6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have cruised on numerous ocean cruises over the past ten years including Princess, Regent, Oceania, and National Geographic. Viking Ocean will now be our "go to" cruise line unless we are seeking an expedition cruise. ... Read More
We have cruised on numerous ocean cruises over the past ten years including Princess, Regent, Oceania, and National Geographic. Viking Ocean will now be our "go to" cruise line unless we are seeking an expedition cruise. Everyone's cruising style is different, but Viking is perfect for us. Our reasons include what they don't have, no children, no casino, no Vegas style shows, no butlers, and no formal nights, to what they do have - sleek, Scandinavian design with room for everyone, focus on educational lectures, focus on classical music, the most amazing spa and fitness center at sea, fabulous food with no charge speciality restaurants, and wine and beer with lunch and dinner. We had a penthouse veranda and it was wonderful. Maybe a bit more closet space would have been nice. The bathroom was our favorite ever with it's roomy shower and heated floor. I would chose the same cabin when we cruise with them again. As mentioned by others, Viking needs to work on their shore excursions. We were on a new itinerary so maybe that was part of the problem. They definitely need to invest in new listening devices. But overall, we have found our new favorite cruise line and can't wait to sail with Viking again. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
By Glyn May The waiter, sensing that our patience was wearing thin, dropped a bowl of hot chips (fries) and a bottle of tomato sauce at our table. “Chef’s compliments”, he said, “ dinner is going to be a bit late”. ... Read More
By Glyn May The waiter, sensing that our patience was wearing thin, dropped a bowl of hot chips (fries) and a bottle of tomato sauce at our table. “Chef’s compliments”, he said, “ dinner is going to be a bit late”. Classy cruising. Not. Two days earlier, a crewmember carrying a sharp-edged tray had accidentally slashed my wife’s arm badly when he bumped into her in the breakfast queue. And, as we approached our homeport, all power failed and the ship narrowly missed drifting into concrete bridge pylons. In 40-plus cruises over more than 35 years before and after that forgettable holiday, my wife and I in recent years have stepped up into the heady world of ultra luxury cruising –- a field that, despite the eye-watering cost, doesn’t always live up to its publicity. Until we joined the Seabourn Ovation on March 2, 2019 for a 14-night cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore. Our wallet took a AUD21,000 (USD15,000) hit, but for the first time on this new (launched in May 2O18) absolutely beautiful mid-sized 600- passenger all-suite ship, it was worth every dollar. Nothing is perfect, so give or take a couple of petty whinges (no self-serve steamed rice and very average congee (Asian soup) while sailing in Southeast Asia, and a frosty reception in The Grill restaurant) Seabourn Ovation went as close as ever we expect to get. As sometimes jaded, increasingly grumpy and always critical travellers, it was a joy for us to start our cruise by first running an eagle eye over suite 726 on our arrival Yes, you can assume that boarding was faultless. Not one photographer on the gangway, or anywhere for the entire cruise. These days we notice things that niggle experienced cruisers on: A wall safe comfortably at chest height (it beats sitting on the floor) in a spacious walk-in robe with three dozen clothes hangers. Plenty of mirrors, a seriously cold fridge stacked with soft drinks, beer and a real bottle of champagne; plus a list of ‘complimentary’ (paid for in the fare) good quality wines. If you can’t find anything to satisfy your taste buds from Chile, California, Australia, Spain or Italy, there’s a lonely bottle of Petrus 1995 Pomeroz Grand vin from Bordeaux waiting for you in the glass-walled wine rack in the elegant main dining room ‘The Restaurant’ for USD4,500.00 (AUD6,348.00). The label is a bit scruffy so maybe the Sommelier might do a deal. In our suite there’s a lounge long enough for a rack-stretched basketballer or a third guest, a generous, glass-topped round table for 24-hour room-service-with-a-flourish (starched linen and folded napkins) and a king-size bed with a choice of six pillows soft, firm, extra firm. The TV set is on a trolley for manoeuvrability and there are plenty of movies on demand. In-suite announcements from the bridge are restricted to an average two a day -- weather and brief entertainment updates, or shore excursion boarding. No electrical engineering degree is required to operate the lights. Just click and press for a range of illumination levels from dimmed romantic to the blinding glare in the interview/confession room down at my local police station. One of Seabourn Ovation’s most remarkable (unique?) assets is its ubiquitous South African Cruise Director Andre Potgieter who recently received the prestigious President’s Award for Leadership from Seabourn Cruise Line president Rick Meadows. Andre, a softy spoken, articulate young man, emerges like a breath of spring each day in a different tailored jacket and slacks and a new spectacular bow tie with matching pocket-handkerchief. Wherever he goes, goggle-eye grandmothers swamp him with cheek kisses and embarrassing hugs. Which probably explains why, when the ship is in port, Andre trains for his favourite sport, marathon running. Of the 575 passengers from 27 nationalities on board -- average age around 60 -- there were 266 from the U.S, 112 the U.K, 46 Autralians, 34 Canadians and 33 Germans. In two weeks they demolished 2,272 bottles of red wine, 1,435 white and 633 bottles of champagne. And although there were no children on board, 390 litres of ice cream. A total of 32,826 breadsticks mopped up 21lbs of caviar. Two popular spots on the ship are the Observation Bar on the deck 11 which features high tea for an hour from 4pm then a friendly circular bar open until midnight; and The Retreat on the top deck (12) an exclusive enclave with 15 private cabanas, lavish amenities and an oversized whirlpool spa. Evening entertainment in the Grand Salon, often starring one of the slickest teams of ships’ dancers and vocalists we have seen on a cruise ship and backed by Seabourn Ovation’s highly professional orchestra, featured a range of top-class acts from a comedian and to an opera singer. A tip: For an unobstructed view, find a seat away from the intrusive supporting pillars. A shore excursion with a difference on Seabourn’s Asian itineraries is the idyllic day spent on the company’s picture-postcard tree-fringed private beach, ‘The Den’ on the exclusive Thai island of Kood. On a clear sunny day more than 400 souls disembarked from Seabourn Ovation tenders to discover rows of deck chairs under shade trees, a feast of lobster, steaks and salads, champagne on ice and a full bar. All of this ferried ashore from daybreak and served by the ship’s crew and a group of local Thais. With only a few days left and most passengers staying on board for the cruise to Dubai, we were wondering whether they still threw stowaways in the brig. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Chose this cruise as we had never been to the Asian region by ship. The Ovation was wonderful, the Staff and Crew were the best we have encountered on any cruise line .The food was beautifully presented and top quality. Handre is ... Read More
