Seven Seas Voyager Cruise Review by Canadianvoyager
- Sail Date: October 2019
- Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Penthouse Suite
We left our home country Canada on Oct.6th from Ottawa via Toronto to Rome. A very long leg for sure but we did so one day early to compensate. Our choice of hotel in Civitavecchia was a complete flop! The San Giorgio regardless its impressive entrance, the two level room had the bedroom upstairs and the bathroom downstairs!!! With a miserable and dangerous staircase – very disappointing as it all looked so wonderful on the website. We ended up sleeping on the lower level in a very unusual sofa bed in very poor shape. The staff at the reception were not very helpful and the included breakfast was more than complete but poorly staffed, as a matter of fact only one person going from one end to other and not even saying good morning. Local room tax was only 1 euro each, a ridiculous amount but appreciated when compared to our last European stay in Amsterdam where they charged 20 euros per person per day.
The best aspect of the hotel was the shuttle @ 10 euros each, right up to the ship; first time this happened to us because with previous cruise lines the shuttle would leave you on a corner where you had to switch over to another bus to get to the ship.
Flawless and the welcoming glass of champagne was a very nice touch something that some cruise lines used to do but not anymore, what a pity! Surprisingly all suites were not ready till 2 pm, except (of course), the top two ones (ready at noon); luggage at suite by 4 pm. Regardless, our first impression of the Voyager was excellent and it’s impossible to deny that she is indeed a luxury ship. Was a sunny and warm day, weather that followed us during the whole cruise!
We want you to know that we are frequent cruisers with Oceania (mainly on Riviera and Marina), so our minds were naturally making comparisons. Who’s the winner? You have to wait. Because we were on board quite early, having to wait for our suite till 2 pm, gave us the chance to get a fast look around the ship and afterwards we went up to Deck 11 to have an al fresco lunch at La Veranda buffet (comparisons started!!), Huge amount of choices (self-serve….hmmmm), great quality and flavour and to top it up, fantastic attention from all the staff something that never ever wavered during the whole cruise. To the contrary!
* Lunch time meals
We tried several times to have another al fresco lunch at La Veranda but the area is quite narrow not been able to hold many tables and when those were taken, the people were there to stay, so we started to frequent the Polo Grill located at the aft end of the pool area (very tranquil by the way) and we enjoyed it tremendously having delicious salads, burgers and hotdogs or from the on deck grill your choice of fish, beef, pork or chicken. You help yourself for the salads, then you order the main meal that comes with good fries and is brought to your table. The serving of wine was constant (no need to ask) and the sun was ever present! I don’t think I have to tell you how fantastic we were feeling during all this, right?
* Coffee Connection (D 5)
It runs from 6:30am till 6pm and is a very peaceful place where whether it’s morning or afternoon, you won’t have people moving back and forth around you. Breakfast buffet options include cereal, rolls, breads, pastries, etc. and the ship’s best espresso. Midday snacks include cold meats, cheeses, small desserts, etc. and in the afternoon sandwiches, cakes and fruit are available. Besides the excellent espresso you get the usual barista concoctions plus spiked versions such as Irish coffee and Russian hot chocolate with vodka. It is a place you can indeed have a very enjoyable and tranquil time.
We tried all three specialty dinning venues which, except for the Italian restaurant, require advanced table reservations. If you wish to sit at a table for two you will have to plan well ahead and do so as soon as the website is opened for that cruise’s specialty dining reservations.
* Sette Mari (Italian D 11, part of La Veranda); Maître d’ Simone, waiters Janine and John and the rest of the staff were excellent as the food itself, temperature, flavour and timing and of course! The wines that were selected by them (and varied during the cruise) were great and plentiful. With dessert, the Maître d’ brought to us two very welcome glasses of Limoncello. Great experience!
* Prime 7 (Steak house D 5 Aft); Maitre d’ was seasoned but strange (although from Belgium he was unfamiliar with Jacques Pepin) but the rest of the staff, as usual, magnificent. The décor was on the dark side with a lot of varnished wood paneling, leather covered columns, etc. Now let’s talk about the main reason why we went there, the food! Shall we? No complaints from the start to the end; excellent lump crab cakes, filet mignon cooked to perfection, great side dishes ending with a shared Chicago cheesecake. The selection of wines were perfect for each dish and with a never ending pouring! One more time, it was an excellent experience.
* Chartreuse (French D 5 Aft); It’s getting a bit boring repeating always the same thing “super” “excellent” “sensational” but what else can I say when what we were experiencing was just all that? Chartreuse was another hit, the décor was super elegant being the beige and gold quite predominant. Food was perfect (I won’t get into details) as much as desserts. The chosen wines were extremely good (the best of all other restaurants) specially the red Chateauneff-du-Pape. Left feeling great!
