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991 Middle East Cruise Reviews

We had not been with this company before, and we were expecting this cruise to be better than the cruise we did with another company the week before. Strangely enough, we enjoyed the other cruise, but not this one. Where do we start? In ... Read More
We had not been with this company before, and we were expecting this cruise to be better than the cruise we did with another company the week before. Strangely enough, we enjoyed the other cruise, but not this one. Where do we start? In our opinion we felt that Jewel of the Seas desperately needed a refurbishment, and until this is possible, we felt that a good clean and a lick of paint would have been welcome. We found that on two occasions dishes in the Windjammer buffet had dried food on them, we found food that was on a ledge where we had breakfast was still there the following morning, paper towels used to soak up a spill in the Schooner bar were just left all the time we were there, areas around the ship that didn’t look clean, were suddenly improved when we used just a tissue and plain cold water. We could go on! We found that the food in the main dining room was generally good, but we felt that the Windjammer buffet especially at lunchtime could have been better. Some staff were very friendly and helpful, but we found that there could have been more “service with a smile” in other areas. Embarkation and Dis-embarkation was well organised and ran smoothly. We felt that the entertainment on offer could have been better. Finally, we found that our cabin, which was of a reasonable size, and had adequate storage, had a rather unpleasant odour. Yes, I know that we should have mentioned this to guest services, but given the fact that it is very unlikely that we would cruise on this ship again, felt that we couldn’t be bothered. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
chose this cruise because of the ports of call and the cost which was much cheaper than other cruise lines the cabin was fine , clean and all that is needed.....large balcony to sunbathe. ok , the italians like to push in at the ... Read More
chose this cruise because of the ports of call and the cost which was much cheaper than other cruise lines the cabin was fine , clean and all that is needed.....large balcony to sunbathe. ok , the italians like to push in at the buffet for food but if you are not happy with that the restaurant is open to get served. i was in no hurry . waiters giving good service. drink packages are brill value for money.international drinks , wine and beer. embarkation organised with no waiting around varied entertainment for all ages. not much for children to do not many british on board but lots of italians , indian and russian did not do any excursions as taxis cheap . nice walks from ship will sail with them again next year , maybe same cruise If you want to pay twice the price then sail with someone else Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We chose the cruise as we were celebrating our birthday. The embarkation process went seamlessly; we were shepherded from airport to ship with no problems. There was some waiting for our rooms to become available once on the ship, however, ... Read More
We chose the cruise as we were celebrating our birthday. The embarkation process went seamlessly; we were shepherded from airport to ship with no problems. There was some waiting for our rooms to become available once on the ship, however, we were roomed before the advertised at 2 pm. Suitcases also arrived in good time. We were kept well-informed re. activities and entertainment onboard through daily newsletters. Many of these, was not to our liking, but that didn't take away from the efforts being made to keep a diverse group of people entertained. I was impressed by the entertainment team's energy throughout the cruise. They made a real effort to put a smile on people's faces. There was a choice of dining style, formal and informal. Must say that I was disappointed to find passengers disregarding the dress code. There were people in hoodies and casual shorts when the night called for more formal attire; this I felt was worn out of a sense of arrogance for the dress code and those who had "made the effort". Hats off to the staff in the formal dining area, they kept their composure in the face of some cringe-worthy attitudes from dinners; e.g complaining about the quality of wine/food. it's my guess that this was just posturing meant to impress onlookers as to their sophistication and expensive taste - it had the opposite effect. The reception staff was super helpful. Even when I was being particularly dim about my wifi login I found them patient and courteous. As to be expected there was a certain amount of onboard sales, we were able to purchase some beet headphones for less than half price tax-free. The nightly theatre shows were a mix, some did not appeal to us but again I did appreciate the effort put into productions especially The Alchemist. The one disappointment for me was the general rudeness of some of the passengers. This happened too often to be a coincidence. In our experience, it was mainly the older Italian passengers who ignored you pushed pass in the corridors and spoke at the top of their voices with no regard for others around them. With regards to the excursions, we used a mixture of the hop on hop off bus and found a brilliant taxi guide in Doha that allowed us to experience memories we will treasure. We would travel with MSC again, next time we would be better prepared for the cruise bores Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We had not been with MSC before, and I must say, that we were very pleasantly surprised. Yes, we know that it is a new ship, that it is large, and would probably be crowded and noisy, but we had a very enjoyable week. There was always ... Read More
We had not been with MSC before, and I must say, that we were very pleasantly surprised. Yes, we know that it is a new ship, that it is large, and would probably be crowded and noisy, but we had a very enjoyable week. There was always something to do, the staff were super friendly and helpful and efficient. They also smiled! Entertainment was good. We didn’t see all of the shows, but we did see the two “Cirque” shows, and found that one was better than the other. We thought that the included cocktail was a choice from the bar list, although I suppose that would have taken too long. Instead, there was a choice of a few ready made cocktails which you collected on entering the show.The food was good,and the cabin was good. The Embarkation and Disembarkation was well organised, and went smoothly. All in all, if this cruise is anything to go by, we would cruise with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We are a retired couple who enjoy cruising to interesting places. We had never been on the Jewel, but have been on several ships within the fleet. On arriving in Dubai, we stayed for a few nights pre cruise. Our flight and transfers ... Read More
We are a retired couple who enjoy cruising to interesting places. We had never been on the Jewel, but have been on several ships within the fleet. On arriving in Dubai, we stayed for a few nights pre cruise. Our flight and transfers were very smooth, although we arranged this independently, not through the Company. Check in at the port was easy & quick. Passports are taken before embarkation, & returned during the cruise. Our cabin was extremely small, and unknown to us when booking, was an interconnecting room. We never take these rooms, but have to admit we didn’t hear anything from the next cabin on both sectors of the cruise...we did a b2b, and stayed in the same cabin. The balcony was a reasonable size & we sat there everyday, except when there was adverse weather ! It was most unusual for this part of the world, at the time we were cruising, to have so much mixed, unsettled weather, but it didn’t deter us from walking ashore. Some days it was cold in the morning, then later, it was too hot to sunbathe ! As we were coming to the end of the second cruise, the weather became more settled. We were looking forward to Bahrain, as we had never been there, but that was cancelled in the interest of security & safety, so not a problem. Doha, Qatar, was interesting. The free shuttle dropped us at the museum, in a car park, but after looking around, spotted a sign for the Corniche, which was within easy walking distance of being dropped off. It was a very pleasant walk, all on the flat, and we walked past the big oyster...a much visited monument ! There is also a lovely park at the museum, which we also walked around. Everything was clean & well maintained....throughout the majority of the ports where we stopped. The only port which was a bit disappointing was Khasab, but even there we found a good walk to the beach, which has potential, but has still to be developed ! We also walked to the fort, which is in the opposite direction from