39 Istanbul First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise and aside from a few minor complaints, it was amazing. We booked a transfer from the airport directly with Celebrity and it went very smoothly with the Celebrity representatives at the airport extremely easy to ... Read More
This was our first cruise and aside from a few minor complaints, it was amazing. We booked a transfer from the airport directly with Celebrity and it went very smoothly with the Celebrity representatives at the airport extremely easy to find. Embarkation took maybe 5 minutes at most and we were on the ship. The concierge class room we were in was a great size and the balcony with chairs and foot stools was perfect. The bathroom had all the amenities you'd need and the shower was especially nice. One of the perks with concierge is the afternoon snacks and we managed to get both a fruit and cheese plate every day which were nice touches. Our stateroom attendants did an excellent job making up and turning down our room and it was always spotless. The only real minor complaint we had was with some of the dining options. On the first day, we were hounded at every meal about drink packages but thankfully that stopped after the first day. The buffet was slightly inconsistent in that some days they had an amazing selection but then on other days it offered plain, bland and boring food. However, the dessert selection was always amazing and I'm surprised I didn't put on more weight than I did. We also tried the Tuscan Grill which was pretty good overall but they brought my steak out well done when I ordered it medium and service was a little on the slow side. The other issue we had is that we were billed at full price but were supposed to get 20% off which took a couple days to get corrected but it was corrected in the end. The dining wasn't terrible by any means but Celebrity is supposed to be known for having amazing food and we were just let down somewhat on a couple days. The entertainment was well done overall. We only ended up seeing two shows but both were excellent. Especially the Tenors of Rock. The hot glass show was also very interesting and I managed to win a bowl that they give away after every show. We didn't use the spa or fitness area but took a walk through and they looked nice. The pools were almost empty pretty much every day after 5 or 6 PM which was nice if you wanted to take a dip when it wasn't crowded. However, it was pretty chaotic after 9 or 10 AM on sea days. The ports were very good overall. Mykonos was beautiful and the ruins on Delos were very cool. Everything about Malta was gorgeous and I'd go back there in a heartbeat. We did the Taormina on your own Celebrity excursion and were slightly disappointed but that was mostly because we aren't big shoppers and that's almost exclusively what you do in that town. The Mt. Vesuvius hike and Pompeii tour was amazing and we were glad we did that. The only downside was the stop at the cameo factory which wasn't that interesting at all. I'd rather have the extra 30 mins at Pompeii than get stuck there. The only downside is that the guide we had during our Vesuvius and Pompeii excursion was somewhat lazy and didn't even count everyone all the time. I'm surprised we didn't leave anyone behind at one of the stops. Disembarkation was fairly smooth. There was just a slight wait after getting off the ship at Civitivecchia for the shuttle to the port entrance but overall we were very happy and would do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Having conducted 2 Viking River Cruises we were looking forward to our first Ocean Cruise of any sort and were not disappointed. Initially concerned when we read reviews of the early cruises any problems had been sorted by the time our ... Read More
Having conducted 2 Viking River Cruises we were looking forward to our first Ocean Cruise of any sort and were not disappointed. Initially concerned when we read reviews of the early cruises any problems had been sorted by the time our cruise took place. Staff were friendly and approachable; food was excellent and so much choice; tours were well planned and ran smoothly with disembarkation and embarkation, even by boat, well timed and executed as long as people turned up at the times specified and did not try to go on tours earlier than they were supposed to! The only downside about the tours is that if you choose to go on one of the paid tours you receive no compensation for the included tour you did not take and this can work out expensive. That said the included tours were generally fine for getting a feel for the places visited and are similar in style to those included in River Cruise tours. Cabins are a good size and the veranda is lovely even in the autumn weather. Bathroom a good size and storage is good. Public areas have enough seating and the 3 pools and SPA are just great. Despite autumn we ate breakfast and lunch outside every day (though some found it cold) and had no problem dining in the evening at the times we wanted. Unlike river cruise you eat at a time that is good for you and can eat as a couple or join in with others if you wish. Embarkation was well handled though it was frustrating at Istanbul airport where porters insisted on taking luggage to the waiting coaches where it would have been quicker for those who were able to take their own. Unfortunately this is the only cruise where you do not arrive in the disembarkation port the day before so we did not have a day in Venice (we knew this so visited Venice separately earlier in the year). I believe all other cruises have a day in port either end. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our first cruise and we are looking forward to another with Viking. The size of the ship was perfect, very well run by all crew personnel in all areas of the ship. While we don't have another to compare with, I can honestly ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we are looking forward to another with Viking. The size of the ship was perfect, very well run by all crew personnel in all areas of the ship. While we don't have another to compare with, I can honestly say "why bother". It was exactly what we wanted as far as a cruise experience. It's topnotch in our view, the layout of all areas were were so well designed, it made it feel even larger than it was. The crew members were extremely efficient and polite. We loved that the dining areas provided different ambiance and all were very satisfying to our palate. We thought the excursions were very good, but perhaps needed more detail on some of them as to the demand of areas for walking, etc. We had no problems, but did help some who were having difficulty getting around. The cruise and tour directors provided exceptionally detailed information regarding the ports being visited. It was especially nice to be able to review those presentations on the TV in your room. A nice surprise was the beauty of the walled cities and harbors of Kotor and Dubrovnik. This is definitely a cruise to be taken by everyone - for the beauty and history of the sites. Finally, we loved the 'all-inclusive' aspect of the cruise. Made it so simple, yet relaxing (and no formal requirement). Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Being new to cruising, this experience was beyond my expectations in every way. The stateroom was roomy and luxurious and having a veranda with table and chairs was delightful. The food was gourmet, no matter where we dined. Having ... Read More
Being new to cruising, this experience was beyond my expectations in every way. The stateroom was roomy and luxurious and having a veranda with table and chairs was delightful. The food was gourmet, no matter where we dined. Having choices as to where we wanted to dine was very nice - sometimes we just wanted to grab something at the World Cafe, sometimes we wanted to go to the smaller restaurants and order off a menu, and other times we wanted to go to the cutting edge venus -and at each choice, the food didn't disappoint! The ship was very comfortable and well appointed with no crowds. There were plenty of spaces for people to find and relax, all with views. Viking was very good at moving people seamlessly, we knew where to go and when to be back. The local guides were knowledgeable and the tours were small enough so we could talk with the guide and glean lots of local information. The staff was incredible - everyone was friendly and helpful. Very well trained, they made us feel welcomed and comfortable everywhere we went. We are already looking forward to picking another ocean cruise and are confident that Viking will help make the experience rewarding and enriching. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We were a little hesitant to do a river cruise: would we at less than 60 be the youngest? Will we be confined? Can we take 10 nights of RSL entertainment? On all accounts wrong! Mid range age, great facilities on ship, fabulous ... Read More
We were a little hesitant to do a river cruise: would we at less than 60 be the youngest? Will we be confined? Can we take 10 nights of RSL entertainment? On all accounts wrong! Mid range age, great facilities on ship, fabulous entertainment with rich lectures on the local culture, top quality food, great, in fact superb staff - we had a ball. It may have helped that the boat being the last of the season going up the Danube was 50% full - it may have been over half of them Australians, or just the places we visited and friendly professional tours, but even as a seasoned traveller, this was the best organised travelling experience we have ever had. Highly recommended, the only slight problem we had, was we needed to exercise early in the tour, as we couldn't say no to the fabulous fare!! Get on the bikes, enjoy the staff and clientele and absorbe the surrounding culture. Amazing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our first cruise so I do not have a comparison. However it met or exceeded all my expectations. Our cabin was well appointed with adequate storage space. The bed and chairs were very comfortable. We had access to laundry ... Read More
