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11,121 Luxury Cruise Reviews

I travelled with Ponant to Antarctica in January 2020 with my Son, aboard Le Soleal on the 11 day “Emblematic Antarctica”, this being my first cruise with Ponant. From first contact with Ponant’s Australian office, which is ... Read More
I travelled with Ponant to Antarctica in January 2020 with my Son, aboard Le Soleal on the 11 day “Emblematic Antarctica”, this being my first cruise with Ponant. From first contact with Ponant’s Australian office, which is located in Sydney, it was apparent that the standard of customer service was going to be impeccable. This was demonstrated by being able to speak with the same staff member, who if not available would promptly, return calls, who was able to advise on the product being sold, and was able to make informed suggestions and amendments to my booking without any fuss together with a genuine commitment to addressing the needs of the customer. The Cruise Package includes accommodation in Buenos Aires and I stayed at the Sofitel Recoleta. This is a lovely hotel in a safe up-market area, from where you will meet the Ponant Agent and confirm your airport transfer the following day. On departure day you are met by the local agent, baggage is sorted and you are then driven to the airport where assistance is provided to ensure a seamless check-in to the chartered three hour flight to Ushuaia, with LATAM Airlines. At Ushuaia you are met by the Ponant Agent where luggage is again sorted. I opted for the Tiera del Fuego National Park Bus Tour. This included lunch. I did not enjoy this, the road is unfinished and dust filled the bus to the discomfort of those on-board with some passengers insisting that the air-conditioning be turned off. Common sense did prevail however. In my view the Bus Tour is really a filler to erode time between arrival in Ushaia and embarkation, a very minor gripe and really an observation only. You are then taken to the pier and welcomed aboard, where drinks are served in the main lounge, keys issued, and following which when you are ready you are escorted to your “cabin”, where your luggage has been delivered. Among the first and lasting impressions are the luxurious interiors, cleanliness and modernity of the ship, the attentive, friendly but non-intrusive staff and an ambiance which is most likely a function of the small number of passengers, and as this is a somewhat exclusive product, there is then that “je ne sais quoi” permeating the entire experience. The cabins are should be more accurately described as suites. I stayed mid-ship in Suite 530, on recommendation of the team at the Sydney office. (Thank you Karen and Gina). Mid ship being advantageous if there are big pitching sea’s. My “suite” was the perfect size, travelling with my son, and is designed for two passengers. I was able to request two single beds, they were probably queen singles, very comfortable, ample storage for all our clothes and suitcases. The separate toilet and bathroom works okay, but is mystery why it is configured in this manner…but it does not matter. The suite was absolutely spotless and maintained as such throughout the ten days and there was always some tempting french treat awaiting your return in the afternoon. The Drake Passage’s reputation did not manifest itself on this journey. I believe there may have had up to three metre swells at some point, however regardless of this had there been poor conditions the destination is absolutely worth some mild discomfort, which is easily treated with medication and, dare I suggest, some french champagne. On, or at a minimum, after day two the bar staff will know your name and be able to anticipate your choice from the very generous variety of refreshments included in the cruise fare. There are some premium selections from the beer, wine, champagne and spirit menu available at additional cost if so desired. As to attire, the brochures are reflective of, and rightly so, french chic, can I suggest that very neat casual will suffice for most occasions, with a dinner jacket for men, or a suit, and one or two or three smart dresses / pants / jacket for ladies will suffice especially in the main dining room which is a segway to the food on board….it is well, simply put superb. I chose to eat in the buffet, relaxed and self-service and simply convenient. You may notice the Maître d' photographing the food. This is done at each sitting with those photographs supplied to Head Office to ensure quality control. Simply unheard of I know, but reflective of the attention to detail from Ponant…nothing is left to chance. Back to the food, I was not a foodie, but have been converted. At every meal there were some regular staples, but with the menu changed daily. This provided an outstanding variety to please even the most jaded gourmet. The variety of french cuisine meant that it was essential to pair wine with my lunch and dinner, it would have been impolite not to do so. There were at least two soups for lunch and dinner, a selection of meats, and cheeses and salads, not to mention the main courses, and then the desserts which combined ingredients and flavours that I had not considered possible. My advice is to try everything as you can control portion sizes and… bon appetite. In terms of on-board activities on the “sea days” there is enough to do, this includes the lectures on history, on wildlife and ecology to name but a few which my son and I enjoyed. My son was the only child aboard, he was made welcome by my fellow travelers and staff and this was reflected when enjoying the numerous shore excursions, which is the reason after all for the journey. Special mention here to Lou, Jorge and Jonathon, our Expedition Leader. Because Ponant has 199 passengers or less then those passengers can land on the Antarctic Peninsula. To achieve this guests are grouped by language and matched to their guide accordingly. Those groups are then colour coded so as to organise orderly transport to and from the ice. The order is changed on each occasion that an excursion is undertaken, it is published