the beach. There really isn’t much in town, so taking the shuttle might not be worthwhile, but ..... Our favourite port is Muscat, Oman, which is kept beautifully clean & the palace is worth a visit. It is possible to walk there from the port, along the Corniche, but it is a fairly long walk, & in the heat, might prove too much for some. When we were there, the temperature was perfect for walking. Sir Bani Yas island is a tender port, and when we visited during the first cruise, the weather was very windy, but we managed to get ashore. We didn’t take any excursions ashore, instead walked about the area near the drop off point. To be honest, not much there in this area, except sun loungers, cabanas and food stops. The weather wasn’t warm enough to lie and sunbathe, so after walking around, stopped for a light lunch and walked back to the tender station to return to the ship. There is a section for suites & Pinnacles, and a golf cart type of vehicle transports those wishing to go to Al Reem beach, which is the private area for the aforementioned. The ship was well maintained, & all crew we encountered were delightful, pleasant & friendly. Our MDR servers for both cruises were lovely people. The food was hot, well presented, tasty and perfect portion size for us. We have absolutely no complaints about food, regardless where we ate. There was a good selection of food in the WJ and there is no excuse for people not to choose healthy options, of which there was plenty. The Diamond Lounge & the Concierge Lounges were well presented. It was good to see that the CL was for only Suites & Pinnacles, meaning that it was a pleasant place to sit in the evenings without being overcrowded. The D Lounge extended to part of the Vortex lounge, so there was plenty of space for all to sit. The crew in the lounges were lovely. Octavian in the CL was so professional & friendly. He was on his own, and remembered every drink passengers ordered, although always checked before serving, to make sure there was no change ! We didn’t know crew before we went on, but by the time we left, felt as if we had been in the company of dear friends ! Our SRA was good, & cleaned our room early. He knew we were early risers, so managed to clean our room before we returned from breakfast, which meant we didn’t have to rush to go off the ship. The crew in Chops were professional, helpful, kind and friendly. Breakfast was a pleasant experience, and our regular servers couldn’t have been nicer...Ana & Dickson. The HD, Tony, is a lovely person, as were all his team. Ganesh, F& B seemed to be omnipresent, & always greeted us with his enigmatic smile. There are too many people to mention individually, but all we encountered were a credit to the company. Only downside was that we had an issue with our internet for a few days, but it wasn’t to do with the ship, but the satellite signal where we were. Ariel, IT manager, tried to resolve the problem, but it was out-with his control. After a few days, the signal suddenly returned ! We liked the ship, & look forward to returning later, knowing we are going to meet pleasant crew. It is unlikely ships in this company will sail in the area after this year, for various reasons, so we are glad we managed to visit the ports again. Unfortunately there wasn’t a reserved sun lounging area for Gold card holders, but we always managed to find a spot to lie for an hour. We did notice some loungers were reserved for quite a while, but policing this is difficult, although on sea days, think the reserving of loungers could prove an issue. Some people put towels & items in their loungers, then went away, returning after a considerable period of time ! Our first experience on this ship proved to be very positive. This Captain always started his announcements by greeting passengers, & his fantastic crew, which was good. We are looking forward to our next cruise, especially when the itinerary is very port intensive, as we like to explore areas on foot. Finally....wish smoking was banned in the casino. It was really an awful place to be, so we avoided the area, but that meant we couldn’t go and enjoy a few moments on the slots. At least it saved us money !!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Our TA did this tour and his reviews have always been spot on for us. So 5 couples who have traveled widely and together went. I have read previous reviews that were critical of the information given by their Egyptologist. We had Tarek and ... Read More
Our TA did this tour and his reviews have always been spot on for us. So 5 couples who have traveled widely and together went. I have read previous reviews that were critical of the information given by their Egyptologist. We had Tarek and he was great! As my wife told him when we said good bye, we were 10 educators by profession, and he was a master educator for all 10 of us. We were met by the Uniworld rep BEFORE passport control. Our TA said that was new. The 5 couples came in on different planes, but our experience was similar, even for those BA flights that get in early. We all met up at the 4 Seasons for an in room Happy Hour. We brought some duty free wine in from FRA, as did others and no one had a problem bringing it in. Security was outstanding, and quite frankly we felt safer there than anywhere in Mexico or Quito recently. The light show at the Pyramids was cheesy and could be skipped, but if you have night shot capabilities, there are some good opportunities. The very first thing on the bus, Tarek handed out 5 pound notes for toilet tips. He was available for 5 pound refills as needed. He also tipped all the people along the way so you don't have to if you don't want to. The ATM to the right of registration at the 4 Seasons will give small bills if you get smaller amounts and large bills if you get larger amounts. If you are going to shop then you should get the money recommended by your greeter, but we don't shop much as a group and the ATM visit for a large amount was really not necessary. We also brought a lot of $5s and $1s which were appropriate and welcomed. We flew the charter to Luxor. There were 66 on the ship. We were in 202, another of our group were in 201, and we were able to host happy hours for the group in our suites, all included. This may not be available when the new ship launches at the end of 2020. Some time after November 2020 would be a good time to go since the new ship should be launched and the new Egyptian Museum should be open. We were in 3 buses of 22 each so plenty of room to spread out. It was 45 F in the morning, and we would shed layers in the afternoon and leave it on the bus. Nobody in our group got sick and we all eat a lot of leafy vegetables and fruits. The wine was perfectly acceptable, all Egyptian or South African. It was too windy to do the hot air balloon on the day available, but on our last day we saw 11 balloons up, over the west bank, so it does happen. You can skip the Luxor light show without a problem. Abu Simbel was worth the expense, but go right in to the interior and take exterior shots later because the 60 bus caravan from Aswan will be right on your tail, and it will get packed if you wait. On the day you go back to Cairo, they offer a stop at the "market" with the option to go right to the hotel. Two thirds went to the market, and said it was largely for tourists and the real local market was over 2 streets. Also the 1 hour bus ride for the evening "buffet" farewell dinner was completely unnecessary, and if we did this again we would skip it and eat at the 4 Seasons. The last day of touring was an all day trip leaving about 7 am and getting in about 5 pm with lunch on the bus if you brought it with you. We had a big breakfast and just had fruit at lunch, which worked out well. One of our group had the inspiration to upgrade to a Nile River view room at the Four Seasons, which worked out great. Departure was very easy, but early. You are escorted by a Uniworld rep all the way to the second security check point. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
To anyone thinking of taking a cruise on the MSC Bellissima - Think very carefully if you value your life at sea We experienced the worst safety demonstration ever noone was taking control of the situation we were in the theatre and it was ... Read More