This was our first cruise so I do not have a comparison. However it met or exceeded all my expectations. Our cabin was well appointed with adequate storage space. The bed and chairs were very comfortable. We had access to laundry equipment which we used as we were traveling after the cruise. Our attendant, Arya was very thorough in keeping our cabin clean and well stocked. In fact we were impressed with the quality of service we received in every area. The restaurant managers, waiters, and wait staff were very friendly and attentive. All the members of the staff were helpful, courteous and accommodating. We were very impressed with the food in the World Cafe. We actually enjoyed it more than the specialty restaurants. In fact one meal at Manfredi's was unappetizing and the fish at the The Restaurant was flavorless. But otherwise the food was very good with a wide variety and some dishes were made to order. We thought the excursions were excellent with the exception of the Underground Cisterns. Although the Cisterns were unique and interesting , we only spent 30 minutes there and the rest of the tour was just wasting time. I did not think it was worth the money. The others were great. The Complimentary ones were as good as the optional. Loved Kotor and Dubrovnic. All the guides were wonderful. We were disappointed we missed Pula. We did not take advantage of visiting Venice at 5:00 pm as a replacement of Pula as we were going to stay two night after disembarking. We had made our own arrangements prior to the Cruise in Istanbul and in Venice. In Istanbul, we stayed for two nights in the old City at the Seven Hill Hotel. It is small older boutique hotel with a fabulous rooftop restaurant. We stayed at a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel that was charming. The Cruise was an experience of a life time and we would definitely consider another Viking Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I rated this cruise as Very Good only because we had no other cruise to rate it against. The Viking Star was great. Our cabin was surprising in how spacious and comfortable it was. Embarkation and disembarkation was very ... Read More
I rated this cruise as Very Good only because we had no other cruise to rate it against. The Viking Star was great. Our cabin was surprising in how spacious and comfortable it was. Embarkation and disembarkation was very painless. The Staff were all very friendly & obliging. The service was very good, nothing was too much trouble and any little "wrinkles" were ironed out very quickly. The food onboard had only problem - it was so good you just wanted to eat more. The entertainment on board was varied, interesting and enjoyable. We only went on the included shore excursions and found them to be very informative with good and knowledgeable tour guides. Leaving the ship each day for our excursion was easy, very organised and well managed by the staff. As I said we are only novice cruisers and apart from a short Alaskan cruise and a river cruise (with a different Company) this was our first big cruise and we loved it. We loved it so much we are planning our next cruise as at this time. We would like Viking to cruise down the west coast of America, through the Panama Canal up to New York. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our first cruise and it was perfect. Starting from the very first moment of embarkation and until the very last when leaving the ship. Everything is very well thougt and organized, just come and enjoy without any thoughts. Ship ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it was perfect. Starting from the very first moment of embarkation and until the very last when leaving the ship. Everything is very well thougt and organized, just come and enjoy without any thoughts. Ship looks great, is very clean and excellent maintained, and the most important - top service, whereever you are!!! I have travelled a lot, both for business and for pleasure, and have never seen such a great service. People serving and helping you and genuinely enjoying doing this - well done guys. Cabines are very comfortable awith a lots of storage place! Otherwise also the food is great - a lot of choice, always available and very tasty. The only minus I can add is that the shore excursions are quite expensive, but most people that do not want them find their way anyway! The activities and night shows are also very interesting. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was my first cruise and first trip to Europe. With very few exceptions, the all-inclusive fare covers everything, including tips. The crew truly embodies the definition of service. It was top notch and always with a smile. They go ... Read More
This was my first cruise and first trip to Europe. With very few exceptions, the all-inclusive fare covers everything, including tips. The crew truly embodies the definition of service. It was top notch and always with a smile. They go to great lengths to make sure you wont for nothing. After a couple days onboard, the crew members knew us and addressed us by name. The ship is luxurious. There is something going on all day long and never a shortage of things to do. They provide a daily newsletter with a complete list of activities on board. Educational lectures are well done and provide information about the ports along the way. If you miss them, they are rebroadcast on one of the channels on TV. There is a library on board with a nice selection of books and DVDs that you can check out to watch in your room. We also took a tour of the galley for the main dining room. If you're a foodie, check it out. How they prepare and serve a gourmet dinner menu for 600 every night is fascinating. The fitness room is a bit small, but well equipped. The yoga class was popular and could have used more space. There is also a spa and casino on board. We did not use them. If you are really into wine, they have a wine tasting and pairing dinner. It is in a private dining room adjacent to the library and can be booked for an extra charge. There is also dancing every night. A string quartet and piano soloist play at various times of the day. You can send laundry out for a charge, but each floor had a self-service laundry that included detergent and ironing boards. I went home with clean clothes. We took excursions arranged by Crystal in every port. As we are both history buffs, they were the archaeological/historical tours. Tour operators were professional and Crystal staff accompanied us. They packed a lot into the time allotted for the tours. There are tours that are not strenuous and some that are. If you have mobility issues, do not book tours that state they are strenuous and require a lot of walking. They are not kidding. This was a Mediterranean cruise and all ports were very interesting. Noteworthy excursions: Gozo and Valletta Malta, Oia Village in Santorini and the Lindos Acropolis in Greece, Ephysis Ruins in Kusadasi Turkey, Herculaneum and Pompeii at the Naples Port, Taormina, Italy and of course, Istanbul. We saw a few of the shows (some nights we were too tired after exploring the ports) and the entertainment is excellent. The singers and dancers put on a variety of shows, so there is something for everyone. Gary, the Cruise Director is funny and you can tell he loves his job. In addition to the main dining room, there are many dining options aboard and room service any time you wish. The menu in the main dining room is diverse with four courses each night (appetizer, soup and salad, entree and dessert - several options for each on the menu and you can order as many as you want) and a sommelier keeps the wine flowing. Ice cream bar serves Ben and Jerry's from noon until 6PM. On this particular cruise, there were 2 formal nights. The winner of the 2015 Bocuse D'Or chef completion prepared dinner on the second formal night. He also did a cooking demonstration earlier in the day. Highly recommend Silk Road and Prego, the Asian and Italian restaurants aboard. All food was fresh and well presented. High tea is served every afternoon. There is also a bistro that serves tea, coffee and light hors d'oeurves in the afternoon. We ate breakfast at the buffet on the lido deck. It's huge. Anything you could want is there. Loved the fresh mango and fresh squeezed orange juice. Caution: the food is so good, book excursions that make you walk it off! The ship is spotless as it was remodeled in 2013 and all of the furnishings are updated. We also booked our airline and travel from disembarkation through Crystal and found it to be just as reasonable as booking ourselves, without the hassle. I think the only thing that needs improvement is the Wi-Fi aboard. Passengers are given one our of free Wi-Fi for each day aboard. It is pretty slow so it takes quite a bit of time to send emails. If you use more, there is a charge and it's expensive. At slow speeds, it doesn't take long to eat up the allotted free time. Many of the passengers are older and may not use internet, but those that do, might find it a bit challenging. I did have to attend to some work on board, so I needed the internet. Maybe it's their plan - keep you off your devices so you can enjoy your vacation-work can wait :-) All in all, it was a wonderful cruise. It is likely I'll be aboard the Crystal Serenity again someday. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first cruise and if we hadn't planned and paid a land trip for next year already we would have booked another cruise for 2016, never mind we are planning for 2017 now, so we clearly got bitten by the cruise bug. Since we ... Read More
