think that it is scheduled for dry dock in several months... good deal! We loved the size and format of the ship due to it being easy to get around with only 1500 passengers it was not crowded in any of the common areas. The deluxe veranda suite had a awesome veranda. The concierge at the Neptune Lounge could not keep my traveling partner and spouse separate from us so he was constantly referring to me as him and mixing our arrangements. It got more than a little annoying after a awhile. Room Service didn't seem to talk to the concierge very well so our orders for appetizers were mixed up several times. Comments about the Holland America 14 day Asia Explorer itinerary: We enjoyed the itinerary going to Halong Bay in Vietnam, then Sanya, Hanien island China, Nha Trang, Vietnam, My Phu, Vietnam, Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Laem Chabang,(Bangkok), Thailand, Koh Samoi, Thailand, Singapore, Singapore. All of the ports were very interesting with much to see and do. A bit crowded from a Midwesterner's viewpoint but very negotiable. We went on Holland America tours in all of the ports except Saigon, Bangkok, and Singapore. The boat ride and cave in Halong Bay was exceptional. The key sights in Sanya tour was drawm out too long... the tour could have ended after 4 hours instead of the scheduled 7 hours. Nha Trang city tour was great a nice mix of temples, beach, and city tour. Not much to see in Sihanoukville, Cambodia if you are not interested in coconuts, suggest making this a beach day. The elephant village was touristy but very much fun and we wouldn't miss the elephant ride... also a very nice lunch. In the other ports of Saigon, Bangkok, and Singapore we utilized a private guide with a van and driver. This went very well and allowed us to see the sights that we wanted to see at our own pace. The driver usually was able to pick us up at the sight with very little waiting and queuing so familiar to a bus tour. The guide were knowledgeable and spoke good English. The vans were great except for the one in Singapore which was totally unacceptable, due to size and lack of visibility. These tours were arranged by ReadyClickandGo.com. This is a Great Britain company which contracts the guides and vehicle with local companies. This worked OK but I would recommend also talking to the local company representatives to manage the details. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We joined Zaandam in Hong Kong. Departure was delayed by 2 hours because a few Russians on board could not understand English & therefore did not go to immigration clearance. After 2 hours of broadcasts looking for those guest the ... Read More
We joined Zaandam in Hong Kong. Departure was delayed by 2 hours because a few Russians on board could not understand English & therefore did not go to immigration clearance. After 2 hours of broadcasts looking for those guest the officials decided to translate the message in Russian & only then we finally set sail. They knew which room numbers were missing, surely they could have made the broadcasts in Russian earlier. In our stateroom on arrival was a notice warning of a vomiting bug on the ship. The sewerage smell mainly on deck 3 was disgusting. This went on for about 7 days. Complaining from numerous passengers got us no where. My husband ended up with a sinus infection & consulted the Doctor onboard, $95.00 USD later & then another $70.00 USD for 14 antibiotic tables ie $5.00 USD per tablet. Absolute daylight robbery. He ordered room service for dinner one night he was particularly sick & it took over 1 hour to arrive cold. No refrigerators in rooms either. Rubber matting to avoid slipping around the pool was way to short. Numerous falls. One lady even broke her ankle. On the whole the food was very plain & mostly cold as was the coffee. Coffee was really only available at the Lido which is 5 levels up or you could purchase it on one of the lower decks. Air-conditioning was either freezing or hot. Stage shows obviously designed for people over 70. Guest artist were good though. Wait staff & room attendants were great. But we will never sail with Holland America Again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
My wife and I both active seniors were extremely disappointed with the ship and many aspects of the cruise. In our opinion Holland America is no longer a "Premium" line and should cease advertising itself as one! The cruise was ... Read More
My wife and I both active seniors were extremely disappointed with the ship and many aspects of the cruise. In our opinion Holland America is no longer a "Premium" line and should cease advertising itself as one! The cruise was my seventh on HAL and will likely be my last on this line! The ship is in very poor condition, generally dirty, carpets threadbare and badly stained in places. Our stateroom suffered at various time during the voyage from, no heat, no water, no hot water, no toilet, unserviceable DVD player and at times a very bad sewage smell. Bed linen was was worn and at times stained. The whole ship badly needs a refit which apparently is scheduled for October of this year. Our cabin stewards were excellent and made every effort to please and to ensure our comfort. The Indonesian crew members continue to be HAL's best asset. The deck chairs and chez lounges were very dirty and during the whole time aboard the Zaandam I did not anyone cleaning them. The chairs were carefully stacked and secured each night but never cleaned!The food on the ship was at best mediocre. It appears that the food budget continues to be reduced for we sailed last year on the Rotterdam with the same Executive Chef and enjoyed excellent food. Food in the Dining Room was often received cold and the service sometimes good and sometimes poor. I understand that the staff levels had been reduced which might explain the sometimes poor service. The menu was repeated on the second segment of the voyage and became repetitive. The choice of fruit and vegetables was limited, green beans were served night after night! Food handling in the Lido Restaurant should be improved. I saw a number of times under cooked and bloody beef being cut on the same board as chicken and pork and with the same knife. Entertainment was generally of a poor standard in our opinion. I was disappointed to find that there were no educational lectures provided on this cruise, no doubt another cost cutting measure. Too bad really, for we were sailing in an area rich in history and culture. The offered enrichment of "How to decorate your HAL tote bag" and similar was hardly a substitute. The Shore Excursion Department left a lot to be desired. There seemed to be a total lack of organisation and information on the ports visited was lacking in useful detail. The tours we took we found to be overly expensive for what was offered. There was one exception however,the Orchid Sheraton Hotel in Bangkokprovided the best meal of whole cruise! The very limited 'Happy Hour", in one bar, for one hour, at between 4.00 pm and 5.00 pm now charges one dollar for the second drink, nothing appears to be sacred at HAL! Towards to end of the cruise the Captain wrote a letter to each passenger advising that an extra charge of $11.31 would be added to the bill to offset "revisions in government fees and taxes". Front Office staff appeared either unable or unwilling to explain which government increased their charges or how the charge was calculated. Overall, an interesting itinerary but a disappointing cruise experience. I think the Zaandam should be avoided, at least until the refit is completed. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We have enjoyed cruising with Cunard and Princess and we were looking forward to the Zaandam for the China/Korea cruise out of Hong Kong. The ship and the cabin was extremely cold. Forget the high quality bedding it is just hype. We ... Read More