in the daily on-board advice and broadcast across the ships public address system. This ensures minimal wait times. Ponant’s attention to detail is again evidenced by its dedication to guests safety, and is demonstrated by the minutia of how to get on and off the Zodiac’s right down to how to interact with staff, ie correct hand grip, where to sit (where not to) moving around the Zodiac etc…if you have any concerns about this be re-assured nothing is left to chance, safety is an absolute priority. The on-shore expeditions are able to be undertaken by persons with all levels of physical ability either in full or part thereof, and in lieu of that Ponant will cruise you around the landing sites in the Zodiacs. So to the landings, due to the size of the ship, there are many opportunities, and the Captain has the flexibility to make the best of those as they arise, so don’t be surprised if there is a deviation. My favourite location was Neko Harbour and the Sea Ice, breath-takingly beautiful and accessible to all levels of ability and fitness. There will also be some surprises ashore. Those surprises are a team effort led by the Expedition Leader who will on every occasion, conduct the necessary reconnaissance, set up the landing points, mark out the safe routes, greet you on arrival and provide a safety briefing. There is a considerable amount of effort being expended by the crew to create these outstanding experiences. Those experiences are enhanced by having the correct clothing, I wore one technical layer, ie thermal pants plus waterproof trousers and a thermal top, which you can purchase at any good outdoor equipment supplier, and the supplied Ponant Jacket and Boots. I was never cold, in fact when moving around this generated enough body heat to be comfortably warm, the use of adjustable walking poles to maintain easy balance is absolutely recommended. I have read some reviews about photographic equipment and, wait for this, the photos attached to this review were taken using a iPhone 4. Ponant also offer several photographic packages plus a cruise video, and again my recommendation is the purchase these as the imagery captured is going to take your album / scrap book to the next level. If you have read this far then you’re contemplating Ponant to take you to Antarctica. I cannot overstate my experience it was superb, nothing was left to chance, no detail overlooked, every interaction with crew was positive…so please contemplate no more. I will be travelling again to Antarctica and I will be travelling with Ponant…I suggest you do also. Read Less
Sail Date April 2020
I had never been on a curnard cruise before and have been put off by rumours that they are quite formal cruises. However I booked the cruise just a couple of days out before embarktation at a ridiculous price. So let's on the cruise ... Read More
I had never been on a curnard cruise before and have been put off by rumours that they are quite formal cruises. However I booked the cruise just a couple of days out before embarktation at a ridiculous price. So let's on the cruise Overall I can discount a.lot of the critiscim i read on the formality of curnard although on gala nights there is a need to dress up. From boarding the ship and throughout the cruise I loved the white glove service The service level by all staff is very high. There was a bit of administration issues around dining appointments and table allocation and it did fustrate passengers because there were no dinning room.managers available until the first sitting at 5.30pm Quite a few people including myself had dining room arrangements cancelled by their computer system. To their credit the managers worked very hard and got it sorted out quickly. Dining room experience with waiters was excellent. Range of food and quality was high. If a dish wasnt to your tasting it was quickly replaced by the waiter. The size of the meals were and dishes were served hot. They did a very good job My cabin was well appointed and maintained. The service from my cabin stewardess was excellent my room and bathroom were always spotless. What I noticed was the high number of cleaning rags used by the staff. They were using a separate group of rags per cabin. The shower was a little bit smaller than what I expected, water pressure and temperature were excellent. The buffet was very good for breakfast and lunch. I particularly like sushi and there dishes available both for lunch and dinner. Sometimes I would call in early for a small plate of sushi before my main meal. On the subject of allegey food, the selection of gluten free food was better at dinner time, they had an entire bay of gluten free meals at nights. Also in the afternoon tea time, there was also a very good range of gluten free sandwiches and cakes. Overall, the staff were very helpful and service was excellent. If you like reading and need a quite place, this ship offers a number of venues and places just to let you get away from the crowds and just enjoy and occasionally falling off for 10 minutes. The old cigar room which has been relocated to level 3 is now the admiralites room, lovely quite place to read. The promenade deck on level 3 is totally under cover. Whether you relax on a deck chair with a blanket or walk around the ship, you can relax or excerise or watch the clouds go by. It is one those classical decks from a bygone era which seems to be lost in some of the modern ships. The pool.deck gave me mostly joy but a little of disappointment. Pools are fine and unlike the more ships don t have 50 children jumping in and around. It is more refined because of t h e clientele. There are lots of places to sit including a reasonable amount of shaded seating. However the spas are incredibly small and can either fit 2 to 3 people. They are in the sun. If the ship needed a refit, this is one thing that needs to be replaced. They are ridiculous small and ineffective. For non smokers,the amount of space offered to people who consume tobacco is the highest I have ever seen on a ship. Most companies are reducing these areas. On a bad day you can only go down one side of the