This was our first cruise and if we hadn't planned and paid a land trip for next year already we would have booked another cruise for 2016, never mind we are planning for 2017 now, so we clearly got bitten by the cruise bug. Since we have no other cruises to compare to, this might be an "over the top" review for seasoned cruisers, anyway this is our personal experience. We started actually our trip over a year ago by planning flights, hotels pre- and post cruise and looking for excursions. I found cruisecritic around the same time when we booked and found out quickly that this website is of great help and registered on the roll call. We were able to book some great tours with even greater people, a shout and big hand to John, Wayne and Mike for organizing the tours and to the fellow members of our various groups. After all the confusion on the net and the final message from Celebrity regarding canceling the overnight in Istanbul, we were relieved that we planned ahead a couple of months ago to start or "Meds adventure" a couple of days before embarkation day. Our flight with Qatar Airways departed Bangkok at 2.40 am on the 17th of September and arrived in Istanbul by around noon the same day, after some confusion which immigration counter to use, we were out the airport door and welcomed by our transfer driver that we had booked online. We were staying at the Antea Old City Hotel for the next 2 nights to come and after some refreshing out to explore this great city. The hotel is just within 10 walking minutes of all sites in the old city, we visited the Cistern, walked around the town, listen to the call for prayer at the Blue Mosque (it sounded surprisingly relaxing to me) and looked for some local food before called it a day. The next morning we had a half day guided tour through the old city with the Hippodrome, Hagia Sofya, the Blue Mosque (outside only in the morning as it was Friday and it was opened for non Muslims after 2.30 pm, so went by our self inside in the afternoon) and the Grand Bazaar. The guide was ok, nothing special, felt a little rushed through all the historical figures. Anyway the afternoon was for us and we went through some alleys in the Grand Bazaar, visited the Topkapi Palace (great) with the Harem (little to see there though). and visited the Blue Mosque inside, a little disappointment there as expected more, it is not that blue inside lol. The 19th was filled with excitement as we finally came to embarkation day, yeehhh :) But first things first... We had another half day tour... Bosporus Cruise, cable car ride with the same tour company as the day before but a much better guide, who took time to explain things and answering questions. We saw a small Mosque that was really blue inside, but unfortunately I forgot the name :( We were almost on a private tour, just with another couple from the USA (New York) who had finished a cruise on the Reflection the day before and the best thing was, they WON that cruise, some lucky people :) The driver kept all our bags safe in the car during the tour and dropped us off right in front of the Cruise Terminal by around 1pm. So here we were in the midst of hundreds of people aiming for the same goal to get on this beautiful ship :). We dropped our bags in the area were all the other bags for Deck 7 were and made our way into the building for check in. With all the screening, the check in procedure (we had our xpress passes ready), Passport controls, I think it took no longer than 15 minutes to get on the ship. So at 1.20 pm we were finally on the ship and we went straight to our cabin to check if it was ready or not, what can I say... it was, so we dropped our carry-on stuff there and made our way to the "infamous" (according to some reviews) Oceanview on Deck 14 for our first food experience on a cruise ship. There was no "mayhem" in regards of service or to find a table, the Restaurant was well visited and the service team handled our drink requests very quick and friendly. The food we chose was very tasty and after some fruits we headed back to town as we had to purchase some Turkish delight sweets requested by friends and family back home. After we were back on the ship we did our embarkation day "duties" such as checking out the dining room, we had requested some Spa treatment online before hand, so we went there to confirm our appointments and the unpacking procedure. Jenny our room attendant knocked the door and introduced herself to us, what a very nice person she is, we asked her to clear out the Mini Bar and bring us some additional hangers for the closet. The hangers came in 5 minutes and the Mini Bar was cleared by the time we came back from dinner. The safety drill was at 5.15 pm, our station was C2 the Ensemble Lounge on Deck 5 and was done within 30 minutes or so, with some moaning from other cruisers, well when the ship sinks, I hope you moaners remember what to do then... Prepared for dinner at Murano, we had a 3 dinner package and the first night Celebrity booked us for Murano. Great experience overall, great food table side prepared and of course excellent service. Wandered around this great ship after dinner and called it a day. The 20th was converted from the overnight in Istanbul to a sea day, which for us came very handy as it gave us time to enjoy the ship to the fullest. Checked out the Solarium with the hot tubs, had a drink at Slush and some lunch at the Mast Grill. All in all an uneventful day, which why it is called vacation lol. That evening was the 1st of 3 formal nights in the Silhouette Dining Room, we had chosen select dining (is on Deck 4) as it would give us more freedom after the daily excursions to relax before going to dinner. We were assigned for a table of 2 right by the window and boy was this a great area, kind of private, we had all the following nights we dined there either tables 475, 476, or 478. Jesus the Head Waiter and Vincent are great guys, with great recommendations each night and they remembered after the 1at night what we liked and knew our names. The Sommelier in that section was also a great guy, forget your name man...sorry :( Tall from Serbia, had great conversations with him about wines, Thailand, etc. always got excellent wines from him, within or mostly beyond the Premium Package we don't know hehehe. In general the food, service in the MDR were always excellent, just one time the lamb for my wife was tough, that was the only minor glitch in an otherwise excellent experience. To sum up the food and Restaurants now... Murano we wished we had the time to go there again during the cruise, but the MDR was so good, we couldn't make it. Silk Harvest was a nice experience in service and the food as well. We visited the Tuscan Grill on our last night and it was wonderful as well. We met a waiter who knew some people we worked both together in the past (I am in the hospitality business), small world. Bistro on 5 we never visited, we wanted, but did not have the time really... Each time we walked past it was well visited and NEVER empty as I read in previous reviews. Ocean View we went there once for lunch on embarkation day and all the other days for breakfast. Some hick ups regarding ordering OJ on some mornings, probably language barrier as neither me nor the waiters are native English speakers, but "fresh Orange Juice please" shouldn't be much of a problem. Mast Grill good for hot dog and burgers during the day. The dress code during the formal nights we feel was followed by most of the other cruisers, we did not stare around, but a brief look we felt it was well followed. The 21st was our first excursion day, Ephesus, organized by John and Pam and a small group. Very well guided by I believe a Professor, lunch in a local place, of course with a rug presentation, but in a nice way and not pushy. The 22nd was Mykonos, beautiful island were we took a half day Celebrity excursion to Delos, well organized, very windy, chilly and with some rain. Interesting excavation site. After our return from Delos we wandered around the harbour and had some local food in a very nice restaurant. The 23rd we arrived in Athens and we had joined a group online with PK travel. A lot of information from our guide, lunch on the way to Cape Seunion and well back in time in the port. Very fun day The 24th we had another sea day to relax and enjoy the offerings on the ship, that evening was the 2nd formal night. The 25th and 26th we had 2 days in Dubrovnik, both days we had tours with Celebrity, well organized and informative. 1day we had a Rivera Cruise with cable car ride and wandering the old town. that evening we ate in a little local restaurant just outside the city walls. The 26nd we had a tour around the coastline with wine and olive oil testings. Very nice and tasty with local snacks. The 27th was the last sea day as we were on our way to Rome, the last day to really relax and enjoy the ship. The 28th we arrived in Rome and joined a tour organized by Mike, saw all the highlights such as inside the Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, Vatican museum, Pantheon. 