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11 Aegean Odyssey Cruise Reviews

This is our third time on the Aegean Odyssey. It will be our last time on the Aegean Odyssey. The ship suffered engine problems on the previous cruise and they were forced to issue a Full refund to all passengers. The company has ... Read More
This is our third time on the Aegean Odyssey. It will be our last time on the Aegean Odyssey. The ship suffered engine problems on the previous cruise and they were forced to issue a Full refund to all passengers. The company has confirmed that our ship suffered a similar fate and the company made a decision to put a priority on getting the ship to Athens. That meant dropping ports, abbreviating shore leave, and using bus transportation across the island of Crete… I.e. five hours round-trip. A cruise with three days at sea scheduled became a cruise of six days at sea. The company believes a $300 credit is satisfactory. Currently, the majority of the passengers are seeking restitution from the company as we believe they did not meet their contract with their customers and materially changed the nature of this cruise. Before booking with voyages, customers should inquire as to the state of the engines and request a copy of the survey and report that was conducted at the end of March. Buyer beware without confirmation that these engines have been repaired. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
What a disastrous cruise experience. It is difficult to know where to start with this review. We always try hard to give a balanced and factual review. On this occasion there is not much we can say which is positive. The Aegean ... Read More
What a disastrous cruise experience. It is difficult to know where to start with this review. We always try hard to give a balanced and factual review. On this occasion there is not much we can say which is positive. The Aegean Odyssey is an old ship (nearing its 50th year). Originally built as a ferry it has been refitted as a small passenger ship. To be fair it not in bad shape for a vessel of its age. Being a small ship it dos not have the facilities of the large cruise ships. That was one reason for choosing this cruise. The philosophy of this ship is educational cruising. In fact, Road Scholars have chartered the ship from late 2019 for an extended period. The ship attracts the ‘mature’ passenger, many are retired professionals. It has a feel of being a bit ‘clubby’ with Bridge players, and Road Scholars passengers, who tend to form groups and take over parts of the ship. This means areas become ‘no go’ for other passengers. On our cruise it was a mainly Australian, north American and British passenger mix. We sailed on its penultimate cruises before it went in for, much needed, engine repairs. Much of our cruise was mired by the continual engine breakdowns. On one occasion a total failure needing a rescue by tug boasts off the coast of Crete. The cruise was disrupted by slow speed and engine trouble the whole voyage. We arrived late into many ports or had to leave early, which truncated many of our ports of call; Consequently, there was little free time in any port, and we had two additional days at sea. We didn’t make it into two ports on our itinerary due to engine failures. On the previous repositioning voyage from South Africa the ship faced many delays due to engine failures. We remain of the opinion that this ship should never have sailed after the South Africa cruise until fully repaired. What made a bad situation much worse was the senior ships staff making excuses and telling lies to the passengers for the whole cruise: We are going slow because of the wind – it was a calm day! We must leave early as it is Easter – but no other ship left early! We cannot leave this port due to port clearance procedure - we stayed two days while a temporary repair and sea test were completed! Then finally, we can’t go to this next port due to weather conditions – we check and it was a calm day in the port with fine weather! All of these were barefaced lies, we were never told the true situation. The senior staff failed to follow the companies Bill of Rights to passengers. After our cruise the following cruise experienced the same situation. The company then took the decision to cancel the next 10 planned cruises and take the ship into dry dock for repairs. Our experience on board was only enhanced by the ships junior staff who were attentive, hardworking and had delightful personalities. The two resturants served a variety of food, unfortunately we never really had a hot meal as the buffet ‘hot’ food was barley warm and in the main resturant it was only slightly better. Drinks on board are included at dinner and outside that they were reasonably priced. There was very little in the form of entertainment, the odd quiz, and some light music most days, but there were educational lectures. Many passengers were card players and they somewhat took over parts of the ship. Many passengers choose this ship for its educational included excursion programme. These are well organised and had to be constantly changed on our cruise due to the truncated nature of each tour as the ship either arrived late or departed early. In fact, we didn’t make it to Heraklion and buses were arranged for passenger to travel the 5-hour round trip from Chania. The ship also didn’t make it to Santorini due to engine failure. The ship has lots of returning passengers, but I would say many on the cruise we experienced said they would never use the ship again. Mainly due to the senior staff’s unacceptable behaviour. Most said if they would only tell us the truth we would understand, but instead they fabricated stories to try to cover up the problems. On return we complained to our travel company and direct to Voyages to Antiquity. We received a dismissive letter and a derisory offer of £230 compensation. We are in the process of taking this matter up with ABTA. We would never consider sailing on this ship again and many others feel the same. Such a shame that the company and its senior staff felt deceiving customers was a good policy. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Wanted to see and explore Iceland and some of Scotland. We have sailed with this company several times in the past, but I can assure you it will not happen again. From the time we left port there were problems. The water pressure in our ... Read More
Wanted to see and explore Iceland and some of Scotland. We have sailed with this company several times in the past, but I can assure you it will not happen again. From the time we left port there were problems. The water pressure in our cabin was so bad that it was a joke. A joke we tried to have rectified for EIGHT days before the issue was resolved. We were offered a remotely located smaller cabin with half the storage on day five but declined it secondary to the severe rolling experienced in the North Atlantic. Food was beautifully presented but lukewarm at best unless you ordered a la cart. The sewage smell was so overwhelming at times that we couldn’t sleep. That problem was rectified on day TWELVE. The excursions were pitiful compared to past experiences on this ship. They did not run on time, failed almost universally in attaining their stated destinations and resorted to instructions to watch as we drove by! The lectures were quite good as was the attention delivered by cabin stewards and the wait staff in restaurants. During the trip, I fell at night and suffered a massive hemaoma that involved my whole lower right leg. After notifying reception, my husband was told that medical opened at 7:30am. Eventually I was treated with cream and diuretics. MORAL of story don’t plan on adequate treatment if you suffer a life threatening event! Even after returning home my doctor could not get X-rays due to size of hematoma and swelling. She was horrified that I had flown home with my leg in that condition. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Visiting Iceland was the main reason for choosing this cruise. Having cruised previously and pleasurably with Swan Hellenic we had hopes of a similar experience but it was not to be.Our cabin, which was forward on Columbus Deck, ... Read More
Visiting Iceland was the main reason for choosing this cruise. Having cruised previously and pleasurably with Swan Hellenic we had hopes of a similar experience but it was not to be.Our cabin, which was forward on Columbus Deck, immediately impressed as somewhat spartan with no chair and one rather miserable picture by way of decoration. In rough weather the noise in this cabin was akin to an artillery bombardment and I do not consider the £3000pp we had paid represented value for money. Ports of call were missed notably the Orkneys and Shetlands and certainly at least one shore excursion was truncated. I note in the Company's response to Jocklet they plan to offer a goodwill payment in recompense. As yet I have received nothing. To be fair the food offered was of a reasonably good standard and the lectures provided were very good. Not so the entertainment unless you enjoy lengthy quiz sessions or the Cruise Director imitating Elvis Presley et al. After about ten days my wife and I became ill displaying symptoms, I later discovered, commensurate with Legionaires Disease -ie- ataxia, mental confusion, shortness of breath, coughing sputum and extreme tiredness amongst others.Recourse to the ship's medical services proved futile. I was actually asked what I expected from someone in their eighties when I reported my wife's symptoms to the doctor.When I lost balance and was removed from the dining room in a wheelchair he took a cursory look at me and then disappeared never to return. He dismissed my suggestion of providing an antibiotic out of hand I later discovered I had been charged for this "service". Disembarking at Tilbury the ship's staff were at the exit with clipboards but failed to notice we were having difficulty on account of illness unlike the port staff who immediately provided assistance It was a relief to return home and receive appropriate medical attention from our doctor - ie- Clarithromycin 500mgs OD - but we will never travel again with this company.. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I chose this tour on the recommendation of a friend and travel professional. I felt completely duped. the fire on board would have been forgivable if the crew had remotely been professional. Instead, the chief service manager opted to ... Read More
