29 Dover Luxury Cruise Reviews

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
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
Just completed the cruises in search of the Northern Lights. Embarkation was very slick and easy, having been picked up from home and transported to Dover by a very efficient and professional driver. A great added bonus with Saga. Cabin ... Read More
Just completed the cruises in search of the Northern Lights. Embarkation was very slick and easy, having been picked up from home and transported to Dover by a very efficient and professional driver. A great added bonus with Saga. Cabin was large, (inside deck 7) bigger than the normal cruise liners we have sailed on like HAL, RCL etc. Decor not quiet up to a brand new cruise ship but plenty of space for hanging clothes and draws . Shower and toilet efficient and clean if a little smaller than the top cruise liners. Dining and entertainment were superb. Top quality, attentive and pleasant staff and all inclusive in restaurants and drinks. The Sapphire was above the mainstream cruise liners and just below the six star Silverseas, Seabourn, Viking cruises which we have done. Value for money, quality, ambiance and enjoyment made for a memorable cruise. Not the last time we will sail with Saga, who have two new ships coming into service. Do not let Saga’s reputation for catering for the very old put you off, this is not true. Whilst it is for the over 50’s the age profile was no different to those other lines like Silverseas, Seabourn, Viking. It did cater very well for those with mobility issues, but I have seen many more mobility scoooters on Caribbean cruises. Lots of people got up dancing to great dance music in both the main Britannia lounge and the Drawing Room. Sunday lunchtime was just fabulous. Lunchtime jazz in the drawing room followed by transitional sunday lunch in the main dining room. Just idyllic. Entertainment was outstanding. Great lectures by Gary Fildes on the Northern Lights and astronomy in general. Had 700 pax enthralled. The cruise was well worth the money just to listen to him speak. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Having been all over the world with Saga on land based holidays , when we looked for a Cruise to celebrate my wife’s birthday we automatically looked to Saga having been entirely satisfied with our previous holidays with them. Well that ... Read More
Having been all over the world with Saga on land based holidays , when we looked for a Cruise to celebrate my wife’s birthday we automatically looked to Saga having been entirely satisfied with our previous holidays with them. Well that was the right decision, we fancied a winter Norwegian Cruise, and one which specifically aimed at experiencing the Northern Lights seemed an exciting prospect As ever every detail was taken care of, from being picked up at your front door with your luggage through a seemless boarding process at Dover all promised a wonderful holiday experience,which is exactly what we got An upgrade to deck 10 was an unexpected bonus,but all passengers got the same attentive service wherever their cabin was. The whole cruise was ammended to all inclusive which was another nice touch,and we opted for fixed dining which was a delight. The food on this ship is awesome, and the after dinner cheeseboard is the best we have ever experienced anywhere Evening shows were professional and Ancora joining the cruise for week two ensured some never to be forgotten performances, the whole entertainment package was outstanding for a relatively small ship Lectures from accomplished speakers about destinations and other related subjects were interesting and thought provoking, and the library would meet anyone’s taste, complete with librarian. This is proper cruising, no razzmatazz or gimmicks, just traditional formal nights, sumptuous food and well chosen wines and a feeling everyone simply wanted you to enjoy yourselves Saga Sapphire is an old ship, but she is immaculately kept and polished to within a inch of her life morning, noon and night. At every port a free shuttle bus service to the town is available unless the berth is literally in the town centre We were incredibly lucky to see the Northern Lights on three separate nights due to high levels of sunspot activity and on our official included trip to “hunt” the Lights in a dark sky area we were treated to an hour long display of the Northern Lights which were absolutely breathtaking Overall we had a wonderful cruise, seeing the Lights was the proverbial icing on the cake Let’s be clear, Saga isn’t the cheapest cruise provider, but the quality of their cruise experience is truly 5star and on an all inclusive cruise like this you genuinely don’t need to spend any money for the whole cruise unless of course you choose to go on optional excursions The real test is would we Cruise with Saga again; in our case the answer is definitely yes. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
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
We chose this cruise (22 days London to Barcelona) because the itinerary suited us and we had cruised 3 times before with Seabourn and each cruise had been better than before. This cruise did not disappoint. We spent 9 days in London ... Read More
We chose this cruise (22 days London to Barcelona) because the itinerary suited us and we had cruised 3 times before with Seabourn and each cruise had been better than before. This cruise did not disappoint. We spent 9 days in London prior to driving down through Kent to Dover, an excellent way to start a holiday. We had booked a B&B in Dover but on arrival the host was most unpleasant so we ended up staying overnight at the Best Western in Dover, best move we ever made. There were many boarding the ship who stayed here. We left the hotel for the ship at about 12:15 and arrived at the ship a bit after 12:30. If it could be, I think boarding we quicker and simpler than our past cruises. We were on the ship in no time to be treated by the cruise director Handre who was the CD on 2 of our 3 previous cruises. He would have to be up with the best (and nicest) CD's going around. As we had done on previous cruises, we went to the Colonnade Restaurant for lunch while we waited for access to our suite. About 2pm our suite was available and our luggage was already in our suite. Within 15 minutes our stewardess arrived to introduce herself and to give us a welcome glass of champagne and canapés. there is a bottle of Champagne on ice but we didn't drink it, not being big Champagne drinkers and there is so many other options for drinking on the ship. The Ship The ship is in beautiful condition as you would expect for a ship with only 6 months of sailing. But throughout the cruise, we noticed many times, the ship being washed / painted / touched up by crew. No wonder the ship is in immaculate condition. We loved the tastefully appointed furnishings (not blingy but very nicely done) and the artwork around the ship is wonderful. I had read reports about the pool area being small for the number of guests. This is probably correct if you are the type to sit around the pool all day. We do not pay this amount of money to cruise to sit around a pool, we can do that on our beaches in Australia for free. So this is not a problem for us but it may be for others. Otherwise, the ship facilities are fabulous. The Cabin We love the layout of the cabin with so much storage we have never been able to fill all the storage locations (as we do not skimp on what we take). We asked our stewardess for more hangers for the walk-in robe and by the time we came back from muster, they were there. The TV looks like about 42" and it was used to watch some of the enrichment talks, look at our account, listen to the announcements and on the 3 sea days to watch some TV. For charging phones / tablets / cameras, I usually take a power board but didn't use it on this ship as there were adequate power outlets. There is a USA, European and a USB outlet on either side of the bed as well as outlets in the sitting areas of the suite. We love the layout of the cabin and were very comfortable living there for more than 3 weeks. Our stewardess (Jeanet) was so nice, looked after our suite so well and did everything we wanted. We also got to know the stewardess down the hall (Gilcelia) and she was also very nice, and we loved chatting to or having a joke with her. Dining First cruise we mainly dined at the Colonnade in the evening but on our past three cruises the main dinning room (MDR) has been our goto in the evening. In summary, it is for us mostly Colonnade in the morning and lunch (on deck if it is not windy or cold) and the MDR in the evening. The MDR was open every day for all three meal times but we noticed very few (maybe 10) in the MDR for breakfast. Apart from maybe one or two glitches (if that), the meals were exceptional. If I didn't want an entree or I wanted 2 mains, this was not a problem. Basically, you could eat whatever you wanted from the menu. If you want something special, you can get it if it is available or they will make sure you get it in the future. We always wanted extra greens with our evening meal and always got more than we needed. We dined twice in the TK Grill, it is a beautifully appointed area but while we loved dining there, we did not find the food any better than the MDR, just different. Dalia in Seabourn Square made our Lemon and Ginger tea each morning and is wonderful. We didn't get to know Gabor who was also there as Dalia was mostly working in the morning. Mostly these teas were made from real sliced lemon and sliced ginger (not tea bags) and were so nice. This time we did not dine in the Sushi Restaurant (we loved it on our last cruise) only because we did not get around to it. We dined at the Earth and Ocean (before the cruise we thought we would be dining here every night) once on the cruise and it was ok, but we still preferred the MDR (more about the service later). Entertainment We thought the groups (changed halfway though the cruise) in The Club were fabulous, just our type of music. This was our goto place for a drink before dining. Last cruise it was the TK Grill Bar and the cruise prior, it was the Observation Lounge. We just went wherever we preferred the music. Every few days we would go to one of the other areas for a change, it was nice to have that choice. It seemed that most guests go to the Observation Lounge as it seemed to be the busiest (and while the music was nice, the music in the Club was more our taste). The Seabourn Singers (2 male and 2 female) were fabulous and we loved any of the shows where they sang. In summary, we cannot do all the activities, just cannot fit them in. So to me that means there are adequate things for us to do during a day on the ship. We met some wonderful other guests who we dined with several times (a UK couple and a US couple). We loved going to trivia, Handre (CD) and Kobus (Assistant CD) make this "special". Service The crew are a real asset to Seabourn. There was not once on this cruise where we were not well looked after and made feel special. Each time we went to either the MDR or the Colonnade, either Roxanne or Erica (not spelled that way, but that's what we called her) were so nice and welcoming, always calling us by our name. But not just them, all the crew were the same, just wonderful. From the captain (Stig Betten) to the security when getting on/off the ship and the tender operators, all the crew were so nice and friendly and when you are away from family for 6 weeks, they became our family which "made" our holiday. In the MDR we loved Brandon, Reggie, Renzo, Sithabile, Genesis and all the others (too many to mention them all). In the Colonnade, we were always well looked after by Marko, Miguel, Trajcek (I think), Savannah and many more. Each crew member made you feel special and we loved chatting to them (although that time is not much because they are so busy). In summary, there was not one crew member who did not help us to have a wonderful time. the only issue we had was with Guest Services where while they tried there best and eventually did everything we required, I could tell they were inexperienced. But because we know how things worked, it was ok but for the non-Seabourn cruiser it may have been a problem. But that was not a real inconvenience for us. Children We did not have any children on the ship this cruise. It would not have mattered anyway, we have had children on previous cruises and that has not been any problem. Although in saying that, I do not think this is the type of cruise line to take most young children (i know there are exceptions). There are cruise lines we would take our grandchildren, but this is not one of them, they would be bored most of the time. Ports We did several Seabourn excursions and these were good. The guides were very good and there seemed to be always a person from Seabourn on the bus also, to look after any guests needs. I did notice there was not as much control over how many were on each bus. Normally Seabourn only half (about) fill a bus but this time it seemed there were more on one and less on the other. This was not any issue. We worked out early on in our cruise that all day excursions were not as enjoyable as they once were. Mainly because the all day excursions are to the popular tourist sites and these were overrun with tourists (of which we were two) even in October. We subsequently canceled some all day excursions we had booked, which Seabourn refunded immediately, so no problem there. We loved just wandering around the ports or organising some of our own excursions which we did on a couple of occasions, particularly the ports when departure was 11pm (3 of the 22 were late departures) and one (Rouen, France) we stayed overnight. Many of the ports we went to we would go to again which probably means we loved most of the ports. We are gym people and went to the gym several times but not as much as we thought as we were walking 12-15k a day in each port. The gym is well equiped and we always found we could use equipment we wanted. The free classes started at 7am and while these are good, not so useful to use other than port days as we wanted to get out and about in each port. In summary, we will certainly go on another cruise and I see no reason to change lines so I am certain it will be with Seabourn. ps: While it did not really affect us (we missed Portimao and spent an extra day in Lisbon, there are worse things that can happen than this), the weather in that region at that time was not good with some rough seas and high winds. The captain and the crew are to be commended for there professionalism in communicating with guests and looking after us in a safe manner. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended ... Read More
