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144 Dover to Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

First time with Fred Olsen and got a great saver deal. Sailing from Dover was so easy with excellent parking arrangements at the port and easy embarkation. This smaller ship is has a very friendly crew and staff. Excellent shows and ... Read More
First time with Fred Olsen and got a great saver deal. Sailing from Dover was so easy with excellent parking arrangements at the port and easy embarkation. This smaller ship is has a very friendly crew and staff. Excellent shows and entertainers in the bars and loung areas. Drinks and spa treatments are a reasonable price - much better than any other cruise line I have been with. Five course evening meals were excellent and although the size of buffet seemed small at lunch and in the cafe - actually the range of food on offer was good and quality good. Shore excursions were reasonable and shuttle bus service cheaper than other cruises. Disappointed that only got one full day in each port in spite staying overnight but it was very pleasant gliding down the Seine and watching the world go by. As it was half term, there was a kids club on board. Really, really enjoyed the trip and would go with Fred Olsen again. Overall it was an excellent break. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We loved the Princess small ships and the Pacific Princess is the last of them. We boarded her in Dover for a trip around the British Isles. Boarding was a simple process, no long queues and very efficient through security. The whole ... Read More
We loved the Princess small ships and the Pacific Princess is the last of them. We boarded her in Dover for a trip around the British Isles. Boarding was a simple process, no long queues and very efficient through security. The whole process took less than 30 minutes. The condition of the ship was excellent. The furnishings looked near new and the décor was bright and cheery. The ship never appeared overcrowded and the level of service was excellent. We went club class, which meant we could do anytime dining as opposed to the fixed dining times for other passengers. The dining staff were very attentive and nothing was too much trouble. The service was so good in fact that we never used the buffet. There was never a queue for the main dining room breakfast regardless of what type of cabin you booked. The quality of the food was excellent. Steaks etc were cooked to perfection. If you ask for medium rare you got medium rare. The Maitra D’s were always visible and checking if everything was ok. This is in contrast to other cruises we have been on where you rarely saw them. Our stateroom was in excellent condition. The fittings and furniture appeared near new and the bed was very comfortable. Our room steward, Kennedy, kept the suite very clean and was happy to meet all our little extra requests. The guest entertainers were great. At the start of the cruise we had Mat Cairns, who played and sang a mix of Irish Scottish and rock and roll songs. It sounds like an odd combination but it worked very well. Towards the end of the cruise we had Nik Page, who was the best entertainer we have experienced on any cruise. He was outstanding with a rich voice and a little bit of comedy on drums thrown in. If you get the opportunity to see this guy, please do so. In summary a great ship, excellent staff and great itinerary Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
With the help of a travel agent we discovered the Princess British isles cruise for Sept,2019 on the Pacific Princess. The 650 guest ship was perfect. Big enough to offer great resources, small enough to be easily accessible. We ... Read More
With the help of a travel agent we discovered the Princess British isles cruise for Sept,2019 on the Pacific Princess. The 650 guest ship was perfect. Big enough to offer great resources, small enough to be easily accessible. We were fortunate to have terrific weather and smooth seas even over the Orkneys atop Scotland Princess gave a reasonable a la Carte rate, even tho there were continual extra costs. Many such as over priced tours, drinks on board and internet to name three were avoidable. The staff were terrific exhibiting a sincere and customer focused attitude. The entertainment was way above what we expected from other reviews. We ( and other reviewers ) can often be critical, so this is a true compliment. Irish and scotch shows were great. Nick Page of London’s Le Mis fame was an incredible final show. The ship band and dancers were also terrific as was the comedian, magician and other solo artists. We had 13 stops in 15 days all of which were negotiated by a safety conscious crew. One downside was occasional inconvenient access to city centers for those not on a Princess tours especially Edinburg. However there were easily accessible local tours, hop on off busses,(Dublin) local trains (Holyhead) and interesting walks (Edinburg) among others. We took three Princess tours to Lands end in Cornwall, to the standing stones in the Orkney’s and the bus thru London which were well guided tho overpriced. Food was plentiful, well prepared and efficiently and sweetly served in the buffet and regular dining room. We tried one dinner in one of the two special cover charged Dining rooms which while ok was not worth the extra cost. The exercise room was comparable to a Planet fitness gym. We avoided the costly spa and other similar services My T-Mobile phone gave me free and good internet access near and ashore vs the costly Princess plans. We ignored the small casino, and jewelry store as did most it seemed. we travelled with our adult son and spouse which was fun. A sept cruise avoided lots of annoying kids! In summary it was a terrific first cruise, great itinerary, super staff and smartly negotiated by us to be reasonably priced. The great weather made it a total success We chose a lower level cabin which was comfortable, nicely furnished and very stable. I’d do that again vs the overpriced higher levels. We used it largely to sleep in the very comfortable bed and consume some liquors purchased in cities. We purchased our own air travel at a discount and avoided the over priced Princess pre tour hotels. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise (September 9-23, 2019; roundtrip Dover, England) both for the itinerary and to experience the “small ship” atmosphere of the Pacific Princess. We were not disappointed by either. Indeed, we would sail both this ... Read More
We chose this cruise (September 9-23, 2019; roundtrip Dover, England) both for the itinerary and to experience the “small ship” atmosphere of the Pacific Princess. We were not disappointed by either. Indeed, we would sail both this itinerary and this ship again. Embarkation: We booked a few nights in a London hotel (The JW Marriott Grovesnor House) through Princess, which included transfers from London Heathrow to the hotel and then from the hotel to the ship. All of these arrangements were seamless, expeditious, and professional. We essentially walked from the hotel to the bus to the ship, with the slightest of pauses to check in and collect our ship card. Ship: In my opinion, the ship was a perfect size. Nothing was too far away and no venue was ever over-crowded. While the ship is older, it has a gracious feel to it, with a proper (and absolutely lovely) library, nicely appointed common areas, cozy bars, a small casino, and ample outdoor spaces. There are no water slides, go-carts, concert venues, or other features of the new mega-ships. (Frankly, they were not missed). Passengers: The clientele reflects the ship itself. Almost all passengers were 50+ and very well-travelled. Indeed, the Princess “elite” level passengers made up at least half the ship’s guests. Most guests were Americans, Canadians, and British, with a handful of Australians and New Zealanders. This is not a ship for children or teenagers; they would be bored. Service: The service on the ship was uniformly very good and we had no complaints at all about our room stewards, waiters, or bar staff. Food: The food was typical “hotel banquet quality,” with nothing being either truly outstanding or terrible. I am often critical of the buffets offered by Princess, but this buffet, while small, was generally a cut above the usual offerings, with two omelet stations in the morning, a small pizza window, and a burger grill just outside by the pool. My main complaint is that meat dishes were often overcooked and suffered from too much time in steam trays. The specialty restaurants – the Sterling Steakhouse and Sabatini’s – alternate nights. The service in both was exceptional but the food was not exponentially better than that in the main dining room. The Steakhouse did a nice pub lunch on our mid-cruise sea day. Itinerary: The itinerary was very intense: 11 ports in 14 days. That left only two sea days: one after seven ports and the other the last day on the ship before Dover. This left little time to relax on the ship. However, all the ports were great, as were the excursions we took through the ship. While entertainment venues were limited in size, the ship provided some special entertainments brought in from various ports, such as Irish folk lore group and a Scottish bagpipe band. Ports visited: St. Helier in Jersey, Portland, England; Falmouth, Cornwall; Waterford, Ireland; Holyhead, Wales; Dublin, Ireland; Belfast, Norther Ireland; Perotree, Isle of Skye; Kirkwall, Orkney; Edinburgh, Scotland; Newcastle, England. Shore Excursions: All the shore excursions we booked through the ship were very good and professionally run. Our main complaint is that they were often too short. This is particularly true of the many castle excursions we took (Kilkenny Castle, Alnwick Castle, Dublin Castle) which did not allow enough time to visit the gardens. Adding just one hour to each excursion would be nice. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Our British Isles Cruise was wonderful! The ship, the excursions and believe it or not the weather were all great! The Pacific Princess is a wonderful small ship. I wanted a balcony, but had to go with a porthole. I didn't think I ... Read More
Our British Isles Cruise was wonderful! The ship, the excursions and believe it or not the weather were all great! The Pacific Princess is a wonderful small ship. I wanted a balcony, but had to go with a porthole. I didn't think I could enjoy being on the lowest deck with only a porthole, but the room was lovely. It was quiet with very little motion. The only bad side was that you could only use the Aft elevators and stairs, otherwise you were in the crew's quarters. I did accidentally visit the crew a few times before I got the floor plan straight! The food was great. I only had a couple of items that were only good. We made friends with our table mates and many others on the ship since it was small. Our main interest was to see the beautiful countryside and culture. Jersey - great tour to Mont Orgueil Castle and Gorey. Our bus guide was great and our castle guide was amazing.The castle was great, a little scary on the stairs. I was worried about the steep walk but it wasn’t bad with a hiking stick. We enjoyed time on our own after the tour. Be careful if paying for something, you might get change in Jersey money. My husband enjoyed a Liberation beer at a local pub. One of my favorite days! Portland - we went on a private tour with Daren Gapper @ Dorset Day Tours. He was great! The weather was a bit windy and wet in the beginning, but cleared. Check out Daren, you won't be disappointed.We covered so much territory Wonderful day! Cornwall - Ship Excursion Land's End and Scenic Drive, I was a little disappointed in this excursion although our guide was full of information. I tried to find a private excursion but they were all very long and expensive. Waterford - Ship excursion Rural Ireland and Jerpoint Abbey. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we enjoyed this excursion. I thought with it being short, we would have some time for exploring the town. I wasn't interested in the glass factory so really didn't enjoy wandering the town. I should have done more research before we left. Also, the shuttle to town was $20 round trip. Waterford - Rural Ireland and Jerpoint Abbey: the abbey was very interesting with an excellent guide. The excursion was over at 12:30. You can’t walk to anything from the port but they had a shuttle for $10 one way. Unless you want to visit the Waterford Glass, there wasn’t very interesting shopping. Llanfair. Holyhead, Wales - Ship excursion, Conwy Castle & Llanfair PG. We thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. The castle was interesting and the little town was colorful. We enjoyed some Welsh beer at the Blue Bell Pub. Dublin - Dublin & Glendalough ship excursion. So many choices, but I really wanted to see the countryside. Our guide was very informative and the countryside was beautiful. We had a lovely lunch at Avoca and were able to shop for woolens, very expensive. I have to say I was a bit disappointed because there was not time allowed to see the lakes! Although it was a good tour, I wish I could have booked a private tour for Dublin. Belfast - Giant's Causeway and Antrim Coast ship excursion. This was another favorite day. Our guide was full of history and a bit of blarney, making it a fun day. The countryside was gorgeous.. Portree (Isle of Skye) - Private excursion with GoSkye. Unfortunately, it was a bit foggy so the views weren't as great as they could have been. It was a good excursion, beautiful countryside, waterfalls, cliffs and heather, a distillery, and 3 rainbows! Portree is a tender port. We found a bank at the top of the stairs from the tender that had an ATM with a great rate for changing dollars to pounds. Orkney Islands - Private tour, Orkney Island Tour. Very nice even though the weather was cold, windy and wet! We saw lots of standing stones, Hairy cows, hairy pigs, Italian Chapel, Maeshowe, and more. We saw everything the ship tour did plus more and cheaper. The only change I would make other than the weather is the timing. We had purchased a tour to Maeshowe online ahead of time for 3 o'clock. We only had 15 minutes to spare getting back to the ship. Edinburgh - private tour with Duncan McNab. Absolutely wonderful. Duncan broke his leg so we had a different guide. It turned out that she was an Outlander fan so she included a few tidbits from the show (A quick look at Lallybroch and McKensie castle). We saw castles, beautiful countryside, a distillery and much more. Newcastle - Private tour to Hadrians Wall. Very interesting, but I would have preferred less wall and more local culture. We made 3 stops to see the wall. The first 2 were great, but by the 3rd, I was ready for something else. The only complaint I would have for the ship, is too little shopping. It only has 2 shops which is fine, but the merchandise didn't reflect the ports. They had Caribbean t-shirts and Russian dolls, I don't understand the philosophy. The drawings for jewelry were always at 7:30 which was our dinner time and you had to be present to win. Also, if you play Mahjong, they have the tiles but be sure to take a current card. Otherwise, I loved it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We loved the itinerary of visiting all the different ports in a two week period. The service on board was fantastic and the overall experience exceeded our expectations!! The Pacific Princess is a smaller cruise ship so we were able to get ... Read More