To anyone thinking of taking a cruise on the MSC Bellissima - Think very carefully if you value your life at sea We experienced the worst safety demonstration ever noone was taking control of the situation we were in the theatre and it was jsut a shambles no officers were taking control of the demo very poor total lack of interest. The second item of safety we saw was one of the crew cleaning the indoor pool roof without a safety lanyard he had the harness but no lanyard to conect to the latchway system just a piece of rope if the company allows this type of behaviour of its crew then god help the passengers a total lack of health and safety. The rooms are clean but very small zoe is utterly usless The food in the buffet is of poor choice fine if you like Hot dogs and burgers every lunchtime The entertainment is very poor on the decks and the theatre Overcrowding 5500 passengers on a ship built for 3500 they have squeezed the cabins together to pack everyone in the deck space gets very congested and to be honest it becomes a bun fight for everything Food,drink loungers very little staff to take drinks orders The ship is newish but badly designed not much room to relax and get peace and quite every thing is extra too the Bowling the simulators and the cirque du solie alll extra even the in room entertainment you want to watch a film it will cost you 7 euro total rip off will never go with them again never ------ buyer beware Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
There was a suggestion to buy this [articular cruise and I liked the list of cities to visit, so I bought it. In overall, I enjoyed the cruise! There was a pleasant surprise - I got a cabin with a window! Cabin was always clean; it was ... Read More
There was a suggestion to buy this [articular cruise and I liked the list of cities to visit, so I bought it. In overall, I enjoyed the cruise! There was a pleasant surprise - I got a cabin with a window! Cabin was always clean; it was tidied up twice a day. I read some complains about embarkation and disembarkation. My experience was different. Logistics was very good. We embarked with no problem (and disembarked), were provided with kind recommendations and attendance. Suitcases were taken directly to the cabin. Cabin was prepared earlier than expected. Yes, it is not big, but enough to have a rest and sleep at night. Even pillows were of different types (soft and "hard") to satisfy different habits. Every day there was a detailed program in English and Russian (may be in other languages too, do not now). All anouncement were in different languages as a sign of respect to passeners from different countries... Every day shows were good and very good (according to taste?). A lot of dancers, some singers and acrobats. Costumes are very bright and attractive. There were two shows a day, which was very convenient as there were two seating (dinner) at 6.30 and I guess at 9 PM. Selection of food was excellent, contained various cheese, sausages, eggs cooked in different ways, bacon, fruits, etc. Coffee and tea – as much as you wish for breakfast. I like fish and seafood and I got it: in the morning and in the evening!! Service (we mainly eat in La Bussola) was very good and pleasant; the atmosphere in La Bussola restaurant was intimate and sophisticated, the service attentive and discreet. Logistics was also excellent. The second place we had snack is on deck 11. There is an open veranda (do not remember the name- sorry for that). More democratic and people felt very relaxed over there. Those, who like desserts – it was just fantastic on the ship! You can have meal and/or snack almost the whole day…. Alcohol, beverages, cocktails. It is very expensive on board. The packages provided were unacceptable for us. “All inclusive” is 29 euro per day and you have to buy it for 11 days, full stop. Other options (beverages) were not exciting either. As for water, coffee and tea you had to pay for it during lunch and dinner. Another option – to go to deck 11 after meal. Public areas were immaculate clean. Pleasant atmosphere. Dimmed light, music…. I enjoyed it. Countries we visited: UAE, Oman, and Qatar. Excursions are quite expensive. Round 70 euro/ person – a city tour. We have taken it only in Abu Dhabi. Not really exciting. However, in Emirates and Qatar there was a choice – to go sightseeing by yourself by taxi, which is also expensive. In Qatar there were free shuttle busses to take passengers from the port to the city. Excellent idea! I Oman I felt very frustrated as we were charged 5 euro per person to get to the centre of the city, round 7-8 min drive. The bus did not even stop at the castle, which is the only one attraction in the capital (apart from the sea)! I considered it to be waist of 10 euro and time. Must be said about security. Well done. Every time you leave and return to the ship you have to go through security and that is makes you feel safe. Security officers were always polite and helpful if you had a question. Entry and exits are marked with red tape, no way to lose yourself….Moreover, every time you leave the ship a special card is given to you with tel numbers. I believe it is a good approach. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We took this cruise mainly due to the fact that the package Royal Caribbean was offering two nights post cruise stay at the Atlantis the Palms in Dubai. It seemed like a nice way to end the cruise The ship is showing its age. Most days ... Read More
We took this cruise mainly due to the fact that the package Royal Caribbean was offering two nights post cruise stay at the Atlantis the Palms in Dubai. It seemed like a nice way to end the cruise The ship is showing its age. Most days it was not possible to walk around deck 5 as there was always parts of the deck sectioned off for maintenance. There's nothing quite like the sound of an industrial sander removing rust while you are trying to get a bit of fresh air. Once again, I believe Royal Caribbean do not examine their passenger list and tailor the cruise accordingly. It would appear that he same activities, entertainment etc get rolled out despite who is on board. A prime example is this cruise which had most people over 50 on board. My wife and I liked to head up to deck 13 at night to relax in the lounge with a coffee before bed. However in the lounge there, they have piped disco music blaring out, even when it was empty. We asked if the volume could please be turned down but nothing ever happened. Another thing which I can't understand is their choice of staff to host the trivia events. You wouldn't expect a person who couldn't play the piano to give a recital, or expect someone who can't sing to be up on stage in a musical. So why have some young lady from Mexico trying to ask trivia questions, continually asking for our pardon as she doesn't speak english very well. Away from trivia, entertainment was poor. Only one headliner act for the whole week. A foursome singing soul music which although I personally like, was not to everyones taste. The singers and dancers tried their best was their shows were something more akin to a holiday camp. As for the cruise director Andrea, if I hadn't gone to a couple of the evening shows during the cruise I would never have seen him. Certainly not in the same league as Joff Eaton, Hello Clo or Luke Arrowsmith. Remember when cruise directors used to be seen mingling with the guests each day ? - I guess those days are gone. For dining, from what I can see most people now prefer not to visit the Main Dining Room and it's easy to understand why. Service is way too slow & the food always arrives cold. We tried it a couple of times with the same results so opted for the buffet for the remainder of the cruise. Also, this is the first Royal Caribbean cruise I have been on that didn't serve lobster any evening. RC should remember that for some people, a lobster night is a traditional part of the holiday.and will probably try another cruise line if this is done away with to save a few bucks Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
The price was good and we thought it would be a good idea to cruise the Middle East with our family. We could have choosen other cruise lines but Costa had the best deal so we boarded on Costa Diadema on our first Costa cruise. We have ... Read More
The price was good and we thought it would be a good idea to cruise the Middle East with our family. We could have choosen other cruise lines but Costa had the best deal so we boarded on Costa Diadema on our first Costa cruise. We have been on other popular cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, MSC and Celebrity and our expectations were high because it was an italian cruise line! But we were wrong. The ship s decor was really ugly, too many colours and patterns that made no sense at all. Ok, most ships are like that but we always think abut the italians good taste and modern design so it was disappointing. It has pools and jacuzzis and a very small kid s zone but nothing else for teenagers. No mini golf, no water slide, just plain pools. We were lucky with our cabin though. It was an accessible cabin so it was really huge, great bathroom, spacious room and spotless clean. Now what s really important for italians?? Food of course, that s where we got mos disappointed, the menu on Fiorentino restaurant was always very poor. Corona Blu buffet was like being in a war zone, people were fighting for their meals because the area is small and the crew couldn t refil the dishes fast enough. If you were late for the meal you would find out many items were over. What can you say about an italian ship that doesn t serve pizza?? (unless you payed for it at Pummi d`oro!). Entertainement was also one of the poorest we have ever seen. They had an arabian dance show one night that was all but arabian! They have a library onboard that had empty shelves (yes, they had about a dozen books and that was all!) Service was only ok, the crew is, in general, professional but cold. I had a really unpleasant incident at their photo shop as i was looking at my pictures and picked up my phone to answer a message. One of the photografers started shouting at me saying i couldn t take photos of my pictures! It was so embarassing, the thought of taking photos of my photos never ever crossed my mind! Why on Earth would i do that??? If Costa offers me a free cruise vacation I will surely decline. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This is my first time with Costa. In the past I usually cruised with Princess and Celebrity. After this cruise, I'll never cruise with Costa again. First, the service is terrible. The hospitality desk is absolutely clueless. ... Read More