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended up right at the front of the ship. It was absolutely fine most of the time, but we did have one rather rocky night in the Bay of Biscay! Embarkation was remarkable. We were very lucky to be within driving distance of Dover, where our cruise started. From leaving the car, we were in the Crystal Dining Room within 15 minutes – having stopped off to check out our room on the way! We have stayed in this room category on Symphony previously (PS), so it was just as expected and very comfortable. As I have said in previous reviews, I do think a little updating is required and hopefully this will happen in the upcoming dry dock. In particular, the TVs are very small and somewhat dated and some of the furnishings are looking a little tired. However, it is a well-planned and thought out space with plenty of storage, and a good-sized and equipped bathroom. The bed was very comfortable with quality linens and pillows. We forgot to bring a phone charger, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was an integral charger in the clock. We sampled many of the facilities on the ship – the gym, spa, cinema (rather weird choices of films sometimes!), Vintage Room, lectures, casino, shops etc. We also enjoyed several specialty restaurant reservations. Service throughout the cruise was outstanding. Where we did have an issue, it was resolved quickly, efficiently and with good grace. The crew, across the board, were unfailingly friendly and helpful – I know they are trained to be so and ‘have’ to be, but it makes for a great ambience nevertheless. We found the food to be excellent, as previously. We did eat several times in the specialties and never tired of either. The CDR was also good, but I felt service was a little below par at times and that they were over-stretched with so many people to take care of especially on the BTO evenings. This resulted in either long waits before ordering and between courses, or conversely one plate being whipped away and the next course being served almost simultaneously. We found the included wines to be very drinkable and of course there was always the option to purchase wines when we felt like splurging. I wish they had a better included champagne though! We are reluctant to buy a bottle of champagne because we would never get anywhere near finishing it, but I cannot drink the included stuff. We had signed up for the Ultimate Vintage Room, but perhaps there wasn’t enough interest because it was not offered. Instead we did the regular Vintage Room dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Great food, wine and company.. a really good evening. We thought all the ports were well worth visiting, but perhaps didn’t make the best choices with a couple of our excursions which were a bit long/boring/expensive. We didn’t get to all the shows but enjoyed those that we saw, with the exception of the new light show which wasn’t to our taste, but I’m sure many would disagree. We also found the lectures interesting, informative and entertaining. All in all, we had a wonderful time and look forward to our next Crystal cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
It is important that everyone knows that the O'life promotion if you pick the free excursions they must be booked at least 14 days before sailing. Once on board you can not pick your excursions and will have to pay the full price of ... Read More
It is important that everyone knows that the O'life promotion if you pick the free excursions they must be booked at least 14 days before sailing. Once on board you can not pick your excursions and will have to pay the full price of the excursions. I did not know that so I thought I would pass that information along. This ship Insignia had the best food of any cruise or land based restaurant I have eaten in. We live in downtown Chicago and eat at high end restaurants. The food was better than what we have eaten at top restaurants in Chicago including the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton or the Four Seasons. The food exceeded what we ate on Regent and Seabourn as well as Windstar. This was not institutional food. Our itinerary included France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Ingredients were fresh. Good selections of meats, fruits, vegetables and starches. The bread was delicious with home made bread sticks, rolls and pastries. Milk shakes, smoothies, specialty coffees were very good. The afternoon tea each day was a treat. We started off with an obstructed ocean view. Our cabin steward was exceptional. We upgraded to a superior ocean view and got a new cabin steward. He was good but there was a marked difference between the two. Prior to my cruise I had injured my leg. The first steward had buckets of ice delivered daily before we got back from tour because I always iced my leg when I got back and the room was spotless. The other picked up daily but I noticed dust on shelves, and would have to ask for ice if I wanted it before the nightly turn down - subtle but noticeable the difference between very good and exceptional. The cruise director didn't really speak to us which is different from other Oceania cruises we have been on where the cruise director got to know us and would greet us by name. The cruise hostesses who also sang didn't talk to us either which was different from other Oceania cruises. The shuttle service to town from the ports was nice. The restaurant service was exceptional. The cocktail service in the Horizon lounge was poor. My husband and I don't drink alcohol. It was clear that we were not going to get even "ok" service. People who came in after us were getting alcohol drinks and we would still be sitting there if we had ordered two diet cokes. In the other lounges we had the same problem. It is clear the first level of service goes to alcohol drinkers given they add an 18% tip. We ended up taking board games or cards with us and if we were really thirsty and the drinks didn't come I would get up and go to the bar and then they would bring them. The most conspicuous aspect of our cruise is that we found that many of the workers on the cruise used the horizon lounge as their own area to have drinks, relax and talk. It was unsettling that while we were vacationing not 5 feet away mid to upper level manager workers would be talking about what they did not like about the new management. One lady who managed the spa was let go while we were on board and was due to get off the ship. She was talking to several other women who worked on the ship and they were talking about how she had 10 years of service and so forth. How the new management wanted shorter spa services, how she was a reikki and if passengers wanted it she would provide it etc. And she was not happy about her termination. The women she was talking to also worked on the ship and we weren't trying to listen they were in a very public lounge discussing in normal tone how they did not care for the new management. The cruise director also would kick back with the other singers and people who worked on the ship and they would socialize. They did not interact with the guests and it seemed that they socialized more with each other than be hosts to the guests. They ordered wine and I would see them getting served while we couldn't get our diet cokes. We were on the ship for 19 days and this was a regular occurrence so much so that my husband and I used to joke about it. I got the feeling the management with regard to the entertainment and spa staff was in the air. The pool was clean and I enjoyed the pool deck area. I always got great service around the pool. The deck chairs were comfortable and there was never a problem getting a chair, towel or blanket. My husband used the gym and he likes the treadmills. The first five days of the cruise none of them were working due to a software issue. The security staff I felt went above and beyond. They were always very kind and offered assistance helping me get on and off the ship. I had injured my knee before coming on board and they were exceptional in offering me a hand and also helping me get my Luggie scooter on and off at each port. Traveling with my scooter was a breeze and when we would take the shuttle bus the driver would lower the ramp and on I would drive. I found that most public buses in France, Monaco and Spain had ramps for my scooter. Most of the streets had ramps except I found Livorno more difficult to navigate because there might be a ramp and then I would drive a little ways on the scooter and could find there was no ramp. However, I found overall that having the scooter was wonderful. Pisa was good for traveling with a scooter as was Bilbao, Bordeaux, Paris, London, and Barcelona. Portugal was ok but I did not attempt all the hills in Lisbon rather I got on the hop on hop off bus by the port and did not use the scooter much there. The same in Porto. Overall the ports were great, the food was great the servers in all dining venues were amazing, the entertainment was fine, the spa changed management while I was on the ship and it was a much better environment once the disgruntled employee who I believe was managing the spa when we got on left. The actual workers in the spa were wonderful. The cabin steward was fine and for the most part people were friendly. We didn't care for the concierge he was aloof and not helpful. We found the general manager Victor to be much more helpful than the concierge. Victor always said hello and addressed me by name. I would love to go on another one of his ships. There were three people who worked at guest services. The assistant purser from South America was exceptional. She would look into any concern and went above and beyond. The other two did not want to be bothered and dismissed me without listening and did not want to help me with any concerns. There were several issues because I initially had to cancel my reservation because of my injury but then restated my reservation. As such all my dinner reservations, excursions, and a room upgrade offer had been lost. Would not have been a problem but with the Olife promotion you need to book excursions 14 days in advance and since mine did not auto populate to my second reservation number they were lost as was the upgrade offer. I was getting charged full price for my and hubbies excursions. UGG. However, my TA took care of the problem when I emailed her. Victor the general manager and the assistant purser also helped me and I did get my room upgrade near the end of day three.. The concierge and the other two at guest relations didn't do much and just kept telling me no and they could not help me that it was the main office in Miami not them etc. Victor did correspond with Miami and the lovely woman who was the assistant purser handled crediting my account for the excursion issue. I will definitely travel on Oceania again. We felt this cruise was a great value for the money and enjoyed it despite a few hiccups. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We loved this cruise. The only criticism that I have is that the entertainment was subpar for the most part, compared to other cruises we have taken. We saw a couple of the production shows, and were not impressed at all. The port ... Read More