We loved the itinerary of visiting all the different ports in a two week period. The service on board was fantastic and the overall experience exceeded our expectations!! The Pacific Princess is a smaller cruise ship so we were able to get into ports that other larger ones couldn't. The British Isles, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were incredible places to visit. So green and beautiful. We only had 2 days of light misty rain so, the decision to go in September was wise and beneficial. Each port was exciting and memorable. The passengers on board were very friendly and engaging. The staff and entertainment on board sealed the deal, they put an exclamation point on an incredible journey filled with friendship, laughter and many unforgettable experiences!! Princess Cruise, YOU DELIVERED!! Having worked for the Ritz Carlton for 13 years, I've had the opportunity and experience to see quality. Princess Cruises THANKS for the attention to detail, personalized service, and exceeding our expectations to make our 25th Wedding Anniversary truly special. JOB WELL DONE!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our 5 night cruise down the river Seine. Having cruised on the big ships of P&O, Princess, RC, NCL we were concerned that a smaller ship would not be as good - how wrong we were. The ship has a great ... Read More
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our 5 night cruise down the river Seine. Having cruised on the big ships of P&O, Princess, RC, NCL we were concerned that a smaller ship would not be as good - how wrong we were. The ship has a great layout with lovely pools and bars at the back of the ship plus other great places to sit and watch the world go by in comfort. We are in our early 40’s and were younger than most on board but everyone was so friendly and this made for a great atmosphere on board. There was good entertainment every night and the inclusive drinks package was a real bonus. Food was the best I have ever had on board any cruise and I loved having the choice of a la carte as well as buffet options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also loved the evening supper club buffet which had a different theme each night. We would love to sail again with Fred but it’s not a ship to take our children on as there’s not much for them to do compared to the big ships. If you are a couple who are looking for some much needed r and r - like us - then I thoroughly recommend Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Pacific Princess is the smallest of the Princess fleet, with a capacity of only 670 passengers. When I booked, all the suites were sold out, so I booked a mini-suite, which was later upgraded to Club Class. Right after I paid the fare, we ... Read More
Pacific Princess is the smallest of the Princess fleet, with a capacity of only 670 passengers. When I booked, all the suites were sold out, so I booked a mini-suite, which was later upgraded to Club Class. Right after I paid the fare, we were upsold a forward suite (#7005, Marquesas Suite). I'm always aft, but I love those suite perks, so I jumped on it. This was the largest suite I've ever seen and had a bath and a half, with a wall of closet space, along with all the usual suite perks like that sumptuous Sabatini breakfast. Interestingly enough even though she is very tiny, Pacific Princess never felt crowded, but because she is so small, it was easier for my elderly mother to get around. The food and staff on this ship are amazing, and the maitre d' came by our table at every meal to make sure everything was going well. Chef Giuseppe was the brains behind the original Chefs Table Experience years ago, and we were thrilled to experience Chef's Table with him. This was a great cruise with a great itinerary that we would absolutely do again, no questions asked! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Chose cruise for itinerary (Scotland stops and Military Tattoo). Ocean view room only option as booked late. Room OK but a bit dark. Had fantastic wait staff, very good entertainment, even if the soprano singer did not sing but ... Read More
Chose cruise for itinerary (Scotland stops and Military Tattoo). Ocean view room only option as booked late. Room OK but a bit dark. Had fantastic wait staff, very good entertainment, even if the soprano singer did not sing but screeched. Ship had good public spaces, lounges, library. Only took one excursion, the trip to Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. They were excellent in explaining how to get to venue and well marked how to return to the bus. Did not book other excursions because they would be force marches and my mother uses a walker. The two guest entertainers were very good, especially the singer Matt Cairns. Embarkation and Disembarkation as smooth as possible. The buffet dining selections were basically the same every day especially at breakfast. Was a good and bad thing. Have taken more than 10+ cruises and I would book again with Princess. Did not travel with children. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
First time on a ship this small. I quite liked the ability to walk anywhere on the ship within 1.5 minutes. However, the smaller scale does significantly limit the entertainment options. The stuff the do on board was bingo, knitting, ... Read More
First time on a ship this small. I quite liked the ability to walk anywhere on the ship within 1.5 minutes. However, the smaller scale does significantly limit the entertainment options. The stuff the do on board was bingo, knitting, wine tasting or soduko...; Evening entertainment had a mediocre skill level vs the bigger ships. There were no kid activities offered. The staff remember you and you quickly remember the other passengers. We had a club class mini suite, room 8035. It was quite spacious, and offered a queen bed and queen (I think) sofa bed. I wish there was an upper bunk... The deck was good size too, easily fitting a couple loungers or a table and a couple chairs twice... It was convenient only being 1 floor below the buffet and a few floors above the dining room, so we never used room service. I liked that they were willing to exchange our cc wine bottles for a few cans of Coke. Dining was fairly standard Princess food. A couple of the days the menus did not offer much to get excited about, but all other days did. For cc instead of getting in the normal queue, you move to the left, skirting by the bar outside the dining room, and then simply walk straight in the cc dining section, no waiting in line. Each night had 2 menu item not on the menu, one prepared table side and one from the chef. Kind of a nice touch. Wish they offered those awesome chocolate desserts more than a couple nights. Also wish they added cherries jubilee back on the menu. We did thoroughly enjoy the cold fruit soups and frequent souffles. We missed Wales on the itinerary due to weather, but I did not mind missing a port given how intense the daily porting schedule was. We did a full day excursion everywhere else other than in Edinburgh. We did the military tattoo in Edinburgh and wished they offered a tour connected to that excursion given the price was 5X the tattoo ticket value or more. Regarding the tattoo, it was pretty cool if you like bagpipes and drummers and there isn't a bad seat in the house.I think the seats near the front add value only to get you out in a timely fashion, when you are in the nose bleed section you have to wait for everyone in front of you to exit first which takes forever. Also be prepared for long line for the restrooms. The shopping on board sucked, nothing local to buy. In fact they had more Australia/New Zealand goods than anything. Most of our excursions consumed the entire time at port, so we had little time to shop for souvenirs, which made me wish for on board shopping (for the first time ever). The app was great and we liked being able to text each other for free, but wished the app notified you when you got a new message so you didn't have to check it all the time. We didn't need to pay for wifi given we were at or near land almost everyday, simply used the Verizon TravelPass. I plan to look for other small ships when planning port intensive cruises. They would not be good for many sea days unless you simply like to nap and are not taking kids like we tend to do. Overall, this was a great cruise, seeing many areas of the world not typically traveled. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have been to Greenland before and wanted to repeat the experience as the scenery was stunning, not so much ice this time but still overwhelming. Boudicca has been refitted and the ambience is bright and cheerful but only on the surface ... Read More
We have been to Greenland before and wanted to repeat the experience as the scenery was stunning, not so much ice this time but still overwhelming. Boudicca has been refitted and the ambience is bright and cheerful but only on the surface (more later on this) The restaurants were all very nice and the staff were excellent. We did use the new outside grill and this was well worth the extra charge. The entertainment was mostly good the on board show company was excellent, some of the other acts were pass there sell by date, the best comedian on board was the Captain. Captain's cocktail parties were hilarious. My Wife enjoyed the arts and crafts and I enjoyed the quizzes. Now to the downside Early this year we were on the ill fated Balmoral cruise to California and we said at this time Goodby Fred. The Boudicca cruise was already booked and paid for so rather than lose money we went. Our cabin initially looked good an adapted cabin on deck 7 (my wife is disabled) I went for a shower, the water flooded the whole bathroom, I put this down to the angle of the ship being still tied up, mopped it up and asked for more towels. Next day it flooded again the water would not drain quickly enough, so we sent for the plumber. Plumber cleaned the drains and left a note to say it was now fixed. The result of the supposed fix resulted in noxious smells in the bathroom which I quickly found could be minimised by placing towels over the drains. Needless to say we flooded again and again and again. Eventually it was admitted that the pipes were all wrong and needed major work. 4 days to the end of the cruise we were offered another cabin which seemed rather pointless at this stage. So we asked to be compensated for the aggregation. Innitially a future cruise voucher was offered, this we declined and eventually on board credit was arranged and my Wife went shopping, they also gave us the use of the other cabin on the same deck to shower in. Surprise surprise that bathroom flooded too. So why I ask are these cabins being sold as they are obviously not fit for purpose. We have 3 more cruises booked none with Fred Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise because it left from Dover, which is to near to home, and because it visits the Norwegian fjords. Norway is amazing, but I overheard Boudicca being dubbed HMS Dignitas, and that was upsettingly accurate. It really ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it left from Dover, which is to near to home, and because it visits the Norwegian fjords. Norway is amazing, but I overheard Boudicca being dubbed HMS Dignitas, and that was upsettingly accurate. It really was a floating care home. There were no activities or evening shows even remotely suitable for the under 70s; it was all bridge, knitting, and very bad easy listening piano music. The ship is old too. The decor is what I'd expect of a Travelodge, with garish patterned carpets and cheap furniture. The cabins have tiny, horrible bathrooms with shower curtains and no toiletries except soap, which is awful considering the price. It's also impossible to turn off, or turn down, the noisy, powerful air-conditioning, so the air in the cabins is desiccated, and I didn't get a single night's unbroken sleep. Value for money was non-existent. Everything cost more, and nothing was included except meals. They were charging £50 for a week's Wifi -- and Wifi isn't reliable at sea anyway. No TV signal most of the time, and a very, very limited selection of films. Soft drinks were extra, alcohol was extra, gym classes were extra, many on board activities were extra: and the cruise line was charging more than twice the amount for shore excursions than it cost to book them independently. From minute one, I felt like they were penny pinching; whatever they advertise, this is absolutely not a luxury experience. The staff were brilliant and friendly, and the food was wonderful. I was really concerned, though, that every staff member in a remotely senior position was a white man, while all the waiters and cleaning staff were from the Philippines -- I suspect being paid much less than they should have been. Especially from older passengers, I saw and overhead quite a lot of patronising racism. It was just mortifying to watch. This was my first cruise and I don't think I'll be doing it again. I was so glad to get away that I was one of the first out the door, along with the five other people who were physically able to carry their own suitcases. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We booked to go to the Fjords leaving Dover 09 June 2019. We made a little mistake when booking as we went via a Travel Agent. Firstly, the agent was poor but, more importantly, it placed an barrier between us and FO. Any queries we had we ... Read More
