15 London (Greenwich, Tower Bridge, Tilbury) Repositioning Cruise Reviews

First southbound cruise of 7 weeks for this ship with CMV . People on board mostly retired Australians, New Zealanders and Brits. Mostly very seasoned cruisers. Ship was not completely full so no queues or crowding anywhere. Probably ... Read More
First southbound cruise of 7 weeks for this ship with CMV . People on board mostly retired Australians, New Zealanders and Brits. Mostly very seasoned cruisers. Ship was not completely full so no queues or crowding anywhere. Probably the most spacious cruise I have been on. Always a deck chair available at deck 10 pool if not on deck 11. Ship is more than 20 years old belonging first to two other cruise companies. Public areas have been updated stylishly under previous owners, cabins less so. However it is kept very clean and meticulous measures were in place to prevent any infectious outbreaks. ( only a minority succumbered to chest infections and D and V .) High cost of medical attention quite a shock but travel insurance companies may want to follow that up. There were plumbing issues as well ..... a negative for some cabins which were quickly attended to and passengers often moved to other cabins. Aircons required attention in several cabins. Those were the only negatives. The positives far outweighed the negatives. The entertainment first class. Usually two shows in the comfortable Hollywood 2 tiered theatre a night . The music, choreography, lighting, sound as well as the dancers and singers outstanding. Comedians a required taste. Also a movie was shown each night in the auditorium ( aircon at level 7 chilly so warm clothes required) Guest lecturers, 3 on board all quite different in subject matter and presentations very good. Unhosted card and other games organised for passengers in the many areas on decks 7 or 8 . Trivia, bingo and other games throughout the day, too. Plenty of physical activities, Aquarobics, Pilates and Zumba. And except for Bingo all this was included in the price . Other entertainment organised extremely well for specific days plus a passenger master chef completion on the long stretch of sea days. Classes in creative writing, ukulele lessons, a choir , watercolours etc made the sea days interesting and new skills learnt. Food . As stated, most passengers seasoned cruisers and vast majority more than satisfied with choices, presentation and flavour. Occasional whingers but that is normal on a cruise. Four nicely decorated areas for dining without extra charges. Two for extra charges. Drinks package good value if you like three or more drinks a day. Plenty of bars on board and a good variety of drinks. .Good quaffable wine ( mostly Greek and Spanish on this cruise) could be purchased by the bottle from AU$30 upwards a bottle. Gratuities were AU$12 a day ( you were allowed to opt out) and gratuities included in the drinks package. Shore excursions organised by the ship not overly expensive at all when compared with private tours. I did a a variety of ships, private and local transport and I had no complaints with the ship tours except in hot Acupulco where some of the minivans had trouble with their aircon . With fourteen ports of call plus the Panama Canal ( an expert commentary during the daylight trip through) I was not disappointed. The reason I chose this cruise was for its many ports of call and I was so pleased with each day’s activities on land. It is best to have a pile of small denomination US dollars if you want to purchase goods or use cafes for (very unreliable in the Pacific Islands) wifi. Staff / crew were struggling a bit ( mostly all new from the start in Amsterdam) to start with but became excellent. Always obliging and only rarely not smiling. Wifi. Satellite connection not reliable on board or in port on Pacific Islands. Overcrowding of wifi in cruise terminals meant connections not always possible. Sea was surprisingly smooth all along . A few mornings only where you felt the swell. All the tenders got to port where the ship could not tied up. In Nuku Hiva it was a bit of a struggle for two tenders but we made it. Overall very happy with cruise. As I travelled solo there were a few functions organised early to meet up with other fellow solos and I enjoyed their company. As a solo I was always asked if I would like to share a dining table ( except of course in the Buffet) so kept meeting new and sometimes the same diners with great and sometimes not so great conversations. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Fact Finders review Vasco da Gama Half World Cruise Tilbury to Sydney 9 October – 2 December 2019 The facilities, services, design and layout of the ship presented very well, despite its age of 27 years, in the pre-cruise promotional ... Read More
Fact Finders review Vasco da Gama Half World Cruise Tilbury to Sydney 9 October – 2 December 2019 The facilities, services, design and layout of the ship presented very well, despite its age of 27 years, in the pre-cruise promotional material. The itinerary crossing two magnificent oceans and the Panama Canal was just perfect for us. However, our cruise experience was devastated by the lack of appropriate maintenance or upgrade of Vasco da Gama’s essential services and utilities. It became apparent shortly into the cruise that these were in dire need of refurbishment and should been addressed during the ship’s time in dry dock. The associated problems of this neglect plagued passengers throughout their entire cruise experience. It became obvious to us that the purchase of a second or third-hand ship with a patchy maintenance record and renaming it after limited refurbishment (only the engines?) and remodelling of some public areas was a high-risk strategy. CMV should have carried out a comprehensive audit of the ship’s utilities and essential services and undertaken a thorough overhaul of them rendering this critique unnecessary! Our cruise experience was also greatly diminished by unprofessional executive management and incompetent management of guests’ needs, reminiscent of Fawlty Towers. We could not understand what all the “white uniforms with epaulettes” were doing as they stalked their way around ship, including the dining rooms. We were told that it was to ensure that staff were doing their job properly. Unfortunately, there was a gestapo-like quality about their supervision which did not contribute to a relaxed and genial atmosphere. Certainly interaction of executive and some senior managers with passengers, as we have experienced on other cruise lines, was not a priority for them. The following is a list of issues drawn from our and other passengers’ experiences on the ship over 53 days of cruising that we believe CMV must rectify to ensure that passengers do not have to endure them in the future. 