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10 Dover to France Cruise Reviews

We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the ... Read More
We wanted a short cruise just to try it out - and without kids squawking so we chose Saga. Saga supplies door to door transport - very poor on the way there with a bad driver who nearly got us involved in a major accident but good on the way back. Luggage transfer is smooth - once it is in the car you won't have to haul it around anywhere. We had a balcony cabin - not worth it on the ship as the balconies are about as wide as a window box. The cabin was a good standard, very clean with comfortable bed and a walk in shower. Ship has main Pole to Pole restaurant, Verandah casual (but menu same as Pole to Pole at night), East to West which is extra so we did not try, fish and chips by the pool and afternoon tea in two of the lounges. Food was really excellent - a talented chef on board - amd with plenty of choice. Dinner seven courses if you wanted it - with included house wine which was OK, lunch at Veranda either a choice of three cooked things, barbecue grill or an extensive cold buffet. Very pleasant eating outside here. Saga makes much of tables for two being available - but in reality there are very few. We were lucky, being put with two other people we really got on with. We sat together thoughout There is no tipping on Saga ships.Staff mainly Filipino and apart from odd language problems excellent. If wi fi is important to you avoid this ship as mainly it does not work and the so called computer exper is clueless. Two pools -outdoor very chilly, indoor quite warm. Tea and coffee is help yourself from a machine - which we did not like much. Drawing Room a very nice place to sit. Plenty of loungers around the ship. Clientele definitely on the elderly side - bit like a seagoing care home. Entertainment a bit on the seaside concert party side - and is in one of the large lounges as this ship does not have a theatre. A good choice if you want an easy trip and need to be looked after. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I chose this tour on the recommendation of a friend and travel professional. I felt completely duped. the fire on board would have been forgivable if the crew had remotely been professional. Instead, the chief service manager opted to ... Read More
I chose this tour on the recommendation of a friend and travel professional. I felt completely duped. the fire on board would have been forgivable if the crew had remotely been professional. Instead, the chief service manager opted to offer free booze--I suppose the idea was to intoxicate us enough to forget we had no hot water, were getting a bus tour not a cruise and we had already paid for all the beverages we could drink. The staff was unable to make accommodations so the luxury room I was promised had a three day view of an ugly port. YOu take a cruise to bring your hotel room with you. That doesn;t work if you are on a bus for the part of the day you would be travelling. And then once fixed they cancelled ports left and right. So, we didn't get what we paid for; we had lectures on rocks moving but we never visited un-enhanced geography so who cares? and the meals were uninspired. For $1000./day, you would think that the kitchen would attempt to make some regional dishes and desserts. Instead, most desserts tasted similarly and Indian food (delicious but we are in Europe, not Asia) and Mexican food,really? is not appreciated when there are plenty of regional dishes in Europe. Nothing was done to repair the disappointment of looking at the ugliest port in Europe instead of waves for 3 days and looking at the seat in front of you on a bus instead of drinking tea and most of all the unprofessional and disrespectful manner that the crew, especially the lead officer below the captain, dealt with the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Trying a cruise on my own for the first time. Embarkation and disembarkation always goes so smoothly and I found no difficulty being on my own. There are Saga staff to help if needed. It was a great success. From the first moments ... Read More
Trying a cruise on my own for the first time. Embarkation and disembarkation always goes so smoothly and I found no difficulty being on my own. There are Saga staff to help if needed. It was a great success. From the first moments before sailing the entertainment crew- Abby -a dancer and Richard a gentleman host came and chatted as I was sitting on my own. I was seated at meals with other single passengers and made many friends. The food was fantastic as usual. My cabin was very comfortable. I would advise any ladies to take their own hairdryer if needed as I found it quite difficult with arthritic hands to keep my finger constantly on the button to use it. The showtime group were very professional. This was my third cruise on Sapphire and I would not hesitate to travel on my own again. The included chauffeur service from home was perfect. It is so nice to not see your luggage until it is in your cabin! I am ready to book on Sapphire next year once again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Our first cruise with Fred Olsen for many years, the last was in 2006 (Boudicca) and before that 2004 (Black Prince), we enjoyed travelling on Braemar. The ship has a compact cosy feel about it and if like us you regard a cruise as a means ... Read More