Chose this cruise as we had never been to the Asian region by ship. The Ovation was wonderful, the Staff and Crew were the best we have encountered on any cruise line .The food was beautifully presented and top quality. Handre is certainly the number 1 Cruise director.The Hotel Manager was Helmut Huber top guy and turned out to be a very funny man, actually hilarious!The Food and Beverage Manager was Ali who we have experienced previously he is just amazing he works very hard to please everyone. Our room attendant again was the best we have experienced Hayley was 1st Class. We have done many cruises on Seabourn and many other lines but Seabourn is outstanding, The special event on Ko Kood island was just an amazing experience we were so thrilled The Band know as Musical Society are fantastic and very personable, The deck parties are again outstanding and the ,say good bye ,to the crew on the deck is an emotional event most of the crew and Staff turn out to wave good bye while we drink and eat and have fun . Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Pros: We chose Viking Ocean Cruises for their excellent rating and they did not disappoint. We chose the itinerary from Hong Kong to Bangkok due to the ability to really get to see that part of the world over the course of two weeks. Orion ... Read More
Pros: We chose Viking Ocean Cruises for their excellent rating and they did not disappoint. We chose the itinerary from Hong Kong to Bangkok due to the ability to really get to see that part of the world over the course of two weeks. Orion is a spectacular ship and the shore excursions provided us with an in-depth look at the real cities and real people. A perfect two weeks. Truly, everything was top notch. Rooms were spacious and beautiful and every single staff member was friendly and helpful. We felt very safe and taken care of on the excursions. Cons: Air travel. We used Viking Air to book the flights and mistakenly trusted their advice on connections and connection times. We flew from Newark, NJ to Beijing with a connecting flight to Hong Kong. Just as we feared, our incoming flight times were changed and the flight was late thus we missed the connection to Hong Kong. We were extremely tired and frustrated by the time we actually got on board the ship. Lesson learned. No connections unless absolutely necessary. And arrive 2 days before cruise departure! But would do a Viking Ocean Cruise again in a heartbeat. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I returned to Silversea after four years (having been unable to travel in that time) and as a solo traveller for the first time - it was like coming home, from the initial warm welcome, the brilliant service, superb food (much improved ... Read More
I returned to Silversea after four years (having been unable to travel in that time) and as a solo traveller for the first time - it was like coming home, from the initial warm welcome, the brilliant service, superb food (much improved since last time), lovely butler service (thank you Gideon), as much champagne as I could drink - yes Silver Shadow is a little tired in places but it is still very much a five star experience. With only once exception the on shore tours were well organised and good value. I didn't bother with the solo travellers get together after the first night as it was so easy to get to know people and I didn't have a single evening where I needed to eat on my own. The joy of small ship cruising! It was good to see some old faces on board like Kirk the Cruise Director and Anita Labs on the shore concierge desk - and lots of passengers were booking future cruises which proves to me that Silversea are still doing things right for their discerning customer base. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise for several reasons: The reputation of Regent, the itinerary (Hong Kong, coast of Vietnam, Singapore and ended in (70 miles away) near Bangkok, and a chance to travel with good friends. We found almost every aspect of ... Read More
We chose this cruise for several reasons: The reputation of Regent, the itinerary (Hong Kong, coast of Vietnam, Singapore and ended in (70 miles away) near Bangkok, and a chance to travel with good friends. We found almost every aspect of this voyage to be outstanding. The staff, from Captain Felice, to the other 400+ officers and employees, was friendly, efficient, and service-oriented. The ship was spotless and embarkation and debarkation both ran like clockwork. The food on board was outstanding. When we ate in Compass Rose, the main dining room (spacious and very attractive), or either of the speciality restaurants (Prime 7 and Chartreuse), we felt like we were dining in five-star restaurants. The wine choices were varied and of high quality. We never ordered premium wines and didn't regret making this decision. The pool grill and La Veranda, the informal dining options, and offered good variety, wonderful salads and barbecued items. We especially appreciated the barbecue night on the pool deck where the crew worked in very hot conditions to transform this space into an elegant buffet with broiled lobster as one of the choices. Another option is the Coffee Connection, which although it doesn't have a view location, offered excellent speciality coffees and light breakfast, lunch and tea options so we often had breakfast there on days when the excursions left quite early. We had a special offer of three nights pre-cruise in Hong Kong at the Shangri-La and upgraded to a harbor view room there. Well worth it! We found the excursions (only took one extra one - a small group van to the Mekong Delta) to be of good value although some made for a very long day with 