1. Inadequate and ineffectual air conditioning system - temperature and air flow could not be properly regulated in cabins and public areas of the ship; 2. Defective plumbing and faulty waterproofing - resulted in sewage spills, flooding and water penetration requiring fans all around the ship to dry out carpets and dispel unpleasant odours; 3. Incomplete coverage of the public announcement system across public areas of the ship which prevented passengers from hearing ship announcements. This represented a major safety issue as passengers in these areas were unable to hear important or emergency announcements; 4. Primitive and unsafe gangways to tenders - gangways to tenders were uneven and too narrow for ease of movement and were totally unsuitable for passengers with mobility problems. When there were no planned land excursions, at a limited number of ports, disembarkation of passengers became a free-for-all rabble because there was no organisation by management of passengers. It was irresponsible and negligent of management not to coordinate disembarkation in a safe and efficient manner. Hundreds of passengers were forced to queue up and down stairs and along passageways on the disembarkation deck for up to an hour before getting off. This created considerable discomfort and a major health and safety problem for passengers, particularly older passengers, because of overcrowding and heating from so many bodies. It represented a major safety issue because there was no emergency exit plan provided by management as to how passengers could quickly and safely exit from these areas. Areas around lifts were so overcrowded that people exiting them had extremely limited egress and when they were unable to take their place at the end of the queue they were forced to push in front of other passengers who became upset at the intrusion. Passengers who were not disembarking had to fight their way back to their cabins if they resided on that deck. 5. Untrained and/or inexperienced hospitality staff - CMV appear to have recruited a large cohort of employees to work in the ship’s hospitality service areas who had very limited English and lacked even the most basic restaurant and bar service skills; 6. Uncooperative and ineffective guest service at reception - staff provided little or no action on guest concerns. Just in case passengers expected any form of “concierge services” on Vasco da Gama, provided by most other cruise lines admittedly more highly rated than CMV, the opposite was true with reception stonewalling most enquiries; 7. Unprofessional performance by executive managers and some, but not all senior managers - guest concerns and suggestions for improving their cruise experience were generally ignored despite the ship's stated policy of effectively communicating with guests. As a result, legitimate management problems identified by passengers during the cruise persisted until final disembarkation; 8. Communication - CMV claims that it seeks to establish a good level of communication with passengers, but we found out from bitter experience, that doesn’t happen. CMV avoid addressing negative issues with passengers that might reflect poorly on the company and its reputation, but which directly impact passengers. Take, for example, the complete absence of public announcements to forewarn and forearm passengers about serious outbreaks of respiratory infection, gastric infection and norovirus. The symptoms of which plagued many (hundreds?) passengers throughout their entire cruise, all of which had potentially life-threatening implications, particularly for older and more susceptible passengers. Passengers estimated the average age of this cruise around 75 years, with a substantial number in their 80’s! This age grouping made the risk of health complications from infection a reality and represented a dereliction of duty by management for passenger care. Another example of bad communication was CMV's explanation of the power failure on Vasco da Gama in Spencers Gulf outside Adelaide (see 2GB link on stranded ship) which was described as a “controlled precautionary blackout’, not a power failure. 9. Inordinately expensive Wi-Fi and lack of "duty of care" by IT at reception - to ensure that passengers did not lose their data allowance by failing to disable all relevant apps and updates, including automatic receipt of unwanted emails that used large amounts of data. The general advice provided by reception on these technicalities, especially for older passengers unfamiliar with them was totally inadequate. This resulted in the loss of much of their paid for data through unwanted data usage. 10. Loss of opportunity to enjoy our onboard cruise experience and to disembark on land excursions in countries we have never visited because of our ship-related illnesses. We believe that widely varying temperatures in the ship, because of the faulty air conditioning where air flow in some areas and thermostat control more generally was almost non-existent exposed us to respiratory infection as a result of moving from the hot and sweaty conditions in our cabins to uncomfortably cold conditions in public areas, particularly in the Hollywood Theatre, where we spent 2-3 hours a day. We are also of the opinion that sewage spills in passageways and cabins and associated sewage aerosols were directly related to our gastric infection which resulted in us being restricted to our cabin for 7 days with diarrhoea and vomiting and isolation for 2 days. During the weeks we endured the symptoms of these respiratory and gastric infections we were unable to function normally, unable to participate in on-board activities, unable to attend restaurants and to missed land excursions of 3 ports at the Cook Islands (Rarotonga) and Tahiti (Papeete and Bora Bora), which were high on our bucket list. The positives of the cruise - the redeeming feature of this cruise, however, was the great layout and decor of the ship and the excellent range and standard of musical entertainment provided by the very talented musicians and entertainment team. Decks 8 and 11, the Hollywood Lounge, the Study, Blue Room, Captains Bar, Ocean Bar, Jade Spa, sauna, steam and relaxation rooms, including the gym were outstanding in design and décor and were great venues for on board activities. The standard of the stage shows, singers, dancers, costumes, choreography and stage production whilst not as big as on larger ships were outstanding. The standard of the comedians brought on board, however, were second rate and should have been left on the club circuit. Some of the guest lectures were a bit hokey and off-topics that could have been more relevant to the destinations of the cruise, rather than obscure myths and legends and overly detailed stories of so-called celebrities that many passengers had no idea about or were really interested in. Some were most enjoyable and informative. The standard of food and service in the main and 2 specialty restaurants was average to good, but not as outstanding as promoted by CMV, however. Whilst the menus changed daily in the main restaurant, the same menu ran for 7 days in the 2 specialty restaurants. As a result, passengers