* Compass Rose (Main Dining Room D 4) – One more time, nothing but nothing at all to complain about. Staff, menu, table setting with colorful plates by Versace, ambience, food and…wine! We had dinner there twice and both times were very gratifying in all aspects.
We’ve been in two of them and each has its own characteristic and personality,
* Horizon Lounge (D 5 Midship) A very good spot to meet fellow passengers, a lot of dancing, singing and of course drinking! The Far East ethnic band was a bit off tune but could play any request. On a longer cruise we would have spent more time there.
* Observation Lounge (11) A completely different experience, being at the front of the ship the views (if you go during the day) were great plus the whole atmosphere exudes tranquility and that makes you relax! Highly recommended for after dinner drinks or just listening to whoever is playing the piano or singing. The bar is very modern and a bit too white-light bright.
Enough about food and drink, so let’s now talk about ports visited and tours. Many of the visited ports were already known to us so there was no need to overdo the tours. We find touring is a lot of unnecessary pressure most of the time, from the other guests as much as from often weird tour guides. Let’s start with the port after leaving Civitavecchia.
Boscaada, an Island, where we had a planned tour but we cancelled it dreaming about enjoying the last day on the ship meanwhile many were off touring the island. Unfortunately that last night before leaving Istanbul a ship announcement told us that technical problems required us to sail at a slower speed and so that for us to arrive in Athens on time, the Boscaada stop had to be cancelled; that meant to us the ship would be brimming with people that sea day! And it really was. Later on we got a note in our suite telling us that to compensate for having to skip Boscaada they were giving each of us a US$ 500.- next cruise credit. That worked out fine for us because we had already booked a 10 day Regent cruise on their newest ship, the Splendor.
* Disembarkation went off very smoothly and was well planned.
But before I get into that, I would like to give you our comparison between Regent SS Voyager (700 passengers) and Oceania’s two largest ships (1200 passengers each), the Riviera and the Marina.
Oceania by far has a better al fresco lunch or dinner at La Terrace, very ample and comfortable that holds a large number of very well-spaced tables with adjustable umbrellas. La Veranda buffet on Voyager is a winner on all counts, for selection, quality, presentation, etc. though we disliked having to serve ourselves with utensils touched by many, something that doesn’t happen on any of the Oceania ships; it’s up to the staff behind the counter to provide the desired serving.
* The Riviera and Marina have more restaurants to choose for dinner, 6 including 4 specialty (reservations needed), La Terrace and Grand Dining Room, against a total of 4 on Voyager, that besides the three specialty ones (two with reservations needed) and the main dining room, the Compass Rose.
* About food. As I am not a foodie person there is not much I can say about it but it is impossible not to mention the staff of the SS Voyager because without any hesitation I considered them the best of the whole Cruise Industry and we all know very well that the Staff of a ship are able to make or destroy your cruise. The Oceania Staff are not consistent and from time to time that means you might not enjoy yourself to the fullest.
* The Penthouses on both lines are of a good size but Voyager is bigger with a wonderfully sized dining table and a more ample bathroom especially the shower stall compared to Oceania. On Voyager it is also worth mentioning that you can separate the bed from the living/dining area with a heavy drape so the Butler can come in, do his job meanwhile you are still are resting privately in the bedroom area. The perks, again are by far superior on SS Voyager for example providing the choice of 2 large bottles of liquor in the suite was an incredible surprise.
* Tours - In general we are more often than not trying to avoid them because it doesn’t matter which line you are on, by taking a tour or excursion you are opening yourself to all kinds of chaos and a lot of time and social pressures. There are two things we really liked on the SS Voyager, the quality of the passengers and not having to show your Suite card every time you ordered a glass of wine or spirits.
The most important aspects were already compared so it’s better to leave it at that and stop here. You might be asking yourself, “So how about giving us your choice?” Very simple, both of them because both have a lot to offer and it is up to us to adjust ourselves when we are on board and to try to make the best of it! We really hope that our comparisons and conclusions will be helpful in some way for many if not all of the readers.
Are you still there? Ha, ha, ha; on looking over this review it seems that it turned out to be a very long one …… but there was so much to say about our experiences. Keep in mind that thru other’s experiences one is able to learn what to do or not to do, etc. That is our goal every time we write a review. Did we accomplish that for you? We certainly hope so!
Happy cruising and enjoy life as much as you can!