We booked to go to the Fjords leaving Dover 09 June 2019. We made a little mistake when booking as we went via a Travel Agent. Firstly, the agent was poor but, more importantly, it placed an barrier between us and FO. Any queries we had we were referred back to the agent. My advice - book direct. The boarding in Dover was seamless. We live near Dover so booked a taxi. Straight into the port up to terminal, bags taken from boot by porters, we were on-board within 15mins and our luggage arrived in our cabin 20mins after we did. Well done FO. A minus point for FO. As first time cruisers we booked the ship tour on our first day at sea. FO told us that all would be in our cabin when we got on-board... nothing. Never mind, we did our own tour... the lay out of the ship is quite easy and it was fun bumping into things ! Our cabin (7039 balcony with clear view. A must in the Fjords) was exactly as advertised. No issues with the cabin at all or our cabin steward (Moo) who worked her socks off to keep us happy (I did take a tip off YouTube and gave Moo a little bag of bits {no more than £6} on the first day which may have made a difference but maybe not !!!). The ship was a little tired in places altho' it was always well presented, clean and shining. Staff were excellent throughout the ship. Food was lovely (every day). We tried things we have never had before which is good for our betterment ! You must keep an eye out for the Gala Lunch (ours was on the last day at see) and take your camera ! The Formal nights were good with lots of bling altho' I did change after the meal into more casual wear. We paid for the drinks package @ £15 per day. I think this has gone up now to £19pd. You need to give this some thought. Me - I drink a lot of beer and a can Spitfire was £3.80 so I was happy with my lot. My wife tried their house wine and found it 'undrinkable'. The cocktails were very sweet. She then moved onto spirits and mixer. This she was happy with but sometimes the bar staff forgot to put the spirit in (pressure of work maybe !). To combat this we ordered the spirit and mixer as separate items. The drink came to about £6. Add these drinks to your wine at lunch and dinner and it may appeal to you. Beware that it is only for drinks from the bar. No cans of pop, no tea or coffee (posh type) and no bottled water. There is a filtered water machine and tea & coffee machine in a small drinks station. Normally this is quite clear but avoid end of meeting, talks or presentations as there is a queue before and after these sessions. Entertainment is on every night. The on-board crew do put a lot of effort into their shows and one of their shows was outstanding. There are guest entertainers: a duo who played many instruments (first time - good. Second time - not so good), a comedian - spent most of his time picking on members of the audience to the level of embarrassment - not good. In the main bar is a guitar duo who were very good and they went in turns with a pianist who is not very happy with his lot !!! There were talks given by an ex Bank Manager - Prison Guv'nor. His first talk was very good, cannot remember his second talk and his third talk was about Porridge and real prison life. I got the impression that this was pushed onto him and he knocked it together at short notice. There is quite a big gym on the top deck with a great view. I did not get there but it looked very good. There is a set 1 mile walk around the ship ( 5 x 1 mile). Did this prior to breakfast. There is an organised walk at about 0800 but the guy who runs it may have been trained to get 20 something's to walk fast rather than members of U3A ! We only did this walk once. We went solo after that. We did our own shore excursions. FO is very expensive. Most of our trips we booked from UK before we boarded and the others were taken from shore-side when we went alongside. For us, the best we did was the funicular railway in Bergen and a 5km walk around the top (huge queues at bottom but they do go down quite quickly) and we booked a Twizo electric car in Flam. Expensive but BRILL. We booked 2 hrs (11-1300). We got into Flam just before 1000. We went over to the car hire ( you will see it as you get off the tender) to show him our paper work prior to 1100. After a bit of a chat I asked if we could take it early (with a big smile). He agreed so we had 3 hrs for the price of 2 ! You have a choice where to go and we wanted the viewing platform at the top of the mountain. The SatNav looked after us and it was great fun. Top Tip, after the platform, go a little further were the SatNav will tell of a great viewing point. In short, book your own, its a lot cheaper. A fine example - there was a fishing trip that FO was charging £45. When we docked it was next door to the ship and was advertised at £30 (that's your £15 drinks package paid for on that day!!!). Disembarkation was as easy as getting on. We were called by deck and the bags were waiting for us in the departure lounge with many porters waiting to take you outside. Overall, we loved it. We would go again and yes, with FO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I just returned from my first, but not last, Seabourn cruise aboard Quest. The ship itself was wonderful, but it was the staff and crew that impressed me the most. From the first moment I arrived on board, I was made to feel as if I ... Read More
I just returned from my first, but not last, Seabourn cruise aboard Quest. The ship itself was wonderful, but it was the staff and crew that impressed me the most. From the first moment I arrived on board, I was made to feel as if I were the most important person in the world. Almost from the moment I boarded, all of those with whom I came in contact knew and called me by my name! (I realize that seems to be a relatively minor thing, but it meant a great deal to me!) I am a solo traveler, and I really appreciated the nightly invitations to dine in The Restaurant with a volunteer host. I met some extremely interesting people, both host and guest, whom I might otherwise have not. I particularly enjoyed dining with the entertainers--both ship and guest. The excellent Cruise Director Team of Handre and Luke, not only knew my name, they seemed to be genuinely concerned that my Quest experience be the best possible. They also seemed to have a hand in everything involving passenger entertainment and happiness. The only complaint I have is that dreadful "single supplement." I understand the financial rationale behind it, but I still resent paying, on a per-person basis, more for my suite than those fortunate enough to have someone with whom they can travel--but I guess I don't resent it that much since I've already reserved a suite on Encore's Holiday Cruise! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
My wife and I had been wanting to visit these countries for the Outlander Tours (wife and Viking interests. Celtic portion, 14 Days: We enjoyed our foray to Jersey and visited the castle and enjoyed local food. Many of the towns that ... Read More
My wife and I had been wanting to visit these countries for the Outlander Tours (wife and Viking interests. Celtic portion, 14 Days: We enjoyed our foray to Jersey and visited the castle and enjoyed local food. Many of the towns that Holland America Line chose to stop at were small and quaint. We found some had absolutely nothing to do except to walk around have a beer and a bite of local food. Tobermory, Scotland had a great scotch distillery. They invited us to take the tour for free and were generous with bottling up some free samples of the whiskey. We walked about a mile out of town to visit a dairy and see some cheese making. No one was in sight so we walked through the barns and saw the cows and had a close up wet tongue visit with the calves. Dublin Ireland is a very busy and bustling city. The tourist maps that are put out make the town look very walkable. It is walkable but not as much as the maps make you think. DO NOT TAKE THE GREEN HOP ON HOP OF BUS. There are 3 HOHO lines, Green, Red & Blue. TAKE THE RED HOHO BUS. the blue seemed like it did not cover too much. The green line covers a lot, too long of a route, and time consuming especially if you are riding when they change drivers. The drivers will talk for 15 minutes and then the new driver will sit there and take a 30 minute break which cost us a taxi back to the ship on our 2nd day there. We ate at Nancy Hands at their back bar and had a great salmon meal on slate and of course, some pints of Guinness .We also ate ate at The Guinness Storehouse on the top floor. It was good but not real good. DO GO TO THE GUINNESS STOREHOUSE. What a wonderful story the tour has to tell. Get there in the morning and there will probably not be much of or no line to get in. We took a really good Outlander Tour with Clansman Tours. Tom (owner) was great to spend the day with and share some good scotch in the van at the drop off. He picked us up at the dock. Brugge Belgium was very interesting. We (3 couples) hired a round trip taxi at the Zeebrugge port Very cheap splitting the cost. Antwerp was good also. Don't miss the Chocolate Museum, (Chocolate Nation). We wanted to go into the diamond district but since it was Saturday and Jewish Shabbat, nothing was open so we had to skip it. In Amsterdam we took a canal tour with a red HOHO boat and spent quite some time at a street market. The food was great and some stalls were difficult to pass up. In Alesund , Norway we had to ask 8 different people for directions to the bus stop going to the Sea Park Aquarium. It was very nice. In Bergen, Norway we ate at Bernard Tonghandel's stall in the fish market and had great mussels and fish. It was located near the end and close to the information cent with a good view of the Bay. er. He offered sit down dining with a good view of the Bay. Don't miss it. Take the ferry across the bay to the 3 Viking museums. Very good and informational.In Flam (Pronounced Flome), (Norwegian town names get butchered in English), we took the train and had a good time. One hour up and one hour back. The best souvenir prices we found were at the main building by the railway. Other towns had a lot of the same things but were moderately to much higher priced. This is the place to buy a caribou hide if you want one. They are MUCH less costly. There was a food truck there and we tried grilled whale. Along with generous samples they offered it was very good and the samples also. In Stavenger, Norway you will want to go to the very interesting Canning Museum, with a great guide Piers Crocker. He was funny and very informative and the Petroleum Museum. It's a very walkable town. See the Viking Center across from the docks. As with just about all European towns the streets may be curvy and not well named, Most street names are on the corner of the buildings if they are there at all. We are an older couple and find it difficult to find our way around the towns. It can be difficult to find people to give good directions. The tourist maps can also be inaccurate. As for the Holland America cruise we were on the Prinsendam which is the oldest and smallest of their ships. Our cruise was from May 6 to June 3, 2019. The ship has been sold to a German line and will go out of service for HAL on July 1. Our stateroom was not an expensive one but had a good sized unobstructed window. How ever that window along with every other window on the ship was always dirty on the outside, unlike other lines we have been on. The room was comfortable and had plenty of room for two. The TV and DVD player were constant problem all through the voyage. I think they didn't want to repair it as the ship was sold. The dining buffet was not good. Most of the