This is my first time with Costa. In the past I usually cruised with Princess and Celebrity. After this cruise, I'll never cruise with Costa again. First, the service is terrible. The hospitality desk is absolutely clueless. There's always a long queue in front of the desk. When you finally got your turn, they would usually ask you to go somewhere else. Just to quote an example. When we board the ship, we were told that we had to deposit cash into our account. Then we went to the hospitality desk, and they asked us to do it at the machine. But when we tried to do it at the machine, it turned out that it doesn't accept the new type of Euro, and we ended up having to queue up at the hospitality desk again. On the last day. we needed to close the account. This time we didn't want to wait in long queues again. So we got up at 4am in the morning to close the account. Not surprisingly, the guy at the hospitality desk asked us to do it at the machine. When we did that, the machine asked us to contact the hospitality desk because it could not offer that amount of change (we were getting a refund of 120 Euro). Then we got back to the desk, the guy insisted that they could not close the account there. We had to show him the receipt generated by the machine. Then he finally went into the back office. In my view, if there are so many limitations with the machines, they should not drive people to use the machine all the time. Or at least they should not be that clueless when a customer said the machine couldn't do it. The story still hasn't ended. After waiting for more than 10 minutes, we asked the guy why it took so long. He said something like if we came in the middle of the night, it would be like that, and asked us to come again in the morning! Come on! Can't he see why we took all the troubles to get up in the middle of the night to get this thing done? My husband got angry and asked for his name. He then lost it! When my husband took a picture of his name plate, saying that we'll complain against him, he literally shouted at us "Are you happy now?" When we were talking to the manager, he tried to argue with us in front of the manager. The manager had to stop him several times in order to allow us to speak. I think this kind of attitude shows that the staff don't really care if the customers complain to the manager. They probably got used to it already. I've done some research about the ship and knew that the excursions are terrible. So we've decided to do our own excursion. Unfortunately, our stop at Oman had to be cancelled because the Sultan of Oman had passed away. The ship had to call on another port in UAE instead. This is not the ship's fault, but since we knew nothing about that new port, we wanted to seek some simple information about the new port, such as whether the cruise terminal is close to the town center, whether we need to take a taxi or there will be free shuttle. But then, there was a really long queue at the excursion office, and we needed to queue up for nearly an hour in order to seek those basic information. When we cruised with Princess and Celebrity, they would offer port information in many ways. Sometimes they would even organize seminars to facilitate passengers who do tours on their own. But there was nothing like that in this ship. Guess they want to make the passengers use their excursion service, which is so notoriously poor. The food is terrible. It's a ship for Italians. I don't understand how they can make the spaghetti so terrible. The dinner buffet only lasts for 2 hours, yes, 2 hours, and usually only one food station is open. When all the passengers are on board, they only open one food station for 2 hours! So you can imagine that you have to queue for nearly everything, even french fries. We've tried its assigned-sitting restaurants, but the food is even more awful, and the service sucks. You have to wait 30 mins for the water. So we gave up after 2 nights. For breakfast, there's always a long queue in front of the fried eggs. I'm not talking about made-to-order fried eggs, but those pre-cooked fried eggs contained in a pot. We need to queue for that every morning. I can go on and on, but I'm just too fed up to think about this ship again. To conclude, just stay away from Costa if you want quality service in your cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
* Avoid deck 14 rooms by any means, until they are at the very nose of the ship (see cabin review) * All the packages (drinks, Internet) are hugely overpriced and I see no reason you'd like to use them as no bartender could make ... Read More
* Avoid deck 14 rooms by any means, until they are at the very nose of the ship (see cabin review) * All the packages (drinks, Internet) are hugely overpriced and I see no reason you'd like to use them as no bartender could make proper cocktail there regardless of the price. The only drinkable mix is fruit smoothie so just stick to plain drinks, especially their a la carte price is quite reasonable in compare with other cruises. Also draw attention to the wine prices at main restaurants - you take away bottles to any bar ;) Internet package - if you unlucky to buy it for any reason, draw as much attention as possible to their instruction, on how to connect it in MSC app, and follow exact procedure, shutting off everything they as to shut and disconnect from Internet every time you do not use it. * All the shows are great! Do not miss them. Do not forget to book your group to the every show in MSC app, as they allow people without reservation to enter 5 min before show start only * Dining restaurant menu is good and differs from buffet food at deck 15. Service is great, but do not hesitate kindly remind waiter if he forgot something - they have obviously a lot to do! * Market place food is great and fresh pizza is definitely on the top of the world list! * Cirque Du Soleil shows - Valeria is great! Zyma - money waste. Note that final date and time will be confirmed on board only. They do not let you choose the seats, but instead just give it away in order of booking - those who confirm the date and time earlier get closer sit to the stage. So be sure you go straight to Cirque Du Soleil desk after your embarkation and choose the show, which still has a lot of sits left. * MSC app messaging is huge mess if you have kids as they do not let anyone under 18!!! to use messages. So we had to sign our msc for me accounts on kids phones so we could message to each other. Its still not perfect solution as you can not see messages, which was sent from another device under same account, but it is better than nothing. * They have bracelets, which replicate your cruise card for just 2 Euro at reception, and this is great thing if you'd like to swap cabins with your junior, as bracelets opens the door as well. * Expenses limitation for kids in app does not work and MSC has a lot for kids to spend on. Our kids are reasonable, but there were ones, who spent hundreds and even thousands of Euro for the first day, making it surprise to their parents (of course their cruise card should be connected) * I personally prefer dark chocolate, but their milk chocolate at chocolate fabric is more tasty :). Also they make best coffee on the ship there * two days before the end of the cruise, they will get your embarkation photos delivered to your room and you need to decline buying them by signing attached paper and brining this paper to photo deck! as otherwise you'll find 35Euro for these photos at your final bill and have to spend time, deleting it. In general we had a great cruise and will obviously choose MSC for future cruises as well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Like many other reviewers, we choose this cruise based on the itinerary. We were able to get a very good price on the cruise, which is good, because paying full price would not be worth it. The Good- Our state room (a balcony on the ... Read More
