We close this itinerary because although we have been to Asia on many occasions we had not been to most of these ports. The ship had many highlights specifically the rooms were great as was the staff. There was a difference of opinion on ... Read More
We close this itinerary because although we have been to Asia on many occasions we had not been to most of these ports. The ship had many highlights specifically the rooms were great as was the staff. There was a difference of opinion on food,I enjoyed more than my wife. Every night you could special order a different appetizer or entree including lobster tails as many as you want,steaks caviar etc. one negative were the structural poles in the entertainment center where the shows were. Some of the ship excursions were not up to par but overall they allowed us to visit the area. Some of the snorkeling in the Philipines was great and others were awful. Would I recommend this ship,yes. We have been on Crystal,Regent , Silversea all have their good and bad points. Anyone of theses cruise lines are great. Seabourn charges for Internet $400 for unlimited whether 3weeks or more thus being on 5 weeks did not cost more. Regent includes a lot but when you compare prices I believe they are all the same. Read Less
I will begin by echoing previous reviewers and say that the Shadow really needs attention. It is past time for refurbishment in most areas.
This review, however is mostly a comparison of small ship cruising versus larger ship cruising. ... Read More
I will begin by echoing previous reviewers and say that the Shadow really needs attention. It is past time for refurbishment in most areas.
This review, however is mostly a comparison of small ship cruising versus larger ship cruising. For those of you considering a cruise on an upscale small cruise line like Silversea, this review might interest you. There are many things to be said in favor of a smaller ship, ease of embarkation, everything onboard is closer, and excellent cabin service to name a few. Our cabin was spacious and the butler and her assistant were suburb. Our pre and post cruise hotel accommodations at the Shangri La hotels in Hong Kong and Singapore were outstanding. The choice of excursions was good and mostly the excursion experience was enjoyable with the exception of being taken to a "jewelry factory" in Hong Kong that was mostly a captive selling opportunity, making everyone feel like sheep being led to slaughter.
What we did not enjoy about the cruise when compared to our 10 or so previous cruises was the limited choices of dining and entertainment. There was no place on the ship, as with every other ship on which we have sailed, that you could simply go and have a meal in the evening other than room service. All the dining choices which were somewhat casual in the daytime became something else at night. Even the buffet at lunch time required your being seated, going through the whole wine or not thing, having glasses and silverware removed and replaced and dealing with a person standing outside the actual buffet area wanting to carry your plate back to the table for you. To some this might sound like excellent service, to others like my wife and me it seemed overly intrusive, having to say no thank I can carry my own every time you wanted to go back for a cookie.
In the evening at any of the dining venues we tried, we never had a meal in less than 2 hours, not counting a pre dinner cocktail which was never offered by the waiter, or coffee after dessert. (If you wanted a drink before dinner you had to ask for it, unlike wine which was always offered).
Sometimes after rising early to exercise and doing excursions all day, it would be nice to just go and have a quick casual meal, without making a 2 hour production of it. If this is the case with you, then the Shadow is not the ship for you.
Also regarding the food, I could not say that the food was not good, but what I can say is that Silversea goes out of their way to make their meal choices, for my taste, needlessly complicated. One evenings entrée choices in the main restaurant were duck and rabbit. Most entrees which might start out sounding like a regular entrée came with some kind of sauce or topping with ingredients most people had never heard of. I am not strictly a meat and potatoes kind of a guy, but (you would find polenta strips instead of potatoes with most choices), again, if you wanted a steak or chicken or a burger, it was room service for you. All other cruises which we have been on had a restaurant menu which included a selection of "we have these items every night" along with the changing menu choices for the night. Not Silversea. If you want one of the "we always have" items, it again would be from the room service menu.
Our enrichment lectures were first rate, but the entertainment was mostly not available. There was a quartet on some nights and a dance music DJ on other nights. Unlike other cruises which had 2 show times or real entertainment, the quartet and DJ started at 10pm.
Anyway, if you are looking for a cruise with many dining choices, some casual some not, where you can eat a meal without having it be a grand dining experience whether you want that or not, and you want shops, casinos, lounges with entertainment and real production type main entertainment shows at a reasonable time, choose a larger ship, and get all those things for far less money. Read Less
First the good - cabin was nicely appointed and extremely comfortable. We booked last minute and had to take a deluxe ocean view cabin on deck 4. We were pleasantly surprised! It was quiet, conveniently located just below the coffee bar ... Read More
First the good - cabin was nicely appointed and extremely comfortable. We booked last minute and had to take a deluxe ocean view cabin on deck 4. We were pleasantly surprised! It was quiet, conveniently located just below the coffee bar which made it so easy to get my early morning cappuccino, dining room, nightly entertainment (walk one floor down when it was over and in our cabin in about 3 minutes while others waited for an elevator), and disembarking at ports. We won't bother to spend the extra money for veranda or above in the future as it just isn't necessary. Most people we met never even went out on their balconies -it was just too hot.
Food was excellent!! We were on the ship for 20 days and never got tired of the food. While the specialty restaurants are impressive, the Grand Dining Room is really good too. The sandwiches at the poolside Waves Grill are not to be missed.
Entertainment was surprisingly good -we liked that the nightly show didn't begin until 9:30 (giving us time to enjoy a leisurely dinner) and it was over at 10:15 -perfect timing for us!!
Martinis and Horizons bars are great -easy to meet people (if you'd like) or just sit and enjoy a cocktail and some good music. The view from Horizons is spectacular and worth going to for Happy Hour (2 for 1) and watching the sunset.
The not so good - shore excursions are WAY overpriced and fall short on what's promised -book your own private tours or just hire a taxi to take you around for 4 or 5 hrs. This can be done very easily and you can always find another couple willing to share the expense. We used Filipino Travel in Manila for a Tagatay Ridge and Intramuoros tour, Borneo Trekker for a city tour in Brunei, Ann Tours in Saigon, and BKK tours for Bangkok -all were very good. We didn't get to stop in Cambodia due to high winds and so didn't get to do the Don Bosco tour, but I've heard it's excellent as well. Other ports we either just took the shuttle (provided by the city, not Oceania) or hired a taxi with another couple, or did a hop on hop off bus (Singapore -their MRT serve is another good option). Note that there is heavy traffic in Manila, Saigon, and Bangkok, so you need to factor that in when planning your day.
Destination Services desk was not very helpful with information on ports for independents (those not signed up for a ship's excursion). We got to some ports later than expected (12:00 instead of 9:00 in Saigon and Bangkok, which made it impossible to see all that we'd planned) with no explanation as to why. Shuttle schedules weren't available until last minute, and money exchange as listed in brochures was only available in Thailand. Some stops take USD but that information doesn't come to you until last minute also.
Overall, we loved this cruise! Read Less
This review is for the Nautica cruise to South East Asia departing from Hong Kong on 24 January 2016.
Overall we had an absolutely fabulous cruise with a varied and interesting itinerary, the highlights being Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), ... Read More
This review is for the Nautica cruise to South East Asia departing from Hong Kong on 24 January 2016.
Overall we had an absolutely fabulous cruise with a varied and interesting itinerary, the highlights being Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Brunei and Singapore. We also took a privately arranged add on from Bangkok to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat which was the icing on the cake. Travelling on a smaller ship is a definite advantage over the bigger ships as we were able to navigate the Mekong Delta right in to the heart of Saigon this journey being a highlight in itself. The same was true for getting close to Bangkok at the end of the itinerary. We did not take any of the ships tours having pre arranged a number via Cruise Critic roll call, a couple on our own and a couple when we arrived in Port.
It was our first cruise on Nautica having previously cruised on Marina. We love the country club ambience of Oceania, classy but not stuffy, and if anything it was better on Nautica being a smaller ship. The ship is well designed with lots of outdoor space and always easy to get a sun lounger, the staff DO remove towels/belongings if people reserve and then disappear. As with Marina a fantastic choice of restaurants, our favourite being the Grand Dining room for dinner even though there was often a wait for tables if you want to eat as a couple rather than join an open table, the way round this is to turn up with new found friends who you want to spend dinner with and usually this meant we were whisked straight through.
The food was superb, I selected the Canyon Ranch menu whenever it was available which I found was always tasty, plentiful and suitably filling. We opted to take the drinks package which allows wine and beer with lunch and dinner, a big plus being that champagne, port and after dinner liqueurs are also included, if you drink c3-4 glasses per day (including a glass of champagne pre dinner in th Grand Dining room bar) the package represents excellent value as it includes the (extortionate!) 18% service charge.
Entertainment was low key but we enjoyed some of the "shows", the onboard entertainment team were very good with guest artists joining and leaving the cruise as we went along. It was a shame that a lot of the other guests disappeared after the show finished (10.15pm!) there is music until nearly midnight and happy hour in Horizens from 10.30 until 11.30 each evening. Daytime activities were well organised and well attended and we met some lovely interesting people ranging in age from late forties to early eighties. Read Less
I don't like to write a bad review as I am lucky enough in this world to be able to cruise and find new and exciting places. I had heard a lot of good things about Azamara, were my expectations too high? No. Am I the brands ... Read More
I don't like to write a bad review as I am lucky enough in this world to be able to cruise and find new and exciting places. I had heard a lot of good things about Azamara, were my expectations too high? No. Am I the brands clientèle? Yes. What would have made this cruise better? Lots. Why did this cruise not work for me? It did rain for the first 5 days but that is not the fault of the cruise.
I feel it lacked on all accounts. Food was my biggest problem if you can't make eggs properly then its a problem. Coffee was another problem it was not made with fresh milk, if you want fresh milk you must order 2 months in advance. The food in the dinning room only 2 nights out of 10 we said that was a nice dinner. The hash browns like cardboard. To be honest there was too much to criticise so lets say way below expectations.
The crew were friendly but no one stood out. The announcements by cruise director though friendly too long and too much. Entertainment ok seemed dated from the guitarist to piano guy no show stoppers. I guess I was just expecting more bang for my dollar. I can't say i will cruise with Azamara again as I can't see the value. Read Less
We just returned from a cruise on the Quest to Viet Nam and were very disappointed. This was our 4th cruise with Azamara and we booked a suite. The room and the staff were excellent and the ship was clean and well maintained. That is where ... Read More
We just returned from a cruise on the Quest to Viet Nam and were very disappointed. This was our 4th cruise with Azamara and we booked a suite. The room and the staff were excellent and the ship was clean and well maintained. That is where the good ends and the disappointing begins. The food was way below what we experienced on previous Azamara cruises. The quality and variety were below par to say the least. There were obvious cutbacks in the selections offered and the quality of what was offered was substandard. The choices in the Main Dining room were greatly reduced and we were forced to eat in the Specialty Dining room all but 2 nights.
