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4 Istanbul to Africa Cruise Reviews

Our Voyage took us from Istanbul to Cape Town - 93 days of exploring exotic ports. The ports were very good but the ship was a zero !! Very noisy in every location; especially on the outside decks as the engine noise is not muffled. It is ... Read More
Our Voyage took us from Istanbul to Cape Town - 93 days of exploring exotic ports. The ports were very good but the ship was a zero !! Very noisy in every location; especially on the outside decks as the engine noise is not muffled. It is very difficult to have a conversation on the top deck or by the pool. The ship has a LOT of movement and doesn't handle the ocean very well. It is an OLD SHIP to begin with, and should not be sold as a luxury cruise ship at the current prices.It was built in 1989, and definitely shows its age. The ship has been "modernized", but the flow is very difficult as one has to walk through the main lounge to get to other venues; the ship is built like a railroad car, so you have to navigate through each room to get to the next. And if one room has a lecture or is occupied, one has to walk through the audience to get the next room.The room phone will not take messages .... you have to walk through the corridor to to your selected room and leave a note on the door to get a call back.The WiFi is not only SLOW, it is almost useless. Very difficult if not impossible to connect ones computer to the system ..... and then it drops off as you type an email.I have talked to the TI staff, and was told he has asked the UK office to upgrade this system for the past two years and nothing has been done; it must be a money thing ..... but they are not embarrassed to up the prices on shore excursions or anything the ship sells, including the price to book. The food is not outstanding .... more standard coffee shop variety ( Woolworth in the UK or Denny's in the USA). Service and the staff are excellent ... no complaints; however, their mantra when you order an menu item is "excellent choice" .... one get a little tired of hearing that three or four meals a day.The library books are from 1998 to 2008 .... must have been transferred from the MV Discovery ... get real... this is 2015. The life vests are dated 1999 and were last inspected at that time ..... does this seem correct for a cruise in 2015 ?? There is NO specialty dining room; that space has been converted to normal dining room service. The lunch at the Veranda buffet is the same as the dining room, and the variety doesn't change from day to day ... ditto for dinner. The ice cream that is served in the afternoon, after lunch, is always runny ... not hard ... as they do not have proper refrigeration on the outside deck where the ice cream is served. There is NO food service after they close the dining room or Veranda (buffet) areas. Once it is closed, you have to wait until the next regular meal time for snacks or any food ( except room service... which is limited). If you are an INDEPENDENT passenger, and do not purchase any shore excursions from the ship, you will be "stuck", and they make no attempt to assist independent passengers ..... you are entirely on your own .... even in port ..... when you are in a closed port, with no transportation, good luck trying to get to town !! The Brits love this ship as they enjoy being away from the UK ( weather). BUT, if you enjoy social activities, and want good shows, good entertainment, good stimulating lectures, etc .... look else where. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We began the cruise by sailing out of Istanbul, Turkey, at night surrounded by lights of all colors on buildings and bridges and the overwhelming sounds of prayers from minarets nearby and up into the hills. We ended the cruise by sailing ... Read More
We began the cruise by sailing out of Istanbul, Turkey, at night surrounded by lights of all colors on buildings and bridges and the overwhelming sounds of prayers from minarets nearby and up into the hills. We ended the cruise by sailing into one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town, South Africa. In between we visited small villages to large cities in emerging nations to established nations, and through our experienced tour guides or our inexperienced- but- so- excited tour guides we learned about the people, transportation, foods, and religions of so many very different cultures. Generally the seas were smooth, two rainy days, warm to humid, hot weather. We prefer a ship the size of Nautica. The staff is into service, captain so congenial and cruise staff very talented. The cruise director, Dottie, was great, and there was talented entertainment including a comedian, fantastic pianist and the group,The Olympic Duo. Margaret was the best dance instructor and entertainer. Super cooking demos and samples. Special guest speakers were very good. We think Nautica has the best library at sea with extremely comfortable couches and chairs, computer access and abundant book collections. Our cabin was fine with plenty of storage space, good TV and was supplied with slippers and comfy robes and wonderful bedding. The food consisted of daily delicious, fresh baked goods, light salads, fresh fruits, vegetables and fish, wonderful cheeses and freshly cooked poultry and meats. There were free sodas and bottled water -especially needed when touring in Africa. Enjoyed all the restaurants but preferred eating on the outside deck, Terrace Cafe. Depending on the port, local