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We chose the Grand Voyage to the Rivieras (London to Rome) on Aegean Odyssey in June-July 2016 because it was a small ship which promised an educational program and visits to antiquities. Selecting a four week cruise was always going to be a stretch for us because we usually prefer a more active style of holiday, however the itinerary indicated that we would primarily be in port participating in excursions during each day except for 3 days at sea and the fact that the ship was small enough to dock in smaller harbours adjacent to old towns really appealed to us. The reality was quite different and very disappointing. Excursions: The pace of the excursion program was much too slow for us (we are in our middle 60's and are fit and active) seeming to cater for infirm, older passengers who don't like to be inconvenienced by getting up and out early and who have an inherent fear of stairs and walking any distance greater than 100m. The excursion organisation seemed at times to be poorly coordinated. We have been on other shorter cruises where within moments of the boat docking in port, passengers were whisked away to coaches on their excursions with no time wasted. On the Aegean, shore excursions rarely started before 9am even though the ship had docked hours earlier. Most of the shore excursion staff were young and seemed disinterested and inexperienced in customer service and public relations. The shore visits we enjoyed most were when the ship docked within walking distance of the old town and we could do our own walking tour. Just something to note: We booked our cruise in Australia with the price quoted in Australian dollars yet the booklet provided to us by the Australian agent which outlined shore excursions had the cost listed in $ but did not specify which country. Having been provided the information in Australia we presumed that the excursion price was Australian dollars but how wrong we were. On boarding we discovered that the excursion prices were actually American dollars. With the exchange rate that means they cost much more than we anticipated and really equates to false advertising...Beware! Cabin: We booked Room 711 a Premium Outside Room which had a fixed double bed and a view restricted by a lifeboat but which was in the middle of the ship for stability and well away from the propeller. Even still the vibration could be felt in our room. This old ship does not have the stabilisers that newer ships have so it certainly rocks and rolls even in a small swell which meant that we missed one scheduled port because the captain chose to travel away from the coast to make the boat more stable. The ship also travels considerably slower (9-15 knots) compared to larger ships which travel up to 23 knots. On viewing other rooms we were glad that we did not spend further money on larger rooms as they didn't seem worth it. The room and ensuite we chose were more spacious than we were expecting. I have rated the cabin average because the towels were stained, white-grey in colour and often with frayed edges and should have been tossed out ages ago. Ship: The Aegean is an ageing ship which struggled to provide the premium quality experience we paid for and which was advertised. While we did not have any real problems, other guests shared their experiences of burst water pipes, continuously flushing toilets , sewerage seepage. It seems unbelievable that a cruise ship which includes river ports in its itinerary is actually incapable of processing the silt from the river. The two days we were in port in Bordeaux we had to "manually flush" our toilets with a bucket because the water to the toilet cisterns was turned off because the silt was causing problems in the plumbing. I don't recall that being mentioned in the promotional information! Add to that the fact that we were only cruising half-an-hour from embarking in Dover when we had to man our muster stations for two hours while the fire crew put out a fire in the engine room. The ship is due to go into dry-dock in November 2016 but I doubt that anything short of a re-build will solve the problems long-term. Ports: Due to the fire our itinerary, excursions and service were all compromised. While the crew did their best to manage the situation by providing an open bar (a bit lost on us because we don't drink alcohol) and hot water was limited to a couple of hours each day. The fact that we were docked in an unscheduled port for three days while the ship underwent repairs meant we were unable to participate in a number of excursions and a number of ports were eliminated which was very disappointing to say the least. We have been promised compensation for this loss but at the time of disembarking, no one would specify what the compensation would actually would be, which is a poor response. Dining: Meals in the Terrace Cafe did not meet our expectations with most food bland, and soft. We like more texture and taste in our food. Again, the ship was probably catering to the geriatrics that were on board. When booking our cruise we identified that we were vegetarians but somehow that information was not recorded by hotel services and never passed on to the shore excursion staff. That meant when we were invited to attend a special meal in the Marco Polo Restaurant we RSVP'd requesting two vegetarian meals BUT what we got was they just skipped the three seafood courses meaning we got less than everyone else... really! Even though I directly advised the shore excursion staff each time our excursion included a meal that we needed vegetarian food, it took a full two weeks before the message was acted upon. Crew: The hospitality and service crew were from the usual mix of Asian countries and were always friendly, helpful and went out of their way to please. Entertainment and Activities: The Cruise Director, Richard Sykes,was a bundle of energy who never seemed to sleep and seamlessly coordinated the entertainment as well as contributing to the program himself. The expert speakers were entertaining, intelligent and interesting. The Library provided a country-specific news summary every day which was useful given that the WiFi was woeful and there were plenty of books, both light reading and educational available. We would not choose to cruise with Voyages to Antiquity again because the style of cruising, the clientele it attracts and the intense focus on antiquity, does not suit us.