2-3 hour bus rides each way. We especially enjoyed the tours in Hong Kong, Halong Bay, Hoi An and the Mekong Delta. The only disappointment were the entertainment/enrichment activities, which varied substantially in quality from excellent to barely acceptable. The lecturer on board, who we had hoped would be a southeast Asia expert, wasn't, and offered lectured on topics that had little to do with our itinerary, reading from his notes. On the other had, the photography expert on board, was very informative and had excellent handouts to refer to later. The onboard entertainment team was very strong but only does 4 shows (one brief) per voyage and the others were less than strong overall. Know that at this time of year, it is HOT and HUMID. Temperatures were well into the 90's every day after Hong Kong, with high humidity, making it feel even hotter. This did affect our experience on some of the excursions and even the sun lovers sought shade on the pool deck much of the time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
Our overall impression of the Silver Whisper was amazing. The services were excellent. We had a wonderful butler and maid. The attention to every detail made us feel very special. The food was amazing and all our waiters were quite ... Read More
Our overall impression of the Silver Whisper was amazing. The services were excellent. We had a wonderful butler and maid. The attention to every detail made us feel very special. The food was amazing and all our waiters were quite efficient as well as entertaining. The ports were places we never dreamed of seeing and experiencing. We would definitely recommend the Silver Seas. The only comment on the negative side would be that our ship did not have a gift shop for sundry items and logo wear from Silver Seas. The gifts shop on board carried lovely specialized gifts and apparell. We particularly enjoyed the two shows that were scheduled earlier in the evening (6:45 pm). We found it difficult to stay up for show at 10pm after having such wonderful dinners. Our excursions took us to the places we really wanted to see. Some had extensive travel in the vans but could not be helped. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
Pick the finest hotel and place it on a boat. You are welcomed and within a day the entire crew addresses you by name. Clean, outstanding food choices, wonderful products and towels, outstanding crew and the facilities are beyond first ... Read More
Pick the finest hotel and place it on a boat. You are welcomed and within a day the entire crew addresses you by name. Clean, outstanding food choices, wonderful products and towels, outstanding crew and the facilities are beyond first class. There is so much to do on a "sea day." You can relax or stay as busy as you desire. Everything is included so that you do not need to worry about extra costs or tipping except if you take an excursion. Embarkation and disembarkation is smooth and seamless. What a wonderful experience. We have experienced Silverseas prior to this one that went to Southeast Asia. Already we are planning to take the entire family away next year. i want my family to experience luxury on the sea, while staying in shape, eating with great options and experiencing the world with excursions. Nothing could be better! I cannot see trying another line. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
For us, Hong Kong is always worth a visit and starting a cruise there seemed a good idea. Departing from the Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong was a fantastic and unforgettable experience. The itinerary of this cruise through the South China Sea ... Read More
For us, Hong Kong is always worth a visit and starting a cruise there seemed a good idea. Departing from the Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong was a fantastic and unforgettable experience. The itinerary of this cruise through the South China Sea was very attractive. Manila, Coron, Porto Princessa, Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu, Brunei and Singapore. Only Manila we found disappointing, despite its beautiful location; but all the other landfalls were amazing and worth the visit. The Silver Shadow could use some renovation, but the crew makes up for this in providing an outstanding service. Butler service couldn't be better and the food in the different restaurants was really good. The french food and beverage manager, Nicolas Longin, was very much present and it showed. We both are vegetarian and had no problems finding something delicious. One advantage of the Shadow being an older ship, its bathrooms still have two sinks and handy single lever mixers for comfortable control over dosing and tempering the water. The furniture in the suites look worn and the old flat tv's should be replaced; for us personally, this is not a problem, as we always turn the tv off. We rate this cruise excellent for its crew, the food and most importantly for the small number of passengers. This is getting more difficult, even Silver Sea ships get bigger; more and bigger doesn't sound better to us. We prefer and love the smaller vessels with fewer passengers. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Traveling with our dear friends, one of whom is a Veteran that served in Vietnam 50 years ago and wanted to finally go back to see it again, we originally selected this cruise because the itinerary matched with what we were interested in ... Read More
Traveling with our dear friends, one of whom is a Veteran that served in Vietnam 50 years ago and wanted to finally go back to see it again, we originally selected this cruise because the itinerary matched with what we were interested in seeing. Now, having completed the journey and enjoying every minute of it, I'm compelled to let others know how pleased we were for choosing Oceania's Nautica as our home for 15 days. Not only was the ship clean and beautiful, the Crew and Staff were so warm and welcoming every single day. The food was excellent, the entertainment top notch, the almost-daily disembarkation and embarkation process for excursions went smoothly and quickly, and all arrangements made on our behalf were very nicely taken care of. Another word about the entertainment....the 6 performers (singers and dancers) were so polished and so talented....and friendly!! We'd see them all over the ship at different times of day, and they felt like friends!! The Cruise Director too...he made every day so enjoyable!! We are looking forward to booking another cruise in the near future with Oceania. Our experience was so positive and memorable....Loved it!!! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
