7 Lisbon Gourmet Food Cruise Reviews

This was a 12-day Transatlantic Cruise from Lisbon to Boston. I was a little ambivalent about going on this smaller and older ship. I knew it had recently been in dry dock for some sprucing up, so I was curious what we would find. Well, it ... Read More
This was a 12-day Transatlantic Cruise from Lisbon to Boston. I was a little ambivalent about going on this smaller and older ship. I knew it had recently been in dry dock for some sprucing up, so I was curious what we would find. Well, it was wonderful. It looked as though all the carpet and furniture in all the public areas had been replaced. The furniture was comfortable and inviting. And, like all Holland America ships, they absorb people well - I never felt like I was in the middle of a huge crowd. It's a relaxing and very pleasant environment. The food, as with our every other HAL cruise, was really excellent. We had two occasions that were a disappointment, though. One evening in the Main Dining Room, I ordered lamb kabobs. They were terrible - cold, hard, dry. I immediately told our server that I wasn't happy with the dish and he very rapidly brought me something else I chose. So, it really was no problem at all. The replacement was paella, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The other less-than-lovely experience was in the Pinnacle Grill, which is HAL's premium added-cost dining venue. We usually go twice during a cruise because we really enjoy it. This time, however, we cancelled our second reservation. We waited 20 minutes for our appetizer, and about two-thirds of the way through my appetizer I found a 10" hair. The manager was mortified. Then we waited over and hour for our main dish. I was ready to walk out, but it was too late to go to the Main Dining Room. The manager was extremely apologetic, and confessed that they had been having difficulties in the kitchen. Needless to say, despite the excellent food, it was an unpleasant experience. The manager called our room a couple days later to apologize again and to say that he hoped we would come back so he could show us a better time. We didn't return. None of this should be taken as a review of all the Pinnacle Grills fleet-wide. Each restaurant is it's own, sort of like a franchise. Every other experience we've had in the Pinnacle Grill on other ships was top-notch. The embarkation in Lisbon wasn't what we expected. We stay in a Neptune Suite, and on every other cruise, as soon as we check in we're told "feel free to board any time". This didn't happen this time. It was a decent length wait. I don't mean this as a complaint, but as an observation that if they say priority boarding is one of the benefits of having a suite, then they should make sure that happens. One notable enrichment activity: on the sea days, they have America's Test Kitchen, which is a cooking instruction - just like there might be on t.v. Each of them were excellent. As a side note: we are a same-sex couple. We have never had one second of a negative encounter/service because of it. (In fact, for the cruise we took for our 25th anniversary, they decorated our door with balloons and streamer and a huge sign. They also brought a decorated cake to our table.) Our 12 days on Veendam were simply great. I would readily choose this ship to sail on again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a ... Read More
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a little less than fantastic The spa deck was very small and hard to find a seat on some days. So, the concierge upgrade was not really worth the money. The bathrooms were very tiny and, we knew going in it was a smaller ship but, if you are on the toilet with the door closed it was sideways sitting. The room stewards were not as intuitive as to what we needed. For example- on day one we had champagne in a bucket that we didn’t drink on boarding as in it was more fun after sail away. When we came back to the room to drink- the bucket was gone and the champagne on the counter. We had to call to get the bucket back. The buffet restaurant was not quick with water, tea or coffee. Most breakfasts we had to flag someone down to get us more. There was link flexibility in changing restaurant dinner times even with empty tables. The good- heck it is still a fantastic line! The food is fantastic and who doesn’t like grilled lobsters. Honestly, the best food you can have at sea. The main dining room and speciality restaurants had great service. The ship is very clean. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We reserved this cruise over a year in advance based on the itinerary; we had not visited any of the ports listed. There was a new stop every day between Lisbon and London, including two days in Bordeaux and London and a visit to Omaha ... Read More
