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45 Greece Luxury Cruise Reviews

My husband and I, and 2 other couples, chose this ship because we wanted a small ship. It was perfect in size...getting on and off ship was easy and quick. We were in cabin 240 which is at the very end of the hall. It proved to be a ... Read More
My husband and I, and 2 other couples, chose this ship because we wanted a small ship. It was perfect in size...getting on and off ship was easy and quick. We were in cabin 240 which is at the very end of the hall. It proved to be a great room in the sense that there wasn't much foot traffic outside our door. The cabin had more than enough storage cabinets and plenty of under bed storage for suitcases. Bathroom had a great shower and all amenities were good. My complaint about this ship is the last night before disembarking, they seemed to shut off all A/C. It wasn't just our cabin, but everyone else's, too. Don't know what the deal was, but our final night on board was sleepless...very hot. The gym was small, but adequate with a couple tread mills, 1 elliptical machine, 1 stationary bike and lots of free weights. None of us had a bad meal and all dinners exceeded our expectation. Cabin attendants were very good and all the staff was very helpful and kind. ENTERTAINMENT: Windstar needs to work on this aspect. Most of the music played outside around the bar and deck area was so old and tired...Jackson 5 genre. It seemed like our party ages 55-60 were the youngsters, and maybe the majority who appeared to be 70's and 80's enjoy that era of music. We would've enjoyed more current music. Our cruise had a pianist and singer that performed most evenings, but the room was small with low ceilings so the music was too loud. We always left for areas that we could converse. Our party of 6 did not go on any Windstar excursions because we found better value by booking private tours on our own. All in all, we loved the ship and would consider going again based on the service we received and the small ship size. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Wanted a smaller ship for the Greek Isles. The crew was great. The bar service was slow. They needed more bar staff. Meals were adequate. Went to the Crystal Restaurant our last night and my husband and I enjoyed a delicious meal on ... Read More
Wanted a smaller ship for the Greek Isles. The crew was great. The bar service was slow. They needed more bar staff. Meals were adequate. Went to the Crystal Restaurant our last night and my husband and I enjoyed a delicious meal on the deck. Also, the dinner seafood bar b que on deck was excellent. All excursions and guides were good, well organized and informative. Our room 211 was noisy from engine. More then a hum. The room was well organized and suitcases were stored under bed. I would not choose this ship again because the engine noise at night was too loud. See cabin review below for more details. Motor Coaches were comfortable. Enjoyed the Acropolis and Museum Tour when we disembarked. Athens was fun and Hotel Grand Bretagne was excellent. Enjoyed walking from hotel, view from our balcony of Parliament, the Square, the Acropolis. Weather was perfect. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Bucket list item was the Greek isles and since we prefer the smaller ships, opted for a Windstar cruise. Only 135 or so guests so no crowds or lines. Ship is a little old but well maintained and except for the air conditioning and the ... Read More
Bucket list item was the Greek isles and since we prefer the smaller ships, opted for a Windstar cruise. Only 135 or so guests so no crowds or lines. Ship is a little old but well maintained and except for the air conditioning and the internet, very comfortable and enjoyable. Except for Monemvassia, there were no big buses for the tours which was nice but that may be dependent on the number of folks that signed up. All vehicles were comfortable.Crew was hospitable except for one wine steward and when brought to the attention of management, things changed promptly. Ports were all very enjoyable though I was pretty tired of ruins once everything was over. Stayed in the Electra Hotel for a few nights in Athens and it was nice with a rooftop dining area with views of the Acropolis. Just avoid room 211 which had a toilet so close to the wall and shower one had to be a contortionist to use. Last night we moved to the Grand Bretagne and it was a beautiful old hotel but probably not worth the extra money. Tried to get reservations for our group of 8 several weeks before for dinner on the rooftop but they were full. Could not even find space to have a cocktail that evening as most of the space was closed off for some reason. Went next door to King George hotel and had a wonderful meal on the top floor with even better views of the Acropolis. Highly recommend this! Crew was polite and accommodating but not as nice as Crystal Esprit. Food in the dining room was good but not exceptional. Candles was better and especially the on-deck barbecue...that was amazing. Dinner at the Celsus Library was also amazing. Went to the opera afterwards in the old theatre and sitting on stone, even for an hour, was awful. Delos and Turkey were wonderful stops but all were excellent. Chartered a private catamaran in Santorini instead of the ships cat tour and it was fantastic. Breakfasts were nice with a wide selection of food on the buffet with the opportunity to order off the menu if desired. Bridge tour was nice and informative. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This sailing was incredible from start to finish! The staff were all friendly, helpful, and couldn't do enough for you. The ship was an older classic style yacht, very comfortable but definitely a dated look to it. The cabins were ... Read More
This sailing was incredible from start to finish! The staff were all friendly, helpful, and couldn't do enough for you. The ship was an older classic style yacht, very comfortable but definitely a dated look to it. The cabins were small but comfortable, the beds were a little on the hard side for my taste but were still cozy enough to get a good night's sleep. The food on board was wonderful! The kitchen staff outdid themselves at every meal. I swear we barely ever stopped eating on board, as soon as breakfast was cleared, someone was out offering fresh slices of watermelon, then lunch, then a dish of sorbet on the sun deck, then an amazing dinner and cocktails, definitely overdid it but everything was impeccable. The cruise director was always knowledgeable about our ports, giving us plenty of insight on what to do while in each country (Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece). I do think the excursions could be improved upon though, they only offered a couple excursions in each port, and they were participation based, so if the one you wanted didn't have enough guests, it didn't happen. That being said, the only port I think an excursion is truly necessary is Albania. My favorite stops were Korcula, Kotor, Anti-Paxos and Paxos (Anti-Paxos had the best beach and bluest waters I've ever seen in my life!). I would gladly travel with Variety in the future, and look forward to the day I get to sail with them again! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I'm a Veteran, so I know the general weather of Europe in the fall. The first decision, timing of our cruise, was driven by weather. The second decision was location. We wanted a cruise which called at Patmos and Ephesus (port of ... Read More
I'm a Veteran, so I know the general weather of Europe in the fall. The first decision, timing of our cruise, was driven by weather. The second decision was location. We wanted a cruise which called at Patmos and Ephesus (port of Kusadasi, Turkey) in particular. The third decision was ship size. Frankly, we didn't want to live in a suburb, which is what the BIG cruise ships seem to be. Instead, we chose a small, intimate ship where we got to know people. Our decisions drove our selection, and we came to a Windstar small ship cruise. MSY WindStar has space for 148 guests, period. Our voyage was glorious. That's all I need to say. PLANNING FACTORS: We were first time cruisers, so we had a learning curve: - Laundry: Windstar's current rate is $112 per cabin for the voyage. VERY MUCH WORTH IT. My wife's bag was under 35 lbs at the airport, mine was under 30lbs. That was for 12 days of travel! - Liquor. You have a choice of three plans: $32, $52, or $72 per person per day. You have to drink a LOT for the plans to pay for themselves. THAT SAID, CAUTION: Windstar enforces a max 2 bottle per stateroom policy for liquor you bring to the ship yourself. - Internet access: GET THIS BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR YOUR TRIP. The rate is $250 for two devices if you pre-book. It's $250 PER DEVICE if you buy on embarkation day. - Tours: If I was cruising the Rhein/Main/Danube, I'd pass on tours. I know something of where I'm going. In Greece, I took the tours, but I think I can do better. On this voyage, be wary of the full day Kusadasi-Ephesus tour. The last stop is an Oriental/Turkish carpet shop, and the sales pressure is beyond tremendous. Sorry, I just didn't have $24K budgeted. - Dining: You cannot go wrong. Period. - Ships' decor: No issues. There were a very, very few places where the ship showed she wasn't brand new, but you could see the ships' company working every day maintaining something or other! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Overall a great trip! Some highlights: - The front desk staff performed an amazing feat of memorization, and knew everyone's name by the first evening - The food was *fantastic* throughout. - The 'signature event' ... Read More