In the Specialty Dining room the food was still not what we experienced on past cruises with Lobster that was DRY and Tough! Steak that was of lower quality than in the past and reduced selections on the menu. It was a good thing that we had a suite so we were able to eat in the Specialty Dining room as often as we would like as the Main Dining room rarely had anything I would eat. The menu was reduced to a choice of 3 main courses, one meat, one fish and one vegetarian. If you expect to keep your customers coming back, something must be done to reverse these cutbacks. As for us our next cruise is booked on Oceania where the food is far better than what we just experienced. Read Less
M y wife and I have been cruising for twenty five years so I guess that qualifies us as experienced.
We arranged with Oceania for a pre cruise stay in Hong Kong and a post cruise stay in Bangkok. We were cruising on the Nautica one of ... Read More
M y wife and I have been cruising for twenty five years so I guess that qualifies us as experienced.
We arranged with Oceania for a pre cruise stay in Hong Kong and a post cruise stay in Bangkok. We were cruising on the Nautica one of Oceania's older (but restored) ships.
I could write pages of information about this cruise but I am not really inclined to do that. In total, the ship was fantastic. The cabin was spacious, the service great and the crew exceptional. The perfection of the crew was only surpassed by the quality and selection of the food. It ranged from good to fabulous.
Port excursions were variable depending where you were . They were quite expensive and not all that great for the money however, the choices were varied in each port and the selections good.
The ship maintened a friendly and extremely welcoming atmosphere. Oceania took care of you from the moment you showed until the last second of disembarkation They left no stone unturned to try to insure your comfort, safety and good time.
Have already booked a future cruise with Oceania and that says it all. Read Less
This is a review about the newer ships, not the old, and specifically a magical 30 days cruise we took from Hong Kong to Mumbai late last winter. This was our 6th Seabourn cruise, and nearly 30 cruises overall on Silversea, Crystal, ... Read More
This is a review about the newer ships, not the old, and specifically a magical 30 days cruise we took from Hong Kong to Mumbai late last winter. This was our 6th Seabourn cruise, and nearly 30 cruises overall on Silversea, Crystal, Oceania, Cunard, HA, Celebrity and Regent. The three, soon to be five, Seabourn ships continue to be the best at sea today. Yes they are not the very intimate size of the old, now sold ships, but at 450 they are still small and just right, and the crew gets to know you by name after a few days just like in the old ships. The crew people are the best there can be, and particularly if you have sailed Seabourn before, you return as part of the family. Old faces of crew members circulated around the fleet quickly remember you and make one very welcome. Always a smile and kind word on Seabourn. Never a scowl we have experienced on other ships. Seabourn hires only the best, and we simply do not know how they manage to do this on every cruise we have ever taken with them.
The food and service in the main dining venue called The Restaurant remains the best on any luxury line, easily beating the old standard bearer Silversea, Oceania and on a par if not better than Crystal, which is nearly triple the passenger size. The food and presentation in The Restaurant is really the equivalent of any Michelin starred restaurant we have dined in around the world. Of course the 24/7 caviar makes Seabourn stand out uniquely among the top tier because no one else serves it any longer. Add to that the unlimited champagne, wines, and cocktails available at all restaurants and bars, and open swimming deck. The welcome addition of chef Thomas Keller as a partner will make it more varied and even better.
Some prefer the buffet dining room the Colonade, which is good for breakfast for us, and the outdoor grill, excellent for a burger and other fine treats at lunch, but we prefer whenever we can to dine in the Main Restaurant. The alternative fine dining choice Restaurant 2 is not to our liking. And we are pleased to learn that soon it will get a major motif, menu and directional makeover in the hands of consultant Thomas Keller.
The basic staterooms called suites are just lovely, mostly all with spacious verandas, and at 365 SF, with large walk in closet, much more than adequate. The baths all have double sinks and separate showers. Nicely furnished and comfortable staterooms and well maintained by the excellent service staff. Air conditioning works perfectly. Lovely linens and toiletries.
The public areas of the ship are very large, inviting and attractive, and the bars are magnets for people looking for new friends, just as it was on the old, smaller ships where intimacy prevailed.
There is now no smoking permitted in the staterooms, and only at a few designated areas around the ship. This is a vast improvement from the old days and bravo Seabourn for finally coming into the 21st Century.
The ship sails extremely well even in rough and semi rough weather. In our thirty days of cruising Asian waters, we only had one day I would consider rough, and this quickly passed with the normal ginger and crackers the restaurant managers gave me. The doctors on board were very capable and are there for harder cases, such as when my wife became ill. they did a great job treating her back to good health.
The Captain and Cruise Director, and the entire crew, do a very nice job. They are very friendly and always have the time to stop and speak to the passengers. Dining with them on the rare occasions at their tables is a real treat. The Executive Chef is very apparent, and the Dining Room Managers and Assistants always so helpful for special requests.
The ports of call in Asia were for the most part very interesting. The excursions the ship offers are just about what one would expect on any cruiseline and subject to all the normal criticism of being too expensive and not always so interesting, particularly in ports that themselves are not so interesting. We learn to work with, and around this issue. The ships's excursion people are very helpful. The pervasive and very apparent people poverty throughout much of the Asian emerging and third world countries visited is also something passengers have to learn to deal with, along with all the glitter of the pagodas and temples.
Embarkation and the reverse are a breeze. Getting off in Mumbai with luggage, however, is a real challenge, considering the very outdated port facilities there that Seabourn has to deal with. Maybe this will improve in the India of the future.
The average age of the passengers is, I would say late sixties and seventies, with some older. The passengers are upper end people, many retirees, and very interesting to talk to and associate with. Many Aussies and Brits.
The entertainment is very good for this size cruise ship, and the band of performers young, very likable, talented and fun to hang around with in the bars in the evenings. The few production shows were very entertaining. Excellent comedian Jeff Stephenson. Excellent pianists. The outstanding Ukrainian dance team is incomparable among all the nearly 30 cruises we have taken and dance teams we have seen, and deserve to be star billed one day on Broadway or in London.
All in all, the cruise on Seabourn was a real joy. And my wife and I look forward to our future cruises. Read Less
The ship is majestic in every way - it is like stepping back 100 years with all the modern trimmings! The staterooms have ample room and are maintained immaculately by the stewards - you fell that nothing is a problem to them and pamper ... Read More
The ship is majestic in every way - it is like stepping back 100 years with all the modern trimmings! The staterooms have ample room and are maintained immaculately by the stewards - you fell that nothing is a problem to them and pamper you incredibly (you could say the same for all of the crew). The set and buffet meal are available throughout the day / night and quality is excellent. You can be kept busy every day from early morning to late (or early next morning!) attending the lectures, getting involved in exercise (the gym is excellent) or walking around the ship (deck 7) and taking in fresh sea air, shopping at the ships shops (great variety and not overly expensive), visiting the ships library, attending the cabaret evenings which are top-class entertainment, visiting the NiteClub til the early morning! - the list goes on but there is something for everyone. Visiting Bitung in Sulawesi was a first for the ship and crew and shore excursions were interesting and exciting to say the least! The Sail Away from ports visited is exhilarating and sailing into Sydney Harbour was a buzz. We will be back :-) Read Less
we were told we had accommodation in Hong Kong which happened to be new years eve which never happened and were lucky to have any accommodation at all. even though we had an email saying we had they would not cover our accommodation. So we ... Read More
we were told we had accommodation in Hong Kong which happened to be new years eve which never happened and were lucky to have any accommodation at all. even though we had an email saying we had they would not cover our accommodation. So we cannot trust what they say. One may have enjoyed the trip if they did not pick up the worst disease for 25 years one has ever had. The Ship is a floating incubator. Poor hygiene on the ship did not.
we applied alcohol gel twice every time we ate and still got sick. I was off work for 3 weeks after the cruise thanks very much.
The staff were very nice especially in the dinning room.
The most enjoyable thing I did on board was the watercolor classes but once I got ill I could not get out of bed to do anything for 3 days.
I agree it is the smoothest ship on the ocean but the ship is aging and is looking tired.
Entertainment was generally good with some exceptional entertainers and some ok ones.
Our second and last trip on this vessel. Read Less
My partner and I are both from Melbourne Australia and are what most consider "too young" for Cunard, my partner having just turned 30 and I 26. I am what you would call an "ocean liner buff", I ... Read More
My partner and I are both from Melbourne Australia and are what most consider "too young" for Cunard, my partner having just turned 30 and I 26. I am what you would call an "ocean liner buff", I love passenger ships and anything to do with them, I have a major collection of books, documentaries, models, posters and all kinds of memorabilia, obviously a lot of it relating to Cunard as it is such a historical line, my favourite historical line to research in fact! We are experienced cruises having sailed on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Cunard and Holland America in the past, I decided that it was time for my partner and I to take another trip on the QM2, our last being in 2012 (Maiden Royal circumnavigation of Australia). As it was my partners 30th birthday this year, we decided to spend some time in Singapore and Hong Kong (2 places he has always wanted to experience) before boarding the QM2 in Hong Kong during her world voyage and returning the Darwin over 10 nights, stopping at Kota Kinabalo and Bitung along the way. I booked the cruise through an Australian cruise travel agency during a Cunard sale and originally booked a BB Britannia Balcony stateroom at a great price (previously we sailed in a P1 Princess Grill). I later upgraded our booking to a P2 Princess Grill suite during another sale as they were asking for Princess Grill what we had paid for Britannia and on all previous cruises we have taken on other ships, we have always travelled in a suite as we enjoy the larger a larger stateroom and the usual perks that come with having a suite on a cruise. Two week's before boarding we received a complementary upgrade to a Q5 Queens Grill Suite which was extremely exciting for us as you could imagine. For an ocean liner buff, naturally Cunard is that last tie to the old world experince of the golden age of ocean liners. Unfortunately I was too young to be able to have travelled on the QE2, but I never missed the opportunity to go see her whenever she docked in Melbourne when I was a child/teenager. We enjoy cruising and have enjoyed the other cruise lines for what they are and the experience they have to offer but obviously when we decide to travel with Cunard, we are looking for that certain type of experience, that old world sophisticated charm that the line represents and still uses as a major selling point when advertising their fleet. Dressing for dinner, sophisticated and eccentric fellow passengers, afternoon teas, pre/post dinner drinks, late night conversations over cigars and cognacs, the overall look and feel of being onboard a true ocean liner is what draws us to Cunard. As i mentioned, to me, it is that last link to the golden age of liners. One week before departure we received our pre voyage documentation and luggage labels, although the luggage labels were of no use as the stateroom number reflected our original Britannia Balcony stateroom not our Queens Grill suite we had received, so I had to print the labels off myself which were showing the correct stateroom number.