We have enjoyed cruising with Cunard and Princess and we were looking forward to the Zaandam for the China/Korea cruise out of Hong Kong. The ship and the cabin was extremely cold. Forget the high quality bedding it is just hype. We borrowed blankets from the pool deck. The cabin is very dated and the toilet was smelling. This ship is well past its prime according to other Holland America cruisers. Having stated that the ships crew were friendly and the food was fine. Comparable to Princess and Cunard. The Pinnacle restaurant is extra cost but worth it once per cruise. In addition the various workshops for sea days were well presented. The Culinary Arts was well received and the Digital Photography workshops were well presented. Others enjoyed other programs The Library is very dated and the magazines offered are rejects from your local dentists office. The shows were very mixed is both quality and in style. Some of the small music groups in the bars were excellent. One of the disappointing features was the person who presented the shore orientation programs. It went like this " My old Computer is acting up, Here are some vague facts" "There is nothing at this port at Jeju "South Korea" In fact most staff and cruisers found it quite delightful and it was easy to walk in into town. There were both weather and immigration issues on this cruise and the captain gave consistently poor information. We were granted "mariners status" although we have not cruised with this line before. The reason I mention it is that we were invited to the Captains lunch. This was a major PR disaster. A few words then run away!!! He had been getting criticism for his poor communication before. If Holland America is asking people to attend this thing then surely the captain and first officer should circulate and talk to the guests. Finally, I will be looking at other cruise lines and please don't use this ship for Alaska you will freeze! Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Our first cruise on Seabourn we chose it because of the "Best small cruise line in the world" rating, and we paid a price that was considerably higher than other cruise lines to get top quality. The ship was old, shabby, and ... Read More
Our first cruise on Seabourn we chose it because of the "Best small cruise line in the world" rating, and we paid a price that was considerably higher than other cruise lines to get top quality. The ship was old, shabby, and sorely lacking in amenities. The rooms were nice, linens on the bed fine, but towels, thin and small. Shabby again. We did not get bathrobes until we asked three times, and we were promise fruit and juice daily, we got juice, but the fruit was not replaced after the first day, and the utensils disappeared and there were no plates or napkins, just bad service. The room service is very quick - probably the best food on the ship, but a very limited menu. They advertise that you can choose where to eat, but the Cafe and outdoor areas had to be reserved, and they were reserved 100% by one group of 20 ppl who called daily on the dot. I finally pitched a fit because we were told each and every day we could not eat in either space and we did get ONE meal in the gourmet restaurant. ONE out of 12 days. It was unacceptable all around and there were other guests who were told no the entire trip while some guests ate there every day. Bad service and bad form for the cruise line. I will not book with them again, and told them, did not even get a reply from the cruise line. We will be going back to Crystal where the service is what we expect Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
My family took a cruise on the MV Discovery "Grand Asia and Australia", January 4 to February 10, 2012. To cut to the chase. We would not take this ship, nor any Discovery Cruise again, and here is why: 1. This really is a 2 ... Read More
My family took a cruise on the MV Discovery "Grand Asia and Australia", January 4 to February 10, 2012. To cut to the chase. We would not take this ship, nor any Discovery Cruise again, and here is why: 1. This really is a 2 star ship; it was the original Love Boat, and does show its age. It is very tired!! From not having any cold water in the sinks, to having sporadic hot water in the shower, to having no hot water for three days, to having minimal A/C in the hot climates, to sulfer smell coming from the toilet, to a very rocky ship, and other issues. 2. The entertainment was lacking. From poor lectures, to high school entertainment at night, to 40 year old movies, to sing- alongs as evening entertainment, to dead evenings, there is basically nothing to do on this ship. A word to the wise: bring your own entertainment!! 3. The ship makes no modifications of meal times for those passengers doing shore excursions and returning late; meals are at 6:30 (first seating) or 8:30 (second seating); there is no Lido buffet or open dining for anyone outside of the set hours. There is no alternative Lido buffet or other dining choice other than the dining room, or reservations at the Yacht Club -- which is the area where the Lido breakfast/lunch is served. Reservations at the Yacht Club are limited to twice during each segment of the cruise. 4. In the only dining room on this ship, if you are not lucky enough to get a table for four or six or eight, you will be assigned to bench seating (like high school picnics), where you are crammed together so tight that one rubs elbows with your neighbor; there is no personal space. 5. Tipping is automatically added to your account, but one can request it to be removed so that one can tip independently. 6. During this voyage, we all were advised several times both in the daily program and over the public address system to conserve water by taking shorter showers and flushing less frequently, as the ship's water reserves were at a low ebb; and this was only after two days out of port. Apparently this is a common occurrence for this ship. 7. PA announcements are constant; several times a day to remind the passengers of the daily activities; this gets very annoying and disruptive. 8. In Sandaken, Indonesia we were originally scheduled to depart at 6PM, but that was changed to 1PM, so we all were on board as requested; it turned out that the ship did not have an updated chart (the captain announced that his charts for this area were from 1958) so the ship left the docks and anchored in the harbor until 10:30PM, so we could depart at high tide. A total waste of valuable port time! 9. We understand that this ship can not enter United States waters per the CDC; there are health issues in the kitchen that do not pass muster. They were heavily fined the last time they stopped in the USA, and the ship was almost impounded; so instead of fixing the health issues, Discovery Cruise Company choice to not berth in American waters. 10. Room service is good, but limited to sandwiches, fruit, beverage, and snacks. You may not get a full lunch or dinner from room service. 11. The service throughout the ship is excellent; we could not have asked for more. 12. The food quality is similar to Princess Cruise Lines; not fabulous, but more than adequate. 13. We can not comment on the shore excursions as we did not use them; we were independent in each port, but the comments were that they were very overpriced and not worth the money. In summation: as I said, we would not use this company again as there are too many other cruise lines that do a better job, but they did visit the ports that we wanted, so we sucked it up. I do understand that the Discovery Cruises has an 80% return rate for the Brits, so for that crowd, it works well. But for the American market, this would not go over well. Community Manager's Note: 'This review was written when the ship sailed for Voyages of Discovery. As of February 2013, it is now sailing under the Cruises & Maritime banner" Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We joined Sun Princess in Hong Kong to visit Japanese ports and the South Pacific. Due to the Tsumani we realised that the Japan sector would be compromised and expected Sun Princess to inform us of alternate arrangements. They did this ... Read More