Overall a great trip! Some highlights: - The front desk staff performed an amazing feat of memorization, and knew everyone's name by the first evening - The food was *fantastic* throughout. - The 'signature event' was amazing - private access to a major historical site, onsite dinner, and string quartet (this was at the Library of Celsus) - The crew in general were cheerful and friendly - For the ship enthusiast, the open bridge and engine room tours are pretty cool - The dramatic music and sails unfurling at every departure sounded like it would be cheesy, but it's actually kind of awesome. General notes: - It's easy to get a table for 2 at the restaurant (Amphora), or to eat in your room (all the rooms have a small table and chairs), if you aren't feeling like socializing at any given meal. - The dress code is surprisingly casual for such a fancy cruise; my husband and I are more jeans-and-tshirt type people, and we fit right in. - The pool is pretty tiny (10x7); it's fine for hanging out or playing around, but not great if you want to swim laps. It's also a saltwater pool, which makes for more buoyant swimming. Advice for future cruisers: - The watersports platform was only open in Monemvasia due to rough seas at the other ports. I suspect that it's common for it to only be open one or two days on a given cruise, so if it's important to you, check with the front desk the night before about the weather report/likelihood of the platform being open. - Forward cabins have less engine noise. Ours was cabin 133, and while we could hear the engines (you can hear them anywhere on the ship), it wasn't very loud; neither my husband or I had any trouble sleeping through them. - The website for Windstar is kind of a disaster; be aware that all information on the cruise will disappear from the site 5 days before the cruise (this wasn't a glitch, the site just said that you have to pick a cruise at least 5 days in the future to see itinerary information), so make sure to print/save everything well ahead of time. And heaven help you if they decide to revamp the site again - it was down for a solid 4 months after we'd booked our cruise over the phone. - Candles reservations go quickly, so if you have a tightly-packed itinerary, put in your reservation as soon as you board the ship. - Make friends with the band, and they will be happy to play your requests =) Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Everything from the Boat, the service, food, day-trips and especially the crew was fantastic. we were made to feel like a group of close friends and family enjoying the best holiday together, nothing was an imposition and our itinerary ... Read More
Everything from the Boat, the service, food, day-trips and especially the crew was fantastic. we were made to feel like a group of close friends and family enjoying the best holiday together, nothing was an imposition and our itinerary varied beautifuly according to the weather and the decisions of our Captain and our fabulous cruise director Marita Kokkinakis. I would not hesitate to recommend this cruise to my friends and colleagues, I celebrated my birthday while in Santorini and the crew made it one of the most memorable, it happened to be the Greek feast night so we had incredible food and Marita even arranged a cake.. Our itinerary was changed due to bad weather during the cruise, but the alternative stops we visited were equally spectacular and enjoyable, especially loved the regular swim stops we made at beautiful isolated points along the way. overall i would say this was one of the best holiday experiences i've ever had. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We went on the Greek island cruise on the Wind Star in June 2017. It was an amazing experience. The food was wonderful as was the staff. They were all very friendly and took the time to get to know you. We loved the ship. Our cabin had ... Read More
We went on the Greek island cruise on the Wind Star in June 2017. It was an amazing experience. The food was wonderful as was the staff. They were all very friendly and took the time to get to know you. We loved the ship. Our cabin had plenty of storage room and was bigger than expected. The excursion selections were well thought out with an excellent variety. Being a smaller cruise ship, there were no assigned dining times and you could stay in the restaurant as long as you wanted. Swimming off the back of the ship was a nice, fun bonus. The absolute highlight of the trip was the dinner at Ephesus, Turkey. Windstar took all the guest to the ancient library there for 4-5 course amazing meal. It was an experience of a lifetime. I know we’ll be taking many more Windstar cruises. I highly recommend them. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We took a cruise with Windstar on the Wind Star to visit the Greek Isles. It was our first time with this cruise line. Every single aspect of the cruise exceeded my expectations! From start to finish, (nearly) everything was perfect. The ... Read More
We took a cruise with Windstar on the Wind Star to visit the Greek Isles. It was our first time with this cruise line. Every single aspect of the cruise exceeded my expectations! From start to finish, (nearly) everything was perfect. The yacht, the food, drinks, the crew members (especially the crew members!) all made for a wonderful vacation. We could not be happier! The food was some of the best I've had while traveling, including at luxury all inclusive resorts. It's amazing how they can create such delicious and creative meals, at sea nonetheless! The menu varied each night, and included a nice variety of dishes from different cuisines and with meat, fish, seafood, vegetarian, etc. The dining service was also exceptional. We ate on the deck on night, and that was also an excellent experience! The crew in particular is amazing. They come from all over the world, with a large majority from Indonesia and the Philippines. We made friends with so many of the crew members, who went above and beyond to make us feel special. To mention just a few who really stood out: Joel, Rene, Noel, Marco, Philip, Endro, Asep and Saka (our cabin steward). They are always approachable, friendly and willing to please, all with a smile on their faces (even when having to deal with rude guests). We decided to double our gratuities, and also tipped cash to those we got to know best by the end of our 7 night cruise. They work extremely hard to make your cruise vacation spectacular, and deserve special recognition. I also have to mention the musical team, Duality (Marni and Chooi) who were outstanding and entertained us each afternoon and night! The only problem (if I'm being picky) was that our cabin was too hot. We asked about it twice, but it stayed hot for the duration of the cruise. I suspect this has more to do with the architecture of the ship (the cold air comes from front of the ship, and warms up before it gets to aft cabins). But apart from that, perfection! We took a few excursions with Windstar, and they were all very well planned and a good value. One excursion, however, seemed a little crowded. I looked at the excursions head of time and booked private tours guides through tours by locals at some ports. It ended up costing the same or just slightly more than the cost of an excursion booked through the ship for 2 people. One day, we decided to take a break and stayed aboard, enjoying the lounge chairs on the deck by the pool. I am definitely planning on taking many, many more cruises with Windstar. One of the major advantage is the small ship size. I would never want to travel on a "megaship" with thousands of people. A smaller "yacht" makes it a more personal experience, and there are no lines anywhere. We are looking at Tahiti next year, on the Wind Spirit, which features the same layout as the Wind Star. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
My wife and I did the Treasures of the Greek Isles cruise that leaves from Athens and stops in Nafplio, Mykonos, Kusadasi (Turkey), Patmos, Santorini, and Monemvasia, returning to Athens. We enjoyed the small ship experience and the no ... Read More
My wife and I did the Treasures of the Greek Isles cruise that leaves from Athens and stops in Nafplio, Mykonos, Kusadasi (Turkey), Patmos, Santorini, and Monemvasia, returning to Athens. We enjoyed the small ship experience and the no dress up requirement. Very relaxing on board, hectic on the daily tours. Windstar picked us up from the airport on time...it was basically a taxi cab. We used them for the pick up based on past cruise experiences where the taxi driver couldn't find the ship because it had no address. Terrific crew on board that works very hard to make everyone happy. It is a beautiful ship. Unfortunately, they never seemed to put up more than a couple of sails. We used the Windstar tours every day except for Santorini and Athens. They were very well organized and everything went smoothly. However, most of the islands were very hot, even for June. We had read about mosquito problems in Santorini, but we didn't run across one. Unfortunately, the Kusadasi evening event was rained out for the first time in years, so we had dinner at the hotel that caters the event. Can't blame them for an act of god, but still disappointed we didn't get to do the dinner at the Ephesus library. For Santorini and Athens, our party of four used "Tours by Locals". They were quite excellent also, and provided a small group experience for less than half the cost of the equivalent tour from Windstar. For all the tours, the guides seemed to provide for periodic toilet stops, and the toilets for the most part were clean and modern. Watch out for the toilet in the ruins of Mycenae in Nafplio, my wife got locked in a dark stall for a while. Also the pay public toilet at the north end of the Oia walkway in Santorini was filthy. Food at breakfast and lunch on the ship was excellent. At dinner, the food was good, but not as good as some other cruise lines. Some observations not usually included in reviews: - Internet (an option that you can purchase) speed was measured at 1.5 Mbps download and upload speed if you sat in the lobby near the front desk. The wifi in the room was weak (-89 dBm) and limited the bandwidth further. Web pages loaded at low cost DSL speeds...about 10-20 seconds to open a page. - The toilet in the room was light brown in the bottom instead of white. It looked like the staff had scrubbed it a bit too hard and took the finish off, so now it couldn't be effectively cleaned any longer. - A few weeks before the cruise, we got an email from Windstar to make sure we got a Turkish visa for the Kusudasi visit. We didn't need it. Even the Turkey website says that you don't need one for such a short visit. All we needed was the ship ID (no passport). - Daily evening announcements can't be heard in the room. No option to turn it on or off like other ships. So you had to stick your head out the door to hear what they were saying. And the announcements sometimes modified the meeting times previously announced in the daily bulletin. - The Windstar documentation mentions "wet landings", where you jump out of the tender boat into shallow water. There were no wet landings on this cruise. The tender always dropped us off at a dock. At a couple of stops, the ship could actually tie up to a dock, eliminating the need for the tender. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