representative(s) came onto the ship to provide maps, tour info, stamps and mail service, postcards, and/or currency exchange. This was in addition to info provided by the ship's tour experts. In Africa musical groups and dancers in costumes performed on the piers and often many local products were available for purchase. Mostly we took ship's tours for reasons including health issues and that we were in areas of the world we didn't know. Not inexpensive, but all were good or excellent except one and Nautica satisfied our serious complaint. Other times we took free shuttle buses that the ship had running into towns.Complaints: Too few deck chairs on the "promenade deck" deck 5. We were very disappointed in that the special guest speakers did not talk about Africa although this was the focus of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Likes and dislikes are individual tastes and here are mine. There are many pluses about the Nautica. The staff is very good. The rooms are comfortable with marvelous mattress and bed linens, plenty of storage, and adequate 220 and ... Read More
Likes and dislikes are individual tastes and here are mine. There are many pluses about the Nautica. The staff is very good. The rooms are comfortable with marvelous mattress and bed linens, plenty of storage, and adequate 220 and 110 outlets. I could bring alcohol and wine on board. Water and sodas are complimentary and water is always on the gangway as one debarks. Also, my cell phone received a signal on days at sea and in most ports (I have a SIMM which has both a US and international number). The best things about the Nautica are the size of the ship and its itinerary. These were the two reasons I chose to sail with Oceania and in neither was I disappointed. Entertainment is not a big deal to me. I am focused on the ports, people and their culture. However, Nautica seems to do a good job trying to entertain as many people as possible with a veritable plethora of games, contests, trivia, projects and crafts, and some lecturers. Terry Bishop, a historical lecturer, was excellent. The bands, from what little I heard, were good. There are endless interest groups almost to the point of nausea. Our Captain Junica Brajcic of Dubrovnik Croatia is charming and quite the celebrity. He commanded the Nautica during a Somali pirate attack in the Nov 2008. However, there are some issues to consider before sailing with Nautica or Oceania. First, the ship excursions are expensive and rather shallow. Comments from those on the tours ranged from "great" to "rip-off." I arranged private tours for the ports, did twice as much yet paid about a quarter of what the ship charged. As an example, in Ghana, their 5 hours to Elmina and Cape Coast Castles cost $229, their 6 hours to Kakum Park and the canopy walkway cost $229. Our private tour of 8 hours to Elmina and Kakum cost $90. For those not wanting to be off the ship too long, or miss their trivia game, or uninterested in seeing as much of the port as possible, I suppose the ship's tours are adequate. Meeting people thru the online Cruise Critic, there is an opportunity to form small groups and independently tour the ports. And by the way, it would also help, for those not using Oceania for overpriced pre-cruise arrangements, if Oceania notified us the name of the port where we were to find the ship. Secondly, the Internet is slow and expensive. It has been a long time since I have had to use dialup. I purchased a 100-minute package for $80. However, when these minutes were used, the next time I signed in it cost .95 each minute. An answer is WIFI. Before sailing, unsubscribe to sites and ask friends not to send any attachments. I took my iTouch and logged directly into my GMail account. I could download my mail, send 2 or 3 messages, and publish my Blog in about 6-7 minutes. And I could get a signal both in my cabin and everywhere about the ship. I am extremely disappointed in the air arrangements. I paid the extra fee to leave early and fly through Chicago to pick up my sister who is asthmatic and mobility-challenged. I paid for both of our cruises on my credit card, we stayed in the same stateroom, and I could not have stressed more how important it was that our flights be coordinated. No such thing happened. While we were on the same flights, our seats were at opposite ends of the plane and each leg of the trip I had to find someone to exchange seats. We were told by the airlines that our reservations were not linked. The Nautica has recently been refurbished and most public areas are quite nice. However, there is a lack of quiet deck space. Chairs around the pool are in a noisy area and at times the area was too hot or windy to use. And rarely did anyone ever come around to see if I wanted refreshments. There is an area along both sides of Deck 5 but only a few lounges. We were able to occasionally get a staff person to bring more lounges. I am not overly impressed with the dining nor the wine. Toscana was a major disappointment because of its unremarkable decor and menu. Our first and only dinner there took over 3 hours to serve. We cancelled all future reservations. Polo Grill was better but steaks were not consistently grilled. The food and service in the Main Dining Room was generally better. The best however, was dining on the terrace at Tapas (inside is utilitarian). Probably the best food most nights was cooked-to-your-order specials. For lunch, Waves was great. The wine at a minimum of $30 a bottle was not that good (add 18% service to all