Our first cruise with Fred Olsen for many years, the last was in 2006 (Boudicca) and before that 2004 (Black Prince), we enjoyed travelling on Braemar. The ship has a compact cosy feel about it and if like us you regard a cruise as a means of transport rather than a vacation in itself then we found it a pleasurable experience and recommendable. As for the cruise experience itself, we hardly spoke to other passengers and nobody made any effort to speak with us to start the ball rolling, so cannot comment on whether most people were friendly. Some people have what it takes to launch into conversation with total strangers only to create the impression within minutes of having known one another for years, we don't. Perhaps it's that we appear younger than we are, or as I joked with my wife maybe we were thought to be newly-weds so best left well alone! Anyway, after our experience in 2006 of sharing a table in the restaurant, we opted for sitting by ourselves and doing our own thing. The crew, apart from a few waiters in whom we detected facetiousness, were charming, friendly and obliging. A special mention well-deserved for the excellent service to the staff in the Observatory who made our customised Afternoon Teas extremely enjoyable. Unlike previous cruises, we weren't inspired to attend any of the shows, instead after second-sitting evening meal in the Grampian restaurant we retired to our cabin; early to bed early to rise maketh man healthy, wealthy and slim! As discerning vegetarians, our dietary requirements are specific and Braemar catered for us adequately, no complaints there. Otherwise, the bottled water we found unpalatable and at £1.50 a bottle a rip-off. Since we don't mix with others on a daily basis, it was a real eye-opener just how many people start their day with a cup of coffee and continuing drinking stimulants thereafter; still, no accounting for taste, different people and all that. My wife had a massage in the spa which she found thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing. I relaxed by going to the gym a few times for weightlifting. Of the 4 tours we'd pre-booked, one was cancelled. We went on tours in La Rochelle and Isle de Re, Briere National Park & Guerande, and in Rouen. For reasons that I won't go into, the French-speaking guide for Guerande took up my wife's suggestion the tour make a detour to visit the salt marshes which from the sound of some people in the coach was a real treat for the twitchers in the group. We chose the tours carefully by reading reviews, etc and were pleased they proved good value and stimulating, all guides making a real effort to impart information. Where Braemar went wrong for us was Norovirus. A few days before the end of the cruise, the captain announced an outbreak. We'd not experienced norovirus before and were unprepared for how it's tackled. Sanitising went into over-drive. It was on Boudicca that we'd first experienced having to rub sanitising fluid on our hands before entering a restaurant so it was no big deal to do that on Braemar, but there's a difference between the volume of liquid that one rubs on one's own hands for oneself, and the powerful lingering acrid putrid smell that pervades the corridors from a mass disinfectant. I guess it was left to us to find out more about norovirus if we wanted; all that the captain told us was to step up our use of the sanitising fluid and wash hands before eating, also that the self-service buffets at breakfast and lunch would become waiter service only. The Daily Times mentioned two symptoms, diarrhoea and vomiting, so I decided that whatever I was suffering was not norovirus and no need to say anything. Since I rarely get ill, my diagnosis based on a feeling of nausea (not sea-sickness) was a mild food poisoning from something I'd eaten off ship or possibly a bottle of water that I'd bought on board which tasted off when I opened it. I treated it with homoeopathy, reduced my food intake, kept away from the restaurant for evening meals, avoided public rooms wherever possible, and got plenty of sleep and rest. On the penultimate day of the cruise, I felt a sore throat in the making, hardly surprising given the stale air in our cabin (Deck 6), the fumes from the crew re-painting cabin doors nearby, carpet sealant, and the smell of diesel outside on deck. My wife's eyes were watering and feeling prickly. Having shaken off the worst before returning home, I am now, some 2 weeks later, almost getting over a dry cough and cold. What amazed us was just how protective Fred Olsen was of the crew at the expense of the passengers. Why weren't passengers offered face-masks and gloves? Why did we have to breathe fumes unnecessarily? Packing up and unloading the ship came over as a sorry affair and within hours of disembarkation at Dover, Braemar sailed to Harwich where it was deep cleansed and got ready to greet the new group of passengers embarking for the next cruise. Norovirus we have since discovered is rife and not only on cruise ships, but how Fred Olsen managed the situation did not impress us. Not knowing the procedure I assumed Fred Olsen would alert the authorities, but to be on the safe side I did too. The several organisations I contacted were all very helpful and forwarding my email to the right department. I received a reply from a Food and Health and Safety adviser at Tendring District Council who said they take outbreaks on board very seriously and do everything they can to assist the ship. It wasn’t that I thought Fred Olsen would have hushed anything up, but I wanted to notify the authorities that we weren’t impressed with the standard of cleanliness of some of the glassware, cutlery and plates given to us, with grubbiness and fingermarks galore. Also, it concerned me that whereas some foods were covered up, most weren't, particularly bread. Of all the foodstuffs on display, bread has probably been handled and touched by any number of people before it reaches your hands. We heard others say their holiday had been ruined. It didn't ruin our holiday, we achieved our objective, namely to revisit France, but Fred Olsen spoiled their cruise, reminding us too just how challenging it can be to share travelling arrangements with old people. Since we were in good health before the holiday, having to remedy ourselves as a consequence of a virus on a cruise ship is not my idea of fun. I've read that regular cruisers are philosophic about norovirus but a cruise ship is not an experience we want to repeat. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My partner were on our first cruise. The car parking and check-in at Dover were excellent; we were given clear directions to the car-park, porters took our luggage from the car and it next turned up outside our cabin. We had a forward ... Read More
My partner were on our first cruise. The car parking and check-in at Dover were excellent; we were given clear directions to the car-park, porters took our luggage from the car and it next turned up outside our cabin. We had a forward cabin on deck 4 (picture window, not portholes); comfortable beds, plenty of hanging space, a little short of drawer space. Decent size towels and changed as required; hand and shower wash toiletries supplied. Duvet covers changed daily. A full tea/coffee making tray provided. We had failed to noet that. although it is a UK ship, the electrics are continental 2 pin! Reception loaned us 2 adaptors for the trip, for a small returnable deposit. The structure of the cabin creaked and groaned a bit on the two nights when the sea was a bit rough but were excellently sound proofed The staff were all cheerful, polite and competent - dining-room, bar, reception and cabin. There are two sittings for dinner 6.15 and 8.15 pm with tables for 2,4,6, or 8. Choose time and number when you book. There are three restaurants where one can have breakfast and lunch but the menu is the same in each. The food was excellent with a wide selection; good food, nicely cooked and presented,,on hot plates and as good as you would eat in any up market holiday hotel. Drinks prices were on a par with UK bar/hotel prices, but we found that the £8 per person/day All Inclusive package represented good value and, even at the £10 it has gone up to it is still worth doing. A gin and tonic and a pint of draught bitter is about £8.60 and wine is around £4 a glass so spending your daily allowance involves normal holiday drinking and nothing excessive! There was an outbreak of noro-virus, almost as soon as we sailed. Strict health precautions were enforced which basically meant that whenever you entered or left a public room you were required to sanitise your hands with an alcohol based gel. People who got the virus were treated free by the ship's doctor and anyone who accepted the request to stay in their cabin for 48 hours was give a pro-rata 2 day refund on their fare.. There was a huge range of onboard activities including talks, demonstrations of art and craft, dancing, bridge, truly something for almost everyone.. We did not attend any of the evening entertainments but heard good reports of them from those who did. The shores excursions in Nantes, La Rochelle, and Bordeaux were excellent but seemed a bit pricy at £49 per person for a 1/2 day. There were about 8 excursions offered at each port and the full range can be seen on the Fred Olsen website. The arrangements of getting on and off the boat for these tours was poor, bordering on shambolic! Many passengers had a range of mobility issues which made them a bit slow, the gangways were steep and at one time there were 300 passengers who had got off tour buses, trying to get back on board via a one-way gangway with 300 passengers trying to get off and board the coaches! Disembarking and baggage collection were speedy enough and efficient. Overall, my idea of a good cruise, Braemar was full but did not seem to be (900+ passengers) and I was sufficiently impressed that I booked a cruise on the same boat for next year, while I was on-board! 5% discount too! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was the maiden voyage down the Loire followed by a further river trip down the Garonne to Bordeaux. Someone came on board with the dreaded Norovirus which meant that on 4 of the 7 days cruise we were in lockdown which spoiled the ... Read More
This was the maiden voyage down the Loire followed by a further river trip down the Garonne to Bordeaux. Someone came on board with the dreaded Norovirus which meant that on 4 of the 7 days cruise we were in lockdown which spoiled the trip. No quibble with the captains decision, but the restrictions took most of the pleasure out of the cruise and the constant handwashing and antibac. 'squirters' resulted in a nasty dose of eczema of the hands. Recommend the tour of Green Venice in Bordeaux though, very serene and relaxing. Beware disembarkation at both Nantes and Bordeaux, very very steep gangway from level 5 to quayside due to local conditions/tides which created long delays getting both on and off the ship and would be very taxing to anyone with disabilities although help was on hand - heart conditions would be a bit worrying. Cannot comment on fitness facilities, gym was closed for most of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Right from the start this inaugural river cruise was beset with problems. From the second day we had the Norovirus which wiped out a lot of on-board activities and amenities including any self-service restaurant meals and closed all the ... Read More
