6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I'm fed-up with moaning minnies who comment unfavourably on this 70-year old 'real ship' because it doesn't seem to match up to the vast majority of the bland 'floating blocks of flats' (i.e. most other cruise ... Read More
I'm fed-up with moaning minnies who comment unfavourably on this 70-year old 'real ship' because it doesn't seem to match up to the vast majority of the bland 'floating blocks of flats' (i.e. most other cruise ships). Of course it doesn't! Anybody who does the most basic of research should KNOW what they can expect of the Astoria. This is a 'travel experience' and all the better for i! Consider these facts; (1) Pretty straightforward arrival/departure arrangements at smaller ports (Poole in this instance); (2) Great destinations (because she's a small ship and can get into places that the leviathans can't); (3) ALL cabins have bath, bidet and shower (OK, possibly slightly tired - but more or less unheard of on newer ships); (4) Other reviewers' adverse comments made about the food are frankly PATHETIC (see later); (5) Friendly crew who appear to go out of their way to be helpful; (6) Sensibly-priced on-board drinks (billed in sterling) with a good selection; (7) Very acceptable leisure-facilities given her small size; (8) Unbeatable value for money as long as you are not expecting The Ritz. We paid just £492 each and achieved a 'one grade' upgrade to an outside cabin, which was a bonus - but the review wouldn't have changed even if we had been in the inside cabin that we had expected. Bear in mind that the basic 'real cost' will actually always be £7 per day each higher because of the addition of the 'automatic gratuity' - so in our case that made it £562 each. Allowing for our travel costs, car-parking (£100 in this case), four port-excursions and a drink or two each day, our holiday-cost increased to just a smidge under £1000 each. Where else can you get full-board accommodation and be transported around the country with organised excursions for just £100 per day? The food in Astoria's restaurant is EXCELLENT (and not at all bad in the buffet). I've not had better Beef Wellington or Fillet Mignon for example. We always push the boat out and have all five courses at dinner (OK, so the 'sophisticated' might say that this is not good form - but I don't care!) and the quantities are entirely adequate. I suppose that anybody paying the top-prices (we heard of some passengers who had paid a basic price of aproaching £1800 each) might feel perturbed that they had to 'endure' the riff-raff (not that there was anybody actually like that on our cruise - just 'normal' folk', expectedly all of age 65+) since there is absolutely no segregation (everybody eating the same food in the same restaurants, using the same bars, seeing the same entertainment and using the same ship's-tenders when transferring ashore from anchor-ports) - which is why the canny traveller will opt for the lower-priced deals. The entertainment-team work hard and their 'Round The World' show in particular was simply fun to see after our second-sitting dinner (a really nice table of 8 incidentally, with an excellent steward). The two guest-comedians (two shows each) generated a good number of laughs at each performance. There were a couple of intersting talks by a guest-lecturer in the room which doubles as a cinema (some good films were shown, but the time of showing did not suit second-sitting diners), - but again, don't expect an I-Max style experience. I genuinely believe that people of 'normal expectation' can have little grounds to fault this splendid old ship. My advice is to travel on her whilst you still can, with just the one caveat that those of impaired mobility might be better-advised to look elsewhere (getting on and off the ship itself - and especially on and off the tenders at anchor-ports - calls for a modest degree of agility). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted a taste of river cruising so this seemed ideal. Embarkation at Poole was quick however a little back to front, you picked up your cruise card at the port, then got on the ship to "check in", have passports checked etc, ... Read More
We wanted a taste of river cruising so this seemed ideal. Embarkation at Poole was quick however a little back to front, you picked up your cruise card at the port, then got on the ship to "check in", have passports checked etc, then were taken to your cabin where your room keys were waiting for you. We booked last minute so the only available cabin was "Inside Guarantee" which was surprisingly larger than expected although really disappointed that the beds could not be put together to form a double. No kettle/tea/coffee making facilities. Bath in bathroom was a bonus. Entertainment was pretty basic, don't get me wrong, the all worked really, really hard but don't expect any Broadway type shows! We found the menu in the Restaurant quite limited and basic, and the portions fairly small. Staff were really helpful and friendly, no long waits at either bar or restaurants. Cocktail of the Day was a nice touch. No "snacks" available late night or if you miss breakfast (which ends at 930am) Due to bad weather most out door areas were mostly closed and the crossing both there and back was the worst I've ever experienced, sick bags and sickness pills were in plentiful supply! Both stops (Honfleur and Rouen) were really pretty, we did not book excursions but visited the areas where the shuttle bus dropped you. Casino was a bit of a waste really, only 1 member of staff to run a Blackjack Table or Roulette Table alternatively between giving out tokens for the slots. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Booked this cruise European Canals, Rivers and Cities, then looked at reviews just prior to sailing and found the Astoria was the oldest cruise ship in the world, plus some reviews were a bit worrying, especially about the cabins and ... Read More