ran out of choices after a few days, especially those with dietary restrictions. The menu in the main restaurant ultimately become very repetitive and boring. After three quarters of our way through the voyage, we could have written the menu ourselves. How many variations can you have on grilled fish? The bottom line - if passengers were able to suspend their frustration, annoyance and disappointment with the failings of essential services and the unprofessional management of the ship, including some of the wait-staff who didn't seem to want to be on board, and focus on the positives of the cruise experience, the maintenance problems of the ship were inescapable. This was the prime reason for me rating the cruise as “terrible”. Fix these up and the rating would sky- rocket. But CMV didn't, despite it being aware of the faulty or potentially faulty condition of the ship's utilities and associated maintenance problems! Our personal cruise experience - we quickly discovered that there was something critically wrong with CMV restaurant and bar staff recruitment. Bar staff throughout the ship had limited English and did not understand beverage or cocktail orders. In Club Bistro, staff had very poor English and could not understand a simple request for a food order. Staff tasked with cooking breakfast and food service were incompetent, disorganised and clearly untrained, or poorly trained. Wait staff clearing and resetting tables were slow and inefficient. Overall, Club Bistro wait-staff appeared disconnected and disinterested in serving guests. Eating in Club Bistro was equivalent to having a meal in a second-rate boarding house. Breakfast service was a shambles. It created considerable irritation and annoyance amongst guest who could not get their orders understood or served in a timely manner. Despite massive feedback from guests nothing seemed to change. On the last day guests were left stunned that Club Bistro staff still could not get their orders right. I submitted my concerns and suggestions for improvement to the guest services manager who duly ignored them, responding by saying that the ship had an "ongoing staff training and development program". The problem was that the staff training program was at the expense of guests. Why are passengers paying the "price" for on-board training of inexperienced and untrained staff so that CMV can minimise costs? We believe that this policy warrants investigation in relation to whether CMV is compliant with hospitality industry standards, including employment of unqualified staff and their level of remuneration? Over the entire Oct-Dec 2019 cruise, senior managers were detached and impervious to guests and their concerns. They stalked around the ship like gestapo with no little or no passenger interaction. Passengers were clearly not a priory for them, as no action appeared to be taken on our feedback, both personal and as the result of a mid-cruise questionnaire. We could only wonder what their duty statements required! Staff at reception were the same. They essentially ignored our concerns. They fobbed guests off by saying they didn’t have the authority to act and that they would pass any complaints on to the manager responsible. And that was the last we heard of it. As a result, there were many unhappy, frustrated and upset passengers due to the lack of action and lack of responsibility of senior management. On the very last day of the cruise the public toilets on the ship malfunctioned. Now we know the ship lost all power and services en route to Adelaide. This was not to be unexpected given the history of the ship. It is 27 years old without a major upgrade of the facilities concerned. It is ironic that the ship’s power supply failed, since it was one of the few ship upgrades that occurred. Systemic problems with the air conditioning caused cabins and public areas to be either freezing cold or unbearably hot. Such drastic changes in temperature throughout the ship exposed passengers to respiratory infections early in the cruise. These took several weeks to recover from and seriously detracted from the enjoyment of the cruise. Some passengers were exposed to potentially life-threatening complications, including pneumonia, particularly amongst older and more susceptible passengers. All the so-called communications received by passengers from management about on-board health issues were general in nature, that is, limited to hygiene and the need to sanitise regularly. There were no warnings from the ship's management that the ship was experiencing a major outbreak of the above health problems. It was as if it didn’t happen! Guests coined the phrase “hospital ship” and “Oh you’ve got the Vasco cough, too”. Some were turning up to the Hollywood Theatre wearing beach towels to ward off the cold. One guest speaker made repeated jokes about it, at our expense, as well as the poor standard of food and service in Club Bistro, which was so disorganized, as explained above, that guests were arguing as to who was to be served next. This was great for moral! Passengers with respiratory infections were then put on buses with 20 and 30 guests where they coughed their way their way around various tours of up to 6 hours duration! Hello further transmission of respiratory infection! What was management to do! As if respiratory infections throughout the ship weren’t enough. They were followed mid-cruise by acute gastric infections and an outbreak of norovirus. The symptoms of these infections lasted up to a fortnight to three weeks before full recovery with many passengers experiencing lingering debilitating symptoms for additional weeks. Passengers who advised ship's management of their symptoms were compulsorily isolated in their cabins and put on a clear soup and bread diet for 48 – 72 hours, depending on the severity of the diarrhoea and vomiting, the odour of which permeated the passageways. Don’t even attempt to imagine the smell, which got worse when there were sewage spills on several decks. Passengers were advised that the ship’s captain had the power to remove passengers from the ship if they didn’t comply. Their cabin card was deregistered until they were medically cleared. What a shame that afflicted passengers couldn’t leave their cabins to take their scheduled paid-for land excursions at various ports-of-call. We missed all of Tahiti – Papeete and Bora Bora. Vasco da Gama’s unserviceable and unmaintained plumbing system resulted in blocked and broken sewage pipes or seals spilling sewage into bathrooms, bathtubs and passageways on many decks throughout the entire voyage. Imagine the smell on top of the vomit? No don’t! Toilets regularly flooded into bathrooms and cabins, saturating carpets and personal belongings. One couple who had to move out of their cabin twice because of flooding during the cruise, experienced another flood the night before disembarking Sydney. We felt sorry for the engineers and support staff who bore the brunt of the mismanagement of the ship’s