I chose this cruise to join a family group. It was my 6th cruise but first on Silversea. It was the best cruise ever. The service,crew and entertainment was outstanding. I loved the smaller venue which allowed us to get to know the other ... Read More
I chose this cruise to join a family group. It was my 6th cruise but first on Silversea. It was the best cruise ever. The service,crew and entertainment was outstanding. I loved the smaller venue which allowed us to get to know the other guests and staff. This made the time on board very friendly and personable. I felt so welcomed and special from the time we boarded until we disembarked. The prepaid tours were excellent giving us an excellent insight at all sites. Sue the excursion director was helpful in last minute changes which allowed us to see the super bowl and not miss a tour that was top on our list. The cruise director Mr Moss went out of his way to advise us on the availability of watching the super bowl. His personal show was one of the best performances. However it should be presented on a night at sea so you can’t miss it. We came in at the end after attending a fabulous on ground evening excursion. Kennan our butler went above and beyond to serve us. I miss him so much!!!! The entertainment had something for everyone. There were activities I missed only because of enjoying the spa or pool or just laughing with new found friends. I can’t wait to sail again on Silversea!!,, Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We chose this particular cruise due to its itinerary. Due to some negative reviews I was becoming increasingly concerned regarding the ships presentation. I should not have worried, the ship was in my view well presented, yes, it is ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise due to its itinerary. Due to some negative reviews I was becoming increasingly concerned regarding the ships presentation. I should not have worried, the ship was in my view well presented, yes, it is showing some wear, however like a good bottle of wine is is aging well. The ships restaurants provided a varied menu, our favourite was however ‘Hot Rocks’ the cuts of meat were excellent, it was a great experience, so much so that out of our 9 night voyage we ate there 5 times. The ships crew at this venue were outstanding in particular Glenn, who ensured our glasses were always full and we wanted for nothing. We had thee points of call on this trip, all of which offered differing experiences, the highlight being Ho Chi Minh city which was a pleasant and immersive assault on the senses. The cruise director Moss was excellent, keeping the guests informed as to the days acrivities, he was both personable and was always interacting with the guests. On the formal night I noticed that I had forgotten to bring my shirt studs with me. To my relief Moss kindly found some suitable alternatives. The only down side of this cruise was having to leave the ship in Singapore. Would I sail Silversea again? ...absolutely. Would I sail on Silver Shadow....without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2018
We had previously taken the Silver Whisper from New York to Bermuda and liked the Silversea product, so we booked the Silver Shadow. We were supposed to depart from Tokyo, but a Tsunami caused Silversea to change the departure port to ... Read More
We had previously taken the Silver Whisper from New York to Bermuda and liked the Silversea product, so we booked the Silver Shadow. We were supposed to depart from Tokyo, but a Tsunami caused Silversea to change the departure port to Inchon, South Korea and we visited Seoul also at that time. Silversea had to cancel all the Japan ports and allowed booked passengers to cancel if they wished, but if they stayed which we did they offered a 1/2 price cruise on a future trip which we did on the Silver Cloud. On the cruise many passengers had cancelled, but we had a light ship. Silversea is a fine cruise line and I think Celebrity realized it so formed Azamara as an answer to Silversea with its personalized service. As a thank you for keeping the booking, Silversea furnished a private car transfer to the Seoul Grand Hotel and furnished us a three step cost free upgrade at the hotel. We had a bus ride from the hotel to the port and didn't even sit down but walked straight to the check in counter and on to the ship with our cabin key. The Silver shadow brought us to Petropavlovsk, Russia on the Kamchatka Peninsula and then we visited the Aleutians, Dutch harbor, Kodiak and Homer. Our cabin was mid range and on the pool deck and very nice and roomy. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We had never cruised With Azamara before however the idea of spending Xmas and New Year on a ship, cruising from Hong Kong to Singapore, with overnight stays at several ports was very compelling. We loved every moment of this cruise! ... Read More
We had never cruised With Azamara before however the idea of spending Xmas and New Year on a ship, cruising from Hong Kong to Singapore, with overnight stays at several ports was very compelling. We loved every moment of this cruise! The Captain was the most friendly, engaging captain we had ever encounted and this friendly, outgoing style was mirrored by the Hotel Manager and the Cruise Director. We could not fault the service and professionalism of any crew member. The Captain and Hotel Manager would often wave us off as we went ashore and all staff would echo the greeting, ‘Welcome Home’, on our return, There were many other highlights including: - the sail away from Hong Kong with its dazzling display of Xmas lights - the beautiful Xmas decorations throughout the ship - the shows and entertainment with the Cruise Director leading the way with his prodigious talent - New Years Eve dinner and show that went on to the wee hours and all guests looked resplendent in their Azamara hats and head dresses - New Years Day buffet - the Azamazing evening, a stunning show in Ho Chi Minh, with music, dance, fireworks, fashion parade and three giant screens displaying scenes from across Vietnam - the White Night deck party with great food and entertainment and the parade of staff - being able to cruise up the Saigon River to The heart of Ho Chi Minh City and up the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok - the Q&A sessions with the Captain, Hotel Manager and Cruise Director provided a deeper level of understanding and appreciation of the ship and it’s operations And much more!! We were sad to see this adventure come to an end and look forward to our next cruise with Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
