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47 Lisbon to Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Embarkation was quick and smooth. The Preziosa is a beautifull ship with a good layout. We were cruising in an Aurea suite which includes the ‘Easy’ drinking package, massage and spa access. Overall food quality is below average, in ... Read More
Embarkation was quick and smooth. The Preziosa is a beautifull ship with a good layout. We were cruising in an Aurea suite which includes the ‘Easy’ drinking package, massage and spa access. Overall food quality is below average, in the buffet hot food is just warm. If you’re looking for Nutella or something alike they refer to the shop where you can buy(!) it. Never heard that one before. At some point in the cruise they ran out of chocolate croissants and danish. ‘Sorry, out of stock’. How can you run out of chocolate croissants when you have an own bakery on board? Even if you want to order a small bottle of water, ‘Sorry, all finished’. If this was my cruiseline, I’d sack the F&B manager. The system where you press a button for bar service doesn’t work. Once they have the money in the till of your drinking package you’re on your own. It is quite hard to get a drink in the bars and impossible to get a drink in the buffet. Nobody encourages people to disinfect or wash hands. I’m surprised there wasn’t a breakout of norovirus or flu. Overall the public areas are clean, alas, our cabin was not. Thick layers of dust in cabinets and drawers and long women’s hair in the bathtub. The top-tier privileges of their loyalty program are ridiculous, didn’t receive the gift or the chocolate due to ‘problems with distribution’. Don’t promise things if you can’t realise them. Our pre-booked excursion was cancelled because of ‘lack of participants’, I’ve been on excursions with other cruiselines where there were 6 participants in the coach. So again, profits before guest service. I’ve seen MSC slipping down from a near 5* company to some kind of holiday park on the water. Ok, the prices are very affordable but what you pay is what you get... Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I went on the "glories of Spain and Portugal" itinerary in August. This was my first cruise. The small ship size was great and I got to know the fellow passengers and crew very well. The crew and staff were excellent and very ... Read More
I went on the "glories of Spain and Portugal" itinerary in August. This was my first cruise. The small ship size was great and I got to know the fellow passengers and crew very well. The crew and staff were excellent and very attentive, and I also enjoyed the small group excursions. I really enjoyed the ports and the privileged locations we got to dock at each day. The ship was very clean and nice. If you are looking for high luxury, however, this is probably not the ship for you. Cabins are small and there are no balcony cabins. The ship had a nice family feeling and I felt right at home. The food was good and there were a lot of choices and the staff was accommodating of any dietary restrictions. Everything went smoothly on board. In short if you are looking for a nice ship with amazing staff and an intimate feeling, I would absolutely recommend Variety cruises and the Harmony V. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Me and my boyfriend (30 and 37-both Greeks) decided to sail for the second time with MSC Preziosa because the first cruise was just fantastic and we loved the vibes of beeing in such an amzing ship! We sailed at October 2018 for a 9 ... Read More
Me and my boyfriend (30 and 37-both Greeks) decided to sail for the second time with MSC Preziosa because the first cruise was just fantastic and we loved the vibes of beeing in such an amzing ship! We sailed at October 2018 for a 9 nights cruise to Genoa, Malaga, Casablanca, Lisbon, Barcelona, Marseilles. We had a great experience overall. THE SHIP. The ship is absolutely amazing. Big, beautiful, extra clean. The bar and lounges and public spaces were awesome. You could find a calm place to read your book (which I did most of the times) or taje a coctail and chill near the pool. The weather was great at October 17th so we had a lot of the time on board spend there! OUR CABIN. Again, they upgraded us to a balcony cabin cause some of them were free. The cabin is great, I reccomend if you can spend the money to get a balcony cabin, it has a lot of space and the feeling that you get waking in the middle of the night and seeing the ocean right there is unbeatable! ENTERTAINMENT. The entertainment was good for the most part. I loved the talent night where members of the ship were trying their talents! There were some really talented people among them! SERVICE AND STAFF. The service and the staff were AMAZING. Really kind and welcome, not one of them beeing rude (I dont know where people writing that find the rude staff). Always wanted to help, with a smile on their faces all the time. DINING. The dining for me is great. First of all I really love the buffet. It has everything that you want and even things that you didnt know you wanted! I appreciate the fact that you can have a great breakfast/lunch even if you are is a special diet-I saw a lot of vegetarian-vegan choices, gluten free, healthy products without extra fat and deserts with low sugar. Every night we were having dinner in the dining area cause we are these kind of people that love to dress up (we dont do that very often!) and have a nice meal! The food was always very good exept the duck but I guess I dont like the duck in general? So dont mark my words! We were not very excited about the shore excursions. MALAGA. We had an absolutely terrible excursion in Malaga with a guy that I can only remember him telling us that Spain has the greatest olive oil in the world. Because we are greeks, he tried to ''pick us'' by asking us about one thousant times ''isnt this true? your olive oil is not that great, ha??'' I was like....COME ON!! I dont care who has the greatest olive oil I am here for vacations and you are RUDE. Yes he was rude, unpleasant and the excursion that he lead was a joke. We should have complained in the office cause noone needs to pay 66e per person for that. CASALBANCA. Not the greatest excursion possible, but I appreciated the fact that I saw two towns (Azemour, Al Jadida) that I could see by myself in any case. I took some really nice photos from people living in extreme poverty but still smile every day. MARSEILLES. We took the Ex-Provence on our own tour and I loved it. It was not really an excursion, they just left you for 4 hours to Ex and you did your own thing. It s a lovely place, we had a really good time spending time in the local markets and wondering around the town, BARCELONA. It is very easy to do your own thing in Barcelona. You just get out of the ship and take a mini bus (not the MSC bus, that is expensive) that cost something like 2-3e and go to the centre. After that we went to see Sagrada Familia (you have to book tickets in advance!) and wonder around in the gothic area. LISON. Again, no need to take an excursion. We just walked from the ship to the town, we went to the castle and then just walking in the alleys. We tasted some traditional deserts and listen to fados! ON BOARD. I actually love on board days. I have a very busy schedule back home so I really need to chill between the days on different places. One of the reasons that we chose this cruise is that it had 3 days on board which for us was great! We went to the pool, had some coctails there, then we went to the water slides for about 2 hours! It was us and children only but we didnt care cause it was SO much fun! Then we could chill reading our book (there is also a library there-ofcourse not book in greek but I manage to find the last one in english and it was actually a great book!) eat in the buffet, have a beer in the deck. It was very relaxing. Overall it is a great exerience for us! Right now we have already booked our next cruise that leaves in a month with the brand new MSC Grandiosa! We are looking forward!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was our first cruise with Ponant and we were not disappointed. It was 5 star all the way. The food was magnificent and delicious for every meal. Our cabin with veranda was completely adequate for our needs as we do not spend much ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Ponant and we were not disappointed. It was 5 star all the way. The food was magnificent and delicious for every meal. Our cabin with veranda was completely adequate for our needs as we do not spend much time in there. The toilet was separate to the bathroom which was unusual and very pleasing. The bed was comfortable and there was plenty of storage. My only criticism is that the balustrade for the balcony is steel so if sitting on the veranda, one cannot see much at all. A perspex or some other transparent material would be better. Maybe becaue it is an icebreaker - I don't know? Rhis is also our first cruise on a small ship and we were dispoointed some times in the lack of activities in the afternoon. Is this because the passengers are having nana naps?! Staff were excellent and catered to our every request. Shore excursions - we only did one in Tangier which was really good and the other in Casablanca which was only satisfactory because we were put on a bus with French speakers and their French guide who dominated our English speaking guide and monopolised the microphone on the bus. There is not a lot to see in Casablanca and I felt that the tour was "padded out" with useless information to fill in time. One could easily walk from the port to the mosque and that's all you really need ro see. While we loved the cruise, I am not sure that I would do a small ship cruise again as we had some not rough seas, but serious swells that made quite a few people sea sick. I have been on big ships with rough seas and never felt sick like I did on this one. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The ship is absolutely beautiful - both public spaces and cabins. Like a very luxurious hotel. By appearances, you could easily forget that you were on a cruise ship - more like being at a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, and our Explorer ... Read More
The ship is absolutely beautiful - both public spaces and cabins. Like a very luxurious hotel. By appearances, you could easily forget that you were on a cruise ship - more like being at a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, and our Explorer Suite category cabin was extremely comfortable. But that was the problem. It was all about appearances. That may be enough for some, and you would not be disappointed in terms of high end comfort. The library, lounges, restaurants were all very attractive. But then the service. Didn't even come close to matching the surroundings. I actually found some staff downright hostile. They seemed so unhappy so much of the time. Our butler was nowhere to be found the afternoon of embarkation and for the rest of the cruise it was like pulling teeth to get anything out of him. At one point he threw away newspapers I had set aside on our sofa (needed them for work) and he took it upon himself to throw them out when he brought in the newer newspapers then tried to blame it on the room steward who swore up and down that he never throws anything away if it's not in the garbage can, which I believe because when I did have things right next to the garbage can to throw out (they didn't fit in the can) he did not take them. The room steward seemed pleasant enough, but overworked and doing his work somewhat begrudgingly. They seemed really "cheap" about things. For example, a spare roll of toilet paper is usually kept in the bathrooms. They would never replenish this - even after we had to call for more tp and you could clearly see there were only a few sheets left on the existing roll. You would think once that happened they would be better about restocking. The last night, we needed to take tp out of one bathroom for another. Toiletries were never replenished, even when soap was down to a sliver. Service was quick and perfunctory. We had to ask multiple times for them to put the cushions back out on the deck chairs. I understand taking them in at night in inclement weather, but even when we were in port overnight with very pleasant weather, they would not put anything out and often we had to do ourselves. Not a big deal, but you would think at these prices they could make sure details like that were attended