food was over cooked or too salty and very repetitive almost every day. On HAL I have always found their salmon benedict my go to breakfast but not on the Prinsendam. The 1st morning I had to tell the cook how to make one and found their hollandaise sauce to be like mayonnaise with some strange flavor. I tried it the next day and it hadn't improved. It remained unimproved for the rest of the cruise. There were a few things that were acceptable for breakfast but most were repetitive. The coffee was great. Lunch usually found us on shore except for "at sea" days. Lunch and some suppers found me at the hot dog stand by the pool. This was a cool to cold weather cruise. I found the main dining room very noisy as I wear hearing aids. The waiters were very attentive to our needs and good at what they did. The menu was somewhat repetitive here also and portion size was not consistent. We would find a dish we liked with a nice size portion and the next time get a very small portion. The ship was small and some people have been lead to believe the small, older ships have a quaint ambiance that is lost on the larger ships. We ran onto people on the Prinsendam that had been on board 100+ days. I got bored and couldn't even drink my way through it due to the high cost plus a 15% sure charge on every drink. There was a movie every night and some were good. Theater was comfortable there was popcorn for the viewers. In that same room during the day America's Test Kitchen would put on a live demonstration. Went once and it was a joke. The demonstrator couldn't even make a simple omelette. I like their TV show. I couldn't figure out why Oprah is the "godmother" of HAL. All she does is appear on their on board TV channel and promoted a book she liked. The crew was friendly and for the most part helpful and caring. On the good side, Prinsendam offered a couple of free laundry rooms with 6 washers and dryers each unfortunately many were routinely out of service. The exercise room, steam room and dry sauna were free also. These we enjoyed immensely and used them often. The EXC excursions purchased from HAL were very expensive. Many passengers did not take them for that reason. I hope that HAL keeps up their ships as we have found them in the past. I also realize Prinsendam was pretty worn out. I would also recommend to HAL to install free laundry to all ships. This is such a big plus and so helpful to be able to have clean clothes. Keeps your room smelling fresher too. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I am an active, adventurous mature adult who has seen the world on 56 cruises to date. I travel solo (with the constant wish that more cruise lines would offer better rates for solo travelers!). I love the sea and sailing, and probably ... Read More
I am an active, adventurous mature adult who has seen the world on 56 cruises to date. I travel solo (with the constant wish that more cruise lines would offer better rates for solo travelers!). I love the sea and sailing, and probably enjoy the ride on the ship as much as the ports. I remember the “old” Holland America from the years before Carnival obtained it, and wish that this historic cruise line could have remained independent. I am a Two Star Mariner with Holland America’s loyalty program. This cruise had a lot of interesting ports I’d not seen before, plus the chance to sail on a unique ship before it left the company. Due to some serious quality issues, I had to rate the cruise average, but in many ways it was also very good (service and itinerary, especially). I flew to England from Boston for the cruise, spending one night at the very good Hilton hotel near Heathrow Terminal 5. I had a private chauffeur service for the scenic ride to Dover the next morning. I’ve not officially toured Dover, but have seen some of it by car several times when arriving for cruises. Embarkation was one of the best ever at the small Dover cruise terminal. The staff are mature adults with lots of smiles and courtesy. From check-in with a very gracious lady to entering my suite, the total time was 24 minutes. Might have been even faster, but I used stairs rather than elevator from the entry level deck to my suite with my carry-on bag. My luggage arrived about 20 minutes after I did. Holland America is planning on selling the “Prinsendam” to another shipping company in July. The ship had previously been in service with Regent Seven Seas, among others. It is a small “boutique” size, with an elegant, yacht-like profile, and considering its age, looked extremely well maintained on the exterior at first glance. The classic blue and white hull of Holland America is lovely in its simplicity. The full passenger contingent is close to 800, approximately, but on this sailing we had just 535 people, mostly from the USA, England, and other English-speaking countries, plus a nice mix from around the world. Crew is international, with the famous Indonesian service crews in the cabins and dining rooms. Amenities are similar to other cruise ships, but on a smaller scale. You will not find the rock climbing walls and amusement park attractions, nor the huge size so popular with today’s newer ships. Classic, almost English country estate style décor throughout the ship. Magnificent fresh floral arrangements are everywhere, and are changed frequently throughout the ship. This cruise line must have the world’s best florists onboard their ships. It’s easy to get around inside the ship, and I was given a useful map of the ship with my room keycard upon check-in. Plenty of stairs and elevators to keep things moving. Traditional wood promenade deck circles the ship, but no jogging is allowed – have to jog on the very top deck on a designated track. The ship appeared to be extremely clean on the inside, and crew were visible night and day at their assigned housekeeping tasks. There is no spectacular atrium, only a few decks with an open center with art work in it. There are gorgeous art objects and collectibles of museum quality in display cases throughout the ship, as well as very nice paintings of the ship in its various incarnations and in various places around the globe. There is an observation lounge forward and high up in the ship with a stunning view forward. Fairly small lido buffet, lovely main dining room and other small dining venues nearby. The usual “you are here” ship maps are displayed on each deck. Nice central pool area with hot tub, sheltered areas with tables for outdoor dining nearby. One popular feature was the “America’s Test Kitchen” venue, with theater-type seating for a small audience. Whatever they cooked, however, sent its aroma throughout the entire ship, as did the galley area. A small lounge area had an elegant marble fireplace, and it looked straight out of Downton Abbey – really beautiful. Huge library with game tables, books on many subjects, computer stations, comfortable seating. The few shops were not large, but staffed by extremely nice crew. Large jewelry store, small sundries/logo item shop, usual duty-free items. The guest services area was far too small and too public, and it was often hard to hear when all the agents were serving guests and people were speaking loudly to be heard over the other guests. The future cruise consultant worked at a small desk in the main foot traffic pattern just off the guest services desk area, again with no privacy. This was a very busy and popular area, with people signing up on a clipboard for time to meet with the future cruise consultant. The clipboard filled within minutes for each day’s chance to book another cruise. Lots of very loyal cruisers and Mariners Club members on this cruise with plans for more cruises. Activities were geared toward the demographics on this cruise, and the average age seemed to be 70+. Lots of board games, bridge games, Bingo, sedentary activities suited to guests with limited mobility or health issues. There was a morning stretch class, and daily yoga for those interested. Nightly shows in the small theater with typical cruise ship entertainment. Shopping opportunities while at sea. Small casino for the gamblers, but it did not seem very popular, even in the evenings. Port talks and a lecturer about what to see and do at each port. People seemed more inclined to entertain themselves with reading, using the computers, walking, eating, time in the various bars, and socializing with people they knew. Mostly couples traveling with other couples, very few single people. I did not see a child on this cruise. There was daily Mass, as well as other religious service options, during this 14-night cruise. I’m sure I missed some of the activity options, as I am a very early riser and like to get to bed at a decent hour and read. The ship had a small but nicely equipped fitness center, which was almost entirely empty every time I was in there. Service on Holland America ships is legendary. My two experienced room stewards could easily have worked in Buckingham Palace – they were quick, discrete, respectful, courteous, friendly, and once briefed on my usual schedule, had my suite cared for at my convenience every day and night of the cruise. I never really saw these two nice men, either – they did their magic and disappeared. I never saw service carts in the corridors, either, which was a blessing for those using walkers and scooters. My two dining room waiters treated me like royalty as well, as did all the head waiters and the maitre’d. More on that in the dining review. Shop crew were all nice and friendly. Some of the spa crew seemed a bit burned out, with one manicurist who really did not seem to know what she was doing – but the hair stylist was fabulous. A few of the guest services crew had “attitude” and seemed to get aggressive, argumentative and defensive far too quickly considering the job they were doing – and they were too young to really be able to have the experience and maturity to deal with older adults. The rest of the guest services desk crew were very polite and helpful. All were enviably multilingual, as were most of the service crew within the ship. Some of the best service came from Eugene, one of the engineering staff – details to follow. Some of the service crew at lower levels did not have proper English skills to understand or communicate, unfortunately, which led to frustration in both parties in various situations. There is an obvious chain of command to get things done on this ship, and the bottom links in the chain need more skill in English. There was a nice variety of shore excursions, with good detail about level of activity, special requirements, and what to expect, travel times, etc. I had booked just one excursion, a hike for one of the island ports, but it was cancelled due to lack of people booking it. I usually explore on my own anyway, and still had an excellent time. In some ports, shuttle buses were provided and proved to be a blessing as far as saving time or not having to walk if it rained. Inevitably, some of the ports required the tender service, which seemed to run more efficiently on this small ship than the big ships. It was lovely to arrive on shore and find a canopy for shelter, and hot and cold beverages nicely dispensed, plus places to sit while waiting for the tender back to the ship. The itinerary for this ship was really a great way to sample the UK and two European countries. It included the Isle of Jersey, Falmouth England, Fishguard Wales, Greenock Scotland, Isle of Skye Scotland, Isle of Mull Scotland, Dublin Ireland, Brugge/Brussels Belgium, Antwerp Belgium, and ended at Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Nearly perfect weather most of the trip, or at least dry, and my two favorite ports were the stops at Skye and Mull. Every port had something really good and valuable to enjoy, however. Holland America offered me a last-minute upgrade for reasonably small sum, so I traded my veranda cabin for a large suite. The veranda was enormous with two wicker lounges with small foot stools, and a table. The entire seaward wall of the suite was glass. King-size bed (made from two twins), with outstanding high-quality mattress and bed linens and lots of pillows. There was a desk/vanity area with mirror, makeup mirror and chair, surrounded by storage in part of the unit. Holland America offered me a last-minute upgrade for reasonably small sum, so I traded my veranda cabin for a large suite. The veranda was enormous with two wicker lounges with small foot stools, and a table. The entire seaward wall of the suite was glass. King-size bed (made from two twins), with outstanding high-quality mattress and bed linens and lots of pillows. There was a desk/vanity area with mirror, makeup mirror and chair, surrounded by storage in part of the unit. Two bedside tables, plenty of lamps and lights. A very long marble combination bar, desk, and work space area was on one wall, with multiple storage drawers and cabinets above and below. There was also a small refrigerator in a cabinet here. Lots of bar glasses, mini-bar setup in the refrigerator, offering waters, beer, sodas, etc. Evian water in liters was on a tray. Fruit is delivered upon request, as is ice. Nice upholstered chairs, and a large curved sofa in one corner of the suite, with a large table. It would be easy to entertain at least 6 people in the space. The wood furniture was traditional, but sadly tired and chipped with some stains. The soft fabric furniture fared better. Unfortunately, the sheer curtains and too-thin drapes did not do much to keep out the daylight which seemed to start about 3 AM at the high latitude of the cruise, in