We reserved this cruise over a year in advance based on the itinerary; we had not visited any of the ports listed. There was a new stop every day between Lisbon and London, including two days in Bordeaux and London and a visit to Omaha Beach. As an expedition cruise, all of the tours, and there were many to choose from, were included. This, and the fact that it was all-inclusive, was enough to sign me up. After that, however, it only got better and better and exceeded our expectations. A person was waiting at the airport for our private car transfer to the hotel (Lisbon Sofitel), which we booked (through Silversea) for a one-day pre-stay. At the hotel, a dedicated hospitality desk was available from 9 to 6 to handle all our questions, advise walking tours, restaurants and sites. On sail day, a luxury bus took us the 20 minute ride to pier and check in at Lisbon was quick. Although it was a our first time in Lisbon, we were never left to feel lost or easy tourist marks. (This was true of the all of the ports we visited). The ship was recently refitted and has furniture and appointments generally similar to the new Silver Muse. Style is subdued and elegant and lacks the Las-Vegas-Disney style glitz so distracting on the 3,000 passenger ships we have previously sailed. Although I knew this was an "expedition" cruise, I did not know until later that it was a "culinary" expedition cruise, with lectures on food, wine and cooking demonstrations. that does not say it all, however, as they also offered highly entertaining talks on military history, medieval cultural history, plants and animals. The tours offered reflected these particular interests. All of the tour guides were local and highly well informed. The passengers ran from about 50 to 80 years of age. I was particularly impressed by the care and attention given by all of the expedition staff on the tours. A crew member was always available to make sure no one got lost and everyone got back to the ship on time. Many ports had courtesy desks set up so that you could strike out on your own. Although Silversea does attract an older crowd (there were no children aboard), many of the tours required an admirable level of fitness, including several walks of several miles over various terrain and bike rides of several miles, and the passengers were more than up to this. They go in all weathers! By evening, passengers were happy to spend a few hours enjoying the evening meal, or a cocktail in the two lounges with pianists/vocalists. We did not miss the absence of broadway song and dance shows, which we usually skip anyway. The level of service was outstanding; you only had to catch the eye of the steward for the merest moment for them to be rushing to your side. Yet, it was not intrusive. Each cabin has a butler as well as a steward for cleaning. In our case, the butler handled in-room dining and assisted with clothing care and was generally always available nearby. About 30% of the passengers were US, the rest were Brits, Aussies and a smattering of others. All communications are in English. A red and white wine is selected every evening for dinner; they are of medium quality but usually locally significant. The cocktails are uniformly imaginative and superb. Although I have no interest in an Antarctic cruise (which is more than 50% of their expedition business), I would definitely sail with Silversea again on another type of expedition cruise. The one thing I would change next time is to make my own flight arrangements. Silversea offered a good price for the flights to and from Europe, but there was an upcharge if you did not want to fly back immediately after the cruise (ie, if you want to stay a day or more in the place of debarkation). It has nothing to do with the day of week on which you were leaving; it was just the mere change of departure date. Further, although you pay for the flights at the same time as the rest of cruise (which could be more than a year in advance), they do not actually "buy" the flight and assign the seats until shortly before you leave. Therefore, whereas you should get a choice of seats months in advance, you get whatever is left only 4 to 6 weeks before you fly. In our case, this meant that we were relegated to the last boarding group and were told we could not bring hand luggage onto the plane because there was no more room. This caused quite a bit of consternation at the outset of the trip. The last thing you want is to be kneeling on the floor at the departure gate trying to move valuables and medication from one bag to another two minutes before boarding.. I suggest that you price the flights before you make your cruise commitment.and see if you want to do your own flights and transfers. One last tip: Silversea has a "My Silversea" link on their website which allows you to review and reserve all tours, specialty dinners and spa services in advance. I did all my reservations on line and was not disappointed once. Many of the tours booked up on the ship and there was only a waitlist. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This cruise went to places that we had never visited before. Having Silverseas handle all the transportion made for a more relaxing trip. Our Cruise Director, Moss was one of the best we've had in over a dozen cruises. Our only ... Read More
This cruise went to places that we had never visited before. Having Silverseas handle all the transportion made for a more relaxing trip. Our Cruise Director, Moss was one of the best we've had in over a dozen cruises. Our only dissappointment was the limited number of speakers and other onboard activities which we were told was becasue there were not sea days. Still think there should be more as we do not go ashore or take shore excursions ever day. The shore excursions we did take were very good for the most part. There was only one that disappointed us. The fitness center could use some upgraded equipment and a little more room. There was also too few machines for the number of people onboard so you either have to wait or come back another time. Our butler was very good and went out of her way to address any of our concerns. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We went on this cruise because we did the Baltic last August and it was superb. We signed on for another cruise in the exact same Oceania suite. The recent experience was not so good. I was served a raw chicken leg in the dining room ... Read More
