I chose this cruise for it's itinerary, timing and value for money. It was also a way to get from Melbourne to London without jet lag and swollen ankles.
It is an old ship and fairly small but I prefer the small ship atmosphere and friendliness.
Overall the ship exceeded my expectations with a super friendly crew who went out of their way to make it an enjoyable voyage.
Being small it moves around a bit in a swell and the stabilisers do not seem very effective but if you want a smoother ride you should stick to floating apartment blocks.
The cabin was good for its type with the most comfortable beds I have had on my many cruises with various cruise lines.
The in cabin entertainment was lacking with few movies that were repeated on a loop throughout each day.
The show lounge entertainment was excellent with no shows repeated in the 6 weeks aboard. The dancers were great but the singers ranged from exceptional (Angelina) through to good with one who shall remain nameless who was painful.
Pre dinner entertainment in the Captains Club was very good with a pianist and either a singer or violinist accompanying her. A nice way to start the evening.
The cruise director Tony and assistant cruise director Katy ensured the entertainment flowed freely with a performance in the show lounge twice nightly and various sail away parties on the outside decks as we left ports.
The second show was always less crowded and it was easy to find a good seat.
The daytime entertainment was sparse but included 2 lectures each sea day which I found to be very interesting.
The food was adequate but not great. Too much fish and chicken for my taste but the head waiter Tojo was fantastic in trying to accommodate me and would arrange extra steamed vegies or grilled meat and chips if all else failed. The bread rolls were excellent but the afternoon teas were not good as the cakes were dry, the scones like hard biscuits and the sandwiches boring ham and cheese every day.
One big disappointment was the breakfast eggs. It is against Astor's policy to serve eggs either fried, poached or boiled, with a runny yolk. Every egg was hard in the centre. Health and safety was the excuse but I haven't seen this on other cruise ships and six weeks of overcooked eggs was an irritation to most passengers I spoke to. They need to consider passenger tastes rather than covering their own backs.
Liz, the shore excursion organiser was very good. She went out of her way to help even if you were enquiring about a non ship tour.
We had major health concerns on board culminating in a shoreside hospital visit in Capetown and 2 subsequent ships hospital visits. The ships doctor (Dmitri) and his staff gave us confidence to continue our voyage and ensured we had the appropriate care till we arrived in London to the point of offering to arrange specialist care on shore when we docked. Ships medical assistance is not cheap so good travel insurance is vital.
The internet costs were very cheap ($5 Australian per hour) but totally unreliable.
On the occasions where I had to seek help from the reception staff for internet and other problems they were great. Service with a smile always.
The ship displayed some meanness in small ways. Like no shampoo and conditioner in the cabin, just a body wash in the shower which could have been dishwashing liquid.
They gave us a lovely tray of chocolate goodies for Easter but we only received a chocolate on the pillow on the formal nights. Room service was limited and not complimentary.
Other reviewers have said the crew are surly but we found everyone from the Captain down to be cheerful and friendly. The one exception was our cabin steward. She was a miserable soul who obviously didn't like her job. She kept the cabin clean but whether it was a language problem or a personality trait, her face could not form a smile.
Would I travel on Astor again, yes I would, the good far outweighed the bad, a sentiment widely felt by fellow passengers, many of which had cruised with her multiple times.
good for an inside cabin. comfortable beds, kept very clean, could do with more cupboard space. Twin bed configuration couldn't be altered but it gave us more cabin space. TV small and content poor. In a mid ship position so fairly stable. Could do with a clock as no light gets into cabin so its hard to know if its day or night. Aware of this with inside cabins we travel with our own so problem solved.