Boarding the ship:
After spending the first few days of our holiday in Singapore and Hong Kong which was a fantastic, most enjoyable experience (we will be back), the day arrived to board what I have come to affectionately call after our last experience onboard her, "our old friend". The morning of embarkation we stood at the edge of Victoria Harbour peering across to the Kai Tak cruise ship terminal in the distance, QM2's profile and bright Cunard red funnel just slightly visible through that morning Hong Kong haze. It is at that point you can truly appreciate and grasp the size of Hong Kong, the city dwarfs the normally Gigantic ocean liner as if she was nothing more than little ferry. The first time I ever saw her in person was when we were about to embark on her for the first time, in the city of Fremantle Australia, she was the largest thing in town that day, there was no missing the QM2 in Fremantle.
Priority boarding time for the Queens Grill and platinum/diamond world club guests was 12pm so at about 11:30am we checked out of our hotel and took a cab to the terminal (a short 10-15 minute journey through Hong Kong), once we arrived at Kai Tak cruise terminal, it was still hard to truly grasp just how big the QM2 really is as the terminal itself is so large (probably one of the worlds greatest ocean liner terminals) that it too, dwarfed the ship! you could probably fit 3 QM2's lined up along that terminal all at once, it truly is massive.
We made our way upstairs following the signs directing us where to board the ship, I believe the terminal is 4 or 5 stories high and would be rather easy to get lost in. Luckily as well as the signs, there was also quite a few terminal employees positioned around directing guests and pointing which way to go. We finally got to where we needed to be to check in and were rather shocked to say the least..
The amount of people already lined up was amazing, as if everyone had all come at once regardless of what time Cunard told them to arrive, "oh god, hear we go..." was first thing that came to my mind. We joined the queue of guests as there did not seem to be any sort of "priority" or "grills guest" line. Immediately we realised that the crowed was already quite annoyed as everyone around us was already complaining about this so called priority boarding time allocation. One lady in front of us in a wheelchair (being pushed by a terminal staff member) was furious that she had to wait in the queue and demanded to be taken to the front as she was meant to have priority boarding, we actually felt sorry for the guy pushing her wheelchair as you could clearly tell that he was in no position to be making such decisions. The overall tension and frustration of the crowed was already a bit of a dampener on the start of the trip as it should have been an exciting moment leading up to boarding the ship, none the less we waited patiently, we had done this many times and to be honest had probably expected to wait in a long queue even though we were supposed to be given priority boarding, the reality is (in our past experience) that you are never going to just arrive and be boarded in under 15 minutes. Looking around us, I noticed that other guest were holding health check forms so I peered around to see where they got these from, luckily enough there was an employee standing close by holding them (not offering them out to people who had just arrived) so I went and asked for the forms. Lucky I also had a pen on me to fill them out whilst we waited in line. After about 10 minutes of slowly but surely shuffling along we noticed that the queue did seem to fork into two separate lines. One shorter and one much longer. We were then confronted by an employee asking guests if they were in the grills and if they were could they please join the shorter queue. she came near us but didn't say anything so we asked her if that shorter line was for grills guest to which she responded "Yes, but are you even in the grills?" we responded "yes, Queens Grill" she then asked to see our boarding passes which we had to point out where exactly on it, it stated Queens Grill, she then directed us to the shorter queue and then we noticed her telling her other staff to check the boarding passes, she asked to use my boarding pass as a quick reference to show them where exactly to look to see if the guest was a Grill guest. I must admit I did feel a little deflated as it did seem at first that she didn't believe that us two young blokes would be the Grills, but again we are used to that kind reaction as we are young for Cunard guests let alone Queens Grill Guests.
It probably took another 20 minutes to reach the check in desk, Im not sure how long the other queue would have taken, it was much larger than ours. Whilst waiting we spotted another Australian couple we had made great friends with on our last trip on QM2 which really added to the overall enjoyment of that trip so we were excited to seem them boarding again on the same trip as us!
Check in involved all the usual things they do, but they had a problem when the check in girl assumed we would have both our accounts linked to the one credit card we then had to tell her that we would each have a separate card linked to our accounts, she then had to call a supervisor over to help her correct it. They then could not seem to get my partners credit card linked to his account, it just wasn't working every time they swiped his credit card (which was worrying as by this stage we had been standing at the check in desk for about 15 minutes) they ended up telling us to sort it out onboard. Finally we were ready to board the ship!
Crossing the gangway and approaching the giant door that allowed guests to enter the giant liner, I immediately could smell something.. It was the smell of the QM2, the very same smell I could remember from last time we were onboard, a smell memory. I must admit that at this stage the long queue and check in issues were now a distant memory and excitement had again taken over. We were about to board the Queen Mary 2!
Up ahead just through the giant square hole in that thick black hull i could see the warm lighting, red carpet and marble columns of the Grand Lobby, the sound of the harp softly playing started to grow louder as we approached the entrance to the ship. The first point of contact onboard is always the person who swipes your card when you embark/disembark the ship, these people are just grim to be honest, always stern and usually wearing sunglasses, every now and then they may grunt hello or something, I feel they would usually be more suited to welcoming you to prison rather than a luxury ocean liner. Once past "the guards" you are greeted by the warmth and welcome of the QM2, what a truly stunning space to enter, the Grand Lobby really is something special, more luxury old world hotel than "cruise ship" in decor, it is designed to impress and as we all know, first impressions count! You are greeted by suited staff, who ask for your stateroom number and give you directions of how to get there. At least this time we were acknowledged, as last time I remember them ignoring us and letting us just walk straight past them to find our own way. Still, I could tell that they almost seemed unsure of us as we are young and should they take us seriously, the look and vibe we get is almost like "are you crew?”, you shouldn't be up here!", this would not be the last time the crew made us feel awkward. Guests are guests as far as I am concerned; we've all paid to be onboard regardless of age and should be treated all with the same respect.
The Suite/Butler service:
We arrived in our Q5 Queens Grill suite 11130, the very last stateroom aft of deck 11 on the port side (right beside the grills terrace) There are only 4 Queens Grill suites on this deck, all aft and I must say the location is fantastic, much better than deck 9 (the Queens Grill suite deck), the view is high and unobstructed. We find the suites on deck 9 rather silly as they are only one level above the lifeboats, which really take away from the view.
The layout of the suite is much like that of a Princess Grill suite, but larger with more room to move around, a larger bar area, larger balcony, larger seating area and an extra area with a dressing table just outside the walk in wardrobe before entering the bathroom. The bathroom itself features a shower over Jacuzzi bath set up with one basin. I believe for the extra price Queens Grill guests are charged, the bathroom really should feature a separate bath and shower and also feature two basins. The suite is large enough to accommodate a bathroom layout like that so I'm unsure as to why they didn't design it that way.
The suite is lovely but I cannot really justify paying the extra for a Queens Grill Q7,6 or 5 over a Princess Grill P2&1 in terms of the suite itself, Princess Grill suites are just as adequate and come with a much more reasonable price tag. Q4,3,2 & 1 suites are completely different and are much larger suites so those I can justify the higher price. We received our Queens Grill suite as a complementary upgrade so we certainly weren't complaining. There was a bottle of Champagne on Ice as well as an extra bottle of sparkling wine and some divine looking chocolates awaiting us on the table.
On closer inspection, the suite was a little tired. A few globes were out, some scuffs on the walls here and there, down lights not fixed into the ceiling properly, rust on the balcony, a dripping pipe above the balcony which dripped down onto one of the deck chairs (duct tape had been used to try stop the dripping pipe) and two cushions on the bed which smelt as if they hadn't been washed in years. Nothing too major, but keep in mind the premium price Cunard charges for this type of suite, from my knowledge they wanted over $10000 AUD per person for this suite on this trip. Had we paid that full price, I would have been outraged. note that the TV stations are boring and really need to be overhauled, also WIFI didn't work in the room.
Our bags were left outside the suite in the hall when usually they are brought into the room. After an hour and the Butler (a Queens Grill feature) /steward both being a no show, I decided to unpack our bags. I was aware that part of the Butler service was to help you unpack and really I wouldn't have accepted the help, but I did want to see if the butler would actually offer to help as Cunard advertise this feature as a Queens Grill perk.
After unpacking, drinking our bottle of champagne, eating our chocolates and taking a brief tour of the ship, say 4 hours after embarking, the Butler (David) and Steward (Joel) arrived at the suite to say hello. They were friendly enough and did offer to help with the bags but I had already unpacked them. We informed David of the blown light globes and he had them replaced that night. He also asked us to choose 2 bottles of spirits to have supplied in the suite and also informed us the mini bar was free in Queens Grill and would be replenished as would the 2 bottles of spirits! This was a great perk! I also asked him to change all the sodas in the mini bar to sugar free sodas, which he did. The mini bar also had beers in it.
Tired and not wanting to miss the sail away party we opted for our first dinner onboard to be taken in the suite (another QG feature), David the butler gave us the menus from the QG dinning room and gave us some recommendations. He then set the table and delivered and served each coarse as if we were dinning in the restaurant, this was a great service and the food came quickly and was hot!
The butler will always deliver your room service/breakfast if they are on duty and will set the table properly for it. They will also serve you afternoon tea in the suite if you request, again the table is set and all the scones, sandwiches and tea provided.
The butler will also help you cater a party in your suite if you wish to have guests. We went to a pre dinner drink party in a fellow QG guests suite and the butler served canapés, hot/cold nibbles as well as drinks whilst we all chatted and had a laugh.
Note that also every evening around 5pm the butler will bring pre dinner canapés to your suite, these were often hit and miss as far as taste/quality and they usually featured seafood.
So all in all the butler device in QG suites is quite good and really the butler can do as much or as little for you as you wish. They do tend to just ring the door bell and let themselves in though which isn't very good for privacy I guess.
