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6 Lisbon to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We recently completed our fourth Windstar cruise, an eight day cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona. Our previous cruises over the past four years included the French Riviera, northern Europe, and the Caribbean. The Windsurf, while aging, is in ... Read More
We recently completed our fourth Windstar cruise, an eight day cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona. Our previous cruises over the past four years included the French Riviera, northern Europe, and the Caribbean. The Windsurf, while aging, is in excellent condition. We were impressed by how well maintained this almost thirty year old ship is. As in the past, service was excellent. Crew members knew our names even before we were introduced. Beverage prices were not unreasonable and seemed to not have changed over the past years. Our issue was with the food. Breakfasts, as previously, were very good. I liked them, although my wife was less enthused. We have always felt that the lunches were poor to mediocre. We ate most of our lunches ashore this time, and the few lunches we did have on the ship were no better than in the past. Hamburgers were dry and overcooked. Sandwiches on the special order menu were poor with lots of bread and little meat. Items on the buffet were bland, The major issue was with dinners. The menu always sounded great, but the food was consistently underwhelming. A "filet mignon" appeared to be a sirloin steak. Oysters Rockefeller were served cold. Items usually made with veal (veal Oscar, e.g.) were made with pork. Soups were served lukewarm even when we specifically asked for them to be hot. On several occasions, including the final evening, we could not find any appealing entree to order. On previous cruises, we were permitted to order from either restaurant menu (AmphorA or Stella Bistro) regardless of where we were eating. This time, we were told that that was "against policy." Service was very slow on several occasions. We had the impression that Windstar was just doing too much cost cutting. Nothing was terrible, but it seemed like things were not up to previous Windstar standards. We do not plan to sail with Windstar again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My partner and I have never sailed the oceans before and since our friends in Napa Valley who own a few vineyards asked to go with them, we said yes! They had the same travel taste as we do, so we went all out. First class tickets, ... Read More
My partner and I have never sailed the oceans before and since our friends in Napa Valley who own a few vineyards asked to go with them, we said yes! They had the same travel taste as we do, so we went all out. First class tickets, 5star hotels, and was hoping for 5star Silver Sea. When we embarked off of Lisbon, Portugal; we were escorted to our room which didn't look like a $20,000 suite. There were markings on the wall, the furniture was worn out, t.v. remotes didn't work, and there was bird poop on our deck. We thought to ourselves, we are with friends so let's hope it isn't that bad. Incident #1 - Pool deck: I ordered a shrimp cocktail and when I took the first bite, it tasted fishy. I asked if the shrimp was fresh from the port and the server told me that he would have to check. When he came back he said no, that everything was frozen. (If I'm paying this amount of money, and the ships go from port to port, shouldn't our seafood would be fresh?) 5 hours go by and I'm beginning to feel very sick (the ocean was smooth sailing at this time) I'm having to go to the bathroom every 10min or less, I kid you not! I finally had to call the doctor and he told me I had "Gastroenteritis". I'm not doctor but that sounds like food poisoning to me, so I asked for Gatorade or anything that had electrolytes... my butler said they do not carry Gatorade! 3 days go by and I'm finally feeling a bit better (after missing 3 ports, guess what... that day is "Day at Sea") LOVELY! All in All - I stayed away from meals and ate fruits and crackers.... oh yeah and tons of liquor to kill whatever was inside of me. The decor of this ship was old and VERY outdated. No one on the ship apologized for anything except my awesome butler who really cared. I got to see 3 ports out of 9 because of bad weather and bad food. Here's where I even get a worse taste in my mouth is the aftermath. Since I am a Centurion Card Member, I contacted my Amex team and told them my experience and they said they would investigate it for us. 2 weeks later I get the response saying that SilverSea is not taking any responsibility and there were no records of me seeing the doctor. I faxed Amex a copy of my doctors bill and SilverSea said that the bill said I didn't get food poisoning and sorry for any inconvenience. I Google'd, "Gastroenteritis" and it comes up as a virus aka food poisoning. SilverSea didn't take the time to answer my 4 letters that I have written them, 2 emails that I sent, and 5 phone calls that I dialed. Last course that im taking (because I don't give up easily) is making a Facebook page, finding other people like me that had a bad experience, contacting this community, and making a web page" Being 29 years old, having a lot of time in my hands, and knows everything about Social networking; you would think a big company like SilverSea would take the time to talk to you. I'm not asking for all my money back, but half back would be nice and a coupon is not acceptable! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I was very excited to be going on Ventura after waiting 12 months since my booking. The problems started at Southampton when i had to wait for 2 hours in a Q to park the car.This is unacceptable for any passenger but especially disabled ... Read More
I was very excited to be going on Ventura after waiting 12 months since my booking. The problems started at Southampton when i had to wait for 2 hours in a Q to park the car.This is unacceptable for any passenger but especially disabled passengers, which i am sure i was not the only one . There was a long Q to get on board and the Lady at the security check in for bags etc asked me if it was nearly at the end as she had been on duty for 4 hours already.She said its always like this when Ventura is in .We finally got on board at 4.00 and it was time to sail.We did not go to the muster station for the emergency drill as it had already started and no one asked us if we were going. This is the first time i have seen this happen where people don't need to go to such an important meeting. We met first timers who had not been either.The cabin was beautiful.The problems started straight away. We were booked for early dinner and when we went down the Q was horrendous. When we went for our table for 2 we found 4 tables for 2 stuck together to make a table for 8. We were lucky the others were lovely people but had also asked for tables for 2. The service was really slow and the dining room was really cold all week. The food was sometimes only lukewarm.The self service restaurant  was our next call next morning for breakfast and the Q here was worse than the night before. This was like this all week. Not much staff to cope with over 3.000 people. Lots of complaints about the wait for cups glasses cutlery etc.I have been loyal to this company since 1997 and have never seen anything like it .I did not like the fact that the hand washing gel is now self service. There were lots of people not bothering with it and i was very worried about picking up a bug. There were 4 ports of call and there were shuttle busses to take you from the dock . When we went the first morning for the bus and guess what there were at least 300 in the Q and hardly any busses. Lots of people complaining.. The other 2 days the exact same thig with people waiting in the long Q.I felt very sorry for people who were on their first cruise.Lots were saying NEVER AGAIN.I heard lots of people saying they will be going back to Royal Caribbean as they know how to treat customers.I would not travel on Ventura Again. I had hoped to book AZURA for next year but not now as it will be just the same or maybe even worse.I have booked Arcadia for October . I have travelled on her before and there were no problemsFor my 2010 cruises i will be looking at Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and Cunard  as i met lots of satisfied customers from these companies Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
As I stood on a forward ship deck with a warm fresh breeze in my face, I was again facing new discoveries to lands I had never before visited ... how wonderful! Holland America's ms Prinsendam glided under the Ponte 25 de Abril ... Read More
As I stood on a forward ship deck with a warm fresh breeze in my face, I was again facing new discoveries to lands I had never before visited ... how wonderful! Holland America's ms Prinsendam glided under the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge, one of the longest on earth, and to our port side was Holland America's sister-company ship, Cunard's QE 2 also departing Lisbon — this was a spell-binding moment in life's adventures. My emotions raced, and I imagined what thoughts may have gone through the minds of early Portuguese explorers, like João Fernandes, as they plied waters to unknown worlds for the first time ... I too felt that mysterious sense of impending exploits ... this would simply be the wonder of a lifetime! Our Itinerary: Focusing just on the itinerary would not be completely reader appropriate in telling you about this classic