1 day or only a 8-9 hours stint does the city no justice, I am sure we will back in the future. The 29th we arrived in La Spezia and we opted on our roll call to join Wayne's tour to Pisa/Florence with a visit to the Accademia to see the famous David, which you are actually allowed now to take pictures off. Great driver and a guide for the old town with the Domo and the Accademia. The 30th we arrived in Villfranche and joined a tour organized by Mike to see the small towns around the Cote a zure, like nice and Monaco, this was as well the 3rd and final formal night. October 1st we had a tour organized by Celebrity to see Marseilles, Cassis and other small towns. Marseilles was a lot of drive by but hte smaller towns we had free time to wander around. Sadly October 2nd was our last morning and debarkation time for us :(. The night before we settled our bills so check out was a breeze, We had chosen 8.10 am, so we were not that much in a rush to leave. In the terminal we found quickly our bags on the belt and we were in a taxi within half an hour after leaving the ship. This day we used to explore the city of Barcelona with its highlights such as the Las Ramblas, The Famila Cathedrale, etc.... took a hop on/off bus tour around the city until the early evening. The next day we made our way by taxi to the airport and boarded our 3.45 pm flight to Doha and from there back to Bangkok just to arrive back in reality last Sunday. Oops... the review got longer than I had planned.. Anyway, it was our first cruise and all our expectations were exceeded in terms of cabin size, service teams, food and the fellow cruisers we met great and the not so good (some snobs and moaners on near by tables). Shows were all to our liking, the 2nd half of the cruise Celebrity had guest stars from UK got Talent, etc. who try to sell their CD's, which did not reduce our fun. Tons of things to do even late in the evening, we not joined many activities, since this was a port intensive cruise, but the ones we joined were fun, even the art auctions, raffles, etc.(rats...did not win anything..lol) We joined the hot glass shows more than once as we like the craftsmanship of the guys. Eddy the Cruise Director was a great guy, he left for his well deserved vacation after this cruise, not sure when or where he will rejoin Celebrity. Officers in were all friendly and very visible on the ship day time and evenings. Some Managers in too tight shirts and ties in the Ocean View were not friendly at all only when some guys who were higher up the food chain appeared, then they became chatty all of the sudden, funny :) I gave them the nick name "Secret Service" as only the shades were missing, they had already the in-ear walky talkies. To sum it up,finally lol.... Great Cruise will sure do it again, nothing to fault that would spoil the experience. We met nice people that convinced us that cruising is for us Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
All depends what you want - I like a relaxing holiday, here we were up early every morning, off onto the red bus, herded around an ancient site, back on the bus...very organised, no down time, no scope for individual planning. Hard to get ... Read More
All depends what you want - I like a relaxing holiday, here we were up early every morning, off onto the red bus, herded around an ancient site, back on the bus...very organised, no down time, no scope for individual planning. Hard to get a sense of the places we visited as we had to move through at the pace of the guide. The passengers have generally been retired for many years and most are in their 70s or 80s. Lots with impaired mobility. The food is OK but no local food - seems wierd to have been around the Greek Islands but not to have had Greek food (only on the one free afternoon/evening we had in Mykonos). There are 2 restaurants, one buffet style canteen which is alright (long queues at times), and a posh restaurant down in the bowels of the ship - same food but very small serves and slow service. Gym is tiny, very little equipment, but most of the passenger's gym days are long ago. Pool is also very tiny and not very attractive. I think they must pay for the time they are docked, we generally seemed to leave as soon as the tour finished, so couldn't hang out in the local towns for the late afternoon and evening. Never worked out room service, dont think they had this. No tea and coffee after 9pm (except in the bar with a very long wait and quite expensive). Cabin (with a balcony) was quite good, balcony was nice. Some of the lectures were quite good, but most of the audience dozed off. Ships doctor was nice, was kept very busy. This would work if you are elderly, don't like having to think or plan anything, like getting up early, and love bus tours. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
The Riviera is truly a magnificent ship, no expense spared in the furnishings and fittings. Everywhere on the ship is excellent, with staterooms beautifully furnished with the most comfortable beds, best quality linens and soft ... Read More
The Riviera is truly a magnificent ship, no expense spared in the furnishings and fittings. Everywhere on the ship is excellent, with staterooms beautifully furnished with the most comfortable beds, best quality linens and soft furnishings. Very soft gently colour schemes, with a very large balcony and comfy chairs, plus cashmere covers for cooler sailings. Staff have been wonderful – nothing is too much to ask for and requests are dealt with promptly and with good grace. Meals have been magnificent, everyone a treat and choice has been all too much. There are 4 speciality restaurants each with their own theme and all should be tried. There is also a Grand Dining Room, beautifully appointed with a la carte meals available. Can’t complain about lobster nearly every day. Never thought I’d be guilty of looking at a menu and asking “What else is there to eat other than bloody lobster”! Breakfast in the Terrace Café is also a treat with one of the best selection of fruits, cereals, all manner of eggs breakfast meats and breads I have ever seen. Staff here are also extremely efficient and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Slightly worried about what to expect on a cruise, will we enjoy it, will we fit in?? No worries! Absolutely loved it! Flew to Turkey on the Thomson Dreamliner,very smooth & quiet. I even got to peek inside the cockpit prior to ... Read More
Slightly worried about what to expect on a cruise, will we enjoy it, will we fit in?? No worries! Absolutely loved it! Flew to Turkey on the Thomson Dreamliner,very smooth & quiet. I even got to peek inside the cockpit prior to flying. The steward could see I was very excited!! my daughter loved the fact she could charge her phone whilst flying at 44000 feet! It was about an hrs transfer to the ship, a bit hot & sticky on the coach but easy transfer from plane to coach to ship. Didn't like being stopped to fill in a survey before embarkation thou, we won't fall for that again. We were quickly shown how to get to our suite (2 adults,1 teenager) it was lovely & roomy. Excellent view. My daughter was able to have some privacy with a curtained section where her bed was with a table & 2 chairs. Bathroom was adequate with Elemis toiletries provided. The room was cleaned twice daily, with fresh towels,chocs on the pillow & towel creations! The ship was lovely, plenty of sun beds, particularly loved the sun deck, quieter than the pool area . Took my daughter there at night to look at the stars. She was amazed! The bar areas were all equally good. Preferred the Horizons bar on deck 9 which my other called renamed the Moonlight Lounge! The trio who sang in there were fantastic. Always acknowledged you even during singing. The shows were extremely professional, went in the lounge every night. All bar/waiting /housekeeping staff were so friendly & welcoming. Remembered your names & drink orders. Loved that the staff were recognised by the officers each week & they had a party for staff every month. Booked a few excursions prior to going. Probably could have done it diy but being all new to us we were glad we did what we did! Loved the Corinth Canal, even better if I'd known about the bungee jumping over it! Santorini was by far my favourite place. Booked the volcano & thermal springs tour. Very good even though the springs were cooler than expected! Would have liked to spend more time on the island but with doing the trip it took up a few hours. Didn't like the use of the donkeys or horses for taking tourists up & down the steep cliff face. Use the cable car people! Same price, smoother, quicker & less smelly! There was no shade or water for the donkeys. Istanbul was too busy. Did our own thing, got ripped off by a "yellow cab" which was not a nice welcome. Preferred Bozcaada, lovely quaint shipping village . Lovely people. Marmaris , beautiful marina! Had a few cocktails there, really good price too! Going home... It was great to stay on the ship until it was time to depart but not having to leave the cabin at 9am! Only downfall was the coach trip back to Dalaman. It was old, tatty & no air con. Extremely hot especially travelling back at midday. All in all, had a great time, so much so we've booked to go on the Thomson Discovery next year! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Ignore any moaners..we got back this Monday 17th Aug...that's if there are any !!! we had an amazing time...I have never seen so much food...if you dont wish to dress up you can try the buffet service....wish we did in the days ... Read More