I chose this tour on the recommendation of a friend and travel professional. I felt completely duped. the fire on board would have been forgivable if the crew had remotely been professional. Instead, the chief service manager opted to offer free booze--I suppose the idea was to intoxicate us enough to forget we had no hot water, were getting a bus tour not a cruise and we had already paid for all the beverages we could drink. The staff was unable to make accommodations so the luxury room I was promised had a three day view of an ugly port. YOu take a cruise to bring your hotel room with you. That doesn;t work if you are on a bus for the part of the day you would be travelling. And then once fixed they cancelled ports left and right. So, we didn't get what we paid for; we had lectures on rocks moving but we never visited un-enhanced geography so who cares? and the meals were uninspired. For $1000./day, you would think that the kitchen would attempt to make some regional dishes and desserts. Instead, most desserts tasted similarly and Indian food (delicious but we are in Europe, not Asia) and Mexican food,really? is not appreciated when there are plenty of regional dishes in Europe. Nothing was done to repair the disappointment of looking at the ugliest port in Europe instead of waves for 3 days and looking at the seat in front of you on a bus instead of drinking tea and most of all the unprofessional and disrespectful manner that the crew, especially the lead officer below the captain, dealt with the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
After reading the glowing publicity from Voyages to Antiquity about “small ship cruising at its best” my wife and I were full of anticipation of an exciting cruise on the Aegean Odyssey during a four week ‘Grand Voyage’ from ... Read More
After reading the glowing publicity from Voyages to Antiquity about “small ship cruising at its best” my wife and I were full of anticipation of an exciting cruise on the Aegean Odyssey during a four week ‘Grand Voyage’ from Colombo to Bali. This was re-enforced by our combined experience of over 500 nights ‘small ship’ cruising on other lines. How disappointed we were, as it soon became apparent all was not as promised for the following reasons: Air conditioning in the cabin frequently malfunctioned Bathroom linen was stained and frayed Discoloured dark brown water issued from both hot and cold taps throughout the months cruise. Allegedly the cold water was drinkable? Reported problems met with excuses or denials, reception staff were reluctant to record these events. We never received any feedback or response to these complaints during our month on board. They just didn’t happen! Over flowing waste-bins were common in both the ladies and gents toilets. This was due to both lack of provision of these facilities and poor routine servicing. The poor provision of hand sanitizers at all access points to food and those that were provided did not always work. The attitude of Matthew the hotel director was that “passengers don’t use them anyway!” No consideration was given to deployment of staff equipped with hand dispensers of sanitizer at peak meal times, as is de rigueur on other vessels. An endemic bronchial infection on the ship rapidly spread among the passengers. Secondary transfer by hand contact is a recognised pathway of infection, therefore an increased use of hand sanitizers could have helped to break this cycle. The tea station on the Lido deck was often left with an overflowing waste bin and used crockery uncollected. Tea and coffee cups left in other deck areas remained uncollected for most of the day. We have a great deal of sympathy for the mainly Pilipino stewards and waiting staff, who continually strove on behalf of the passengers but only to be let down by ‘penny pinching’ short falls and lack of attention to detail. For example; linen napkins one night followed by thin single-ply paper tissues the next, together with poorly cleaned (lipstick traces) and cracked crockery on a daily basis. During the first half of our cruise we received an unsigned and undated ‘memo’ from the captain explaining that the coloured water was a temporary problem! As a sign of ‘good faith’ we were being given a single, one and half litre bottle of water so that we could clean our teeth. No further water was offered. This highly unsatisfactory situation of heavily stained water continued all throughout our month on board. Also there were several days when the toilet in our cabin when flushed produced thick muddy water. When reported we were told to keep flushing and it will clear? On most sea days there was a continuous smell of sewage throughout the ship which was strongest near the Lido deck; presumably as the ship’s foul water storage was being expelled into the sea. There was a total lack of communication between the ship’s senior staff and passengers; this was equally reflected in ‘chaotic provision’ of internet connection, or lack of it. The satellite TV system never worked, and was not fit for purpose. The hotel director and his reception staff were well practiced fending off those making enquiries or complaints with half-truths and denials. Trust was soon lost! None more so, than when we were woken at 3am on 27th January by a loud ‘bang’ as both the ship’s engines suddenly stopped and electrical power and air conditioning failed. With only emergency lighting in the corridors, the ship drifted with no propulsion for about an hour off the coast Boneo. Being well travelled, my wife and I emptied our safe donned warm clothing, arming ourselves with torches we went up on deck, where we watched night sky revolve as the ship drifted at the total mercy of the current and prevailing wind. The possibility of collision with an unseen vessel or rocks was a serious perceived risk. Together with several other passengers who were also woken we were told by reception that the engines were still running? Who do they think they are kidding! There was complete silence and with no forward motion the ship was rocking rapidly from side to side. After twenty minutes one of the generators resumed and the some of the main lighting returned. The main engines were started some forty minutes later. The following day, the creditability of this company was further tested by a short PA announcement from the captain, who stated it was a ‘rumour’ that engines had stopped! Giving the reason as a ‘planned maintenance’ of the cooling system?? The quality and range of the food offered fell short of that offered on similar vessels; at best it was ‘executive canteen’ standard. No amount of the pizzas and pastas offered nightly can compensate for quality cuisine. Thankfully there was a nightly fish course offered on the so-called two-item ‘a la carte menu’ and on very rare occasions it featured ‘locally caught fish’ We also have to mention the copious lumps of glowing soot that was expelled from the starboard engine funnel. At night we would watch these glowing embers settle on the deck furniture and those who dined on the rear area of ‘the terrace’, regularly burning holes in the canvas seats (fire risk?) and occasionally the diner’s clothing. Commendably much time is spent painting the outside of the vessel to maintain the appearance of this very tired ship. As independent travellers we and others were in a minority in relation to the ‘group bookings’ of elderly members of ‘college associations’ from the USA. These dominant groups were treated in preference, their complaints resulting rapid and repeated cabin changes together with continuing supplies of bottled water and gifts of wine. This apparent bias resulted in much ill feeling among those travelling independently. There were other passengers who happily regarded short falls described as rather ‘quaint’ and ‘quirky’ aspects of a very old ship, which was originally built as a car ferry in 1973. This is fair if you were paying 1973 ferry prices. However, the cost of this 4 week cruise was £3K more than a 7 week ‘small ship cruise’ we enjoyed in 2014, where the ship, facilities and food were vastly superior. As a lasting memento of this voyage and the ‘brown water’ we now have several items of clothing that are permanently stained. Rest assured this was our first and last time on this vessel, we regret taking the so-called “Grand Voyage” and on reflection wish we had disembarked at Singapore. Unfortunately there is no facility for photographs on Cruise Critic, what a pity!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This is the worst cruise of all our 50 plus cruises. The ship is old, has brown water flowing from the faucets, dirty dishes left out in social areas of the ship for days, air conditioning not working properly, etc. There are so many ... Read More
