My wife and I had never previously been keen to join a cruise. However, the itinerary of this one, its emphasis on historical exploration and the fact that the boat seemed relatively small and therefore perhaps more intimate and less ... Read More
My wife and I had never previously been keen to join a cruise. However, the itinerary of this one, its emphasis on historical exploration and the fact that the boat seemed relatively small and therefore perhaps more intimate and less processed, enticed us to book.
The itinerary was well planned with appropriate time allocated to most of the venues and days at sea, although the time spent in Morocco was too short, leaving insufficient time should any glitches occur. Several did and the coach journeys in particular became endurance tests for us.Commencing our cruise in Funchal created a special introduction to both the ship and Madeira, helping us to settle in quickly to the ship and its routines and to relax whilst guided around such a beautiful town.
The ship was in tip top condition having quite recently received some refurbishment, and throughout the cruise every opportunity to maintain the ship in splendid condition seemed to be taken by the ship's crew.Our cabin was of an adequate size and apart from the paucity of storage space let us enjoy its comfort and amenities.It was kept clean by our cabin staff, although there were several occasions when insufficient towels or loo paper etc were provided.The options for dining were very acceptable and a star feature was the energetic and friendly waiters and waitresses, who were consistently conscientious and welcoming. The main restaurant was situated in the depths of the ship. It was well organised and food was served slickly with an emphasis on courteous attention from all staff.Its physical size, especially the low ceiling made it feel slightly claustrophobic at times. The food was generally quite good but did not live up to our pre-cruise expectations, especially the dinners. Providing almost 300 dinners from a relatively confined galley space may well contribute considerably towards explaining this.The food provided at the other restaurant where breakfasts and lunches were mainly served, was very well staffed and our food was generally enjoyed.Once again, the staff were very well organised and worked consistently hard to please the guests.
Entertainment was organised and promoted by a highly personable and talented manager, where there was almost certainly something for everyone, although far too much was aimed at those older than my wife and I, and could well do with a thorough review and revamp.The quality of the entertainers of every kind was always of a high standard or better.
My wife and I enjoy activities for reading and reflection and we were able to find plenty of occasions and venues to fulfil these wishes. One major criticism is the hopelessly inadequate provision regarding internet and especially Wi-Fi onboard. It was demonstrably naf and way below the expectations of many travellers of today.
Our shore excursions were largely both well organised and thoroughly enjoyable; being of suitable duration in most cases, and visiting an interesting range of local places. With one major exception, the guides were very well trained and provided both excellent commentaries and advice about the life and culture being experienced. A day visit to Rabat proved dire, with an indecisive guide and inadequate provision for crucial activities such as using toilets. The visit included seeing the royal palace, but it was a cursory affair whereas a typical fortress nearby, seemingly heaving with interesting local Moroccan life, history and opportunities was not included. The guide provided for us when visiting Marrakesh was extremely good and made the whole visit come alive. The hotel was also a real treat and a welcome "watering hole" for us to enjoy.
The ability for the relatively small ship to provide cruising from the Atlantic up to the port of Seville was a delightful experience and took us to the heart of such a fine city. It also provided the chance to enjoy the many delights of Cordoba. Being moored in Seville provided a delightful finale to the whole cruise.
Overall, we felt the cruise provided reasonable value for money. For us its worst feature was that we left the ship feeling it was in some ways rather like a "floating care home" and locked into days gone by. The general ambiance came across as one perhaps suited to folk quite a lot older than ourselves, and we have been retired for well over a decade. We would not plan to use the cruise company again unless we could be convinced they had revised their philosophy and realised more effectively what we suspect most travellers of our age-group or younger now seek from cruising. We appreciated the ship's many individual qualities and strengths, but somehow left feeling a strange combination of rested and relaxed, yet somehow a great deal older than when we first arrived in Funchal.Maybe we have arrived at Antiquity? Read Less