We loved this cruise. The only criticism that I have is that the entertainment was subpar for the most part, compared to other cruises we have taken. We saw a couple of the production shows, and were not impressed at all. The port talks given by Terry Bishop we very informative and entertaining - we looked forward to them just about very day. We also saw him sing, and perform with Blue Weaver, and that was our entertainment highlight. The service was terrific. After the first morning, we were greeted by name in the main dining room at breakfast. With the exception of one meal, every venue had great service. The food was outstanding! We ate at the 4 specialty restaurants, and loved them all. Red Ginger was especially beautiful and well appointed. The shore excursions we booked though Oceania were all of high quality. I would not hesitate to travel on this line again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
First time cruisers, our trip to the Baltic capitals was the most wonderful experience and excelled our expectations. The staff were wonderful and they made us feel comfortable at all times, welcoming us back on board after each trip on ... Read More
First time cruisers, our trip to the Baltic capitals was the most wonderful experience and excelled our expectations. The staff were wonderful and they made us feel comfortable at all times, welcoming us back on board after each trip on land and entertaining us when we were at sea. The food was wonderful and so were the nightly shows and the lectures on the places to visit very informative. If you are reasonably active and confident, most of the cities visited can be explored with a good travel book as there are shuttle buses that run frequently to the city centres and you can explore at leisure. You do need to go ashore as an organised group in Russia because of visa requirements. Although expensive, we thought the Exclusive Hermitage excursion at night one of the highlights of our trip; a magical experience! The 40 piece St Peterburg orchestra were fantastic and the glass of champagne an added bonus. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I have provided a star system with five being the highest as part of this writeup. SUMMARY *****+ After having sailed 160+ days on Crystal Serenity on our most recent adventure, we chose this 14 day Dover Round Trip cruise because of ... Read More
I have provided a star system with five being the highest as part of this writeup. SUMMARY *****+ After having sailed 160+ days on Crystal Serenity on our most recent adventure, we chose this 14 day Dover Round Trip cruise because of its itinerary and, in particular, because of its stop at Liverpool. This is a major birthday milestone year for me and although my actual birthday was not on this cruise, we selected this cruise because of my love of The Beatles. The itinerary was great in spite of missing four ports due to the weather. In lieu of the missed ports, we stopped at one replacement port, had an extra day in Belfast, and picked up two additional sea days, which are always very special due to all of the onboard activities. We especially enjoyed Liverpool, return visits to both Dublin and Belfast and stops at some small towns along the way. We had a wonderful time on board Serenity. Although the ship was relatively full, it never seemed crowded and most venues, including dinner at night, didn’t have the noise levels that sometimes one can experience on a full cruise. The cuisine, service, entertainment, enrichment were outstanding as was the attention to detail and we were so very please with our Crystal Private Adventure Tour in Dublin. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION *****+ Embarkation was a breeze as we disembarkation. On disembarkation day, since we were to stay overnight at a hotel at London Heathrow we asked if we could be one of the last ones off the ship at the time we arranged for our private transfer via the concierge and they were easily able to accommodate that request. We also booked luggage concierge shortly after we boarded Serenity so that we could send home all of our large bags. The good news is that since customs was not being done at the port, the Chief Concierge was able to turn our luggage over to the Luggage Concierge Representative so we never had to even touch our luggage. We were met by the Concierge at the designated time and were assisted to the vehicle by both the Concierge and the Chief Concierge. ENTERTAINMENT ============== *****+ There was a nice variety of entertainment on board Serenity including entertainers from land, in house entertainment including a couple of production shows, variety shows, and Billy Joel Concert. A highlight for us was the return of the Beatles Celebration group who performed so many songs from The Beatles the evening we left Liverpool. We loved it so much we went to both shows and danced to the last several songs. ENRICHMENT ***** Given that this was a very port intensive cruise there was still a good deal of enrichment with portions of the program held in the afternoon rather than the morning to accommodate those on tour and sufficient speakers on board that when we picked up the two additional sea days more lectures were spontaneously added to the program. CUISINE/WINE ***** The Cuisine continues to be one of the strong points of Crystal Cruises in terms of variety, taste and presentation. We continue to enjoy the additional choices in the Crystal Dining Room resulting from the introduction of the Modern Cuisine Menu in May of 2014, and the variety of cuisine between the Prego Italian Restaurant, the Silk Road Japanese Restaurant and Tastes featuring tapa like items from around the world. We continue to enjoy the inclusive wine. There is a wide variety of wines that are part of the program and new wines are brought on board based on where the ship is sailing. We enjoyed some of the new wines brought on board from France and also one of the new California Wines. Crystal also has some wines of their own brand and they continue to evolve and have been enhanced with some recent wines that have been brought on board. FITNESS CENTER ***** We make use of the Fitness Center throughout the cruise and I was very pleased at the number of indoor cycling classes that were offered given that this was a port intensive. The Fitness Instructors were relatively new to Crystal with one joining in mid-June and the other one at the beginning of this voyage but both were great instructors, very personable, and one would think they have been on Crystal ships for a few years. SHORE EXCURSIONS *****+ We only took one tour which was a Crystal Cruises Private Adventure Tour in Dublin. The tour was exceptional and although we had been to Dublin many times, this tour allowed us to go to some places that we have never visited before and also to get some behind the scenes tours of area of venues that we had been to before but are not accessible to the general public. The tour was very special. Also, complements to the Shore Excursion team and their tour operators for quickly adding tours to the replacement port and for the second day in Belfast in very short order. ACCOMODATION ***** We stayed in the same room category that we normally stay in with the only difference that the room was in the same location where we normally stay but it was on the other side of the ship. Room is perfect for us and complements to our stewardess for being so very responsive. It was the first time she had been our stewardess and she was great. During the world cruise she was on another deck so this is a promotion for her. INETRNET**** The Internet experience at sea can vary quite a bit and is even trickier for those lines such a Crystal that sail the world. For example, for those cruise lines that sail the Caribbean on regular cruises that repeat cruise after cruise there is now new options such as lower flying satellites that have been deployed in recent years that allow for very quick internet. That is not possible for the itineraries that Crystal sails. Other factors that come into play are where the ship is sailing relative to the satellite footprint, equipment issues either on the ship, at the satellite station on land or even with the satellite, or other factors such as handoffs between satellites and interference from even military installations on land. On top of this are other factors including your location on the deck and even interference from fire doors on each passenger deck. Also the reality is that newer ships have the advantage of being built with the latest technology in mind. Finally, even ones own devices come into play as some devices are quite a bit faster than others, some internet browsers are faster too and how one operates their system including how they upload photos all is a factor in ones individual experience. On this particular voyage we experienced very good to excellent internet experience except for two days where there were some issue which is why I gave this category three stars. On the majority of the days I would have given a four star/four star+ rating. DISEMBARKING THE SHIP IN PORT *** I would have given it a five but there was one port where we had some delays and similar to a couple of delays during the world cruise I think that the process could be enhanced with either some additional announcements keeping everyone up to date on the situation and/or more presence by an officer or two when long lines are encountered. In this case it was not at a tender port but rather at a port where we were docked. SERVICE *****++ I thought I would save the best for last. The Crystal Crew continues to amaze us as they always have. As is the case on land, relationships do take time to develop so our experiences are based on sailing Crystal many times with so many sailings on Crystal Serenity. For us, this sailing like our other sailings is like returning home as the crew has become our extended family. We can’t say enough about their professionalism, attention to detail and their kindness. To me the crew is like the software of IT related products. In other words you can have the best and most advanced hardware but without the software, the devises will not work well. Similarly, at sea you can have the most advanced and newest ships but without a strong crew the experience will be lacking. In my opinion, Crystal has the best crew of any cruise line we have ever sailed and one, if not the major reason we keep returning back to Crystal for almost all of our cruises. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We chose this itinerary because it was the golf theme (my husband's passion) and he did have a wonderful experience golfing at 3 great courses. We spent 5 days in Oxford and 2 in London before we embarked. Oxford was fantastic. ... Read More
We chose this itinerary because it was the golf theme (my husband's passion) and he did have a wonderful experience golfing at 3 great courses. We spent 5 days in Oxford and 2 in London before we embarked. Oxford was fantastic. Would return in a heartbeat. We loved the cruise ship very much and especially all the other passengers. All were fun and interesting. Unfortunately because of weather we were unable to dock in 4 scheduled ports and spent many more days at sea than we were supposed to. This has its good and bad points. We stayed in a veranda cabin on the 8th deck close to the elevator and laundry room. Loved our cabin and the location. Absolutely adored all meals. The food was simply unbelievable and I am very picky. Our meals at Silk Road were unforgettable. Service is outstanding everywhere at all venues. We also had many meals at Tastes, the outdoor dining area located near the Trident Grill. I asked to be able to accompany my husband on his golf outing at Glen Eagles and because of a cancellation, I got go along, take photos and was charged absolutely nothing. What an amazing perk. All in all, I'd say Crystal is very classy without being stuffy and intimidating. Can't wait for our next adventure. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We are very recently retired couple, and due to sensible investments we have acquired the funds we will need to ensure that our retirement is as enriching as our both extensive working lives have been. Our closest friends of the past ... Read More