An excellent cruise. The Viking staff was excellent. They were friendly, helpful, and provided service with a smile. THe service was outstanding and the entire staff worked hard to provide a great experience for the folks onboard. The ... Read More
An excellent cruise. The Viking staff was excellent. They were friendly, helpful, and provided service with a smile. THe service was outstanding and the entire staff worked hard to provide a great experience for the folks onboard. The shore excursions were well done and enjoyable. The food was the best I have ever had on any cruise. This cruise exceeded my expectations. The variety of food and the food quality were really good. The was a nice variety of dining options available on the ship. The service in the dining areas was the best I ever experienced on a cruise. There were more than an adequate number of activities available on the cruise. In fact, there were so many options available that I had to prioritize which I would do on this cruise and and which I would do on my next Viking Ocean Cruise. This cruise was so good that we are now looking forward to booking our next cruise on Viking Ocean Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
It was a perfect week in every way, and we will surely be booking another trip with Variety Cruises. We loved the Galileo - our room was quite comfortable, and the public areas on the boat were spotlessly clean, offering a variety of ... Read More
It was a perfect week in every way, and we will surely be booking another trip with Variety Cruises. We loved the Galileo - our room was quite comfortable, and the public areas on the boat were spotlessly clean, offering a variety of places to sit both indoors and outside. The delicious meals exceeded our expectations, and our cruise director, Joseph, was knowledgable, experienced, friendly and fun to listen to when he addressed our group. Swim stops were well organized and much appreciated by everyone. We kayaked, snorkled, and simply floated in the refreshing and beautiful sea. We chose only one excursion -- Delos, and well worth it -- since the other islands were easy to explore on our own. But those who chose the excursions seemed very pleased. The professional crew made us feel safe and cared about. Valerie, the awesome bartender, knew everyone's name within an hour of boarding. Our favorite islands were Folegandros and Syros - the Galileo allows for small island visits, which is one of the best aspects of the trip. Our fellow passengers were friendly and fun to be with, and the configuration of the dining tables allowed us to get to know everyone by week's end. Passengers were from England, Australia, Spain, Switzerland and the US; the multitude of cultures greatly enhanced the trip. There are so many benefits to being on an intimate yacht as opposed to a giant cruise ship. In addition to jumping into the sea from the boat and visiting smaller islands, there's a sense of being part of the environment, an intimacy that can't be had on a floating city with thousands of inhabitants. I can't wait for our next Variety cruise. The only part of the trip we didn't enjoy was saying good-bye to our new friends! Huge thanks to everyone connected with Variety Cruises, for allowing us the privilege to sail with you on our perfect vacation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Viking always does a first class job. We have been on four Viking River Cruises before, one Norwegian Cruise, and one Princess Cruise. We thought we would never do another ocean cruise after having done the river cruises. But when we ... Read More
Viking always does a first class job. We have been on four Viking River Cruises before, one Norwegian Cruise, and one Princess Cruise. We thought we would never do another ocean cruise after having done the river cruises. But when we heard Viking had started doing ocean cruises, we thought we would give is a try. Although the ship is bigger than a river cruise, it is still small enough (900 passengers). Although we sill prefer river cruises, if we go on another Ocean Cruise, it will be Viking. They do it right. The service is impeccable. The food is phenomenal. The shore excursions highly enlightening and enjoyable. We watched other cruses ships pulling into the same ports we were. I can't imagine it is that fun to be on a ship with 2 to 3 thousand people. Again, although I still prefer river cruises, a Viking Ocean cruise is a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Looking for a unusual island hopping experience in the Aegean and stumbled across the stunningly beautiful Royal Clipper. The holiday was arranged through travel who arranged flights to Athens and from Istanbul. Because of the situation ... Read More
Looking for a unusual island hopping experience in the Aegean and stumbled across the stunningly beautiful Royal Clipper. The holiday was arranged through travel who arranged flights to Athens and from Istanbul. Because of the situation in Syria/Turkey the boat was uncrowded, in fact more staff than passengers so we were looked after with great efficiency. The Sail Away each evening as we moved to our next destination was memorable - sometimes enjoyed with a sunset and always with the cocktail of the day. The boat was incredibly quiet especially when under sail when all you can hear are the waves and lapping water. The tour trips were, on the whole, well managed but were not up to the luxurious feeling of being spoilt on board the Royal Clipper. Not a cruise if you are looking for endless restaurants, dressing up and entertainment. But if you want to spend time visiting exotic places, enjoying good food in a relaxed and informal atmosphere then this will be right up your street. Not for children, not for the infirm or those unable to cope with stairs or coils of loose ropes, not for teenagers or those looking for a riotous time. But for the rest of us... pure heaven. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
My wife and I, retired airline people ,have been on many cruises(30plus). We were looking for something different and REALLY found it. Without question the cruise on the MSY Windstar was far and away the best cruise experience of all! ... Read More
My wife and I, retired airline people ,have been on many cruises(30plus). We were looking for something different and REALLY found it. Without question the cruise on the MSY Windstar was far and away the best cruise experience of all! The ship is beautiful. 30 years old but kept in tip top condition . Maximum capacity is 148 , but there were 135 on this cruise. As soon as you board which takes 10 minutes you feel like a special guest. The Captain and many crew meet you and welcome all passengers as you board. Within hours you are being called by name, even by the Captain. Baggage was at our door as soon as we boarded. There are 4 decks but no elevators. The 2 lower decks are cabins only, deck 3 is open space and the MDR and the Lounge and small Casino. 4 deck is the outdoor pool area , Veranda Restaurant and Bridge(open to visitors). Within an hour you will know your way around. There is a small gym on 2 deck which is open 24 .Stairways are easy to use as they are narrow and handrails can be used with both hands at once. The service provided by all staff was perfect. Food in all venues was superb. Deck BBQ on night 5 with unlimited lobster. Great. Food in the MDR was the best we have had on any ship. No reservations required. Dine at any time during dinner hours. Sit as a couple or a table with others will be set up. Breakfast in the Veranda (or sit outside) was wonderful. A small buffet or an extensive breakfast menu to choose from. Lunch on the ship was equally as good with a great Caeser salad station. The sandwich of the day was always good. Our cabin ,126, was one deck 1, right at the waterline and midships. No engine noise there. I liked the sound and the look of the ocean going by our portholes. The cabin itself was all brand new as the ship has just been refitted. Lots of space. An extendable table and sitting area is nice and the bathroom, with a great shower is good. Plenty of storage space. I must mention the shore dinner and show on the island of Rhodes. We were bussed a short way to the best hotel and had a great Greek dinner outside in an amphitheatre .Wonderful food and good show. All included in the cruise price. Open bar too ! Anything you wanted ! There is a watersport deck aft that has all outdoor ocean activities . It is used when the ship is anchored. Unfortunately the day we were to use it at Kalmynos, it was too windy and too much current. We plan to sail on the Windstar out of Barbados in December and hopefully can use it on most days then. If you want something different, sail on Windstar. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We wanted to see the Greek islands. We scheduled to leave out of Istanbul but the State Department warning level got too high and Viking was on top of it. They handled all changes to the itinerary very well including resets of the plane ... Read More