Like many other reviewers, we choose this cruise based on the itinerary. We were able to get a very good price on the cruise, which is good, because paying full price would not be worth it. The Good- Our state room (a balcony on the 12th floor) was extremely spacious. Most of the cruise staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. The embarkation process was the quickest I've ever experienced, and took maybe 15 minutes. The Okay - The ship itself is just okay. It is a smaller boat, which provides little for onboard activities. The miniature golf course was really, really sad looking. The pools were adequate and the kids enjoyed the kiddie pool. The casino was the smallest I've seen on a cruise ship. If you have a good book, you'll be able to entertain yourself. The layout design of the ship is pretty horrendous though. In most of the public areas, especially the buffet, the design is very poor, which leads to bottlenecks. The excursions were just okay; most of this has more to do with the ports of call than the cruise line. The Blah - The clientele was predominately Italian and Russians, so smoking is everywhere on the top deck and in the pub. Also, there is little knowledge or respect of lines or personal space. The onboard entertainment (shows and musicians) was okay to painfully bad. Jako, an instrumental performer, was great, but unfortunately he only played in the smoking section of the pub. The Awful - The food was just as bad as most people have written. This is the first cruise I've been on that I've lost weight.The best thing on the boat was the french fries. The dinning room food was, at best, reminiscent of my grandmother's nursing home, and, at worst, inedible. The breakfast was the same every day. The pizza bar offered a special "charcoal pizza," which I'm assuming was accidentally burnt to hell and made a special. The worst thing was the seafood. The lobster, which they served in multiple varieties over the duration of the cruise, was inedible. The prawns smelled like they had been in the open for days - I couldn't even bring myself to eat them. There is only one specialty restaurant on the ship, a sushi restaurant. Based on our experience with the other seafood on board, we didn't eat at the restaurant. Overall, it was an okay cruise. We had a great time as a family and saw the ports of call that we wanted to. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This cruise sailed over Christmas and this was the reason we booked a cruise only and arranged our own flights, we were then spending New Year at a hotel we go to regularly in Dubai. We've done this cruise many times with RCI and ... Read More
This cruise sailed over Christmas and this was the reason we booked a cruise only and arranged our own flights, we were then spending New Year at a hotel we go to regularly in Dubai. We've done this cruise many times with RCI and Azamara so we knew what to expect from the ports however we hadn't sailed on Jewel before. Emarkation: We stayed 1 night pre-cruise at the Fairmont Dubai which was close to the airport and Port Rashid as its never a good idea travelling overnight and going straight to the ship. Our transport picked us up at 11:00am and we were at the port by 11:15, dropped off our luggage and headed for immigration and check-in, this was very efficient and we were on board by 11:45. The Windjammer was open for lunch and was reasonably busy when we go there but we managed to get a seat outside. The cabins were available by 13:30 so headed down to unpack. Cabin: The spacious balcony cabin on deck 9 was a decent size with plenty of storage space and a good size balcony, there was tea and coffee which was great and the bed was very comfortable. The bathroom was small but there was a shower with a proper shower screen but no added extras like shower cap or fancy amenities, very basic, a bar of soap and some cheapo shower gel, the towels were a decent quality and thick. The cabin steward was efficient and made sure everything was kept clean. Overall the cabin badly needed upgraded. Dinning: We had opted for My Time Dinning and had booked our times in advance, we had also reserved Giovanni's and Chops. The food was excellent in every venue including The Windjammer, there were plenty of choices for everyone and we were never disappointed at breakfast or lunch times. The service in all venues was first class, sometimes a bit slower in the main restaurant in the evening depending on which table you were at and who the waiters were. The only disappointing thing in the main restaurant was that turkey was served on Christmas Eve and not Christmas day. Entertainment: Some shows we enjoyed however we have seen better singers and dancers purely personal choice, we also don't like circus acts however the best show we watched was Bruce Parker an amazing singer and very charismatic gentleman. There was also the Matisse Trio, Magic Duo and Sagitario Duo who played in various areas around the ship all good. Bars: A lot of activities seemed to stem around the atrium during the day and in the evening which can be a bit annoying if you are walking through so we tended to avoid this deck whenever we could. The Schooner Bar was always busy as there was musical entertainment every night. In the Safari Lounge there was a great Gin Bar a recent addition to the ship and a Vodka Bar which very few people knew about as it wasn't advertised anywhere, we only found out about it after speaking to Anthony who was working in the Solarium Bar. We enjoy Gin and we were very pleased to see such a great variety of Whitely Neil Gins along with many others and a good Gin menu for cocktails, Anthony (the same Bar Man from the Solarium) was very friendly and was excellent in offering ideas. Dress Code: All I can say is some people obviously didn't get the memo!!! even though you are on holiday you should dress appropriately for the restaurant in the evening and make a bit of an effort on Formal nights. There was only 1 sea day on this cruise and as expected the pool deck and surrounding areas were very busy, all the sun beds were occupied and too close together. The weather was fabulous during the cruise mid to high 20s every day which isn't always the case at this time of year. The crew were constantly cleaning and sanitising and everyday in the Cruise Compass there was a section about Wash Up and the Captain also reiterated this regularly however near the end of the cruise there was an outbreak of Norovirus and additional cleaning was introduced, when will people not recognise basic hygiene by washing their hand after using the toilets!!!! Disembarkation was straight forward as we were overnight in Dubai anyway and everyone was off the ship for 09:00am Overall we enjoyed the cruise however in my opinion the ship is in need of a refurbishment and we were told by an Officer that this not scheduled until sometime in 2021 however it wouldn't put us off sailing on Jewel again Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
My first cruise. Ship new, but problems with touch screens in public areas. Some time you must 5 or more time touch before react. Service in rooms excellent. The buffet is very, very good and the food very tasty. The food in ... Read More
My first cruise. Ship new, but problems with touch screens in public areas. Some time you must 5 or more time touch before react. Service in rooms excellent. The buffet is very, very good and the food very tasty. The food in restaurants is good, but most are nothing special. The last days we eat only in the buffet. Entertainment very good. On the last day of the cruise we wanted to buy our pictures. On board payment system card could not found our pictures. The printed picture was already destroyed. The employee could only say sorry. When we ask for the final bill. The staff added a small donation to the bill, msc fondation, without asking us. We asked to be taken out of the bill. An employee in the best Communist Bolshevik tradition gave an A4 page to explain why we don't want to donate. Bravo MSC Bellissima, this is something new! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
CHRISTMAS CRUISE Abu Dhabi (22-12-2019 until 29-12-2019) Everything started with the wrong foot (Family travel - Party of 11 originally, but only 9 arrived because my mother had an emergency surgery and stayed with my father) So the ... Read More