We are very recently retired couple, and due to sensible investments we have acquired the funds we will need to ensure that our retirement is as enriching as our both extensive working lives have been. Our closest friends of the past 36 years 4 couples have insisted that we cruise with them on Fred Olsen Line! My wife and myself have cruised for the past 29 years and are very experience destination worldwide cruisers - and often we belong to the highest membership "tier" of several Cruiselines loyalty ( return cruisers club) We have never fancied Fred olsen before as we adore Silversea and crystal and celebrity and most of All Hal (Holland & America) However, our great friends wanted to cruise with us together as 3 coup,E'S! We thought this might be fun, - but we were still trepidation so regarding Fred Olsen!!!!??? The cabin was superb as was our cabin steward exceptional service ( suitably rewarded) The bar staff and Restaurant waiters and Maitre-D! Superb! We tried 5 excursions no problems even though other repeat cruisers told us that this was rare waitng for Northern lights! A particular nice touch was an official ( keepsake) certificate stating , the correct longitude and latitude crossing the "Artic Circle" However , and this MUST BE SAID !!!!!! the absolute HIGHLIGHT of this cruise was the visiting guest Cabaret act! First there was an old fashioned type comedian Barnaby - but then we were treated to the sublime talent's of the comedy impressionist CHRIS GEE! He was so brilliant my wife's ulcer kicked off as she was holding her stomach by laughing so much!!! And yet, not a bit of "smut" , The ENTIRE SHIP was talking about him- with the rather disappointing result that not enough people could get in for his second show!!! (which we were thrilled to witness was completely different to his initial show) Then the funniest spectacle on the entire cruise Chris Gee then did adaptive show with the executive chef " CAN'T COOK - WON'T COOK n what an amazing hysterical shambles!!!! Also, two of our ladies in our party were not able to dance as their husband's had recent knee surgeries etc, but this wonderful guy also turned out to be a very good (and keen) ballroom dancer so he danced with our gals. EVERY DAY ,which really added to the whole cruise experience. Suffice to say we are NOW!!! FRED OLSEN converts!!!! And are telling everyone at our cruise club! We are hoping to get a group booking as Chris Gee said he will be back next year with a wee bit of luck! Love the tea making facilities in the cabins too!!! Great, scenic cruising Can highly recommend!!!! Book it - we guarantee you WON'T regret it!!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was my husband's and my first Crystal Cruise, and we're hooked. The food was outstanding (see below for my reviews on having to eat gluten free) and the crew most caring. Crystal is first class, all the way, not only in the ... Read More
This was my husband's and my first Crystal Cruise, and we're hooked. The food was outstanding (see below for my reviews on having to eat gluten free) and the crew most caring. Crystal is first class, all the way, not only in the quality of service but in the way they handle it. We loved that the cruise was all-inclusive. We felt it improved our cruising experience on a number of levels. Of course, it's liberating not to have to think about how much you're paying for drinks, tips, etc., but what we appreciated the most was the sophistication of being left alone and not being "hounded" to purchase drinks, photos, etc. We're foodies. To us, every vacation is first and foremost ALL ABOUT THE FOOD. My husband is discerning, but he's fairly easy to please. I am not easy to please, and I have a habit of being overly-critical of dining experiences. My husband can eat anything (and everything!). I cannot. I have acute gluten-sensitivity and an allergy to wheat, and if I get even the smallest bit of cross-contamination, it can make me very sick -- often for up to a week. My gluten intolerance creates a challenge on two levels, the first being that I need to make sure that where I eat will not make me sick. The second is more difficult. Being a foodie (and a bit of a bitchy foodie at that), I want my dining experience to be NO DIFFERENT than if I could eat whatever I wish. While I expect to have to give up some things that would not be safe for me to eat, I still expect what is offered to satisfy me and taste great. I researched cruise lines inside and out, and the number one reason why we chose Crystal is their attention to food and food sensitivities. They delivered! Let me begin by reviewing the dining, in general. Both my husband and I were happy with most all of our meals, and we found almost all of them to be outstanding. We ate most of our meals in the dining room and loved it. Tip: If you love fresh fish, try the Asian breakfast with black cod (preferred) or the cooked salmon. If you don't want the sticky rice (which is cooked perfectly) and condiments that come with the breakfast, order the fish on the side along with your other breakfast order. The black cod is especially good and goes well with eggs, toast and such. I cannot speak highly enough of the lox (smoked salmon). I ordered some for breakfast almost every day. They were the freshest, most tender lox I've ever eaten . . . and I've eaten a lot of lox. If you order smoked salmon in the dining room, you get two slices. If you want more, go to the Bistro and help yourself. Prego: Loved it. The food and service were amazing. Silk Road: Loved the sushi and sashimi -- it was the best ever, but we were not impressed with the soup, main course or desserts. When we go again, we will probably make sushi and sashimi our entire meal. The Vintage Room: This is an add-on dining experience and a must-do. You'll experience some of the finest wines in the world (full pours and if you want more, there's plenty) along with perfect parings and an amazing meal. The sommelier also gave a history of the wine and was brilliant. Plan on the evening lasting about three hours. Sadly, the copy of our menu was missing when we unpacked. I'm still searching for it. If I find the menu, I'll post it. Crew: The best! We particularly enjoyed head waiter Vlada, room stewardess Tatiana, and a delightful waitress in the bar on Deck 5: Patricia (from Poland) -- she is the sweetest, most caring person, and she has a warm heart. I predict she'll go far with Crystal and end up in charge of something. If you cruise Symphony, look for her. She's a special one! Hubby loved the cigar room and it helped make his cruise as enjoyable as possible. He loves a good cigar and was particularly appreciative of being able to smoke one in a handsome lounge (which was unexpectedly well-ventilated -- even I could sit in there, if only for a short time -- I do not like cigar smoke, alas.) Tommy, the cigar room attendant was excellent and very personable. Excursions: Day One: St. Peter Port, Guernsey. On this day, we explored Guernsey on our own. It is beautiful--a quaint and charming seaside village that oozes with personality and photo opportunities. We'd love to return. Recommended: Bypass the first designer chocolate shop and instead visit master chocolatier Ben Le Prevost at his shop of the same name -- it is maybe a ten minute walk from port. The prices are probably better there, but that's not why you'll want to go. Seriously, his chocolate may just be the best in the world. Genius flavor combinations. If you love chocolate, this is your heaven. (Bonus: almost all of it is gluten-free.) Next time we go, we'll want to also try Guernsey ice cream. The cream in Guernsey is amazing, and the ice cream is supposed to be the best. Day Two: Waterford, Ireland. We did the Panoramic Drive and Pub Visit. The scenery was exactly what we hoped for, with beautiful landscapes and architecture, including thatched cottages. The pub was crowded but fun -- good trad Irish folk music and an excellent Irish coffee. Tip: If you long to play a bodhrán in public, sit to the immediate left of the head singer and stomp your feet, clap your hands -- show you're enjoying the show and can keep a beat . . . he might just hand you the drum before the entertainment ends. Day Three: Holyhead Wales. This is another day where we took it easy and just explored the port. We cancelled one excursion due to it being too much walking and hoped for another, but it remained sold out. Day Four: Liverpool, England. Being a Beatles fan, this was the highlight of my trip. We booked the "In the Footsteps of the Beatles" excursion and were blessed to have Ringo Starr's childhood friend Marie Maguire as our tour guide. There were many buses that day, and somehow we got the one with her! Not only did she show us all of the popular Beatles sites, she also made sure to show us Ringo's childhood home (she lived across the street) as well as George's. The day was filled with information and LOTS of personal stories from Marie's experience with The Beatles, their families and managers. I cannot speak highly enough of this excursion. Tip: I believe Marie also does private tours. If you visit Liverpool, look her up! Day Five: Greenock, Scotland. We took the Panoramic Drive of Glasgow and visited the Glasgow Art Museum, home of Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali as well as many equally wonderful works of art. Tip: Try to stay for the organ music. Sadly, our tour guide told us we had to leave at the same time the music started, which turned out to be music from Phantom of the Opera. I heard only a minute or two. It was breathtaking. How I wish we could have stayed for the rest. Day Six: Dublin, Ireland. This was supposed to be Oban, Scotland, but it was cancelled due to bad weather. We took the Panoramic Dublin/Trinity College Book of Kells excursion -- we were staying in Dublin for four days after the cruise, but we decided to book this excursion anyway as we were told it would allow us to bypass the lines for the Book of Kells (note: we were not told this by the cruise line but instead by a fellow cruiser). Unfortunately, we were not allowed by bypass the line, and the line was so long that by the time we entered the exhibit, we had to skip the preface exhibit that explains the Book of Kells and jump directly into the Book of Kells room, which was extremely crowded. Having to rush through the exhibit lessened our experience as we would have enjoyed reading about the history. Because we were able to see so much of Dublin on our own over the following days, via the hop-on-hop off bus, this tour proved to be a poor choice for us, although it might have been an excellent choice for someone who would not otherwise have had the chance to visit Trinity College. Some thoughts on gluten-free dining on the Crystal Symphony: The food is safely prepared. I am highly sensitive and ate without issue. It was wonderful to be able to relax, knowing that head waiter Vlada and the rest of the kitchen staff were taking good care of me. I had only one issue, which ended up being no big deal as I caught it in time: A new waiter who appeared to be in training, brought me my gluten-free bread on top of the regular bread tray. Every other time gluten free bread was served to me, it was served separately, as it should be, because touching my bread to wheat will cause cross-contamination. When I pointed this out to him, he took care of it immediately by throwing away the bread and bringing me two fresh pieces. No biggie, but I'm glad I caught it! All of the meals in the main dining room were above-the-top. Vlada was sure to tell me that if I wanted something that was not gluten-free, that the kitchen would do everything they could to adjust the recipe so it would be safe for me. Not everything was adaptable, but there were so many outstanding choices that were available as gluten-free, I felt pampered beyond belief. The food was excellent. Only on the first day, at lunch, was I disappointed. The filet was overcooked and tasted over marinated. My husband disagreed and said it was delicious -- like I said, I can be a bit critical at times. Mind you, I could have easily sent the steak back and asked for another, but I didn't, so that really leaves me little room to complain. The gluten free bread is amazing and the best I've had at any dining venue. It does need to be toasted, but when it is toasted, it is so, so, so, so good. This meant a lot to me. There was white bread as well as brown. Both were equally good. The desserts were okay, but I had hoped for more. Most of what was available gluten free were puddings, ice cream, creme brulee and creme caramel (flan). These are similar to the desserts offered everywhere in restaurants, and I would have deeply appreciated seeing some good gluten-free pastries, cookies, and cakes offered. I am so sick of having creme brulee as the only restaurant dessert option (for years), it makes me cringe. That said, I did end up trying the creme brulee, it it was excellent -- just not what I had hoped for. I did not care for the creme caramel. It needs to be richer and made with a heavier cream base. The Palm Court did purchase a little, pre-wrapped gluten free cake for me during shore time. It wasn't good, though. I also did not care for the gluten-free finger sandwiches as the bread was not toasted (they need to taste these things before serving them -- they were not edible. That said, I do not see this as being the fault of the Palm Court. They did their best, and tea finger sandwiches are never toasted. Next time, I'll ask for a different preparation, and I'll ask if they can have a better selection of sweets. Lido Cafe: I LOVED that they had the gluten-free items clearly marked. They also have the gluten-free dishes separated from selections that might cause cross-contamination -- BRAVO! The desserts are in individual dishes and also safe. Mostly puddings, but appreciated. Bistro: Coffee, tea, latte -- all enjoyed without issue. The self-serve food service area has little to no gluten-free selections, except for the smoked salmon, which would be take-at-your-own risk as bread crumbs may drop or other cross contamination may occur. I would guess that if you ask someone from the Bistro to bring you smoked salmon from the back, they'd be happy to do so. Again, I would have loved to see some gluten-free sweets here, and gluten-free savory pastries would have been welcome. The next time I cruise Crystal, I plan to call ahead to request that there be more variety in the desserts offered. We'll see if it makes a difference. If I find the menu or think of anything else, I'll add it. My head is still swimming from our long flight home. I can hardly wait to cruise Crystal again . . . we've already booked our next cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was our fourth/fifth Crystal Cruise (this was a back to back cruise) sailing from and back to Dover, so no flying. Do wish that Crystal would sail south from the UK without flying. Embarkation at Dover was very smooth. Once onboard ... Read More
