We booked this cruise as it was billed as a "luxury cruise", small ship and intimate atmosphere, with open dining nd visiting several asian and middle east countries.We were inviced with an additional US$ 12.25 per person per day (!!) for their "Excellent service" provided by superb staff on board. No additional tips/gratuities need be paid, we were told. Upon questioning why this mandatory extra charge was being levied, when other lines either let you pay gratuities as you wish, or have a genuine "gratuities included, no extra charges" price, we were told quite firmly that they provide "excellent service" and this charge is to recgnise that. NO, it is a marketing method of increasing their prices but keeping the headline price of the cruise down. The service was FAR FROM EXCELLENT! Dining room service was hampered by the fact that many of the waiters were nt trained properly, the service was not genuine "silver service", and there were too few waiters to cope (lots of "managers" and "head waiters" walking around with phones to their ears, but never doing anything, and could you catch their eye to complain?? No.The cruise is very American (no bad thing if that is what you want), but be warned, the bar area has no relaxing seats, but is packed with one-armed bandits and gaming tables. If you want a quiet drink, get your drink from the bar and go back to your room. Everywhere else on the ship there is loud music being pumped out of speakers, which in spite of many passengers asking for it to be turned down, never was.Excellent speakers told us very interesting facts relating to the areas we were visiting, and most evenings there was entertainment (of varying quality, but mostly quite good - singers, musicians etc), and a resident quartet in the Windows lounge which was excellent.Overall, a very disappointing cruise for the money. Swan Hellenic and others do this small ship cruising very much better and do have excelelnt service. That extra charge was just a con.
Small cabin, but with balcony which was useful to get away from the constant piped music everywhere else. Tiny shower. Kept clean and serviceable by willing staff. Daily fresh fruit was not actually replaced each day with fresh, and clock stopped working and took 5 days to replace.