This is the worst cruise of all our 50 plus cruises. The ship is old, has brown water flowing from the faucets, dirty dishes left out in social areas of the ship for days, air conditioning not working properly, etc. There are so many things that are wrong with this ship, I hesitate to even call it a cruise ship. We found out after we went to the Purser's office that this has been a car freighter. The Purser's office was horrible. When we would ask about something, they would just say, "so sorry about that," and hang up. You could tell they had said this a million times before and were used to hearing about all the things that were wrong with this "ship". We had the second nicest cabin on this ship and it was just ok once you take out the lack of air conditioning and brown water that come from the faucets in our room. The pool on this ship is a joke and so are the public rooms. Don't let the pictures fool you. The pictures I took compared to their pictures make you understand what a scam looks like. Even the crew told us that if we thought we were hot, it was unbearable down below where they were living. They said they could barely breathe and looked forward to coming up to work so they could breathe better. This is so sad. I am surprised someone has not died on this ship or maybe they have and they covered it up. We unfortunately booked the safari days before this cruise and were placed in non-airconditioned lodges that were very basic and not up to the standards we had been promised. The hotel at the end of the trip in Colombo, Sri Lanka was nice and we were thankful to be some where safe and clean for the last few days of trip. We did not leave the hotel to do any of the excursions with the company because of our horrible experience with this company prior to arriving in Colombo. It is too bad that the company that owns this ship think that by charging the money they charge, new people to their line, like us, will pay it thinking they are going to have a great experience. I have waited almost a year to post this review thinking that I might feel different or better about the time and money we spend with this company for this vacation. We can never get our time back and it gave us a valuable lesson to stay away from this company and any others like this. We did dispute what we were charged by this company and received one third of our money back after we submitted pictures of what we endured while on this vessel. The company knows they are selling a bad bag of tricks and endangering people's lives on this vessel. DON'T go and waste your time and money like we did. I am posting this in hopes of saving those of you that read reviews as you do your homework before you book a cruise. I am been cruising since 1980 and have cruised every year at least on one cruise, many years on more than one and this is by far the worst cruise ship I have ever cruised on. I am glad we made it out alive and returned home without permanent damage. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Booked Through: AHI Pearls of Southeast Asia: Hong Kong to Bali - Jan 12, 2013 to Jan 29, 2013 'Cruise Ship': Aegean Odyssey Voyages to Antiquity There were two parts to our "trip" -- starting with ~2 days ... Read More
Booked Through: AHI Pearls of Southeast Asia: Hong Kong to Bali - Jan 12, 2013 to Jan 29, 2013 'Cruise Ship': Aegean Odyssey Voyages to Antiquity There were two parts to our "trip" -- starting with ~2 days in Hong Kong, ending with ~2 days in Bali and the 10 day "cruise" part in the middle. The land based parts of the trip were quite good, organized by AHI and generally up to the expectations we have experienced in the past for AHI Trips endorsed by UW Alumni Travel. However, the 10 days "cruise" between Hong Kong and Bali was extremely disappointing and definitely NOT up to AHI promotions or similar endorsement from Wisconsin Alumni Association travel. Background: On this cruise portion of the trip, there were 5 "excursion" stops (Manila, Philippines; Borneo, Malaysia; Pare Pare, Lombok and Bali, Indonesia) and 5 days "at sea". At this time of the year darkness starts around 6:00 PM. However, 3 of the 5 excursions had port arrival times at 1:00 or 2:00 PM -- which strategically makes the time for excursion kind of tight (i.e.: delay arriving into port or delay getting onto the buses, cuts into time for excursion). Overall comments on the Aegean Odyssey part of the trip: - This ship is promoted as having recently been refitted for "small ship cruising" in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. I would instead think of this ship as "lipstick on a pig", the cosmetics of the ship have been redone attractively, but the inner workings are still those of a Black Sea/Aegean overnight ferry. o This was the FIRST venture of the Aegean Odyssey into Southeast Asia and the crew seemed to be feeling their way along with slow entries into ports and long delays with local customs clearance. o The ships engines seemed out of balance and caused a continuous "shudder" throughout the ship when running at full 14.5 kts. o The engines belched black smoke and black particulates all over the "Terrace Cafe" white canvas seats. Black stripes on the seats and on the passengers rears could be seen throughout. NOTE: all the canvas seats were washed the last evening before arrival into Bali for the next group of passengers. o The Air conditioning was obviously ill equipped to handle the humidity and temperatures of SE Asia. After leaving Manila, the AC FAILED, leaving the passengers to the mercy of 85-90 F heat and similar levels of humidity. Yes 8 days of NO AC on the cruise -- the closed cabins were, in some cases, unbearable with passengers seeking sleep on the decks or lounge areas. The Observation lounge on the top deck was like the 4th level of hell. The Ambassador lounge (lecture hall and general meeting area) was similarly uncomfortable, which detracted from the lecture series (AHI and V to A lectures). Worse yet: the Greek Captain made daily announcements that the engineers are working on the AC and will have it operating shortly (delusional). Also, announcements that parts have been flown into the next port (but they were the wrong ones) and that when we returned from excursion, it would be "frigid". o Comparably minor inconveniences: the Wi-Fi service on board was non-existent or spotty except for the last couple days -- fixed long distance via the UK home base; there was no TV signal for the entire cruise and the daily movies were "hits" from the 60's (e.g.: Around the World in 80 Days -- David Niven version, Bridge over the River Kwai etc.). - Unbelievably, this Greek Captain arrived in every port (YES every port) at least 1 hour late. This late arrival, in addition to the "amateurish and sometimes snotty" actions of the Shore Excursion director and her novice team led to the excursions being rushed or cut short (sites eliminated from the itinerary). On the last evening aboard, the Captain announced that we would leave Lombok for Bali at 23:00 and that the AC would be running again by 22:00, with arrival into Bali (only 4 hours away) at 05:00. Pathetically, there was no AC and the ship arrived into Bali at 06:15 with disembarkation started at 09:30 instead of the scheduled 08:00. - ON THE GOOD SIDE: The British Hotel Manager and the staff of cabin stewards and the dining room servers were outstanding despite the trying conditions. Many of the passengers sympathized with the wait staff and tipped generously before leaving. The food was generally quite palatable and of consistently good quality. The lectures were interesting, but the closed-in lecture hall was very uncomfortable with NO AC. Free drinks were started after the AC failed. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We flew from North America to Hong Kong directly and although it was 13 ½ hours it was tolerable. On arrival we were met by the V2A agent and another couple. We had some wait for a third couple who had managed to exit by a different ... Read More
