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.
We had a deluxe balcony cabin which was large enough for us, but many cabins are little more than a cupboard with small wardrobe space. The toilet system broke down for a day and after that was not the most effective system. The shower was not the best in the world as the water stayed in the shower tray which was not designed to drain water away. The nice Molton Brown toiletries didn’t really make up for the dirty brown water that came out of the tap and shower. We had a small refrigerator which was stocked with soft drinks and daily water was delivered. The cabin was serviced twice daily to a high standard. On arrival we had a bottle of bubbly and some petits fours deliver to our cabin. These little extras come with the deluxe cabin.