We joined Sun Princess in Hong Kong to visit Japanese ports and the South Pacific. Due to the Tsumani we realised that the Japan sector would be compromised and expected Sun Princess to inform us of alternate arrangements. They did this but only after we had boarded and then had few other options but to continue on the cruise.We found the general atmosphere on the ship to be one of discontent and disinterest. The ship itself is getting old and tired and badly in need of maintenance. We experienced lack of hot water on several days and no water at all on one. T.V. channels were also out of service on several days. A main generator failure rounded things off nicely.The entertainment was tired and was laughingly referred to as retirement village fare by many passengers. Upon disembarking we filled in our cruise reports and received a standardised letter from Princess saying that they too shared our disappointment at the cruise and hoped that we would enjoy further cruises with them.I dont think so. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Legend of the Seas September 17th Cruise - Hong Kong to Beijing First let me say that I view cruises on the basis of value for money. If I pay a lot for a Cruise I tend to expect a lot and if I pay little for a cruise my expectations ... Read More
Legend of the Seas September 17th Cruise - Hong Kong to Beijing First let me say that I view cruises on the basis of value for money. If I pay a lot for a Cruise I tend to expect a lot and if I pay little for a cruise my expectations are lower. This is the only way to view satisfaction now that the base price for many cruises is lower than it was 4 or 5 years ago. It is easy to understand why the Cruise lines "nickel and dime you to death" on cruises because it is those "extra's" which provide the profit. Embarkation on this cruise in Hong Kong was relatively easy. I arrived at the Port at 10.30am and by 11.15am or so we were checking in. Staff were not particularly fast and seemed to be somewhat inexperienced but never-the- less the queue I was in for Diamond class passengers got us on board by 11.45am. I always cringe when they take away my passport - especially as most Government's warn you never to let your passport out of your sight. Given that they gave it back to me 2 days later when we left Hong Kong to go through Immigrations/Customs I am at a loss to understand the purpose of keeping it at check-in. All this did was have us line up to pick up our passports only to pass through Immigration on departing and hand them back in to the cruise line again. The Legend of the Seas is an older ship and is generally well maintained although she is showing her age and for the second time on this ship there were two or three times when there was a definite smell of sewage on decks 2 and 3. The ship is in need of upgrading to LCD TV's with access to your account and shower cubicles with doors so that you don't have to mop the bathroom floor every time you have a shower. Cabins on the lower decks at least did not have refrigerators, which I missed. If you cruise on this ship dont buy the internet packages or try to use internet on board ship. Most of the time it didnt work and when it did it was so slow that the actual cost was something in the region of $2 per minute. It was to say the least a very frustrating experience. Cabins Nothing wrong with cabins except for the aforementioned lack of shower doors and refrigerators and TV's that did more than take up space. Beds were comfortable and there was sufficient space for suitcases under the beds and enough wardrobe/drawer space for the average traveler. The cabin steward kept the room clean and left ice BUT while I left the "make up my room" card in the door rarely was it made up by the time I returned from my morning walk and breakfast. On previous ships this was nearly always the case. In fact I never saw cabin stewards until well after 9.30 am so maybe they start later! Food Whatever happened to the multiple-choice menu and the special "lobster dinner" on formal night? The menu had about 5 starter choices and only 3 main course choices each night. While there was the usual "fish, steak, pasta" alternative available every night the food was at best average. While the food was ok there wasnt much imagination. As I like to eat well and great food is a big part of my vacation I really missed the specialty Restaurants available on the larger ships and I don't mind paying the extra for superb food. The food in the Buffet Restaurant was ok with reasonably good selection and it was hot and fresh most of the time. Finding a seat however was quite another thing. Service Service throughout the ship was very good. It seems to me however that rather than make staff "terrified" of a bad review that senior management can accomplish the same level of service in a much more positive manner. I noted that some supervisors were positively rude to their staff and at times in front of guests. The lounge for Diamond Guests where free wine and soft drinks are served in the evening was in the Sky Lounge and as this lounge became more popular with other passengers the service level diminished. I had to bring this to the attention of the Supervisor and made suggestions of how to remedy the situation. It did get better with additional staff added after my complaint. Disembarkation Leaving the ship was quite an experience. Local Customs and Immigration Officials at the Port were slow (if dedicated) and too few. Given that all passengers had been through Chinese customs in Shanghai the need for such scrutiny was not apparent but the whole world has gone overboard with security these days so you cant blame the ship. Everyone was about 60 minutes behind the posted departure time. I was taking the ship's transfer from the Port to Beijing and dropped my luggage off at a large truck and boarded Bus #1 for the airport. There were 3 buses. As bus #1 left the Port they were still loading the luggage into the truck and it became apparent to everyone but those in charge that if buses left 30/40 minutes before the luggage that it would not be waiting for us at the airport as we were being told. Low and behold after all three buses arrived at the airport (the last bus arrived almost 50 minutes after the first bus) the luggage had still not arrived. Finally, almost 90 minutes after we arrived at the airport the luggage turned up and although some people missed their flights, luckily I managed to get mine ok. Solution- half fill the buses with passengers and load the passenger's luggage on the same bus OR have a separate van for each bus and let them leave at the same time. Summary Most people on the cruise paid little more than $1500 each for a 13 night cruise from Hong Kong to Beijing. That works out at only a little more than $100 per day and on that basis this cruise was good value for money. I traveled single and after discounts paid about $2500 so it was a little more expensive for me but still all in all reasonable value for money. Having said that I think I want a little more selection and amenities and hence in future I will likely pick a larger ship with a few more modern facilities and optional restaurants. As for the Ports of call - GREAT. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
It has taken me some time before deciding to write this review because I wanted to think long and hard about my experience and try and be as fair as possible. We booked a Grand Suite on Legend of the Seas some 10 months in advance and ... Read More