This was our fourth/fifth Crystal Cruise (this was a back to back cruise) sailing from and back to Dover, so no flying. Do wish that Crystal would sail south from the UK without flying. Embarkation at Dover was very smooth. Once onboard our picture was taken and we were issued with our cabin cards. We then went up to the Bistro, on of our favourite places, for champagne and a light lunch. Our stateroom was available early afternoon and it was just as expected, with everything one could want. We were familiar with the ship so knew our way around. It is very well maintained. I read some reviews saying since Crystal had gone all inclusive that service had deteriorated, well, we didn't experience any drop in service in any department. The service in the restaurant was superb as was the food, and the choice of wine was more than adequate. Prego was wonderful too. We never experienced a lowering of service anywhere. We were always greeted with a smile and welcome from all of the crew - officers included! There were two things which disappointed us. The first was the evening entertainment. We always look forward to, and go to, the shows. It is obvious to us (and many others) that Crystal is trying to attract a younger guest. We didn't enjoy any of the production shows as we didn't recognise hardly any of the songs - what happened to Cole, Million Dollar Musicals etc, all shows with numbers we are familiar with. Perhaps the content of the shows will be more suitable in ten years time when the younger guest Crystal is hoping for would have grown up with them. Also we don't like the show to be before dinner - who wants to go to bed on a full stomach! We were blessed with good weather for the entire cruise with just a little drizzle first thing in the morning on a couple of days. The shore excursions, although a bit pricey, were well organised. Disembarkation was very well organised and we were very sad to be leaving the ship. If it wasn't for the entertainment it would be 5+ all the way. Will we be booking another - you bet! Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
HI don’t take vacations Why? I never leave my home and it’s hard to get Paris to visit ME. So when I do take a vacation it’s a big deal. The big deal started seven months ago when I decided to take another cruise. Are you ready? DAY ... Read More
HI don’t take vacations Why? I never leave my home and it’s hard to get Paris to visit ME. So when I do take a vacation it’s a big deal. The big deal started seven months ago when I decided to take another cruise. Are you ready? DAY ONE: GUERNSEY We take a walking tour of Guernsey led by Mary Poppins. The nicest, sweetest lady you’d ever meet who is stunningly handsome at about 75. One of the members of he group is late, let’s call her Helen Gurley Brown. However, two members of the group a husband and wife… let’s call them Donald Trump and Ivana… are not happy. ''"We are on time, why do we have to wait?” The woman whose expression has not changed since she arrived on the ship pipes in, ''"I’m not waiting.” And she takes off. OH. The expression…it’s like she’s constantly smelling poo. I get through the day. Tomorrow is a day at sea. I wonder what it will hold. That night on the ship they play THE IMPOSSIBLE, the story of a family that goes on vacation and is hit by a Tsunami. THIS is the movie they play on the first night out… I go down to the lobby and a violin trio is playing… I SWEAR TO YOU… ''"Closer to God are Thee” the tune they played as the Titanic went down. As a comic I see the comedy in the situation as a passenger I want to run to my room and leave my life vest on…forever. DAY TWO: AT SEA. I’ve always wanted to see whales. I just didn’t think I’d see them in bathing suits. There should be a law… if the flap of skin on your back folds over and touches your hip, you cannot wear a thong. The men are no better. I saw one guy walking down the hallway. He was so wide he was knocking paintings off the walls on both sides as he made his way to his cabin. Oh and day two is the first night of Rosh Hashanah. The last time I was in Temple Eisenhower was in office but I thought it would be fun to be in France and celebrate the New Year in another country. The service is at five p.m…. I go down there at five. We have crossed a time line and clocks were set a hour ahead one hour. It was actually six p.m. and I missed the service. DAY THREE: BORDEAUX, FRANCE So next morning I’m up at six a.m. and I’m ready to go to services. I walk into the room and one lady is sitting with a shawl. On the pulpit is a priest with vestments, behind him is a huge cross with Jesus. She says, ''"Come in… join us.” I say, ''"I haven’t been in Temple in about 40 years but I don’t think this is a Rosh Hashanah service.” The woman laughs so loud the priest stops spraying the incense. Ok, so I come back in half an hour and there are the Jews… all ten of them. I have found them in this sea of WASP wonderland-ness. We get to talking and suddenly I realize I have found the rarest of rare… REPUBLICAN JEWS… a living oxymoron. It’s like it’s when I found out fish eat their young… I was horrified. The service lasts exactly 12 minutes. Why? The Rabbi has to take a tour of the Bordeaux countryside. This is the Jewish Holiday I have wished for my entire life. So we board our bus to the wine country. We have a French guide… a woman with a voice just short of grinding silverware down the garbage disposal. She spoke in such a thick accent no one could understand her and when we asked her to repeat whatever she said she got furious. ''"Vat is Wong wit you peoples” I thought I was going to have to stay after the tour in detention. Six of us started a support group for survivors of the tour which we are now calling the Death March on Bataan. That night we went to the theater for the entertainment. Sit down… you’re gonna love this. REBECCA AND DONNOVAN. Picture Arnold Schwartnegger singing like Mario Lanza while his wife hung from silk ropes. That’s what this act was. I actually sat through twenty minutes of it until my ears began to bleed and I fled from the theater like The Von Trapp Family. DAY FOUR: AT SEA They have provided us with many interesting things to do on this ship. Interesting if you live in assisted living and have a motorized wheelchair. One of my favorites activities is SCARF TYING. I kid you not… learn how to tie a scarf…followed by NAPKIN FOLDING. (Readers: this is not a joke.) These are actual classes. They also have courses you could use like how to shoot video on an ipad, how to play the piano, how to play bridge… each one of THOSE classes was anemically empty. But SCARF TYING was a slam-dunk. Standing room only! Then there was the lecture series… who do they have as a guest speaker…some show biz celebrity… some sports hero… a political figure? NO! Clint Van Zant… an FBI Serial Murderer Profiler. STANDING ROOM ONLY? They were seated on the floor. These Republicans like a good mass murder. I went to the lecture in which I learned one of the killers liked to shove stones up the vaginal cavity of his victims. (beat) FOR THIS I PAID FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS INCLUDING AIR FARE???? I was once on a Princess Cruise and their entertainment was a ''"Hairiest man on the ship” contest… a Persian woman won. Ok so tonight is formal night on the ship or as I call it, The Geriatric Prom. Tonight I will see things no man is supposed to see… moo moos and tuxedos… walkers and sequins… ladies wearing things only teenagers should wear… and all to stand in a buffet line and eat things pushed through a pastry tube. I truly do love this experience… it’s a comedy writer’s dream come true. One cruise on the Atlantic and I will be writing about it for the next six years. DAY FIVE: Lisbon, Portugal I’ve figured out what taking a cruise is all about… it’s a series of meals interrupted by Europe. My God, I have never eaten so much in my life. They are feeding us like we’re Foie Gras Geese. They just keep shoving food down our throats… my liver is the size of Connecticut. Any moment I expect the chef to cut it out and force-feed it back to me. Lisbon, Portugal. Well, I can die happy now. I’ve seen the tomb of Vasco D’Gama. This is the highlight of Lisbon, that and protecting your wallets from pickpockets. I have never seen anything like it in my life, you’re standing alone waiting for the shuttle… suddenly, out of no where, 500 Gypsies surround you trying to sell you shawls. So the entire trip your holding your wallet, your camera, your keys, your passport, your gold incisor… anything you’re afraid they could get their hands on. OH! It appears Lisbon is the thimble capital of the world. Everywhere you go they are hocking thimbles… and coasters. Thimbles and coasters…coasters and thimbles… big ones, black ones, cork ones, blue ones, coasters with Lisbon on them, thimbles with Vasco D’ Gama on them… granite thimbles.( I guess they were from the stone age) It appears the Europeans think that all we Americans do is sew and cook. There is one funny note in Lisbon. There appears to be a large contingent of Lesbians on the ship, packs of them dressed in tool belts and wearing Berkinstocks.. It would give me great joy to say over and over… We’re in Lisbon with the Lesbians…. Lisbon with the Lesbians… Lisbon with the Lesbians. Has a nice ring, no? I must say I was disappointed in Lisbon. It’s dirty. It’s crowded. It’s covered in graffiti. It’s New York City with thimbles. I was picturing this quaint little village like it says in the brochure… lovely multi colored homes like a Disney movie. Instead I got the parking lot of an architectural salvage yard. The whole city is a big BEFORE photo. It’s a D.I.Y. project waiting to happen. One interesting side note about tour guides. How do you get them to shut up? They get you on that bus and don’t stop talking until the ship is pulling away from the dock. They tell you dates and names and countries and kings and queens and all you want to know is, ''"Where is the toilet?” About twenty minutes into the tour her voice begins to sound like nails on a blackboard. Everything she says you take exception to. ''"Oh really… Portugal has wonderful weather… really?” You can’t wait to get off the bus and flee for your life but she’s behind you with a bull horn.” DON’T FORGET TO STOP IN THE TRINKET SHOP BEFORE YOU LEAVE.” DAY SIX: SEVILLE, SPAIN-WATCH YOUR VALUABLES!!!! By this day you have gotten to know your traveling companions and they seem to fall into three categories: a. People you want be friends with. b. People you want to be friends with but just can’t. c. People you want to kill with the bottle opener provided in your room. Under ''"a” comes people your own age, people with the same political views and anyone with all their original body parts. Under ''"b” comes anyone with equipment. This includes oxygen bottles, canes, walkers, electric wheel chairs and a leg made out from composite materials. Under ''"c” comes Republicans. There are also sub categories. People with language barriers like Russians and people who stick to themselves, like Asians. These are all nice people but when ''"Isn’t Lisbon a dumpy city. ” takes 20 minutes, flash cards and a signal flare, a lasting friendship is out of the question. On today’s trip I found two things. 