to. Also, with all it's beauty, the ship itself still seemed kind of odd. We are used to the creakiness when a ship is at sea. But this one made all kinds of weird noises at all different hours - especially at night. We did not get one decent night's sleep over the 12 days we were on board. Dining was okay, but varied widely from one venue to another. Anywhere from bad to pretty good. Never really good. Prime 7 and Pacific Rim were very disappointing. We get better steaks at our local diner, and the Asian food left us not feeling great and very thirsty all night long. Chartreuse was the only specialty restaurant we enjoyed and would return to. Compass Rose was decent with good service. The Pool Grill lunches were okay if you stuck to the salads, but the hot foods were pretty awful. Husband said it was the worst hamburger he ever had, and I could barely eat two bites of the chicken wings I ordered. Pizza was dull and flavorless. In Veranda, lunch was okay. Dinner (when it became an Italian restaurant) varied. Breakfast was not good at all if you wanted anything beyond eggs. On the plus side, we did not go hungry, but compared to other cruise ships we have been on, the pickings were slim and with very limited hours and availability. Servers for the large part seemed unhappy. Most did their jobs, but that's it - just did their jobs. Once in a while you would get someone with a smile and that was such an exciting moment due to the rarity. The ports and itinerary for this particular cruise were, for the large part, very good. That's why we picked this cruise (Lisbon, Porto, A Coruna, Bilbao, Bordeaux, L'Orient, St. Malo, Guernsey, Southampton). We did Lisbon on our own, but I heard from other passengers who did pre-cruise through Regent that there was a bit of a cattle car feel. We then felt that throughout the cruise with any excursions booked through Regent. They may be free (as part of "all inclusive"), but be warned. You get what you pay for. Generally speaking the Excursions staff was clueless. Not only were they uniformly not very nice, they knew little to nothing about the ports. On other cruise lines, we have gotten much more detailed port information, including maps, the night before and there is usually someone you can speak with on the ship who has some familiarity with the ports. With this we had to wait for a local representative to come on board the ship the "day of" before we could see any map or get any local iniformation. The excursions themselves were pretty mediocre. Every day we saw or heard stories of people getting left behind or "lost." You are sent out in groups way too big to get much out of anything. The tours were not all that informative and very poorly timed. There was a lot of wasted time, and when you were given any free time it was usually not in the center of things. Huge variations among guides depending on the luck of the draw with which bus you ended up on. Some people complained that they couldn't even understand their guides. In one port, even the guide was wondering who had arranged such a tour. We were left with nothing to do except have tea for an hour and a half in the middle of nowhere - at the expense of seeing the island. As compared to other cruise lines we have been on (Crystal, for example) or when doing independent touring, Regent appears to be scraping pretty close to bottom of the barrel in terms of what tour companies they are using. And you never once saw a Regent rep accompanying any of the tours to see how things were going, nor was there any effort to get feedback from passengers. Clearly they take a "hands over one's ears, hear no evil, see no evil" approach to things. Another big shortcoming was the quality of WiFi. No excuse in this day and age, especially on such a new ship, for it to be so erratic and unreliable. We have been on much older ships in the middle of nowhere with much better service. They have clearly skimped in this area and have no interest in serving their customers except for collecting the money for usage. Fortunately, the wifi plan was included with our stateroom, otherwise I would have been furious for spending so much and getting what we got. Can't really comment on the entertainment. Especially with living in NY, we go to see theater, music and other entertainment quite often, so don't really look for it on a cruise ship. Although on many cruises we have been on, they have had some fun and different offerings that we don't get to here in the city. Not on this cruise. Nothing was really to our taste and the little bit we did see and hear, was not particularly impressive. The one thing I will give them high marks for was the Enrichment lecturer - an instructor from NY. She was the only person we heard from throughout the entire cruise who had any insight about anything. She was smart and well spoken, and we enjoyed her lectures. Overall, it's tough that we were left feeling the way we did. Great ship, great cabin, great itinerary, but the service end of things made us feel really badly and makes us doubt we would try Regent again. Maybe they were very good once, but it seems that since NCL acquired them things have gone downhill. The ship may be fancier, but it's still Norwegian Cruise Lines - not one of our favorites. A cruise is about so much more than just your room and surroundings. And maybe it is just how this particular ship is managed, but there definitely appears to be a morale problem among employees. Even higher level officers. On just about every other cruise we have been (several of them over multiple brands), the officers are much more visible and there is more opportunity to interact with them. Here, there was no effort whatsoever. To us it seemed very obvious that they just want your money, they will make you comfortable enough, but then want you to leave them alone. I have felt much better treated on much less expensive cruise ships. In my opinion, you would be better off paying for the best cabin you can on a less luxurious ship but then getting much better service and being made to feel more special. When we have stayed in higher level suites on other ships, we have received true VIP service. Nothing of the sort here. Other than free newspapers and free wifi (that barely worked), there was nothing here that made us feel special. As I mentioned earlier, there was even a sort of hostility here. Heck. On our last morning I couldn't even get a cup of tea. We had ordered room service and they brought me a decaf tea bag. When the steward came to try to service our room 20 minutes before we were supposed to be out of it, I mentioned the tea bag to him and asked if he could get me a non decaf regular tea bag. He snatched it out of my hand and never came back. So would I recommend this line to others? Likely not. Or I would lay it out as is and leave it up to you to decide if it's worth it. I think with so many lines building so many new ships now, there are much better options. Even as one who loves luxury hotels, I would be willing to go just a little less luxurious on a ship for better service.The surroundings are just not worth the premium charged here and for the lack of quality in other areas. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We took a our first cruise on Regent in May from Lisbon to London and we were blown away. We have taken Crystal in the past on some 15 cruises, and now we find ourselves remiss for patronizing a good cruise line (Crystal) when there was ... Read More
We took a our first cruise on Regent in May from Lisbon to London and we were blown away. We have taken Crystal in the past on some 15 cruises, and now we find ourselves remiss for patronizing a good cruise line (Crystal) when there was such a much finer cruise line (Regent) out there. Regent beats Crystal in room quality, service, staff, food, athletic facility, spa, public areas, embarkment, and in a very big way, in excursions. Crystal does have better entertainment, but overall this is a minor item to us. Further, Regent is not as pretentious as Crystal by declaring itself the "best" cruise line, and Regent does not push purchasing photos at every conceivable instance as Crystal always does. And even the passengers on Regent appear to be more polished and polite than those we have encountered on recent Crystal ships. Perhaps Crystal is yesterday's cruise line, but Regent is today's. Special compliments to the Regent's ship management. The attendants for the rooms were almost invisible, yet their job was always complete in a timely manner. Similarly, we were treated excellently by the food mangers in the various restaurants. Our favorite restaurant was Prime with the bone-in ribeye. Every excursion seemed better than the one before! Thank you Regent-job excellently done! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Chose this cruise as a warm weather cruise prior to New England in the fall, turns out to be quite hot. The itinerary is one that suited us and we have covered most of the ports before. As a result we have chosen to stay on board and just ... Read More
Chose this cruise as a warm weather cruise prior to New England in the fall, turns out to be quite hot. The itinerary is one that suited us and we have covered most of the ports before. As a result we have chosen to stay on board and just relax and take advantage of a quiet ship and be by the pool whilst others are on their respective tours. We last sailed on RSS Voyager in October last year on her voyage prior to her refurbishment. I have to say that our suite, 943, has been beautifully refurbished with all of the dark wood removed and much lighter wall coverings and fabrics being used giving a much more modern feel and a much better use of space throughout the suite. Compass Rose has been given a superb makeover with new furnishings and fabulous chandeliers. I can safely say that all of the restaurants visited so far have provided excellent friendly service. Of particular note is the new "do it yourself" menu in CR which provides so much choice I could eat there every night. The trips off which we have taken have been very good with some excellent guides, although we do enjoy our own little walks ashore taken in our own time. Overall, I believe that Regent are offering an excellent service. I look forward to October's cruise on the Mariner. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
The boat is beautiful, the service wonderful. The other travelers were terrific. Aside from some issues with the cabin, it was an ideal trip. There were a couple of ports that weren't worth a stop, but maybe they needed to - and ... Read More
The boat is beautiful, the service wonderful. The other travelers were terrific. Aside from some issues with the cabin, it was an ideal trip. There were a couple of ports that weren't worth a stop, but maybe they needed to - and the prices of the excursions are prohibitive. We started by just putting a few in the "cart" online and the price was as high as the entire cruise with just a few days worth of excursions, so we emptied the cart! Luckily we found cruise critic and were able to make arrangements with tour providers along with others who were sailing on the same ship. Often we would be on a private tour with just one or two other couples, a tour we would pay $75 pp to take, and see the Oceania tour group while we were out who we know paid $250 pp for the same tour but with a much bigger group and giant bus. Highly recommend the ship, the food was beyond wonderful, the rooms beautiful. Don't pay the crazy amounts for the tours, use TripAdvisor and find recommended tours at a fraction of the price (they know to get you back on time!) The other people on the cruise were fabulous as well - great clientele. We would definitely take another Oceania cruise, but would be sure we got a room that wasn't directly under a deck and be sure we took our own excursions. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Cruise review Tauck - Small Ship Cruising Treasures of Spain & Portugal (Eastbound - Lisbon to Barcelona) April 19 - May 1, 2017 By Ken Montgomery- Irvine, CA Summary - This was the initial cruise for Tauck with this ... Read More