It has taken me some time before deciding to write this review because I wanted to think long and hard about my experience and try and be as fair as possible. We booked a Grand Suite on Legend of the Seas some 10 months in advance and were so looking forward to it. Our previous cruises had been Balcony and AD suite classes on NCL/Starcruises ships with the service in the suites being exceptional so we were really looking forward to 6 nights of being pampered. We made the discussion not to join the ship early and had lunch in Hong Kong and wandered down to the ship after 3pm. Having been to Hong Kong on numerous occasions we knew where Ocean Terminal was and had no problem locating it and were met at the front door by staff who tagged and took our baggage to the ship. We got to check in and there would have been 100 people waiting to get served and the same amount waiting to go through customs. We were asked for our set sail documents and directed to a counter where we picked up our sea passes. We were then directed to the rear of the customs line and had approximately a 30 minute wait to get on the ship. This was very different to Star Cruises when cruising in a suite, who sat us down with a drink and did all the running around for us, and we had our own private desk for customs. After customs we walked onboard the ship and were directed to the Atrium and that was it. No further staff, no welcome drink, no directions, no nothing. We decided to search out our cabin and found it easily having study deck plans long before getting onboard, our baggage had not arrived so we decided to walk around the ship. To cut a long story short we found the standard cruise ship amenities with most people eating and drinking and swimming in the pool. We returned to our cabin at around 5pm to find our bags and unpacked. The phone rang with a person at the other end asking what time we wanted dinner. We had elected MTD and said we had no idea when we would want to eat that's why we chose MTD. The caller stated he would be down directly to see us. The knock at the door produced a crewman who had at best poor English who then went on to explain to us that MTD means that I tell them when I will be dining for the whole cruise. Now my wife and I are very casual when on holidays, our lives are so rigid in our working life we just wish to do what we want on holidays, unfortunately this did not fit with RCCL idea of MTD. We booked a table for 8:30 on the formal night and the same time on the last night and left the rest. We wanted to book for 9pm but were told this was too late. The crewman then proceeded to tell us about the cabin explaining that there are a few faults such as a permanently flowing shower but you can't hear it when the door is closed. He also laughed when telling me I would have to duck to get into the shower because of my 190cm height. He also told us to take care on the balcony due to a broken pane of glass that had not been fixed. The cabin struck us as old and tired with a huge balcony that was under utilised with just two chairs and a small round rickety table that you could not fit breakfast on. I must say that after our first 4 hours on the ship we knew that the cruise would be a lot different to previous ones. The evening was spent investigating all the entertainment venues and enjoying the sail away through one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. We watch the 8pm light show from the upper deck but unfortunately a lot of others missed it because they didn't know it was on. Had a light snack at the Windjammer and went to bed around midnight. We were up too late for breakfast in the dining room we found out and went back to the Windjammer which was packed full so we decide to get some odds and ends and go back to the cabin and eat on the balcony. Entertainment during the sea day was normal, trivia, Asian arts and crafts, Putt Putt competitions; the rock wall was interesting, two good pools and lazing in the sun. We found out all about the formal night from other passengers and went to get ready at around 7pm. Arriving in one of the formal lounges for pre dinner drinks it seem like most of the ship was there. A drop of champagne, a speech from the Captain with the mandatory officer introduction and then we were off to dinner. We arrived at the upper level to be told there would be a delay, the time 8:30pm, the time we were asked to be there. I accepted this, it was formal night and they are obviously busy. We watched as other passangers arrived and proceeded to be, in my opinion, rude to the staff about the wait. Bored with this sort of behaviour we informed the staff member that we would be in the bar and he could find us there when our table was ready. At 8:55 a staff member came up to us and said, "follow me". With a raise of the eyebroughs we grabbed our drinks and were led to our table. Service was great at the table, food good but unfortunately you have to eat to a schedule and because we were so late we were rushed through our meal in our opinion. The ports were not why we were on the ship, we had been to them before, we were there to be pampered and laze away the days unfortunately by day 3 we knew that it was not going to be what we hoped for. Over the next 3 days we attended 2 of the shows that were in short terrible. I will not get up and walk out on an entertainer because I believe that this is rude, but I can say that the two nights we went, many many people did. The casino was obviously doing something wrong being very slow every time I passed through and in Asia that's not normal. Disembarkation was disappointing because we felt that we were "kicked off" the ship. We were informed the night before to meet at 9am so that we could be first off the ship. This was the last thing we wanted to do, we were not interested in being first we just wanted a lazy breakfast and to get off around 11am at the earliest if possible. This we were told was not possible and on arrival at the meeting place at approximately 8:50 we were told we were late and whisked off the ship to the luggage area. This was our first experience with RCCL and was something my wife and I were looking forward to after doing so much research. We were well aware that the ship was older than most in the fleet but our research had told us it was well run and well maintained, in fact during the cruise, the Captain announce that the ship had won an award within RCCL that made it Ship of the Year. I remember my wife looking at me and saying "This is the best they have?" We came off the ship with a feeling of disappointment and that of being let down. Maybe our expectations were too high, maybe we expected too much, either way our first RCCL experience did not match in anyway our previous experiences with NCL/Starcruises. RCCL are not new to Asia, they have been here with the same ship for many years so they should know there way around by now. While my experience will not stop me from ever booking a RCCL ship again it will be awhile before we do. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
As regular cruisers we chose our first P & O cruise for its exciting itinerary. Hong Kong to Dubai on a leg of the Arcadia World Cruise. The itinerary did not disappoint and there were some good features on the Arcadia, tea and ... Read More