Right from the start this inaugural river cruise was beset with problems. From the second day we had the Norovirus which wiped out a lot of on-board activities and amenities including any self-service restaurant meals and closed all the public toilets, so there was a lot of toing and froing back to the cabin. Our cabin was on the No. 2 deck and was just on the water-line along with the cabins of some of the crew. Given a choice I would rather not take a cruise again at such a low level and would rather book another ship. The cabin itself was looking rather worse for wear and I do wonder if it is usually used by the crew. Also we found the cabin cold and could not warm it up with the heating control. The ports of call were also problematic with Nantes being the worst. Our pre-booked city tour on a road train was a disaster as the commentary was French! The coach to take us back to the ship was over half an hour late and then there was the delay in getting back on the ship as the tide affected the gang way and it had to be fixed to another deck. Because of the delays we missed the Readers Offers cocktail party that we had invitations to. La Pallice (for La Rochelle) was just an industrial port and some distance from La Rochelle which was somewhere we have been and enjoyed several times before. The only problem here was the same as Nante - the only view was of the concrete dock side - so we would have been better off with an inside cabin at a cheaper price. Beautiful Bordeaux was slightly better as we did start of with having a view out of the port holes, but later on we sank again below the parapet! Again our vineyard excursion was a disappointment with thimble size tastings and nowhere to sit which certainly did not provide value for money. We did receive some compensation for the road train commentary, but overall the whole cruise was very shambolic and poor value for money. Surely as an inaugural River Cruise, you would have thought that all elements would have been out to impress and that everything had been checked and double-checked thoroughly. My next problem is that we have already booked River Cruise No. 2 to Germany next June also on the Braemar. I do hope that lessons have been learned and that the Germans are far better prepared. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Having travelled on the Saga Ruby a few years ago to the Baltics, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to the much smaller ship, Saga Pearl 11. Our trip was for four nights and we wondered if this would be long enough to get the ... Read More
Having travelled on the Saga Ruby a few years ago to the Baltics, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to the much smaller ship, Saga Pearl 11. Our trip was for four nights and we wondered if this would be long enough to get the taste for sailing again. We need not have worried. The Saga arranged taxi, was on time and we were in Dover mid afternoon. The staff on arrival were efficient and we were shown quickly to our cabin. We had asked for a standard outside cabin and found it to be larger and more comfortable than the Saga Ruby. There was the usual emergency drill to go through and then the welcome treat of drinks as we sailed from Dover. By this time most passengers were on the decks outside but to the delight of us all, Saga had arranged for a spitfire from Biggin Hill to escort us for part of the way. This was a surprise and with the backdrop of Dover it was an event not to be forgotten. Thank you Saga. Our first port of call, next day, was Jersey. We had opted for a round the island excursion in the morning and a second trip in the afternoon to a vineyard. We knew that we would be having a tender boat to take us into St Hellier but had not been told that we could not get back in time for lunch on the ship. Saga had the foresight to leave a menu in our cabin the night before for us to order a packed lunch. Up to a point we enjoyed our day but found at times the incessant information from our coach driver telling us at each section of the island that there was a church, pub and school, rather tedious. I am sure that there is a wealth of history that we could have been told but alas this was not conveyed to us. The following day we docked at Honfleur and went to The Bayeux Tapestry and the Cathedral. We were mainly on motorways and for all its history we had not known how lovely the area of Normandy is. This was to be the highlight of our holiday. Our guide was very informative but when we reached Bayeux we felt rushed. I would advise those interested in the tapestry to look at other reviews. We felt we were on a conveyor belt, quickly being taken along. I have to say that we are glad to have seen it. Our last day was Zeebrugge for Brugge or Ypres. We chose to revisit Brugge and opted out of the escorted tour. I would advise when planning trips to choose carefully. They tend to be overpriced, but on most you do have the comfort knowing that you will be escorted.. As for our the crew on our ship, as you would expect from a Saga holiday, the crew were very attentive. The food was plentiful and enjoyable but we both had difficulty at times with the dinner menu. If the menu is not to your liking there is always Salmon and chicken on offer. On the whole this was a very enjoyable holiday but we felt that we were asked to pay higher prices than were warranted. Would we be tempted to go with Saga again? Probably. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was our second Saga cruise and easily met our expectations. I should say that my wife and I were looking for relaxation and not necessarily with the need to go ashore at each port visited. The trip itself was not without problems but ... Read More