We wanted to see the Greek islands. We scheduled to leave out of Istanbul but the State Department warning level got too high and Viking was on top of it. They handled all changes to the itinerary very well including resets of the plane transportation. To compensate for the loss of some Turkish port stops, additional Greek and Adriatic ports were substituted along with the usual excursion/tour at each port. We only opted for an optional tour once (in Athens) as the included tours were excellent and covered much in each port. The Viking Sea is of course one of the new ships with under 1000 customers and therefor none of the stress of the larger ships (need to be someplace doing something at all times). Only the Sanorini tour suffered from an excess of people on other tours spoiling the experience. The accommodations were very good although to combat people like me leaving the slider deck door open all the time the off switch to the air conditioner is tied to it. The food was very well prepared with many choices. All staff was friendly and professional. Over 20 years ago I observed the staff response at a Ritz Carlton to each acknowledgement of them (thank you) to be "my pleasure". Likewise for Viking. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Cruise report – Le Lyrial 2nd to 16th August 2016 Greek islands by John Lombard Commandant Rémi Genevaz is an old hand who practically built Le Lyrial as he was involved in the planning right from the beginning. He is a big ... Read More
Cruise report – Le Lyrial 2nd to 16th August 2016 Greek islands by John Lombard Commandant Rémi Genevaz is an old hand who practically built Le Lyrial as he was involved in the planning right from the beginning. He is a big advocate for this newest of the Ponant cruise ships (launched May 2015) which has all the latest technology and wins environmental prizes for being the least polluting etc. Dep Dubrovnik Tues 2nd August - Tonight, we docked in the Dubrovnik harbour not far from the old town after slipping away from Gruz at about 6.30pm. The evening started with the usual introduction by the Commandant followed by Tin, our Hong Kong born French/English speaking cruise director, taking us through all the staff and then the whole ship got involved in the compulsory safety procedure. Dinner in the 2nd deck à la carte restaurant with its usual magnificent food, small but tasty serves, and pleasant wines, followed by a show that had five modern ballet dancers. It was excellent, in fact much better than either of us had expected. But we still felt the need to adjourn to the 6th deck bar for a nightcap whiskey… Wed 3rd August – Early 7.30am start for an excursion, a 4 ½ hour boat trip around the Dubrovnik Riviera including a swim in a cove, and visits to beaches, caves and little islands but there was very little historical interest in the tour and there wasn’t much explanation. A bit disappointing. After a splendid lunch on board (note: discipline is needed but it’s hard…), we sailed at 1pm. Then, for two hours we visited the magnificent gulf of Kotor bay. It reminded me a bit of the fjords of Norway of last year. Only a ship the small size of Le Lyrial could get into it and it was spectacular. At 7pm the Commandant’s welcome cocktail party followed by a gala dinner with caviar, shrimps, dorade, fillet of beef, chocolate mousse, plus their usual array of wine. What’s not to like? The cocktail was in the open air at the back of Deck 6 with copious quantities of Veuve Cliquot (I kid you not…). Thursday 4th August - When we woke, we were at anchor just off Paxos, part of the smallest group of Ionian islands. Paxos is an island of endless olive groves, and the neighbouring Anti-Paxos island is virtually one large vineyard. Lazy morning on board till lunch (fresh Paxos oysters and mussels) followed by a four-hour excursion circumnavigating Paxos visiting caves, including one where Poseidon, God of the sea, hid his mistress Amfitriti, daughter of King Aheron. Excellent Greek guide filled us in on the history. Stopped at tiny village of Lakka for a snack of olives, fresh bread, tomatoes, potato salad and a glass of wine or beer. Just what we needed before a slap-up dinner on board. Friday 5th August - We woke as we were dropping anchor just off the very attractive island of Zakynthos. An early rise at 6.30am to catch a 7.45am tender to the port where we had a four-hour bus ride with three stops around the island. The first inhabitants arrived here about 6,000 BC. Our bus tour included the top of the island for a precarious above-view of the famous Navagio Beach which has a reputation of being the most beautiful beach in the whole of Greece. It is only accessible by sea but cruise ships are now barred for environmental reasons. There is also a wreck on the beach that was supposedly a smuggler’s boat carrying illegal cigarettes that was shipwrecked in a storm. Lunch on board included local fresh prawns as we sailed. At about 10pm, we entered the Corinth Canal that cuts through mainland Greece. There are no locks, it is 6.4 kilometres in length and only 21.4 metres wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships. It was completed in 1893 and going through at night is awesome because it is so narrow and it’s dark. We had two pilots, fore and aft, and we crept along at a snail’s pace. The Commandant decided it was such a significant crossing we were all served Veuve Cliquot champagne or Ouzo on deck while we passed through. It was quite an experience. Saturday 6th August - At 8am we dropped anchor just off the port of Hydra (derived from the Greek word for water). It is a glorious sight from the ship, it is a tiny island separated from the Peloponnese by a thin strip of water and there are no motor vehicles allowed. Donkeys, pedal bikes, and water taxies are the main form of transport or else by foot. We booked for a 2 ½ hour walking tour that started at 9am while it was still cool-ish… we had our English-speaking Greek woman guide from yesterday who is a walking encyclopaedia of information. It is a classic example of one of the small Greek islands that are barred to the big cruise ships. At 4pm to 6pm, we were invited to swim in the crystal-clear waters off the back of Le Lyrial… this was sensational. Three Zodiacs roped off an area about 50m x 50m. Dozens of people took advantage and it was great fun. Again, to me the most remarkable thing about swimming in the Aegean Sea is how easy it is to float. The salt levels are very high so it is dead easy just to lie back in the water in a very buoyant way. Sunday 7th August - we had to get up early for a 7am breakfast as our tender taking us to Delos left at 8am. This uninhabited island was one of the many highlights. According to Greek mythology, Delos was the birth place of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis. But in its heyday, Delos was the greatest commercial centre in the whole world! It has been called the Wall Street of the ancient world. It was a free port from 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. Rich merchants, bankers and ship owners from around the world settled here attracting many builders, artists and craftspeople who built luxurious houses with rich frescoes and marble floors. Today, it is an archaeological gold mine and researchers are still working away finding all sorts of evidence of life in a former age. The streets are laid out beautifully and it is not hard to imagine the houses, the markets, the shops and bustling crowds all around. We enjoyed a three hour walk around with Ioanna, our English-speaking Greek guide, who makes history interesting. We could have spent much longer here. But the program meant we had to go to nearby Mykonos which, thanks to Tom Hanks and other celebrities buying property here, has become a tourist mecca. It is very beautiful but not at all well maintained. The result: massive crowds, exorbitant prices, and a lot of junk in the shops. Monday 8th August - We pulled up at 7am at the northern island of Lesbos which had been much in the news over the past year as a destination for thousands of Syrian refugees, many of whom drowned at sea. But the policeman at the harbor of Petra said the flow had stopped now. The main source of income on the island is olive oil which is of very high quality and sardines that they export all over the world. Our excursion took in panoramic views from Molyvos castle above the town of Petra. But the highlight of our tour was a visit to the historic Limonos Monastery which dates to the 16th century founded by a local St Ignatius. It has a significant collection of manuscripts dating back to the 9th century. The main church in the inner courtyard is a magnificent building but women are absolutely forbidden to enter! The ban is causing some heartache at the EU headquarters in Brussels where such discrimination against women is not allowed. But nobody is making any effort at the monastery to do anything about it! At 7pm, the Commandant hosted a farewell cocktail around the deck 6 swimming pool. More bloody Veuve Cliquot, naturally, followed by another gala dinner! Hard to believe we’ll be starting our second week-long cruise on board tomorrow night… Tuesday 9th August – We arrived in Piraeus early for the change-over day for a lot of people, most leaving, a few like us staying, and new arrivals this afternoon. We hired a taxi for four hours to take us to the Acropolis, then to the Museum where we had a very welcome beer and a sandwich and back at the port. The Acropolis defies description, it was absolutely stunning. It was hot, there were millions of tourists, but the sheer beauty and enormity of the whole enterprise just had us gob-smacked. We walked to the top and even the bloody tourists, their guides, and their cameras couldn’t dampen the experience. The museum is relatively new and contains an amazing collection of statues and memorabilia from the Acropolis. A great trip. We sailed overnight back to Lesbos. Wednesday 9th August - Beautiful morning – again - back in Petra where at a civilised hour of about 9am we were taken ashore to do a long bus ride for a special tour to the petrified forest museum which was spectacular. This is a unique geological phenomenon: about 20-million years ago the region was covered with dense sub-tropical vegetation with trees that reached incredible heights like the Sequoia trees in the US as well as conifers, pines, oaks and cinnamon trees. Today, they are all petrified because of the presence of sediments from a volcano. We visited the museum built in 1994 to study, collate, research, conserve and protect the petrified forest which is a Greek national heritage. The only downside is that it is such a long way from Petra although the drive through the hills is spectacular. Another Commandant’s cocktail party tonight followed by another gala dinner… sigh… Thursday 11th August - We arrived in the port of Syros island early in the morning. This is an amazing town, utterly beautiful white-washed houses snuggling in a bay. Syros is the administrative centre for the whole Cyclades islands group. In the 5th century BC, the Phoenicians occupied Syros and it was a major commercial sea port. In 1770, the Russians won the island in a battle with the Turks and took just about everything of value. But it fell back into the hands of the Turks after three years. When the Greek revolution started in 1821, Syros was under French protection because more than 50% of the population were Roman Catholic. Syros is so far the most stunningly beautiful place we have visited, today it is a thriving town that sees huge ferry boats come in several times a day. But it is the streets and town centre that are of major interest. We had a walking tour with Ioanna, our guide, which took us first to the local archaeological museum which had a couple of new discoveries the director was very excited about. Then we walked up the hill to the Greek Orthodox church of St Nicholas, the patron and protector of the island’s seafarers, followed by the Catholic church which is almost exactly like any Greek Orthodox church with its masses of icons. But what is interesting here is an icon by Domenicos Theotokopolous better known to the world as El Greco which showed for the first time that the lad had started his career as an icon painter. After lunch, we went back into town alone and unescorted and walked to the top of a nearby hill to another church. It was a gruelling climb over hundreds of steps. We favoured the most direct route which is also the toughest. Some of the old women and a couple of old men watching us go past were amazed we were tackling the steps when they kept pointing out a perfectly good cobbled roadway which of course was extremely twisty and therefore twice as long. No matter, we got to the top in good condition considering the heat. One of the significant aspects of these Cycladic islands is the amount of marble about the place. Syros has marble footpaths and marble streets. There is marble everywhere you look. One of the guides said the local joke is that marble is cheaper than wood. There is certainly a lot more of it than wood. Friday 12th August - We sailed from Syros at 4am arriving in Paros at 7am; another beautifully sun-drenched port of white-washed houses. This is a very popular island among the Athenian wealthy who have weekend homes whereas Mykonos is home to the international wealthy. By 8.30am we were being loaded into tenders for a four-hour walking and bus tour of the island. We went by bus first to a beautiful mountain village of Lefkes, stopping on the way to admire the massive trunks of 1000-year-old olive trees that are still producing fruit. We wandered around the tiny narrow streets of the village. Next we arrived at the fishing village of Naoussa with dozens of boats. We walked again to see the Byzantine church of Ekatontapyliani, the lady of the hundred doors, one of the greatest of early Christian monuments in Greece built in the 6th century. Saturday 13th August - Another very short sail to the nearby island of Amorgos. We left Paros at 4am and arrived at Amorgos at 6am. It is another of the Cycladic group first inhabited around 3300BC. The island is stunning. The capital in the hills is Chora, a winding labyrinth of whitewashed houses, shops, and bars with windmills alongside. But the real purpose was to visit the spectacular Byzantine Monastery Moni Panagias Chozoviotissas which looks as if it has been stuck on the side of a cliff face. It is a huge fortress built into the rock and you wonder how on earth they built little paths to get up there let alone the monastery itself. And you wonder why on earth you would even consider this as a suitable position. The monastery houses a so-called miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a tiny chapel. The building itself is reached by climbing a very steep 269 steps up 300-m and you don’t want to suffer from vertigo – or claustrophobia when you get into the monastery. There are eight floors but the rooms are no more than 5-m in width although we saw only two. There are very strict rules about men and women having to cover up their knees, shoulders and arms. There are only three resident monks but in the daytime an army of guards keeps us well-dressed! Sunday 14th August - We sailed at 10pm last night and reached the remote tiny island of Symi which stands between Rhodes and Turkey. It is a rocky barren island that owes its early success to its sponge diving fleet and boat building industry which once launched 500 ships a year. There was no excursion planned, so we did our own. This is now the most beautiful island we’ve seen! The port is bustling, a myriad of houses of subtle colours that blend easily into the steep hills around it. We decided to explore the upper part of the town and that meant climbing 500 steps in the heat. We then decided to take a mini-bus to the other side of the island to see a 6th century monastery – that didn’t involve any climbing. The bus ride took about 40 mins and was nail-biting in parts because the roads over the high mountains with stunning views were very narrow and there was a lot of traffic which involved several times reversing quite a distance to allow other vehicles and bikes to pass. But once there, the village was very beautiful. Almost nobody about, just a couple of cafes and a tavern where we adjourned for lunch. We went to the monastery which is spectacular, intricate woodwork surrounding a mass of icons, wonderful wall and ceiling paintings. We head out tonight for our last full day at Patmos. Monday 15th August - We sailed last night at 10pm for our last port of call Patmos in the eastern Aegean, a mountainous small rocky island in the Dodecanese group with lots of pretty coves. It is a Christian mecca because of the St John monastery. It is here that allegedly St John the evangelist wrote the book of Revelations, the last chapter of the new Testament which was, according to legend, revealed to John and he instructed a colleague to write it all down in Greek. There are only about 15 monks still living and working there and the one who kept an eye on us was very strict about men and women taking off their hats as well as insisting everybody’s knees, shoulders and arms were properly covered up. After wandering around there for about an hour, we were taken to the Apocalypse cave which is where St John had his revelation. This afternoon is basically packing up, getting debriefed about disembarkment tomorrow, the captain’s farewell cocktail party tonight (back on the Veuve Cliquot) and the gala dinner. We are asked to have our bags ready for pick up at 8am tomorrow as we will be off the boat by 9am! Then it’s going to be Athens for two nights before back to Geneva. Comments: Le Lyrial was a very happy ship, all the staff and crew seem to enjoy their work. Nothing is ever too much trouble or everything seems possible. The passengers are about 70% francophone but all the announcements, excursions, and protocols are in both English and French. Everybody on board is bi-lingual. Not speaking or understanding French is not a disadvantage. The age group depends on the tour. Our cruise to the Norwegian fjords last year were mostly our age, no children. The Greek islands tours had more families (August holidays) and the ship had a kids’ club with staff to look after the little darlings. They didn’t inhibit our enjoyment at any stage. It is a significant Ponant advantage that they operate an open bar system which means all drinks at all meals and in all bars are included in your ticket. The only exceptions are if you order a premium drink (a Johnny Walker Blue label whiskey, for example), you pay. But everything else is on the house. This means not having to worry about a bar tab at the end of the trip, nor having to shout a drink for your new best friend. The cabins are all external and most have a small balcony. Unless you take a suite, the cabins are what I would call compact, they’re certainly not spacious but we found them all right; the beds are very comfortable and the showers excellent. There is a free mini-bar and an ice bucket that can be filled up in the bar. They provide you with a whole range of free toiletries. There are three bars, one on the third floor that’s open 24/7, one on the 6th bar that’s only open at certain times of the day, and an open air one on the 7th deck again only open at certain hours and not at all in cold weather. There’s also a fully-equipped theatre that they use for lectures, classical piano recitals, movies etc. The food is excellent and enticing. Being French, there are two full-time pastry chefs. In fact, there is an army of chefs. And they will basically cook anything you want. There is room service at all times although we have never used it. There are two restaurants on all Ponant ships: the 6th deck buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the 2nd deck à la carte restaurant that serves a buffet breakfast and lunch but a menu dinner where they prefer you don’t wear shorts or thongs! On our cruise, the 6th deck was very popular