As regular cruisers we chose our first P & O cruise for its exciting itinerary. Hong Kong to Dubai on a leg of the Arcadia World Cruise. The itinerary did not disappoint and there were some good features on the Arcadia, tea and coffee facilities in the good sized balcony cabin, which you do not get on many American Boats, good headline acts in the theatre, and our evening waiters were efficient. The problem was the standard of food which they were given to serve. The menu was filled with fancy descriptions but what was produced was reminiscent of school dinners. Universally sloppy the only thing with texture was the steaks which were as tough as old boots. A piece of salmon, one scallop and one prawn does not make for a gala night seafood grill, vegetables were either overcooked or stuck together. Breakfast in the buffet offeredplenty of 'English' fare but bacon and black puddings were swimming in grease and the one and only omelette station kept breaking down. We tried the main dining room for breakfast and found slow service and food not cooked to order, i.e. I asked for dry scrambled eggs and after a full 40 minutes got slop! To top it all the lack of finesse was astounding. We drink decaffeinated coffee and the best on offer in the main dining room was a sachet opened and poured into a cup in front of us then topped us with hot water. We tried, in some desperation, to get a decent coffee by paying for it in the coffee shop only to spot the staff putting the same sachets in to the cup, topping it up with frothy milk and charging us for a cappuccino. On complaining we were told 'everyone knows that P & O don't carry decaf coffee' There was a prevalent attitude of P & O can do no wrong or, if there was an obvious problem, 'It isn't my job'. This was particularly prevalent on the embarkation of tours, which were totally disorganised. Being a leg of the World Cruise we found that many of the passengers were very elderly and the atmosphere on board was almost depressing, with little activity in any of the evening venues other than the theatre. Musicians were playing but with next to no audience they looked board to tears, we fancied going to the disco on Abba night but were too embarrassed to dance as we were the only ones there. We felt quite sorry for these entertainers and were not surprised to meet passengers who said that they were ready for going home. We also met P & O die hards who said that Arcadia was the worst ship in the fleet. It was not all bad, but when the food is poor then the overall enjoyment of the holiday is compromised. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Chose this trip because of the itinerary - great places to visit in the Far East. We chose an inside cabin which was absolutely fine - one of the most comfortable I have had on a cruise. The food was generally good but that is about where ... Read More
Chose this trip because of the itinerary - great places to visit in the Far East. We chose an inside cabin which was absolutely fine - one of the most comfortable I have had on a cruise. The food was generally good but that is about where the positives end. Costa charge 6 euros per person a day service charge - not really sure what this covers certainly don't feel we got £168's worth of service. Over and above this is the 15% service charge on drinks. Drinks are so overpriced it is untrue - £2.60 for a soft drink and £7 for something stronger - we made do with a happy hour cocktail each day. The on board drinking water is desalinated and tastes disgusting - rather than pay their excessive prices for mineral water we used lots of lemon to disguise the taste - even the tea/coffee/juices were made with this awful water. The waiters told us that they have to buy mineral water at the same price as guests! They are also reliant on getting 'excellent' in reviews in order to get time off - can't imagine that they get anything from the service charge we had to pay. We docked at container/oil ports at virtually every destination even places where we know there are cruise terminals. Costa charge £6 - 7 per person to use the shuttle bus and if you don't take the over priced tours provide little or no information about the place you are visiting. Customer service is not a word they understand and the excursion desk is only open to sell trips not provide information or support. The tap water is brown as mentioned by several people before me - one day black water spluttered out of the tap. On a day when the sea was rough and people were ill 50% of the toilets were out of order for around 5 hours. We were not directly affected but we knew of several people who had trouble with leaks in their rooms - one man moved cabin four times, other people had to have their rooms dried out - at times there were buckets on the stairs collecting water as it dripped through the decks. The ship (or ferry as we came to call it) looked tired and old - as did many of the 'entertainers'. There was a French juggler who couldn't juggle and a tenor who just murdered songs - a couple of acts were watchable but the general standard was low. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Calling at Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and China We cruised with Costa previously (Costa Mediterranea) and enjoyed it very much so when we decided on this cruise our obvious choice was Costa. The ship for ... Read More
Calling at Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and China We cruised with Costa previously (Costa Mediterranea) and enjoyed it very much so when we decided on this cruise our obvious choice was Costa. The ship for this route was Classica. We flew to Hong Kong, transfers and overnight hotel stay was fine. We were picked up from our hotel and taken to the ship and expected to go on board without much delay as we had already checked in on line, which Costa encourages. We arrived at the ship to be told we had to join a very long queue and that there were no facilities to fast track people who had already checked in. We were not the only ones in this situation. We queued for over two hours in the scorching heat, lucky for us it was not raining, and the whole system was a shambles. We eventually got on board and were a little taken aback at how basic the entrance was as Mediterranea has such a grand atrium but we though it could only get better. Costa claim to have larger cabins on this ship but we soon realized that to make the cabin larger we had less wardrobe space. The bathroom was very sparse; we had to ask for toilet paper, as there was less than half a roll. The shower was very small and each time you used it the water went all over the floor. There was a kettle, tea and sugar but no coffee or milk/cream so we asked for coffee and milk; we received two days' supply of coffee but no milk. We went to reception and enquired about this and were told that they do not supply milk in the cabins and if we wanted to have coffee we had to use the bar service at a cost. We decided to go into the self service restaurant to get the coffee we needed but still no milk. On the second week, we received three days' supply of milk but no coffee. On the first day, we had a jug with ice but during the fourteen days cruise this was only refilled twice. The food in the self-service restaurant was of good quality and quantity but there were not enough tables at peak times. The dining room in the evenings was a shambles; it became apparent there was some problem between the kitchen and the waiters. We were seated at a table for eight and even though our orders were taken at the same time, the food was brought at different times. Some of us were still waiting for our second courses whilst others were on their last course. The food was always luke- warm and the soup was very often slopped over the side of the bowl. The toilets outside the restaurant were very poorly maintained. On numerous occasions, there was no toilet paper and no hand towels and the floors were wet. The quality of entertainment was poor and only seemed to be in one bar, Piazza Navone and there were long periods without anything. There was a smoking and a non-smoking section in the bars but some evenings you could smell the smoke all over the ship and as a non-smoker, this was quite repulsive. The staff were very nice, friendly and polite but they all expressed concern about the amount of work they had to cover. The excursions were of very high quality and we really enjoyed all of them. COSTA CLASSICA is one ship you will not see me on again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Costa Classica: Treasures of the Far East cruise We have just returned from this cruise (3 to 17 January 2010) and here are our observations. We booked through Tropical Sky, who arranged flights non-stop Heathrow to Hong Kong. Other ... Read More