We flew from North America to Hong Kong directly and although it was 13 ½ hours it was tolerable. On arrival we were met by the V2A agent and another couple. We had some wait for a third couple who had managed to exit by a different door and took some finding. Once we were all gathered we were transported to our hotel, The Langham, which was, very possibly, the best hotel we have ever stayed in. It was beautiful, comfortable and the food was superb. This set up our hopes of a wonderful, luxurious and enjoyable month. The following day we were taken on a tour of Hong Kong and up to Victoria peak, but the view was not very good as it was so hazy. The guide was pleasant but her English was rather poor for the job. We went to Stanley Market and Aberdeen Harbour. In the afternoon we wandered about on our own in the local area and visited a Dim Sum restaurant for dinner. By the time we had had Dim Sum for breakfast every morning and twice for lunch/dinner we had had our fill of that particular food type, but all of it was very good. The second day we went off on our own to Hong Kong Island and found the place I was expecting to find. I was rather surprised at how modern Hong Kong was, but over on the Island and way up the walkway, I found more of the traditional look I had expected to find. In the afternoon we went to the Peninsula Hotel for afternoon tea, which was not worth the money and was regretted. Like so many, they did not know the difference between afternoon tea and high tea, believing that the word "high" somehow added a sense of grandeur rather than offering something they did not deliver. I was surprised at how cold it was in Hong Kong; not really cold, just not as hot as I had expected. On the third morning we were out of our rooms and waiting in the lobby for our transfer to the ship. My husband went out to see the ship, which was within easy walking of the hotel. I didn't have the sense to ask him what he thought. The bus was driven directly on to the dock side and we walked on to the ship with no security checks whatsoever. My heart sank the moment I saw her. My husband later told me he had the same reaction when he went out to view her in the morning. Our passports were taken from us and we were issued with key cards. We were then shown to our cabins. The more I saw of the ship the less happy I was. I understood that she would have been like one of the Saga Sisters, or at worst one of Fred Olsen's ships; older and plain, but comfortable; this was more like the Regal Empress, although in her slightly younger days. The cabin was the smallest I can remember ever being in with so little storage space some things had to remain in the cases. The beds were as hard as bricks (we later discovered that the bases were solid metal sheets). We had an inside cabin which we have had on other ships before, but this one had a claustrophobic feel. We expected it to be warm in the cabin as they often are when the ship is at rest, but the heat and the stench of raw sewage coming from the bathroom made the room untenable and we left as soon as we possibly could. They did manage to get rid of the powerful smell, but a residual one remained. The drains frequently spewed water back up them and onto the bathroom floor. The air conditioning was a saucer like contraption on the ceiling which could be opened or closed by the turn of a knob. There was no finesse about it and no ability to truly control the temperature. We explored the ship and found a couple of lounges, a theatre and a dining room. There was not one comfortable seat in any of them. The sofas and the chairs bolt upright. In the theatre the chairs could be moved, but the tables could not. This was okay for the lectures but would have been very squashed for a dance or other formal event. The decor was plain to the point of being dated and boring. The outside decks were teak and had that old world feel which was lovely. I was amazed that there were so few deck chairs, but I have to say that on most days one could be found free somewhere. Just above the pool was an outdoor bar with sofas and chairs more akin to patio furniture than ship's, but it looked like a nice spot for a drink, although it was, like the rest of the ship, very uncomfortable for sitting. We sailed from Hong Kong in a fog and straight into rough seas. (force 8. This info had to be dragged out of the Capt. later ) There was no word of warning from the Capt. and many of the passengers were very sick and confined to quarters. Moving about was very difficult as she was pitching and rolling quite badly. On other lines we would expect the Capt. to alert us so that medications could be taken in advance, if required. We decided we did not want to go to the dining room on the first evening, so we headed to the Terrace. This is an indoor/outdoor arrangement with a tiny buffet inside. There was a menu board in the hallway directly opposite the hand sanitizer; as a result people stopped to read the menu and missed the sanitizer. My husband suggested that they stagger the two things so that one could read and then use the cleanser. This was done for one day and then it was moved back again on orders "from above". This meant that on most days the sanitizer was never used. I think that all things being considered, on the first leg of our trip, the food was the best we have had on any ship. It was good, varied and interesting at every meal and that was a minor miracle considering what the crew had to endure. The second leg had a different head chef and the food was not so good. Our first port was Manila. Due to the heavy seas we were late into port and so were rushed round the sights. Well, most of them. We had FAR too long in the museum and the dioramas, while interesting and well executed were far too numerous (over 50) for a rapid visit. Our guide's English was dreadful and the Quietvox system was not effective in a tight space where three guides, plus independent visitors, were all talking at once. Later the guide was asked to just talk directly into the box as it would make hearing her easier, but she kept pointing with the hand holding the box, so that didn't do the trick! We missed the church as a result of the late arrival but no apology was offered by the ship and the guide got in such a panic about our tight time that she rushed us back to the ship and we were there half an hour before anyone else. On return to the ship it was rather warm, but we thought that the A/C was just rubbish. So, off we sailed again, into rough waters and again with no warning; sweating as we went. Next day we were in Sandakan to see the Orang Hutan, but guess what, we were late again. We were rushed to the centre, but were well passed the feeding time when we got there so the Orang had been and gone before we got the chance to see them. As it so happened we, and two or three other couples, hung back to the bitter end just in case and we were rewarded by a baby who came to see if there was anything left. We were being called to hurry up for the bus, but we went to see Orang Hutan and we were jolly well going to see her. Again our guide's English was impossible to understand fully and we had to contend with one of the girls from the ship's shore excursions office talking over him. She was a little snip of a girl who spoke to us as though we were children. Their ability to organise was now obviously non existent. People were offered the chance to visit the loo first, but there was no time for that; they were being taken in and out on the same walkway and there was no room to move; communication was not detailed enough and it was clear that details had never been though about. On return to the ship it was sweltering. Day 5 saw us at sea again, but boy were we all miserable. Most of us had had another bad night as there was no A/C at all and we were hot and tired. That evening was the Capt's Cocktail Party but we didn't go as the thought of so many people crammed into that hot room was not to our liking. We heard later that he said that there was a little problem with the A/C but it would be fixed by bedtime. It was not. He apparently did not stay long at his party! We ate at the Terrace. There was a little pot light which was flickering and they sent for an engineer to change it. When he was done I thanked him as I had found the flickering annoying and ask if he could fix the A/C too. I was just joking, but he replied "No. There is a part broken and we HOPE to get a new one at Pare Pare" The Capt knew this and yet he said it would be fixed by bedtime. Pare Pare was over 24 hours away. Day 6 The cabin was now smelling of pseudomonas and unbearable to be in. The crew were changing their clothes up to 7 times per day and getting into trouble for having tops showing sweat. The chefs were working in infernos and several of us asked that we just be given salads and cold sandwiches, but the Hotel Manager said no we would continue as normal. No one really wanted all that food in that heat and yet they had to cook it. The stick, rather than the carrot was the preferred method of dealing with the crew, but it was not working and several were getting near the end of their tethers with the officers. The dining room had been closed as it was too hot to eat there, but we learned that the crew had taken to sleeping there as it was cooler than their cabins! One passenger had a thermometer and took a random sample of the cabins in which to measure the temps. Not one was cooler than 102F!! We had taken to sleeping on deck. This had it problems as there were regular thunder showers in the middle of the night. We were soaked one night, which was a rude awakening! My husband caught a cold as a result. Several others already had it so the place was sweltering, stuffy and full of coughing, sneezing passengers many of whom were not using any hand sanitizer at meal times and serving themselves with their hands. We had the crossing ceremony today at which people were volunteering just to get in the pool. It has not been open everyday which seems odd as it is so hot. The Capt, got carried away with a can of cream and was spraying the lecturers and staff. Some were not at all pleased as their clothes are sprayed with greasy cream. The pool then had cream, spaghetti and other food substances in it making it unusable by the overheated passengers. The Dr was run off his feet with heat related problems and was in one