ship, ms Prinsendam, for as an elegant explorer she does just that ... she moves onward exploring. In fact on January 13th she will begin her 113 day around-the-world adventure from Ft. Lauderdale. But don't be completely bewildered by this concept, as you may be able to book merely segments of this grand exploration. Our elegant explorer itinerary sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, continuing 3,000 miles for 13 nights to Athens, Greece. We arrived a day early to Lisbon, which is imperative in today's changed air markets, and we used this time to re-coop from jet lag and explore this enchanting city. From Lisbon we went to the U.K. member Gibraltar which is quite close to Africa. We took in Gibraltar's heights, and those feisty Barbary apes. Mahon of the Spanish Minorca islands came next, then Italy's Sardinia, followed by Civitavecchia the port in Italy used for access to romantic Rome, and the Vatican State. We docked two days and explored Rome and the Vatican extensively. The next day we ventured on our own via train to Tarquinia, Italy, to see the ancient Etruscan burial ruins that pre-date Rome by hundreds of years ... they were quite exquisite and well preserved — a grand adventure was unfolding! From Civitavecchia we had a day at sea to photo the Stromboli volcano spewing steam and debris down along its populated coastal areas, and then on through the Straights of Messina, that narrow gap between Italy's mainland and Sicily ... remember Homer's Odyssey where perhaps the sirens enticed passing sailors? Next the lovely Greek islands like Santorini and Kefalonia plus stops for the original Olympia where the games began in 776 B.C., and even for the 2004 games the flame was still lit here for its journey round the world to light the current modern games where ever the location. This year as you know the flame returned to Athens, Greece. A highlight of this ancient wondrous voyage was our day in Turkey. We made port at the city of Kusadasi. This city is your gateway to the ruins of Ephesus, even more amazing than the Rome's ancient Forum. Here you will walk the marble streets of Alexander, Caesar, Cleopatra, the Apostle Paul and St. John. Nearby you will visit the last known home of Mary, mother of Jesus, and the burial spot of St. John who was beckoned by Jesus to care for Mary — an inspiring day was in store for visitors. The port of Kusadasi is home to several ancient boulevards hosting Turkish-style bazaars where everything can be bought; from hand-woven rugs, to fine jewelry to knock-off purses and watches. Bring your cash, your haggling nerves of steel, and just relax and have fun — nothing in your life will have prepared you for a Turkish market — we loved it! No matter how much you bargain ... you won't win. The Turks pride themselves on being masters of the "deal" and it is just part of the culture. To not bargain is almost no fun at all for them and an insult to the game that is afoot and less fun for you. But, they will win ... it is only a matter of degrees for you! It is no matter though, the deal-making is recreational and prices are very low. Until the government revalues the Turkish dollar every shopper can be a millionaire. For about $6.00 you can be worth 10 Million Turkish Liras. Imagine how many currency notes it would take to buy a home or a car! Though we had cruised in the Mediterranean twice before, this itinerary was quite new for us, and it was one of our most memorable life experiences. The ports and shore trips were well orchestrated by Holland America to near perfection, safety, and organization. I always recommend using a ship's shore excursions in short-stay situations, and where efficiency is paramount — like our first ever trip to Rome. For seasoned travelers exploring on one's own is the true vacation delight — just don't miss your ship! Our final stop would be Athens ... one of the hand full a large cities I would readily revisit. Athens offers culture, history, the magnificent Acropolis and a sense of welcome. ms Prinsendam: The elegant explorer ms Prinsendam is 38,000 tons and carries a comfortable and intimate number — 793 passengers. She is 673 feet long and has a complete promenade deck around the ship for romantic moonlit strolls, or exercise walks. She was actually built in 1988 for the former Royal Viking Line as the Royal Viking Sun. In 1999 the luxury line Seabourn bought her, and she became the Seabourn Sun, serving with Seabourn until 2002, when sister company Holland America acquired the vessel and re-fitted her as the ms Prinsendam. Many of the elegant qualities known for Seabourn excellence remain and embellish the ship, such as fine woodwork, marble flooring, and a world class spa. The Queen's room provides a main gathering place and entertainment forum for the specialized entertainers such as