CHRISTMAS CRUISE Abu Dhabi (22-12-2019 until 29-12-2019) Everything started with the wrong foot (Family travel - Party of 11 originally, but only 9 arrived because my mother had an emergency surgery and stayed with my father) So the first thing we did before embarkation, we presented all the medical certifications, and we didn´t get the refund of the stateroom, but thay didn´t also give us the stateroom which was paid to use it, they wasted 2 days saying that they had no response from the land office and in that time the cabin was occupied by other people. Finally by our insistance, we gt the cabin 2 days later but nobody refunded those days wasted. When you buy a drinking package, they force you to buy the same for all the cabin, even though they don´t drink whatever you are planning to drink, so in my case with me, my wife and my 2 children i had to spend 500 euros only to drink sodas. Ridiculous. And even if you buy it if one of the children want ice cream you have to pay it... When in other cruise lines IT IS ALWAYS COMPLIMENTARY. Everything is a struggle and the place most visited is guest services, which is unpleasant and always treat you as a thief and always trying to take advantage of everything and never listening to the customer. Every service that the cruise offers, such as bowling, F1 simulator, VR, etc, THEY ARE ALL EXTRA, in other cruises almost all of them are complimentary and again with all this Italian pirate line, it´s a disaster About shore excursions is a mess, we had one handiccapped passenger in our group and they treated her like if she was cattle, never helping and without providing any service (By the way they got off the cruise 2 days early for this whole nightmare) The disco is next to the kids club, so by the adults only time, you can see a lot of teenagers under 18 that are also drinking alcohol without any control or security, congratulations again to the mastermind of the ship During the cruise they charge you a fee per person per week without notice and also when you complain, they don´t remove it unless you ask them to (70 euros per person per week) so is a bunch of money per cabin and also forcing you without asking. Even if you paid all the services and gratuitites in advance as we did. The payment is another issue, the currency exchange from euros to usd they just steal 5% in exchange difference, and also the payments go through a machine, which is a mess, and if there is a bill that the machine doen´t take it, nobiody in the ship helps you or exchanges you the bill. They don´t even do transactions out of the machine. And they call it smart ship... We had a nightmare and a hell of a week, so if you are planning to take this cruise, forget it, go with another cruie line which will be much better Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We booked as a last-minute vacation for myself, niece and nephew, who has never cruised before. They wanted the location and itinerary. While booking, we realized we must pay for travel insurance for 3 when we wanted for 2 cruisers only. ... Read More
We booked as a last-minute vacation for myself, niece and nephew, who has never cruised before. They wanted the location and itinerary. While booking, we realized we must pay for travel insurance for 3 when we wanted for 2 cruisers only. Our cabin was selected for us! Then, upon embarkation, only 2 wanted the beverage package, but we HAD to pay for 3 ( all members in the cabin), which was in excess of $300 for someone who absolutely did not want and used the package!!!!! On the online itinerary, we did not understand that there will be tours for Dubai, as they were not listed. We also did not know disembarkation could have been done until 2 days after docking! Then 2 days before boarding the MSC Bellissima site was closed. We could not reach anyone! Even though we paid for the beverage package, we could not use any drinks in the mini bar in the room without incurring a charge. Toiletries were limited to wall-mounted pre-filled dispenser. The Medical Office is closed at certain times. If the Doctor has to come out, it will be a charge of $160 euros! With so many persons on board, should this vital department be closed? The shows presented were too short. (30 minutes) Now, the staff were all courteous, helpful and knowledgable!!! Everyone were approachable. Our dining room staff were very intuitive and assisted with our selections. We loved the music played by the staff for the Birthday wishes! The ship was nicely decorated for the holidays! Love the public areas. The shore excursions were well planned and informative. Loved them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The main reason we chose to go on this particular cruise was to go somewhere we'd never been before on a new ship. This trip was booked in October 2018 with Tour America..At the time we were told that flights would be allocated at a ... Read More
The main reason we chose to go on this particular cruise was to go somewhere we'd never been before on a new ship. This trip was booked in October 2018 with Tour America..At the time we were told that flights would be allocated at a later date. This later proved to be a huge mistake. We were only informed of our flight times four weeks prior to departure, The aforementioned travel agency then informed us that the cruise ship company booked all the flights and travel arrangements. This meant that we had to disembark at three am on the last day of our cruise for a 07.10 flight rather than a flight at 14.00 that I would have booked if we had have been left tour own devices. Our on -board experience was largely positive with a few exceptions. The dining experience package that is offered proved to be a huge disappointment. Even after paying extra you are allowed order off a limited menu. The food in the Tapas was sub standard to say the least, The limited fare on the menu in The Butcher cut was however nice though you still could only order one side with everything else charged as extras. The menu on offer in the French restaurant was terrible .The main difference were the waiters who made the whole experience an extremely pleasant. The excursions however are a totally different matter. On the whole they are far too expensive for what's on offer. The trip to the Ritz Carlton was a huge disappointment. You are brought in through what can only be described as the service entrance.. Then you are shown to the beach. You can however use the pool and jacuzzi as well as have lunch far away from their normal guests. The whole trip lasts 6 hours including transfers at a cost of 128 euros each. Extremely expensive way of being treated like a second class citizen.The entertainment was very poor with an extreme Italian bias. The Barmen in every bar were slow and wouldn't survive 10 minutes in a Dublin pub. we put the 22 DEC for travelling because the 20 option was not there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We were on deck 11 and it was a nightmare. Every morning between 6.15 am - 7.30am and later thats all we could hear was thump thump thump which was coning from the jogging track. I obviously complained several times as I was not on holiday ... Read More
We were on deck 11 and it was a nightmare. Every morning between 6.15 am - 7.30am and later thats all we could hear was thump thump thump which was coning from the jogging track. I obviously complained several times as I was not on holiday to be woken up at that time of the morning every day. You couldn't even stay late in bed because of the continual noise above. The front desk was made aware of my complaint. They told me that the track did not open until 7.00am which was an absolute load of rubbish. They did offer to move us right at the end of the cruise (1 1/2 days left). Then they said I would receive a letter offering a discount off another cruise. This never arrived. I mentioned this to the Diamond concierge (Christina) and she checked for me and said that I should have received it she then printed a copy of it and gave it to me. (the last night). Our cabin Steward mentioned that a number of passengers had complained. But who in their right mind would put cabins underneath a jogging track. When they washed the deck we had water pouring all over the balcony so if we had been sat out we would have had a very dirty shower!!!! The ship looks tired and a lot of areas on the ship looked very sad, carpets ripped in patches. Such a shame. The staff in the Diamond lounge were absolutely amazing. The staff in Schooner Bar were great fun. I was not impressed with any of the entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
There were a couple of minor niggles, but overall this was a fantastic cruise on a lovely ship full of character. Embarkation was very smooth, and there were drinks and snacks available at the Port too as we waited to get onboard. There ... Read More