of the hottest parts of the ship while doing it. Day 8 We were going round in circles outside the bay of Pare Pare and were late arriving. We never knew why. We drove for 4 hours, each way, to visit the Toraja people and to see their burial sights. This was fairly boring but the drive was interesting. We stopped en route for fried bananas and photos, on the way up, and again on the way back. As the bananas were included the foods laid out on the way back were assumed to be so also. They were not and the poor woman was not paid for heaps of food the passengers thought they were entitled to take. As was becoming the norm the guide's English was awful so we had no idea what we were support to be learning about the people we were visiting. One thing I did enjoy in the Toraja village was getting to go inside one of their houses. It was on stilts and very dark inside. Pare Pare is the major city of the Bugis people and they were the ones we (Brits) were told would come in the night and take us away if we were naughty. The bogeyman was the terror of many children. The source of this story was the Bugis pirates who were renowned in Indonesia for their ferocity. Our wine waitress was Bugis and a nicer person you would be hard pressed to meet, so I shall now no longer worry about the Bugis coming in the night. It had been announced that the required part to fix the A/C would be brought on board today and that we would be cool when we returned. Not so, it was still sweltering. A later announcement said that it was the wrong part, but the right one would be awaiting us at the next port. As that was Ujung Padang just down the coast in Makassar it seemed unlikely, to say the least. One thing which they did on the ship which I kind of liked was a daily briefing. We would be told about the tour the next day and any information we needed re- dress code, things to take or look out for. On the first leg it was fine, (apart from the heat) but on the second leg it became a free for all idiots who had stupid questions to ask. It was amazing how stupid people can be. On this day Zoe told us that we would be late into port AGAIN and one of the passengers lost the place. He was furious, hot, tired and let rip at her. Later I spoke with him and he and a lady were getting ready to confront the Hotel Manager and were using the "M" word. This was rash as that is a crime and that very afternoon they had learned the results for one Capt Bligh!! Two passengers got off today and made their own way home. It had also been noted that the internet had been down for exactly the same length of time there had been no A/C. Interesting! We spent yet another night on deck, but this night we found a better use for the patio furniture than sitting on it. The cushions were too soft to support anyone sitting, but laid on the deck they made a comfy bed........until the heavens opened and we got an early shower. Day 9. More guides with poor English and more sweltering. At this point the ABC had become ABM(arkets) and we were all getting very fed up. On return to the ship we were told they had embarked 5 engineers and the problem would be fixed that evening. Guess what? After yet another night on the deck we decided that we had had enough and that we could not endure this to Bangkok. So my husband spoke with the Cruise Director, Alison, and said we thought we would get off in Bali. She said she would see if the Hotel Manager could find us another cabin which may be cooler. So in the afternoon we were offered five cabins from which to choose. There was one, on the same deck as we had booked but a little farther forward which, strangely, was a little cooler so we moved into it, but reserved the right to leave in Bali. We were told that the problem was being fixed and it was amazing how many people started to think it was cooler. The power of imagination is truly boggling!! There was a rumour going around that the cruise was going to stop in Singapore as she was due to go there soon anyway for a dry dock spell. We now wondered if that were to be the case would we stay on until Singapore, but decided we would wait and see what happened next. Tomorrow is Bali and those leaving the ship are preparing to go with joy. The Capt said that the problem was being worked on, but no one believes him. He said he would update us at 18:00 but he didn't, nor did he yesterday after making the same announcement. He is without doubt the most unpopular man on the ship. We are in Lombok today and were to gather at 13:20, we were still sitting there at 14:00 and the ship was not yet docked. We arrived at 14:30 and were off the ship at 15:45. They had to cut two stops from our tour and guess what? Yet again we could not understand half of what the guide was telling us. On return we were told by the Capt that the A/C was fixed!! Woohoo!! Another night on the deck. Day 12 Bali. This should be interesting. How are they going to explain no A/C to the new passengers getting on? Simple, they don't. It was so funny hearing all the newbies complaining about the heat. However, I think they had done something to improve the situation as it was slightly cooler and we actually managed a night in our beds. Today was the first day we had a guide we understood. His English was excellent and we enjoyed our day in Bali; apart from two passengers who spoiled things by their behaviour. The tour sheet said that we would visit a specific temple, but the guide said that all the guides has suggested to V2A that we should visit another one, as the one on the itinerary required 300 steps to be descended to reach it and, naturally, this meant that the same 300 had to be ascended to get back to the bus. As half the folk couldn't walk the length of their noses this was never going to happen. This woman was VERY vocal about wanting the temple we were told we were going to; she was rude and could not understand that in Indonesian culture you do not say "No". The poor guide was nearly in tears and when we arrived back late to the ship, because she insisted on shopping, there was a rush of passengers to tell the shore excursions folk that we were not late because of the guide. Bizarrely, as we usually complain the other way, there was next to no time to shop anywhere on the entire trip. When did you ever hear a pax saying "We need MORE shopping time!!" ? It was only much later that we think we figured out why she was so insistent. There is a picture of the Ulun Danu Beratan Temple on the V2A brochure and we think she thought this is where we were supposed to go. Why they have that picture I do not know because they offer no tour, at any time, which visits it. Back at the ship many of the familiar faces have gone and there are strangers on our ship!! We are told that the A/C is fully fixed and although not inclined to believe him, we do think it is slightly better. Day 13 at sea and yes, the A/C is fixed. What a relief!!!! We were going through clothes like there was no tomorrow and so complained about the cost. We were given a reduction and told that the company will be in touch with us when we get home. So we settle down to a quite day at sea and expect things to just get better, until about 23:30 when the ship's general alarm is sounded. Not to worry though, it is just a faulty button! What next? What next? The tenders can't be lowered. Now worry, they'll get local boats to take us ashore when needed............and if we need them on the high seas????????? Day 14 Borobudur. Central Java is the most beautiful part of Java and we loved seeing it again. The temple was smaller than I had expected but with the temp at 97F it was quite big enough. We had a great day; spicy food for lunch, being able to use our Bahasa and just interacting with some of the loveliest people on earth. Just adore Indonesia. Day 15 At sea. The sea days just melt away. We had one or two lectures and a briefing, if the next day was a shore day, that was all, but with that, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and a good book it was bedtime before you knew it. There is no prom. deck to walk right around and even if there were it was too hot to bother, so exercise was limited to turning pages and lifting a fork to one's mouth. Day 16 Singapore. We asked the desk staff if we could get an underground train from the pier and do our own thing but they didn't know and were unsure if it would be safe. There was a station right by the pier and we went AWOL for a whole day. It was wonderful. We were off the ship at 07:00 and due to sail at 19:00, but the notice said All Aboard at 17:00. We thought this was very early, and checked with three sources who all said yes, 17:00. So we wandered all over Singapore (very easy city to see on your own) and had a drink at the Level 57 before rushing back to the ship. We arrived at the security at about 17:10 and there was nobody to be see anywhere, so we were a bit worried we were late. There is a long way to walk from security to the ship, so we half ran, and arrived at the gangway in a lather of sweat to see that they had changed the notice from 17:00 to 18:00 while we were out. I am sure those of you on the West coast heard my husband quite clearly. A muttered word of apology was uttered; they send us a free bottle of the free wine we got every night anyway. Singapore was also the port at which three men from head office boarded the ship. Suddenly the crew were stiff as boards. Terror reigned. Having