Costa Classica: Treasures of the Far East cruise We have just returned from this cruise (3 to 17 January 2010) and here are our observations. We booked through Tropical Sky, who arranged flights non-stop Heathrow to Hong Kong. Other people we spoke to booked direct with Costa or through other agents and some of the routings sounded much more difficult. For example, one couple were booked on Emirates via Bangkok and a change of plane in Dubai. A direct flight (about 12 hours) was long enough for us. The check in procedure was pretty painless by cruise standards. The check in desks are situated in Harbour City, a large modern shopping mall. First impressions of the ship were slightly more positive than some of the reviews we had read might have suggested. It has obviously been recently refurbished, is in a good state of decoration throughout, including our cabin, and everything is constantly being cleaned and polished. The cabin was more spacious than many. One reviewer we read complained that common parts of the ship were not carpeted: we thought that unfair. The only uncarpeted areas were the lobbies and staircases, which were marble. This is perhaps Italian style as compared to American ideas of luxury. It is right to say that the crew were cheerful and helpful. We had no language difficulties, there was always someone who spoke fluent English to help us. When we had a couple of minor maintenance issues with our cabin these were resolved very speedily and without difficulty. Unfortunately as the cruise progressed we became steadily less enamoured of the ship. It is 18 or 19 years old, and is in something of a time warp, delivering services as they were expected at the time she was built. There is little actually wrong with the ship, but no wow factor of the type modern cruisers have perhaps come to expect, and various niggling factors. One issue for us (and other passengers to whom we spoke) is that this is definitely not a no-smoking ship. All bars had smoking and no-smoking areas, but of course in the enclosed environment of a ship that meant that all areas were smoky. Likewise, the decks had smoking areas but people felt free to smoke wherever they wished. It is not a dressy ship, which many may like. For the gala evenings, a few people brought dinner suits, a few more brought business suits. But the person who arrived in front of us for dinner on a gala night in shorts and a tee shirt was not turned away. Although we persevered with the expected dress, we sympathised with the tee shirt wearer, as the air conditioning in the restaurant is not up to the job. In fact at dinner it was rather like a sauna. Food in the restaurant was patchy. There were some very satisfactory dishes but many that were not and the common view was that lamb was to be avoided as too stringy to eat. Service was willing but variable and unlike other ships the waiters never seemed to learn passengers' preferences. On a couple of nights very loud music was played accompanied e.g. by a (talented) waiter singing "O Sole Mio". Some people liked this. To us, it was a bit like a holiday camp. The pizza restaurant is in fact the ability in one bar to order pizzas during dinner time, which appear from behind the bar. So there is no theatre of pizza making, and no possibility of a pizza at lunchtime. The food in the self service is o.k. but the indoors space is limited and noisy. There is however a reasonable open deck area, often supplemented by a barbecue. The gym is o.k., with the usual weight machines and cycles and treadmills, but there is no rower, no step machine and no ski machine. There are the usual nightly shows for those who like that sort of thing (one of us, not the other!). The seats in the theatre are particularly uncomfortable. The shows were of average quality. The swimming pools are particularly small and one was closed for part of the trip as it sprung a leak (flooding a staircase). It is very obvious that Costa have pushed the headline price down as low as they can, and are trying to make up for it on extras. In all resorts, for those not taking excursions they pushed their shuttle buses from the ship into town. Usually these were 6 or 7 Euros but in Brunei it was 31. The "cultural adviser" who gave talks about each place we were to visit pitched his talk to persuade us to take trips, and was very reluctant to answer any questions. At times he was at best misleading, for example telling us that in Brunei the population are so rich there are only 23 taxis in the whole country, so that relying on a taxi for a private trip is unwise: in point of fact there must have been more than that number waiting at the port when we disembarked some time after the majority of other passengers. Excursions were expensive but well organised. The ship is not bad but it is not good either and certainly one of the poorest we have travelled on. But in contrast the places we visited were fantastic. This is a cruise to take for the destinations, not for the cruise; or to put it another way, on Costa Classica it is better to arrive than to travel. Manilla is an incredible bustling cacophony of all human life. We just took the shuttle to the shopping centre and then walked a short distance around town. It was a real eye opener. At Kota Kinabalu we took the excursion to the mountain foothills and walked in the botanical gardens, seeing wonderful plant life including many insect eaters and 150 varieties of orchid. Highly recommended trip. We made a hash of things in Brunei, resisting paying the fee for the shuttle and just walking in the port area. Don't do this! Nothing to see. Singapore may need little introduction. Avoid the ship excursion, go into town and take an open top double deck bus for a fraction of the price. We rather resented that the Costa Allegro was allowed to dock at the purpose built cruise centre in the middle of town, whereas we had to dock in a huge industrial docks and then pay for a shuttle to the cruise centre. Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) was another fantastic destination. We took the excursion to the Cu Chi tunnels (Viet Cong tunnel system) which was very interesting indeed, and good fun to take the option (at $15 for 10 bullets) to fire an M16 rifle. Da Nang had amazing bargains. No need for an excursion, hire a taxi for a fraction of the price to the same destinations. Sanya, we walked around off the beaten track and found very interesting. Others who went to the hot tubs were very favourable about their excursion. And finally Hong Kong is an easy experience, including the Star Ferry, funicular to the peak and the inevitable shopping. In summary: a great cruise for the destinations, not one to go on if the ship is critical to your enjoyment. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Following Doug's heart bypass surgery at the beginning of the year, we both needed a good holiday. We had never cruised before so decided on a cruise to Canada and Alaska in June 09. However, due to a lack of interest, that cruise was ... Read More