service facilities. They had to work virtually 24 hours dealing with the numerous crises throughout the ship. It was only due to most of the passengers’ goodwill and resignation that they were on a cheap cruise and could do little about the ship’s systemic maintenance problems that there wasn’t a mutiny. However, the issue of over servicing and over charging by the subcontracted medical centre of passengers’ medical conditions – including those referred to above - was an issue that did result in over 100 passengers convening meetings, including with the captain, to seek redress for the exorbitant cost of medical treatment. Reference to this and other problems encountered by passengers on the ship may be found in postings on the Trip Adviser Forum. Could CMV be accused of knowingly disregarding passengers’ level of comfort and overall cruise experience without upgrading essential service utilities in order to keep the ship at sea to maintain revenue? Could it be that the CMV "business plan" is to buy second and third hand ships without proper upgrades to provide cheap affordable cruising taking the risk that their highly competitive price point would attract enough new customers to keep the company afloat despite driving away return customers? Fact Checkers believe that an independent audit of compliance of the ship’s essential services and utilities be carried out by cruise ship regulators with the aim of enforcing systems upgrades previously disregarded by CMV to prevent a repeat of the fiasco on Vasco da Gama. Also, an independent review of the standard of guest services and competence of senior management on Vasco da Gama should be carried out, in particular targeting the performance of the guest services manager and hotel director specifically in relation to what action they took or didn’t take and why on the myriad of passenger complaints and the two formal feedback questionnaires on improving passenger cruise experience on Vasco da Gama. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
The itinerary was just what we wanted, and by booking early we got excellent value for money. We've travelled with most of the big cruise lines over many years but this was our first really long trip. We had done a couple of very ... Read More
The itinerary was just what we wanted, and by booking early we got excellent value for money. We've travelled with most of the big cruise lines over many years but this was our first really long trip. We had done a couple of very short cruises with CMV before and liked their smaller, older ships and friendly crew. We weren't sure if this formula would work on a long voyage crossing two oceans, but it did. The cruise far exceeded our expectations and (nearly) everything was very good indeed: Crew, food, entertainment, cabin and public areas all superb. Air conditioning a bit fierce at times, but they quickly fixed it in our cabin, which was otherwise very comfortable (Deck 6 midships, quiet and so smooth we didn't know we were on a ship for most of the voyage). Fortunately we didn't have to use the medical services on board, which a number of people found incredibly expensive, but they often are on ships. Shore excursions were a bit pricey for what they were, but we did our own trips in about half the ports and generally saw everything we wanted to. Guest lecturers were informative and entertaining, shows quite spectacular, arts and crafts and music classes very good, always plenty to do even on sea days. The crew went out of their way to make everything as good as it could be, reception staff very helpful (though this wasn't appreciated by a few passengers who seemed to blame them personally when things went wrong, not fair) catering and cabin staff very friendly and obliging, most gave us the impression that they wanted us to have a wonderful time - and we did! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
It was visiting some of the places I’d never been. The first day we were given our key and we went to our room and it smelled mouldy. Over the first 15 days we were moved from cabin to cabin 6 times. We finally had enough and visited ... Read More
It was visiting some of the places I’d never been. The first day we were given our key and we went to our room and it smelled mouldy. Over the first 15 days we were moved from cabin to cabin 6 times. We finally had enough and visited the Hotel director. After making it clear that we had had enough of the moving around the ship, and forcefully requesting an upgrade, we were given a balcony cabin with no more issues. The ships aircon didn’t work, the plumbing was leaking in the rooms and spilling sewerage on the floors. People were being moved around to different cabins because of these issues and we were too. One lady was charged $1000 for an upgrade to get out of the room she was in due to problems with it. Although most of the food is cooked ok, it is always the same and no variety. The staff on the lower rungs of the ladder, although young and inexperienced a lot of them, are very good and a credit to the company. This is the ONLY upside of this cruise. The higher up managers don’t care. AND A WORD OF WARNING, DONT GET SICK ON THE SHIP. Bring lots of medication for flu like symptoms and vomiting and diarrhoea. The doctor charges what he wants and doesn’t answer to anyone. Most people had ECG’s even for diarrhoea?? Lots of bills are up to and over $10,000 and they need to be paid before they get off the ship, even though the Dr has all their insurance info. Never seen so many people on a ship with cannula in their arms It seemed to be the order of the day. He has lied on reports about their symptoms so it looks like it has nothing to do with the cleanliness and the hygiene on the ship. One lady went and complained about her bill and he discounted it by 50%. If you have to go on, take all the precautions you can. Everything on the ship is expensive, there are no toiletries available for sale on the ship. The staff in the Mediterranean restaurant are superb. The menus are changed every 10 days, so there is no variety in the specialty restaurants either. Children’s club not open. Entertainment was mostly done by the crew although very good, there were not a lot of guest entertainers. I think we had about about 3 for then whole cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This was our first cruise with CMV, cruising from Tilbury to Sydney. It was also many passengers first CMV cruise. Most of us were attracted by the terrific package from several agents which included airfares and 2 nights stay in London. ... Read More