Booked this cruise European Canals, Rivers and Cities, then looked at reviews just prior to sailing and found the Astoria was the oldest cruise ship in the world, plus some reviews were a bit worrying, especially about the cabins and crew. Ok will deal with cabin 464 later. The food throughout was excellent both in the Restaurant and in the Bistso, the quality quantity and service was very good. Our waiter in the Restaurant was superb in sorting out my wife's dietary requirements. Asked for first sitting, got second, so didn't use Restaurant as much as usual. One point on catering, The toaster in the Bistro (and I use the word advisedly) was as much use as a chocolate fire guard, . I put my toast through upto 5 times and it never browned, the queue was miles long. It should be dropped overboard at the earliest possible moment, and in a deep a water as possible. All the crew were smart, polite efficient and helpful at all times and they all seemed to get along well with each other. The ship considering her age was extremely smart, and very clean, no tired looking furniture, carpets etc., Entertainment in the Show Lounge considering the size of the stage was excellent. A really lively group. The ships band was really professional We have cruised with CMV since 2010 (our first cruise). Since then Marco Polo (5), Magellen (1) Colombus (1) and enjoyed everyone. The Captain seemed a bit anonmous, I don't doubt this competence , but I missed the morning briefing as with the Colombus last year when the Captain gave an update on speed, weather , distance etc and the time from his (Very expensive watch!!!), plus he walked the deck and said" Hello" to whoever he saw. Embarkation and dis embarkation were faultless, really speedy. Looking forward to our next Astoria cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Astoria is a ship rich in history and quite a venerable old lady of the seas. We had cruised on her before, in 2012 when she was operated by CIC and named Athena. It was fascinating to see that little had changed in the public spaces, ... Read More
Astoria is a ship rich in history and quite a venerable old lady of the seas. We had cruised on her before, in 2012 when she was operated by CIC and named Athena. It was fascinating to see that little had changed in the public spaces, 6 years and 2 owners later, but the cabins have had some upgrading and the ship now has different external colours. I was amused to note that one of the bathroom towels in our cabin had the CIC logo embossed on it - they went out of business in the autumn of 2012. Embarkation at Portsmouth was the smoothest and quickest that we had ever experienced. We arrived at the port slightly in advance of our allocated embarkation time, but were given our cruise-cards and were on board the ship within minutes. CMV use a different system at Portsmouth on Astoria than they do at Tilbury, as the main processing is done on board the ship rather than in the terminal. Even so, this further processing also only took a matter of minutes and we received our cabin keys very swiftly. Astoria uses the rather dated punch-card type cabin keys, and they have the cabin number on the back of them, so you have to be very careful not to misplace one on board. We used the gym facilities which are very minimal, just 4 machines, but there were few other users even though the ship was sailing at full capacity. The Spa on Astoria has two treatment rooms plus a hairdressing salon. We each bought a treatment, taking advantage of a 10% discount offer for bookings made on the first day of the cruise. The treatments were very average, and we probably would not bother again if we cruise on Astoria in the future. The small entertainment staff worked very hard throughout our cruise to make the evenings enjoyable, and I personally was very impressed with the amount of multi-skilling that they employed to keep the show schedule running. The 'Mr & Mrs' quiz in particular was very funny and gave the audience a lot of laughs. Astoria also has a separate auditorium which is used for lectures and the showing of feature films; both of us felt that this excellent resource was rather under-utilised and many more films could have been shown than actually were. We dined mainly in the Olissippo Restaurant and had superb meals throughout our cruise. Astoria operates fixed-dining with 2 sittings; the Lotus Grill self-service buffet also has a selection of the same menu items on offer for those who need or prefer to use it. We avoided this buffet area at breakfast times as it seemed to be rather a bun-fight, also suffering with constant shortages of mugs for the tea & coffee service station at busy periods. I was very pleased to see that CMV still use 'Eilles' tea; their excellent 'Vanilla Rooibos' is almost worth doing a cruise for on its own! 