Ignore any moaners..we got back this Monday 17th Aug...that's if there are any !!! we had an amazing time...I have never seen so much food...if you dont wish to dress up you can try the buffet service....wish we did in the days time then you can pile the food up as loads did..breakfast you can have either tea-coffee and cold drink...the main restaurant you have to pay tho for drinks..so breekie..elevens..lunch..afternoon tea..dinner...and even late night food... our room was a bit small but we only sleep there 90% we were out and about on the trips...we had room 365 and our cleaner was lovely ( Olga ) towels aplenty... as for our 2 waiters in the main restaurant Ted and Ludi what great blokes...4 course meal and a good choice of 4/5 dishes...gawd we were pigs lol...plenty to do when your sailing..reading room..library ( free ) cinema..3 pools although small ( kids took over ) some thing for every one JUST ASK at reception or go to the reps meeting...as for the shows..fabulous like a west end...the other room is live band an game shows...hair dressers which aint cheap but i had mine done twice...shop on board too which sell bits you might have forgotten..all the tours we did were amazing...just watch the cheeky people who again try to save sun beds with towel BUT the towels police are on the case now and if they see your stuff will be remove if you leave your more than a morning...drinks service every where..think that's if....but rem more than any thing its VERY hot..... oh forgot the small gym too. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We went on the Thomson Spirit highlights of the black sea August 2015. Had a really good time. There was a wide selection of food, could either have self service with alot of variety, eat in one resturant being served, with limited choice ... Read More
We went on the Thomson Spirit highlights of the black sea August 2015. Had a really good time. There was a wide selection of food, could either have self service with alot of variety, eat in one resturant being served, with limited choice which was from the self service resturant anyway or pay a supplement to go to the 3rd resturant, we didnt go. Our room was a good size with a double wardrobe, 2 single beds, a double would of been better but we didnt pay to reserve our cabin. The decor of the ship was quite dated but still nice. The only bad thing was the size of the swimming pool as it was very small plus the price of the drinks package when some people were offered them cheaper. We didnt get the drinks package in the end and it worked out cheaper. The itinery and trips were really good. We went on a city tour of Istanbul which was well worth the money, we did the bike tour in romania which was really good and then a beach transfer in Greece. This was quiet expensive for what it was but it was still a good day. We have already booked our trip for next year as we loved it so much! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We sailed on Queen Victoria to celebrate our 25th Wedding anniversary, and this cruise was our first. We are both in our mid 40’s. We booked this 14 day Western Mediterranean cruise Embarking from Istanbul and returning from Rome ... Read More
We sailed on Queen Victoria to celebrate our 25th Wedding anniversary, and this cruise was our first. We are both in our mid 40’s. We booked this 14 day Western Mediterranean cruise Embarking from Istanbul and returning from Rome around 5 weeks before departure and at that time took advantage of a Cunard ‘Saver Fare’ and opted for a balcony stateroom with an obstructed view, which best fit our budget. Nearer embarkation time we received notification from Cunard of our stateroom being upgraded to an unrestricted view on Deck 5 Aft, Stateroom 5161, which was a lovely surprise. In total, the cruise cost a very reasonable £1349pp for the 14 nights including flight supplements. The cruise number was V517D in the Cunard brochure. Flights to Istanbul and return from Rome were included in the fare excepting a small supplement of £50pp due to us flying from Manchester (flights from London did not incur supplement). The charter flight carrier was Titan Airways, and flights both ways were pleasant enough, and flight times good, 8am out and 4pm for the return. It would have been beneficial, and I would recommend to all, to extend the holiday by staying on in Rome for a couple of days afterward or prior to embarkation in Istanbul or indeed both destinations, so that both these cities could be explored further but sadly, time and work pressures were not on our side. Just a note on the Titan Airways flights, the information we were provided prior to the holiday was that a very restrictive 20kg hold luggage and 5kg cabin bag was imposed and no possibility of paying for extra weight; it turned out at the check in desk, that no such restriction was in place, and essentially our packing anxieties were unfound, I guess as long as you don’t go over the top, checking in an extra few kilos would be fine. We flew into Istanbul Corlu, which is a tiny military and civil airport so getting through customs and onto the awaiting coaches was swift, transfers to the port in Istanbul was around an hour and a half, but this accounted for by heavy traffic in Istanbul, a city of over 15million people! Embarkation was an easy process, registering ourselves and our credit card for onboard spending was a speedy 5 minute process; passports exchanged for the ships card that provides you with identification to gain access and exit to the ship, port customs, stateroom key and as your currency on board ship throughout your stay. Our luggage was delivered to our stateroom within an hour of us boarding. Queen Victoria We remain in awe of this magnificent ship, and I cannot think of enough superlatives that quantify the feel good factor of being on board. The ship is fitted out beautifully, the public areas decorated and furnished to an extremely high standard and the deck areas nicely laid out and well provided for with equipment such as deck chairs and loungers, in the shade or in the sun. Despite the heat and humidity outside, the public areas and the stateroom were always at a nice comfortable temperature throughout, and the air-conditioning in the stateroom is nicely independently controllable. Dining In terms of dining, as per the booking conditions, dining allocated on embarkation, we were allocated the early 6.30pm sitting in the Britannia Restaurant, and we were disappointed by this initially, due to us having pre-booked several all day tours and we did request a change to the late sitting, the Maitre d’hôtel did get our reservation switched the second week, but actually, we much preferred the early sitting, as by the time you finish dinner following the late sitting, we were unmotivated to take in all the entertainment on offer due to the late hour and our tiredness, I guess its always to be careful what you wish for! The food in the Britannia Restaurant was fantastic; service was impeccable, unrushed and attentive our waiters Marlon & Mark were a great team; and the wine waiters were equally as diligent, but they were quite stretched and at times, they weren’t able to provide the service they are clearly capable of due to having such large stations to attend to. We were allocated a table for 2 on both weeks, early and the late sitting. We also took advantage of the Verandah Restaurant on two occasions for dinner, and it certainly is a worthy upgrade, the food and service ratcheted up a notch from the Brittania dining and we thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance and service provided there and its certainly good value for the $24pp it costs. Lunch, when not on tours and sea days, we took in the Britannia Restaurant which was always a pleasant experience and we did on occasions elected to sit with other diners which was nice to catch up with other people, their experiences and stories. We also lunched in the Golden Lion Pub and again, the food and service was great. Breakfast we also took in the Britannia; breakfasts there unhurried and relaxing, we took one room service breakfast on the balcony, but being a bit old-fashioned and much preferring a proper table we didn’t take advantage of the room service as much as my wife would have preferred to have done. The Lido buffet restaurant: I need to disclose that I’m not a buffet fan (it reminds me so much of queuing at a works canteen and also, my lack of self control would have led me to have eaten far too much!), so my comments are limited to the several breakfasts we ate there when necessary as some of our tours required an early start, and it was always an ok experience; the food plentiful and hot. We took a couple of snacks from the Lido on deck, but other than that, we stayed clear of the Lido, preferring dining in the Britannia, so I cannot comment on lunch and dinner provided. The upgraded dining menus in The Lido typically costing $10- $15, of which waiting staff are provided to serve you at the table, such as the Indian, Italian and Oriental speciality evenings looked very nice, but I found it difficult to come out of my comfort zone to take any of these dining options. Afternoon tea was extremely nice in the Queens Room and served with care and attention, and always accompanied by a pianist, the small cakes were gorgeous. I believe that afternoon tea is also available in the Winter Garden and Lido. We didn’t use Café Carinthia, and I’m really not sure why, probably just because of our schedule, as when passing by, the food and coffee always looked great. To sum up dining on Queen Victoria; there’s bound to be something to suit all tastes and palettes and dietary requirements, my wife did on occasions take the Royal Spa selections which are suggestions at meal times for health eating, in hindsight, perhaps I should have done the same. In short, you could never go hungry on Queen Victoria. Drinks All the bars provided great service and we tried them all out! The Golden Lion, great for a cooling drink following a tour, and a great place to have fun, such as quizzes, bingo etc. Midships Bar and Chart Room a really nice place to take a cocktail or G&T prior to dinner and pre dinner always served with a nice selection of complimentary small eats such as nuts and canapés. Fantastic views in the Commodore Club, but