This was our first cruise with CMV, cruising from Tilbury to Sydney. It was also many passengers first CMV cruise. Most of us were attracted by the terrific package from several agents which included airfares and 2 nights stay in London. We knew the ship was advertised as 3 star and was an old ship from Holland America/P&O. We were pleasantly surprised at the beautifully redecorating of the ship, the amazingly friendly staff, the fantastic food, better than many ships we have been on (we have done over 40 cruises), the extremely talented ship's dancers and singers and the general layout of the ship. There were technical issues that are still causing problems..some people had flooding cabins, the air conditioning system took quite a while to sort out, but the engineering staff were working as quickly as possible to correct these. There were also many people very upset with the cost of attending the medical service with bills between $7000 and $12000 ...these were sent to guests' insurance companies however and eventually sorted out, but meetings were held by guests as to how a service can charge such exorbitant rates for chest infections and gastric complaints. We vowed never to go there and quite a few people sort medical treatment at ports if they needed help. While we rarely buy anything in the ships' shops, the shops had little to offer and staff were standing round all day with little to do, this could have been much more interesting for guests wanting to shop there. The ship has a fantastic gym and a free to use thermal centre that most ships charge for. In general we loved the cruise and would definitely go on this ship again and with CMV and are looking at the return journey from Freemantle to Tilbury to re experience this great ship and her fantastic staff. CMV generally charge less than most cruise lines and we must say this was certainly a value for money cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We had sailed on Viking Ocean on earlier occasions (Baltic and Caribbean) and knew that Viking had created a great cruise product with these ocean-going ships. So we chose the Northern Lights cruise so we could check off a huge bucket ... Read More
We had sailed on Viking Ocean on earlier occasions (Baltic and Caribbean) and knew that Viking had created a great cruise product with these ocean-going ships. So we chose the Northern Lights cruise so we could check off a huge bucket list item... actually seeing the Northern Lights, and have a wonderful time while doing so. Our cruise experience was uniformly excellent from embarkation at London and disembarkation at Bergen. The comfort of our cabin, the professionalism and friendliness of the crew, the delicious cuisine, and the talented entertainment. It was all great. Of course, it certainly helped that even though it was still winter at those high latitudes, our weather was near perfect for the whole cruise. So we had multiple nights on which we could see the aurora. Our shore excursions were excellent, particularly the overnight spent on a nighttime dog sled ride and sleeping in a very small Sami People-style teepee with a large window through which we could see the night sky. Well done to Viking. We can't wait until our next Viking Ocean Cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
43I booked a last minute 5 night cruise on Marco Polo as it had been advertised at a very good price. I have sailed on her a number of times and have a soft spot for this elegant old cruise ship. Embarkation at Tilbury was very quick, I ... Read More
43I booked a last minute 5 night cruise on Marco Polo as it had been advertised at a very good price. I have sailed on her a number of times and have a soft spot for this elegant old cruise ship. Embarkation at Tilbury was very quick, I had allowed for travel holdups that did not occur, and arrived at the port almost two hours early, and checked in and was aboard in less than five minutes. I had a comfortable outside cabin on deck 7 with tea and coffee making facilities, which I was very happy with. It was kept spotlessly clean by my steward, who was a dab hand at providing me with a range of daily towel sculptured animals. Our first port of call was Rotterdam, which was a delight. Although free coach shuttles had been laid on, it was only a 15 minute walk from the cruise terminal to the city centre. Rotterdam is much more modern than Amsterdam, but the benefit is that you do not have the hordes of tourists to contend with. It is a lovely city to explore on foot. Our next stop was Rouen for an evening visit to the Christmas markets by the cathedral. As before, free shuttle coaches had been provided to the city centre. Rouen is beautiful, I would have liked far longer there to fully explore the place. Our third and final stop was a full day in Honfleur. We had been informed at the start of the cruise that the Christmas market in Honfleur had been delayed and would not be open for our visit. I spent the morning exploring Honfleur, which is well worth a visit, with many quaint narrow streets and ancient buildings. After returning to the ship for lunch, CMV kindly laid on free coaches to take us over the impressive Seine bridge to spend an afternoon in Le Havre. I have seen some reviews of Marco Polo where people moan about various niggles they’ve found, but these seem very unfair to me. The ship is not new, but she is smartly styled and the crew work tirelessly to keep her looking her best. I found the food in the restaurant to be very good, the beef wellington one night particularly worth a mention. Dinner consists of five courses, Cunard only serve four on QM2! My table companions all agreed the food in the restaurant was very good. There were lots of activities organized on board, regular quizzes and games, craft workshops, guest lectures (themed on Joan of Arc, Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte which were excellent and well presented) as well as entertainment from talented musicians and an enthusiastic show team of singers and dancers. If you get a chance to do a longer cruise on this lovely liner, you are in for a little treat at the end of your meal on the last formal night. This is possibly the only ship that still does the ‘Baked Alaska’ parade properly. Take your cameras with you to dinner. I’ll say no more so as not to spoil the surprise! The baked Alaska was delicious of course. After a final day at sea, we disembarked in Avonmouth, Bristol. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We were nervous about first cruise on Silversea cruise because, although many positive reviews, there were many negative comments. One was the food. We loved the menu in Atlantide which changed frequently; Indochine excellent; La ... Read More
We were nervous about first cruise on Silversea cruise because, although many positive reviews, there were many negative comments. One was the food. We loved the menu in Atlantide which changed frequently; Indochine excellent; La Terrazza was good but not as excellent as main restaurants. Another was wine. Their selection of included wines was excellent and if you prefered one they would go get it. Service: unlike some comments we were served quickly and competently. The wait staff and wine stewards bent over backwards to make us happy. Maybe the Transatlantic cruise has a higher ratio of crew to passengers, but we were overwhelmed with the quality of Silversea on this cruise. Entertainment has been also been rated poorly. The Silversea Singers were 6 young and very talented singers who included opera singers and jazz singers and all could dance. They put on a charming and highly entertaining show evry night. Cruise director Moss is excellent and if he is on your cruise you will be assured of a fun time! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