Two nights in Hong Kong's Marco Polo Hotel and two nights at the end in Singapore's Hotel Jen finished off our first Azamara cruise beautifully. Boarding was a breeze but the roll call for the drill after embarking was a total ... Read More
Two nights in Hong Kong's Marco Polo Hotel and two nights at the end in Singapore's Hotel Jen finished off our first Azamara cruise beautifully. Boarding was a breeze but the roll call for the drill after embarking was a total shambles. Due to this fiasco we did not make it to the cruise critic get together. Liked the two nights in ports, size of the ship, being able to cruise up the rivers in Bangkok and Saigon, the first ever bridge lessons by Agnes, and Trivia. Our cruise travelling friends took over from Agnes and we played with them nearly every day. Loved the entertainment with Eric and Alisha, who has the voice of an angel along with the service and quality of the food. What was not to like? Had a X 4 specialty restaurant package but really could have eaten in the restaurant or buffet any time and been just as happy (I don't eat seafood or lamb and very little beef). The couple we were travelling with and my husband love seafood and quality beef and were not disappointed with the chateau Bryon served in the specialty restaurant. We found the quality of the wines quite reasonable as were the cocktails. Must mention that we found some of the food to be quite salty. Even though we have been to all the ports before except for Ko Samui, which in hindsight I would have happily missed, we loved re-visiting them. Shower curtains are so yesterday!!! Want to do another Azamara cruise but need to know that Eric will be part of it. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
After 7 years this was my first cruise on Silversea again. Food was outstanding, crew fantastic. I did not try Le Champagne. Food in La Terrazza, main dining room and Pool grill was just great. We had to cancel on port cause of bad ... Read More
After 7 years this was my first cruise on Silversea again. Food was outstanding, crew fantastic. I did not try Le Champagne. Food in La Terrazza, main dining room and Pool grill was just great. We had to cancel on port cause of bad weather but I think it was a wise decision cause of safety reasons. Yes the ship does need some refurbishment but it is still a beautiful ship. The crew was absolutely fantastic. I never heard anyone saying no to a request or a question. The few shore excursions I've attended have been really good. Especially the trip to the Railway and Floating Market outside of Bangkok. My cabin was great as always and my butler and room attendant did everything they could to make my stay another memorable one. I loved it so much I will be back on the Shadow in February 2018 cruising again South East Asia. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
My cousin, Alec Graham, had cruised several times with Silversea, and he asked us to accompany him and his wife on the cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore, which we did. It was a terrific experience, as my cousin and other friends of ... Read More
My cousin, Alec Graham, had cruised several times with Silversea, and he asked us to accompany him and his wife on the cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore, which we did. It was a terrific experience, as my cousin and other friends of ours predicted. The ship was perfect in comfort and seaworthiness, the cabin comfortable and lacking nothing at all, the steward well-trained and very affable, the food very good in all the restaurants. On the sailing and entertainment side, the crew was always accessible and helpful, the entertainment program top quality with crew members doing a super job singing and dancing, and outside talents first rate, and the theater is very good in layout and acoustics. Finally, the shore excursions support group was definitely up to the challenges they faced on a daily basis, transportation vehicles and Immigration paperwork were no problem, and the restaurants chosen were very good as well. We're already looking for another cruise for this year! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Choose your cruise mates the way you choose your food. That’s because chances are the people you cruise with will determine the kind of food served on the ship. And, of course, the kind of companionship and conversation you will ... Read More
Choose your cruise mates the way you choose your food. That’s because chances are the people you cruise with will determine the kind of food served on the ship. And, of course, the kind of companionship and conversation you will enjoy. For example, when up-market travel specialists Abercrombie & Kent USA chartered Ponant’s L’Austral for a Ryukyu Islands cruise from Osaka to Taiwan and Hong Kong, most of those A&K passengers came from the U.S. So A&K arranged with the ship to provide menus and food items that would appeal to Americans – even though some people on that cruise came from other countries. If you had been expecting rich French food and strong cheeses, you might have been disappointed with the more U.S. style of food items on offer – though, of course, their quality and quantity were what you would expect on a good cruise ship. Still, most cruise ship kitchens will respond to reasonable special requests if, in the above case, you had asked for more French style food…or for a strong cheese. Presumably that sort of cuisine was regularly served to at least the senior officers. Re-provisioning on this trip took place whenever the opportunity presented itself – taking on local seafood or fruit, for example. So that was always a treat. While the cruise ship provides the base for all the action – both on the water and on land – people who travel with A&K are looking for adventure experiences. This president's cruise (which turned into a chairman's cruise, reflecting former A&K USA president Phil Otterson's promotion to chairman of the board) certainly delivered – and, as a bonus, included a captain who had been captured along with his crew and ship by Somali pirates. But more about that later. This is an ideal expedition style ship, with just 134 passenger cabins yet with all the comforts and extras you come to expect from a luxury small ship. The balconies are actually wide enough to comfortably fit two chairs and an ottoman. Our itinerary took us to many of the little-known, little-visited Ryukyu Islands stretching away from the southwestern end of Japan’s main islands. The docks could accommodate