singers, pianists, magicians and comedians and the faithful cast/crew of the Prinsendam for Broadway-style performances. The cruise industry is so varied in today's market that I want to be exact and confident that readers understand this wonderful class of ship, and especially the Prinsendam herself. She is a vintage ship with classic style and lines that is fully worthy of her full and upcoming world exploration. Her deep stable draft-to-size-ratio gives her qualities of sea-worthiness that is not always found in all modern designed ships. We had one day that faced a stunning gale-force nine wind storm (55 to 72 mph), but the ship braced admirably and even inexperienced passengers fared pretty well. Such conditions were unexpected, and it was comforting to be aboard ms Prinsendam in such adverse conditions. Prinsendam is different from the mega-ships prowling the seas of today's market. She has no spiral pool slides or dancing costumed bears for kids, and she sports no rock-wall or ice rink. She does show her style and offers all the amenities of classic cruising — shows, fine meals, a movie theater, two pools of modest size, whirlpool, spa, well-equipped work-out area, and a staff that caters to its clientele. I attribute this graciousness and dedication to service to Holland America's cruising standards, and personally to the ship's hotel manager — Mr. Jan Kuipers. Our 13-night cruise verified this striving for excellence. In fact, when issues arose on the vintage elegant explorer with our cabin, we were met by letters of apology and a promise for quick and required services. Moving and vastly complex wonders like the ships of today will have random issues arise, and it is reflective of a company's standards when those issues are met with a commitment to quality control plus solutions. The Prinsendam is now finishing a long awaited project to replace and update the water lines throughout the ship, and once completed will give the elegant ship greater client comfort and a more issue-free service. This project is likely finished as of this writing and was completed as a moving work-in-progress. Ship Summary: The Prinsendam has all the traditional regulars of the HAL fleet — Crow's Nest, Explorer's Lounge, Java Cafe, Ocean Bar, Wajang Theater, Half Moon Room, the Queen's Lounge showroom, La Fontaine Dining Room and a wrap-round promenade deck as mentioned — as well as The Pinnacle Grill (the specialty restaurant), a newer well equipped Internet Center, an Art Gallery, Roman style spa, fitness center and a popular Golf Club and Pro Shop complete with golf practice simulator, and yes ... shops! Quite impressive to noise control is a feature of the vintage ship I immediately fell in love with: Every two spacious well-appointed cabins have their own recessed hallway that kept cabins away from hall-chatter when people were out late forgetting that others sometimes sleep. This feature alone was a stellar feature for us. Dining: This is our fourth Holland America cruise — each one on a different ship. We are always pleased with dining, but this cruise seemed extraordinary. Whether it was the actual preparation, or the delight of our new friends and dining companions — or both, we enjoyed and looked forward to evening dining in the lavish La Fontaine main dining room. One evening we reserved a window table for two in The Pinnacle Grill. This is a worthwhile "extra-fee" experience. The elegance from fine Bvlgari china to impeccable and personable world-class service made this a memorable evening. The menu varies, but each delicacy we tasted seemed quite special, and the romantic setting was ideal. For lunch we opted to forgo the more formal La Fontaine and we really enjoyed the cafeteria-style Lido dining. If eye-appeal is buy-appeal we were completely satisfied with the Lido. In fact one evening we were late from a shore trip and just popped into the casual Lido for a nice evening meal. For breakfast we also preferred the casual easy-in-out Lido. Adjoining the Lido is a hot dog, burger pool-side grill, and pizza was available as was ice cream, wonderful favored and of course badly needed ice cream, glorious toppings, and homemade cookies calling to us "take me ... take me!" of course. Closing thoughts: As the extended cruise came to a close I found myself again standing forward on the elegant Prinsendam admiring her classic styling on the last breezy afternoon day. Sparkles of adventure and history were dancing in my head with thoughts of explorers, classical Greek statues and buildings, the Roman Colosseum, Vatican City, Homer's Odyssey, Socrates, the Greek Isles, the spirited Turkish Bazaars and so much more ... how wonderfully exciting this had been ... yet so graciously exquisite. The next cruise after ours, Prinsendam ventured into the Black Sea, and her journeys and explorations continue onward. And, whenever I again see the profile of a classic ship chasing new horizons on distant seas, I will fondly remember Holland America's Prinsendam and wish I were chasing new venues aboard this classic vessel. Some people vacation on the sea, some even love and admire the mystery and unknowns of the sea, but like the thousands before me the sea is a taunting and seductive mistress beckoning me to join her again in passionately intimate adventures yet to be discovered just one more horizon beyond — and beyond yet again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