There were a couple of minor niggles, but overall this was a fantastic cruise on a lovely ship full of character. Embarkation was very smooth, and there were drinks and snacks available at the Port too as we waited to get onboard. There was a slight wait for our cabin to be ready once we were on the ship, but this meant we had the chance to sample the drinks menu! We dined every night in the main dining room (we were allocated TIdes - Deck 5). The food was probably the best we’ve had on a cruise ship, and the portion sizes were very generous! The Apple Pie was to die for! There was always plenty of choice on the menu, with some classic dishes always there for fussier eaters. We did use the buffet (Windjammer) for Breakfast and Lunch, and were also very impressed with the quality of food and different dishes available here. We lounged by the main pool mostly, and used the Solarium occasionally. There were plenty of loungers available, so it was easy to find somewhere to sit and relax most days. The pools (both outside and inside) were both a decent size, and didn’t feel too crowded, even on the sea day. One of our main annoyances with this ship were the theatre shows (or lack of), as theatre-goers, we frequent the theatre every night on cruise ships normally. But some nights, there was no theatre show, with the theatre being used as a cinema instead, when there was already a cinema on board. When there were theatre shows, the times would never be consistent, and changed constantly. The evening entertainment in other bars and lounges we thoroughly enjoyed especially some of the game shows, and the pianist in the Schooner Bar was very entertaining. We attended the Silent Disco both times throughout the week and loved it! This ship was one of the bigger mid-size ships we have been on so far, and although being around 15 years old, it was well maintained, and kept extremely clean throughout. There were plenty of bars and lounges onboard, and we especially loved the Safari Lounge. Even throughout busy periods, it never felt over-crowded. Disembarkation was very smooth. We felt very sad to be leaving, as we had a great week and met some lovely people during our time onboard. I wish MSC would take note of how other cruise lines deal with disembarking, as I really feel that they could learn a lot, especially after our horrendous experience earlier this year when we disembarked the MSC Seaside. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise for its combination of cities plus the opportunity to have a beach day, so the fact that the captain deemed the seas too rough for tendering (debatable) on the day we were to visit Sir Bani Yas for our beach day was a ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its combination of cities plus the opportunity to have a beach day, so the fact that the captain deemed the seas too rough for tendering (debatable) on the day we were to visit Sir Bani Yas for our beach day was a huge disappointment. The itineraries for future cruises also include Khasab and it's a pity this port could not have been substituted when we abandoned Sir Bani Yas, as the itinerary ended up being too light on ports, with only 2 in addition to our departure port of Dubai, where we spent a disproportionate amount of time, 3 of the 7 nights. Embarkation was fine, as was disembarkation at the end, although when we got back to Dubai there was a lot of confusion around the system for collecting passports and incorrect info was given around the need to get our passports twice in one day, which was not the case. Disembarking in Muscat where we arrived early due to the cancelled port was total chaos and it ended up being too late in the day to get off to do anything useful so we stayed on board, making the extra time there redundant. Our cabin was satisfactory other than the damage along the base of the mirror which gave it the appearance of a cheap motel mirror. It was otherwise kept clean and the beds were comfortable. I enjoyed the shows in the theatre when there actually were shows. It is a cop out to show movies on some nights. I also enjoyed the regular quizzes, but overall there was less entertainment than my previous cruise, which was with Princess, and one duo which performed regularly in the centrum and by the main pool really were not very good. We got very tired of the constant Christmas music being played throughout much of the ship and used to search for sunbathing areas it didn't reach. The food was good in the mytime dining in Tides on deck 5, providing faster service than the main seatings on deck 4. Our waiters were great and got extra veggies for us and/or extra starters, as we were surprised how small the portions were. The Windjammer cafe food was quite good- nothing special, and near the end of the cruise I spoke to the manager about the grubbiness of the outdoor section, with stains from spilled drinks, etc, and dirty balcony glass. I felt overall the cleanliness of the public areas left something to be desired, from the dustballs under the seats outside the Tides dining room to the state of the toilet floors, which were messy even on embarkation day. The only ship's shore excursion we did was the Abu Dhabi city tour which included the mosque, and we enjoyed it other than the rather pointless stop at the closed Louvre museum. The stunning mosque was a highlight of our entire holiday. There was then a mix up regarding the itinerary but to their credit, the tour providers included the Heritage village once they realised we had been told by the ship that it was part of the tour. For our sea day my daughter paid an eye-watering $22 for 24 hours of the slower wifi, so anyone considering ship's wifi should definitely get one of the pre-sailing offers. Despite the above criticisms, overall we enjoyed our cruise. Muscat was really beautiful and an interesting contrast to the modern cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We liked the food and the overall service. We had fun in the pools and on the water slide. We also enjoyed the stargazing with the informative cruise director. However, in the end we felt we had overpaid for what we got, i.e., £1002 for the two of us in an oceanview cabin, when many had paid £400 per couple for balcony cabins in a later sale. If we'd paid £400 I would have been happy with the value for money but at over £1000, having only had 2 ports of call (in addition to our starting port) I ended up wishing we had booked one of the upcoming cruises which make better use of the time by include Khasab, so there would be a minimum of 3 ports on occasions when Sir Bani Yas tendering gets cancelled. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise as the best way to see the amazing sights in Egypt and to learn about its people. This holiday greatly exceeded our expectations. Michael, our guide was awesome in his knowledge and enthusiasm not just for the temples ... Read More
We chose this cruise as the best way to see the amazing sights in Egypt and to learn about its people. This holiday greatly exceeded our expectations. Michael, our guide was awesome in his knowledge and enthusiasm not just for the temples some of which he had worked on as an Egyptologist but also for giving us a comprehensive overview of Egypt more recently. The hotels in Cairo were excellent and the Ra is like a luxury hotel. The cabin (middle price) had a spacious bathroom and great balcony and sitting area. Food on board is superb with plenty of choice at every meal. The staff cannot do enough for you. All were faultless. On our anniversary they left a bottle of champagne and a charming note in our cabin.The on board talks and entertainment were great. We were the only non American guests and found out that most fellow cruisers had booked 2 years ago. Some had mobility issues but these were seamlessly taken care of by the staff,crew and guides. Only one criticism _ the WiFi was inadequate and patchy. In this day and age, one's expectations are of strong reliable connections. Other than this. Strongly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
After 7 days sailing around the GCC I would like to share my honest experience with you all.. Embarkation was fairly painless and the whole process took 30 minutes maximum, the huge let down was the disembarkation at Oman port & ... Read More
After 7 days sailing around the GCC I would like to share my honest experience with you all.. Embarkation was fairly painless and the whole process took 30 minutes maximum, the huge let down was the disembarkation at Oman port & Dubai! Took 90 minutes to get off ship and was absolute chaos amongst the passengers, RC need to do something here or change ports as it is a huge negative and you lose too much time hanging around. Ship - Its old but still in fair condition and still a lovely ship, my only criticism is the sofas in schooner bar is like sitting on a park bench and the art work is from the 70's Cabin - Cabin is what you expect on a 10-15 year old ship, little worn and dated but found the bed to be comfortable and decent TV with English channels. Note - take adapters as it only has US / European plugs & hairdryer is terrible. Dining - AMAZING! Much better than Anthem of the Seas. The main dining room was one of our better meals and cant praise waiter - Karandeo & Marie enough! Fantastic work and 10/10 for service. Entertainment - Overall 5/10!! Motown singers however where fantastic and deserve a 10/10, for the rest of the shows it was average if I'm honest. Entertainment leader (Talita?) was very good and put on a fantastic show (Battle of the Sexes & another)! She had us all in stitches. Service - Service around ship was extremely good, with the exception of main customer service desk on level 4!! The manager had a stinking attitude when we complained about our room and requested to move. This did put a huge negative spin on our vacation, and did question my next booking with RC in 2020. Excursions - N/A we did our own so cant comment. Gym - Very good and on par with the larger ships. Overall I liked the ship but I prefer the larger / newer ships if I'm been honest. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose Uniworld as friends said their experience is ultimate pleasure and luxury. That said, we also wanted a total cultural experience of the wonders of Ancient Egypt. We read reviews that extolled the Uniworld Egyptologists as ... Read More