'Afternoon Tea' is offered only in the Lotus Grill. The ship's crew - in general - were very helpful and friendly, especially the Lotus Grill serving staff who always seemed to have a smile ready. None of our ports of call involved tendering, so I cannot comment on the efficiency or otherwise of this process on board Astoria. The CMV staff were very good at making prompt announcements upon arrival at each port, informing the passengers as soon as possible that they were free to go ashore. Disembarkation was equally smooth and took around 90 minutes for us, but once we got into the terminal the collection of luggage was easy and quick. CMV use 'CPS' for parking at Portsmouth; they are efficient and the process of leaving & collecting our car was completely painless. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
ASTORIA, THE SHIP: Astoria is the world's oldest active oceangoing passenger ship and was originally built and launched as MS Stockholm in 1948. Her capacity is around 540 passengers making her quite an intimate vessel. THE ... Read More
ASTORIA, THE SHIP: Astoria is the world's oldest active oceangoing passenger ship and was originally built and launched as MS Stockholm in 1948. Her capacity is around 540 passengers making her quite an intimate vessel. THE FACILITIES: SIRENES BAR is the “meeting place” on the ship. It’s a small area above the reception desk, holding around 150 guests. The drinks are reasonably priced (see menu shots), and you can purchase additional packages, depending on your circumstances. We picked all-inclusive (CMV Premium) and I think we were better off. In this bar it’s sometimes difficult to attract waiters, and it can take 10 minutes or so to get your drink. I think the fact that the bartender makes and pours all drinks means that the waiters can be waiting to serve their guests. The bar is cosy, but could need a little attention to the chairs upholstery,. LOTUS POOL BAR is the outside bar serving the pool and rear deck. In September this wasn’t open at night. CYCLOPES AUDITORIUM is the cinema and presentation theatre. There are 2 films a day in here, and presentations on various topics. CALYPSO SHOW LOUNGE is the main theatre, holding around 500 guests. Again, drinks are waiter service. The shows, for such a small ship, are very entertaining, being performed by the ship’s hard working “repertory” cast. ENTERTAINMENT as above, is first class from the small team of 4 singers and 4 dancers. They put on some very entertaining shows, ranging from Les Miserables, to Rock and Roll and Wartime Favourites. Special mention to the cruise director, Jon Dulson, who makes sure all entertainment in all bars is top notch. A special mention is also due to the resident band. They are a group of really talented players, some of whom are classically trained and they provided outstanding live music (Unlike some bigger cruise ships where the entertainment is driven by LED displays and recorded soundtracks). THERE ARE MANY OTHER nooks and crannies, such as the library, card room, cigar lounge etc, and of course there is a small gym and spa centre. There’s also a small casino, chapel and medical centre. SHOPPING – you probably aren’t going on a ship like this for the shopping experience, but there are small shops, a jeweller and the obligatory photo shop (although now with a touch screen instead of row upon row of photos on shelves) THE STAFF were always friendly and very helpful. CRUISE SPECIFIC – ours was the Fjords cruise in mid September. Unfortunately we had storms Ali and Bronah to contend with and 2 fjord stops were cancelled due to adverse open sea conditions, prior to getting there, and we were give £50 per cabin compensation for this. The size of Astoria really does mean, in our opinion, that the 7 metre waves we battled against meant a couple of nights very unpleasant sailing, with sick bags in the corridors and advice to the ladies not to wear high heels in the swaying conditions. Also, the presentations on the ship’s trips were very specific in mentioning, for example, the 3 steps onto the Flam railway train, but didn’t mention the very steep gangway needed at some stops, to get onto the jetties. These steps were problematical for some of the elderly passengers. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Chose this cruise for a number of reasons: Firstly, this is the oldest cruise ship in the world still in full operation. Secondly, the itinerary looked great and finally because we have travelled with CMV twice before and been perfectly ... Read More