The Ship itself:
There is no denying the ship needs to be dry docked and overhauled! It seems to be a constant topic that has been arising of late on the Cruise Critic forums and I can confirm that yes, she does need it! Her last dry docking was for 2 weeks in late 2011 a few months before our last trip on her and even after that it seemed that not everything was attended too, well it is really showing now which is sad and frankly un acceptable really for the prices this "premium" line charges. It is hard to explain but I think I can, its as if at face value she look fine, her interiors are fine, but after a few days onboard and settling in, getting to know the ship, you can really notice all the issues. Externally, she needs to be completely repainted. EVERYTHING! the black hull is rusty and scratched, faded her and there and the red colour of the keel is no longer red at the water liner but a slimy, rusty green, the white stripe dividing the black and red is now hardly visible and is hardly a line or even white for that matter anymore. Now lets keep in mind that the ship itself is an advertisement for Cunard, she makes the news wherever she goes and people always come out to see her in the flesh when she visits ports all over the world, some ports are maiden calls so the ship has never been seen by the people of those ports. If you watch your local news when she arrives in your town, you will be bombarded with images of luxury and wealth, stories of her high fares and impressive passenger lists, but then to see her in person you are confronted with this poorly presented and maintained vessel which up close (one of our ports was tendered so we got a very close look) could pass for the hull of a container ship! a very disappointing sight indeed.
Her outdoor areas look tired and old, deck chairs with miss matching cousins, some royal blue with the Cunard symbol, others beige and white stripped, some plain beige, some no cushions at all. The pools and Jacuzzis are all worn and torn, the grills Jacuzzi on the grills terrace we often used needs to be completely replaced as it is no longer pure white, with damaged chipped paint showing the brown material that it is made of and is quite rough to touch...the outdoor pool tiles are faded, damaged and hardly look appealing especially when you think of these luxury oasis like pools on offer onboard other ships which truly do look inviting on a hot day at sea. QM2 pools and Jacuzzis look dirty and old.
WIFI onboard is a disgrace, it is 2015, its no longer a gimmick to have internet at sea, the technology to do so has been around for years and it is just expected by guests now and should/can run perfectly, update your systems and sort it out otherwise don't charge people as the service is so poor!
Stateroom Corridors (the worst of all the deck 9 Queens Grill suites corridor) are in terrible condition. Deck 9 corridor has damaged ceilings and actually drips water in many spots long the corridor, often into a light fixture below (safety hazard?), the smell of dampness in the air, doors and door frames are dented and scratched.
There are random pot holes all over the ship under the carpets which is weird as you will just be walking along then you randomly step into one, again safety hazard.
In the day spa, as you lay back relaxed in the therapy pool you can't help but notice the missing lights, mold and damage on the ceiling or the chipped tiles around the pool, the broke showers that don't work properly, the overall dirty look of the tiles and it costs money to use this day spa?
Most of the seats in the planetarium are broken so cross your fingers you get a good one.
Overall the ship just isn't up to standard not only for a ship which people pay to travel on but for a Cunard ship, the line, which charges more than most lines because of its "premium" reputation.
Why do I point out all these faults? Its not because I'm picky or a snob or have un realistic expectations, it is simply that based on what Cunard advertises, charges and claims to offer simply does reflect in the quality of the product they are truly offering and you are kidding yourself if you think otherwise! It truly is sad to have to view the ship in this way and yes it is disappointing after some people pay fortunes to be onboard for the trip of a lifetime, the last ocean liner and this is what is presented to them, it just isn't right and its time Cunard/Carnival understand that you simply cannot hide behind a "good name", you must deliver, you cannot continue to charge premium prices and deliver guest a low budget product. I take this hard stance with Cunard because I believe that if people do not speak up, they will continue to let the ship go down hill and I do not want to see that happen, I want the line to continue on successfully and offer ships that truly live up to the historical Cunard reputation and inspire new generations to keep the old liner traditions alive not to mention retain their loyal client base, many of which have been with them since the original Queen Mary was in service. They deserve better.
Food and service in the Queens Grill was top notch! we truly had a lovely time whenever we dined in there and the waiters were fabulous. The food is not really that much different from Britannia, but it is presented better I feel and there is also dishes on offer that are finished tableside and are truly amazing and tasty! Please try every one if you can but you do need to let them know you wish to order it not later than lunch time that day. Note that those dishes are large servings! They really were fantastic dinners. The staff in the QG are lovely and remember everything you like, couldn't fault them. Many lovely nights were had in that dinning room and the other guests seated around us were lovely to meet. The only negative I will say is that the breakfast hours need to be revised, currently it is served between 8am-9:30am, we feel that 7am-10/10:30am would work better and give you a bigger window as after a few days we started sleeping in until 9 and it was often to late to make it to breakfast. 9am isn't exactly a late sleep in in our books.
Kings Court, as most people who have travelled on the QM2 will confirm, is terrible. School cafeteria is probably the best way to describe it, confusing and not worthy of such a ship. The layout is shocking and the food is just sad looking. It’s a shame because on other ships we always enjoy the buffets and find them exciting. Not on QM2. It also feels like they often pack up areas well before the finish times listed, we often would arrive just to grab something and next minute they starting packing up shop, with plenty of food and at 1:50pm, we really couldn't understand why.
Todd English, fabulous! You must try it! Probably some of the best food/service onboard and for such reasonable cover chargers, you will not be disappointed. Although i had pre booked a table for two before boarding on the night of my partners 30th birthday and then changed it to a table of four once we realised friends were onboard and wanted them to dine with us that night, I went the restaurant to make the change and was assured all was fine. Well on the night our extra guests arrived before us and were told there was no booking for four just two which was highly embarrassing but was addressed quickly upon our arrival and we were all easily seated.
Afternoon tea, we often had in the QG lounge, couldn't fault it, food and service, Devine.
Room service, pretty good for ship standards, they often took a while to deliver 30+ mins but it was always pretty good.
Boardwalk cafe, much like king’s court but worse, we walked in, took one look at the sad food and walked away. Disappointing, as the idea of an outdoor cafe is great, but Cunard have it all wrong.
Golden Lion, a great place to try some English inspired food at no extra cost! Very tasty pies! but get in quick as seats fill fast! its a shame about the music in their though during lunch hours, relaxation spa music? we were expecting some British classics for a British pub!
Sir Samuel's, One night I said "we must try the coffee there" as we had never done it and I do like good coffee, so we gave it a shot. I ordered a large iced mocha! (it was after dinner) the picture and description in the menu grabbed me! It did look wonderful, tall glass, ice cold mocha coffee with lashing of whipped cream on top!
What arrived was a tall glass, filled with Mocha and ice. I looked at the waiter and said "no cream?" he responded, "only if you ask for it.." and walked away. Another glance at the menu told me that cream was included. Do they not no their own drinks? so I drank my watery semi boring mocha and never returned.
We were disappointed that during the whole 10 nights not once was there an open air buffet on deck or dessert buffet at night which most ships seem to do these days just for a bit of extra excitement. The weather was fantastic the whole voyage so we found it unusual to not have any on deck buffets.
Shocking seemed to be the general review from most guests. Paul the cruise director needs to go, he's tired, outdated a has been, in my opinion. The ship has no atmosphere to it, even on the open decks on a beautiful day or sailing away from a beautiful port, they seem to have some music and drinks for a minute then just as soon as its started they pack it all up and finish. Spas & pools also covered over by 7pm so don't even think about a night swim.
In all Grill areas (dinning room, Concierge lounge & Grills lounge) service was great and as expected!
In all other areas, service was good (in some areas) and poor in most others. Most bar staff were average and dull. If they asked you the first time if you wanted a drink and you replied no, they certainly would never ask again (even after 3hrs of sitting there). The retail shop staff were too casual; they were probably the youngest staff on the ship and seemed more interested in gossiping loudly amongst themselves rather than providing a helpful service. My overall vibe from the staff (outside of the Grill areas) were that they truly didn't understand what Cunard stands for, what the line is all about and the historical value of the line. My guess is most of them a just moved around the carnival fleet and don't really care to be honest, just after some cash and free travel for a few months.
The worst service of all I have ever seen in my life (at sea or ashore) would have to have been from the hotel manager. One night on deck 7 aft (smoking area) we were seated and a cigarette as most the other smokers were and out there with us were two staff members in white uniform (male and female) having a glass of wine and a smoke. I'm not sure why but they were. An elderly couple (veteran Cunarders we late learned) must have started a conversation with the staff members about the smoking policy and lack of smoking areas onboard, which turned a bit heated. Next minute the guest were arguing with the staff and the staff were arguing back. One of the guests asked who this lady staff member was and what she did onboard? Her response was "I’m the hotel manager and it is my job to make you lot spend more money!" which I think is a hideous thing to say to the guests. The argument about smoking continued to and at one stage the hotel manager told the guest that they shouldn't be smoking anyway as its bad for them.
This is not how you deal with guests, you do not get into a silly argument with them, nor do you judge that way. You simply just take onboard what they are saying and let them know you will pass it on. it was truly a sight to behold, this hotel manager arguing with these guests with a glass of wine in her hand. The guest involved were furious afterwards and in their own words "had had it with the Cunard line and never again!". It is my belief that this hotel manager should loose her job, as it truly was a rude embarrassment to behold.
We enjoy a Cigar in Churchill's with a drink at the night time, every night it was always the exact same 4 or 5 people in there and we all became very familiar with each other. it was a great little "crew" to be apart of and we really enjoyed our nights in there. The only problem was that the ship was lacking most cigar brands they had on the menu and also many of the expensive Cognacs. The attendant in Churchill's also was not educated in the topic of cigars and cognacs as opposed to when we last sailed onboard the attendant in Churchill’s knew everything there was to know about the matter! The attendant on this trip, didn't even have a cigar cutter at the start so everyone had to bite their cigars before lighting them. On average we all probably spent $200+ each per night, every night in Churchill's. Most people who frequent Churchill's are not short of money to be honest. so you would think that Cunard would value these particular guests. Some in our group often enjoyed a glass or more of Cognac worth $120 per glass. Money was hardly an issue. But still even in Churchill's Cunard's slipping standards were taking over. we had issue we not being able to smoke cigarettes in there, last time the policy was "if you ask all other cigar smokers in the room first and they give the ok you can smoke in there" this time it was "no smoking cigarettes" full stop. It got so bad that even the captain told a lady at one stage, she could smoke in there as long as the cigar smokers said they didn't mind. well can they just please make that the policy again? our group were the only cigar smokers and we didn't mind if each other smoked in there!