Following Doug's heart bypass surgery at the beginning of the year, we both needed a good holiday. We had never cruised before so decided on a cruise to Canada and Alaska in June 09. However, due to a lack of interest, that cruise was cancelled. Then one day a brochure arrived through door advertising a Costa Cruise to the Far East which outlined a fabulous itinery for October 09. By this time, we really needed a good holiday to recharge our batteries. The problems started with the Costa web site when we tried to book excursions and check in on line. What an user unfriendly site. However we managed but needeed to make numerous phone calls to sort booking problems out. On line check in was a waste of time anyway. We still had to stand in endless queues to check in at the port. It took an age. We had spent 2 fabulous nights and 3 days in Hong Kong with a smashing guide named Jain who really kept us entertained with jokes, anecdotes and much information about Hong Kong Once on board the Classica, the nightmare started and continued throughout the cruise. We were allocated a cabin on Deck 4 after paying £900.00 for an upgrade to get an outside cabin with a port hole. The cabin was dirty, the toilet seat was loose, the bathroom door didn't close and lock and the wardrobe doors banged constantly and the cabin was so noisy, it almost drove us out of our minds. Each time we arrived at a port, we heard very loud banging but was unable to identify the source. We explained the problem to our English speaking staff member who said it could be the air conditioning and the ceiling in the cabin would have to be taken down to remedy the problem. But, nothing was done. Then later that first week, we were rudely awakened by a continous banging at 4 am. By 7.30, we were going crazy. The problem was brought to the attention of the English speaking staff member once again and eventually we were allocated another cabin on Deck 6. We asked for help in moving our luggage to our new cabin and had a good laugh when a man arrived with an empty tray saying he was ready to deliver something to our new cabin. this was another example of poor communication and total incompetence. Our first stop was Manila. The guide on the organised excursion can only be described as a bigot who was blatantly anti American, pro Marcos and believed that life would have been better if the Japanese had won the war in the far east. Our tours of Borneo and Brunei were better and more informative. Our next port of call was Singapore which was to me to be, the highlight of the whole cruise. I was really looking forward to visiting Raffles and anticipated having afternoon tea there. We got to see the Raffles Hotel from the coach which stopped approx 200 yards from the front door and moved on within 2 minutes by our guide. What a let down. To make matters worse, we only had 40 minutes shopping time in the port. The guide on that excursion was uncaring and unsympathetic to our problems of exchanging or obtaining currency, preferring to spend time on his mobile phone. From Singapore, we cruised up to Ho Chi Mihn City and encountered the Typhoon which had devastated Manila. We then continued on to Da Nang. Then up to Sanya in China before heading once again to Hong Kong. There was no Bureau de Change on board our ship and we were left to sort out our own currency exchange problems. Classica staff were useless in problem solving not only with currency problems but everything. To go ashore was like an Alice in Wonderland adventure. It was a marathon paper chase from one deck to another. More than a third of the passengers were British but the staff's command of understanding English was appalling. This was obvious in the information sheets published daily. The information was very confusing at times especially when it was time to disembark. Staff were worse than useless at times unless they were taking your money, then they understood perfectly. The food on board was generally good and the waiters were very efficient and attentive, always willing to go the extra mile to please cruisers. The drinks, however, were extortionate. A pint of beer was close to £10 and a bottle of poor wine cost approx £20. The only stress free periods for us were the days spent in Hong Kong. Most of the evening shows were very amateur and presented on a poorly lit stage. The dancers, in our opinion were like cart horses who couldn't keep time with each other. Our first cruise will probably be our last. The cruise was presented as a five star rated cruise but in fact was only barely a 2 star. Discussion with other passengers revealed like minded thoughts and similar complaints to our own.We will certainly not be sailing with Costa Cruises again nor will we be recommending them to anyone. We need a holiday to get over that experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Background We are in our 40's and this was our 5th cruise, but first with Costa. We live in Hong Kong and were seeking to escape Chinese New Year, however we failed in this endeavor as it followed us, along with what felt like half ... Read More
Background We are in our 40's and this was our 5th cruise, but first with Costa. We live in Hong Kong and were seeking to escape Chinese New Year, however we failed in this endeavor as it followed us, along with what felt like half the citizens of China, onto the boat....We did not have very high expectations based on previous reviews, but this was worse than we expected. However, the ports of call were terrific - pity about the rest. As we live in HK we had no flights nor hotels etc and cannot comment on this aspect. Embarkation Short queues but refused to allow us back into Hong Kong after embarkation. Apparently because there were "a lot of PRC residents coming on the cruise and they are not allowed back into HK". This was of course incredibly irritating because we arrived at the ship around 2pm for a 7pm sailing, expecting to be able to eat lunch, check out the cabin and then go back ashore for a spot of shopping and sightseeing. However this was not allowed - either shop (with all our hand luggage) before you board or not at all! Our cruise tickets did not even specify the address on them - which meant that we could not direct our taxi to the port and, given that there are over 20 ports/docks/marinas in Hong Kong were lucky even to get close (we had to walk the final km). Quite ridiculous. Languages This cruise took place over Chinese New Year. Unbeknown to us, it was marketed in the China market and was 98% Chinese passengers (out of 950 passengers, 7 were Australian, 2 were American and 6 were French. The rest were some variety of Chinese... Which meant that all the announcements were in Chinese, the food was set up to appeal to a Chinese audience, all the events/activities etc were all geared up for the Chinese. Although most of the crew was either Italian or a mix of Asian countries and spoke English, everything else was geared up for the Chinese. Cabins The cabins on this ship are quite simply, horrible. The ratio of inside cabins is very large and the size of these inside cabins is tiny. We had booked a "double". This turned out to have two single beds. Usually not a problem on such ships, however, due to the size of the room, there was not actually enough room to put the beds together and still have room for the bedside table. In order to get a double bed, they had to cut the wires to the bedside table and remove it entirely - thus depriving us of 50% of the surface space in the room. Still, there was no room to walk around the bed - although we had maybe 6 - 8 inches on either side of the bed, it was jammed up against a desk on one side and a fridge on the other, meaning that in order to get to the side of the bed one had to climb over the bed. Bathroom The bathroom in the cabin is small but functional. The shower dispensed hot water. There is no shampoo or conditioner or any other amenity however - except soap and toilet paper. There are no facecloths and the towels are not changed except if we specifically asked. Storage space The room (now) has one drawer and three narrow wardrobes - so while there is plenty of hanging space there is no space for any "drawer" type items. Information (or rather, misinformation) The ships information office is unfortunately mis-named. It serves no information whatsoever. For example, simple questions like "We heard an announcement for a briefing on life onboard at 7:30pm announced over the loud speaker but did not catch where it was being held, can you tell us please?" were met with disbelief. No, there was no such announcement. (huh?) No idea where it is being held. We also asked (because we had a suspicion about this) "Is it a public holiday in Vietnam today?". No