we found this space a little bit too stuffy and formal for our liking. The bars on deck were also very pleasant. I feel the drink prices were in keeping with the service provided and I feel that if Cunard provided an ‘all inclusive’ drink package add on, it would only serve to lower the quality and service standards and might cause over indulgence by some. We did take wine in the restaurants with our meals, and there’s plenty of selection to suit all pockets, ours were at the lower end, but there were some great wines, red, whites, rose and fizz in the $30 to $50 range that amiably accompanied dinner and made every evening special. The odd bottle of bubbly we had was a real treat. Entertainment This must be so difficult for any cruise ship to get the right balance and to suit all tastes, but the entertainment we participated in was great fun or interesting. Wine tasting was great, unlimited quaffing of some great wine and I did learn a lot from the experts on hand; lectures were engaging, particularly Jane Corbyn; sing bingo, quizzes etc. in the Golden Lion were great fun, the comedian Mick Miller attracted great big belly laughs all around the theatre. Dance classes were hilarious, due to my two left feet and the Royal Cunard singers and dancers put on some great shows, and clearly they are very well organised and proficient in what they do. Didn’t use the Hemispheres Club as we were simply too tired after all the days activities but perhaps we should of pushed ourselves that little bit more, as the advertised music on offer there sounded like great fun. My wife used the Spa on a couple of occasions and also the hairdressing, she would have probably used it more but the costs were for our budget, prohibitive, $70 for your hair putting up prior to dinner is cost prohibited, but probably is about right to stifle demand on the available hairdressers! Shopping on board was great, and the duty free prices seemed reasonable. There appeared to be some great deals on premium products. Photos Here’s my only gripe of the cruise, and not down to the quality of the finished product or the expertise of the photographers, but both the costs and the delay of getting to view the photographs. $24.95 for a photo at dinner or on quayside and $34.95 for the formal compositions are, I feel simply too high, particularly in this digital, everybody having a camera in their pocket day and age- maybe photography has become just too common place and taken for granted by me, but even my wife, who is usually over zealous and Gung-ho when it comes to photo purchasing at any location we visit, balked at the prices. Photo packages did not seem good value. I clearly don’t have access to Cunard’s balance sheet and cost of sales in the photographic department, so maybe for the quality and overheads of employing the experts they do, the prices might well be fair, but what I do know is, that if the prices were pegged at say $14.95, my wife would have certainly purchased a dozen or so photos, but as it was, she only purchased one! Extremely out of character for her. A suggestion I made on our feedback post cruise to Cunard was to raise my pricing concerns and at least suggest to make all the photo’s available as a digital download post cruise, for a more reasonable fee, or even at the same fee, but giving some time to consider the photo’s and buy them at a later date when you can save up a bit for them, rather than the inevitable and wasteful shredding and recycling of the printed article. Ports/Tours Istanbul. Fantastic city with so much to see and do and welcoming and friendly people and fantastic food and drink. We were so lucky to have an overnight stay there the first day before setting sail the following evening, and even better was a return to the city several days later. We used the first full day to take a marvellous excursion taking in the highlights of the city, so that when we returned, we could concentrate on taking a look in more detail of the sights, smells and sounds. The call to prayer from the many mosques around the city was fantastic to wake to in a morning and listen to at sunset. The tour we went on ‘Best of Istanbul Four Seasons’ took in all the major sites and included lunch at a fantastic hotel. The sites were of course the Blue Mosque but also Hagia Sophia; Topkapi Palace and the Harem; spice bazaar and so on. The tour guide was engaging, funny and knowledgeable and lunch a pleasant adjunct to the afternoon activities. I just wish Cunard would refrain in all of the Turkish port tours to include carpet making and the clearly commissioned sales pitch at the end! But I guess they are an optional feature of the tours. Shopping in Istanbul or any of the Turkish ports is a must, particularly clothing and jewellery, spices, tea olives, nuts and sweets such as Turkish Delight, which are all good value for money and high quality. On our second day visit we went to the Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar as well as chilling out in several squares and cafes and simply wandering the streets and parks taking in the cities warmth and culture. Marmaris. Beautiful port for Queen Victoria to sail into and berth, sailing into Marmaris is reminiscent of fjords, narrow channels, tiny islands and a backdrop of mountains shrouded by pine forest. We didn’t take a tour there, and simply walked to a beach for a day there swimming and sunbathing, followed by a traditional Turkish lunch. People we spoke to told us that the tours were great value, particularly the river cruise tour. Heraklion. We took a tour to Knossos, in hindsight, it would have been better and much, much cheaper to have done this tour independently and it’s a small site, cheap to enter- 6 euros and transport there by bus is only a couple of euros. Although the tour guide was good, we could hardly hear what she had to say due to it being so busy and because of the constant chirping of the Cicadas, which were extremely loud! The lack of the tour guide providing radio audio commentary hamstrung the tour. Piraeus. My wife’s favourite. Athens was a fantastic port of call; lots to see and do and we took a tour of The Acropolis and visited the Plaka area. Worthwhile and good value and the sights of the city from the Acropolis amazing. The Plaka is a great place to lunch and shop. Dardanelles. At sea passing the Dardanelles was amazing, and gave time to contemplate the strategic position that Turkey holds and the reason why so many lost their lives during the Great War in order to attempt to hold this. There are poignant memorials to those who fell are visible clearly from the ship. Kusadasi. My favourite port of call. Tour to Ephesus is not to be missed, and we took in two other landmarks also, Miletus and Didyma- all I can suggest is to visit, I can’t begin to sum up how wonderful and amazing Ephesus is, the tour guide was fantastic and lunch included on the full day tour, which engaged so much that the day whizzed by. Kusadasi itself is a fantastic port, lots of great shops, fantastic places to eat and drink, and don’t forget to treat yourself to beauty treatments; massage and a visit to a traditional Turkish barber who will coiffure your hair, massage your head and shoulders and give you the closest shave you’ll ever get for 30 TLi, a lot less than £10 GBP. Santorini. Now this was meant to be one of the highlights of my journey, but sadly I probably placed too much expectation on this port of call. We anchored in the bay, and tenders took as ashore to awaiting coaches to visit the village of Oia, and then a wine tasting, neither impressed, Oia was thronged with people, and the streets jam packed with a sea of people. Oia itself is without doubt beautiful, but too many people spoil the experience and the village is essentially one big gift shop! Santorini wine was uninspiring and not to my taste, but again one mans meat is another mans poison. To finish off the tour, a ‘free’ ticket was given for the cable car down to the old port from Thira, unfortunately, the demand was such that if we had queued we would never have got the last tender, so a horrid walk down the Donkey manure encrusted steps ensued, a horrid experience, made worse by people riding up and down the steps by the clearly exploited Donkey’s which lacked shade and water. If I do return to Santorini, it will have to be out of season. Transit Messina Stait. Amazing! Salerno. Not a pretty port! We were all tripped out by the time we berthed in Salerno and didn’t visit any of the obvious choices of excursions such as Pompei; Vesuvius; Amalfi or Sorrento but instead had a sojourn around Salerno, nice trip to the beach for a swim and the most glorious pizza and ice cream to round the day off. Civitavecchia. Our last port of call, and again, not pretty but if only we had time to stay on for a day or two in Rome but we did take in a city tour en route to the airport which was informative, but sadly not enough to satisfy much at all of what Rome has to offer. Disembarkation Much the same as embarkation hassle free and smooth. In Summary All in all, this was the best holiday we have ever taken. It was a special occasion for us, and we spent much more money on this two week holiday as we would taking our three sons away for a couple of weeks in the sun on our usual annual holidays. In terms of value for money and quality, the whole experience far exceeded our expectations, impeccable and friendly service delivered with care, attention and professionalism. Its great to get dressed up and make every evening a special occasion. The only difficulty for us now, is that Cunard has set the bar for our first taste of cruising and it would be so difficult to choose any other cruise line, in case the experience we had with Cunard wasn’t replicated. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Very enjoyable trip of 29 days cruising the Danube, Maine and Rhine. Interesting stops along the way where we were able to get a good idea of the country side. Five luxury coaches were provided for off ship day trips. We were treated to ... Read More