On QM2 there is 3 smoking areas all aft of the ship, an area on deck 8/7 and in G32 upper level. All smokers are irritated by this policy as for example if you are situated at the front of the ship, say in Churchill’s or even your cabin, you need to walk all that distance in order to have smoke. Furthermore, even in the smoking areas there were always non-smokers sitting at the smoking tables that asked you not to smoke or had something rude to say about it! The none-smokers have 90% of the ship, please be kind enough to let the smokers enjoy their small smoking spaces. I laugh as most none smokers call smoker selfish.. Well this shows a different side. Smoking is also not permitted on the stateroom balconies. This apparently does not include the Grand Duplex suites aft of the ship as we often saw this guests smoking on their balconies with a Cunard supplied ash tray. I would rather G32 be none smoking, and another outdoor area be made smoking. also Cunard need to update their stateroom books as they do not state the current smoking policy correctly. Our book said we could smoke on the grills terrace on the starboard side but the current policy is no smoking on the grills deck not even on one side which is ridiculous because it then meant I had to go smoke on deck 8, why should I when I’ve paid to have my own private terrace? but anyway times are changing in regards to smoking, it will be interesting to see how the policy further changes in the years to come especially as every smoker is un happy with the current policy.
On a final note I will say that the night we ate in Todd English, we engaged in an interesting conversation with the head waiting about the slipping standards onboard and received quite a surprising response.. He couldn't agree more! He stated that Carnival was now running Cunard on a Carnival style budget and that staff like him were so frustrated that they are receiving less and less to work with! he stated that he keeps ordering cognac and expensive alcohol to service in Todd English and his orders keep getting denied by shore based management. he confirmed that the line was running on more of a budget than it ever has before and yes that was affecting the service onboard and the products offered. He actually got somewhat emotional about it to be honest as you could tell he was one who truly enjoyed his job but could see the standards slipping. This is sad to see this happen to Cunard and I hope that with enough complaints they turn it back around, but in the meantime, I really cannot justify the premium pricing they charge, as it is not a premium line anymore.
Next time we want to try QE/QV just to see how they compare as many fellow passengers told us those two ships are in much better condition than the QM2. Lift your game Cunard; you cannot continue providing your loyal guests with this type of inferior product.
I’ve been told that if you truly want luxury, only Seaborne & Crystal are the way to go.
So what is Cunard going to do about that?
My husband and have traveled on the Azamara cruise ships twice before in 2013 and 2014. We love the itineraries and the size of the ship 600 passengers is usually the max. There are many advantages to the small size as the ship can go up ... Read More
My husband and have traveled on the Azamara cruise ships twice before in 2013 and 2014. We love the itineraries and the size of the ship 600 passengers is usually the max. There are many advantages to the small size as the ship can go up rivers and dock at many ports that the mega liners are unable to do. What surprised me was the downgrade in the food quality. The food, which previously was excellent in the Discoveries Restaurant was very bad. The choices very poor and the food was tasteless. Many fellow cruisers also voiced the opinion that the only really good food to be had was at the specialty restaurant Prime C. We did ear there twice and enjoyed it. They used to serve these delicious small cupcakes in the Mosaic Cafe and they were not to be found-the pastries I ate there were stale.
The crew were not as friendly as I remember in the past. I heard that for many crew members it was their last trip before a much needed vacation so maybe they were tired. It was also very difficult to change money at the deck four desk and only small bills were available. Wrong information was given by staff members also.
I do like the options of dining at whatever time I wish but I do not like being served inferior food. It was very evident that the line was saving money. Read Less
This is our 4th cruise with Azamara from Rio to Buenos Aires, a Transatlantic from Malaga to Rio, California coast, and this one mostly Vietnam and Thailand. All were outstanding. Our second trip, my wife was greeted by name as we first ... Read More
This is our 4th cruise with Azamara from Rio to Buenos Aires, a Transatlantic from Malaga to Rio, California coast, and this one mostly Vietnam and Thailand. All were outstanding. Our second trip, my wife was greeted by name as we first approached the gangway--A year after our first trip. That speaks wonders of the staff. "Welcome home Miss Dorothy" That cemented our love for small ships and Azamara.
The ports were wonderful, especially Halong Bay, Saigon, and Bangkok. We did not take many shore excursions because of reasons listed below. Azamazing evening was far better than any expectations. The food was fine--actually the premium restuarants were not much better. And the full beverage and no tipping policies were far better than other lines that nickel and dollar you to death.
Irksome notes: I have noticed not so subtle hidden price hikes in the last few years. Last year, we got a ship board credit and 70 minutes each of internet time. This year, no credit (even though we booked on board on our last voyage--California coast) and the internet time was reduced to 30 minutes each--hardly time to log on at the speed of the ships connection! Also, the internet package advertised in our room was not honored because the policy had changed even though the advertising hadn't!
Our first two cruises included a cabin upgrade and $1000 air credit on Choice Air. Our recent cruises included one OR the other.
The 50% discount on shore packages booked on line before the sailing that previously existed has been dropped to full price bookings. This meant on this trip, I booked mostly private tours on Tours by Locals, Viatour, etc. They proved to be far cheaper than the Azamara tours with better, more personalized service.
And last, do NOT serve pretend lobster and call it LOBSTER! Call it "warm water lobster", "langoustine", "carribean lobster", etc. but it is NOT Homarus Americanus--only a poor imitation of "Maine lobster". I know the product is available as frozen lobster tails from Canada or U.S. I have had it on Norwegian lines, Holland America, etc. I talked to the chef about it and he is well aware of the difference. He says it is a corporate decision. O.K. corporate--decide! Read Less
This was our 3rd family cruise on Crystal, tho we were 4 cabins of repeaters there was zero recognition of our spending large amounts of $$$ with Crystal cruises...even the repeaters party was only offered at 7:45pm leaving out the 6:15 ... Read More
This was our 3rd family cruise on Crystal, tho we were 4 cabins of repeaters there was zero recognition of our spending large amounts of $$$ with Crystal cruises...even the repeaters party was only offered at 7:45pm leaving out the 6:15 diners! Other cruise lines have a bottle of champagne to welcome back repeaters. We did receive, when we arrived back home, 4 rather tacky aqua baggage tags that went directly into the garbage!
After sailing with Seabourn many times, we find that the little tiny cabins are quite confining compared to the suites. The two seating for dinner (to early and too late) vacation should not include rushing around to get ready for dinner...I know that there is the option for dining by reservation but with a family of 8 that is a pain.
The food is very good, however some dishes are way over salted....the service in the MDR and Lido is still very good. We encountered waiters we had on previous cruises. We did encounter problems with the MDR for breakfast...just stopped going the food was not good and the service dis-jointed.
Attention to detail was sadly lacking: use to get served pop corn in the movie theater, last movie no pop corn at all!
The laundry was closed in Hong Kong & Shanghai , including the irons & ironing boards use!. I understand the gray water issue in port but there was no attempt to make ironing available...and no advance notice to guests prior to the cruise.
Time to update the fleet Crystal!
We also did the 3 night post to Beijing, the check-in was well organized, a nice buffet dinner the first night, breakfast buffet in the mornings was nice. The China World hotel is huge a bit worn around the edges, but very attentive staff. The post was jam packed with early starts and long days. The second evening was a dinner and show at the Great Hall, the show was great, service was attentive but the food was so bad we all ate when we returned back to the the hotel...need to some how allow time to explore and shop. The last night was in the hotel but the menu was a set menu in the Chinese restaurant.
The reason we use Crystal for our family cruises: kids club, which is great, activities on board, Mark Ferris in the Avenue Salon, and the superior entertainment and high quality food.
After reading glowing reviews and great ratings we mistakenly thought we would have a 6 star experience like we have had on Crystal. Upon embarking in HK our first thoughts were directed to the very poor presentation. The carpets were ... Read More
After reading glowing reviews and great ratings we mistakenly thought we would have a 6 star experience like we have had on Crystal. Upon embarking in HK our first thoughts were directed to the very poor presentation. The carpets were worn, the decor dull and dated, the painting shabby, and the furnishings well " past the use by date"! Certainly not "ship shape"! The sound proofing in our suite was virtually non existent...we could hear whole conversations of the folk next door who were not necessarily a rowdy couple. Our lovely butler then informed us that due to country policy there will be no internet connection whilst in Japanese waters. Given that in this day of modern technology people need to be "connected" for various reasons....Silverseas should have informed potential passengers of cruise 3410 of this issue. Had we known at the outset we would have elected not to proceed with the booking.
The food was mediocre and inconsistent for the exception of Le Champagne Restaurant which was well worth the small extra cost for a wonderful dining experience .
The entertainment was quite good if one could be bothered to wait around till 10pm! A number of passengers we spoke to also questioned the late hour.
I could go on about the land excursions but overall...sanitised and unimaginative. To be taken to the Westin Hotel in beautiful Kyoto and be served what was essentially chicken and chips was terrible.
We did however have a fantastic 3 day pre cruise time in Guilin/China. The guide was knowledgeable and friendly and all transfers to and from airports were punctual and very professional..I don't want to sound totally negative so I will finish on another positive note to say the staff were wonderful and did their best to make our time on board as enjoyable as possible. Read Less
Let me begin by saying that since 2008 we have loved Regent cruises. Many cruises on the Navigator and the Mariner. But something is slowly happening to the Regent brand that is both unfortunate and shameful. Head Office seems to slowly ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that since 2008 we have loved Regent cruises. Many cruises on the Navigator and the Mariner. But something is slowly happening to the Regent brand that is both unfortunate and shameful. Head Office seems to slowly want to destroy what was once a great company with a unique "all inclusive" concept. Regent still claims 6 Star service but this must be amended as false advertising. For at least a year or more services are being reduced and/or eliminated. Sometimes we get a Carnival LLC feeling while on board the Voyager this past cruise. Last winter we cruised South America on the Mariner and that trip was our first experience with downgrading and changes (not good for us travelers). I had thought it would be a one off of bad experiences and booked our first trip to Asia on the Voyager, also our first time on the Voyager.
Embarkment: After spending 7 nights, on our own, in Hong Kong, embarkment was easy and simple from the cruise terminal near the Star Ferry Terminal. Walking around the Voyager, it looks similar but better then the other two ships in the fleet. Several staff remembered us from other cruises and made us feel right at home.