1. Seville is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been in and 2. There are other Democrats on board. Today at lunch I sat with a lovely couple from Connecticut. Out of the blue she turns to me and says ''"Did you ever see a bigger bunch of in your life. Republicans…all of them” I heard angels sing. From that moment on the trip took on a new air. She told us of other Democrats on board. I suddenly knew what the French underground felt like during World War II. We had secret handshakes and secret meeting places. ''"We’re under the stairs in the main ball room” IT’S A WHOLE NEW TRIP!!!! DAY SEVEN: AT SEA Last night we were supposed to see The Rock of Gibraltar… we passed it at midnight so that’s one thing that won’t be crossed off my bucket list. DAY EIGHT: BARCEL…. Ohhhhhhhh who cares! I have seen more churches than the Pope. I am so touristed out I can’t begin to tell you. I’ve seen parks. I’ve seen monuments. I’ve seen the birthplace of people I never knew existed. This isn’t a vacation it’s credits for my Masters. The good news is I have finally found the fun people. All four of them. They are under 70, they are Democrats, they laugh… I’ve got four new friends. Worth the whole trip. DAY NINE; TO THE AIRPORT. My pick up is at ten… at ten thirty he still is not there. I have prepaid for this ride and suddenly the cruise ship who did everything but has thrown me to the wind. ''"Oh, you didn’t buy OUR transportation… pity.” So I grab a taxi to the airport with tip and with the money I have already paid to the other limo company this trip has cost me 16 thousand dollars. I could have flown around the world twice for what this cab ride has cost me. And here’s the bottom line. I DON’T CARE. I have had one of the best times I have ever had in my life. I came home with nothing. No key chains, no iPhones covers from Spain. No, snowballs with cathedrals in them. All I have is my memories… 486 photos and four new friends. Hey! Could have been a lot worse… and I didn’t even tell you about the Israeli on the plane home who kept pushing my seat forward because I was ''"Invading his space.” I wanted to club him with my thimble collection. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We have sailed on the Pride 5 times and find it still one of our favorite ships. It doesn't have a real balcony or much of a swimming pool, but the intimacy of a small ship and an outstanding staff more than make up for those ... Read More
We have sailed on the Pride 5 times and find it still one of our favorite ships. It doesn't have a real balcony or much of a swimming pool, but the intimacy of a small ship and an outstanding staff more than make up for those deficiencies. It has been redecorated since we last sailed on it and I like the new carpeting and furniture. EMBARKATION - Very smooth - we were escorted to our cabin and our cabin attendent came almost immediately and was lovely throughout the cruise. DINING - The food was excellent, if very slightly below it was last year. SERVICE - This is an area that no other cruise line matches. The staff quickly learns your name and preferences. SHORE EXCURSIONS - Excellent except for 2 in Bordeaux. When several people mentioned that these were not up to Seabourn standards, Seabourn refunded half the price. ENTERTAINMENT - Best we have had on a small ship. Great concert pianist, very amusing magician,an excellent jazz trio and the regular Seabourn entertainers. Only weak spot was the lecturer, which is usually a Seabourn strength. ITINERARY - Because of the small size of the ship, we were able to go up the Seine to Rouen and have an easy one hour train ride into Paris. WE were also able to go right into the heart of St. Malo. A lovely cruise in all ways. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This will likely be one of the most memorable cruises of all of those we've ever taken. I wish to thank everyone at Oceania from Frank Del Rio on down. You guys are wonderful. Ship: Of course, the Marina was virtually brand ... Read More
This will likely be one of the most memorable cruises of all of those we've ever taken. I wish to thank everyone at Oceania from Frank Del Rio on down. You guys are wonderful. Ship: Of course, the Marina was virtually brand new-and quite beautiful. Very spacious-even more so than the Oceania R-Ships. We sailed with less than 1,200 on a 65,000 gross ton ship, so venues were very uncrowded and there was never really a line or wait for anything—Except the tenders in tender ports-which was fairly frustrating at times as those of us on private tours were delayed leaving the ship while they got all of the shore excursions off first. The Grand Dining Room was very ample with tables always open. Each of the four main specialty restaurants was very nicely done. Unlike the R-Ships, the Marina finally has a real dedicated theater-style showroom. Some people may like the lounge seating of the R-ships to this, but, to seat enough people for a ship this size, this is the right way to do it. The walkways in front of each row of seats was sufficiently wide enough to allow people to pass without forcing anyone seated to stand and the viewing angles were pretty good from most seats. The only questionable part, IMHO, were the desk-type tables that pulled up out of the armrests-a little too tight for most of us overeating cruise passengers. Of course, I never saw many people using these. Cabin: We were in one of the "Oceania Suites"--#12006. What can I say? One of the best and best thought-out suites I have ever seen on a ship. I could live in this suite. Living/Dining Room, TV Room, Bedroom, more than ample walk-in closet, two bathrooms (Though every husband we met said the same thing—the wife pretty much took over the "big" bathroom and the husbands all ended up permanently relegated to the "guest" bathroom!). Private (one-person) Jacuzzi on the balcony with a big screen TV over the Jacuzzi! Very nice-sized bar came fully stocked with a bottle of Bacardi Rum, Grey Goose Vodka, Black Label Scotch, a red and a white wine and a bottle of Gin (which I quickly traded for a second bottle of scotch!). My only real issue with the suite was that there were so many light switches that it usually took me 20 minutes to figure out how to turn off all of the lights. My wife's issue was that there seemed to be constant whistling from the bedroom sliding glass door on windy nights. Of course, I slept right through it. Service: The dining room and specialty restaurant service was even better than I recall from past Oceania cruises, if that is possible. Grand Dining Room staff was excellent, very accommodating—never a problem. Specialty restaurants, of course, were a step above. Our "team" taking care of us in our suite—Butler Ravi and the Assistant Butler (whose name suddenly escapes me) were always available to fill all requests, and our Cabin Steward, Jahaira and her two assistants were just flat-out excellent.. Food: Food, of course, was the highlight of the cruise. And, this, of course, was the "Jacques Pepin cruise". Jacques was staying just down the hall from us and we were invited one night to La Reserve for dinner with Jacques and his wife and his Sous Chef, Jean-Claude and his wife and a few other passengers. Absolutely the most incredible dinner experience. Appetizers and champagne, followed by six incredible courses with a wine paired to each one: Scallop, Risotto, a Fish dish, Chateaubriand, Pear and Goat Cheese and a Chocolate Mousse topped gateau. Three and a half hours of sheer pleasure and great conversation. We also had eight specialty reservations, two in each of the main four, and we managed to squeeze in an extra at Toscana for our final night—a very special final dinner onboard with two couples with whom we had shared most of our private tours. I think of all of the specialty restaurants (aside from La Reserve), Toscana was my clear favorite. Starting with the choice of Olive Oils and Balsamic vinegars and through the meal, everything was outstanding. And the Veal Scaloppine Marsala my favorite dish on the ship. And, the Pennette San Gimignano as a "side dish" was incredible—I could have eaten that as a full meal and been very happy. Of course, the other specialty restaurants were each very good in their own right. Red Ginger was a big hit with everyone. Very well done. Get the Sushi as an appetizer. Entertainment: Food, of course, was the high point—and, as usual with Oceania, Entertainment was the most disappointing area—Although, it was actually a considerable improvement from our past Oceania cruises. With the dedicated stage and showroom, they now had a troupe of singers and dancers (four of each) putting on actual "production shows" with costume changes and some variety. Not quite up to the par of the production shows one sees on other cruise lines, but definitely a worthy bit of entertainment. We especially enjoyed Jennifer, from New Jersey-one of the young singers. They did the "Welcome" show and three other full productions plus participated in other activities around the ship. The spotlight performers were a mixed bag: Artur Banaskiewicz - Violinist: He did two shows before leaving mid-cruise. He was good at what it is he does, but two full shows of gypsy music on the violin is far too much for me. I think I found his manner of speaking and accent more entertaining than the music. Danny Buckler - Magician/Comedian: As a magician, his act was fairly pedestrian. Small time magic starting with the trite and obvious "Indian Rope Trick". But, as a comedian, this guy was clearly the most entertaining act on the ship. Great rapport with the crowd, quick delivery and reaction. Absolutely charming. Two shows. Agata Sava - Soprano. Two shows. We missed her first show as we were in La Reserve for a long evening, but, after seeing her second show, we were more than happy that we missed the first. Absolutely excruciating—a soprano who had trouble hitting the high notes. And a style reminiscent of the Bride of Frankenstein in a full body cast. No movement, little expression—and an accent and delivery that made it sound as if she did not speak English—at all. Sounded as if she'd memorized the lyrics by sound or phonetics. The worst. Bruce Parker "California Soul Man": Two shows (we missed the second). He was actually quite good—very energetic. Sort of the Anti-Agata Sava. Moved around the stage, involved the audience. Really worked it. If there was a problem, it was in the material and the audience. This was, quite simply, not an R&B/Motown crowd. And, among all of the available R&B/Motown material, he tended to pick some of the more obscure songs—not good to do with a crowd who isn't into that style of music and only knows the "big hits". Don Bryan - Ventriloquist: I've seen his act before—must have been on Nautica. Decent Ventriloquist, funny enough act with a couple of entertaining twists The nights in Le Verdon, Cadiz and Livorno, there was no real show. Ports: HONFLEUR - 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: We didn't really have an interest in doing a long D-Day beaches tour here and we'd been to Rouen and Giverny on a recent cruise stop, so we decided to just walk around Honfleur, visited the Boudin Museum and returned to the ship in the afternoon. Picturesque little town. SAINT-MALO - 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: Here we did a private tour with a party of eight to Mont St. Michel, Dinan and Saint Malo with Westcapades for 80€ pp. Our guide was Marc, the owner of the company. He did a very nice job of providing commentary on the way to Mont St. Michel in the morning. Having left the ship promptly upon arrival, we beat most of the crowds to this site. Very impressive old monastery. Then it was on to Medieval Dinan. Very nice little town, free time and lunch, then back over to St. Malo, where we parted ways with Marc and walked through the walled city, then tendered back to the ship. One key here with the early start was to report to the showroom ahead of the time the first of the ship's shore excursions was to depart—so we were able to get tender tickets for the first tender while the shorex participants were still amassing. http://www.westcapades.com/english.php PONT AVEN - 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: It was raining a good portion of the day, so we just spent some time wandering around Concarneau. Very touristy little town-walled medieval city—a short walk from the tender pier. LA ROCHELLE - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: This is one of only two ports where we took a shore excursion—"Saintes & Cognac", a full day tour for $199 per person—not bad as shorexes go—we had a nice little visit to La Rochelle, then Saintes and then a tour of the Hennessey Cognac distillery with tastings. Only real negative was 38 people on the tour. BORDEAUX - 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. -Here we had a simply marvelous tour with Maryse of Bordeaux Excursions, party of 8 for 118.75€ per person. Maryse picked us up at the pier in Le Verdon and drove us