This was our second Saga cruise and easily met our expectations. I should say that my wife and I were looking for relaxation and not necessarily with the need to go ashore at each port visited. The trip itself was not without problems but this made no difference to our personal enjoyment of the holiday. Saga offer an inclusive taxi collect from home and this helps make the embarkation experience so, so much easier. The Dover operation was pretty slick and we were quickly in our cabin ready for the off. Day 2 of the voyage was a sailing day (Dover - Mantoir (for St. Nazaire)) and this is where the only problem of the voyage arose. One of the engines was found to have water in the sump and required to be shut down hence an extended voyage time which affected the whole itinerary. Day 3 in Mantoir. We, as planned, stayed on board which was just as well. The temperature was around the 32 centigrade mark and most unpleasant and other passengers told is that it was extremely unpleasant on the excursion buses. I had looked at Mantoir on Wikipedia and a one line description informed it to be a port handling liquid methane - nothing else in the description. Confirmed as a pretty depressing place. Day 4 should have been a visit to La Pallice for La Rochelle but the engine problem caused a delay so this visit dropped off the itinerary and the ship sailed direct to Bordeaux. In fairness to Saga, as compensation to their passengers, free wine (plus beer and soft drinks) was given at lunch and dinner. I do not think that you can be fairer than that! Day 5 in Bordeaux. There was the small issue here of insufficient draft for the Sapphire due to unusually low water levels in the river. Shuttle bus service to Bordeaux town was efficient but unfortunately only went to the commercial area and not to the historic area of the city. This was the nearest Saturday to the Bastille Day celebrations so the parades could only be seen from the bus. Bordeaux itself on a Saturday afternoon is, sadly, not a lot different to any large town in the UK. The shops are pretty much the same (chain shops prevalent) and the area full of teenagers. Day 6 sailing Bordeaux to Guernsey. Day 7 spent in St Peter Port, Guernsey. This was our first experience of transfer to shore by tender which I have to say was run extremely well with passenger safety paramount. It was only the passengers that made it difficult. Day 8 arrival at Dover. Again, a slick operation for disembarkation with breakfast to taxi in about 2.5 hours.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This review is written from the perspective of long-time cruisers on “mainstream” lines who decided to try a “luxury” line cruise aboard Crystal Serenity. The question with which we’d always wrestled was, “Is it worth it?” ... Read More
This review is written from the perspective of long-time cruisers on “mainstream” lines who decided to try a “luxury” line cruise aboard Crystal Serenity. The question with which we’d always wrestled was, “Is it worth it?” While the answer obviously depends in large part on how much you can and want to pay. However, for those who can spend the money, the question is whether they should. We would say “definitely yes” on luxury lines – we’re less enthusiastic about Crystal. A pure dollar per dollar comparison doesn’t really work. If you compare the cheapest Crystal cabin (ocean view) with a similar cabin on a mainstream line, you’re better off financially on the mainstream line even with all of the Crystal all-inclusives. Ditto suite to suite. However, the cheapest Crystal vs. a suite on a mainstream line is more comparable. In the end, there are many reasons that a Crystal cruise is “worth” the extra cost – you have to decide if these things are important to you. Embarkation involved several steps/stops. At the first, we showed out cruise ticket and passport. That led to security. Then a stop for your picture. Then a final stop to get your cabin card. While we’re used to “one stop shopping” when all the above is done at the same time, the Crystal process was fairly quick. By the time we arrived at our cabin, our bags were already there! Cabins weren’t ready until 3:00 but they invited passengersto the main dining room for lunch (vs. the buffet restaurant on most cruise lines). There were plenty of tables, service was exemplary, food was tasty, and, when you’re given a glass of soda or wine without signing for anything, you start to realize what all-inclusive means. We splurged for a Penthouse suite. The cabin is nicely decorated, in great condition, and very modern. However, compared to mainstream lines, the cabin is small. There is a very small sitting room, a makeup area (nice for ladies but somewhat a waste of space), a walk-in closet, and a bath with Jacuzzi tub, separate shower and two sinks with marble aplenty. We found the size fine for two – if you have a third person, it would be crowded. The balcony had two chairs with ottomans. We never heard noise from above. They give you large sizes of bath amenities and the towels were superb! The PH butler was exceptional – he made our cruise. Pleasant, responsive – willing to do things we hadn’t even thought about. There was a mini-bar that was stocked with whatever we requested and exceptional hors d’hoeuvres were always available. MDR food was uniformly very good – better quality and more choices than MDR on mainstream lines but not quite as