We found the Prinsendam to be a wonderful ship. While we have sailed on several more modern or recently commissioned ships, the Prinsendam didn't lack for any of the expected amenities. Our cabin, although slightly smaller than the ... Read More
We found the Prinsendam to be a wonderful ship. While we have sailed on several more modern or recently commissioned ships, the Prinsendam didn't lack for any of the expected amenities. Our cabin, although slightly smaller than the newer S class suites was arranged such that we felt we had 2 rooms (450 sq. ft.). The balcony was spacious and of course the convenience of the Neptune Room is always great. While we found the food portions smaller, the quality was consistent. And the smaller portions probably make sense particularly since you can always request ends. The ship was clean, the crew polite and friendly (which always seems to be the case on Holland America) and the transitions on and off the ship at each of the ports is flawless. We can't say enough about how well HAL handles the administrative aspects of cruising. This particular cruise which departed Lisbon and ended in Athens was perhaps the best itinerary we have experienced. The weather in Sept in the Mediterranean is perfect! And the islands visited each had interesting historical aspects let alone the absolute beauty. While it is hard to pick the best -- I'd have to say Santorini. And 2 days in Rome was perfect. All in all, we felt that this was one of our better cruise experiences from all aspects. Do not be reluctant to enjoy a cruise on the Prinsendam. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
Flight times as set up by Oceania. My flight was changed about 3 times by them. Flight left 1 hr. late, thank goodness my connecting flight was late too. The seats arranged by my travel agent were not honored and we had other seats ... Read More
Flight times as set up by Oceania. My flight was changed about 3 times by them. Flight left 1 hr. late, thank goodness my connecting flight was late too. The seats arranged by my travel agent were not honored and we had other seats assigned to us. We were met by Oceania staff on arrival to Lisbon and after collecting our luggage quickly bused to the port. The embarkation crew did not seem to be prepared for us and there were long lines as they were getting ready. I was in the front of the line and once they started we were processed quickly. I'm not sure about all the people behind me. Once on board we went to the Terrace cafe (Buffet). Then we made our 2 reservations for each of the restaurants (Polo and Toscana). There was some discrepancy about this. The Reception desk told us we couldn't but when you go up to the respective restaurants you can make your 2 reservations. You also need not remember when they are, you will be reminded by a card in your door. We were very tired at this point and made our way down to the cabin. It was ready and we crashed until dinner. Dinner for my first night was in the Toscana. We were still quite tired and didn't really order much. There was also no encouragement on the part of the waiter to try anything. Left there a little on the hungry side and went to the 9th floor. Overall, I would say the food was quite good except for a couple of meals. One was where I ordered sword fish in the Polo and the fish really wasn't cooked. The waiter was trying to convince me and the other woman at the table who had the same fish that it was supposed to be that way. We thought it was strange when we couldn't cut it with the knife. Maitre D. confirmed this with us and the fish went back to the kitchen. My cabin was on level 3, port hole. The cabin was small, but I had great neighbors. Everyone was very friendly. Lots of crew traffic on the 3rd level. Also, you can only access the cabins from one elevator. The other half of the 3rd level is for "crew only". Destination service: This is where Oceania really needs some improvement. At the last minute I decided to book a shore excursion package. It states in the booklet that is sent to you that this is not available for purchase on the ship. In fact they did allow you to purchase this on the ship. The real disadvantage of prebooking is that you are not allowed to use