Chose this cruise for a number of reasons: Firstly, this is the oldest cruise ship in the world still in full operation. Secondly, the itinerary looked great and finally because we have travelled with CMV twice before and been perfectly satisfied. Reading many other reviews about Astoria, leaves me thinking that so many people fail to do any research before booking their cruise. Embarkation at Poole was a dream, I think the entire process took ten minutes. Apparently we were the very first cruise ship to sail from Poole this season, so if they keep this up I can see it being very popular. Certainly, this is a small ship, however, when you step on board it has a much bigger ship feel. I was given the impression that Astoria has been lovingly cared for. The furnishings in the public rooms and cabins were of a very high standard, making everything very comfortable. I was pleasantly surprised by the deck space, entertainment venues and bars on board, all of which are inviting and functional. The Olissipo main restaurant is charming and the food was totally delicious every evening. The Lotus Grill (buffet) looked a little "tired" but the food was great and it worked fine for us. Sirenes and Elpinor Bars were wonderful. The staff we encountered everywhere were polite, helpful and seemed happy. Entertainment was absolutely fine and generally speaking this was a very good value cruise which was most enjoyable. Sure the Astoria is an old ship, but for many people that is the attraction. Yes, it vibrates and rattles a bit, but don't we all at her age? Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
I thought it would be a wonderful way to visit so many far away and interesting places. Indeed overall the cruise delivered its promise and we did enjoy the wonderful places we visited. In general the staff were great and did a ... Read More
I thought it would be a wonderful way to visit so many far away and interesting places. Indeed overall the cruise delivered its promise and we did enjoy the wonderful places we visited. In general the staff were great and did a fantastic job. The entertainment was great at times and OK at others. The drinks plus package we paid almost £30.00 a head for was a rip off. They did not have 3 of the 6 wines advertised and although I complained on the very first day and was told this would be dealt with, it never was. I assumed I would be contacted and compensated but this did not happen and I sent an email to Cruise and Maritime and their final response, after much excusing and explanation, was, "Whilst we apologise for the dissatisfaction caused, unfortunately there is nothing further we can add at this stage". We also had to move cabin twice, I was worried by their comments on the safety issue I raised in that although we were forced to move cabin twice - (once because of smoke issues and the next because of flooding. No compensation for this either) - no-one took us through the safety drill or showed us where our new muster stations were. They showed no concern and did not seem to think this an issue. Very disappointed and quite hurt by the arrogance of theirCustomer Relations Executive. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Have just returned from the Scotland and Faro Island cruise on board the Astoria, first of the itinerary, it included the Orkney's, the Shetlands the Faro Islands and mainland Scotland, for me the highs were the trip to Scapa Flow, ... Read More
Have just returned from the Scotland and Faro Island cruise on board the Astoria, first of the itinerary, it included the Orkney's, the Shetlands the Faro Islands and mainland Scotland, for me the highs were the trip to Scapa Flow, the Loch Ness trip and the stunning scenery, these are places that I have not really thought about going but it is well worth the trip. now about the rest, the ship is old, it can be a bit noisy, it is also very small so some things you take for granted on a cruise were not there, prime example no dressing table in the cabin, all these things you get used to, the cabins are not a bad size and most have manged to fit a bath and bidet in the en-suite, the beds are 2 singles pushed together but we did discover there is a slight list on the ship so my mattress tended to slip, but again I got used to that, the food was good in both the restaurant and buffet, the drinks were a very reasonable price as were the cocktails. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful, they did not constantly push you to buy drinks ect as on most other ships, the photographer always asked if you wanted a picture taken and if you said no that was fine. The ship is charming and this seemed to put people very at ease, the passengers were all very friendly as well which on some cruises never happens! We had the backed Alaska dance by the waiters, something I have not seen for quite a while, but I have to say a big well done to the cruise director and his team, they were amazing, the shows quizzes and extras they did were fantastic. We did have a few rough days, but they offered free travel sickness pill to anyone in need, this ship takes you back in time, if you want bells and whistles this is not the ship for you, if you want traditional friendly and very relaxing I highly recommend. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
I'm not sure what drew us to the cruise the most, the ship or the itinerary. Both were really interesting and so different to anything we’d done before. A ship of just 550 passengers ensured that queues were just about non-existent ... Read More