for dinner because you could eat under the stars and bookings were essential. If you didn’t book by breakfast, you didn’t get a table. The excursions are an extra, but they’re not compulsory and they are very varied but always interesting. Some require a degree of fitness and/or agility. But staying on board can be just as relaxing. Our view of the excursion is that they are bucket-list excuses and you/we are never likely to get another chance. There is an excellent library on the 6th deck. There is no casino and no flashing lights disco although on the 7th deck open air bar there was nightly music which people could dance to. That certainly didn’t operate in the Arctic Circle last year… The reception desk is open 24/7 and there is a fulltime doctor and nurse who usually take it in turns to accompany the excursions. Ponant runs an excellent loyalty scheme and although these back-to-back cruises were only our second and third trips, we were upgraded because we had made reservations for our fourth cruise next year which qualifies us for Admiral status. This gave us free laundry throughout (invaluable on a hot weather cruise), four hours each of us for each week (ie a total of 16 hours) free WiFi use, plus we got 400 Euros worth of discounts on our excursions. We met other passengers who were on their 12th and 15th cruises which qualified them for Grand Admiral status! Not sure what they get for that but it would be considerable. Maybe Veuve Cliquot on tap… We’re very much looking forward to our next cruise, a 17-day cruise in August 2017 under the title of Ultima Thule, the Horizontal Everest, which goes from Kangerluassaq in Greenland all through the Baffin sea around the east coast of Canada to Straeling island, the northernmost point reached by the Vikings. Only a year to wait… and we are eagerly anticipating the announcement of cruises for 2018 when we will have a certain significant celebration. Finally, the secret to Ponant cruises in our experience is to book early to get the full discount of 30%... and the best cabins. And this is the link to a blog with photographs written about the cruise by my wife Jean Lombard: http://taxidotle.blogspot.com/ Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Have cruise we other small ships such as Windstar and Seaboure. The Ship it self was fantastic having only been launched in 2015. The cabins were small and difficult for 2 people to dress for dinner etc if both in the cabin at the same ... Read More
Have cruise we other small ships such as Windstar and Seaboure. The Ship it self was fantastic having only been launched in 2015. The cabins were small and difficult for 2 people to dress for dinner etc if both in the cabin at the same time. `The food was fantastic and the service second to none, except being a french owned boat the crew and staff assume you are french which is fine to start with but after a couple of days can be very annoying if you do not speak french. With circa 240 people on board having 19 sun loungers with large french families of unto and over 16 per group will not end well when travelling to destinations during the day. Overall a good cruise but with important details letting it down can't feel disappointed. One being that from the top enrtainment and pool bar you had to go down 2 deck levels to find a WC?. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We arrived in Athens the day before departure and were taken to the Athens Gate Hotel by Welcomepickups. We would recommend both the hotel and the car service. Welcomepickups also brought us to the port the next day - timely, clean car, ... Read More
We arrived in Athens the day before departure and were taken to the Athens Gate Hotel by Welcomepickups. We would recommend both the hotel and the car service. Welcomepickups also brought us to the port the next day - timely, clean car, polite driver, easy to reserve on-line. Athens Gate Hotel is in a wonderful location for exploring the Acropolis and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We dined in the rooftop restaurant of the hotel which has a fabulous view of the lighted Acropolis. Our room rate (205euros) also included a nice breakfast. Embarkation was a breeze. Journey is a lovely ship. Everything was clean and efficient. Our cabin (balcony, midship) was fine with the exception of the tiniest shower I have ever used. It serves the purpose and had great water pressure but you won't linger. Robes and slippers were in the closet and tons of hangers. Our cabin was beautifully kept the whole trip. We would put out the little sign indicating that we wanted the cabin cleaned when we went to breakfast and it was always completed upon our return. The food was really very good and the included wines and drink selections were fine. We sat with the same waiter every night who was fun and efficient. There was a very nice jazz brunch, officers barbecue, White Nights celebration on deck. We dined in both specialty restaurants and did not find them to be worth the extra charge. This may be because the food in the regular dining room was so good. Entertainment was okay but this is a small ship so don't have big expectations. Cruise director did a great job. The Captain was everywhere! He made you feel like you were in his home. We only did 2 excursions from the ship - Delos and Burano/Murano - both were well worth the money. That said, we did arrange for private tours in 4 other ports. We enjoy the intimacy of a small group and the cost is much more reasonable. We have only been on two other cruises(Alaska and Panama Canal)both on Princess so our experience is limited but we really enjoyed this ship. We liked the longer days in ports, the all inclusiveness (almost) of the fare pricing, the friendliness of the crew, the presence of the Captain, the quality of the food, and the general quietness of the atmosphere. There is no constant loud music or loud DJ around the pool. We liked it so much that we booked another for next year while on board. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was our first trip to Europe and my second time on a Norwegian Cruise. It was an incredible experience on both counts. The itinerary (Venice, Santorini, Mykynos, Olympia and Corfu) was the main reason we chose this cruise, as was ... Read More
This was our first trip to Europe and my second time on a Norwegian Cruise. It was an incredible experience on both counts. The itinerary (Venice, Santorini, Mykynos, Olympia and Corfu) was the main reason we chose this cruise, as was the exceptional price. Embarkation was about average and slightly confusing, but just about everything was stellar after that. The room was ready upon our arrival and the service throughout the cruise was top notch. The passengers were a mix of people from all over. I would say that there were probably about 50% Americans, lots of Brits, several people from other European countries and small groups of people from just about everywhere else. The announcements were done in four different languages to accommodate the diversity. It was great! We purchased a dining package that gave us access to several of the add-on restaurants. The best, by far, was Le Bistro. I would skip Moderno. Cagney's was good, but you could easily get by without any additional costs for food and be perfectly happy. The best options are the for free dining are: 1. Grand Pacific - this is the best dining room. We ate here as soon as we embarked and avoided the crowds. It was great. They also ate here for breakfast and dinner and all of our meals were great. 2. Blue Lagoon - this was a cute little place where you could get a good burger, wings or a quick breakfast. It was way quieter and quicker when you were trying to get off the boat to get to shore and still get a decent breakfast or you just want a little taste of home (if you are American). 3. Jasmine Garden -- free Asian restaurant with lots of great options for both appetizers and main courses. 4. The Great outdoors -- when we went to the buffet, we always ate here. It was way more relaxing. Bars - for bars, try the flight of martinis at the martini bar -- super good and a great value. The entertainment on the ship was outstanding -- the Elements show blew us away. I have been on a dozen cruises and this was one of the best shows I have seen, as was the Beatles tribute band. The rooms were as expected and our cabin steward was great. The islands are beautiful. We did not book any shore excursions with the ship, so I cannot comment on that. They seemed pricey. We were able to do everything on our own for less (as we do on every cruise). If I had one complaint about the cruise, it is the process for handing out tender tickets. It was crazy. I am not sure I could come up with a better way to do it, but there were very long lines and if you didn't stand in one, you were pretty late in leaving the ship and getting to port. To sum it up, it was a relaxing and beautiful cruise. Being our first time in a European port, I was somewhat nervous that things would be confusing or challenging. It was not. We had an outstanding time and would not hesitate to book again on Norwegian even though we usually go with a different line. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My wife, 16 year old daughter and I returned yesterday from a 7-night cruise onboard Crystal Symphony from Athens to Athens. This was our first Crystal cruise which we chose due to itinerary, date and curiosity as we have always wanted to ... Read More