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Athens (Piraeus)* After disembarking and sorting out our luggage with the porter, we went outside looking for our pre-arranged transport to our downtown Athens hotel. The driver was there waiting for us and off we went. We were staying at the Athens Status Suites Hotel at 28 Petraki, a small side street in the Plaka area; the hotel has been fully renovated looking very modern and quite well decorated, the room was very ample with very high ceilings and the bathroom was also large but with some issues peculiar to the Greek hotel industry so there is no reason to write about it; on the top floor there is a restaurant, where breakfast (incl.) was served, with an splendid view of the Acropolis and a roof top bar one level higher. Regardless all this glowing description we still do not recommend this hotel because 1) it was on a small, narrow side street, 2) the only elevator was too small and 3) the staff at the reception although polite and eager did not provide good advice or information, such that it was very clear they didn’t know their city well at all. The best area (we found out ourselves) to look for a hotel is in the New Archeological Museum district and near the subway as that is the best transport to use to move around the city and avoid wasting time finding directions etc. A visit to that Museum is a must (10 euros pp) and you can have lunch in its restaurant that has expansive windows looking up to the nearby Acropolis hilltop. The center of Athens is in complete chaos with a huge number of people (tourists), cars, vans, bicycles and motorcycles, coming, going, crossing, honking etc. and all this happening on narrow and uneven streets; a completely disorganized city. This was a real surprise because the last time in Athens (a couple of years ago) it was a completely different and more manageable place to visit and enjoy.View All 1,261 Athens (Piraeus) Cruise Port Reviews
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Blue MosqueThough we have already been in Istanbul it wasn't an overnight like this one, so we booked tours for both days. The ship was arriving quite late in the afternoon (2:30 PM); the night before docking we got a note saying that our chosen tour was canceled and to go to the Shore Excursions Desk if we wished to book a replacement. We realized that arriving so late plus the time spent going around such a metropolis would take relaxation time away from us and press us to rush off to dinner soon after the return so we stayed put to enjoy the beautiful surroundings onboard.View All 78 Blue Mosque Reviews
The second day we booked the tour "Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace" (having seen the first one but not the second). This tour was a real experience! We were NEVER told how much walking was involved in it. They informed us that "some" walking (?!), steps and change of levels were involved, suggesting to those with mobility problems not to partake that specific tour, and regardless that, a woman in a wheelchair took the tour and was only able to because her husband pushed her the whole way. Of course he relied heavily on help when steps and change of levels slowed down their progress and the whole group; all this effort went on for 10,000 steps (yes, you read right that's about 5 kilometers we estimated - one of the group had a wrist watch monitor) going from one site to the other during the 5 hour tour. It's impossible to understand why people with mobility problems ignore the warnings; it is a complete disregard for the rest of the group as much as for the Tour Guide.
Near the Blue Mosque, the tour bus left us on a corner and were told to take all our belongings with us because we won't return to the bus till the tour was over, five plus hours later!!! First stop, the Blue Mosque having to follow all their religious rituals (removing shoes, cover your arms and legs, head coverings for women, etc.), once inside this tour guide was talking, easily, for more than 1/2 an hour giving a lot of information about the place, though interesting most if not all will be completely forgotten by the majority later on; we were all standing around her with very unpleasant smells wafting about. Now comes the unreal part. The guide then told us that years ago all visitors to the mosque had to wash their feet before entering, this the tradition of removing your shoes. But over the last 50 years or so, as the masses became more "civilized" it was agreed that the washing of feet was no longer a requirement. And surprisingly, the tour guide then admitted that what we smelt was a combination of smells - dirty feet and a perfume or scent that was periodically sprayed around to mask the unpleasantries.(Inside of me I was screaming "I want to go home!!"
Topkapi Walking TourOnce the tour of the mosque was finished we started to walk towards the Topkapi Palace and it wasn't "around the corner over flat terrain" but up and down winding streets at times narrow, uneven and busy with traffic. The palace is a huge place on top of a hill and was a disappointment for us (the result when you have high expectations) cause rather than one big impressive building there was a multitude of smaller one storey structures, at any rate and on our own we were able to visit various rooms, one was displaying a great number of antique watches of many different designs and materials many of which were gifts from visiting heads of state and another one, a really big room, showing a huge amount of ancient military bayonets, helmets, armour, swords, etc., and a few jewelled items such as the gold dagger encrusted with many precious stones of different colours and shapes (this was the one featured in the 1960's movie Topkapi with Melina Mercouri and Peter Ustinov) and the famous and 4th largest pear shaped diamond of its kind (86 carats) known as the "Spoonmaker's Diamond" given because the peasant who found it in the street many years ago took it to a jeweler who said that "that stone" didn't have any value but as a courtesy gave him a few spoons in trade for it. Believe it or not, that's the story!View All 39 Topkapi Walking Tour Reviews
Once this visit was over, out to the streets and walking again towards where the bus was supposedly waiting for us; sure! Waiting for us? Ha! It wasn't there so we ran out to a small eatery nearby because we were hungry and thirsty! No idea what we ate and because alcohol is not sold in Turkey we "tried our best to enjoy" a soda. Back with the group (really a very patience one) waiting for the bus to show up and after quite a wait it did and took us back to the ship and we ran to board the Voyager! Literally!! We are leaving the rest to your imagination!