to two wineries in the morning-- chateau LOUDENNE www.lafragette.com - Crû Bourgeois of Medoc - also called the "Pink Chateau" for its outstanding XVIIth Century architecture and château LYNCH-BAGES in Pauillac, listed in the 1855 Classification Medoc Wines www.lynchbages.com, then lunch at "brasserie" LE CAFE LAVINAL www.villagedebages.com After lunch, we continued through Saint-Julien and Margaux vineyards with stops for pictures by the renowned chateaux (Pichon, latour, margaux, etc...) Then on to Bordeaux for a walking tour through the city. Maryse is one of the best guides we've had. http://www.bordeaux-excursions.com/-English- BIARRITZ - 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. - Actually, the port is St. Jean de Luz. We had nothing planned here. We thought we might take a taxi to Bayonne or Biarritz, but we found the town of St. Jean so charming that we spent the day here instead. Took the little tourist train (5€ per person) for an orientation of the city, then just walked around on our own. BILBAO - 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Here we decided to do the city on our own. A free Oceania shuttle took us to the center of town from where we walked to the "Casco Viejo"—The Old City, then around the riverfront to the Guggenheim Museum. There are three very interesting and distinct bridges across the river near the Guggenheim. We crossed the river on the first, then took the elevator to the top of the second and came back across the river on the third, getting some incredible photos on this route. LA CORUNA - 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: Here we hired a private tour for six of us with Brendan Lowe of Guided Galicia. Brendan is an expatriate Kiwi living in Vigo—very nice guy. We went, in the morning to the Pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela through the church, market and town, then on to Cambados for lunch, then to the town of Betanzos then back to La Coruña and a visit to the Tower of Hercules -Cost for the tour was 91.67€ per person. http://guidedgalicia.blogspot.com/p/cruise-tours.html OPORTO - 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.: Here we were supposed to do our second shorex—"The Medieval City of Guimaraes" (half day, $119 pp), but the city was completely fogged in and they could not dock the ship—so, disappointingly, we missed this port altogether. CADIZ - 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.: We had a party of 10 here on a private tour to Seville with Cadiz and Beyond for 85€ per person. It was, by far, the hottest day of the cruise—46 Celsius/114 Fahrenheit. Our guide in Seville was excellent and the visit to the Cathedral and the Palace was quite interesting. No way we walk up the Giralda Tower in that heat though! Still, Seville is an enchanting city. http://www.cadizandbeyond.com/CruiseTourClubRollCall/tabid/167/Default.aspx/ CASABLANCA - 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Here we booked a private tour for six with travel exploration Morocco for a cost of $108 per person, payable in advance by credit card in US$. Our guide, Redouane, met us at the ship and took us to the Mosque, the Synagogue and an open air market and on a driving tour through the city. Both the Mosque and Synagogue were impressive, each in their own way, but most in our party were not thrilled with the market or the city itself—sort of filthy with crazy traffic. http://www.travel-exploration.com/page.cfm/About_Travel_Exploration BARCELONA - 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: After several visits here, we know Barcelona so well that we did not see a need for a tour. This visit, we made it a point to visit a couple of sites we've neglected in last visits. We, basically, wandered through the Barri Gotic, visiting the Synagogue (Oldest in Europe and rediscovered only a few years ago) and the Cathedral, then a visit to El Corte Ingles and a stroll down Las Ramblas. MONTE CARLO - 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.: Here we did a private tour with a party of 8 visiting the towns of Grasse (and the Fragonard Perfume Factory), Gourdon and St. Paul de Vence. St. Paul is one of my favorite towns in France-incredibly picturesque. Cost was 65€ per person. privateshoretrips.com LIVORNO - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: This was our second shore excursion—"Pisa - Lucca - Puccini", approximately 10 hours for $179 per person. After an interesting visit to the home of the composer Puccini, we visited the beautiful walled city of Lucca and the wonderful Pisa with its Leaning Tower and other landmarks. Only 16 passengers on this tour and a very good guide, making it one of the better shore excursions. ROME - Here, we joined a group of eight for a tour of the main sights of Rome with Valerio Nacci of NCC. For only 50€ per person, he picked us up at the ship and took us to the Vatican, Trevi, Piazza Navona, Vittorio Emanuel, Pantheon and Coliseum, then dropped us off at our hotel and returned the others (who were doing back-to-backs) to the ship in Civitavecchia. Very much worth the price. http://www.nccportodicivitavecchia.it/en/index.asp http://it-it.facebook.com/people/Valerio-Nacci/100000180156934 Pre-Cruise: We flew into Heathrow several days before the cruise, rented a car and spent four nights in Canterbury, staying at the House of Agnes: http://www.houseofagnes.co.uk/ Excellent little bed and breakfast. It's a centuries-old B&B, but we had a very modern and newly built-out "stable room" for £80 per night. The place was very well run with an excellent breakfast. There was ample convenient on-site parking though the driveway was a little difficult to navigate. The location was right outside the main West Gate to the old walled city so everything was in close walking distance. Canterbury turned out to be an outstanding choice for a pre-cruise stay. Much nicer than the industrial Dover, yet within a half hour drive of the port. We took a charming river boat ride one morning, visited the Cathedral the next and took a drive out to the picturesque town of Sandwich the third. Other than that, we just relaxed, walked about the town, ate, shopped and enjoyed. Post-Cruise: We spent two nights in Rome post cruise at the Residenza Farnese: http://www.residenzafarneseroma.it/ A steal at 120€ per night. One of the absolute best locations in Rome. About a block from the Campo di Fiore and about three blocks from the Piazza Navona on a quiet side street. The Campo di Fiore is now one of my favorite piazzas in all of Rome. A vibrant piazza lined with several very reasonably priced restaurants with ample outdoor seating. We ate in two of them: Maranega: http://millerrome2011.blogspot.com/2011/04/new-addition-to-campo-de-fiori.html and Sloppy Sam's: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sloppy-Sams/101906753220836?v=info I had pasta in both and both were VERY good. It is hard to beat the outdoor tables on the Campo. My wife loved the Gelato at Blue Ice. They have not one, but two, locations within a block of each other on the road leaving the Campo in the direction of the Piazza Navona. All in all, this was an absolutely GREAT cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first cruise with Oceania and we were very impressed. In particular, the food was several notches above any previous cruise we have taken. All four alternate restaurants were fantastic. We also enjoyed La Reserve, which is not ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Oceania and we were very impressed. In particular, the food was several notches above any previous cruise we have taken. All four alternate restaurants were fantastic. We also enjoyed La Reserve, which is not to be missed ! The Terrace Cafe is beyond belief. It is set up like a wonderful restaurant and not as a cafeteria. The food is outstanding and one would not be wrong to eat every meal here. Fabulous choices each meal. The main dining room is OK, but the choices are somewhat limited with some weird concoctions. We only ate two of our dinners there, since all the other restaurants were so fabulous. No extra charges except for the special Wine and Food at "La Reserve" The PH3 cabin we had was great. Feels like a 5 star European hotel room. Wonderful marble bathrooms and beds that are beyond belief. I have a serious problem with beds as I get backaches every night. Even at home, I have not found a bed to solve this problem. Well, I slept like a baby all 12 nights and never had a backache. I would give anything to have brought that bed home with me ! Makes other cruise lines feel like you are sleeping on a cot. The entire ship feels more like a hotel than a ship. Quality everywhere. The crew was outstanding and so was the entertainment. Every show, either production or outside entertainers was first class. The thing that impresses right off the bat is that nobody is trying to sell you anything. No photos, ( never had our picture taken once ), no soda specials and water charges, no hawking of boutique wares in the corridors, etc. The lack of formal nights is wonderful. Country club casual is the attire, but you do see many woman dressed up and even some gentlement in tuxes, but if you just want to wear a shirt and slacks, no problem. Everyone complied with the dress code. Even the internet worked very well. Our embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. Our cabin came with a Butler, who seemed to know exactly what we wanted and when we wanted it. He was everywhere, but was not obtrusive at all. Port tours were OK, but nothing different than any other cruise line. They all use the same outside vendors. The port tours are more expensive than some other cruise line charge, but they were very well organized. We did miss two ports due to weather, the sea swells being too much for the tenders to safely operate. However, Oceania cruises are very port intensive and missing these two actually were enjoyable to a degree to have some more cruising time. All in all, a very impressive and enjoyable cruise. While on board, we booked another cruise for April, 2012. Highly recommend doing this as you get an additional 5% discount for booking on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We booked this cruise primarily to relax and enjoy good food. We were not disappointed. The cabin was very comfortable; good bed; balcony. The bathroom was ok, but the shower was rather small. The tub takes much space and was unneccessary ... Read More
We booked this cruise primarily to relax and enjoy good food. We were not disappointed. The cabin was very comfortable; good bed; balcony. The bathroom was ok, but the shower was rather small. The tub takes much space and was unneccessary for us. The food in all restaurants (4 speciality restaurants, dining room, terrace cafe, wave grill) was excellent; the best we ever had on a cruise. While non-alcoholic beverages are free, alcohol is rather expensive. The staff was friendly and helpful. We did not book any shore excursions due to their high price level. Two ports were cancelled due to bad weather conditions. We recommend this ship to anyone who likes good food and a comfortable cabin. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Having read much about Oceania's newest ship, we decided to see for ourselves, and a cruise from dover, around the edges of the Bay of Biscay, seemed an ideal opportunity, visiting ports we knew well from land-based travel. ... Read More