been told we would get a reduction in the laundry over the next week they sent us three bills for the full amount, which put us in the awkward position of either accepting it or complaining, which seemed cheap. The hotel manager was known by his first name, which I have never seen before and did not like. That is no way to address an office; even if he is not a gentleman. The girls at the front desk were dreadful for making people wait while they answered the phone, so passengers got the message and stopped going to the desk, but phoned instead. Generally, their service was poor and the over all attention to detail was slipshod. Day 17 At sea. Invited to a cocktail party at lunch time. Turned out to be for B2Bs. I was quite happy with my one glass of fizz, but others had to ask for a second glass. We were given 45 minutes in the lounge and then turned out. Again that suited me fine, but not everyone was very happy with that. The shore excursions people were made up of Zoe, who seemed to be the senior member; Hannah, Ion and Melisa. Hannah was snippy and spoke to us like we were children, Melisa was quite efficient and Ion was out of his depth; charming but, if you'll forgive the pun, at sea. Zoe disappeared in Singapore and reappeared in Koi Samui. It turned out that she was due to go home on holiday but spent the time in Singapore trying to find a replacement for Ion, who had had more than enough by this point and was barely able to keep his mouth shut. I didn't blame him for leaving and trust he is happier in his new position. The group of them, like the rest of the organisation, did not pay enough attention to details and made their own lives difficult as a result. Over all, I would never cruise with them again. The idea that they are a quality line is laughable. The decor, comfort and general management was barely at standard level. However, the food was very good and the crew in the dining rooms, bars and cabins were fantastic. The lectures ranged from interesting to down right boring; but then there were things for every taste, from healthy living to cargo shipping, from the history of the Vietnam war to the inventions of the Chinese. The ship produced a huge amount of soot and the decks had to be swabbed daily to keep the mess under control. Everyone had black marks on their backsides and several items of our clothes are stained. I spoke, one day with a Mr Nicos,(sp?) who described himself as Gerry Herrod's "right and left arms". I told him how wonderful the crew had been through those difficult and unbearably hot days and he seemed surprised. He told me that he was telling the Capt; from head office, (where he claimed to have stayed for four days without going home) to keep the passengers informed, but I don't believe him. He also said that the reason for the rough weather at the beginning was because we were trying to avoid two typhoons. Why was mention of this never made to us at the time? Almost all of us were seasoned cruisers and many university graduates; were they worried we would be unable to handle to information? He spent his days prowling about the ship finding fault with everything and, although it sounds as though I am doing the same, I am not doing it to the faces of the crew who were the best part of the trip and working their backsides off. I am giving you a review of a ship on which we were less than happy and for which privilege we paid a great deal of money. Several crew members told us they will be leaving and not returning to that company. I wonder why? The tense has changed over this review as I began from memory and ended up transcribing notes made at the time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
5 days into our cruise the Ship lost the air conditioning. For 6 nights, 5 days we were subjected to extreme heat onboard (cabins, restaurants, common areas). The captain and/or ship manager were less than forthcoming about the problems, ... Read More
5 days into our cruise the Ship lost the air conditioning. For 6 nights, 5 days we were subjected to extreme heat onboard (cabins, restaurants, common areas). The captain and/or ship manager were less than forthcoming about the problems, extending no information for days and then very limited info. Attending lectures in the Ambassador Room were uncomfortably hot, meals in the Marco Polo Room were limited, closed one evening because of the heat and other evenings too hot to dine there. Meals were not enjoyable because of the extreme heat. Cabin temperatures were in the 90's with no air movement at all. Passengers resorted to sleeping on the promenade deck and in common areas around the ship. My medications (pills) disintegrated because of the heat. The ship arrived late in EVERY port, thereby limiting our excursions (eliminating some points of interest), and rushed through many others. Upon leaving Hong Kong we noticed considerable black smoke & soot emitting from the smoke stacks which continued throughout the cruise. Crews washed down the promenade deck each morning to rid the black soot. T.V. channels were non-existent and Internet was intermittent - mostly down for the whole cruise. Upon disembarking in Bali, instructions were given by a crew member circulating around the ship to inform passengers (suspect intercom was now down). All in all a very unpleasant experience aboard Aegean Odyssey, BUT cannot say enough about the crew who managed to smile and work tirelessly throughout. No apologies from Aegean Odyssey. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We travelled on the Aegean Odyssey in June, and what follows is a detailed review of our experience and a deconstruction of their brochure to demonstrate how they simply failed to deliver on their marketing hype. We were spending our own ... Read More
We travelled on the Aegean Odyssey in June, and what follows is a detailed review of our experience and a deconstruction of their brochure to demonstrate how they simply failed to deliver on their marketing hype. We were spending our own money (I have no connection with the travel industry) which explains this webpage. We're avid readers of Tripadvisor, and we first read the bad reviews, screening out those that are from people that clearly chose a hotel based on little or no research. If there are a sufficient number of genuinely bad reviews, there seems little point reading the good ones. This review is the one I wished we'd seen before we booked. "Choosing a holiday is a big decision" And sadly it's one we got wrong. In April 2010, three of us booked their third ever cruise (the maiden voyage was May 4, 2010) and our excuses are that there were no reviews at the time, and that we were seduced by the itinerary, the included package of excursions, and the fact that "house wines from countries we will visit" were included with dinner. That the ship had been "entirely rebuilt" immediately prior to our holiday seemed a bonus, since the ship would be, in many respects, brand new. Now nobody likes to admit they have mucked up, but we feel we owe it to our fellow cruisers (especially those that have cruised before on a 'proper' cruise line) to warn them. OK, the holiday was cheap, but if you see their brochure, it seems fairly upscale, thus the company is not positioning itself at the cheap end of the market and you might therefore assume that these early cheap prices are to gain market share, rather than because the ship is old and deficient and because the catering, admin etc were all below par. Now you could argue that much of this is subjective, but what is not subjective are the Paris MOU Inspection Reports the ship received first on 10 May 2010, six days after it set sail on its inaugural cruise, which revealed 27 'deficiencies', then 11 weeks later on 27 July 2010 which revealed 'only' 8. (NB you might not wish to read these reports if you're booked to travel and are of a nervous disposition.) Three questions: 1. Why was it not held in port in May until these things were put right? 2. Was this first inspection triggered by the fact that ownership of the ship changed on 30 April 2010? 