idea. We asked the tour office this question too - they rang around and informed us that, no, it was not a public holiday today... WRONG! Food The restaurant is pleasant (made less so on our particular cruise by the 98% of Chinese passengers who have a different view of dining to westerners). The food was OK most of the time, however the choices were incredibly limited - one or two starters, one or two main courses, mostly all Chinese food for the Chinese passengers on board. The buffet upstairs is a scrum - very small, very crowed with very indifferent food. Both the buffet and the main restaurant appeared to serve exactly the same food, so there was no way to increase the (low level) of choice. The Pizza Restaurant charges an additional sum of USD2.50 per pizza, and we had a voucher for a free pizza, however when we tried to redeem it we discovered that the pizza restaurant was not open at lunchtime or during even mealtime - just for a few hours in the afternoon and late evening! Service in restaurant Good service in restaurant - waiters were very apologetic about the food and were usually quick and efficient. Service in cabin The cabin steward was OK - he did not change towels until asked but once we sorted out the procedures he was OK. Did not change the battery on the smoke detector (it was beeping) for about 24 hours after we pointed it out. But on balance, he was OK. Prices (otherwise known as "on board rip offs") Bus into town at Da Nang - $7 Pizza $2.50 Sunblock $21 Diet Coke $3.50 a can Gratuities The website clearly indicated that "Far East cruises on the Costa Allegra" would add a sum of USD6 per person per day for gratuities. It also indicated that this was able to be varied if required by going to the Service Desk. However, we were charged USD8 per person per day and when I went to the Service Desk to point out this inconsistency they said that "Hong Kong is not in the Far East" and that no changes could be made. After considerable argument with the young Chinese lad on the desk, I eventually got to speak to a senior (Italian) member of staff who facilitated a reduction in fees (which we then distributed directly to the staff who had served us, since these were the only staff on board who deserved the money!). Sports Facilities The Costa Allegra is a small ship and there are no sports facilities on board other than the very small and poorly equipped gym. There is not even shuffleboard on the deck which is a great shame. The hot-tubs did not have hot water in them! Entertainment Entertainment was generally good. There were some good singers in the bar and some good songs in the shows. The "Instant Fashion" show was particularly fascinating. There was also a "topless show" run late at night every night for an addition fee of USD22 - which we did not experience but given the number of children on the boat seemed like an odd form of entertainment! However, most of the activities during the day were inapplicable as they were run in Chinese. However, the Cruise Director Ciro did try very hard to ensure that the dozen or so non-Chinese speaking passengers got something to do - he arranged a tour of the bridge, for example, and Chinese lessons. Disembarkation Smooth but we did not use the luggage service. Ports (Da Nang and Halong Bay) Da Nang is not interesting - you need to go down to Hoi An for the good stuff which is 30km away. Very easy to get ripped off by local taxis etc on the dock but if you just walk outside the port area then normal rates can be achieved. Around USD20 each way to Hoi An is a fair rate. The tours were overpriced (but then you expect that) - it was pretty easy to hire a car plus driver for the day for around USD50-60 and see all the sights on the tour at your own pace. Hoi An was great - lovely old buildings, interesting craft workshops, cycle rickshaws and boat trips, bikes for rent, good cafes and shops etc. Easy to do on your own and plenty to keep busy. Halong Bay is terrific. However the town is nothing - a small touristy market and a couple of minor temples is all. The good stuff is all in the Bay - you need to get on a boat. We got a group of 6 together and hired a boat that could have sat about 30-40 people, so it was GREAT, worked out at USD25 each ( again cheaper than exactly the same tour, on a more crowded boat, offered by Costa). Toured around the lovely islands, stopped on a floating village to buy fish which the boat crew cooked for lunch! Really interesting. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We arrived outside the Marco Polo hotel in Hong Kong in plenty of time. This was the muster point. There were about six staff there with RCCI t-shirts, but when we asked for instructions, we were interrupted by the 'supervisor', ... Read More
We arrived outside the Marco Polo hotel in Hong Kong in plenty of time. This was the muster point. There were about six staff there with RCCI t-shirts, but when we asked for instructions, we were interrupted by the 'supervisor', a young lady in her late 20's who rather impolitely told us to wait, and 'not to go into the hotel'. After a while we saw the supervisor give a briefing to staff and they were positioned with arrow signs pointing to the back of the hotel. Unfortunately, due to bad positioning, passengers were being sent all over the place. Lots of people remonstrating with the supervisor who was getting impatient with both passengers and her underlings. Anyway not a good start. Eventually we were herded onto coaches and bussed to the ship which was docked in a container port some 40 minutes away. Again, lots of lining up. We tried to join a shorter line, but were told that this was for passengers who had not checked in online. On the way through passport control, the rather over zealous Filipino security supervisor was separating people according to whether they looked Chinese or not. No one told him that it was in fact possible to be a Hong Kong resident and not be Chinese. Hence a lot of people were sent to the wrong line - and got rather upset with the racial profiling. Onboard, our table reservations had been mixed up. We were a party of 5 but were given a table for 2 - the head waiter sorted it out, but it meant getting in another line. Food in the main dining room was very bland. This suited the roughly 50% of passengers who were from the UK, but did not cater for the other half who were Asian. Very few Americans onboard. Even by UK standards though, the food was pretty awful - especially in the Windjammer. Service was OK - evidently the newly recruited Asian staff were not used to American tipping policy and did not feel they needed to make a connection with passengers. Indeed, I observed that most passengers had their tips deducted when they paid for the trip, so it probably felt to the staff that the company was paying their tips - not the passengers. The ports were pretty lousy. I felt I paid over the odds for a coach trip to the war memorial at Okinawa - it rained the whole day, and we didn't get as much as a soft drink from the local tour operator. Disembarkation was uneventful, though the color coding system was not followed by the majority of passengers. I blame the ship's staff for failing to properly make announcements. Likewise I tried to pay my tips on the last night - but was told it was too late by a completely indifferent purser. Overall, I would say there was a big lack of cultural awareness from both crew and passengers - but the blame must go to the ship's management for failing to fully brief itself and deal with unexpected behavior from people who simply did not know or understand American cruising conventions (and most of the staff fell into this category too!). The ship itself was OK - although a bit frayed at the edges. RCCI have plenty of room for improvement if they want to return to Asia next year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008

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