Stateroom: On deck 7 forward, we experienced a constant smell of sewage near the elevators & the corridor. This smell dissipated but remained for our entire 33 days aboard. Our stateroom is the large deluxe suite with a large bathroom and walk-in closet. The layout is the same as the other ships but the color scheme is much better. Upon closer look, the carpet was stained and so were the upholstered furniture. There are a pair of sheer drapes on the balcony door/window but from two different sets. One sheer was longer, one sheer shorter then the other. The wood trim, desk, vanity & molding woods are beaten up and need of major repair or removal. When I commented about the stains to the cabin steward he stated that he would take of it while we were at dinner. Upon return the carpet stains remained but the chair cushions were cleaned, but no, the steward just flipped the cushions. The furniture arms & backs remained stained. I bought a cheap brush on day 4 and removed all the stains myself. A little elbow grease and it was fine. An officer stated that all public rooms were refurbished recently (cosmetically only) but no work has been on the suites in years. This is not 6 star service.
Dining: La Veranda is the buffet by day and an Italian restaurant by night. Breakfast here is sometimes a chore and many times laughable. The staff all want to help and for the most part they are great kids but with lousy supervision. We arrived early some mornings before early tours and only one or two staff were there. Although open for business they were still setting up. Bacon was usually cold and toast could take 10 minutes without a line. Ask for an omelet and wait. You are told a server would bring it to your table but after 10 minutes I went back to find out she gave my omelet to someone else. We found that breakfast was better served in the main dining room Compass Rose but if you have an early tour forget it, Compass Rose opens at 8:00 a.m. It took longer to order from the dining room but it was civilized and service was much better. Our biggest complaint in all dining rooms was the coffee. It was undrinkable. Always tasted like burnt, bottom of the pot coffee. One maitre d' told a group of us that Head Office approved and ships this particular coffee for dining room use. We heard much about Head Office during our cruise. Voyager has a coffee shop and a coffee station on the Pool Deck with fresh brewed self-service machines. This coffee was great. So if you wanted a good cup of coffee you went to one of these machines then brought it back to your dining room. Sure doesn't sound like 6 star to me.
The menus were mediocre except for the "Destination Dishes" being offered. We were told that the chefs must use only the approved Head Office menus. Except for a Destination Dish made to enhance the port of call for that day or the next day. The Lead Chef Kelly did wonders with these Destination Dishes and we only ordered these off the menu and so did most others when they got tired of the Head Office offerings.
Prime 7 is Regent's steak restaurant and we loved this restaurant on both the Navigator and the Mariner. But here on the Voyager we experienced a staff and maitre d' that ruined the evening for us. And many others too. We had a problem with cold Oysters Rockefeller and returned them, twice. They were almost still frozen in the center. In Asia I knew they would be frozen but not at the table. After the second return the maitre d' came over with a haughty attitude and stated " I here you have a problem with your appetizer". And this is supposed to be 6 star service. The rest of dinner was a disaster, I guess we were being punished for complaining. Again 6 star service?
Signatures is the French restaurant and under the leadership of Christian this room and it's staff are wonderful. But unfortunately, this wonderful staff must present a truly lousy menu and anything but French. My first night there I was served Medallions of Veal with gnocchi. Now we have been to France and French restaurants all over the world and truly love French cuisine but gnocchi? French? Again, when I questioned this item I was told that this is Head Office's menu and the chef must prepare what Head Office tells him. And this is 6 star service? Last year on the Mariner we were served filet mignon with foie gras and a side of Mac & Cheese. So Italian gnocchi must be a step up!
So two alternative restaurants. One with a great menu and lousy staff and the other with a great staff and a lousy menu. Why? 6 Stars?
Entertainment: The Regent Singers and Dancers are so much better then in the past. New acts and new shows but still just young talented boys and girls starting their careers. Paid professionals were rare to see and we even had the Cruise Director, Ray, doing several of the evening shows himself. He was excellent but why can't Regent hire good quality talent. For the price we pay, you would think we would get the best. I guess not. Is this 6 star service?
Canyon Ranch Spa: You must be kidding. $122 for a simple pedi/mani? $39 for men's haircut, $92 for a ladies wash & set? Ridiculous pricing and just average quality and 18% mandatory gratuity? Shameful.
Shore Excursions: Regent advertising Free Excursions but in many ports they offered private car tours at an additional price. The free excursions are getting worse and worse. Does Head Office ever send anyone to investigate a port and the tours they offer us? Guides that barely speak English, absolutely no guides or even audio headsets at any of the museums. Ports that offer absolutely nothing of value and we are docked at a tanker port and no way to get into any town. Many of the ports we were miles away from anything only to find out that there are cruise terminals in town. Can't Regent paid the additional fee to get us closer to town. On the second segment of the cruise Regent was docked at the old Hong Kong airport turned into a cruise terminal for two days. From ship to bus took at least 20 minutes walking and you were still in the terminal. Why? Is this 6 star service? I paid extra for private tours and even an overnight and had a wonderful experience each time. So when they say Free, it now means cheap. There are wonderful quality excursions everywhere but you must pay extra. Is this false advertising? Is this 6 star quality?
Disembarkation & Land Tour: Early departure in Bangkok for a three day land excursion with 2 days at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Smooth transfer and flight to Siem Reap. Sofitel Hotel was outstanding and we were in groups of 14 with a wonderful guide, Tee. Back to Bangkok and two nights at the Sofitel there, again wonderful.
Staffing: The Asian staff are professional, wonderful, kind and caring, every one of them. The European and specifically Eastern European staff are arrogant, rude and act like they are doing us a favor by serving us. Who hires these guys? They treat the Asian staff like garbage, yelling and belittling them. This change in staffing was first noted last year on the Mariner and it is shocking to find it spreading to all the ships. Why? The crews on all the Regent ships are so talented and help to make our vacations/travels a unique experience and Head Office is hiring a few Eastern European guys that are helping to bring down the brand. Why? This is definitely not 6 star service.
Overall: For our first time in Asia we had a wonderful time and made the best out of every port. The majority of the crew, especially Ray, Elda, Vivienne, Christian, Olga (waitress), Olfa & Katje (bartenders),
ViJay, Frank & Dennis (waiters), Francesco, the entire Destinations staff, the entire Reception/Purser staff, just to name a few help to make our cruise special. The few idiots did not ruin it for us but caused us not to go into the Observation or Voyager lounges for most of the cruise.
No more flowers in the suites, a few days of a flower in the dining rooms then no more flowers on the dining room tables, lousy "free" excursions, staterooms not repaired & stateroom furniture looking like it is a cheap motel and these little things add up. Doesn't Head Office realize that we guests talk with each other. My observations are not just mine but shared by many others. I keep hearing "Oceania is so much better", Seaborne is so much better, Crystal is my favorite, never Regent again". Why is Head Office determined to ruin what I thought was the best cruise line at sea. It looks like the new boss has given Regent to his niece and/or nephew to run and/or ruin.
Definitely no longer 6 stars.
This was our 7th Oceania cruise and this is the first time we have been somewhat disappointed.
I could go through everything day by day, but the bottom line is that the quality of the food was not what we have become accustomed to. They ... Read More
This was our 7th Oceania cruise and this is the first time we have been somewhat disappointed.
I could go through everything day by day, but the bottom line is that the quality of the food was not what we have become accustomed to. They had the usual choices in the dining room, but while we raved about every meal after our prior cruises, this time we would look at each other and say, "That wasn't as good as last time." Deserts at TeaTime were definitely not up to par, for the most part being dry. It was as if they forgot oil eggs or whatever liquid the recipe called for. I know there was a cruise director on board, but we didn't see him until the Captain's party, and then only one time after that. We are used to seeing cruise directors everywhere on the ship. We had a PH, and running along the wall was an extension cord duct-taped to the wall which kept coming undone. In the past, I always felt like crew were eager to help, but this time I felt like I was imposing if I needed something. The worst was when my husband ordered a very expensive bottle of wine which usually would last him 3 nights. He asked our assistant waiter to make sure the bottle was put away for the next night since the sommelier was nowhere to be found. The next night when he asked for the bottle, he was told there wasn't one. After arguing with the supervisor, he asked the assistant waiter if he remembered my husband asking him to put the bottle away and whether there was any wine in it. Even after the assistant waiter verified my husband's story, the supervisor refused to replace the bottle and told my husband there was nothing that could be done. They gave him a glass of house wine which was a far cry from the $94 bottle of wine he had purchased. This is not the Oceania we are used to.
We booked private excursions since Oceania's shore excursions are way over-priced and we have not used them in years. They need to look at the cost of these and do something about them or else everyone is going to skip the ship's tours. We did one in Norway in July for $37 and the ship charged $315 for the identical tour.
We have loved every cruise we have done on Oceania before this and just felt that everything had dropped down a few notches. We are hoping after the Nautica comes out of dry dock, things are better. Read Less
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
Our third Azamara in the last 13 months and we are on again in April
An older ship with the right number of passengers around 600, we live in the far east and flying is reduced to a minimum
The food and choice of resterants is very good, ... Read More
Our third Azamara in the last 13 months and we are on again in April
An older ship with the right number of passengers around 600, we live in the far east and flying is reduced to a minimum
The food and choice of resterants is very good, my wife drinks one or two cocktails a day and myself a little more, we very much appreciate the drinks inclusive deal, and choose not to pay more for the deluxe spirits, Cutty Sark, Gordons Gin and Smirinoff, are all included
Any special food requests are always met, the beef and pork is some of the very best
The real winner on this ship is the friendliness of the staff, and they can not do enough phylisophy, and it is like going to ones own private yacht being greeted by the staff we know
We had a suite on the last cruise maybe overindulging ourselves, and next time an Ocean view at a substantially lower price for the almost same overal experience
We all have a small complaint and mine is Leclub find it difficult to get my membership level correct despite emails prior to the voyage, it is always remedied on board, but would be nice to start correct Read Less
We had been on the Quest in 2012 and thought nothing would be able to beat that experience, but we were wrong. The Journey also provided us a wonderful cruising experience and the crew from the Captain down should be commended for making ... Read More
We had been on the Quest in 2012 and thought nothing would be able to beat that experience, but we were wrong. The Journey also provided us a wonderful cruising experience and the crew from the Captain down should be commended for making everyone feel so at home and comfortable on the ship.
We flew into Hong Kong via Singapore from Adelaide, Australia arriving late at night and took the wonderful airport train to Kowloon station,then a taxi to our hotel Novotel HK Nathan Road. We had an Executive Club room, the most compact club room we have ever been in with a very difficult to use lighting system. Breakfast next day was excellent in the dining room downstairs.
We spent the morning before boarding visiting the HK History Museum a very interesting and spacious musem and a lovely walk from our hotel.
We took a Taxi to Ocean Terminal a 5 minute ride and boarded at 1pm and because we were in a Club Continent Suite had priority boarding so were onboard in about 15 minutes. There was a long line for non suites, but lots of checkin in staff to handle this.