3. Why was its registration switched from Greece to Malta on 1 April 2010? Inside the brochure "you will find all you need to know about our ship, the Aegean Odyssey" I think not. There are two problems with the brochure: first, much of what it does contain is hyperbole written many months before the first cruise ["your waiter will remember whether you take coffee or tea, and the barman whether you like your martini shaken or stirred" which reads like some trainee copywriter's wet dream] and second is what it does not contain. We knew the ship was old and remodelled before we booked, but the assertion that "The Aegean Odyssey is a premium class ship" is laughable, it is basically a clapped-out wreck. It may have some premium class cabins, but the ship itself belched black smoke virtually 24/7, even when stationary (see above and top left). Everything aft of the funnel got covered in soot the whole time, including in your breakfast coffee, juice and milk jug. And since they also left the seats and lounger cushions out 24/7, the combination of dew and soot meant that the seats you got to sit on for breakfast or lay on round the pool would therefore be damp and dirty (see left). You could obviously forget wearing any light-coloured shorts or skirt around the ship. "A good night's sleep" But as well as the muck from the funnel there was the incessant din and vibration throughout the ship — particularly if you were aft and on deck 4 and below. The brochure heading above then bangs on about fine bedlinen, however the highest threadcount in the world is useless if your cabin is so noisy that you can't get the aforementioned good night's sleep. I reckon that you can gauge the quality of a cruise ship by whether its cheaper cabins are nevertheless tolerably quiet and comfortable, in which case I reckon these guys will struggle to fill the ship. Web poster Boronia on the 27 July cruise said that "there were only 161 guests and a total of 179 crew" - a load factor of not much over 40%. That doesn't of course stop them trying to get forward bookings, but I doubt many people who follow the web will hand over their balance until the current torrent of bad publicity dries up. The Aegean Odyssey "provides the best features of a mid-size ship such as passenger space" Now one of the things you learn when you discover cruising is that not all cruise ships are created equal, not even those with same number of passengers. The passenger : space ratio** is an indication of how spacious a cruise ship is, and is derived by dividing the number of passengers into a ship's tonnage. So with a PSR of only 30.6 (well below that of any premium class ship) any suggestion that the Aegean Odyssey is particularly spacious is not credible. ** This has nothing to do with cabin size; that's largely a case of you get what you pay for. However if they were talking about the cabins then I need to point out that neither of the mock-ups of the Inside and Outside cabins shown on p69 of the brochure matches the cabins we had, nor do they match the floor plans on p67. There is no room for the stool shown and we had to ask for it to be removed; basically there is insufficient room to swing a kitten, let alone a cat. Incidentally, the reason we had two cabins is that while we were at dinner one night the bathroom leaked water (at least we hope it was just water) onto the carpet under the bed and in front of the bathroom door (moral: don't leave any clothes on the floor). Housekeeping came and took a look, and promised to fix the problem, dry out the carpet etc in the morning. However, come the dawn, the leak was all the way out into the corridor, hence we got moved. The good news was that the new cabin was merely noisy, rather than deafening. Time for a soak in the pool Apart from the black smoke and soot, you have to wonder what the people who commissioned the refit were thinking of. I don't know about you, but when relaxing on the sundeck at sea I like to lower myself down the steps into a nice pool, and luxuriate up to my chest, ideally hanging off the rail chatting to my fellow passengers. Well you can't do that here: first the pool is over six feet deep, there's no rail around it to hang on to, and there are only three steps in. But surely keen swimmers can cope with this? Er, No. When at sea, the pool resembles a tidal wave, making entering the pool a mortal hazard (see right). At least one review says the pool was drained while at sea, but this was not the case for most of our voyage. Ironically the ship was docked in Venice overnight at the end of our cruise and the pool was drained while we were in port. Makes you wonder why they bothered having a pool, especially since many people that could have coped with the depth were put off by the fact that the water was freezing cold. Talking of mortal hazards... By the end of the cruise, the ship was beginning to resemble a hospital A&E, many of the injuries due to dysfunctional elements of the ship (eg. the lifts). But the most dysfunctional element of all was the ship's tendering, which was shambolic for the whole cruise, even when the sea was like a millpond. Clearly these guys have never done this before, and haven't the faintest idea of how to lash a tender to the side platform; thus it a) took forever, and b) was frankly dangerous. It tells you something when the captain and two other officers have to supervise the process (see left). The antiquated and therefore slow and inefficient tenders themselves had a range of problems, including dangerous metal beams that you could easily bang your head on (should have been padded), an exposed drive shaft (just waiting for someone to dangle some clothing in), to nothing to hang onto inside the tender. trip going down and you'll know about itAnd check out the 2" lip at the top of every external staircase, with no downward warning notice. An accident waiting to happen if ever there was one. "Wonderful food, good wine" is a boast of the brochure, which then refers to the Mediterranean's "gastronomic culture of using the very best fresh local ingredients cooked in a simple but delicious and healthy style [being] the inspiration for the restaurants on the Aegean Odyssey" Web poster Seebaer says that "...Gerry Herrod is on top, meaning he dictates pretty much to the Caterer what he likes and dislikes". Hello? GH was not on board, but was shadowing the cruise on his yacht for some of the time, and I seriously doubt that he joined his customers for what was frankly works canteen food, much of it tasting frozen and anything but fresh. To make matters worse, the food put in front of you often bore little resemblance to the courses described on the utterly pretentious menus (check out the brochure for an example, which sounds as if the aforementioned copywriter popped out and borrowed one from some swanky Soho restaurant). But think of the Italian/Sicilian/Croatian house wine... "As we are in the Mediterranean, we do not think it is appropriate to serve dinner without wine. House wines are from countries we will visit and are included. Other vintages are available at reasonable prices." This is obviously aimed at people who enjoy decent wine with their meals at home (eg, me), and who wish to continue to do so onboard. The (chargeable) winelist was pathetic, with a nondescript rosE at nearly $30, including the 12.5% automatically-added service charge, while a Chianti (and presumably the rest of their wines) was supplied by a merchant in Piraeus. The house wines were supposed to have been "carefully sourced from Italy, Croatia, Sicily and Greece" but this care clearly had more to do with cost and availability than with quality and topicality; the house wine was 90% Greek [Kretikos, from Crete]; drinkable, but basically plonk. Not one wine from Sicily or Croatia was available on a cruise that circumnavigated Sicily and travelled the length of the Croatian coast. "Meticulous planning" The brochure trumpets this but it became obvious within 24 hours of embarkation that the catering and excursion teams were not 'joined-up' (it turns out the Cruise Director had legged it a week or so previously and would not be replaced during our cruise). Meals were served at ludicrous times, although they probably seem normal to anyone living in a care home for the elderly. For example, dinner was often served 18:00-20:00 (they are obviously not planning on attracting any Spanish customers!) Meal times were emphatically not "arranged to suit the shore excursion programme" or other events. For example: an excursion did't get back on the ship until 18:30 whereas the Captain's cocktail party started at 17:45 (but at least they had the good sense to re-run this a week or so later). Chaotic administration This was exacerbated by the hectic schedule, however much of this chaos was made worse by an almost pathological inability of the staff to communicate effectively with passengers. As a tiny example, in Palermo we took advantage of the "frequent nighttime stays in port [with] the opportunity of going ashore to enjoy an after-dinner stroll". We therefore sauntered out of the gates of the port to enjoy some espresso and grappa [at $3.50 for an espresso on the ship we weren't prepared to risk this being as rubbish as the ordinary coffee, and we seriously doubt the bar stocked any grappa]. An hour later, at 21:30, we are confronted by locked gates. Luckily a member of the crew with some bottled water on his shoulder** happened by who knew that the gate was shut at 21:00 and he escorted us to the alternative entrance a hundred or so metres away. So why weren't we told about this when they swiped our card as we left the ship? **apparently the crew can't stomach the desalinated water on board, and we have to say it often tasted pretty disgusting. Paul Motter has put up a photo of the brown water that came out of the tap, but here's one I took of what got left behind in the sink. "The Aegean Odyssey has been designed to offer the sophisticated traveller every comfort at sea" Oh, really? According to Chambers, one definition of sophisticated is 'someone accustomed to an elegant lifestyle'. Well on our cruise such people were either thin on the ground or were seething with frustration, like us. If you've travelled extensively throughout Europe, and stayed in some pretty sophisticated hotels, enjoying gourmet food, fine local wines, real coffee etc then this ship is as far removed from that type of sophistication as you can get. The food is mediocre, the wines cheap, the coffee tasteless and the breakfasts typical of a cheap motel. As for comfort, I feel sure that the travel press guys in the Owners Suite may have been reasonably comfortable but down in steerage (Deck 4) in your 2'6"-wide bed the situation is a tad different. However, even