Disappointed

Aegean Odyssey Cruise Review by wild55

16 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2016
  • Destination: Europe
We chose the Grand Voyage to the Rivieras (London to Rome) on Aegean Odyssey in June-July 2016 because it was a small ship which promised an educational program and visits to antiquities. Selecting a four week cruise was always going to be a stretch for us because we usually prefer a more active style of holiday, however the itinerary indicated that we would primarily be in port participating in excursions during each day except for 3 days at sea and the fact that the ship was small enough to dock in smaller harbours adjacent to old towns really appealed to us. The reality was quite different and very disappointing.

Excursions: The pace of the excursion program was much too slow for us (we are in our middle 60's and are fit and active) seeming to cater for infirm, older passengers who don't like to be inconvenienced by getting up and out early and who have an inherent fear of stairs and walking any distance greater than 100m. The excursion organisation seemed at times to be poorly coordinated. We have been on other shorter cruises where within moments of the boat docking in port, passengers were whisked away to coaches on their excursions with no time wasted. On the Aegean, shore excursions rarely started before 9am even though the ship had docked hours earlier. Most of the shore excursion staff were young and seemed disinterested and inexperienced in customer service and public relations. The shore visits we enjoyed most were when the ship docked within walking distance of the old town and we could do our own walking tour. Just something to note: We booked our cruise in Australia with the price quoted in Australian dollars yet the booklet provided to us by the Australian agent which outlined shore excursions had the cost listed in $ but did not specify which country. Having been provided the information in Australia we presumed that the excursion price was Australian dollars but how wrong we were. On boarding we discovered that the excursion prices were actually American dollars. With the exchange rate that means they cost much more than we anticipated and really equates to false advertising...Beware!

Cabin: We booked Room 711 a Premium Outside Room which had a fixed double bed and a view restricted by a lifeboat but which was in the middle of the ship for stability and well away from the propeller. Even still the vibration could be felt in our room. This old ship does not have the stabilisers that newer ships have so it certainly rocks and rolls even in a small swell which meant that we missed one scheduled port because the captain chose to travel away from the coast to make the boat more stable. The ship also travels considerably slower (9-15 knots) compared to larger ships which travel up to 23 knots. On viewing other rooms we were glad that we did not spend further money on larger rooms as they didn't seem worth it. The room and ensuite we chose were more spacious than we were expecting. I have rated the cabin average because the towels were stained, white-grey in colour and often with frayed edges and should have been tossed out ages ago.

Ship: The Aegean is an ageing ship which struggled to provide the premium quality experience we paid for and which was advertised. While we did not have any real problems, other guests shared their experiences of burst water pipes, continuously flushing toilets , sewerage seepage. It seems unbelievable that a cruise ship which includes river ports in its itinerary is actually incapable of processing the silt from the river. The two days we were in port in Bordeaux we had to "manually flush" our toilets with a bucket because the water to the toilet cisterns was turned off because the silt was causing problems in the plumbing. I don't recall that being mentioned in the promotional information! Add to that the fact that we were only cruising half-an-hour from embarking in Dover when we had to man our muster stations for two hours while the fire crew put out a fire in the engine room. The ship is due to go into dry-dock in November 2016 but I doubt that anything short of a re-build will solve the problems long-term.

Ports: Due to the fire our itinerary, excursions and service were all compromised. While the crew did their best to manage the situation by providing an open bar (a bit lost on us because we don't drink alcohol) and hot water was limited to a couple of hours each day. The fact that we were docked in an unscheduled port for three days while the ship underwent repairs meant we were unable to participate in a number of excursions and a number of ports were eliminated which was very disappointing to say the least. We have been promised compensation for this loss but at the time of disembarking, no one would specify what the compensation would actually would be, which is a poor response.

Dining: Meals in the Terrace Cafe did not meet our expectations with most food bland, and soft. We like more texture and taste in our food. Again, the ship was probably catering to the geriatrics that were on board. When booking our cruise we identified that we were vegetarians but somehow that information was not recorded by hotel services and never passed on to the shore excursion staff. That meant when we were invited to attend a special meal in the Marco Polo Restaurant we RSVP'd requesting two vegetarian meals BUT what we got was they just skipped the three seafood courses meaning we got less than everyone else... really! Even though I directly advised the shore excursion staff each time our excursion included a meal that we needed vegetarian food, it took a full two weeks before the message was acted upon.

Crew: The hospitality and service crew were from the usual mix of Asian countries and were always friendly, helpful and went out of their way to please.

Entertainment and Activities: The Cruise Director, Richard Sykes,was a bundle of energy who never seemed to sleep and seamlessly coordinated the entertainment as well as contributing to the program himself. The expert speakers were entertaining, intelligent and interesting. The Library provided a country-specific news summary every day which was useful given that the WiFi was woeful and there were plenty of books, both light reading and educational available.

We would not choose to cruise with Voyages to Antiquity again because the style of cruising, the clientele it attracts and the intense focus on antiquity, does not suit us.
wild55’s Full Rating Summary
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