We were in 8047 starboard side and our Butler, Crooxie, and Room Attendants, Kadek and Esmail looked after our cabin and us wonderfully well throughout our cruise. Our suite came with 2 bottles of house Champagne from the Captain and the Hotel Manager and 4 bottles of included liquor, which we exchanged for 3 bottles of Bombay Sapphire and one of dark Rum, which we found difficult to get through with all the wonderful included cocktails now on offer. We also had a fruit basket and fresh canapes from cheese plates to prawn plates and various other lovely treats throughout our trip each day. We could also have afternoon tea in our suite which was tea/coffee with scones, jam and cream and various cakes and biscuits, but believe me we didnt partake of this too often as it was just too much food.
The suite had new carpet and curtains and was well maintained and the bathroom although it had a shower curtain was not clingy as we had a bath as well, which helped with that problem.
Life boat drill was at 5.30pm after boarding and we had dinner the first night at Windows Cafe with some of the others from our Roll Call who we were doing private tours with. It was Seafood night and there was a huge array of seafood including bbqd prawns, scallops, and squid and then of course the Light and Sound show and sailaway up on deck made a fitting and lovely end to our day.
Next day, a sea day, we had our CC Roll Call get together at 10.30 am provided by Azamara and there was a large number of us,around 50 and we were given tea/coffee and cake/biscuits and welcomed by Captain Johannes Tysse and Cruise Director, Eric de Grey, Hotel Director, Heike Berdos and Future Cruise Director and CC Host Dina Stuehler, (who is about to go to the Quest full time).
Eric asked everyone to introduce themselves by name and CC roll name and give information about where we were from and how many times we had been on Azamara we then met up with our fellow private tour members and chatted to several others, before heading to the pool deck where the menu special was a grilled chicken club sandwich which we enjoyed with the best fries at sea and a Pina Colada and Tropical Lemonade, all delicious. You leave your order and they will find you whereever you sit.
We then went and booked another cruise with Dina to get the onboard cruise credit and had a look at the World Owners Suite aft, which they were giving to whoever won bingo that afternoon.
A rest and then smoked salmon, prawns and other canapes with a G and T and Rum and Coke on our balcony before dinner, which we enjoyed in Prime C.
The show that night was the Azamara Singers and Dancers performing numbers from various movies and was excellent.
Next day was our overnighter in Halong Bay. We had organised a private boat with 12 other CC members and were picked up by our guide Zoom from Vietnam Package Tours at 8am. This was a wonderful way of seeing Halong Bay, even though it was overcast and misty all day. We disembarked at Surprise Cave (Hang Dau Go) walking up steep steps to access it and then walking through the huge cave complex beautifully lit. Walking back down to the junk we passed many local traders on their boats selling seafod, fish, fuit and vegetables and souvenirs, all very colourful. We then had a seafood lunch on board cooked prawns, stuffed crab, pippies, fish, and squid, breaded pork steamed cabbage and rice. All delicious. We visited Tip Top Island before heading back to the ship. US$89 pp paid by paypal in advance, very easy and good value.
That night was Dinner under the Stars which was a real hit as there was an Asian buffet with noodles, fried rice, chicken legs, satay pork, spring rolls and lots more, including a stir fry station and bbq. The entertainment that night was also great. Amanda Poulsen singing Epics under the Stars (Memories, Ive got you under my Skin, Nesan Dorma and some other operatic favourites) Then we had a salute to Michael Buble with Alex Mac who had a great voice and was backed by the Azamara Orchestra and people were up dancing in no time. A great night was had by all.
Hoi An was our next port of call. Hoi An is a 45 minute drive south of Danang port where we docked and for this instead of taking Azamaras Do It on Your Own at US$99 pp, we visited the Concierge and arranged a Minibus for 8 with driver for US$450 for 6 hours. Well worth the money and US$60 pp instead. Hoi An was a delightful town and well worth a visit. We were shown around the usual art factory and silk factory but they were all interesting. Then we had a guide from Hoi An take us around the main sights. This ended up at another factory which we declined to visit and spent the rest of our time exploring and then found a lovely local restaurant where we enjoyed the local beer and salad and satay.
Discoveries for dinner that night was very enjoyable, with clam chowder and roast lamb cutlet.
The show was Sioban Philips, who gave us a fabulous evening of song and comedy, a very funny night.
The lecturers on board were both very interesting. Dick Farkas gave insights into all the countries we were visiting in the way of politics and culture and economics, his topics included Hue, Culturally and Geographically half way between HCMC and HANOI:Can Communism survive Entrepreneurs and Dr Chris Whelan whose talks were more economically oriented and extremely interesting. His topics included United Nations on Trial-Mission Impossible;The Euro and the Dollar-A Race for Supremacy.
We thought the entertainment was fabulous on this cruise, a real step up from last years on Quest.
Our other ports were Saigon where we cruised right up the river and shuttles were provided for our short trip into the town, dropping us off at the Rex Hotel, where we had a wander admiring all the Xmas decorations and then an enjoyable and tasty lunch.
Bangkok was our next stop and my big birthday which we celebrated on shore at a beautiful Thai restaurant in the Sukothai Hotel. Fabulous and original Thai food with flavour and heat.
The next day we had organised a private tour with a group of 6 others from CC with Bangkok Private Guides and we were taken on a guided walk of old Bangkok including the Golden Buddha, China Town, the flower and silk markets and then a fabulous long tail boat ride along the Chao Phraya river then into the network of Klongs (canals) where we fed Koi fish at a temple with bread provided by the monks and admired the water scenery along the way, returning to the Chao Phraya by a lock after dark. It was a wonderful 6 hour trip and our guide Ms Aom was outstanding.
We were picked up next day and taken to the Maeklong Railway Market, a real sight for sore eyes and so interesting, then onto a coconut plantation to admire a beautiful old traditional teak house and try coconut milk and sweets. Then to the Damnern Saduak Flower Market. Ms Aom arranged two boats for the 8 of us so we had lots of room and other than the noise from the very noisy 2 stroke motors on the Long Tail boats, we were well paddled by two delightful "old" ladies, and once away from the main market area, we visited some of the smaller quieter canals, narrow enough for just one boat and where we could really appreciate this water life style and see how the locals lived. It was a wonderful experience.
We would thoroughly recommend this tour company as Ms Aom could not do enough for us, buying us treats to eat, drinks, stopping for a light meal the first day as we werent back till late, and on leaving us giving us each a tiny brass elephant for good luck. We were blessed in meeting her as she bought Bangkok alive for us all.
We then had a day at sea before arriving into Singapore at Harbour Front terminal.
We thought the meals in all the restaurants were very impressive and Windows cafe was also good and although its small, it serves up a good choice of foods. We mostly ate dinner in Aqualina or Prime C as these are included in the fare of a Suite and we met some delightful others to dine with, so had some very sociable nights here. Discoveries Restaurant, the main dining room, was also excellent. We think Azamara deck night Buffets were fantastic.
The included wines and cocktails more than met our needs, and we liked the fact you could ask for a previous days offering if you didnt like what was on offer that day. We would LOVE to see a Cava or Prosecco included onto the free list as thats something that is really missing, and everyone we spoke to said the same thing. Come on Azamara!!
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and had some wonderful experiences with new friends we met on board, and have two more booked for next year. We love the ambience and friendly casual feel of Azamara and think the crew and everyone on board do a remarkable job. Thank you to all the wonderful people we met and the crew who made this cruise for my 60th birthday very special.
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
This was our first Cunard cruise so we were looking forward to travelling on the Queen Mary and the ship itself did not disappoint. However in many ways the cruise did not live up to our expactations for a few reasons. We were offered an ... Read More
This was our first Cunard cruise so we were looking forward to travelling on the Queen Mary and the ship itself did not disappoint. However in many ways the cruise did not live up to our expactations for a few reasons. We were offered an upgrade to a Princess Grill suite (for an extra charge) a few days before we left Australia. These cabins were lovely and have probably spoilt us for future cruises. Our cabin boy was everything he should have been - efficient yet very out of sight and low-key.
The ship is so big that it took us a few days to familiarise ourselves with it. I'm sure it could go through a hurricane and still feel stable and comfortable.
It was the level of service where we felt let down by Cunard. A lot of the bar/wait staff are Russian/Eastern European and they are just not jolly people. It was hard to find a staff who had a personality or sense of humour let alone someone who seemed happy in their job. We were told that about 1600 Australians boarded the ship in Hong Kong which is a large percentage of the total complement of passengers and you would think that if Cunard had done their homework they would know that Australians like to have a good time but good entertainment was hard to find. A couple of the "guest entertainers" were OK but there were too few. The 50's and 60's night was by far the best night's entertainment but it was quite late in the cruise and there was nothing else like it. We went to the trivia sessions in the Golden Lion Pub a few times but one of the Entertainment team obviously didn't like Australians very much. Apparently Cunard offered a lot of Australians greatly reduced fares to fill the ship so perhaps that's why the standard of entertainment was not so good in order to reduce the budget.
We ate in the Princess Grill most of the time (where the service was great) and we found the food was very repetitive. There were no interesting choices e.g. Chinese, Italian, Thai - just the same old things which get monotonous after two weeks. We did try the Specialty section of the Food Court which charges $10 per head. The Indian was quite good but the Italian night was disappointing. There were only about five choices for main course and the only pasta dish was beef ravioli and when we asked what was the "special pasta of the day" we were told that it was the beef ravioli which was already on the menu as a standard dish.
We had a couple of birthdays during the cruise so we tried the Todd English Restaurant for these. They charge a la carte but it is quite inexpensive considering the standard of the food and the service.
Being in the Princess suites, Cunard charged us $13 per person per day upfront as gratuities. As well as this, they charge 15% on every drink that you purchase which really added up. We have been to the US a few times so don't mind the tipping system for good service but we feel that this system does not encourage the staff to give good service as they know they will get a tip anyway.
Two of our friends have travelled on the Queen Victoria and they said that it was far superior. Read Less
We had high expectations of Azamara and for the most part, we still do. This was a much anticipated trip for us as we had been looking forward to seeing a part of the world that we would otherwise not likely see. We had also heard much ... Read More
We had high expectations of Azamara and for the most part, we still do. This was a much anticipated trip for us as we had been looking forward to seeing a part of the world that we would otherwise not likely see. We had also heard much about the President's cruise. It took effort to get so much vacation time and to travel so far from Canada. In the end, this ill-fated 17 day voyage would turn out to be an ordeal that lasted 5 days.