May. The drapes had to be re-hung at my request due to not tracking or closing properly. There was an enormous walk-in closet with plenty of good wooden hangers. There were multiple shelves within the closet, and drawers. Slippers and toweling robe were provided, as were a huge umbrella and a clothes brush and shoehorn. This suite would be marvelous for an extended cruise, between the comfortable bed, ample storage space, and some nice useful extra amenities. However, the age of the ship is exposed when looking for USB ports (none) or any electrical outlet save one at the vanity mirror. The lights were also extremely dim, which made reading in bed nearly impossible. Large modern flat-screen TV in place over the marble workspace/bar area, with OK but not great programming. Nice handy small container near the door for the keycard and do not disturb/make up room card. While the furniture showed a lot of wear and tear, the bed linens were great, and the carpeting seemed to be in good condition. Rather dark and somber colors in the suite, but that probably is intentional to hide dirt or wear. The bathroom was gorgeous peach and cream marble, and had two compartments with sliding doors. Small toilet compartment opened off the entry foyer, with a sink, and could be closed off by two sliding doors. The main part of the bathroom had a very large tub with hand-held shower spray and unfortunately a clingy shower curtain and an old-fashioned plastic bath mat. This mat had to be replaced immediately upon arrival, as it was slimy and old – this was fixed very quickly upon request. Plenty of space around the large sink, with a modern single-lever faucet system. There were several very tiny glass shelves, and two metal rings holding small glasses. Plenty of towels and towel racks, but the towels were either new and thick and fluffy or nearly threadbare and scratchy. The main bath area had its own sliding door into the main part of the suite, and if one wanted to soak in the tub and watch the sea roll by, simply open the bathroom’s sliding door and enjoy the view straight out from the tub to the glass veranda wall and the sea. The suite bathroom was provided with Elemis toiletries. This product is considered spa quality and is famous around the world, but I found the scent overpowering and the products themselves quite drying to sensitive skin. The soft water from the ship’s desalinization system literally melted the bathroom soap. The suite was serviced twice a day, but I prefer to make my own bed and just have the bath cleaned at night, which shocked my kind stewards. They did as I asked however, and joked that I made my bed better than they did. I try to stay healthy on cruises, and the fewer hands which touch my personal things and living space, the better. The ship was entirely silent at night, so sleep quality was incredibly good, even with the early daylight. AC and heat were controllable individually in the suite, but the thermostat was a challenge, as I will detail at the end of this review. The suite was located on one of the highest decks, directly below the Lido deck, and I did not need an alarm clock for early rising – the deck crew began dragging the lounge chairs around the pool, and the tables and chairs, right at 4:30 AM. I did mention this to guest services, but it did change the situation. Being up high on the ship and quite forward, there was a lot of motion during sailing. Thankfully, there were only two rather impressive storms at sea. The motion was strong enough to remove any doubt that this was a real ship doing real sailing, and it provided a surprisingly good night’s sleep. I would not ordinarily select such a location, but the suite upgrade offer was too good to pass up, and the suite selection was very limited at the time of the upgrade. I had my dinner in the main dining room, early seating and was able to sit alone as I had requested. A nearby table with an interesting couple provided enough company if they wished to visit, which was good for both of us. The small passenger population enabled very speedy, gracious service and I never saw one waiter trying to serve 20 tables as they do on other cruise lines. The head waiters often became a bit too intrusive and hovering, but I understand they genuinely wanted their guests to enjoy the food and avoid any possible problems or issues with the menus. The chefs were Indian and Indonesian, and definitely cooked the various items in their native style. The food seemed to be heavily over-salted, and loaded with very hot spices, no matter what the food item was. Many people were complaining about their legs, feet, hands swelling and blood pressure going up from the salt. After one or two dinners that were nearly inedible, I had to talk to the head waiter and maitre’d about modifying what I ate or getting something made special. I was amazed at how much the crew leaders in the dining room, including the head chef, came to my rescue and showed me the dinner menu 24 hours ahead of serving, and if there was something there I couldn’t enjoy they would make something I could eat comfortably. The menu items were at times bizarre combinations of probable leftovers, especially the starters, with a lot of fruit items. Plenty of typical American home-cooking and comfort foods, too. Long gone are the elegant Continental gourmet cuisine of earlier cruises! I heard some comments that the meats were all very greasy. Some items were recognizable on the menu and familiar, but when they arrived, were totally different and often inedible. There is some serious confusion about the use of mayonnaise in their cooking on this ship, for instance, and some of the soups were peculiar. Fish was very good, and if one loves rice, this is the cruise line for you – they make all the world's rice varieties in rice cookers, the Asian way, and the rice was better than the breads and most of the deserts. I had room service for a very simple light breakfast, and light lunch. I do not eat at cruise ship buffets anymore, again in an attempt to remain healthy, not gain weight, and stay away from food that always seems to be dried out, cold or hot when it should be hot or cold, and I’ve seen too many people put their fingers in buffet food. Room service started out as terrible experiments for lunch. Chicken soup looked like brown dish water with garbage bits floating in it, filmed with grease. I ordered a cheese quesadilla for one lunch, and it consisted of a Middle Eastern pita bread wrap, filled with hard yellow corn kernels mixed into an onion paste. No cheese. I don’t expect authentic Mexican quesadillas on an Indonesian-themed cruise ship, but this was going a bit too far. Two regular room service stewards, both cheerful and friendly, brought whatever I needed morning and noon and delivered it at the requested time to the second, breakfast and lunch time. Trays were set up beautifully, and even tea arrived quickly and elegantly. Once the stewards knew what I liked, I could ask them to custom-make an item like a quesadilla and it arrived perfectly cooked and prepared. It does take time, patience and some team effort to get cruise ship food the right way, and while there may be initial frustration, eventually on my cruise it all worked out beautifully. I believe the ship provisioned in England before it sailed, and that may account for some of the rather unique food items and ingredients. The suite’s minibar was restocked as needed, but nothing in there was free. Other than one Diet Coke, I did not have anything else from the minibar stock. A few times, I noticed some room-service plates and dining room plates which had areas of a thin film of grease on them. This ship did not appear to be welcoming to children. Perhaps there was a designated child entertainment area on board, but it there was, I never saw it. I did not see any babies or children on this cruise. Entertainment featured something for everybody, be it quiet board games, reading, the evening main show featuring the typical singers, magicians, dancers and specialty entertainers. I only watched a time of one of the pianists who performed, and he was very good. The singers seemed to be a full note or two off key, with tired old song and dance numbers in the “Broadway” style show entertainment. There were never enough seats for the early show with many people standing in the back of the theater. My favorite entertainers on the cruise were the two musicians who played chamber music in the Explorer’s Lounge. They deserved a better venue, as people constantly talked while they were playing, and there was a lot of foot traffic back and forth in front of them. One gentleman played the piano, and the other the violin. They were from Hungary and Romania, and obviously had serious and excellent classical training. Requests were welcomed, and everyone eventually heard a favorite piece. They played three 45 minute sets after dinner, and I usually went to at least two every night. It was so relaxing and soothing it was hard to stay awake, and with the older crowd as audience, some people went to sleep. Nothing bothered these two young gentlemen during their performing, even enormous rough seas one night. They should have been a featured concert in the main theater. Very sociable and gracious to chat with, as well. There were a variety of movies on the TV system in the cabins, but some were old and outdated. Lots of “commercials” for shore excursions and shopping on the TV, as well. There was a singer and/or pianist in the bar or bars, but as I don’t do the bar scene, can’t really report on that. There was a late-night DJ or some kind of music advertised, but most of the guests retired early. The best entertainment I saw in the theater was a music group brought onboard during the long port call at Dublin, with classic Irish humor, songs and some fabulous music and traditional Irish dancing. This group had some of us singing with them and dancing in the aisles! Fabulous! The last night of the cruise, the ship slowly moved along the Scheldt River and into a series of locks on its way to Amsterdam’s busy port. With the early daylight and needing to be up very early for the express departure, I was up at 3:30 AM, and enjoyed watching the slow progress down the river and the locks. There was a hazy blue mist or fog part of the way, and huge flocks of lovely white swans serenely floating in the water as the shipped quietly slipped past them. Worth getting up early to see this last bit of serenity before returning to the reality of a big city and hectic airport experience. Disembarkation was as nice as embarkation, at least for me. I chose the express departure option, and at 7:15 AM was able to haul my own load of bags off the ship and into the terminal, right on time. It took probably 10 minutes altogether, and was a blessing, as I had a private tour booked for Amsterdam before being taken to the airport by my fantastically good guide. While most of my cruise experience was really very good, unfortunately there were some things which made me seriously consider leaving the ship at the first port after Dover. I was wondering about the condition of the ship, considering its imminent sale in two months. I’d not sailed with Holland America in 15 years, and was also curious if the level of service was the same and the serene, adult, quiet ambience still reigned. Probably the most annoying issue was the appearance of dirty brown water, twice during the cruise, from the bathroom sink and shower and in the toilet. Some problem with the storage tank, supposedly. Of course this necessitated requesting bottled water. I can’t digest the Evian water placed in the stateroom, and asked for something different. I spent most of one whole day trying to communicate with people lacking English that I needed to get a different brand of water, and they kept bringing more Evian. Had to hassle with the guest services crew about this, and finally a gentleman who was in charge of the main bar found two varieties in the crew provision area and sent a bottle of each to my suite for me to try. Both were good and I chose one brand. I was told the water would be free for the cruise, and a large quantity was delivered. I had to wash my face and brush my teeth with this water, as the brown water took two days at least to finally clear. I never trusted it after that anyway. A few days before the end of the cruise, a bill came for the last delivery of bottled water, and I protested that it was supposed to be free. Guest services would not budge however, and I had to pay for the water. The second issue was the ventilation system in the suite. Noise level out of the bathroom vents and the main suite area was that of a jet in flight. I called guest services, who sent two useless people who could not communicate, and then Eugene arrived – the ship needs 100 Eugenes, he was that skilled and wonderful. He removed the suite’s main grill and pulled out foot after foot of filthy, blackened, disgusting sooty foam filter material. The carpet was coated with this stuff, and a tray of clean glasses was soiled. The soot and dust floated throughout the suite, and I don’t want to think about what we were all breathing. I covered my nose and mouth and got as far away from this mess as I could, but it was still in the air. Eugene vacuumed out the ducting as far as the vacuum wand reached, and then put clean new foam filters in and adjusted the air flow. Blessed silence finally. He then did the same thing with the bathroom vents, which had the same filth in them, and they too became silent while doing their job. This is something which should