We went on this cruise because we did the Baltic last August and it was superb. We signed on for another cruise in the exact same Oceania suite. The recent experience was not so good. I was served a raw chicken leg in the dining room and the lobster thermidor in Jacques was lukewarm, the beef in the steakhouse was tasteless and tough, caeser salad dressing tasted like it comes from a bottle. Overall the food was not nearly as good as last year. The service was not as good a last time either. We were served dinner in out suit over an hour late one evening. Was there a merger in the past 13 months? The shore excursions are pretty boring and pretty expensive. We won't be back. At this point I would rather fly to europe, stay in a good hotel and get a better feel for the country. Since the trains are so good in europe why not use them? Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our 2nd Windstar cruise. We are now serious fans of this line. We have been on both the "yachts" and the sail ships now and both, although different were excellent. Service was superb. We were thrilled to have ... Read More
This was our 2nd Windstar cruise. We are now serious fans of this line. We have been on both the "yachts" and the sail ships now and both, although different were excellent. Service was superb. We were thrilled to have the dining room server, Esther, that we had met on our first cruise. She was consistently helpful, accommodating and pleasant. We hope we meet her on our future cruises (and we have booked several others already). Our room Stewart, Iman, also went above and beyond. What ever we needed we got! And strangely, the ship's doctor was the most valuable crew member, as she aggressively treated the bronchitis I came on with and saved the vacation. Only two days lost--and can't say they were lost as I lounged on deck and was treated like a princess. We were fortunate to be on a James Beard cruise and the wine tasting, the special dinner and the learning experience was beyond compare. What fun we had! We had a suite and were very comfortable. The suites are two cabins combined so there is a living room and two bathrooms. Very comfortable. The tours included and those purchased were very good, the wine and food theme was carried on many hours of them. The highlight for me was Granada and the Alhambra. It was a perfect tour capped with an excellent lunch. A must do. And on the ship, we were truly well fed and entertained at the Barbeque. We were very fortunate that the weather was ideal. The sunset magnificent and the whole experience was amazing. And the crew line dances were so much fun. Highly recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our 5th cruise on the Wind Surf, 7th on Windstar ships. This cruise was not on our radar until Windstar announced the partnership with the James Beard Foundation for what was to become a truly memorable food and wine experience. ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise on the Wind Surf, 7th on Windstar ships. This cruise was not on our radar until Windstar announced the partnership with the James Beard Foundation for what was to become a truly memorable food and wine experience. This was the first of three scheduled JBF cruises and exceeded all expectations. I think it exceeded those of the JBF representatives and the Windstar staff as well. In addition to the 7 ports that we would visit after leaving Lisbon, we had nightly tastings of Spanish wines that were poured and examined at length by Sommelier Steve Olson. He is known as "the wine geek" for good reason. Besides 3 full glass "tastings" each evening, the wines of the night were then served at no charge with dinner. Some of the wines are available in my local stores for upwards of $75 per bottle; some we can't even get here. Then the food! Our chef was Michel Nischan, a three time James Beard awarding winning chef. He had presentations, classes, and shopping tours for guests. There was a final dinner that Chef Michel, Steve Olson, and the Windstar corporate chef collaborated on that was beyond belief. The representative from the JBF left the day before the cruise ended to get to JBF annual awards in Chicago. These guys were personable, approachable, and seemed to be having the time of their lives along with their families. A true once in a lifetime experience for us. As for the rest of the review, it is not possible to find fault with the spectacular Windstar staff, the cleanliness of the ship, the officers availability and the overall willingness to do whatever it takes. We were so happy to see old crew members who are like a big family to one another and to us. The ports on this itinerary were okay; nothing that I was particularly excited about, but interesting and each one different. Lisbon and Barcelona, of course, are two of the great cities of Europe and we were thrilled with each. We did mostly private tours and enjoyed each port. Lots of Roman ruins, etc. One port, Ibiza, has the Sa Cova winery (like we needed more wine) that was lovely and in the same family since the 1500's. Almeria is a seaport that is next to desert sites where many famous movies were filmed, from Lawrence of Arabia, to Exodus, to the spaghetti westerns. All and all, a really memorable 8 days that we will think and talk about for years to come. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016

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