Kusadasi* Kusadasi - We had been in this port before, so we planned on going on shore just to walk around and revisit that known locale. Well, we docked, went ashore and were very surprised to see that everything had changed so much! Before it was more “Turkish”, a bit rugged but very exciting, while today's Kusadasi has lost all its enchantment and intrigue very orderly but tasteless. The change was akin to how Roatan lost its charm when new ‘big’ ship docks and shops were pushed on the small quaint port. So, please avoid walking that port and take any tour! After a very short abortive walk, we went right back to the ship and enjoyed its almost empty peacefulness!View All 628 Kusadasi Cruise Port Reviews
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Anacapri Walking TourSorrento (Capri) - We've been in Sorrento and we liked it a lot but had never been to Capri; we took the first tour from Regent Voyager; to avoid to being with a large number of people packing a bus, we opted to take the "small group" tour package (up to 20 people @ u$s 49/ea.); it was worth it. Unfortunately Capri turned out to be a huge disappointment when we realized that even in October the island is totally invaded with tourists, restaurants or bars completely full and it was impossible to find a tranquil place to eat something or enjoy a glass of the famous Capri's Limoncello. This big shock happened near the end of our 7 hour tour when we had to gather and wait in Marina Grande close to where the hydrofoils and ferries for Naples and Sorrento dock. Our first "taste" of this "invasion" was when going up towards Villa St. Michele, the number of people were increasing especially when we got to the area where you can take a chair-lift that takes you to the top and at the same time having a perfect view of the beautiful Thyrrenian sea bellow, The problem was that those chair-lifts took only one person per chair lift, so if you wished to experience the wonderful views you would do it alone, your partner would be in the next chair about 20 feet behind you. Even so there was a never ending line up and according to our tour guide (quite a good one maybe because he didn't talk so much!) it would take almost one hour for us to do that. So everybody in our group agreed to keep climbing by foot till we reached the beautiful Villa St. Michele. It was built by Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe and sits on a ledge at the top of the Phoenicians Steps at a height of 327 m. above sea level between AnaCapri (Ana from classical Greek means "above"), offering panoramic and breathtaking views of the town of Capri and its harbour, the Sorrentine Peninsula & Mt. Vesuvius. For the next hour we were practically on our own and that gave us the chance to walk at our own pace and taking our time to admire the so many relics and works of art dating from ancient Egypt. Afterwards we met with him and down the hill we went again till we reached an area where we were told we were having another one hour plus to walk around, we started to look for a place (in the sun!) for something to eat and drink, we looked and we found a great and very tranquil spot and ate a fantastic pizza margarita and drank a superb Pinot Grillo from Venice. Feeling good and happy, we met with the guide again and down we went but this time on a funicular (incl.) and once down there madness broke out! And all the beautiful moments we had disappeared and we couldn't wait to be back on the beautiful Voyager! There is one thing for sure, if ever returning to Capri it will only happen by taking a water taxi that docks at Marina Piccola and it is located far from the M. Grande docks on another side of the island, the farther the better! In a certain way it was a pity we didn't stay in Sorrento, a place that has many things to see and visit at your own pace!View All 1 Anacapri Walking Tour Reviews
Wine Tasting* Taormina – A well-known place and that's why we chose to go on in the "Sicilian wine roads" Tour to experience some new territory; it was a big but nice group and the Tour Guide was quite knowledgeable though he didn't stop talking! After not too long a ride we got to the high elevation vineyards, the owner's son introduced us to the development from the beginnings of their Company and after a tour around the "innards" of wine making, we sat on benches around rectangular wooden tables and he started introducing different types of wines, pouring us samples of them to taste accompanied with thin slices of prosciutto and other cold meats, cheeses, breads, etc. Very interesting but this should've taken place outdoors in the fantastic warm weather rather than inside! When everything was over, as usual they were trying to sell their wines but it looked like nobody bought anything. Then back to bus, more talking (a certified pedantic and if he had any children, I really feel sorry for them) & and thankfully soon back on the ship again!! I am sure we would've enjoyed much more on our own walking around that beautiful town of Taormina enjoying a pizza, delicious wine and a sublime view of the sea! But...next time for sure!!View All 23 Wine Tasting Reviews