The itinerary was the key. Start in London, finish in New York: Perfect! I will say however, the North Atlantic is not for everyone. Cool temperatures and a sea that has a mind of it's own. But, knowing that in advance is helpful ... Read More
The itinerary was the key. Start in London, finish in New York: Perfect! I will say however, the North Atlantic is not for everyone. Cool temperatures and a sea that has a mind of it's own. But, knowing that in advance is helpful so, be prepared. We loved the cruise just the way it was. The itinerary was excellent, considering the geography and that this was essentially a re-positioning voyage. We got to see a lot of Canada that we've not seen before including Halifax NS which was charming. Would have been nice to spend a bit more time in Boston and Newport, RI This ship has been recently refurbished and lengthened. The refurbishment was par excel-lance, the suites were very well appointed and up to date. The public spaces were fabulous and encouraged congeniality and friendship. The lengthening? Not so much, since it put more passengers aboard which I can do without. (Prefer the Wind and Cloud) On Silversea there is a 'no-tipping' environment but in the past (this is our 8th Silversea cruise) there was always some people who deserved extra consideration for going the extra mile. On this trip, the service was outstanding on EVERY level and honestly, with the exception of the bartender, Albert, I couldn't distinguish enough to single out any others. The one advantage of the lengthening is the added variety in the dining options. There's something for everyone and the food was uniformly outstanding. It seems that the standard beverage offering has been cut back, the wine list needs some tweaking and there was no deviation from the standard liquor offering despite an advance request. It didn't used to be that way but, it was all good anyway. If you are thinking about bringing young ones, this isn't the cruise line for you. There was a lot of gray hair aboard, including mine. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Sailed to Auckland from Tilbury in October 2016. I had initial fears that I would be travelling on a floating old people’s home for 6 weeks and although I was 10 years below the average age on board they were a great bunch and many were ... Read More
Sailed to Auckland from Tilbury in October 2016. I had initial fears that I would be travelling on a floating old people’s home for 6 weeks and although I was 10 years below the average age on board they were a great bunch and many were repeating the trip. Some amazing and interesting people on board. Definitely not luxury cruising but extremely comfortable. I loved the breakfasts and still miss them. My wife just doesn’t do quite the omelette that they do on board. I also loved the fact that breakfast frequently lasted from 06.30 hrs to 10.00 hrs. Lovely wee ship and great experience. I may go again next year but am thinking of Columbus in January 2019 but am worried she might not be as friendly as Astor as she is about three times the size. . I also loved the informality of Astor and the way the crew could socialise with us at night. Prior to the trip I had not been on a liner since 1966 but I thoroughly enjoyed my trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our fourth cruise within three years having previously sailed with Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess. We are a couple in our mid-thirties. We chose this cruise because it fitted in with times we could both take holiday, ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise within three years having previously sailed with Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess. We are a couple in our mid-thirties. We chose this cruise because it fitted in with times we could both take holiday, left from a UK port, and was going to places we hadn't been before (in France) - a final important check\consideration was that Crystal was reasonably well rated well by recent passengers. The ship was in superb condition, arguably better than younger ships; everything was polished, clean, and in 'close to new' condition. A fairly small ship by today's standard we found it to our advantageous as it cut down unnecessary time walking between different venues. A similar size to Ryndham (Holland America) however a key difference we observed was that it never felt crowded on Symphony, in fact it was the least crowded ship we've sailed on yet. There are potentially two reasons for this; either it was undersubscribed (possibly because people concerned about terrorism), or the age of the passengers meant they slept a lot or otherwise entertained themselves - possibly a bit of both. We stayed in cabin 7087, which is the E1 category with a limited view, for which I've written a separate review in the cabin section (and hopefully it will let me upload a photo so you can judge the level of obstruction for yourself). Dining; breakfast was very good and we always ate it in the Lido cafe (I think you could also go to main dining room). I like healthy breakfasts and wasn't disappointed as there were a lot of tasty options including birchers, smoothies, yoghurts, fruit, as well as the usual eggs, sausages, beans, bacon (for less health conscious people). I was very happy with the variety of juice on offer, and had fresh carrot juice almost every day - while other cruise lines have also offered variety of juice, other than fresh orange, it's always been from the carton, so this was a step up for me. Lunch was also very good with a reasonable variety of food, and different things served each day so we didn't get fed up with the same thing, and again we opted to eat lunch in the Lido cafe. Dinner was reasonable to excellent - the three courses in the main dining room were to a good standard, we also ate in both of the specialty restaurants (at no extra charge) and found them both (Japanese & Italian) excellent even though I don't eat sushi (luckily there were other options at the Japanese restaurant). The Italian restaurant Prego was my favourite though, and it's the first time I've ever been served soup within a bowl made of bread (maybe I've led to sheltered a life!). Besides these dining options there are also other smaller venues where you can grab a sandwich, burger, or cakes depending on your fancy - these places were never crowded. As Crystal is all inclusive, all drinks are free unless you order something really special (I'm not sure what as I ordered anything I liked and was never charged). There are a number of bars you can get drinks