have been cleaned and routinely inspected and apparently had been neglected, perhaps in view of the upcoming sale. For whatever reason, this issue was addressed in the early evening, but due to the mess it ran on into the late evening. Unfortunately, the stewards, who were called by Eugene to clean up the horrible mess and replace the soiled chair, did not realize that the water was still running brown in the bathroom – they turned on the water full force to check it, which splashed all over the just-cleaned bathroom, and they had to clean it all over again, as well as clean up the bathroom mess from the vents. It took hours, and was a terrible way to spend an evening on a cruise. The ship had a nice little laundry for guest on several decks. This was somewhat of a challenge to use, however, as the instructions on the machines were in Dutch. There was a translation of sorts, thankfully, and use of the facilities was free. Even detergent was provided. Nice when everything worked. However, there were problems with some of the machines, which often stopped mid-cycle. Once again, I called the fabulous Eugene, but had to go through several episodes of very young crewmen trying to fix things but not understanding a word of English. They had to call their supervisors, who talked to me and then called Eugene, which wasted a lot of time. I doubt they ever fixed everything so all the machines worked at the same time, but at least the laundry got done. I’ve never seen such complicated washers in my life, but it beats having to wash things in the bathroom sink, and was a good way to learn some basic Dutch words, no kidding. A cruise ship is a foreign country, so why not take advantage of what one can learn while having (or enduring) new experiences. If we want things to be the same as at home, just stay home. I was mildly annoyed to be told that I could not jog on the promenade deck. It was usually deserted, and I jog silently and slowly. I was told by Guest Services that the bridge “would get me” and stop me if I used the prom deck, so I was stuck up in the wind, stack soot and some cigarette smoke on the top of the ship where the jogging track was. Never could figure out what the issue was about the prom deck. My one manicure in the spa was a disaster, performed by a burned-out or unhappy young woman who did not really know the proper way to do a manicure. My nails looked horrible, and it was very painful. On the journey up the Scheldt River to Antwerp during the night, the ship passed an enormous refinery or chemical plant or some such structure which seemed to stretch for miles. I was awakened by the stench of what seemed to be burning hair and garbage, and got up to look in the cabin for a problem, and looked outside to see this facility erupting huge clouds of smoke into the air. I opened the door to the veranda, and could smell the stink coming from this place. The horrible odor made further sleep impossible, and permeated the entire ship for almost two days. My first purchase in Antwerp was a solid air freshener to put in my suite – nothing got rid of the stench, even with the veranda door opened once in Antwerp. I was not the only guest who complained about this, and there wasn’t much to be done – there had to be some source of ventilation for air into the inside of the ship, even if the air was polluted. The thermostat in my suite was placed almost at ceiling height up one wall. The tiny numbers, in Celsius, were nearly impossible to read even with strong reading glasses. Whoever decided to place this important device at such an impractical height was either 7 feet tall or a fool. With the large variables in the cruise climates, both heat and cooling were necessary at times. Outrageous pricing on the internet – one paid for 24 hours of usage, rather than by the minute and it averaged out to about $24 US per day, even if used for minutes or an hour or two. Costs were slightly lower with buying a package, but it was still far too expensive. Service was slow, and several times could not be accessed at all from my suite. I had to use the public computers, and was thankful to see large canisters of antibacterial wipes near each station. Lots of very sick people in this ship, coughing and sneezing all over everything, including the keyboards and computers. Guest services, or somebody in the crew, kindly delivered a large plate of chocolate-covered strawberries to my suite as the list of problems began to increase, but since I cannot digest fruit, I had to sadly decline the peace offering. In summary, despite the long list of problems, Holland America is still the proud old company it began as, even if Carnival has imposed its cost-cutting measures in some areas. There was still a feeling of quality and class, especially on this lovely older ship and among the senior and “mature” passenger contingent. It was a very quiet cruise, with none of the carnival-barker hawking of “seminars”, art auctions, bingo games, etc. Especially appreciated was the fact that nobody used the little line about “have an EXCELLENT day,”, which is really just trolling for good reviews, as Princess and other cruise lines so irritatingly continue to do. The American cruise director had a lovely speaking voice and would make a few short important announcements as required, but otherwise it was blessedly silent. No blasting of loud, noise-machine type music in the public spaces, either. The captain was magnificent in his ability to clearly communicate and keep the guests informed – very good with his detailed nautical reports once a day as well. The famed Indonesian and Asian level of service is still there, maybe even better than years ago. I was impressed and gratified that the long letter I sent to the main office of Holland America upon my return home, listing the issues which were extremely upsetting and annoying during my cruise, was actually read by a human and generated a reply from a human, and not a computer-generated generic “so sorry” letter. The agent sent a very nice letter to me in reply, in a timely manner, acknowledging my concerns and problems, and seemed genuinely distressed that my cruise was not 100% perfect in every way. I was also given a large discount on my next booked cruise. This is what one would expect from a company with as old and reassuring a history of customer satisfaction as Holland America’s, but if such expectations could usually be counted on in the past, they have become lovely surprises when they turn up in the world of cruising today with the level of guest satisfaction at the excellent level far less common than it used to be. Holland America is clearly proud of its reputation, and obviously seeks to retain it. Would I sail on this cruise line again? I have a short coastal cruise booked for this fall, and hoping the good things remain and the problem issues are few or non-existent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The Celtic Explorer started in Dover and traveled to Jersey, Falmouth, Fishguard, Greenock, Skye, Mull, Dublin (2 days), Zebrugge, Antwerp (2 days) and Amsterdam. The main problem with this 12-day itinerary was that with only two sea ... Read More
The Celtic Explorer started in Dover and traveled to Jersey, Falmouth, Fishguard, Greenock, Skye, Mull, Dublin (2 days), Zebrugge, Antwerp (2 days) and Amsterdam. The main problem with this 12-day itinerary was that with only two sea days, ports came fast and furious. There was no sea day between embarkation and Jersey. For folks flying directly from the States there was no time to recover from jet lag. If you get travel fatigue or suffer from jet lag this is something to consider. This itinerary also had 4 tender ports. Two of them (Jersey and Fishguard) tended in rough seas. Some people opted not to go ashore or could not because of disability. Other tender ports were Skye, Mull. We enjoyed all the ports. In Jersey we went to the Maritime Museum and while we hadn’t intended it, the museum took up most of our day, it was so engaging. We walked around town a little after the museum. In Falmouth we walked around town, went to the Maritime Museum and took the train to Truro. If you do that you may should know that there is a railway station at Falmouth Port, not just downtown. We walked to the downtown station, it was a nice walk, and returned to the port station.. In Fishguard we wanted to go to St. Davids, but because of the short port call we could not get there and back on public transport, so we took the HAL tour. It was worth it, with an engaging guide who was a natural story teller. St. Davids has a beautiful gothic cathedral, bishop’s house ruins. It is a charming small town where we enjoyed tea and scones before walking through the town market, In Greenock we visited with friends in Glasgow, but also took time to go to St. Mungo’s Museum, a museum presenting information and art from the different religions practiced in Glasgow. The art was inspiring but the exhibit I liked the best took us through the stages of life as celebrated by each of the religions covered, birth, coming of age, marriage, adulthood, elderhood and death. We arrived in Skye (Portee) on a Sunday so local buses were not running. We went ashore and found a skipper giving wildlife tours from a boat. When the tour was over some of our cruise mates who had booked taxis for a morning tour were back and we were able to take a taxi to some of the places outside of town that we wanted to see. Helen, our cab driver, was the last baby born in the Skye hospital before it closed down. She was full of stories and local lore. On Mull (Tobermory) we enjoyed walking around town, stopping at the aquarium where all the inmates are there only for a month before being returned to the sea. There was a touch tank and exhibitions on local sea life. The Tobermory distillery offers scotch tastings. The shops were multi-purpose, books and fishing tackle or iron monger (hardware) with wine and spirits. We lost ourselves in the book store for a while, got into conversation with the book seller, and the iron monger. We enjoyed scones and tea in a café that used to be a church. Dublin was a two day stop. The dock is away from downtown. There was a shuttle bus available for a hefty fee. It drops you off across from the Oscar Wilde statue in Marion Park. I recommend being on deck for the docking. The ship had to make some tight maneuvers interesting to watch. We pulled up close to downtown before turning around to face the mouth of the River Liffey when we docked. In Dublin we wandered the streets and when we saw something interesting, we went in. This included The Church, a bar set in the former St. Mary’s church which, appropriately, had been the family church of the Guinness family. We also had tea and scones in Brewley’s Café, which houses a luncheon theater, where we enjoyed a one act play. We found several small galleries and exhibits and wandered Temple Bar. When we heard music we liked we went in to listen. This was a relaxing way to see Dublin. It’s not our first time so we were not in a rush to see the Book of Kells and other well knows sights. After a much-needed sea day it was Zeebrugge. Since we’ve spent a lot of time in Belgium, we had no need to take the train to either Bruges or Ghent. Instead we bought a day pass on the tram that runs along the coast from the Dutch border practically to France. We could get on and off whenever we wanted. We had lunch in De Hann Ann Zee, a charming late 19 century beach resort where Albert Einstein spent some time after leaving Germany. If you’ve been to Bruges or Ghent this is a good alternative. Two days in Antwerp were not enough. We bought a mass transit day pass and enjoyed going the Art Nouveau neighborhoods. We also enjoyed the Cathedral, the Central Railway Station, Antwerp’s “second cathedral” and visiting churches filled with baroque art, including works by Rubens. We went to the Mas Museum and walked the old town and red-light districts. As much time as we had spent in Belgium we had never been to Antwerp. It was the most wonderful surprise of the cruise. We were tired when we arrived in Amsterdam because of the fast pace of the cruise so we took the tram to Central Station and enjoyed an hour-long cruise on the canals before getting on for the Norwegian Fjords Explorer cruise. When we got off the ship in Amsterdam from the Celtic Explorer, they did not stamp our passport because we were going back on the ship. When we got off after the Norwegian Fjords Explorer there was no one to stamp our passport because everyone had gotten on in Amsterdam. As a result We were detained at the airport leaving Amsterdam because we did not have a proper entry stamp. The immigration people were polite and helpful, there was no problem there, but it was time consuming. Had we not arrived at the airport three and a half hours before the flight, instead of the recommended two we would have missed our flight. We finally got to the plane at the tail end of boarding. Part of the problem was the 30-minute walk from immigration to the gate. Be prepared if you fly out of AMS. Here are a couple of other notes. Because of the small number of sea days there was no outside lecturer on board. We missed this but Brett, the EXC Guide gave good port talks. May was a good time to cruise. We had unusually good weather and the ship was not nearly full. Prinsendam has a capacity of 835. On the Celtic Explorer there were 567 passengers on board, no lines for dinner, an uncrowded lido, no need to arrive early to get a good seat for evening shows, and for less hassle tendering. I’m sorry to see Prinsendam go out of Holland America service. We’ve enjoyed Prinsendam in the past. She’s an older ship but we like her size, her aft saltwater pool good for swimming laps, her classic but understated appointments, her generous cabins and her walk-in closets. We’ve been on other HAL ships and enjoyed ourselves, but not as much as on Prinsendam. We will be reading Cruise Critic Reviews to try to find an new favorite. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We took this cruise as we were already booked on the previous cruise and it was reduced to a good price for Black Friday. The ports of Lisbon, Portimao and Leixoes (for Porto) also appealed. We upgraded our cabin on the first full day ... Read More