alcohol). Hopefully the $75+ was better. A real drawback is there is no place to get something to eat 24/7. To call for room service to get a sandwich or piece of bread or cheese is silly. Whatever you do, try not to exchange money on the ship. The absolute worst was when a "bank" came on board after docking. Perhaps the worst, and most offensive, issue with Nautica is the different colored WorldCard used to signify level of stateroom booked. In fact, many things are tied into the level of stateroom booked, from boarding times, amenities, and dining arrangements. Forget pre-reserving a table to include friends unless your guests are traveling at the same level of accommodation. My travel mates upgraded to Deck 7, we were Deck 4. They could not reserve a table to include us but 4 of their 6 reservations. Forget doing it later on the ship as this is just not going to meet with success. And what is the reason for providing different colored WorldCards according to level of accommodation? Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We've sailed Oceania before and think they provide an excellent experience. Even so, a thirty day cruise was a log time and a lot of money, so we debated about it. The itinerary convinced us, with fifteen ports, most places we'd ... Read More
We've sailed Oceania before and think they provide an excellent experience. Even so, a thirty day cruise was a log time and a lot of money, so we debated about it. The itinerary convinced us, with fifteen ports, most places we'd never been that are difficult to get to any other way, sailing the West Coast of Africa. There were twelve sea days - interspersed nicely with the ports, to make for a very relaxing cruise, mostly through tropical waters. Midway through the cruise, I got to my 100th country. The Nautica is a beautiful ship - we discovered on a Renaissance cruise over a decade ago. The public rooms are nicely decorated, the cabins are reasonably roomy and easy to live in. Oceania beds are among the most comfortable we've experienced. Oceania is outstanding for service - friendly, helpful crew that always great you, even as you pass in the hallway. The crew was from 44 countries, making my custom of saying thank you in the right language a challenge, but one always met with a smile of appreciation. Food onboard was a highlight of the trip - the Grand Dining Room serves a four course lunch and a six course dinner with a variety of options that changes daily. Passengers are seated when they arrive, at a table for two or a bigger table for groups or those who want to share (a great way to meet new people). The Terrace Cafe offers cafeteria style (with someone to carry your plate and someone to spoon on the cottage cheese), convenient for breakfast and open three meals a day, with plenty of outdoor seating. The two specialty restaurants were there for dinners grander than the six course Grand Dining Room, with specialty olive oils and balsamic vinegar, larger portions and even more elaborate service. They required reservations, but we had no problem making them before departure and during the cruise. The breads are baked three times daily, special requests are honored easily, and wine follows you to the next meal if you don't finish the bottle. Several items were memorable from the dover sole at Toscany to the cold fruit soups that appeared regularly to the oversized roast beef at the Polo Grill. The entertainment staff were welcoming and friendly. Good enrichment speakers regularly provided at-sea day talks (unfortunately not on West Africa), the comedians were great, services were held every Friday night and all through Chanukah for the Jews on board - even latkes. The reception staff was helpful in solving problems. The disappointment was in destination services, where they couldn't tell us the location of the Modern Art Museum in Istanbul (it was a quarter mile away on the dock), were totally useless for travelers not booking on an excursion, and almost as useless for those investing in the badly planned and badly operated excursions (forced non-stop march through the market in Tunis). I actually tried the gym, a radical move for me. I preferred the library, but I signed up for three hours of trainer who helped me learn how to use all those exercise machines. She was delightful, but didn't overcome decades of inactivity. The West African ports were not ready for prime time - we were pioneering in stops in The Gambia, Togo and Benin. They did not have the tourist infrastructure to deal with 684 tourists arriving at once, staying eight hours, and leaving - things like money changing, taxis, even maps and materials. The people were delightful, happy to see us, ready to sell everything (good price - special for you). Their crafts and fabrics were wonderful, and we brought home many great memories and souvenirs. Dakar and Takoradi, Ghana were better organized, but still difficult. The tour of Goree Island and it's slave transit facilities was moving. The other stops, Crete, Malta, Tunis, Valencia, Casablanca, Canary Islands, Namibia and Cape Town are far better equipped to deal with tourists, and the four wheel drive through the Namibian desert was fabulous. We were not bothered by the thirty day cruise, although I'm not sure I could have taken the back-to-back cruise to Singapore that went for another forty days, as several of the people on the ship did. I was disappointed that it was over. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010

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