Cruise review Tauck - Small Ship Cruising Treasures of Spain & Portugal (Eastbound - Lisbon to Barcelona) April 19 - May 1, 2017 By Ken Montgomery- Irvine, CA Summary - This was the initial cruise for Tauck with this itinerary and this Windstar ship. Thus, this trip was a bit of a shake down cruise, but Tauck did their usual up-scale fantastic job. The ship for the cruise portion of the trip was the Windstar Star Pride, a first class smaller cruise ship. Portugal & Spain have great ports for the cruising industry and there is a lot to see within range of their port cities. The itinerary required a moderate amount of walking and a fair amount of stair climbing and bus boardings. The weather was generally cooler and windier than normal for the area, but we didn't have much more than a few sprinkles. Early May might be warmer and more conducive to cruising. Pre-Trip. Landed at Lisbon airport Tuesday morning around 8:00 am, breezed thru Passport Control in under 5 minutes. Tauck met us and 4 other couples at the airport and drove us to Intercontinental Hotel and the rooms were ready! I think Tauck had something to do with that, but no guarantees on the early check-in. The high season in Lisbon hadn’t quite started yet, so the hotel could get us in early. After a nap, we rode the “Hop on- Hop off” bus for a few hours, which was a great introduction to the City. The hotel was very nice and has a great breakfast included. We even had a nice view of the City and river Tagus from our 14th floor room. Wednesday (on our own)- Before we left home, we set up a Viator trip to Fatima and the Atlantic Coast (north). We lucked out, this was a great trip. We walked to the pick up point, the Hard Rock Cafe corner, about a 25 minute downhill walk from the hotel. Our tour was in a nice Mercedes van. There were a total of 7 passengers and a great guide, Pedro Dos Santos. He gave commentary in Spanish and English and drove professionally at the same time. We got back at 7:00pm, so we missed the cocktail party portion of the Welcome Party. The announcements were made after dinner, so we caught that. Viator booked the tour (on-line, very easy) and "Inside Lisbon Tours" operated the tours. There were about 8 tours leaving from the Hard Rock Cafe corner at 9am, so there was a lot of confused customer milling around until a driver showed up and announced the 7 or so names he or she was taking. This was a little bit of a chaotic way to start the tours, but everyone was off on their way within 10 minutes or so. Tauck Tour Day 1 of Tour - Wednesday evening- Intercontinental Hotel - Lisbon - Welcome Cocktail Party & Dinner 6:00 pm at Intercontinental Hotel. Nice dinner and a good way to meet fellow “Tauckies”. Day 2 - Thursday- Lisbon Highlights bus tour - 9:00am to 1:30 - lunch and rest of afternoon & dinner were on your own. The Tauck bus will leave you near in the City Center or take you back to the hotel. Most people left the bus in the City Center and continued on foot. Our tour guide showed us a few restaurants and then left us on our own. We walked down to the Tagus River front and found some nice restaurants with a view of the river Tagus. We then rode a few more routes on the Hop on Hop off bus. There are 3 companies doing this, and they all seam to stop at the same stops. You can buy a ticket on board with Euros. Each company has 2 or 3 routes with each route taking about 90 - 100 minutes. This is a great way to see the City. Bring your own ear phones, the ones they give you are low quality. Day 3 - Friday - Lisbon - Bags out at 6:45m, bus tour to Sintra and other stops west of Lisbon. We got back to Lisbon to board the Windstar Star Pride around 2:30pm. There were 40 Tauck passengers on the 212 passenger boat. On this cruise there were a total of 170 passengers. The check in process was quick and efficient. They kept the restaurant open until 4:00 so the 40 Tauck passengers could eat a late lunch. The bags were in the room when we arrived unless your bag had a bottle in it as shown in an X-Ray. We had a bottle of wine in one of our bags and we received a call to come down to security, they wanted us to open that bag. You can bring 2 bottles of wine with you, but no bottles of liquor. If your bottle turned out to be liquor, they kept the bottle and promised to return it at the end of the cruise. The mandatory safety drill was at 4:15. The Tauck passengers then had their nightly cocktail hour at 6:00 pm in the Compass Rose (deck 6) where you could get free wine or cocktails & peanuts. This was a very nice nightly private party. Announcements were made during the party about the next day's activities. You also received a copy of the Tauck itinerary in your room. You also received the Windstar daily itinerary. Reception distributed a small English language world news summary. Dinner was at 7:00 pm nightly in the main dining room. Windstar has open seating and one upgraded restaurant where the menu is a little nicer. Tauck customers received free house wine at dinner. The wine was excellent. Friday night had rough seas, hard to sleep. Due to the rough seas, we arrived in the next port 2.5 hours late. Day 4 - Saturday: Portimao, Portugal- the Tauck bus tour left the ship at 11:30. We returned to boat for lunch and then boarded the bus again for an afternoon wine tasting trip. Back to boat at 5:20, the boat sailed at 6:00 pm. My wife & I had dinner in the special restaurant, and the food was a notch above the main dining room. Had a table outside in the setting sun, and it was not windy. Saturday night was smooth, no big seas, good sleeping. Day 5 - Sunday - Seville, Spain - we boarded buses in Cadiz and drove to Seville. Due to weather and sea state caused delays, we didn't have time to take the ship up the river up to Seville, which would have been nice, beats a long bus ride. Spent a full day seeing Seville, then back to the Ship by 6:30. The Tauck cocktail hour lasted till 7:30 and then onto dinner. The bus rides were about 2 hours each way including a restroom stop at the halfway point. Weather was cool in the morning and low 80s in the afternoon. Seville is a great City for tourists and the Tauck guides got us to the front of the line - always. Day 6 - Monday -Gibraltar- we docked at noon. We did a 2 hour tour, then back to the boat at 4 pm, or you could stay in the town and walk back. Boat departed at 10 pm. Weather was in the mid 60's. No Cathedrals today! The "Rock Apes", (monkeys) were very cute and photogenic. Windy day! Day 7 - Tuesday - Malaga, Spain. 9:00 am depart for Andalusian Manor Hacienda La Esperanza. Our group of 40 was treated to a private visit, horse show and tapas tasting, back to ship by 1 pm. At 2:30 pm we left on a Malaga sightseeing tour and a walking tour thru the Old Town where you could visit the Picasso art gallery. Temps in the 70's, not much walking. Day 8 - Wednesday. - Almeria, Spain. - Departed at 8:00am for 2.5 hour bus ride, including a bathroom stop, to Granada. We had a tour of the amazing Alhambra Palace and lunch at the Alhambra Palace Hotel. Back by 5:30pm. The Windstar ship crew put on their big BBQ that night on deck 7 despite the wind, with dancing on deck afterwards. Temps in the mid 60's. there were a fair amount of walking and stairs in this visit. Day 9 - Thursday - at sea- cold, windy, rocky, not a lot to do. We were glad we brought some “Great Courses” DVD's with us. Our Tauck tour director gave us a lecture on the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), which was very interesting. There is a lot less to do on days at sea on a small cruise ship compared to large cruise ships. Windstar should work on this. Give us a few lectures or even video presentations about upcoming ports. It was too cold to sit outside for long. If the weather was warm, I’m sure everyone would have been on deck getting sun. Day 10 - Friday - Palma de Majorca - a beautiful city, we had a tour of the city in the morning, lunch on the ship, or stay in the city, then a visit to a private palace with a folk dancing performance with wine & cheese in the afternoon. Great weather, high 60's and sunny. Day 11 - Saturday- Barcelona - disembarkation- bags out before 5 am, which means the night before. We left the ship at 8:45 am and then toured the major sights of Barcelona, an amazing city. I love how Tauck gets the group to the front of the line, we never waited in line. We checked into the El Palace Hotel around 4pm, very nice hotel. Most people walked the Las Ramblas and found a place for dinner. There were lots of choices. Weather was cool and windy. Day 12 - Sunday - Barcelona - met the bus at 8:15 for another day touring Barcelona. We had a private organ recital in the "Music Palace" (Palau de la Musica), another Barcelona architectural masterpiece. We had a walking tour of the old city, then lunch on our own, then bused back to the hotel. Tauck had the farewell cocktail party and dinner at the "Silk Palace", leaving the hotel at 6 pm, back around 9:15. Day 13 - Monday - Barcelona - going home - we had a 10:50am flight to Newark, so Tauck arranged the airport transfer at 7:15 am. The United check-in counters didn't open until after we were standing the airport looking for the United check-in counters. Around 8:00 am, 5 United check-in counters opened. Checking in was easy. A security officer did a short interview with each passenger before they proceeded to check-in. They wanted to know where you had been, so it helps to rattle off a few of your ports and Cities visited. Several passengers stayed a few extra days in Barcelona and Tauck took care of their transfers on their day of departure. Comments on the Windstar Star Pride Beautiful ship, smooth sailing and docking. No tendering on this cruise, the ship tied up at the dock at all the ports on this cruise Security getting back on the ship varied from port to port, some places had airport style inspection, other places a quick visual inspection. Efficient, responsive & friendly crew Some cabins experienced plugged toilets which were repaired by crew Food is very good Entertainment is limited to piano bar type entertainers Each cabin has a DVD player Ship has a library of books and DVD's for lending Ship has a small pool and 2 jacuzzis Wifi is spotty and slow, but you will get your emails and some websites, but don't try to download a Netflix movie or even a U-tube clip Cabin 316 was spacious with a walk in closet, lots of drawers, a safe and small balcony Cabins have one - 110 volt and one - 220 volt outlet. Ships store has a good selection of Windstar logo clothes. They also have sundries at reasonable prices. The store is only open when the ship is moving. Reception also sells toiletries. There is a small casino with 1 poker table and 1 blackjack table and some machines. Gymnasium - outstanding - 5 treadmills, 3 stationary bikes, 1 rowing machine, 1 arm cycling machine, many single purpose weight stack machines, free weights, bar bells, yoga mats. There was also a Personal Trainer available. Spa - full service Comments on Tauck Bus tours were very comfortable, great buses and informative commentary by our guides. Rest stops every 60 to 90 minutes. They have a rotating seat assignment system, which works great. Everyone gets to sit in front once during the trip. Seat assignments are posted outside the bus, so you know where to sit. Water is always provided. The tour directors are amazing people, they handle all the issues and unplanned challenges on the fly without a problem. Thank god for cell phones and the Tauck support staff back at headquarters to help with challenges. Tauck provided unique touring experiences and set up private entertainment performances. There was a private wine tasting & wine education in Portugal, a couple of dance performances, and an organ concert, just for our group. Tauck seems to be sensitive about not taking their guests to too many cathedrals, as many companies seem to do. There was usually free time for people to visit more cathedrals if they wanted to. Wifi was free but slow on the ship. The wifi was good in the hotels. The hotels did not have DVD players. Dress code - about half the men wore sport coats for the welcome & farewell dinners, although this is not required. Most of the time, the dress code on the ship is "Resort Casual” (pants with a colored shirt) We have heard that the Tauck “Treasures of Spain & Portugal” Cruise has been booked up for many months out and I can see why. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
After 3 memorable experiences on MSC’s ships was not at all a surprise that I decided to comeback. This time I was cheating on my first MSC love “Preziosa” and choose, for a 9 day trip, her sister ship “Splendida” Since the ... Read More