We took this cruise as we were already booked on the previous cruise and it was reduced to a good price for Black Friday. The ports of Lisbon, Portimao and Leixoes (for Porto) also appealed. We upgraded our cabin on the first full day of the cruise to a terrace balcony cabin, which we liked a lot, though sadly due to poor weather we could not use the balcony as much as we would have liked on the sea days. It was a good sized cabin with enough storage facilities and a sit was on Prom deck was one of the few balcony cabins on which Fred does not allow smoking - so no smells of smoke. Cabin Stewardess was good. The food and restaurant staff were excellent as always, and as I mentioned in my previous cruise, the self service restaurant was open until midday for breakfast, so no need to rush to breakfast before 10am. The entertainments were extremely poor on this cruise, especially considering that there was such a long time at sea during the nine days. The entertainments in the Lido lounge were definitely not up to Fred's standard. We are in our 60's but do like to hit the dance floor at times for disco type dancing and the entertainers were just not up to that, though Fred is still offering Ballroom dancing between shows in the Neptune - even though they often only had 3 or 4 passengers dancing there. It would have been far better if they had just run a disco sometimes, but the only disco was in the small hours (1am usually), when Fred passengers tend to want to sleep. It is about time Fred realised that the passengers who are still able to hit the dance floor (those less than 70 or so) are of an age when ballroom dancing was way outdated during their teens, so they did not partake of such dancing and provided entertainments accordingly. No Rosario Trio nowadays and the pianist in the observatory spent more time talking to passengers than playing the piano. Fred are also running 'cheese and wine' sessions now, as well as the afternoon teas that had started doing a few years ago, when they cordon off the whole of the front section of the observation lounge, even parts which are obviously not booked out and this is done a couple of hours before the events. We usually sit in the observation lounge for a few drinks as we do not generally go to the shows etc. This meant that we were left with nothing to do and nowhere to go a fair bit of the time on board - especially on the sea days as the seats at the side of the lounge soon got occupied and are nothing like a well placed. This was obviously done to increase revenue, but I wonder how much they lost by refusing others somewhere to sit there. Even the speakers were not of interest as the subjects were just not of interest. The Captain's welcome party and the one at the end of the cruise were very enjoyable as Captain Degelund is extremely funny and treats all his staff really well. We were also well supplied with drinks and canapes, unlike our other cruises in recent years, when there seemed to be a lot of cutbacks with those. Disembarkation was earlier than it usually had been in the past (we were called to disembark about 7.37am, which is ridiculous given that we had a 300 mile drive journey ahead of us. We did not leave immediately, but the ship was cleared whilst breakfast was still being served. The disembarkation details did not give these times clearly. We have travelled with Fred a lot in recent years, due to some unusual destinations, but we may well not continue to travel with them given the lack of good entertainments and bar areas to sit, which is a shame as we had enjoyed many Fred cruises in the past. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise due to the excellent itinerary. There was lots of port time, including two overnights in Antwerp and Amsterdam, which gave us chance to have time off the ship and not rush back to the ship every night and the chance ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the excellent itinerary. There was lots of port time, including two overnights in Antwerp and Amsterdam, which gave us chance to have time off the ship and not rush back to the ship every night and the chance to have dinner ashore. We have travelled a lot on Fred's ship's, mainly because of the more unusual destinations. The food and dining experience was excellent as usual - both food and restaurant staff being of high quality. The set meal times are not what we would choose as they are either too early or too late, but at least the self service is available as an alternative. One very big improvement is the fact that the self service restaurant was open until midday every day so we did not have to rush to finish breakfast by 10am or skip it. The cabin was good and of a good size for a porthole cabin, with enough storage space and a bath with the shower over it. We always used the shower, but there was a lot more space then the dedicated shower cubicles. Unfortunately there was no full length hanging space as a fridge had been installed at the bottom of the longer wardrobe. We were however not impressed with the two occasions when they turned the water off ship wide without any notice being given - particularly on the change over day between this cruise and the next (we were on back to back cruises). The one thing that was noticeable was the poor cabin stewardess. We have always had excellent cabin staff in the past, but this lady was somewhat offhand and not unduly helpful, forgetting requests at times. On embarkation we told her as we were on late dinner 8.30pm (apologetically in fact) and she said nothing, yet knocked on our door at about 7.45 asking if she could do our cabin, when we were getting showered/ready for dinner. She then said she was going off duty at 8.30pm, which we felt was unacceptable as she could have told us that earlier in the day, though we did rush and managed to let her in the cabin about 8.15pm and the cabin was done. Part of the reason for our late departure from the cabin was her very late delivery of thinner coat hangers which we had asked for as the exisiting ones were taking far too much room in the wardrobes considering we were on board for two cruises. The change over day was also problematic as we had received a letter asking us to move cabin's between 10am and 12 midday and put out our do not disturb sign. She ignored the sign and knocked on our door at 9.15am saying our other cabin was ready. We held tight and moved shortly after 10.30 as we had intended. The entertainments were fine for a port heavy cruise and there was a really good young duo playing in the Lido lounge, providing a great chance for disco dancing on occasion. They were very generous with drinks/canapes for the formal welcome/departure parties, but no captain or other substitute officer turned up, which we found strange. Overall it was not a lot different to other Fred cruises, though sad we had to travel to Dover for this cruise itinerary as it is very difficult to get to having to go around London and via some very busy roads e.g. the M1. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Boarding was very good, the ship is old and my upgrade to a basic suite was good, but the bathroom needed a complete refurbishment. There were drain smells emanating from the plug hole. Breakfast and lunch were mediocre, but the ... Read More
Boarding was very good, the ship is old and my upgrade to a basic suite was good, but the bathroom needed a complete refurbishment. There were drain smells emanating from the plug hole. Breakfast and lunch were mediocre, but the evening meal was good. The shore trips were very expensive, wi fi had to be paid for and the photographers were over the top. You had to fill in little forms for more water which hung from the existing water bottles. It does strike you that they are trying to make money from the most basic item. Staff were lovely. Captain we did not see at the introduction nights. They did push the boat out on Captain's night, Celebration nights with lots of snacks and free wine. The entertainment was enjoyable. There is a lot of competition for cruising and basically they need to upgrade to be more competitive and review their pricing policy. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The Fred Olsen product is dire! We will NEVER book another cruise with them. When we got home we complained, and ended up being told that we were clearly "not the type of passengers suitable for a cruise with Fred Olsen!" Such ... Read More
The Fred Olsen product is dire! We will NEVER book another cruise with them. When we got home we complained, and ended up being told that we were clearly "not the type of passengers suitable for a cruise with Fred Olsen!" Such wonderful customer service! We're experienced cruisers, but this short Valentine cruise, our first time on Fred, was truly awful. We paid £240 per person, per night, for what was described as a Superior Suite, with the All-Inclusive drinks package. What a complete rip-off! Embarkation was painful. Although we turned up on time we had to sit and wait until called. Not the "priority boarding experience" we'd expected from their "Suite Dreams" package!. It was disorganised, with no-one to meet and greet, and the general first impression was that they just don't give a toss about their customers. Our cabin was a 1/10. We've written a separate review of this. We did explain our cabin issues to a lady at Reception for whom English was still not quite yet a second language! Although we were assured that action would be taken, nothing happened, and we never saw our cabin steward even once! The "Suite Dreams" package gives you a free bottle of fizz (worth about €1,00 at most), a bowl of hard and inedible unripe fruit (green bananas even!), and unlimited free bottled water in the cabin. Be warned though that getting the small water bottle replaced is a complete pain in the butt - you have to fill out the form on the neck label EACH TIME! Never had that one before! Our dining experience was unacceptable. Think Butlins rather than Michelin! They serve the same limited choice of food in each of their restaurants. Service is of the "bored" variety, with the wait staff definitely wanting you to think that they're doing you a favour deigning to acknowledge your presence. Both the large restaurants are very noisy, and we had a couple of tables of drunken chavs close by, each of whom had already had enough booze to sink their ship, and who only seemed to talk at full shout. After two nights we gave up and ate in the buffet. Its quieter, and the food is just as awful as elsewhere. We'd describe the whole food choices as "done to a budget" - the lowest one possible! We also came home with gastroenteritis. Not fun! The "All-Inclusive Drinks Package" is a massive con. The bar drinks menu has eight pages or so; the "All-Inclusive" list is the back half page. There's a limited choice of beer and wine, and some soft drinks. No cocktails. Nothing at all! You even have to pay for tea and coffee UNLESS you want to trek to the grotty Nescafe machine in the Iceni room. To be fair to Fred, we can see that this short four day cruise possibly attracted the wrong crowd. There were a large number of noisy drunks on board shouting at each other every evening, and our escape was to the Observatory Bar near our cabin! It possible that there was a significant number of cruise first-timers onboard who perhaps weren't that careful about hand hygiene, so its easy to see how you can pick up a mild gastroenteritis bug. The key issue we have with Fred is the poor value for money. They're charging a 5* price, and delivering at best a 3* product. The customer services lady who called us to follow up on our complaint was a complete time waster who aggressively rejected all our fair and reasonable points before telling us that we were "not the type of passengers suitable for Fred Olsen". In summary, don't bother with Fred Olsen. For around the same price you can go on Azamara or Oceania, get a decent clean cabin where the bed sheets and towels actually get changed, reasonable food and a good all-inclusive drinks package. Both cruise lines offer lovely "R" class ships that have roughly the same size and passenger numbers as Fred. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Chose this cruise because the itinerary was all new to us and it hit some spots on our bucket list, including Giverny, D-Day beaches, Bayeux Tapestries, and Lisbon. Embarkation was quick and easy. Had an early private excursion in ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the itinerary was all new to us and it hit some spots on our bucket list, including Giverny, D-Day beaches, Bayeux Tapestries, and Lisbon. Embarkation was quick and easy. Had an early private excursion in Lisbon and getting off the ship was very fast. For the first 24 hours, service in the Restaurant and Colonnade was slow and we got the impression that the servers and others were trying to figure out territories and responsibilities. Things seemed to improve thereafter, although we still encountered slow service in The Restaurant on occasion. Best service and food were in The Grill, but we only got in once. In The Restaurant, entrees are modest in size and so are the accompaniments. But ordering sides of vegetables or starches is easy. We ate all breakfasts and most lunches in the Colonnade and we very happy with the selection, which is so large that it can be hard to find things. Several of the employees there learned our names and made real efforts to be helpful and friendly. Saw the singers and dancers a few times. The Tim Rice show (he appears on video) was excellent while the others were fairly average. Went on three of the ship's excursions: (1) a sunny day and amazing array of flowers made for a great time at Monet's home and garden in Giverny and the guide did a good job; (2) Santiago de Compostela was an intriguing place and the guide knew her stuff and had a good sense of humor; and (3) it was a cloudy day in Porto, there was a lot of standing around and waiting, and the guide was just okay. Wanted to see both D-Day beaches and the Bayeux Tapestries, not a combination offered by Seabourn, so we got a private guide and found another couple to join us and it worked very well. Noticed that there didn't seem to be a deck with an outside walking route as long as the ship, but weather kept us inside most of the time. Went to a number of functions where officers made an appearance and then vanished, but we (and probably everyone else) did get a couple of invitations to dine with officers or entertainers and we did have dinner with the head of human resources. Met a number of Seabourn veterans who were disappointed in the service in the dining venues, as we were. Was also surprised that we were asked to provide information about birthdays and anniversaries, but when our anniversary came there was no recognition of it. We also missed Regent's included excursions, Internet access, and phone call allowance. We expect two things from cruises (and land trips): (1) to get away from the chores of cooking, cleaning, etc. and the rest of the routine and (2) to see interesting places, either on excursions or independently. We got these on this cruise, met nice people, and were treated well by the crew. Did this cruise line and this ship and crew do this so much better than others? I would say not. Would we return? Probably yes, if we found an attractive itinerary and price. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
To begin, this wasn't my first cruise, just my first Seabourn cruise. The Seabourn company makes booking, travel, embarking, etc. very easy and organized. From the second you arrive, you'll realize this is no ordinary cruise ... Read More
To begin, this wasn't my first cruise, just my first Seabourn cruise. The Seabourn company makes booking, travel, embarking, etc. very easy and organized. From the second you arrive, you'll realize this is no ordinary cruise ship. The entire staff, without exception, is friendly, polite, knowledgeable, professional, and most importantly when on a cruise, looking to pamper and attend to your needs. To put it simply, everyday, the entire staff is looking to please you. The service on this ship is excellent. I will say that this ship rivals any 5 star resort, hotel, or restaurant, except you have an ever changing view of coastlines! This is an exquisite ship, beautifully decorated, with lovely touches throughout. Our suite was spacious with a sitting area, deck, table and chairs, and was very well attended. The bathroom was quite large and mostly beautiful marble. Our room attendant kept out room well stocked with luxurious treats, drinks, and the next day's info. Our room, and the entire ship is pristine gleaming clean. "The Colonnade" serves all meals, but we mostly ate breakfast here. You can order, but the buffet quite literally has more variety than I have ever seen. "The Grill by Thomas Keller" is a first rate, wonderful choice. FYI; it's reputation is well known so make reservations before you board. There is also a wonderful poolside option with pizza, pasta, and more casual great food. Any one of the choices offers amazing food with excellent service. There's also a variety of wonderful nightly entertainment. After seeing some of the world's most beautiful cities while on various well planned amazing excursions throughout Europe, coming back to this beautiful ship every evening made for the most luxurious trip we have ever been on. If you're looking for luxury and the best service, Seabourn has perfected every detail. We can't wait to sail with "Seabourn' again! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
My family thoroughly enjoyed our Disney cruise on the Magic. We flew from the US to London and used Disney transportation to get to the departure port of Dover. Disney employs local people to do the ground work such as greeting and driving ... Read More
My family thoroughly enjoyed our Disney cruise on the Magic. We flew from the US to London and used Disney transportation to get to the departure port of Dover. Disney employs local people to do the ground work such as greeting and driving as well as leading tour groups in each destination. Because these are people who live in the destination areas, they are able to provide more interesting and varied commentary on the locations and Disney seems to do well with vetting and training to ensure that they live up to the Disney standards for customer service. As an example, we had a guide in Cobh, Ireland who serenaded us with Irish folk songs as our bus meandered back to the ship from Blarney Castle after making us all laugh with his dry humor. Our cabin was an outside room with a balcony. At about 300 square feet, it never seemed crowded, even with four adult sized occupants (mom, dad, and two teens) in it. We arranged with our cabin host to have the kids' bunks kept open all week. There was still plenty of space to walk back and forth between the desk and the lower bunk to access the balcony and the part of the room closest to it. We did not have any issues with noise, though we were located on deck 8. The food on the ship varied from just ok to truly scrumptious. The fast service places on deck were decent but not memorable. The buffet at Cabanas was constantly changing and we did find that they quality of the food there was hit or miss. Nothing was inedible, but some dishes were quite bland or seemed to have too many ingredients thrown in to "elevate" them. My husband loved the eggs benedict. I had a curry dish one lunch that was fantastic. The kids always found something they liked. I had informed the staff in advance that I am gluten intolerent. My server went above and beyond to make sure that I always had something palatable to eat. Each night she showed me the dinner menus for the next evening, and took my order in advance. She also went as far as to preorder gluten free Mickey waffles for my breakfast at cabanas and a gluten free pizza from Pinnochio's for my lunch. The three main dining rooms on the Magic are Rapunzel's, Lumiere's, and the Animator's Palate. The food is equally good at all three. What makes these places different from one another is the theme and entertainment. The Animator's Palate is my favorite. The sketches on the wall screens change and light up along with accompanying music. The waitstaff become part of the show as dinner ends. Because our cruise was in England, Ireland, and Scotland in September, we did not take much advantage of the pools on board, despite the fact that they were heated. Mainly these were utilized by younger children and their parents. I felt bad for the lifeguards on duty, who wore winter jackets with their shorts and had few charges to watch. I have heard about people fighting for deck chairs on other cruises, but this was certainly not an issue for us! The live shows (I saw three different musicals in my week on board) were Broadway quality. Each was just an hour long and over too soon for me, though perhaps a better length for younger audience members. These shows feature familiar music and characters along with some very cool special effects and actors frequently run up and down the aisles as part of the performance. I have saved the best for last. The most memorable part of this cruise for my family: the Disney cast members. Many Disney employees went above and beyond to make the week a great one for us. Mariya and Anto, our servers, were so fun and helpful. Davisson the photographer always went the extra mile to make my shy teen smile. Our host, Ferdie, was efficient and accommodating. Some people may hesitate to choose the older ships in the Disney fleet because they are smaller and older. Disney has done a great job of updating the Magic and I think it is a perfect size. The magic and the Wonder can carry 2,400 passengers. The Dream and Fantasy have a capacity of 4,000 passengers each! I am not sure that we would get the same feeling of knowing our cast members or fellow passengers if there were twice as many people on board. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
After being blown away with the service provided by Disney cruise lines last year, we opted to book another cruise during our trip. We picked British Isles with the same Disney Magic that we sailed last year. Let's recap from my ... Read More
After being blown away with the service provided by Disney cruise lines last year, we opted to book another cruise during our trip. We picked British Isles with the same Disney Magic that we sailed last year. Let's recap from my last review, everything was perfect except for the food. I had to go out of my way to truly rate that food as below average. It was not enjoyable at all. I wrote about it here and I wrote to Disney about it. I also included my concern in the survey they ask you to fill out on the last day. I was quite happy to see that Disney Magic was dry docked a few months before our cruise which means during our cruise, the ship was already refreshed and cleaned. The biggest change we noticed was changing Cariocas dining to Tangled-themed dining. For my family and I, it was a welcomed change. Rapunzel's table now offers live entertainment for the diners where Rapunzel goes around singing and taking pictures with the guest. A nice addition compared to the dull and dark Cariocas dining experience. Food, now I'm sure many wants to know how the food is, I am happy to say that the kitchen has improved 180 degrees. The food offering was great! Dinners was spectacular and enjoyable. Everything was seasoned well and executed very well. They erased my worse fear of a poor dining experience. Foodies can now rejoice! Service. As always, 100% on point. Our main steward Esther (table 15) provided the best experience possible. Her skills match those of Michelin-rated restaurant servers. Disney should be pleased to have her on-board. Her skill-set and attention to detail is top-notch. She deserves to be moved up to management. It would be a shame and a disservice to her skills and knowledge if she stays as a steward. She was very attentive, quick, and caring. She really took care of our table 15. Her assistant Irena was also good but not as good as Esther. She had her challenges as the days went on but proved herself on the last day that she can hang. Our room steward Jojo has always been spectacular ensuring our room is always clean and stocked up with items that are always needed. His attention to detail is also appreciated. Little things that he did that other guest may not have notice doesn't go unnoticed with me. For example, we have very long iphone charging cables. We used the USB ports on the clock right bedside the bed, I guess he noticed that it was always hanging to the floor, one day I came back to notice that he wrapped it with Velcro to keep it clean and tight. He arranges our papers on the table for us and bathroom has always kept clean and hair free. Spa. This was such a treat. Our 3 year old daughter gifted us a couple's massage spa by going to the Oceaneer's club for 2 hours. Our 75 min couple's hot stone spa was amazing. Disney employs very good masseuse who has "the touch". My wife and I feel asleep and felt relaxed & recharged after the treatment. It was very pricey at $400+ for 75 minutes but well worth it. Oceaneer's club. This is probably my only qualm with Disney's offering. The oceaneer's club caters to kids between 3 to 12 years old. I feel that the gap is too big. We were able to use it twice for my 3 year old. one for 1 hour and the other one for 2 hours when we went to the spa. Both times, I saw my daughter just on the ipad playing alone. At home, she does not get any ipad time unless we're on vacation which we allow her unlimited time with the ipad/iphone except on bus rides and dining. There was very little interaction for the staff to push kids to do activities that are more mentally and physically challenging. I know they cannot force kids to do what they want but, offering a structured activities will allow the kids to do things as a group...like school. The ratio of staff to kids is pretty good so I did not understand why this is not done. After the 2nd time our daughter was there, we decided as a family to just stay together and we're fortunate that our daughter loves to be with us. Because of these little to big improvements and continued high level of service, we put a open deposit down for a possible 2020 cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018

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