us, so it was easy to embark and disembark to go ashore to explore the countryside on one of the three excursions A&K offered at each stop. As for the Somali pirate incident, that ship-napping took place in 2008 when Somali pirates fired on and then boarded the sailing ship Le Ponant, under the command of Patrick Marchesseau, now L’Austral’s captain. “It was scary when they came shooting at us with their Kalashnikovs but then it turned into more of a business transaction,” says Marchesseau, who managed to bargain the pirates down to USD$2 million from their original USD$3 million demand. His crew of 30, including seven women who had initially hidden below decks, were released; the captain was held hostage until the money had been paid. French navy helicopters then managed to capture some of the pirates, who had scattered on land, and recovered 20 per cent of the ransom. “When I told my three young daughters about what happened, I said it was like Captain Hook and I was Peter Pan,” said Marchesseau, who lives in Edmonton with his Canadian wife. He was awarded France’s Medal of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and wrote a book about the hijacking. But even if your captain hasn’t been captured by pirates, the bottom line is: think international when you go cruising these days and enjoy more than just your home culture. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
21 cruises and 19 years after we first set sail on Radisson's "Song of Flower", which soon became Ponant's "Le Diamant", we at last experienced L'Austral and French hospitality. In the meantime we have ... Read More
21 cruises and 19 years after we first set sail on Radisson's "Song of Flower", which soon became Ponant's "Le Diamant", we at last experienced L'Austral and French hospitality. In the meantime we have sailed on many Seabourn cruises, some Radisson/Paul Gauguin, several Silversea, and a memorable trans-Atlantic trip on Cunard's QM2. We should have joined Ponant years earlier. As we made our way south along the coast of Vietnam, eventually to reach Brunei and Kota Kinabalu, we were delighted to find we again were back in the golden days of cruising; before the vessels were overrun with some of the grumpy non-travellers who have written some of these reviews. First, we were at last free of the structured, dress coded, regimented approach of Seabourn and (to a lesser extent) Silversea. From captain to repair mechanic, nothing was a problem. The elegant French ladies of reception, the restaurant maitre d's, the superb guest relations staff - all were faultless. Now its true that, with delightful Gallic insouciance, some who thought themselves important and could only converse in demands were put down in that delightful French way - service slowed down for example. With half our passengers French for a start, such delicate responses did not happen to many! The food was exceptional. The chef had the pride and the courage to simply offer his best- none of the "branded" marketing which has in the past been pushed at us that the menu is by some American chef unknown to us but apparently revered in his country. Ponant does not splash out on vast ranges of menu items, but instead provides what you would get in a family hotel in France. Good food, well cooked and presented. The sous chef who spent his night on the baguettes, brioches, pain du chocolate, and croissants made breakfast a delight. For the first time ever, the coffee was always equal to the best in Italy (or New Zealand). The tours were fascinating and left on time. They were excellent value, taking us to parts of Vietnam we could not have experienced by simply going ashore. Disembarkation was the smoothest we have ever experienced. Don't go on Ponant if you want a casino, trivia quiz sessions, or the intrusion on your holiday of attempts at mass jollity. Don't go if you think your cabin should be the size of an American hotel room and you intend to spend your time inside it. The compact cabin suites are, like many European hotel rooms, practical bases from which to have your holiday outside them not in them. Intelligent engaged older children would learn much - on this cruise there were none of any kind. Do go if you want quality entertainment like a ballet group of five, a classical pianist, and a singing duo of ability. A captain and crew tuned to your needs, an entertainment director who is a true professional, and a vision of cruising which seeks to provide what you want, not impose their ideas on your holiday. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We like Cunard for still keeping the style of cruising. There are some formal nights with formal/cocktail dress ups, but we like it. We like that the company keep the same dress code for dinners at the restaurant. It is classical style. ... Read More
We like Cunard for still keeping the style of cruising. There are some formal nights with formal/cocktail dress ups, but we like it. We like that the company keep the same dress code for dinners at the restaurant. It is classical style. The ship is beautiful, very clean and service is outstanding. Embarkation and disembarkation both were very organized and went so smoothly and quick. Ports of call were new for us, we went out to shore excursions at each port. But we did not buy all shore excursions from the ship, some of them were expensive compare to some on-line companies that offered shore tours. The tours that we bought from the ship were very well organized and very informative too. This ship is not so good for children, there are no children playgrounds and pools are plain, without any slides. There are mostly elderly people on the ship and it did not bother me, but for young people there are not much to do in the evening: bars closed early and dance club is only one for the whole ship. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This 7 night cruise was our 4th time aboard Mary, and our 5th week in terms of days. We were keen to see the changes made during the refit last year as we had spent 16 nights on her just prior (BNE/HKG) Boarding at HKG was great, we ... Read More