Very enjoyable trip of 29 days cruising the Danube, Maine and Rhine. Interesting stops along the way where we were able to get a good idea of the country side. Five luxury coaches were provided for off ship day trips. We were treated to five star dining, often using product grown locally. Staff were very pleasant and were there to help in any way. Entertainment was provided most evening often found from the country we were visiting. All areas were cleaned daily and hygiene around food areas was always available. Information was on hand to help if you wished to do something on your own. Fitness area was not well used as it was rather small with only a few items to use. Cabin was perhaps abit cramped.The only complaint was that twice there was a very unpleasant smell which lasted for several hours, it was always there when another ship came and docked alongside. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Our first ever cruise and it lived up to our expectations. Our Cabin, Veranda Suite, Deck 8 was roomy with a walk in closet and very good bathroom. Balcony not huge but big enough for both of us to have our feet up on the lounger. ... Read More
Our first ever cruise and it lived up to our expectations. Our Cabin, Veranda Suite, Deck 8 was roomy with a walk in closet and very good bathroom. Balcony not huge but big enough for both of us to have our feet up on the lounger. The restaurants were all good and we particularly liked being able to eat outside in the Colonnade as well as round the pool in the Patio Grill. Not having to pay for drinks was great and sitting round the pool with the staff bringing round Pina Coladas (or getting whatever you wanted) was exactly the cruise experience we were hoping for. Excellent range of films and TV Staff uniformly good The speaker was pleasant but there was very little intellectual depth or logical flow to the two talks we went to. We went on an excursion to the Danube delta from Constanta which was marred by constant racist comments from the tour guide - I complained about this and the Seabourn rep seemed to take it seriously. Overall - we were very happy and will be going on more Seabourn cruises Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I was really nervous before taking my first cruise. I read so many reviews regarding different issues that passengers had. I was so relieved the minute I walked into the port. The staff was courteous and very efficient getting us on ... Read More
I was really nervous before taking my first cruise. I read so many reviews regarding different issues that passengers had. I was so relieved the minute I walked into the port. The staff was courteous and very efficient getting us on board the ship. Upon arrival to our room, our bags were outside our door. The room was clean and very adequate. My husband and I both found the staff incredibly courteous and accommodating. I found it helpful that we participated in the ship tour to get to know the ship itself. The food was good. I thought the buffet had a great variety and good tasting food. We did not eat at the specialty restaurants. I liked that you could basically find food at any hour. I especially enjoyed room service and the Mosaic Café for coffee. I appreciated all of the hand sanitizer stations for the hands but would have liked to have seen a few more signs instructing passengers about hand washing, as hand washing is a more effective method to prevent the Norovirus. For us, the entertainment was fine. Probably too quiet for some but it was perfect for us. My only request would be to offer more live music performances for evening dancing. I really enjoyed the White Party. The cruise sponsored excursions were great and we took a few private tours as well. The disembarkation to ports and when departing were very organized and didn't really take long at all. A nice touch, refreshing towels and water upon arrival to the tender for return to the ship. I could "nit pick" and find some inconsequential thing to complain about but I can't imagine the task of pleasing everyone all the time. So thank you staff of the Journey for a great first cruise experience. My only problem is that I keep waking up in the middle of the night wondering where I am at! I'm sure I will figure it our eventually! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We took the 10 night Greek Isles Amalfi coast cruise 4/27/15. At first glance, the ship is so similar to the Quest that it's amazing:) We thoroughly enjoyed everything about our last 2 cruises on Azamara so we were so excited! ... Read More
We took the 10 night Greek Isles Amalfi coast cruise 4/27/15. At first glance, the ship is so similar to the Quest that it's amazing:) We thoroughly enjoyed everything about our last 2 cruises on Azamara so we were so excited! But it wasn't quiet there for us. The staff is fantastic, don't get me wrong but the cruise director and his staff left alot to be desired. We hardly saw them except to greet us going into a show. Russ on the Quest was everywhere! His personality was caring, loving and fun.. Didn't feel that with Tony.. I hear that He fills in for both cruise directors on a rotational basis. But that's not the only thing or I'd chalk it up to a bland CD week.. The entertainment before dinner and in the casino lounge was not good. I am a kind person but it was difficult at times. Why doesn't The Journey have a band playing in the Looking Glass at 5;50 to 7 so we can dance and party a bit before dinner? The Quest had a 2 person band that we all loved, especially after a long day of sightseeing. Plus they playing up there at 930-1030pm before the DJ got started. Many of us have a hard time staying awake unless we have activities to keep us busy, such as a little dancing:) Most are in bed by 1030-11pm. Why did the Journey have a guitar player that really put us all to sleep? Nice and friendly guy but very low key... BTW Roy and Carlos were the best waiters! But I digress... The wines choosen each day were very good, we thought.. We did hear people complaining that there was too much Sauvignon Blanc for the white choices but we like that so its all good. If you didn't like that wine choice, you can politely ask for one of the previous days choices, but be nice and not demanding. I think that's where folks don't get what they want as we've never had a problem getting any drink on the package or any wine we asked for within reason:) Overall, we had a wonderful time because we always do when we travel. The itinerary and Azamazing evening were just that, amazing! How they move everybody and do what they do is a miracle in itself:) Don't be afraid to go on one as you'll be sorry if you don't! Azamara is a great product. The captain drove us over in the tender to the dock in Amalfi. You won't get that on a large cruise ship! They are a great Boutique line and we'll go on them again, it might be the Quest though:) Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our first experience cruising and we enjoyed ever minute of it. The food was good, as was the choice of drinks that were included. We could not fault the staff they were helpful , friendly and courteous. Our cabin stewards, Ivo ... Read More
This was our first experience cruising and we enjoyed ever minute of it. The food was good, as was the choice of drinks that were included. We could not fault the staff they were helpful , friendly and courteous. Our cabin stewards, Ivo and Sajet, were wonderful, they were hardworking and the cabin was always immaculate nothing we asked was a problem to them. Our only negative was with the art dealers. We attended an auction and an appointment to talk about art and after that we found it impossible to find the art director or assistant. Luckily Guest relations managed to help us and we cancelled any dealings we were going to have. The only time we saw the Art Director and Assistant was on a tender going off on a day out!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our first cruise - we had read a lot of reviews of Agean Odyssey before hand - most of them very positive. We were extremely pleased with the ship staff, food and yours. The hotels in Istanbul and Athens were definitely 5 star. ... Read More
This was our first cruise - we had read a lot of reviews of Agean Odyssey before hand - most of them very positive. We were extremely pleased with the ship staff, food and yours. The hotels in Istanbul and Athens were definitely 5 star. Overall the excursions were well organized and staffed by knowledgeable local tour guides. We took advantage of all included tours and all optional tours. They are very long busy days - but we knew that based on the information that we read before booking. We booked a smaller balcony cabin on the belvidere deck. Lovely room with spacious bathroom, cabinet for storing/hanging clothes. We ate the majority of our meals on the back outside patio and enjoyed the variety of foods. Never once did desserts duplicate lunch or dinner with 5 or 6 selections. There was always lots of choices at all meal times. I am shocked at some of the negative reviews- when we felt this was a very memorable trip. While we did have one rough day at sea it is to be expected in the Agean - the captain kept every one extremely informed through out the day while on board of sea conditions and there is a doctor on board to provide assistance for those who require it. We highly recommend Agean Odyssey - it is definitely geared towards those interested in ancient civilizations. Although we were definitely a lot younger than the average passenger age is 60 plus but we didn't feel this. The wait/bar staff are very friendly and remembered our names after the second day onboard. Busy interesting full days- great food, staff - would definitely boom again and highly recommend Agean Odyssey to anyone with a love of history! Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Being our first cruise my wife and I have nothing to compare with, we searched reviews and noticed a mixed bunch of comments, mainly good. We are not sure how reviewers could score one or two stars. The ship , only launched in 2013 was ... Read More