After 3 memorable experiences on MSC’s ships was not at all a surprise that I decided to comeback. This time I was cheating on my first MSC love “Preziosa” and choose, for a 9 day trip, her sister ship “Splendida” Since the very first moment on board MSC Splendida I had the “back home” feeling; the ship has the exact layout of the Preziosa with some theme-lines changed slightly, just perfect to give me the comfortable balance between NEW and FAMILIAR. Splendida is big on bling, with an eye-popping golden Swarovski-crystal-inlaid staircase in the Yacht Club’s double-height foyer which pales into insignificance when compared with its larger sister in the main atrium. We start our voyage in Lisbon, an ideal embarkation port if you don’t like big airports and long taxi rides to the port. In the Portuguese capital is pointless to book a transfer when the taxi is always waiting for customer and a trip to the port will cost no more than 35 Euros. Even if was stated on our travel documents that the embarkation will start at 1.00PM, due to our early flight we arrived in port around 10.30AM. We decided to leave the luggage in the terminal and run for a coffee waiting for embarkation procedures to start. The staff in the terminal informed us that they will call the ship to let them know that we arrived already but, to be honest we didn’t expect to board the ship earlier than the official boarding time. Wrong assumption and great proof that MSC Yacht Club service is most of the time above any expectations: in less than 10 minutes the Assistant Head Butler Dani find us in the terminal and in less than another 10 minutes we were in our stateroom – 15016 which was …. READY! I checked my watch and it was 11.15AM…that’s a big WOW!!! Our cabin, 15016, was a YC1 grade, which doesn’t compete with similar cabins on other cruise liners; is not very generous from the space available point of view. A living area gives the cabin the “luxury air”, the walk-in closet – quite small if you care about your appearance on board – is a big plus taking in the account the limited storage space in the room and the balcony is the size of a normal balcony cabin. Maybe the only feature which doesn’t match the “exclusive” marketed image of the Yacht Club is the bathroom: a very small space trying to accommodate a normal size bathtub. A big plus for the deco and colour scheme of the room which creates an elegant, home like feeling. With no doubts the biggest asset of our journey in Splendida’s Yacht Club was our butler Edwin. This was the third time when we had the privilege to have him on board and I was more than happy and please to see that his standards hadn’t change at all. Originally from Honduras, Edwin has the perfect personality and knowledge for his position, recording with maximum care the likes and dislikes of guests and always add a sort of special touch for any requests that he received. Having Edwin for 9 days created a sense of calm. He quietly and discreetly thought ahead and ensured that every detail that makes the day go smoothly happened with maximum efficiency and minimum fuss. With his assistant butler Oleana, a charming girl from Ukraine, the kept our room in a perfect state, with everything being in the same place, the right one, all the time. Is interesting how during the entire voyage we didn’t need to ask for anything, and both Edwin and Oleana, were one step ahead us anticipating any type of requests, bringing a sense of security in our experience in an unnoticeable way. The Yacht Club offers to the guests the “Top Sail Lounge” a perfect multifunctional laid space for any moments of the day: an attentive Continental breakfast service in the morning, a high tea in the afternoon, a pre-dinner drink ambiance in the evening and even a late snack for those looking for a quiet night-cup. A small army of butlers and assistant butlers were always around ready not only to take orders but to suggest our next delicious choice. Anna, a lovely Ukrainian young lady, was an elegant and charming presence in the Top Sail lounge, always ready not only to serve but to have a smooth pleasant conversation with all the guests. The atmosphere was complimented with live music sometimes in the afternoon and evening. I must say that my previous suggestion regarding the diversity of musical acts was implemented and three different musical styles were rotated in the lounge during our cruise. Maybe something more lively will be a good idea, especially in the evenings when the audience was up for some fun. The perks for Yacht Club’s guests don’t end with a nice room and personalised service; even during the day when we were part of different shore excursion, the YC status gave us the chance to avoid long lines and wasting time in different areas waiting for the excursion to starts, like on Norwegian Cruise Line or Cunard. With our tickets, we received the time when we will meet our host in the lounge, relaxing with a cup of coffee, before the excursion starts. The host will escort you directly to the point where the guide will start the tour: no lines and waiting for the elevator, access to gangway or security checks. Smooth and very pleasurable! Another big asset for the MSC Splendida’s team was the Assistant Head Butler – Dani. More than once I was sure that he must have some clones in his cabin because he was always anytime everywhere if you will need any assistance. I mentioned our early embarkation in Lisbon, but Dani surpassed himself in Malaga when he appeared from … nowhere and escorted us straight to the shuttle bus avoiding the long and unnecessary queue. More than that his way to anticipate needs and wishes was more than a skill, it was a talent! One day, before a long tour he overhead myself talking about having a typical Italian pizza room delivery later that day. And what a surprise, at my return in the cabin, a lovely MSC Splendida Special fresh made pizza was waiting with all the toppings that you can dream about. What an amazing little special touch! And the pizza was delicious too! I do hope that, on my next MSC cruise, I will have the privilege to have Dani as a Head Butler, he deserves it 150%. This unashamedly elitist experience vanished when I left the YC and I was wondering the rest of Splendida trying to enhance my experience on-board. No difference with the other cruise ship: a feeling of mass produced cruise, with “must have fun” dictated by a, maybe too energetic, animation team and a service which seems to be rushed and tributary to a general routine and “whatever” attitude. Maybe I exaggerate a little bit, but the difference between YC experience and the rest of the ship is more than obvious. I discover a single “breath of fresh air” in the entire ship outside Yacht Club: Alex a bartender in the Aft Lounge. Originally from Romania, Alex didn’t stop to amaze us not only with his bartender and mixology knowledge but with his positive attitude, his high standard manners, his sense of humour and conversational abilities. Actually he was the only reason for which we were spending couple of hours every evening in quite a noisy and busy lounge filled up with low key entertainment. I was wondering couple of time why Alex was not a presence in the Yacht Club where his skills and talents will be well used and appreciated? What I do like about Splendida lay-out is that the designer manages to create a lot of different spaces with different personalities, able to attract different sub-populations of guests: a cosy piano-bar, a quite trendy disco-club, a bright light “piazzeta” style area, an elegant wine bar or the large glitzy atrium. No matter how fussy you are for sure you will find on-board your favourite spot. And nothing is too big or too much. An intrigue choice is the speciality restaurant; on Preziosa you can choose between an Italian and a trendy up-market Fusion restaurants, but here, on Splendida the only choice was a Tex-Mex! I was a little bit reluctant initially, but, after the first dinner there, the efficient service, delicious food and reasonable price made me to return before the end of the voyage. Moving to things that need to be change if MSC wants to be a strong competitor on the very busy cruise market I think the biggest disappointment is from far the on-board entertainment. On one hand, some acts are on expected cruise ship standards: the duos in the Purple Jazz Bar, Irina - the pianist in the Top Sail Lounge or the excellent Swarovski trio are filling the space and time with decent performances. On the other hand, what I don’t understand is the “talent competition” level of the big theatre shows! On a ship under a flag bearing a history of fantastic Italian entertainment (San Remo, Rai Uno or Canal 5) the dancers and especially the singers made any attempts to watch the shows painful. The lack of interest or personality of the Cruise Director Franco was maybe the reason for the performance of noisy and amateurish animation team, in line more with a cheap holiday all-inclusive resort than a famous cruise line. All the team parties were full of screaming and jumping with the same line dance routine no matter the music! Fortunately, the cocktails in the Aft Lounge manage to ease the pain created by a very annoying animation team. Who told them that good entertainment means screaming in a microphone and rolling on the dance floor? Don’t be surprised that I didn’t mention anything yet about the dining experience on board MSC Splendida. That was, I think, the only downside of our trip. L’Olivo, located at the back of the ship, is the restaurant dedicated to Yacht Club guests and is an elegant Mediterranean ambiance. Unfortunately, our experience on Preziosa was repeated this time on Splendida too: the quality of the dishes and variety of the menus seem to be results of a dramatic budget cuts. Nothing that will remind you of the fresh and simple Italian traditional cuisine. But as I eat to live and vice versa the over-processed and not at all inspired meal choices didn’t bother me at all. Most upsetting was the level of service. A Maitre D’ arrogant and with no manners, a complete absence of standards and consistency in service and a rush and “whatever” service style made me to avoid as much as possible (only 3 nights of 9 dining in the restaurant) the place. If MSC wants to impose the Yacht Club product on the luxury cruise market a lot of work must be done in the restaurant department, where the lack of efficient and professional middle management ruin the culinary experience on board placing the standards of the Yacht Club restaurant on the same level with P&O or Costa main dining room. And that’s not a compliment! What I would like MSC to change? Couple of small but important things: - A restaurant menu and service which match the level of service in the Yacht Club and expectations from an exclusive product - A Concierge Service more focused in finding solutions than using NO as a general answer - A real package to differentiate the different loyalty level of guests to the same standards as other cruise liners. - An entertainment more modern and flexible without the air of a cheap holiday resort. - The extension of the perks associated with the Yacht Club on the entire ship (beverage service for example) I know that nobody is perfect but being a great believer in MSC quality and future, I am sure that the company will start moving in the right direction in the Restaurant and Concierge/Front Desk department to support the amazing efforts and results of the rest of Yacht Club team. For me, MSC Yacht Club is for sure one of the choices when is time to book a new cruise. Is close to what exclusivity and luxury means when I am thinking about cruising. The almost perfect product, the amazing crew and the feeling that pampering is a lifestyle on board MSC ships make me hope that the company is on the right path. That’s way I can’t wait for our next MSC Yacht Club experience: a week on Fantasia in December and a return on Splendida in January. Thank you very much MSC Splendida, thank you amazing crew of Yacht Club team! See you soon! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Excuse my english, I am German. We chose this cruise especially because of starting in Lisboa. Some new ports (Cadiz, Marseille, Portofino) but also known ports - but who can tell, "I know this city". We explored Lisboa for ... Read More