good as their specialty restaurants. There were plenty of delicious options every night and we never had a bad meal. Desserts were a tad disappointing. Our dinner at Silk Road was a highlight in terms of food and service. Prego was fine but no better than the best of the MDR. Service throughout was excellent – we’re fast eaters and we never waited for any course to be served. There was a quiet efficiency (speed, lack of “clatter” of dishes, lack of confusion) to the service that was very nice. Dinner was uniformly a pleasant experience. We didn't attend all of the shows, but those we did see were quite good. The production numbers were definitely a huge notch above most mainstream lines. There was always plenty of seating. The "secondary" entertainment (other venues) wasn't really to our tastes and the timing was skewed late, but that's simply a matter of personal preference. As mentioned above, a huge plus was not having to pull out our cruise card and sign for something every five minutes. There is a certain serenity (no pun intended) in being able to order a soda or cappuccino or glass of wine or ice cream or bottled water, etc. without pain. The first (and only) time I used my key card was making a gift shop purchase. Yes, you’re paying for it in the long run, but the “price” of the freedom and flexibility counts for a lot in our book. Another plus was the fact that Crystal wasn’t trying to take more of your money at every pass. No “inches of gold” or “T-shirt sales” or spa pitches or “bingo, bingo bingo,” or art auction or . . . If you like those things, you’ll be disappointed with Crystal but not having the constant pressure to buy, buy, buy was an unexpected joy. Along those lines was the lack of constant announcements. Crystal treats you like adults – they put the information you need in the daily bulletin and trust you to read it. Basically, the “noise level” is much lower, which for us at least led to a more enjoyable and relaxing vacation. However, not all was perfect, and there were several areas where Crystal did not live up to our expectations. The first was shore excursions. Of the five we took, the average grade would be a C+. On the plus side, the wine tasting with Dewey Markham in Bordeaux was simply outstanding and the Douro river cruise in Porto was very good thanks to an excellent guide. Among the other tours, one left 30 minutes late due to “traffic” (on a Saturday morning) even though none of the other buses was late. On the next tour, our first (unscheduled) stop was 30 minutes at the airport restrooms. The Crystal escort was always the last one on the bus and a stop for "coffee" was completely disorganized. Two passengers became so frustrated with the delays that they took a cab back to the ship. The Crystal escort was constantly the last person on the bus -- invariably arrived 10 minutes after all the passengers were aboard, without apology. Our final tour to fishing villages was mismanaged in terms of time (we spent more than an hour at a sardine factory) with a guide who was silent 75% of the tour. We discussed this with Crystal shore excursion personnel. Our concerns were met with versions of “we can’t control the guides” or “every guide does things differently.” Wrong. Crystal ultimately bears responsibility for its tours and especially its Crystal hosts. We were told someone would follow up with us – no one ever did. In the end, Crystal’s indifference was surprising and telling. The worst experience came near the end of the cruise. All passengers disembarking in Lisbon had to clear Portuguese customs on the ship. The event was an unmitigated disaster. Timing was 4-7 pm, meaning everyone with early dinner came around 4. Over 1000 people had to go through customs and there were only two officials. The event was held in a small room and the line outside was literally longer than half the length of the ship. The crowd soon overwhelmed the air conditioning making it unbearably hot. Passengers stood in line for 75 minutes. There were no chairs. No one brought water or food. We showed up at 4:15 and finished at 5:30; we missed the final sail-away and had to sprint in order to make dinner on time -- not exactly a relaxing last evening. We understand that certain aspects of customs are beyond the ship’s control. However, Crystal did absolutely nothing to ameliorate the situation, such as handing out numbers with assigned times, handing out water, moving the event to a larger venue, etc. There was no senior officer present and there was no apology to the passengers. Bottom line: we've "pre-cleared" customs before and this was the most mismanaged event on any cruise we’ve taken. On departure, we’d arranged a private car through the ship’s concierge. We arrived 15 minutes before our assigned time only to be told we were “late." The concierge showed up a short time later and assured us we were definitely not late. Not a great way to depart. In the end, there were many great things about Crystal. We loved the all-inclusive approach and the lack of constantly being hit up for activities and dollars. And for the most part, the crew was incredibly professional and personable -- their experience shows. If you can afford it, an “all-inclusive” line is a real pleasure and, in our view, definitely "worth it." But, too many things didn’t go well on this cruise and at times there seemed to be an attitude of “we don’t really care” that we found unsatisfying. While we will definitely try a luxury line again, it probably won’t be Crystal.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014

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