I'm not sure what drew us to the cruise the most, the ship or the itinerary. Both were really interesting and so different to anything we’d done before. A ship of just 550 passengers ensured that queues were just about non-existent and the people we met were some of the friendliest we’d ever encountered on any cruise. Most were very well travelled and very few had a “whine list”, understanding that a small ship sailing to the Faroes in April might well be rather less stable than an August Mediterranean cruise. Sea sickness did take its toll, however, on many passengers. Due to an adverse weather forecast, we decided to have a couple of days in a hotel beforehand and found the Stifford Hall Hotel very pleasant and reasonable. Had we known, we may well have parked our car here rather than at Tilbury, they do special rates (either stay and park or a fiver a day) and a taxi is around £15 each way. Our scheduled departure was 2pm, however, this was delayed by a bout of norovirus, so we sat chatting to other passengers in the terminal (being offered tea, coffee and fizz!) until the ship had been deep cleaned. We were kept well informed - our scheduled boarding was 11.20am, but we boarded at about 1pm and were delighted to find that the main restaurant was open for lunch – something lacking from other cruise lines. Our previous cruise was on the Celebrity Millennium and we both thought the food onboard the Astoria was much better, as, by and large, was the service. Perhaps a smaller budget means that the chef had to be more creative, or perhaps it was more geared to a UK palate. We both thought it nice that the portions weren’t huge and there were a few gaps in the dining timetable (although if you wanted to eat 24 hours a day, it was possible with paid for room service) – and of course, you could have more than one course – and visit the buffet as much as you wanted! It’s a lovely touch that at dinner you can see what the courses look like, they were displayed in the breakfast buffet area. Our waiters, Yakesh and Milan were brilliant and our dietary requirements were dealt with superbly at dinner. There is a small extra fee restaurant, and people who used it were very complimentary. Although we’d asked for a large table, we were sat on a table for four, and luckily got on exceptionally well with our dinner partners who enjoyed the cruise as much as we did. Entertainment onboard was also unexpectedly better than we’d imagined for such a small ship– and with just two sea days, it meant that most days were spent exploring some very interesting places. The ship’s excursions were all well organised and interesting, although it would have been nice to have had earphones, now a common thing on some ships, especially smaller river cruises – the Astoria has much more the feel of an intimate river cruise than even a small liner. We’d booked the ship’s excursions in most places, but were pleased to see that free shuttles existed in most ports. It is, however, worth considering that people with mobility issues might find it quite difficult getting on and off the ship in some ports as the ladder is quite rickety and the stairs rather steeep. For such a small ship, we were surprised how good the evening entertainment was, although it’s a shame that the “Around The World” evening still ends with White Cliffs of Dover and There’ll Always Be An England. For a nation that gave the world so much music, why we have to hark back to the days of War and Empire. What a shame we couldn’t have John Lennon’s Imagine, perhaps, or even celebrate one or more of our Eurovision wins. We booked an inside cabin and on boarding, were escorted to 422 – one of the largest cabins we’ve ever had onboard, including a bath and bidet, but unfortunately no tea making facilities. The cabin was very comfortable, however, there was an intermittent clanking noise every minute or so, which our earplugs (or the rehearsals from the show lounge above!) didn’t muffle sufficiently. After a couple of days trying to work out what was causing the noise, the people on the desk couldn’t have been more helpful and moved us to a smaller cabin, but with a porthole (252) – when the boat rolled, it also had quite a noise as if something moved over the ceiling, but this was masked enough by our earplugs, although there was significant noise when docking or leaving a port which lasted around 45 minutes. Again, the cabin had both a bath and a bidet. For no real reason, we booked the VIP package which confused some of the waiting staff, more used to the premium package. The house wine perfectly acceptable, and to be honest, with so few sea days, we didn’t really get our money’s worth, but it was nice to be able to order a cuppa in the bar, although the buffet was just next door, with tea/coffee freely available. Unfortunately, personal commitments prevented us from staying on the ship for their next adventure. It’s the first time I can remember that my husband wasn’t ready to come home and would have happily stayed onboard. We both hope that we will have the pleasure of sailing on the Astoria at least one more time before she is finally decommissioned, which will be a huge loss to the world of cruising. Read Less
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