This 7 night cruise was our 4th time aboard Mary, and our 5th week in terms of days. We were keen to see the changes made during the refit last year as we had spent 16 nights on her just prior (BNE/HKG) Boarding at HKG was great, we were in the 4th group called and were on board by 1pm and by 2pm we had squared all our clothes away and were enjoying the complementary sparkling wine on our balcony. Refit Changes - As mentioned by many others, the carpet is a little odd, not the design (I think the starburst design is good) but mainly the faded aspect of one side of the passageways. The Carinthia lounge is much better than the Wintergarden but alas, we liked it before because it was so quiet and now it is very popular, so that is a success for the ship, we still spent a fair bit of time there for lunch. The new deck 13 cabins provided a "deck 14" viewing option which is awesome (see photos), gives a really good aspect without detracting from Mary's overall look.We talked to one lady who was in the new single cabins and she offered us a look, these (as expected) were fantastic, lovely marble bathroom, king single bed and a chaise lounger to look out the large window, the wife and I wish we could book one of these for us as a couple - so roomy! Food possibly was not quite as good as previous voyages, we dined at the Veranda and that was top notch quality, ambiance still poor as there were only a few diners, Cunard need to reduce the price to get more people dining, last year it was USD50 for us both in Todd English, now the V charges USD50 each and I dont think we would go back again unless it was bustling. Smoker's still occupy a small area on the main pool deck 8 as well as deck 7, I think they should be confined to deck 7 as aft as possible. Our cabin being balcony deck 11 was terrific, bed just as relaxing as ever, loved the balcony, hopefully the next refit will see the bathroom improved which is now a little dated, especially seeing the new single stateroom bathrooms. Our only port stop was Laem Chabang and we did not feel like a long bus trip to Bangkok and wanted to maximise our time on the ship.Overall another great trip on Mary, shame it was so short but this was a great value trip for us and looking to book our next trip to continue our round the world trip on her, one sector each year..... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
This cruise and Seabourn especially was chosen based on recommendations from friends who were spot on. The ship, the food and drinks, the cabin and the entertainment were all top class. The female cruise director must be a gem for this ... Read More
This cruise and Seabourn especially was chosen based on recommendations from friends who were spot on. The ship, the food and drinks, the cabin and the entertainment were all top class. The female cruise director must be a gem for this cruise line. We started our cruise in Hong Kong and visited Xiamen, China, several ports in the Philipines including Manila. Thereafter Borneo, Singapore, Bangkok and several other ports in Thailand, Kambodia and Vietnam before leaving the ship in Hong Kong.Four weeks of top class cruising. The highlight of this trip was Vietnam were Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, which it is now called, was a big and positive surprise. The communists seem to have found the perfect blend of communism and capitalism; more or less like China. The food on the Seabourn Sojourn was excellent and varied. The top chef Henning made a very good impression, and we were lucky to be able to go with him when he went shopping for the freshest produce both in Saigon and in the Bangkok area. We are experienced cruisers and have tried 7-8 different ones. So far Seabourn are at the top of our priority list. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
This was our fourth cruise on Seabourn and we're planning our fifth for Alaska, so I think you can tell we are sold on the company. More on that later. This cruise starts in Hong Kong, touches china at Xiamen, goes down through the ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise on Seabourn and we're planning our fifth for Alaska, so I think you can tell we are sold on the company. More on that later. This cruise starts in Hong Kong, touches china at Xiamen, goes down through the Phillipines, Malaysia in Borneo, Turns at Singapore, Up to Thailand, Cambodia, then up through Vietnam including Halong Bay and then back to Hong Kong. As many people do, we got off in Sihanoukville to fly to Angkor Wat for two nights before rejoining the ship in Ho Chi Mihn City. Because my wife has substantial difficulty with stairs, we arranged private excursions for many of the ports and had our own guide and driver for Angkor Wat. So this time around, I have experience with only a few of the shore excursions. The Phillipine stops were largely Phillipine tourist locations. Hundred Islands is interesting geography with lousy snorkeling, Coron on the other hand was brilliant snorkeling, some of the best coral ever, not to be missed. Boracay was very touristed because of Chinese New Year, but pleasant if crowded. Singapore is a delightful stop and would have made a good place to start or stop. Cooking class in Hoi An (Danang) was excellent. Photos of Halong Bay is the way I finally convinced my wife of this cruise. It is beautiful, but all the tourist boats go (with some 6,000 people per day) to the same locations, so it's also a little packed. If you can afford Seabourn, you should. I can't actually speak to the peer cruise lines, since we chose Seabourn at the start and never left. But this one is great. Tips are "neither necessary or expected", but this is a staff that operates like one working for tips. They are constantly friendly, helpful, and engaging. We enjoy cruising in part because of the social aspect. It pays to be a little bit forward and not shy in introducing yourself to others, but we've always found it easy. With 450 passengers, we keep running into the people we've met, but we also arrange to meet folks for drinks and dinner. At dinner in the main restaurant you can ask to be seated with others and you will be put at a table for six, which makes for pretty good conversation. There are no assigned seats or times, just show up when you want between 7:00 and 9:00. We are quite found of Restaurant 2, which provides a fixed tasting menu each night. Some feel it's a little pretentious, but I think it's just pretentious enough. No extra charge, but you do need reservations and it tends to be fully booked by the middle of a cruise. So reserve early. We have room service breakfast each morning, in part to avoid the calorie menace of a breakfast buffet. Ordered the night before, it is almost always delivered right at the start of their 15 minute window. of 26 breakfasts, one was late, causing us to gulp it down in order to make our excursion. That evening, there was a plate of chocolate truffles and two glasses of champagne along with a nice note of apology for our inconvenience. The food on Seabourn is outstanding. We met friends on this cruise who are vegan, they felt very well