Excuse my english, I am German. We chose this cruise especially because of starting in Lisboa. Some new ports (Cadiz, Marseille, Portofino) but also known ports - but who can tell, "I know this city". We explored Lisboa for 3 days and Rome for 2 days - both much too short ! Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. It is better to order a taxi in Civitavecchia before you cruise. After we were lucky to catch a taxi we found two other couples (by shouting out !) who joined us to different hotels in Rome (65.-€ per person). Second cruise on the Marina. Ship is great, cabin (Veranda) too. Dining is excellent wherever you go, so you need not go to speciality-restaurants; even the buffet is great and comfortable. Service is perfect. We did not like all Entertainments. But we liked "5 o´clock or somewhere" and "Laszlo and Claudia" much. Shore excursions are very good and informative but much too expensive. We had 4 free. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was my first cruise with Hapag-Lloyd’s “most beautiful yacht in the world,” the MS Europa, 13 nights, Lisbon to Nice. I had previously cruised with my husband on the more modern, and advertised as bilingual, HL Europa 2 on a ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Hapag-Lloyd’s “most beautiful yacht in the world,” the MS Europa, 13 nights, Lisbon to Nice. I had previously cruised with my husband on the more modern, and advertised as bilingual, HL Europa 2 on a Christmas/New Years cruise December 2015 (see my CC review, Cape Town to Cape Town) and had greatly enjoyed that, which led to my interest in the Europa. I am comparing this cruise with the dozen or so other mostly luxury cruises I have been on, including with Silversea, Regent, Seabourn, and (briefly) Crystal. I did this cruise solo. I also wrote a detailed “live" thread about this cruise on CC, with pictures of accommodations and ports and commentary. Below is the link to it, though if it does not work as a link, you can just cut and paste it into google. You can also find the review on CC under the “special interest cruising” forum, subforum “luxury cruising”, “Hapag Lloyd MS Europa”, then go to where the thread is called “Live from the MS Europa Lisbon to Nice September 2016” http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2399633 CLASSICAL MUSIC: This was a special classical music cruise, the annual Ocean Sun Festival, with renowned classical musicians on board, which is why I picked it. However, my understanding from staff on-board is that classical music is also offered on almost every MS Europa cruise, though not generally as part of a festival. There was a one-hour long classical music performance almost every day (different artists at varying times, opera voices, piano, cello, string quartet). It was an exceptional pleasure to be able to hear these outstanding musicians in such a small venue, up close and personal, with very good acoustics in the Europa Lounge, the main entertainment venue, and just hearing them in such an intimate venue was worth the price of the cruise to me. The excellent Spanish ballet flamenco dancers, Istacion, also performed. For those not classically inclined, “Mr. Rod”, a Rod Stewart tribute singer, also did two shows (not my thing so I will not comment). GERMAN: NOTE THIS IS A GERMAN LANGUAGE SMALL LUXURY SHIP, but with appropriate expectations, pax can comfortably get by if they speak no German other than “ja,” “nein” , “danke”, and “bier”. The ship holds 400 passengers, and we were about 80% full, 44 solos. The solos were overwhelmingly women, and like the rest of the pax, were mostly over 70, and spoke either no or very limited English. Pax demographics were overwhelmingly people from German-speaking countries, with varying apparent educational backgrounds, with only a handful of children, who mostly belonged to on-board performers. Staff informed me there may be more children during summer and holidays but the sister ship, Europa 2, tends to target families and on average younger people more than the Europa . German was the only official language on board, but key information is also available in English. Only very important safety and “must know now” information was announced on the overhead in both German and English. Muster was offered in both German and English, (held separately). All ship organized shore excursions were only in German, though always accompanied by a crew member from the tourist office who could if needed, translate into English key information (like where and when to meet back at the bus, if all you wanted to do is use the ship’s excursion bus to get to and from a venue with guaranteed return time and then explore on your own). I would probably not recommend that non-German speakers who are not at least partial German understanders go on the excursions that involve guided walking tours or tours that involve a lot of standing around listening to the local guide say things in German if you want to get the full benefit of the excursion. The commentary, sometimes long, prior to the playing of the musical numbers and other organized ship events was also only in German, but of course music can speak for itself. Menus are translated into English by the international hostess if she knows English-speakers are on board, and customized help is available for excursion planning from the English-speaking international hostess or from the tourist/excursion personnel. Note that sometimes the menus may be awkwardly translated (e.g., "rabbit meatball" written in German got translated into “balls of rabbits” which conjures up some odd images) but generally looked fine. There was also one more serious glitch I heard about from the 3 Brits on board, who did not timely get disembarkation information and their color-coded luggage tags, (though they still safely got off on time with their luggage, no near-miss) so if you book this ship, you should be proactive and periodically check in with the international hostess or other staff to always make sure you have what you need. Pre-boarding ABC’s of the ship and travel documents are mailed out in English and your travel agent can work with Hapag Lloyd to assure smooth sailing and communication. The front-line staff including waiters also spoke English, as did the ship’s doctor, though to varying degrees, but frankly better than many of the staff I encountered on Silversea in the dining rooms and suites. If you book, you can also ask in advance to be seated where the assigned waiter is particularly proficient in dining room English (there is one named David who is outstanding), and you can also ask for a table for just you and your English-speaking party. 2 Brits were initially misasigned a table for 6, which meant they would almost certainly be sitting with other Germans, but when they complained the first day, it was immediately changed to a two-top. My trip documents, information about the ship, information in my suite when I embarked, and the TV station in the suite were also in English or set to English language information, (though when I toggled back and forth between the German and English TV menus to anticipate what I would eat that night, I noticed the English menus were often out of date, though never in the dining room at dinner — the Brits told me they never looked at the TV menus so had not noticed). The current entertainment host Randall Cooper is an American ex-pat for 30 years, a native of San Francisco , though I am not sure how long his commitment is to that position. The many Filipino basic staff on board for the most part not surprisingly seemed to speak better English than German, and the officers and upper level staff also speak very good English. My stewardesses were from Ukraine and Philippines and spoke better English than German. However, despite the ease of English communication with staff and the fact that as noted one can more than get by as an English-speaker, there were only 4 people on board registered from English-speaking countries, so if you think you will need a lot of English-speaking company besides whoever you will be traveling with to be happy while cruising, you might get lonely on this ship. On the Europa 2, held out as an international bilingual ship, there were only 12 guests from non-German countries, out of 516 pax. One issue that could be important to English-speaking pax is the fact that the general nature of most Germans (which they themselves openly acknowledge, even in a HL promo-film about the Europa 2) is to be relatively reserved with strangers, even among other Germans, and mind their own business. It generally takes more than the duration of a cruise to get familiar without being rude. Though some may be curious about strangers (especially foreigners) most simply do not show curiosity, and thus will not pry into questions about who you are, or your life, and you should not pry too much into questions about theirs, especially not straight off. There is of course a spectrum of behavior. Roughly generalizing, but confirmed by my native German friends when I ran my theories by them, is that friendliness with strangers depends to some degree on age (less so with older people), region of origin in Germany (more friendly if from the southern areas) and alcohol intake, but the mean of behavior clearly gravitates more to a stick-to-yourself style, especially with only casual contact such as occurs on cruises. Both here and even on the Europa 2, the pax generally did not search out others to talk to, or even expect to introduce themselves at venues. For example, at the get-together for solos I went to where roughly 20 people showed up (already a pre-selected more social group), though all sat in a circle of sorts drinking free champagne and eating caviar snacks, the moderator did not ask people to introduce themselves, much less where they were from. It was just suggested that the purpose of the get-together was that if you see someone in the hall later in the cruise whom you met that day, you would know it is a fellow solo when you say hello, and then after that and more champagne a few people did indeed talk amongst themselves a little about themselves. If you do try to socialize with them, e.g., if you know some German or are trying to find out if they speak any English, I would suggest you not try and go first-name straight off, i.e., do not introduce yourself with your first name only, which would imply you want to know their first name and that could be perceived as rude. On the cruises at the tables both crew and most pax addressed each other as “Herr ___ “ and “Frau __” or “Frau Doctor ___” or “Herr Professor ____” etc. and used the third person formal “Sie” instead of the familiar “Du” even after two weeks (you need permission to use “Du” so be careful), At my wetlands and paella-eating excursion I got seated with 5 Germans who at first asked nothing about each other, much less about me though I stuck out in several ways, and only vaguely talked about the nice surroundings and the food, and it was not until after about 45 minutes of sangria-drinking that we found out one couple was from Bavaria, but not much else. Then at the 1.25 hour mark during dessert and the third pitcher someone asked me where I had come from (probably because it was clear I was not from anywhere near Bavaria), and I told them. This led the Bavarians to describe how they had done a Holland America cruise a few years ago out of Los Angeles as the only Germans on board and they were appalled at how American cruiser women they saw wore so many shiny rings (I guiltily glanced at my ruby-based wedding ring), were always curious asking where people were from (I was happy I had not been the first to ask), smiled all the time (this was perceived as bad and fake) were too familiar by using first names (I knew better than to say my first name, or any name), and how awful it was that within less than 30 minutes of conversation they heard about the Americans’ jobs, diseases, etc. In short, I would say to be safe, if you are going to try and socialize with other pax, especially the older ones (which is most on this ship) go slow, give the alcohol time to get absorbed, and ask permission to ask something before you ask. In addition, there were a few (definitely not most) pax who were more than reserved but actually rude, e.g., one pushed himself ahead of me at the reception desk, another snatched away the cheese plate at an excursion sit-down that had been set in front of me by waiters because I was sitting at the end to then pass around, before I had a chance to take my piece, and did the same thing when the sausage plate came, when the wine came, etc. But of course we have also seen rude pax on other luxury lines (see e.g., my SB Norway cruise review from July regarding some of the pax with intrusive selfie sticks, price arguers, etc). The overall personality difference with Americans, Brits, and Aussies, at least of older Germans, not just the language, is likely a factor in deterring some English pax, but if you are fine with sticking to yourselves anyway even on an English language ship, or