At embarkation, we were met with a note with disappointing news - that the president would not be on board due to family illness, but that the planned activities would proceed... except that one of the ports had been rained out. True to fashion, Azamara had arranged an alternative port with similar activities. Bravo.
The captain warmly welcomed us onboard and the sail out of Hong Kong was magnificent. However, he warned of rough seas for the next 24 hours. He did not exaggerate. The ship did have medication on board for those who needed it (almost everyone). We were soon to experience MONSOON MONDAY with winds over 40 knots, no rain. Barf bags were put out in all elevators and at every turn on the stairs. There were two notable wave events on TERRIBLE TUESDAY -- the first at 4 am where everyone on board woke up to a loud bang. The seas were still rough and we thought nothing more of it. The second came around 4 pm. Seas were still very rough and doors to the outside were locked. This was fortunate as we were hit by an enormous wave tilting the ship at least 45 degrees -- our bed slid all the way across the room and back. We later learned that both large waves likely washed over the top of the ship! The seas finally calmed after 24 hours -- in time for supper Tuesday evening.
We arrived in Manila WEDNESDAY - WHEW. Along with the usual excursions, we were treated to a great party that evening at Fort Santiago -- we got to sample local food and entertainment. We heard that Azamara threw a big picnic party for their crew as many had family in the area. We also got to experience some of Manila's infamous TRAFFIC on THURSDAY. We left Manila Thurssday afternoon in calm seas but heavy rain -- unusually wet for the dry season.
Day 5 started off as the first real day of rest and relaxation. Skies were clear and seas were calm. All that came to an end just after 8 pm. We were in the main dining room when we heard a scared-sounding voice announce "bravo bravo bravo" level 1 (I think). The captain was also in the dining room at the time and he took off at a run. Our server admitted that the bravo code meant we were now into FIRE FRIDAY. The power went off a few minutes later. Some urged that we return to our rooms to get our life jackets but we were already in our Muster Station and so stayed put... though none of us could eat. We could smell smoke and then see it thickening near the entrance to the dining room. We evacuated to an alternate Muster Station -- all the while holding up water-soaked napkins over our face. We were eventually given life jackets (though Muster Station A never handed out life jackets) and a head count was done. Throughout all this, the captain came on with announcements to keep us updated. The passengers were remarkably calm through all of this. The scariest point for me was when we heard that they were starting a second staging area to control the situation. Fortunately, this did not mean that the fire was out of control and we never heard the order to abandon ship. Without power, we learned that the toilets stopped flushing and so started overflowing in the areas around the muster stations. We were finally allowed to go back to our rooms around midnight - some could sleep, most did not.
SATURDAY at SEA -- drifting without a breeze, oblivious to potential pirate threats in the Sulu Sea. It was HOT without the air conditioning. The crew were amazing -- they had cleaned up all the litter left out after the muster station and were walking up the stairs carrying food to the ninth floor for breakfast... anything that did not need cooking. The captain informed us that of the 4 engines, one was seriously damaged in the fire. They were able to bring one engine up to power the toilets and were working on the other two. We also found out that 5 crew members had been hurt, one seriously. The second engine came up that evening (allowing propulsion though still not AC) and we celebrated with a BBQ dinner followed by dance party -- the crew were trying! Many passengers and crew slept under the stars as it was truly too hot to sleep down below.
SALVATION SUNDAY (April fool's day) was yet another very hot day, but we were on the move and that generate a breeze. The pool was a saving grace for cooling off. The spa was closed -- no big loss as the waters of the Thalassatherapy pool were heated to temperatures more appropriate for making soup than to be therapeutic. The Philippine Coast Guard and Navy had joined us some time the night before -- no signs of the dreaded pirates. With only 1 engine for propulsion, we were limping at 6 knots heading for Sandakan. We arrived in port around 10 pm -- the ordeal would soon be over.
The crew was amazing. Kudos for making the best of a terrible situation -- keeping the ship tidy, getting food and drinks going, starting on repairs. The passengers should also be commended -- they were able to stay calm, in large part because they had great confidence in Azamara to handle the situation.
In times of crisis, the other important thing is communications -- clear, concise, unambiguous. Although the captain was great during the night of the fire, more regular updates could have been given on Saturday and Sunday, even if it was to say that not much had changed. We were given a letter detailing our travel options once we arrived in Sandakan, as well as details of our compensation. Unfortunately, this letter had to be handed back to indicate our choices. The writing style of the letter (paragraph form) led to some confusion. The very generous compensation as detailed in list form that appears on this website is much clearer and less ambiguous (http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1611795). The guest relations crew responsible for moving us from ship to hotels in Sandakan had a huge job with limited time in terrible working conditions (aka very HOT). Having said that, they should not have made time line announcements they could not keep (ie put your new luggage tags on by 7:30). They should have made annuncements saying that the tags are delayed, please hang on until 10 pm - stay in cooler places rather than wait in the very hot rooms. For our group of 5, they were unable to keep our group together even though they kept asking for that kind of information -- ie are you traveling with any others. After getting us into hotels in Sandakan, the next administrative hurdle was to get us on flights to Singapore. Once again, they failed to keep our group together, adding to the stress level of the group. Although I got my letter on Monday night saying that I was to get on the 6:30 am shuttle to leave for the airport, others in my group did not get their letter until 6:00 am on Tuesday, which only gave 30 minutes to get ready to leave. Stress! We know that a crisis team flew in from Miami. Ironically, the one that we met at the airport did not seem all that great at working in a crisis/stressful situation as they were easily flustered -- telling one of my party that he was not listed to fly out with the rest of us when he was on the list. In the end, our group managed to stay together and we were able to salvage the remainder of our vacation time. The experience in Singapore has been very positive. We were put up at the Fairmont hotel with a very generous $150/person/day per diem to the end of the cruise Apr 12 (9 nights). The hotel was great and we got to see Singapore in quite some depth -- we strongly recommend a trip to the zoo, as well as trying out all the amazing local dishes. We will hopefully be back to explore Indonesia with Azamara -- our original reason for going on this cruise. Read Less
This was our first cruise on Seabourn, and it did not disappoint. Even though the Pride is getting along in years, she is well maintained and very comfortable. Everything was as expected or better. The service is superb, food is top notch, ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Seabourn, and it did not disappoint. Even though the Pride is getting along in years, she is well maintained and very comfortable. Everything was as expected or better. The service is superb, food is top notch, and drinks are unlimited and excellent. Every staff member, from maintenance men to cabin stewardesses to barmen and restaurant staff were all just superb, going out of their way to be helpful. The quality of the shows put on by the staff is remarkably good. Occasionally they brought in an outsider or two (we had a concert pianist and a comedian) and they were both terrific.
We had some traveling companions who grumbled a bit that there wasn't enough to do on board on sea days (we had 6 sea days), and I suppose there is some truth to that as the Pride is a small ship and there are no rock climbing walls or huge boutiques for shopping. But it certainly didn't bother us as we found plenty to do. Some people just need to have somnething to complain about.
We would love to go on another Seabourn cruise and look forward to doing so. Read Less
We have just returned from a wonderful experience on the Fabulous Azamara Quest, sailing out of Hong Kong to Singapore with stops in Viet Nam and Thailand. It was our best cruising experience ever. If we have any complaints about ... Read More
We have just returned from a wonderful experience on the Fabulous Azamara Quest, sailing out of Hong Kong to Singapore with stops in Viet Nam and Thailand. It was our best cruising experience ever. If we have any complaints about Azamara, it is that it is disappointing that they only have 2 ships. We would love to cruise with them more often but they don't always have a ship going where we want to go when we want to go there.....so a message to Mr. Pimenthal would be to try to get some more ships to make your cruisers happy.
From the beginning of our experience with Azamara, we were amazed at the difference in this cruise to others we have experienced. The staff was happy (and not just faking it-the warmth and family feeling we felt when we arrived was evident throughout the trip). Little touches, like the security folks meeting you on your return to the ship with a warm smile and a "welcome home". Our cabin was lovely and well appointed. Any requests were happily and efficiently accomodated. The food was the best we have found on any cruise ship and was consistently excellent. The sushi chef on the lunch buffet had a wonderful selection of marvellous sushi. Most days this was lunch for my husband and myself. The free boutique wines with lunch and dinner were consistently good. We tried both Aqualina and Prime C specialty restaurants and loved Prime C. Both Aldwin and Milena were absolute stars.
We enjoyed all the land tours we took and appreciated the 50% sale on land tours (something that no other cruise line has ever offered). Everything was done very efficiently, and there were nice touches....free water on leaving for a tour, juices and towels to refresh on return......coffee and pastries in the theatre while getting ready for tours. The tour operators were all well selected and although some accents were more difficult to understand than others, we found them all to be excellent.
On some of our previous cruises, we found ourselves to be either shilled to on a regular basis (buy this, get your photos here, art sale there) but the lack of this on Azamara was wonderful. Even our previous favourite Princess cruises, could take a leaf out of Azamara's books and not charge for the bottled water at the start of a cruise and have free laundry services.....these were especially appreciated and a very classy and nice touch.
One untoward issue did arise on our trip and it could have been a major turn off but the way Azamara handled it just turned it into a talking point for us.....at 4:40 am one morning, the fire alarm went off in our room. We were naturally disoriented at the alarm and weren't sure what was going on. Later, we were told that a computer malfunction had caused a problem with the a/c in a small number of rooms and the humidity in the room built up causing the ceiling fire alarms to sound.....it was quickly sorted out and we returned to sleep. But how they handled it afterwards told the tale. Phone calls from senior staff apologizing and reassuring us that the problem had been handled. A bottle of champagne in the room. Follow up calls to make sure we were not at all preturbed by the problem. As my husband told a senior staffer when he called to talk to us about it, these things do happen but it was the way Azamara handled it that turned it from being a bad experience into a more positive experience for us.
The mix of guests of all nationalities on this particular cruise was delightful to my husband and myself. We love meeting people from all over the world. And the jerk ratio was remarkably low. On our last cruise, there were far too many loud, rude and delusionally self important people. Didn't run into any real duds on this cruise-just friendly and fun people who were approachable and open to new experiences. Just the best mix of folks we have traveled with IMHO.
Azamara gets it right. They are as close to having an all inclusive cruising experience. Our final bill on our cruise was a mere fraction of what we have paid on any of our previous cruises and that was a delightful surprise. Would we recommend Azamara to anyone else? Absolutely. Would we cruise with them again? In a hearbeat. Read Less