served. Each night they discussed the menu for the next day with the staff and they got generally excellent meals. If you can make good food for vegans, how much better for we sensible carnivores. The house wines are good with alternative wines both for white and red. The only problem is the magic Seabourn wine glass which is always full. The demographic on Seabourn is American/British/Australian with a smattering of others. The ship runs in English, with a crew drawn from across the world. The passengers are older, the majority retired. On this cruise the age range included some middle aged folks, matching some of the photos in the brochures. There were no children, and this would not be the cruise for them. The bottom of the age range is about 40. One of the things we love about the Seabourn ships are the suite layouts. Large with both a tub and shower (didn't use the tub this time), two sinks, and a walk-in closet. We've always had a Veranda and appreciated it. The entertainment is solid. We like the staff singers and dancers. Seabourn has often brought a local group on board to perform, those are some of the best. The lectures on this cruise (Seabourn calls them "conversations" but they are lectures) were from good to great. Hong Kong is a fine place to start and end a cruise. We had 2 nights before the cruise and 4 after. If you're there, go to Sam's Tailor for a custom suit. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
I am 25 yr old, traveling alone, and on my first ever cruise. Couldn't have been more impressed with the Azamara Journey. There isn't one single category (crew, amenities, food, security, rooms, atmosphere, activities, land ... Read More
I am 25 yr old, traveling alone, and on my first ever cruise. Couldn't have been more impressed with the Azamara Journey. There isn't one single category (crew, amenities, food, security, rooms, atmosphere, activities, land excursions, etc.) that I can criticize. I was the youngest solo traveler on the ship but was far from forgotten! The crew took time to get to know me and it wasn't long before I was being called by name everywhere I went and they had my food/drink preferences down. There was a large variety of land excursions at each port, and a lot of activities put together by Taylor (activities manager) for those remaining on the ship. Entertainment on the ship was excellent! Eric (cruise director) is VERY GOOD at what he does. The ship's officers, including Captain Johannes, were out and about getting to know the guests which, to me, is very important. The food was outstanding on all levels, from snacks in the cafes, the buffet, and all the way up to fine dining in Prime C and Aqualina. Cleanliness and presentation of the facilities and staterooms was excellent. All in all, Azamara blew me away. I did zero research on the ship before booking this cruise, but from here on out Azamara is the only ship I will choose. Every guest I met on the ship were all experienced cruisers and said Azamara is by far the best. Already booked my next cruise for November on Azamara Journey! Cheers! :) Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We had a wonderful cruise again. we embarked in Hong Kong jan 19th and were a bit anxious about the weather enroute. We had heard that the previous cruise was hit by lots of bad weather coming up from Singapore to Hong Kong. First we ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise again. we embarked in Hong Kong jan 19th and were a bit anxious about the weather enroute. We had heard that the previous cruise was hit by lots of bad weather coming up from Singapore to Hong Kong. First we were pleasantly surprised by Hong Kong. A lovely place and we got around a lot during our two days pre-cruise. Weather was at it's best for january and we had temperatures around 20 degrees which is very acceptable. Embarkation at 11.30 was quick, and we got our stateroom (8010 within a few hours First leg to Halong Bay was calm and we even had a fair amount of sun. In Halong Bay we had a private tour to Bai Tu Long Bay with small junk for six people. It was an 8 hour cruise to a very calm and not-so-touristy area of Halong Bay. Next stop in Danang we did a ship's excursion and was very pleased with that. Moving on to Saigon we only had 8 hours in port and we just did a private tour with Zoom in the city itself. No time for anything more. We wish we could have stayed overnight in Saigon, and maybe Azamara should just do this itinerary a 14 days to accomplish that. Bangkok was a nice stay with two nights and almost three days in port. Azamazing evening was on the arrival day and was, as always, a spectacular experience. Sadly we missed the White Night on the next day.- Many people chose not to be on the ship that evening. When in Bangkok we want to see Bangkok, so IMHO this White Night should be moved to another evening. Koh Samui is just a short stop. We did no Land Discoveries and just had a short trip ashore. We tendered to Nathon on the west coast . Just a small town with a few shops. We thought it was obvious to tender into Bophut or Bangrak on the north shore as this is a more touristy area with lot of resorts and plenty of things to do shoreside. This is, however, probably a decision that lies with local port authoroties. Singapore was our last port and we bought a Land discovery with hotel drop-off. Perfect for us this time, as we got a nice sightseeing and got dropped off on the doorstep to the hotel afterwards. On board experience: We love it. The crew is fantastic and the food was fabulous in all venues. We bought the four table tour for Speciality restaurants and was more than content with that. We also had a fantastic Rijstaffel,- all set up un Sunset Bar. We didn't go to all the shows as we tend to dine late and stay long. We did see a few and the cast is really good. Max played in the casino Bar so we had most evenings there. Lectures were intersting and a lot of activities during the day. Being from near the north pole we chose to stay in the pool area when we could, and the weather was very nice,- almost all of time. Some chilly hours in Halong Bay, and a few showers one afternoon. Apart from that we had mostly sun, interupted by some high clouds. We were lucky compared to the previous cruise. We are always happy to come "home" on Azamara. The officers and crew of the Journey are always top notch. I cannot point out anything negative with this ship. Would we choose this cruise again? YES. We would do it tomorrow. We had a fantastic cruise. just give us a night in Saigon as well. Read Less

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