dislike excessive cruise ship intra-pax familiarity, or bounce back quickly from minor insults, there would be no problem. When English-speaking pax went ashore, they either explored the towns on their own, or booked private tours. I should add, however, that with one exception all the crew were very pleasant with the Brits and me, more so than on Europa 2, though this cruise was not 100% booked so they likely had more time. LUXURY, SPACIOUS FACILITIES AND EXCELLENT SERVICE. Service, in suites and in dining venues, was, in short, next to flawless. Reception desk, tourist desk, captain and his staff, the doctor, all key staff were, with one exception, outgoing people. Even the one exception was not surly, just vaguely disinterested. My suite (a Veranda 4 on deck 5) was spacious and comfortable with a soft bed, comfortable couch and muted beige themed decor, walk-in closet, comparable in size to current base suites on the Seabourn Odyssey or Silver Spirit. However, the beds are in the German style, which is 2 separate, close together individual single mattresses with separate bedding, they are not fused in the middle, this of course has pros and cons. The spacious balcony had one adjustable lounger, a table, and two upright chairs, all with cushions, and a glass barrier. The mini-bar had free soft drinks, juices and beer which were replenished to your specifications daily. No free wine, no free hard liquor, no coffee machine like the Europa 2 had (I ordered coffee room service, which arrived within 15 minutes of calling on all but one day, or at a set time I ordered the night before). All wine and hard liquor and cocktails, and even bottled water in the dining rooms at lunch and dinner, except on special event days, is charged for extra, but with only modest mark-ups. There are literally several hundred bottles of quality international wines on board, a few dozen available in 0.1 liter and 0.25 liter portions, for sampling or lighter drinkers. I prefer this to the somewhat disingenuous “all-inclusive” approach of SS and SB and Regent, where of course none of these things are really free and you land up paying up front and then have battles over whether the included wines are good enough. I had fun exploring many new and wonderful wines. Staff will save leftover wine for you for the next day (I found this less and less likely to happen as the cruise went on), with proper recorking procedures, if you want, or reliably deliver leftovers to your suite ( as opposed to having it disappear, as happened to me on SS a few times). You do not have to sign for anything or show a card when you order drinks. You just verbally tell the barman what you want, give your suite number, and the barman or waiter takes care of the rest, simple honor system (they know who you are). If you want a receipt then and there, or want to add a tip (not required but not rejected either and absolutely not solicited), you can ask for a written bill. Otherwise your verbal orders will just appear on your on-TV account (set it to the English station), very simple, and I found only one error on my composite overall on-board account during my cruise which was immediately and courteously fixed. Boarding was flawless, but precisely at 4, with welcoming champagne and snacks, and we sailed at 6, so there was no lunch option on the somewhat hectic embarkation day. HL provides pre-cruise and post-cruise holding areas at a hotel. There was more than ample space for pax in all venues, the main and Lido dining rooms, pool area even on hot days, lounge chairs, and entertainment venues. Most bars were sparsely populated most of the day, including the new, non-smoking beautiful Gatsby’s bar and lounge. Bartenders are friendly and competent in two (or more) languages. Late at night, even though the lounge pianist and the on-board lounge band with skilled musicians (including a terrific saxophonist) played, the bars were mostly deserted as people went to bed early, except for way on top of the ship some people hung out in the small Sansibar and seemed to debate politics a lot, I preferred Gatsby. But if you wanted to dance, the floors were yours, as most just did not dance, some like me with musculoskeletal problems were happy to just be able to stroll around, and others were in wheelchairs (the ship BTW is very disability friendly, I saw great attention given to the pax in wheelchairs or using crutches, including help at tea-time to get cakes from the wonderful pastry display. And if you need dialysis, even that can be arranged, they bring in a nephrologist, for a fee of course). Also, very important to me, the “do not disturb” sign was invariably honored and the phone at reception was answered in less than a minute if not at once. SMOKING: There is a separate dedicated smoking lounge, the Havana bar, and there are limited designated smoking areas, but note it is also allowed on outside balconies and a section of the atrium bar, so if you are super sensitive about smoke anywhere at any time, this ship is not for you. Not many people smoked, but I did catch a whiff of smoke here and there when I passed if the door to Havana was left open (not sure why it was), which did not bother me as it was minimal and transient, I am not presently asthmatic, and based on my ongoing review of the literature relating to second-hand smoke and other information, I am quite confident I am going to die of illnesses unrelated to minuscule exposures to second-hand smoke. I encountered more smoke from people in the ports than on the ship, e.g., France bothered even me a bit at some of the cafes. But if you are afraid of, or intolerant of, even small amounts of smoke exposure on board, I would not recommend this ship. FITNESS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES There is a beautiful exercise and gym room overlooking the sea, plus there are exercise classes and a custom trainer who can speak English. There is no “trivia” playing in any language. Of course there is a boutique and the personnel in there were actually helpful sales persons, I even bought something which I rarely do. The Ocean Spa is nice, as are the people working there, I had an interesting and frank conversation with a lively Russian-born childhood immigrant to Germany who (after the initial caution and topic permission-seeking) expressed concern about how the immigrant problem has changed her beloved northern German town. The pool is heated, but not used much despite great weather, not crowded, had a few lap swimmers off and on. The hot tub next to it is unfortunately below body temperature, not ideal for American tastes (DH likes it hot). FOOD: A very strong point! Best food overall I’ve had on any cruise ship including the Europa 2 (by a hair). There are four dining venues not counting room service: the MDR (open breakfast, lunch and dinner, very pleasant, calm atmosphere, terrific waiters and food presentation style, international cuisine with occasional German flares); the Lido (indoor/outdoor casual extensive buffet dining and grill to order); Venetia, a small Italian venue (fantastic food and service with Italian waiters, I went for a lovely open-seating lunch); and the Dieter Mueller dining room (Michelin-rated chef) where small-plates series are served with pairing options (this was my least favorite of the venues, though good, but I only ate there once on an Asian evening, the menu did not change after that). MDR always had vegetarian options (I tried some for lighter dining, quite creative) and meats or fishes as entrees, creative appetizers, cream or clear soups (clear soups are only B+ to me), many fresh salad options too, daily fruit in the suite (I could not keep up). Lido had a big salad bar, fish and meat grill offerings with sides, and some theme evenings with regional, e.g., Portugese food, Spanish food, American (with American steaks and burgers), Mediterranean, seafood and shellfish, and the terrific Bavarian food luncheon not to miss with fun traditional German music and costumes (the same waiter wearing a tuxedo in the Dieter Mueller venue just a night or two before was then in Lederhosen, beer and Schnapps were free and refilled more than I needed). It took a week before I ordered something I did not like and did not try to finish (lamb ragout, was too spicy, probably more my problem than the food’s) and I only had two other taste misses (a beet terrine appetizer was uninspired, and one vegetarian fancy salad I got fell flat). Mostly I cleaned my plate and then some on this cruise (unfortunately gained 5 lb in 13 days). Reservations are only required in the two little restaurants, Venetia and Dieter Mueller, or Lido for dinner, were not hard to get, ask when you get on board. In MDR you have your assigned table with others unless you need a two-top because of English, but any of you at a table can show up between 7 and 9:30 and start your dinner, you do not all have to start, or leave, or dine, together. If you dislike your tablemate you can ask to be rerouted. I had initially requested a table for myself but landed at a table with 3 Germans which turned out fine so I practiced my German, they were 2 old ladies traveling together and a solo older gent, they were all very nice. No lunch venue requires reservations, I favored the calm MDR at lunch. My waiter at dinner also knew I like to have a back pillow, so he always had it ready for me. On most cruises I am keen to dine in port, for variety, but on this cruise, I preferred exploring the foods on board with the fine service, instead of dining in ports even when there was time to do so, I looked forward to getting on board for lunch. Usually in land luxury hotel restaurants I have had better service than on ships at dinner, but for comparison at the Four Seasons in Lisbon at 2 of 3 dinners I was ignored for almost an hour after the entree was brought, as they were understaffed, whereas on this ship there almost always seemed to be “hoverers”, wait staff looking around to make sure you had everything you wanted as you wanted it. Poor service can kill appetites for even the best foods, and that did not happen here. ITINERARY: HL likes to mix up its annual itineraries, instead of doing mostly the same thing back and forth each year like some lines do. The itinerary was very good, Lisbon, Portimaio, Sevilla (2 nights docked right in town), Almeira, Cartagena, Valencia, Barcelona, Marseilles, Calvi, St. Tropez, Nice. Excursions were well-organized, and used luxury buses with AC, but, as noted, were only in German. Some of the walking excursions which were rated as “moderate” in exertion level had too many people for my taste (16-24), and the guides twice walked too fast for me and a man with a cane, though the guide politely waited for us to catch up. If you come as someone who speaks only English and wants to do port excursions, for the best experience, unless you are with someone at least semi-competent in understanding key German, I recommend you either book your own in English in advance, or through the tourist office (they will help you, in English). Although you can get by on the excursions, you may not get the full benefit of the excursion if you really care about what the guides are saying as opposed to just about being guided through town so as not to get lost. IN SUM, although the MS Europa caters primarily to Germans, select English-speaking passengers, with appropriate expectations, can be comfortable on this luxury ship. It provides a refreshing alternative opportunity for English-speaking pax who may be dissatisfied with other small ship luxury lines and who are interested in excellent service, fine dining with formal options, and classical music in an uncrowded and relaxing atmosphere. It is, per diem, a bit more expensive than the other luxury lines, when you factor in all the costs, but worth every penny, and I have therefore booked another cruise, the next one will be with DH (Australia). We plan to get either a table for two or a table with other English-speakers, and to book mostly private shore excursions in English through our TA. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We have cruised at least 6 times on the Explorer. It is a beautiful ship with wonderful service and great food. The staff is very friendly and helpful. The complimentary wine selections were very good. The five restaurants offer a ... Read More