any ship board credits towards this purchase. (I did have a small credit from my travel agent). I had been reading these boards before my cruise and felt that I didn't have a good handle on what I could do independently. I am geographically challenged and didn't want to waste what time I did have getting lost and finding my way back. By booking these tours I had quantity activities but did not have quality. They say and do use reputable tour companies, which means the bus is clean. I wasn't prepared for a bus that is much like the airlines whereby if the person in front of you reclines their seat, their head is in your lap. There was no leg room on these buses and I am 5'4" and complaining. The tour buses were usually not filled to capacity, but there was always upward of 40 people. Many of the tour guides I experienced were struggling with their English and had a memorized script of what to say. In the bus its not a big deal, just enjoy the pretty scenery, but when you're on your tour and your standing there with this big crowd of 40 plus people struggling to hear it is a problem and a big waste of time. Some of the people who I did meet canceled the package after Spain. For me it was an expensive waste of time. I forgot to mention I did the explorer collection. I also almost forgot to mention we didn't dock at one of the ports we were supposed to. Portofino, the weather was bad and they couldn't tender us. We went to Genoa instead. Peter, the charge destination person, was quick to say there would be no refunds for the excursion in Portofino. They instead "had something of better quality" that would be even more exciting. No one had any idea of what was being planned but it was better. Peter had the best adjectives. To bad they weren't true. I was looking forward to cruising on the Italian Riveria and not another bus tour. We received another bus tour with yet another struggling English tour guide. This guide even apologized for her English. As for the destination service desk and the Reception desk: this is one of my favorite stories. It didn't happen to me but I did hear it at dinner that night. At the port in Livorno, 2 women went to the desk to get a map so they could take the train to Florence. They were wandering around looking for the train station. Finally, they met someone and to make a long story short, what they had received from the reception desk was a map of Civitaveccia not Livorno. Good thing they had been to Florence before. Peter was also advising people not to take the trains because of what happened in Madrid. I felt they (Peter) were unnecessarily scaring people out of doing things on their own. Obviously for economic reasons the shore excursions were highly encouraged and there was no help or support if you wanted to do anything on your own. For me they were something to do but I wouldn't do them again nor would I recommend them at this point. It is the one thing that Oceania may get a letter from me about. Lets go back to the food. Dining experience in general good. I liked the Grand Dining Room. Somewhere on these boards or reviews someone mentioned they didn't enforce a dress code. It was probably me. After those all day excursions I was too tired to change. My least favorite place to eat was the Terrace Cafe. Some had to do with my taste in food and that is where some of the wait staff seemed really oblivious. Either they were really good or they stood there like space cadets. This was also my first experience with open seating. It's wonderful to meet other passengers, but there is no one to really take care of you. Entertainment: I did not spend a lot of time in the lounge. I did go see John Paul who was excellent. Afternoon tea: I really enjoyed this. Excellent scones. The enrichment Lecturer, Dieter, very interesting and informative to listen to. Way more interesting to listen to than the tour guides on those expensive excursions. I hope this helps gives some information to any readers out there in cyberspace.  As for me this was my 5th cruise. Second European one. I must say even if I wasn't really impressed with the shore excursions we did have a really nice time. A lot of that was due to the really nice fellow passengers that I met. It was a very nice experience but I don't feel Oceania is at that upscale cruising experience they are advertising or trying to achieve. I will also mention my flight home. Had an extra night stay. My flight departed from Barcelona, stop over in Amsterdam, to the US. Well guess what, got to Amsterdam. The minute I reached the terminal there was an announcement that the flight was canceled. Within minutes we were whisked out of the airport to a hotel in Haag. Got to see a place not on Oceania's itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004

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