they can't avoid the sometimes stifling conditions in the main dining room or the lounge (for a lecture or cocktail party) when the air conditioning goes on the blink. But the lectures will be good, won't they? Regarding the lectures and how these were organised, the Ambassador Lounge had poor acoustics yet faulty mikes, a small screen, and an old music stand as a lectern. It was badly laid out, since you entered the room near where the speaker was located (rather than as usual, at the back), and it was often flooded with light (making visual aids a nightmare). Leaving part way through a lecture therefore tended to disrupt the proceedings somewhat. The scheduling of the lectures, as with so many other things, was poor. NB there is no cinema. In a nutshell There are a whole load of things about Voyages to Antiquity that are flawed, too many to outweigh the positives of the itinerary and the excursions. On the one hand, some of the problems could be fixed with a) better training (or more experienced crew), b) a whole new approach to food and wine, and c) more joined-up and enlightened thinking on the general management side; on the other hand are problems that can't be fixed easily, such as the engine/soot/noise/vibration, stair lips, pool layout/depth. But costs would undoubtedly have to rise (if only to pay for a higher standard of cuisine and better quality table wines) if they implemented the former, and this would make the offering even less attractive, given the difficulties of implementing the latter. Basically Mr Herrod should have stayed retired if this is the best he can do. He bought an 'antiquated' ship (somewhat ironic really), knocked a few pairs of cabins into one, messed about with funnel (and apparently made the soot problem worse!), gave it a lick of paint, bought some nice sunloungers and orange cushions, and then (according to what we were hearing on the ship) ran out of money. And probably also time, since it was still being refurbished during our cruise (among other things we gained a shelf under our sink about a week in). Reports on the web and other sources since we disembarked have detailed a steady stream of things that are being worked on. So did we complain while we were on board? Well, when we (like many other people on the cruise) expressed our dissatisfaction at numerous issues to reception, we were mostly fobbed off and/or told that there was nothing they could do. But let's imagine some hypothetical questions and answers: Q. When we arrived on the ship from the flight that your company arranged for us, we discovered that the safety drill** had taken place hours before while we were waiting for our bags to arrive on the luggage carousel. To add insult to injury you put a letter under our door telling us that our names were called but that we failed to respond, despite the fact that you knew we could not possibly be aboard, as you had not processed us for embarkation. What do you intend to do about appraising us of the safety drill? A. Late arrivals will have their own drill tomorrow [as if that was ever likely to happen with the hectic excursion schedule, and it was never mentioned again] ** this cavalier attitude to safety, plus the unbelievably inept way they carried out tendering, left us with no confidence whatever that people would all have been fine had there been a real evacuation of the ship. Q. I'm not happy that the funnel belches black smuts all the time over the dining chairs and sunlounger cushions, which are always left out overnight and thus get damp. I now have dirty shorts. A. There's nothing we can do about the smoke. Do you want your shorts laundering?** [as if that is going to make any long-term difference, and you'll be without them for 24 hours] ** I did in fact send a pair of white shorts to be laundered, at my expense, but when they returned they were still grubby and I asked not be charged. They said they would launder them again but I said No, I wished to wear them the following day. They laundered them again anyway, and it was only when I came to wear them that I discovered they had written my cabin number on the pocket in indelible ink. What would possess anyone to do this; have they never heard of safety pins? Q. Our cabin is so noisy with the throbbing engine and deafening A/C that we can barely get a wink of sleep, and the beds are far too narrow, at about 2'6" wide. A. You chose one of our cheap cabins, which are noisier, and there's no room for bigger beds. Q. The pool is too deep to stand in, being over six feet deep at its shallowest, plus there are only 3 tiny steps to climb down, no rail, and I should have expected to see a lifebelt [of which there are very few around the ship] A. That's the way it was originally built and it wasn't changed as a result of the refit. Q. Your brochure says that "meal times will be arranged to suit the shore excursion programme", so can you explain how we are supposed to eat breakfast, return to our cabin to clean our teeth and be ready to disembark by 07:30, when a) you don't start serving breakfast until 07:00 and b) the serving queues are a mile long? A. The wait staff don't come on duty until 07:00 [some not until 07:30 like the 2nd 'egg man'], staff rotas were planned before we knew the excursion times and it is difficult to change them...blah blah blah Q. Why do you serve iced water to people around the pool in glass, surely this is dangerous? If someone sitting on the very edge of the pool dropped theirs, you would have to drain the pool and ensure every last shard was gone. Someone has in fact just knocked over and broken their beer glass on the sun deck, and I saw housekeeping sweep the debris into the gutter.** A. We have no plastic 'glasses'. ** These gutters have soot in them each morning, presumably as a result of hosing down the decks at dawn; see right. By the end of the day the decks are filthy again, as I found out when I walked along the deck barefoot, not to mention moving a piece of furniture to reveal a build-up of sooty debris — so you wouldn't want to accidentally drop your light-coloured top. Q. We're not happy with being served almost exclusively Greek wine on a cruise that is almost exclusively in Italy, and does not feature Greece. A. The ship is provisioned in Piraeus and we have loads of this stuff to use up before we can buy any more. Q. The dishes we have just been served either do not match their description on the menu and/or were of poor quality. For example the bruschetta with beef, came with beetroot (not beef) and the Key Lime pie tasted like rubber. A. The bruschetta got lost in translation between Indonesian and Greek (or whatever) and the chef has never been to the Keys and thinks that Key Lime pie should taste like that. A disregard for safety Self-evident from the above is that there was a dangerous disregard for safety. I have to mention here the lift doors. Normally, when you enter a lift as the doors are closing they spring back (using a magic eye). Not here, they feel like a power press. Apparently some elderly gentleman was quite badly hurt as a result, and he probably wasn't alone. Then there's the stair lips, the absence of sufficient lifebelts, the glass round the pool, before you get to the substandard tender safety, which has the potential to lead to serious injury. Customer service This is also dysfunctional, both at HQ and on the ship. As a specific example, our flights (out of Heathrow) were relayed to us via our cruise consolidator, as a result of which we agreed to proceed and paid the full balance, due to the late date. Almost immediately the company came back saying that there were no seats left out of Heathrow, we'd therefore have to fly out of Gatwick. We refused to accept this, saying that we had just been offered and had accepted a firm itinerary, and if they couldn't resolve this we wished to cancel, whereupon seats out of Heathrow were miraculously obtained. In common with many other people's experience, there was never any hint of an apology, merely a 'take-it-or-leave-it' attitude. Complaints on the ship were batted away and mostly not addressed, and we filled in a final questionnaire but unsurprisingly we have not been contacted by them as a result. By now, most readers will imagine me to be a regular Victor Meldrew and will be wondering whether there was any good news. I can only reply that we wanted very much to like this cruise. The retro lines of the Aegean Odyssey are splendid and when its engines were new it may well have been a pleasure to travel on; but those days are long in the past. So we'd recommend this itinerary and these excursions to anyone, just not on this ship. Also, giving praise where it's due, it was good to see bottled water issued on all excursions, on which the QuietVox systems worked brilliantly. But don't just take our word for it There is now a lot of comment on Voyages to Antiquity on the web and some fairly hair-raising stuff appears on a number of web forums. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Aegean Odyssey Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.6
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 2.0 3.2
Public Rooms 3.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 2.0 3.0
Family 1.0 3.0
Shore Excursion 4.5 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 4.3
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.3

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