We have cruised at least 6 times on the Explorer. It is a beautiful ship with wonderful service and great food. The staff is very friendly and helpful. The complimentary wine selections were very good. The five restaurants offer a great variety of dinning for diner. The main dining room, Compass Rose, is very attractive and offers a great variety of dinning options. One half of the menu remains the same with many selections and the other half changes daily. On our first Explorer cruise in August 2016, the ship had only been launched a few weeks and there were a few wrinkles with service in Compass Rose. However, after a few nights these problems seemed to have been resolved. Setti Mari is the Italian restaurant on deck 11 aft. Weather permitting, it is a great place to dine outside. the other three restaurants, Prime Seven, Chartreuse, and Pacific Rim (our favorite) require reservations but there are no additional charges. A night in each may be reserved several weeks prior to embarkation. After boarding, additional reservations may be made. The public areas are very nice. We never felt crowded. The pool was spacious with ample deck chairs and lounges. The pool grill is a nice place for lunch. A lunch buffet is also served in La Veranda (deck 11 aft) and a full service lunch is available in Compass Rose and one of the specialty restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This is the first time we have cruised on a ship bigger than 450 passengers – previously having sailed on the chic Club Med 2 (twice) and Regent’s Navigator (3 times). So we were apprehensive about upscaling but the draw of cruising on ... Read More
This is the first time we have cruised on a ship bigger than 450 passengers – previously having sailed on the chic Club Med 2 (twice) and Regent’s Navigator (3 times). So we were apprehensive about upscaling but the draw of cruising on ‘the most luxurious ship ever built’ was too tempting to avoid. Is it the most luxurious? – we have not enough cruising experience to really say but Explorer is stylish, spacious, if a little ostentatious in places. Our suite (Penthouse 820) was beautiful with superb décor and an amazing wet room – the colour scheme and furnishings were lovely and the balcony was enormous. Even though this was Explorer’s 4th cruise since its inauguration some ‘snags’ still were not ironed out in our suite and, ship wide, we thought some fittings were a little flimsy and lightweight. However, it is a beautiful ship and we never felt crowded or rushed at any time. There was ample space on the sun decks for all those seeking sun or shade, though bar service to the upper pool deck was slow at times – except for Edwin, who was ever present and engaging. As always, the staff make the ship and several staff we knew from our Navigator cruises were on board and, as ever, so welcoming. They reported that expectations of staff were even higher on Explorer but our experience was that the service was similar to that we had come to expect on the Navigator. Luxury comes in many forms – not just the fabric of the ship and, at times, we felt that some staff were lauding the fact that they were on ‘the most luxurious ship ever built’ and serving the passengers was a bit beneath them. This was particular so with staff at the Reception desk who, at times, were discourteous and unhelpful – we highlighted this on the mid cruise review and received a telephone call saying that this would be addressed and was work in progress. On a 6* ship this should never be ‘work in progress’. (NB a previous Cruise Critic review raised concerns over the Reception staff.) Our favourite restaurants were the Compass Rose and Prime 7. We loved the décor in Compass Rose and the service was always very attentive, especially from Melbourne, Marvin, Vaughan and Kas. The pan-fried fois gras was phenomenal. Prime 7 is much brighter than on Navigator and the service was more slick and attentive. Oxana is the star – both in Prime 7 and around the ship. The petit fours were delicious. The speciality French restaurant, La Charteuse, did not really live up to expectations – we live in France, so booked our combined wedding anniversary/birthday celebration for La Chartreuse but on our arrival the Maitre d’ had forgotten the event and had not listened to our personal request regarding a table for 2 – even though we personally discussed this with him two days before. There was no ‘mise en bouche’ – in a 6* French restaurant!? and the various courses we tried were mediocre. The vivacious Rovie made our two visits to La Chartreuse particularly memorable – she was so engaging and hard working. The Asian/Fusion restaurant, Pacific Rim’, was our least favourite – it was rather dark and the food was uninspiring. That said, we have not tried a lot of Asian Fusion cuisine and other passengers reported that the food was very good overall. La Verandah is superb – the breakfast and lunch buffets are always interesting, colourful and contemporary. Eating out on the rear deck, either at sea or in port, was always a joy. Staff such as Olexsandra, Carol, Marylene and Marco were so welcoming and engaging. La Verandah converts in the evening to the Italian restaurant, Sette Mari, but we never ate here throughout the cruise. We rarely missed the evening entertainment and the main dance group led by Amanda and Robin were excellent with their best show being the 60’s Tribute. Guest singer, Phil Browne, was simply outstanding bringing his tremendous experience and repertoire from the West End. As was Andrew Scrimshire – a talented cellist. Our favourite entertainment, however, was the Nature’s Rythmn Trio, who played in various bars/lounges throughout the cruise – they were so entertaining, versatile and talented. Their repertoire was phenomenal. The Cruise Director, Ray Solaire, in our view, was passed his best and we thought his various performances of comedy, singing and ventriloquism were cheesy, outdated and predictable. The captain, known as Captain Stan, was excellent and always kept passengers informed of the ship’s progress in relation to the excellent cruise itinerary and weather. On a one to one basis, he was so engaging and ready to converse. This cannot be said for some members of his senior team, who rarely engaged with passengers and toured the ship with almost a scowl. Michala, in the boutique, was lovely and really showed interest in our cruise experience as well as promoting the products on sale. Overall, we really enjoyed our cruise and, even at some rough moments in the Atlantic, the cruise on Explorer was always comfortable and smooth. We are really looking forward to our next cruise on Explorer in the Eastern Caribbean in late Feb 2017. We are great fans of the Regent Seven Seas brand and the ‘all inclusive’ package lives up to its name unequivocally. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Absolutely fabulous. The new ship is beautiful. Our F2 Superior suite was beautiful. The bed was comfy, the bathroom huge with tub and shower, big walk-in closet, and more storage than we could use. The staff was great and it was great ... Read More
Absolutely fabulous. The new ship is beautiful. Our F2 Superior suite was beautiful. The bed was comfy, the bathroom huge with tub and shower, big walk-in closet, and more storage than we could use. The staff was great and it was great to see some familiar staff from previous Regent Cruises. The new Pacific Rim restaurant was superb and we ate there several time and ordered almost the same meal each time (Crispy soft shell crab appetizer, Miso Cod and Lobster main courses). Prime 7's cuisine and service was great, as usual, but the decor is more open and attractive than on the other Regent ships. Chartreuse and Seti Mare were great as well. The large outdoor eating area of La Veranda was larger had many more tables than the other Regent ships. The decor of the Compass Rose main restaurant was refreshingly bright and open and the menu was great with changes daily. Service in all were superior. The outdoor bar by the pool is nice. The entertainment was good but we did miss the Jean Ann Ryan productions. Most of the excursions were great. The transition excursion in Barcelona was a disappointment, however. Can't wait for my next cruise on the Regent Explorer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We chose this cruise primarily because of its itinerary (Lisbon, Porto, Gijon, Bilbao, Bordeaux, Biarritz, St.Malo, Le Havre. First time with the Oceania cruises. The room was small and obviously not completely refurbished, as promised. ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily because of its itinerary (Lisbon, Porto, Gijon, Bilbao, Bordeaux, Biarritz, St.Malo, Le Havre. First time with the Oceania cruises. The room was small and obviously not completely refurbished, as promised. Bathroom was definitely the worst part of it. However, the food was excellent, the staff helpful and entertainment not so bad. The biggest disappointment was without doubt an extra night we had to spend in Bordeaux, due to hitting the water marker while docking. As a result we had to sail directly to our final destination (Le Havre) and we missed St.Malo, for our and many other passengers, the highlight of the entire cruise. As a compensation there was a 2-hour open bar the next day plus 200 $ bonus valid for the next cruise within the next two years. However, we thought this was more of a sales trick rather then a compensation for the "damage" that happened on this cruise. We tried to talk to the reception to get some on-board credit instead, but were denied. Overall, the cruise was not disappointing and we wouldn´t mind cruising with Oceania again, but definitely not Sirena. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Close friends cruise with Oceania on this ship every year, sometimes twice a year, so our maiden voyage on the Riviera came with high expectations. Overall we weren't disappointed. We occupied a PHI penthouse suite on deck 11. The ... Read More
Close friends cruise with Oceania on this ship every year, sometimes twice a year, so our maiden voyage on the Riviera came with high expectations. Overall we weren't disappointed. We occupied a PHI penthouse suite on deck 11. The accommodation was both spacious and elegant with walk-in wardrobe, flat screen TV, a spacious verandah and one of the most comfortable beds we've slept in. One criticism was the bathroom - single, rather than double sinks and a somewhat cramped shower cubicle. Good quality linens and a plentiful supply of towels, changed twice a day. Our butler, Titus, and stewardess Natasha, couldn't have been more gracious and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble and service was impeccable, as it was pretty much throughout the ship. Overall, the ship has all the amenities one might expect, although the main pool area became pretty crowded on sailing days. By contrast, when we stayed on board while others went off sightseeing, there was more than enough room to spread our wings. The live shows were spectacular. A 12-strong troupe who work their talented socks off and the cruise show finale was breathtaking. Food in the buffet-style Terrace cafe was good at breakfast, though somewhat unremarkable and verging on boring at lunch and dinner. The poolside Wave grill was good for hot dogs, sandwiches and burgers and the ice cream bar, too, was great for shakes, malts and ice creams, which changed each day. The Grand dining room is something of an enigma. We had a really poor meal on our first night on board - tepid food, miserly portions and pretty indifferent service. So much so that we gave it a wide berth until the final night of the cruise, when we found a big improvement. The speciality restaurants are on the whole very much better, save for Toscan, where we ate twice and where I would not return. Awful food and slapstick service, with plates being dropped all over the place. By contrast, Red Ginger was fabulous and we would have liked to eat there again. Polo Grill try hard but surprisingly for an American cruise line. they can't quite replicate a high end American steak house. Jacques, the ship's French restaurant is good, but I wouldn't give it the rave reviews that others do. My lobster thermidor was unlike any version of the dish I'd previously enjoyed and I was disappointed that my crepes suzettes were served plated, rather than flambeed at the table. Indeed, the food throughout the Riviera lacks the sense of theatre so often found on other cruise lines. What with the afternoon canapes served in our stateroom, we never quite made it to afternoon tea. And as for excursions, because we'd visited so many of the ports of call before and because we were there for a rest, we stayed on board other than in Barcelona, where we took a half-day coach tour and Portofino, where we tendered and spent a gorgeous half day strolling around the port. Would we go back? No question. For all its shortcomings the Riviera is a beautiful ship, the service is fabulous and it represents great value. Our cabin came with a useful $400 per person on-board credit, which can be applied to gratuities, drinks packages and shore excursions. Wi-fi internet came free with the package. The other noticeable thing about this cruise was the large number of children on board, especially as the ship does not particularly cater to this age group. Also a very cosmopolitan crowd, with large numbers of Americans, South Africans, Chinese and Japanese and even the odd Aussie. Which all made for a great atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Let me begin by saying this was our 5th cruise with Voyages to Antiquity, so obviously we like the cruise line. What do we like in general? We like the size of the ship (approx 350 passengers), we like the friendliness of both passengers ... Read More