My wife, 16 year old daughter and I returned yesterday from a 7-night cruise onboard Crystal Symphony from Athens to Athens. This was our first Crystal cruise which we chose due to itinerary, date and curiosity as we have always wanted to try Crystal. My wife and I are in our mid forties and are addicted to cruising. I've completed over 70 cruises on all lines ranging from budget to very luxurious. I started cruising at age 13. With age, as our taste and budge changed we have particularly found Oceania and Regent cruises to best suit us. This review is by no means a comparison of lines. The reason we have found Oceania and Regent to be so desirable is their commitment to quality ships, service, food and entertainment. Most importantly, when we sail on these lines we always feel special. We have for the most part abandoned mass market cruising unless if for a group or special event. I did have some trepidation about trying Crystal as I had heard it is "old school", "formal" and "stuffy". Although old school might have been appealing we certainly don't care for venues which are formal, stuffy or even pretentious. Additionally, my family always dresses well, but the idea of having to put on a tuxedo on a vacation seems ridiculous to me. Unless I'm going to a black tie wedding or the Academy Awards I don't see the purpose of a tuxedo on vacation. Well - Crystal debunked any myths of ill fated pre-conceived notions and grossly exceeded our expectations in every area. We found Crystal to be perhaps our favorite cruise line and cannot imaging how our experience could have been better - unless I really wanted to nitpick which would be ridiculous, but I will do it anyway because otherwise this review will seem too perfect. The ship is certainly older and as such the staterooms and suites are smaller than the competition's new builds and a bit aged, but extremely well done. The only other little detail I would suggest is one which would improve the lunch experience at the Trident Grill. The Trident Grill can get backed up during peak hours with lines and wait times. A solution would be to take passengers orders and have tables labeled with numbers which would go on the order and then the food could be delivered when ready allowing passengers to sit comfortably instead of stand waiting for their food. This would prevent the bottleneck that happens during peak hours and works well on lines such as Oceania and Regent. The fact that I have no other critical comments or suggestions is remarkable and kudos to Crystal! FELLOW PASSENGERS: Fellow passengers hailed from all over the world and many age ranges and situations were represented from solo travelers to couples, families, and friends traveling together. The age range of passengers was all over the map. One thing was apparent - Crystal seems to appeal to and attract fun loving people who are young at heart. Passengers were well traveled and seemed to all have a strong preference for uber luxury in a comfortable atmosphere. Many passengers are repeat Crystal loyalists who expressed they would never dream of trying a different line. As mentioned we traveled with my 16 year old daughter who was the only teenager on board. We traveled with her so we could all spend time together and she did not miss having other teens on board. There were a few very well behaved toddlers on board. STAFF: One significant area where Crystal stands out is with it's staff. A happy ship equals a happy trip. In all of my travels I have never experienced a more warm, passionate, friendly and genuinely sincere crew eager to please the passengers. From the time of embarkation we immediately felt welcomed on board as if we were visiting family. Remarkably - and almost immediately - the staff addresses passengers by their names and remembers even their little desires. I cannot reduce to words how incredible the crew of the Crystal Symphony are. AMBIANCE: From the moment you embark on Crystal Symphony you sense something special. An ambience which is very classy, upscale, yet comfortable like your local country club. The fellow passengers and crew interact like old friends - and in fact many passengers and crew have become old friends over the years and passenger loyalty is apparent as is that of the crew. Many crew members have been with Crystal since the beginning. My family found there was nothing stuffy or pretentious about Crystal. In fact, just the opposite. I think being a luxury line and attracting passengers who appreciate such an experience breeds a natural comfort level which creates an environment of warmth and community which feels familiar to that which the guests are accustomed. The ambiance reminds me a lot of a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, but the overall experience Trumps both chains many times over. I've never experienced service at any luxury hotel that exceeds that received on Crystal. DINING: Dining for us on board Crystal Symphony was old school. We had a 830pm dining time. It's been years since we've had fixed dining and we LOVED IT! We truly enjoyed getting to know our waiter, busboy, head waiter and maître d'. Every dinner was excellent with service to match. Preferences were quickly learned on the first evening and remembered. Our waiter asked us on the first night how we liked our dining experience to be paced and kept it constant throughout. He wanted to know if we wanted to enjoy slow two hour dinners with time between courses or whether he should move things along. Our preference was to move things along - as we like to make it to the shows - he did a perfect job. Quality and presentation of the food was on par even with Michelin 1 and 2 star restaurants in my opinion. We enjoyed Silk Road and Prego as well. Silk Road was excellent, but being frequent patrons of Nobu in Los Angeles found the atmosphere not to be typical of a Nobu and although the sushi was fresh it did not seem quite on par with the land based experience. Nonetheless, I would still rate Silk Road as excellent. ENTERTAINMENT: I could go on for pages about the entertainment. My entertainment expectations were no expectations. After all how could a small line with only 2 cruise ships provide any type of jaw dropping entertainment. Wow! Was I wrong. I'm quite critical when it comes to entertainment and have been fortunate to experience the best entertainment Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Broadway has to offer. Every show we saw on board was outstanding! The singers and dancers were extremely talented and major production shows being very well produced and captivating. The production shows were complimented by the Crystal orchestra. Guest entertainers and ballroom dancers were amazing. One of the most pleasant surprises was Mark Farris who lit up the piano bar every evening with his brilliant talent, wit and ability to engage the audience. Lastly, but certainly not our cruise director Paul McFarland is the best we have ever experienced. He truly set the tone for the whole cruise experience. CABINS & SHIP IN GENERAL: Despite the age of the ship and not having some of the glitz and glamour of newer vessels - Crystal Symphony is perfect! She is a comfortable and contemporary ship that that has been updated for the times with a timeless elegance. Her size and passenger capacity is just perfect. We never felt like the ship was crowded. No significant wear and tear in any area was recognized. Our accommodations were in a Penthouse Suite which was very comfortable and of adequate size with excellent design and décor. However, don't expect to compare the staterooms on board Crystal Symphony with new builds like the Regent Seven Seas Explorer where the entry level suites (the ship is all suites) are larger than the Crystal Penthouse Suites. I saw cabins in other categories and despite being small are very well appointed. The cabin sizes would not impact my decision to consider another Crystal cruise. Public rooms are comfortable and flow between areas is excellent. Of note, upon arrival in our cabin and unpacking my daughter's feet became soaked when entering the walk in closet. Apparently, a clean water pipe from the level above had leaked. Within minutes the Chief Housekeeper arrived on scene and workers were ripping up the ceiling to repair the leak and drying up and shampooing the affected carpeting. Several other repairs were required during the cruise on this pipe and were done when we were not in our stateroom. The day of embarkation we were offered to immediately have our stateroom moved and to have the staff pack up all of our things. We declined as the problem was a fixable one. Later in the cruise we received a bouquet of flowers with a note thanking us for our cooperation and apologizing for any inconvenience. Class act Crystal! PORTS: This was a fabulous week of Greek island ports with embarkation and disembarkation being the port of Athens. Originally, the cruise was supposed to conclude in Istanbul, Turkey, but the itinerary was changed due to safety concerns. The itinerary was port intensive, but fabulous nonetheless. Some ports were repeats for us and some were new. What a pleasant surprise Naphlion and Hydra were. CONCLUSION: Crystal has earned our loyalty and business perhaps as our new favorite cruise line and we look forward to continuing cruising on Crystal for years to come. Apparently, Crystal is arranging for 3 new build cruise ships. I imagine Crystal's ambitious and innovative CEO Edie Rodriguez will continue to have her finger on the pulse and incorporate more relevant and modern features on the new ships that were not typically the standard of luxury cruising when Crystal Symphony was launched in 1995. The bottom line is that Crystal Symphony is a 21 year old ship that has wowed us like no other! I can only imagine combining the food, service and Crystal standards applied to new build cruise ships. I'm certain that when the new ships launch any question of competition will be drowned. There will be no competition. Even now, despite a number of cruise lines being marketed in the luxury catergory - Crystal is in a class of its own. Thank you Crystal! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My wife and I have sailed on about 40 cruises including some high end cruises on Crystal, Seaborn, Regent, and Azamura. This was our first cruise on Silversea and it compared nicely with the other luxury cruises we have been on. ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed on about 40 cruises including some high end cruises on Crystal, Seaborn, Regent, and Azamura. This was our first cruise on Silversea and it compared nicely with the other luxury cruises we have been on. Embarkation was quick and easy in Istanbul. The ship was docked several blocks from the cruise terminal and we didn't notice that Silversea had a shuttle until we arrived at the ship on foot! Oh well. We needed the exercise anyway. The ship was in very good condition and all the spaces were clean and tidy. The cruise we were on was only about 60% full, so the crew to passenger ratio was about 1:1. Even though we probably had the least expensive cabin (oceanview suite) on the ship, we found it to be spacious and comfortable. Our butler offered us a selection of toiletries including Bulgari and Ferrengamo products along with a hypoallergenic selection. My wife couldn't decide so he gave us both of the designer labels. That was actually convenient because the suite had a separate full size bath tub and a large glass walled shower, so we could place one set of products in each one. We were also offered a selection of pillow which we tried, but ended up liking the original pillows best. Our butler also delivered fruit in the evening, kept our refrigerator stocked with our favorite beverages, and on several occasions, delivered excellent in room breakfast. Our room steward kept our suite spotless and was never intrusive. Dining was very good at all times and in all venues. The only thing that seemed strange to me was the lack of steak on the menu. They had plenty of other excellent offerings, but for beef they seemed to favor angus hamburgers. Entertainment was good for a small ship. One South African duo was particularly good singing standards accompanied by Piano in the Stars restaurant. The other musical groups were good, but they were duos and trios and they tended to rely too much on synthesized rhythm and drums for my taste. To me, they sounded better when they just played their instruments with out the synthesizer. All in all, we really enjoyed out first cruise on Silversea. We're ready to go again! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I recently had the pleasure of touring the Greek Islands, with a dash of Turkey thrown in, on Panorama II. I have nothing but praise for the yacht and more importantly its crew. Ably led by George and Stella, who do a tremendous job, ... Read More
I recently had the pleasure of touring the Greek Islands, with a dash of Turkey thrown in, on Panorama II. I have nothing but praise for the yacht and more importantly its crew. Ably led by George and Stella, who do a tremendous job, all crew members from the guys serving us breakfast each morning through to the staff attending to the rooms are a credit to Variety Cruises. Their professionalism and pleasant disposition at all times makes for a relaxing and immensely enjoyable experience. The food, expertly prepared by Chris and his team, also needs mentioning as it was first rate at all times and supplied in abundance. Coupled with some great destinations, the on board experience amounts to a fantastic customer experience. I am a repeat Variety customer and following this cruise, fully intend to take another in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Sailed with a group of 8 on this cruise. While there were issues with port time changes after final payment was made, Oceania's commitment to service and excellent food remains the same. I would have given a 5 star review if there ... Read More
Sailed with a group of 8 on this cruise. While there were issues with port time changes after final payment was made, Oceania's commitment to service and excellent food remains the same. I would have given a 5 star review if there were no port time changes. We embarked in Istanbul. As usual, Oceania's boarding process was smooth and efficient. On board, our room was ready immediately (we were in an Oceania Suite). The other rooms in our group were ready exactly at the times they stated upon embarking. Being the experienced Oceania cruiser, I took my group of 8 on a tour of the ship. They were appropriately impressed with the ship. We took a tour of the Canyon Ranch Spa too and were greeted immediately by a staff person who took us on an impromptu tour of the fitness and spa facility. She was very nice and helpful! They had a special if you booked a service on the day of sailing, so, for the first time, I signed up for a massage. WOW! It was excellent. I highly recommend doing this on the first day - it really got me in the vacation mode and took out all the kinks from flying in a cramped aircraft for many hours. The food was excellent in all of the venues, but I do have to say that Toscana has slipped a bit. Food was just OK and service took a long time. Food in the Grand Dining Room was excellent but the service took forever. Red Ginger has upped their game and the sea bass was out of this world. Polo Grill and Jacques were excellent as well. The Terrace Cafe was fine as was the Waves Grill. In summary, Oceania continues to be one of the best foodie cruises in the business. I can't say enough about the staff service in all respects. Whether it was embarking and disembarking at ports each day to the reception desk, to the wait staff and housekeeping, service was the best and the staff were helpful, friendly and easy to access. Our butler, Chandu, was awesome and our housekeeper, Jai, was equally awesome. The room was cleaned constantly and we never lacked for clean towels, a stocked refrigerator, and any assistance we may have needed. Oceania Suite room was incredible! 1000 sf of pure luxury! The media room boasts every movie and song known to man. The bathroom was huge and included a large shower stall and whirlpool tub. The deck is almost 3 times the size of a penthouse suite deck and has a whirlpool tub too along with a lounge chair and deck chairs. The living room and dining room were spacious - enough room to have happy hour almost every night for 8 people. Highly recommend trying this room at least once. It was worth the upgrade! One small complaint (and I feel bad about even mentioning it), the door handles are made of heavy metal and have sharp edges. They stick out from the door and I kept bumping into them. I had bruises all over my arms from them. One night of rough seas, I fell into the door handle and bruised my chest. We had to wrap some of them in napkins to make them less painful. Really need to re-think them! Only used Oceania for one excursion in Volos. They did a great job with it and the ship waited for us when we were about a 1/2 hour late getting back. Overpriced though. For the first time, I took the artist loft classes. The artist, Graham Dennison, and his wife, Shuna, were so friendly and patient with me - a beginner. Graham was a Disney artist for 20 years. He is a very talented artist - he uses a pallette knife to paint and I can't believe the paintings he has created with that knife. He has the gift for teaching and by the end of his classes, I learned how to draw a disney character, use a pallette knife and he even helped me "try" to paint the Santorini dome church! I really enjoyed it. They also unveiled one of his paintings on board with a reception ceremony. It was a nice way to meet others on board and see Graham's latest painting. Would recommend dropping in the artist loft just to see what is going on. Attended one of the evening shows and the Pool Deck party. Both were OK but not great. This is one area Oceania could improve on. Though, I have to say, the Cruise Director, Ray Michaels, is on the friendliest and upbeat cruise directors I have ever met. He is an asset to Oceania Cruises! Kicking, screaming and crying, we disembarked in Athens. Process was smooth with no issues. As for port time changes.... This was the one issue I had with Oceania. They changed port times after final payment was made which made me scramble to rearrange private port excursions. The time changes resulted in us arriving in port later than usual - 10:00 am or Noon vs 8:00 am. Some people liked getting in later because they could sleep later but I like having the time in the afternoon more and found that I missed laying out by the pool in the later afternoon after a long day of walking. In any case, I feel that Oceania short-changed us a bit in this respect. We had at least 3 ports with time changes and I know, from the message boards, they are doing this more and more across the board. Because of this, I did not book another cruise while on board as I usually do. I will wait to see how they handle this going forward before committing to another cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My wife and I went on 7 night/ 8 day Greek Island cruise with friends in September 2015. For months we were looking forward to a trip of a life time, sharing websites links of Harmony V with friends and family. After a month long ... Read More
My wife and I went on 7 night/ 8 day Greek Island cruise with friends in September 2015. For months we were looking forward to a trip of a life time, sharing websites links of Harmony V with friends and family. After a month long European holiday we could not wait to board our " luxury cruising yacht." What a let down. Harmony V was nothing like the photos on the website. It is extremely tired and in a desperate need of a make over. The furnishing and fittings reminded us of a cheap motel. We were not informed that the majority of the passengers were part of a seperate tour group catering for American tourist. They had their own guide and as such did not mingle as they undertook their own excursions and had their seating arrangements for meals. It was really a case of us and them. The cabin and beverage staff were very good and tried their best. The food was average with little variety and the Greek wines on offer were very expensive and not very good. We saw very little of the captain and his executive team. We could however smell them from their constant smoking on the bridge. We paid what we believe was and extremely high price which obviously heightened our expectations. Please do you homework before making any bookings Read Less
Sail Date September 2015

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