We chose Uniworld as friends said their experience is ultimate pleasure and luxury. That said, we also wanted a total cultural experience of the wonders of Ancient Egypt. We read reviews that extolled the Uniworld Egyptologists as knowledgeable and entertaining. We were excited to experience this as we wondered at the marvels of the temples, tombs, etc. This was a family trip and we loved the River Tosca and its aging gentility. The crew/staff were most accommodating and friendly, with attention to one’s every need. We had a Royal Suite and were able to have private relaxation times with our family there - this is a really comfortable and large cabin with an additional sitting room. Egyptian whisky, gin and vodka and all soft drinks are available free of charge as well as three pots of snacks - one usually nuts or roasted corn, one of Egyptian chocolates, and one with potato crisps in packets. There is also a fruit bowl and laundry is thrown in. My husband says he may never recover from having his scants ironed! We are accustomed on guided trips to have hour long presentations of the periods and places of the next day presented each evening. Our “Egyptologist talk” each evening was when we could need to be ready, where we were going, and when we could be back - and oh yes, where shopping would be available. No real information! The documentaries on the TV were outdated documentaries of how movies were made, a story of some Egyptian conscripts at the time of the pyramids (all based on guesswork), and some ancient stuff from the BBC - and the Peter Ustinov version of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. Our Egyptologist Sameh was repetitive and very good at shepherding his flock, but we were there for the cultural experience and we kept getting the feeling that everything was boiling down to “the boy king” and a limited number of “stars” that they had decided would make good storylines. We were frustrated in the extreme. We are not idiots and the stuff we were being fed was pure Hollywood/`Disney. King Tut, Nefertiti, Amenhotep, Hatshepsut and the odd other walk on part. These were minor players in the grand scheme of things, but we learned nothing more than we already knew from previous research, and that was bitterly disappointing. So Uniworld - Get serious and bat with the heavyweights like Regent and Azamara. Have proper detailed briefings each evening prior to the visits - Egypt demands this!! Egyptian tourism has decided to pander to the Hollywood and Disney superficial storylines. Don’t bow down to this (remember your South African heritage, dammit). Give us the real thing please. Your boat and crew are delightful. Your packaging of the ancient Egyptian historical experience needs serious review - unless we got the dregs of your Egyptologists? Perhaps we did. Who knows. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
My husband and I just completed the Uniworld “Splendors of Egypt & The Nile” twelve-day cruise/tour of Egypt. I would like to elaborate on our experience, which was for the most part very positive. EGYPTOLOGIST I’ll ... Read More
My husband and I just completed the Uniworld “Splendors of Egypt & The Nile” twelve-day cruise/tour of Egypt. I would like to elaborate on our experience, which was for the most part very positive. EGYPTOLOGIST I’ll start with the most important element of this trip, our Egyptologist. His performance was crucial to the success of the trip. Without a qualified guide the journey would have been pointless. Akram, our guide, did not disappoint. Before the start of the official tour Akram took us to see some of the more minor pyramids and then to visit the Bazaar. I knew after spending that first half day with him that we were in for a treat over the coming days. He was so well qualified and versed on all aspects of ancient Egyptian history and modern Egyptian culture as well. Even more important, his enthusiasm for “all things Egypt” was contagious. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on the Pharoahs, temples and pyramids but I certainly have a much better understanding of the subject after spending a week and a half with Akram. Akram’s official duty was to guide us through the magical country of Egypt; in reality he “wore several other hats”. He also took on the responsibility of helping two passengers with mobility issues that both required wheelchair assistance. It was a daunting task he tackled head on. The various sites posed unique challenges as far as handicapped access goes but Akram handled the often-awkward situations with aplomb. I spoke at length with one of the handicapped passenger’s relatives who had nothing but glowing praise for the help Akram had provided in order that their spouse could fulfill their lifelong dream of an Egyptian cruise. In addition, he took charge of tipping the bathroom attendants at the various sites for the entire group. Handling all these tasks often demanded he be in two places at once. There was a lot of pressure, but he never lost his cool. One change/addition I might suggest is to provide Akram with an assistant to handle the rest room duties and enable him to concentrate on his guiding. Perhaps the bus driver could assist in this area. ITINERARY The itinerary was well designed to maximize the number of sites visited. Some of us commented that we felt we had packed a month’s worth of touring into eleven days, To be honest the pace was brisk and we were pretty tired at the end of the day; however, it was completely worth every 7:00 a.m. starting time to reach the temples before the crowds descended. Many reviews of this cruise addressed the action-packed nature of the cruise but still some people complained to Akram about it, even though the logistics involved were not within his control. In our opinion the optional excursion to Abu Simbel was the highlight of the trip. It was well worth the extra effort and expense involved getting there. We were told that going forward it will be incorporated into the regular itinerary. This is excellent news as anyone interested in Egypt would really miss if they passed over these amazing temples. The subcontractor handling the entire trip for Uniworld was Spring Tours. I felt they did a good job. The bus drivers were professional and the buses were clean and comfortable. RIVER TOSCA SHIP I will admit to being pleasantly surprised by the ship especially after reading quite a few negative reviews of the ship. Granted it is an older vessel but our cabin appeared to have newer, clean carpet and fresh paint. We found it quite cozy. The staff on the boat was lovely. They were always pleasant and helpful. We loved the food. They had a lot of variety and daily offered some local dishes to sample. The highlight was the evening they served an Egyptian buffet—delicious. PRE- AND POST CRUISE STAY Of course, it is hard to criticize the Four Seasons. It is a little pricey for meals but with a sumptuous breakfast buffet included, it was easy to get through the day on the calories provided by that meal alone. UNIWORLD TRANSFERS/LOGISTICS This is the area where I have my one criticism of our trip. We booked our flights and initial incoming transfer independently as we spent several extra days in Cairo at the Four Seasons before start of Splendors of Egypt & The Nile” twelve-day cruise/tour. Despite numerous to communicate our arrangements with Uniworld corporate they were not at all helpful in facilitating our liaison with the other passengers on our excursions. A serious of lengthy phone calls with both the Four Seasons and Uniworld in the US were required to finally sort things out. Apparently, Uniworld is really only set up to deal with customers who buy their entire package—air/cruise/hotel. They are not motivated to provide assistance to the independent travelers. I recognize that you must differentiate between the corporation and the actual subcontractor, Spring Tours, in these situations. All in all, it was a marvelous cruise and I would recommend it without reservation to anyone, who like us, has Egypt on their “list”. PS: One more negative comment about corporate Uniworld. I made considerable attempts to post this 98% review directly on Uniworld's web site. First they told me it had to be "researched". Then when I called directly they said I had to be "invited" as it was submitted through a third party. Finally, they e-mailed me and said to submit to them directly--what I wanted to do in the first place. What are they afraid of? Read Less
Sail Date December 2019

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