Being our first cruise my wife and I have nothing to compare with, we searched reviews and noticed a mixed bunch of comments, mainly good. We are not sure how reviewers could score one or two stars. The ship , only launched in 2013 was Amazing, every part of the ship was like being in a five star hotel. We embarked in Istanbul, arrived at the port around 10.30am, embarkation commenced at 11am, very quick process, we were having lunch (waiter service ) by 12.30pm, our bags were waiting outside our cabin before 1.30pm. The cabin ( inside ) was very well appointed, comfortable bed, shower room, TV with a couple of uk news channels plus pay TV if required. The cabin was very clean and our cabin attendant did everything to make our stay enjoyable. There was also a mini bar at a cost, plus a safe. We took out the drinks package which was great value cost approx 23 euros each per day, a good selection of branded drinks and cocktails were available at all times plus ice cream, tea and coffee etc. by taking out the package there was a saving of 15% service charge. We also paid 7 euros per day each as tips for crew. Service on board was very good, the majority of the staff we very pleasant and quick. We struck up relationships with a few of the crew, nothing was a problem. Food was varied and in most cases good, available as waiter service or buffet style , with a full Range to choose from. Not always fine dining but no complaints. Theatre shows were of a high quality, a little repetitive, different singers at all the bars. Overall, great cruise Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We were on the Azamara Quest sailing from Istanbul on Sept. 8th. Prior to that, we spent 5 enjoyable days in Istanbul staying at the White House Hotel in Sultanamet, which we highly recommend. It was easy walking distance to the major ... Read More
We were on the Azamara Quest sailing from Istanbul on Sept. 8th. Prior to that, we spent 5 enjoyable days in Istanbul staying at the White House Hotel in Sultanamet, which we highly recommend. It was easy walking distance to the major viewing sites and the tram. We booked our cruise in February and were traveling with two other couples. Booking with Azamara was somewhat disconcerting in that we never received anything in hard copy by mail. It was all by telephone or internet even having to print the 40 page booklet with excursion trip descriptions. Further, we found the Azamara website to be awkward particularly after we booked as it was too sales oriented. We booked our air travel independently as we found the Azamara site not user friendly. In fact we never received notification as to which dock in Istanbul that the ship was sailing. Fortunately, the hotel desk clerk saw the ship on her way to work and told our taxi driver where it was. This was our first cruise and we chose Azamara due to the smaller ship size and its informal, casual nature of the cruise. We had always joked about the cruise crowd on their excursions with 25 people following a loud guide with an umbrella. We were pleased that we did not encounter long waits to go ashore or for dinner. The food was good, we thought the breakfasts were great and when we returned to the ship in the afternoon had a burger by the pool and then ate a light dinner after cocktails. We usually stopped for a snack and a drink on shore and to take advantage of free internet (ship wi-fi was pricey). We only ate in the formal dining room once and not at all in the exclusive rooms. The ship staff was very friendly, helpful whenever we asked and the service was excellent. The staff at the bar on the pool deck was the only exception. The ship was very good about offering hand cleaner, cold towels at boarding and before entering the dining areas. We like to travel independently and set up our own personal tours—Ephesus, Rhoades, Athens. We did participate in two ship sponsored excursions—the evening concert at Ephesus, which was a highlight of the trip; and the winery trip to Aia on Santorini. The Aia trip was a bit of a bust as the winery turned out to be wine tasting, fortunately there was not a hard sell as we did not care for the wine. The view was wonderful. The “whisper” device the guide was using did not work so most of the explanation was on the bus. Santorini was crowded with tourists, shops, etc. This is a pretty place but not one to go to relax and get away from it all. With all the unemployment in Greece you would think they could employ some people to pick up the trash. On Mykonos we hired a taxi who took us to a less crowded, protected beach where we spent a good part of the day. Mykonos was a very pretty place even with all the tourists. The departure in Athens was well organized, except for a long wait for taxis for those of us not taking the Azamara tours. We did spend two more days in Athens on our own which we enjoyed. All in all, we had a good time on our first cruise and will repeat, but only on smaller ships.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
With my wife and daughter (15) we tried our first cruise with Celebrity in the Eastern Med. We all had different objectives - I wanted to see ancient Greece and Italy, my daughter wanted to shop and my wife just wanted a quiet life. None ... Read More
With my wife and daughter (15) we tried our first cruise with Celebrity in the Eastern Med. We all had different objectives - I wanted to see ancient Greece and Italy, my daughter wanted to shop and my wife just wanted a quiet life. None of us were disappointed. The Med cruises sail at night and dock during the day. With only one sea day we based our decisions on the ports and trips available. On the whole the quality was very high, although there are some things to be aware of. The ship was very nice inside. She carried 2,800 passengers at 2 per cabin, but with kids sharing etc there were in fact 3,200 on board. There was always a quiet space somewhere - although not necessarily by the pool. Main dining never felt crowded, but breakfast in the buffet could be quite a bun fight. The only place the queues really struck home were at the lifts - especially coming back from excursions. We opted to keep fit by walking up the 10 odd decks instead. We were suite class which did mean a lot of extras and really made the difference between just a good experience and a great one. We had access to the exclusive Michael's club which was always empty, with free drinks and suitable snacks 24/7. A raft of vouchers for things like laundry, internet etc; even for the gaming tables and slot machines. And an exclusive tour of the bridge which was completely fascinating. Embarkation / disembarkation was quick and easy thanks to the dedicated suite access, priority on tenders etc. But watch out for Rome airport - see below. There were always plenty of seats in the theater - although suite guests have a little priority section if they want it. We didn't think the first show was that great to be honest, but our butler persuaded us to go back on the second formal night and actually it was much better. The food style was - to UK passengers perhaps - a bit old fashioned. Lost of things the restaurant scene here doesn't really do any more. We ate at Muranos one night - definitely a hark back to the 1970's. Very nice food, the table side flambee was very professionally done. But if it hadn't been free as suite guests we probably would have felt it overpriced. We ate in main dining otherwise on the free dining option. Every table request was met and the service was usually great. There were a couple of less helpful waiters - and it took a bit to convince some that we really didn't need the food explaining. The options on the "always available" were definitely less good. Frozen shrimp and tomato ketchup does not make a classic prawn cocktail! But the daily menu was much better. It would have been nice to have local cuisine options rather than international every time. And please Celebrity if you read these - bring back fish knives. Even if you do now only serve fish filleted rather than whole a fish a fish knife is still appreciated! Teen activities were really excellent. We hadn't expected much being still within the UK term time. but there were a number of American kids and teen suitable activities ran pretty much all day. We didn't see much of the kids club for sub teens - but it seemed popular. Certainly even with the number of kids on board they were not a problem. A word of caution about Rome airport. You can't check in until 2 hours before your flight so if you have a flight later that about lunchtime it is really worth making your own transfer arrangements. With all the cruise liners spilling passengers into a very small airport at more or less the same time there was nowhere to sit for our 2 1/2 hour wait to check in. Having business class tickets and access to the air side lounge is useless if you can't check in! We would have been better staying in Michael's Lounge and getting a taxi up later. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014

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