from (also available when dining or lounging by pool) and staff are very available to take your order and will even walk to a different bar for you if the one your at doesn't make that kind of drink. As well as my juices I had a number of cocktails, mocktails, beers, wines, and penacolada's (apology for the spelling?!), and I saw a lot of other passengers enjoying copious amounts of what looked like champagne. Entertainment was low key, the main show entertainers were really good performers though they are only on for 45 minutes a night and generally do a bit of singing and dancing which while excellent, I would have liked to see a proper full musical play (even a mini one) instead of just excerpts of musical plays. That said though, it was good enough to go back to each night as they did mix\change it up so it didn't get repetitive. There was also a magician on board however you needed to book to see him which we didn't so I can't whinge about that as my own fault. The rest of the entertainment consisted of people playing piano, some big band playing, some jazz, and a bit of pop music from different era's - nice and pleasant to listen to while having a drink but all fairly laid back. Activities consisted of some lectures (mostly UK monarchy and WWII), knitting / needlework classes, how to use your ipad, and some other things I can't recall. All said and done, there wasn't much going on and to be honest given the age demographic I don't think there was a lot of demand for much to be going on. For myself this was a bit disappointing but I can't complain too much as I knew the activities would likely be tailored towards the older generation. For information, about 95% of guests are probably in bed by 10 pm - the upside is you'll always find a seat and ready waiters in any bar around the ship!! In fact I think a lot of the staff seemed underused so it really was very quick service in all respects no matter what the time of day. Our ports of call were; Tilbury (we live in London so no point discussing this), Honfleur, St Peter's Port, St Malo, and Bordeaux. Honfleur was quaint and lovely, St Malo was amazing and I wish we could have stayed overnight (as well as going around the city we also went swimming in the sea). St Peter's Port was a bit boring but perhaps that's because I'm British and it wasn't so novel to me as I may be to an American. We got the plane back to UK from Bordeaux so can't comment on it - though I have stayed there a week once in a chateau which was refreshing. The age demographic is slightly older than other cruises we've been on, I'd say 97% of passengers were over 60, I'd guess the average may be around 70. That said they certainly weren't geriatric and there were almost no zimerframes in sight, they were mostly pleasant to talk to - even the ones voting for Donald Trump. Although we are in our 30's we were looking for a laid back \ lazy holiday as our last one was a tour of Iceland in a rented motorhome followed by a week in New York, so we were not objectionable to the pace of life on board as we felt like being less active than our previous holiday. The library was well stocked with DVDs including some very recent releases. There was also a cinema on board though we didn't take the opportunity to use it. Worth a mention is that this is the first cruise where they didn't try and sell us art, jewellery, or pointless crap they we don't want and don't need, in fact the shops were barely open at all - quite refreshing! All in all, a good cruise, and recommended to those who want a laid back holiday and be able to order whatever food and drink they like without thinking about the cost or tipping. I would go again if in a similar mood and I liked the ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We booked two cabins for an an overnight stay on this ship in the port of Tilbury. The experienced was rushed, being allowed on board at 4.30pm, Dinner at 6.30pm & out of cabins by 8.00am the following morning with disembarkation by ... Read More
We booked two cabins for an an overnight stay on this ship in the port of Tilbury. The experienced was rushed, being allowed on board at 4.30pm, Dinner at 6.30pm & out of cabins by 8.00am the following morning with disembarkation by 9.30am. Insulation between cabins is paper thin and we could hear guests talking in the next cabin…… My wife also found the “air conditioning” both extremely noisy and out of reach when she wanted to turn it down in the middle of the night, and wonders why the control is on the ceiling out of reach unless you are tall or stand on the bed? The evening itself was very pleasant, we were able to walk around the ship, which we haven’t been on before, although we did not see any ‘show’ cabins open or any directions to them. The Abba show was not as good as the ones on the previous Marco Polo cruises – it all felt a bit lacklustre and tired, they definitely need much slicker choreography and production to maximise their talents and appeared very amateurish at times. There were many large groups of partygoers in the show lounge, who were obviously drunk; they talked and shouted throughout the show without any action from the staff – apart from serving them more drinks. Following the show we went to the main bar where there was a duo singing and playing the piano – they were singing songs we knew but at a completely different tempo, with the result that no one felt like getting up to dance! This did change when one of the entertainment team took over with a real injection of enthusiasm and up-tempo tunes – so well done to him! We also found it rather uncomfortable to see so many ‘bouncers’ patrolling the main bar/disco deck . Breakfast arrangements on the Sunday were a disaster. The early morning wake up call at 7.00am directed us (and many other guests unfamiliar with the ship) to the Kensington Restaurant for breakfast and to vacate the cabin by 8am. When we got to the Kensington Restaurant at 8.05am we found the restaurant doors closed and about 10 people queuing at the door in front of us which soon meant long queues +50 people behind us. After about 20 minutes waiting, a waiter attempted to tell us to go upstairs for tea and juice, we said we would like a full breakfast not just tea & juice but he didn’t understand us or anyone else who tried to speak to him; his English was very broken and broadly unintelligible - he only told the people close to the front of the queue – not the 30-50 people behind us so the long queue remained. Some 20 minutes later, one of the officers came to the door to tell us that there was another restaurant on the ship that was open for breakfast. We believe he was only prompted to do this as guests at the front of the queue were beginning to take matters into their own hands, and as they saw people leaving the restaurant, went in to find their own table. We tried to explain to the officer that we had been directed to this restaurant and that we could see people leaving it, but that the queue was not diminishing. The officer was quite angry and rude to us, again directing us away from the Kensington Restaurant. We were not alone in our observations, as other guests also felt quite upset – not a good way to end what should have been an enjoyable experience. We did call at customer services/reception on our way out and lodged our complaint but the girl behind the desk said that was all she could do, and took our room numbers – we all felt that we were an inconvenience, when we spoke to Reception staff to complain and we haven’t heard anything since! A week later I wrote to Head of Customer Services Bob McGowan only to be told I had to wait 28 days for a response!!!! On the whole we felt that staff were generally lacking in enthusiasm and all crew were struggling with English. Service left a great deal to be desired, with unenthusiastic staff often seeming indifferent to the wishes of passengers. It was a far cry from our previous experiences on the Marco Polo. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We sailed on the Astor from London to Auckland, New Zealand. The voyage was wonderful and the ship and crew exceeded our expectations . Boarding at Tilbury was average , but with only 505 guests it did not take lone really. The ... Read More
We sailed on the Astor from London to Auckland, New Zealand. The voyage was wonderful and the ship and crew exceeded our expectations . Boarding at Tilbury was average , but with only 505 guests it did not take lone really. The ship is not suitable for kids or wheel chair use , but we knew this before boarding. Disembarking at Auckland was just too easy. We were told there were 249 crew on board. The food and shows were of a very high standard for a small ship.Every single night brought a new show in the show-lounge. Many outstanding production shows as well as single acts. The crew could not have been better , always willing to help with a smile. Tips were included in the ticket and it was good not to have a 15% service charge added to drinks etc. We had a bonus of an up-grade which was nice. The Captain was amazing , always about the ship and joined in the singing and dances at times. Mixed with guests on shuttle buses etc.Of all the cruises we have done, he rates top in our book. The ship though old was in pristine condition through-out. Up keep of varnish work etc was non-stop and put bigger cruise ship operators to shame. The ports of call were all enjoyed and the ship charges for tours was very reasonable compared to other cruise lines. Though the smallest ship and maybe the oldest we have cruised on , we really did enjoy every da (and night) on board Astor Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The Marco Polo is sadly beginning to show its age. The ship is small compared to most other cruise ships and with 900 passengers on board somewhat overcrowded.The ship rolls continuously from side to side and in the Atlantic swell it ... Read More
The Marco Polo is sadly beginning to show its age. The ship is small compared to most other cruise ships and with 900 passengers on board somewhat overcrowded.The ship rolls continuously from side to side and in the Atlantic swell it pitches as well which does not make for comfort. During the good weather when passengers were able to sit and eat outside, the buffet facilities and the lounges coped, but as soon as the weather changed it was difficult to find a seat at breakfast or lunch and in the lounge. The food is unimaginative and somewhat repetitive, however the names for the dishes are very imaginative. In the Bistro there is always a fish dish (usually in a butter sauce), two meat dishes, and a pasta dish with something stirred through it. There are salads, although at times the lettuce was very poor, and the cucumber had seen better days (most of them in an over efficient cooler). There were usually composite salads made of pasta with meat etc. which made one think of yesterday's left overs. The vegetarian meal was often just a vegetable, not a well planned menu with protein. These meals are repeated in the Waldorf Restaurant with waiter service. There is no drinks package. A glass of wine (250ml) costs £5 and the bottle (750ml) costs £15. Other more expensive options are available. The bar services are outsourced and the staff sometimes repeatedly ask if you want a drink. When in port there is very little information available for those passengers not booked on tours (these vary in price from (£39 - £69 per person) and town maps are generally not available. The cabins are adequate, but the beds are small, very narrow and not particularly long. Entertainment is provided by a small dedicated team of talented singers and dancers accompanied by the Marco Polo Band, which is first class. There is not a show every evening and sometimes shows are repeated. When films are shown, the screen is very small and the sound is bad. The crew are mainly Eastern European and work very hard. They are an asset to the ship, and speaking from personal experience, the medical care, although expensive, is first class. There is a very good programme of painting and art activities and and guest lecturers who speak on the Amazon and wild life. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Just got back from cruise to Caribbean left from Tilbury and hit rough seas was sea sick for 4 days went to see doctor on ship BIG MISTAKE. Cost me £890.83p and mine was cheapest real rip off merchant do not go to see the doctor some on ... Read More
Just got back from cruise to Caribbean left from Tilbury and hit rough seas was sea sick for 4 days went to see doctor on ship BIG MISTAKE. Cost me £890.83p and mine was cheapest real rip off merchant do not go to see the doctor some on board had bills for £5000 and over. I had blood tests did not know till I saw print out at end of cruise he only needed to give me an injection I was in know fit state to know what was happening. The ship is very tired but it grew on me through out the cruise soot coming from funnel and sparks hitting deck needs overall badly.The entertainment staff were amazing worked so hard did an amazing job. Could not fault them at all worked very hard. Buffet staff carried red hot water around in buckets to put in water urn and food brought up in lifts from kitchens. Could not get good cup of tea in buffet as water was not hot enough so was on coffee all holiday. Food was not bad did their best in not good conditions not a lot to choose from but very small ship the main restaurant was good. The hygiene on the ship was the best I have been on though people still had problems but it was not the ships fault they did their best. I would not go on it again it was too small for me. JUST DO NOT VISIT DOCTOR my insurance is not paying out so be very careful. Some people left at Azores before even reaching Caribbean and some flew back from Barbados did not want to do trip back. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013

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