Let me begin by saying this was our 5th cruise with Voyages to Antiquity, so obviously we like the cruise line. What do we like in general? We like the size of the ship (approx 350 passengers), we like the friendliness of both passengers and crew, we like the option of dining al fresco on the back deck, we like wine and beer included with dinner, we like the quality of the excursions and that they are included, we like the insight from guest lecturers, we like free wifi and free laundry (1 bag) as a perk for return passengers, we like the clear descriptions of what to expect on all excursions. we like the possibility of bumping into folks we have met on previous cruises, and we like the fact that this ship offers some different ports of call due to her smaller size. Overall, we love this small ship cruising experience! On our particular cruise we appreciated the great talent of Richard, the cruise director, the shift from visiting the Alhambra in the heat and the crowds of the day to an evening visit, the captain's efforts to make minor adjustments in departure and arrival times to keep us out of high winds and resulting rough seas, the shuttle buses which were arranged when our docking positions were not the most favorable, the excursion team's efforts to look after passengers when we were away from the ship (they went above and beyond), the mix of passengers (primarily from Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, the U.S., and Canada), and the lovely lunches at nice restaurants that were included when our excursions had us away from the ship at lunchtime. Was it perfect? No, nothing ever is. The ship's decor is showing wear (I understand a refitting is planned), some tours required too much walking and stair climbing for some passengers (though that is clearly explained in shore briefings) with no alternative offerings, and it is difficult on the back deck to find a table large enough for 4 or 6 people to dine together and tables for 6 are nonexistent inside at the Terrace Grill. None of those are major, and we are even now looking at the Voyages to Antiquity brochure to decide where we will go next! For us it was definitely a 5 star experience! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We had heard positive things about Oceania and the Marina in particular so when we saw a cruise to a number of locations that we liked we booked a concierge level stateroom for a special occasion. The ship is lovely but we were astounded ... Read More
We had heard positive things about Oceania and the Marina in particular so when we saw a cruise to a number of locations that we liked we booked a concierge level stateroom for a special occasion. The ship is lovely but we were astounded at the number of things that just didn't work. On boarding we found that a drawer in one of the nightstands was uncleaned with used Q-tips still in it, the refrigerator was warm and it took 5 calls and one full day for someone to find that it needed to be plugged in. When we asked questions or made requests, no one either knew the answer or would take responsibility for finding something out. To be fair when we spoke with passengers who had take other trips with Oceania, they said that this trip was particularly poorly managed. We found the specialty restaurants to be reasonably good but, with the exception of Red Ginger, which was excellent, none lived up to the reputations. The Grand Dining Room was particularly pretentious and not very good at all. The Terrace Café was surprisingly good with a large and appetizing selection. I have celiac disease and one very disappointment aspect was the fact that only once was I able to get anything other than a mediocre sliced bread. The itinerary was exceptional and we enjoyed the ports but, with the exception of the outing to Mont Saint-Michel where the guide was both knowledgeable and helpful, the guides seemed self-absorbed and often clueless. This was surprising since the prices were significantly higher than private excursions that we could book ourselves. That being said, the ship is beautiful, our cabin was nice and roomy and the amenities are good. The maid service turned out to be exceptional and the shows were fun to see. It's unfortunate that no one seemed to take responsibility. My opinion is that management needs to get its act together before they can claim to be a luxury cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Our Sea Dream I cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona got off to a poor start. Unlike Silversea, which we have used several times, Sea Dream was chaotic in a rain storm. The taxi couldn't get close to the terminal, boarding was an hour or ... Read More
Our Sea Dream I cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona got off to a poor start. Unlike Silversea, which we have used several times, Sea Dream was chaotic in a rain storm. The taxi couldn't get close to the terminal, boarding was an hour or two late and there was no canopy to protect us from driving rain as we boarded. The ship, just out of two weeks in drydock, did not get all its deficiencies fixed. When we entered our cabin, there were black specks of unknown origin on the bed covers. The covers were changed, but the same thing happened again. At this point a repairman inserted a filter in the ventilation system, which solved the problem. Another cabin had no hot water for several days. There were a few cosmetic problems also, such as white paint on mahogany railings. On the good side: fine service, especially in the dining room, and wonderful food. The Gibraltar expedition was wonderful. We explore other ports, such as Cadiz, Cartagena and Malaga, on our own. It's a small ship -- 112 passengers -- and too light to brave high seas and waves to enter Portimao, the first scheduled port of call. I congratulate the captain for choosing safety over the schedule. Many aboard the ship had cruised with Sea Dream a dozen times or more, but for us it's one and done. We'll go back to Silversea. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
My wife and I picked this cruise first for the itinerary. When we started to research some more, we got hooked on what we heard was the Windstar experience. After our booking last July we started seeing the reviews about the Star Legend ... Read More
My wife and I picked this cruise first for the itinerary. When we started to research some more, we got hooked on what we heard was the Windstar experience. After our booking last July we started seeing the reviews about the Star Legend and started panicking. Even thought about canceling and are we glad we didn't. Windstar and the Star Legend were magnificent. First, my wife and I are frequent cruisers, living in South Florida and all. We have been on all of the major lines, Princess, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity. We know what to expect and what we want. We were looking forward to the "small ship" experience and Windstar came through with flying colors. We can honestly say that we will never go back to the mega ships with 3K to 5K passengers. Everything that we had heard about Windstar is right on. They make you feel like you on on your own private yacht. From the moment you step on and are greeted by a room steward, handed a glass of champagne and shown to your cabin, you know that this will be a different experience. You never wait in a line for anything. The friendliness that is shown to you by the staff is an awesome feeling. And yes, they do know your name in a very short time and are greeted by it every time a staff member sees you. The officers are out, visible and just as friendly as the the rest of the staff. The cabins on the Legend are amazing. Large, bright and easy to spend time in. We took an S1 class cabin with a large picture window that made us forget about the need for a balcony. The bathroom, ours was shower only, was so large, my wife and I could dress, shower whatever at the same time with room to spare. There is plenty of storage and the room steward was so accommodating with every and any request we made. Then there was the food. The menus were wide and varied, offering something for everyone. The food was very tasty, well presented and the service in both the dining room and the Veranda buffet was outstanding. It was fantastic to come back to the yacht after a day in port and go up to the Yacht Club for a drink, a sandwich, a cappuccino or whatever you liked and just relax, speak to fellow passengers about your day or , whatever. It is just truly the feeling that you are on your own private boat. Yes, there is not much in the way of entertainment, 2 young duos playing at various venues around the yacht, but that is not why you sail on Windstar in my opinion. If you need to be entertained constantly, then this may not be for you but if you are looking for a relaxing, comfortable and amazing experience, Windstar hits a home run. Really, the only negative I can think of is the internet . Windstar uses a "data" oriented package for internet service while on board. First it is always difficult to understand how much data you use, it is not cheap and it was very unreliable. We needed to log on to WiFi when in port to get most things done. This turned out to be longer than I expected so won't go on any longer. The bottom line is, my wife and I, experienced cruisers will be booking Windstar again and will no longer be sailing with the big boys. Once you have sailed Windstar, you can't go back. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We chose this cruise based upon the itinerary which started in Lisbon, ended in Barcelona, and included ports we were very interested in. It was our first time on Windstar and we had not chosen the line before they purchased the Seabourne ... Read More
We chose this cruise based upon the itinerary which started in Lisbon, ended in Barcelona, and included ports we were very interested in. It was our first time on Windstar and we had not chosen the line before they purchased the Seabourne ships because we believed the staterooms on the sailing ships would be quite small. We've stayed in larger rooms than those on Star Legend but none that were more well laid out. We had plenty of drawers, walk-in closet very efficiently arranged, nice-sized sitting area, and spacious enough bathroom. The beds were not particularly comfortable but okay. What made us very happy with this cruise was the staff. They are absolutely top notch. Every single person on that ship provided excellent service with a smile. I even had a medical issue and Dr. Rommel was amazing in doing everything he possibly could. Such excellence starts at the top. When we disembarked, the captain was standing onshore thanking us for sailing with him. I've NEVER seen that before! Other than the beds, there was one other con -- the plumbing. Nothing major wrong with the plumbing but not optimum. It is the reason, however, that I didn't rate the cruise 5-star. Food ranged from average to quite good but that's true on most of the ships we've sailed on which includes Silversea and Regent (before it sold to NCL). However, the staff simply makes up for any relatively minor deficiencies. Windstar also provided two special events that were excellent. They brought flamenco singers/dancers on board for a special show. They also arranged an afternoon private tour with entertainment, tapas, and wine at a palace in Palma de Mallorca. Very impressive. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016

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