Having read much about Oceania's newest ship, we decided to see for ourselves, and a cruise from dover, around the edges of the Bay of Biscay, seemed an ideal opportunity, visiting ports we knew well from land-based travel. Embarkation was swift and efficient, but rather disconcertingly we did not have to produce any ID until we were aboard the ship. We found our way to our cabin, wondering why there was no "welcome aboard" glass of fizz, and found ourselves in a delightful, elegant balcony cabin, with wonderfully comfortable bed, beautiful bed linen, comfy sofa and marble bathroom , complete with both showere and tub. Storage was not the best feature,as drawers were shallow, and wardrobe awkwardly placed alongside the bed. for a cruise line selling itself as 5* we were surprised to find no bottle of champagne on ice, basket of fruit or flowers, but the minibar wa stocked with soft drinks and bottled waters, which were replaced daily, and a plate of fruit was soon delivered, on request. The ship has wonderful decor,with a fabulous Laligue stairway, lalique vases and tables in bays off the main lobby, and delightful abstract sculptures in hallways and landings. The main dining room , large, well lit and airy, has an incredible central crystal chandelier, and touches of classy elegance abound throughout all loung areas. The large lounge areas had delightful sofas, comfortable chairs and love seats, softly lit by elegant crystal lamps Dining is a main event on Marina, with a choice of 7 dining venues which incur no extra charge, from the Grand Dining room, a grill and roomy Terrace cafe, serving huge choices of wonderful quality food, to 4 themed speciality restaurants, of which we liked the more atmospheric Asian -fusion Red Ginger the best. Each restaurant had its own chefs, and offered varied quality menus, and a reasonably efficient level of good service from teams of friendly waiters. If celebrating a special occasion, or as a treat, Marina offers wonderful tasting menus in La Reserve, a joint venture with Wine Spectator at a cost of $75, which we thought amazing, with dishes comparable to any Michelin restaurant in London. The one negative aspect to Marina is the low standard of entertainment, with shows delivered by an enthusiastic small team, doing their best with poor costumes and staging in a dull, low-ceiling-ed show lounge, which had absolutely no wow factor, no glitz, and was not very comfortable. the same entertainment team also organised the daily deck activities, tasks they did with good humour and good organisation. Alternative shows were offered by a poor comedian and a mediocre magician. Enrichment lectures, were often port lectures under another name, with, disappointingly, no well-known guest speakers, which we had hoped for on a ship of this calibre. A lovely library kept many passengers happy, with its club atmosphere, comfortable leather chairs, and huge choice of books, and it was a delight to find a busy coffee bar next door, offering lattes, cappuccino and juices. The nearby Internet centre was little used, due to the high cost Deck areas were lovely, with a decent size pool, two hot tubs, excellent sunbeds and curved rattan loungers, all laid with snowy towels. Atop the ship is a delightful, wide, forward facing Horizons lounge, with small dance floor, and ample seating, served by a busy bar, the place to which many passengers gravitated pre and post dinner, with live music provided for those wishing to dance. Also facing forward is an incredible, spacious spa, with many treatments on offer, gorgeous relaxing areas, including one outside, complete with hot tub, and well trained, discrete staff. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Everything about this trip was outstanding. From the moment we landed at Heathrow things started rolling smoothly. We were driven the The Millennium Mayfair Hotel in a chauffer driven limo. Our hotel was very comfortable & wonderfully ... Read More
Everything about this trip was outstanding. From the moment we landed at Heathrow things started rolling smoothly. We were driven the The Millennium Mayfair Hotel in a chauffer driven limo. Our hotel was very comfortable & wonderfully located. All pre-cruise arrangements were made by Oceania. They did a fine job!!! The Mariner is a beautiful ship. The cabins are well appointed, roomy in fact, with plenty of storage space. The bathroom is large, with a shower that could be larger & an unnecessary tub. The shampoo, lotions, etc. are of excellent quality & beautifully presented. All of the public areas on Marina are attractive & comfortable. The Library is quiet, comfortable & very well stocked. All of the dining venues are attractive. I think the the weakest link in the operation is The Main Dining Room. They seem to get overwhelmed. I must admit that when I complained, the matter was given immediate attention. I think that the staff really wants to excell. The Terrace Cafe was wonderful as were all of the speciality restaurants. We enjoyed the evening entertainment - both speciality acts & production shows. I think that the ship tours are very pricey. We got together with some CC folks on our thread & did 2 tours for less than half the price. Our ports of call were every interesting & not too crowded. The weather prevented us from going into 2 ports. The sea days were welcome & the staff adjusted very quickly to a totally new schedule. Well done!!!!! We met some very nice folks, had a lot of fun, won $ on the penny slots & look forward to cruising again with Oceania.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our 12th cruise and our third on HAL.The Eurodam is a crisp new ship and makes HALs Vista class ships look a little shopworn. We chose a Deluxe Veranda for this cruise because of the length and the amenities. Having free dry ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise and our third on HAL.The Eurodam is a crisp new ship and makes HALs Vista class ships look a little shopworn. We chose a Deluxe Veranda for this cruise because of the length and the amenities. Having free dry cleaning and laundry makes packing for two weeks a lot easier. Suite guests also get to have breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill in the morning which is a very pleasant,quiet way to start the day. What got my attention: It is nice to see HAL move into the 21st century and offer dining options. We were disappointed in the main dining room. The food was quite acceptable considering they are serving 2000+ of their closest friends every meal but the service was very spotty. As we opted for the open seating we had a different waiter and assistant every night. They all had different personalities and dispositions and I always had the feeling they were being overworked. Wine stewards were hard to come by and the wine list is somewhat limited unless you like wines from Washington state, We found the same to be true of our cabin stewards. They always greeted us by name and with friendly hellos but it became obvious by the second day they had way to many cabins to do even in the high rent district. We liked the bar staff. We found the cocktails to be well poured and fairly priced. Here's a tip: the $100 drink card for $90 is a heck of a deal if you enjoy drinks before dinner. The Ocean bar has two for one drinks from five to six every evening. Hi Richard!!! Room service was prompt and everything we ordered was always hot or cold as it was supposed to be. What little of the entertainment we saw in the showroom was okay at best but I don't think it's fair to expect a broadway production on a cruise ship. This was our first trip to Northern Europe and it was everything we had hoped it would be. The excursions were well organized and the buses were spotless. Except for St Petersberg!!! The bus was filthy. HAL needs to check out their providers more often. In closing I will say my wife and I have been cruising for 20 years and we have lowered our expectations over the years. It is apparent the the cruise lines (all of them) are containing costs by cutting staff. They may tell they haven't but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how things have changed in the last five years or so. Given all of that I still recommend HAL over all of the others. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Getting home from our Crystal Cruise, reminds you how much you learn to appreciate Crystal. We went on Kings and Caviar cruise 0214, to the Baltics. Highlights of the boat: Positives: 1. Room Service - First boat we've been on with ... Read More
Getting home from our Crystal Cruise, reminds you how much you learn to appreciate Crystal. We went on Kings and Caviar cruise 0214, to the Baltics. Highlights of the boat: Positives: 1. Room Service - First boat we've been on with a pretty extensive room service menu, available 24/7 and don't worry about using the breakfast menu on the door, they always delivered on time. 2. Lido Cafe - The food was always hot and service was always great. Already missing the thousand island dressing. 3. Cigar Lounge - The Connoisseur Club was just great. They had a decent selection,and a great staff with TV to watch world cup or news. Also had little snacks floating around at night. 4. Dining Room - Very good, could have used French service though. Food was excellent every night, never had a problem. 5. Internet Cafe - The internet was the most reasonable I have seen on any cruise. For $300 I basically had internet whenever I wanted it the entire cruise. Was kind of slow, especially before dinner and on sea days, but generally in port it was great. 6. The Little Touches - After an 18 hour trip from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and touring all day on a Crystal tour, they left food in the room with sandwiches and chips at 1am so we had something to snack on before going to sleep. Really a nice touch especially since I was literally running to order room service. 7. The Staff - they really will do anything to try and make you a happy guest. I wanted Mango Sorbet, they found Mango Sorbet ashore the next day. 8. Specialty Restaurants - Prego was pretty good, but I was not crazy about it. Silk Road was definitely a highlight, one complaint is that they did not have authentic Japanese Wagyu Beef, only fake American stuff. Yes you can tell the difference, and it is quite noticeable in fact. Most people have not had the real Wagyu beef. The service was great in both however. 9. Airport Transfers, and Crystal Air - It's free, and it's smooth, quick and easy. They load your luggage right on the bus for you. You just take it off when you get to the airport could not be easier. Highly recommended. 10. Movie Theater- Great, seats could have been a little more comfortable, but the popcorn was fresh and very good. Overall a pleasurable experience. 11. Age Policies - Expect exceptions if with parents, and very lenient. The most accommodating and flexible age policies I have seen on a boat. Not being 21 (20 yrs old), they still served me my favorite Kamikaze shots, and never saw anyone else having a problem on the boat, if under 18 a parental escort was needed into more adult places like the cigar lounge or night club at night, but in general most young adults under 18 really didn't have a problem anywhere but those two places. Obviously the casino was off limits until 21, probably a good thing for me since my wallet doesn't agree with casinos. A Positive and a Negative: 1. Entertainment - They brought on to the ship before we left St. Petersburg, Native St. Petersburg performers to put on a show. It was excellent. Also they brought on a famous London West End performer who was out of this world, as good as broadway. Emerging artists was amazing, with three kids, one doing opera, one doing broadway, and one playing the piano, all of which were truly great. However, the Comedian was just ok, and the magician was subpar at best. The Crystal Singers and Performers had one very good male lead vocalist, and one very bad (so bad we had to leave) female lead vocalist. Negatives: 1. Our room steward was just alright, she got sick halfway through, and therefore we didn't see her for like 3 days. 2. Louie Armstrong sail away song really got annoying after the 3rd or 4th day. Maybe you should just play it on the first day. 3. Not enough places to smoke cigars or pipes on open decks. Let smokers have a place where they can order food and smoke. Like on the back of Deck 11. 4. Allow cigar smoking in the state rooms or on the balconies, nobody likes someone to discriminate against them. 5. Crystal shops had very limited selection. Don't go onboard expecting to shop. 6. LUXE Nightclub was awful. They played current music once, and most of the time no one was there except for karaoke. The Luxe nightclub looks like it is setup for bottle service and dancing, but realistically no one ever goes there because of the music selection. Even with a younger crowd due to a summer cruise, it was still empty. I do not want to hear 70s music in the nightclub guys. Don't go on this boat expecting a good nightclub. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was actually the 2nd time on this particular ship -- previously when it was Renaissance in 2001. Love the size of ship with less than 700 passengers. Love that fact that you don't have the continuous overhead announcements and ... Read More
This was actually the 2nd time on this particular ship -- previously when it was Renaissance in 2001. Love the size of ship with less than 700 passengers. Love that fact that you don't have the continuous overhead announcements and picture taking. Very personalized service both in the cabins, dining room and through out. Due to the capacity, getting off and back on the ship was easy. This particular cruise was very busy as only 1 or 2 days at sea and the rest in various ports. I took the opportunity to fly to Moscow for the day from St. Petersburg which was very worthwhile. All the tours were very well organized and interesting. Yes, maybe a little more pricey but it was a vacation -- someone else took care of everything! The food was quite good and varied in the dining room and extraordinary in the specialty restaurants. Just sorry that access is limited by level of accommodations. I enjoyed this ship so much, will be going on it a 3rd time in February to Australia/New Zealand! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010

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