ship to avoid these passengers. Entertainment was not to my tastes. Except for the trivia and kareoka at the pub, i found the entertainment was 1930s era. I didn't go to one show at the threatre and the number of sessions allocated to ballroom dancers and the number of participants at the queens room couldn't justify the event. There was a reasonable population on the ship to justify a dj and some more modern dance music. Embarktation and Disbarktation service was well coordinated. The tender service at port Arthur was well managed. The nunever of tenders operating and their frequency just made the whole process flow so smoothly. I did two short excursions and found that well organised from the purchase, meet and greet and the service provided by the operators. However when it came to cost, we didn't realise that the price offered was in American dollars. A lot of ships that operate in Australian waters during their stay offer australian prices. I found curnard did not clearly disclose this fact. As a result not only did we have to the equivalent in American dollars but the currency conversion rate was very high.disappointed with this lack of disclosure. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
First time on Cunard, we were supposed to do back to back cruises from Sydney but the New Zealand cruise was cancelled due to the virus. The six day cruise itself was lovely, free from any dramas and we formed some lovely connections ... Read More
First time on Cunard, we were supposed to do back to back cruises from Sydney but the New Zealand cruise was cancelled due to the virus. The six day cruise itself was lovely, free from any dramas and we formed some lovely connections with the staff. Our room was the cleanest of any cruises we have ever been on, well done Cunard. Loved walking into a room where I don’t immediately think I had better start cleaning. The food was lovely, a bit repetitive in the buffet but still fine. I really want to say how wonderful Cunard itself has been. Having cancelled our second cruise they couldn’t do enough for the passengers. Booking accommodation, rebooking flights, booking us into a lovely hotel where we bunkered down until our flight back to Perth. Although it was sad to no be able to undertake our second cruise, the amazing manner in which the company and staff rallied around and provided one hundred per cent support helped in this disappointment. Many thanks to Cunard we’ll definitely travel with you when the time is right. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
My husband and I have just returned from our March 7 - 15th Galapagos Islands Cruise and we cannot wipe the smile off our faces. Our hundreds of photos are a beautiful reminder of what we experienced and learned. Silver Seas has mastered ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our March 7 - 15th Galapagos Islands Cruise and we cannot wipe the smile off our faces. Our hundreds of photos are a beautiful reminder of what we experienced and learned. Silver Seas has mastered the Art of cruising, in making their guests feel like no one is more important than them. The staff is not only helpful but always pleasant and most resourceful! The naturalists are phenomenal...always taking good care in all circumstances..including getting on and off and "up and Down" the Zodiacs..:) and providing the best information to us. Our cabin person Leo could not have been more available to our needs and the dining room staff...headed by Christian, made every meal a dining experience.....under the most creative Chef...and pardon me...but I am lost to come up with her name.....but she was exemplary in her food prep, creativity, presentation and offerings of local foods..including a very fine fish selection. Tom and I met people from all over the world amongst the 90 guests and hopefully we will connect with them down the road. One observation, I would make is to not take along or purchase the Keen open water sandles, as they do allow sand and stones to get in upon a wet landing. The ship sells excellent closed nylon/rubber water shoes and while pricey, you are able to use any Cruise Credit to purchase them along with the excellent toggled hats to protect from the sun. I would redo this trip in a heartbeat..but taking in the western islands this time. Thanks to the Silver Seas staff and organization for an unforgettable week with you. Wendy Hickey & Tom Gallagher Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I have been on this ship before and enjoyed it. The cabins spacious, the food excellent, entertainment not the best, but OK and the staff so courteous and helpful. On the 2nd port this time we were put into lockdown in our ... Read More
I have been on this ship before and enjoyed it. The cabins spacious, the food excellent, entertainment not the best, but OK and the staff so courteous and helpful. On the 2nd port this time we were put into lockdown in our cabins while a patient results were awaited and unfortunately he was positive for Covid-19 15 March 2020 End of cruise holiday. Food is excellent apart from the fact that it is hard to get enough vegetables and it often turns up cold. Two gentleman hosts take dancing lessons and arrange for singles to sit together if they desire . This is much appreciated. This cruise has Bridge lessons with an excellent instructor. The cabin 426 is spacious with a walk in robe and big two bowl sink, shower and large bath, all scrupulously clean. The crew appear mainly Filipino and have a high standard of English. Unfortunately some of the land tour s , although expensive, were quite disappointing. Our 4 hour tour took in two churches, a few market stalls and a historic prison which was converted to market stalls in the cells. The wares were quite high quality, particularly the table cloths and ladies' clothing. Not much to see over 4 hours. The route was interesting. Now we have to see what will happen with our own quarantine/ incarceration . Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
WARNING! This review is long. After reserving this cruise almost two years ago, we (group of 8) were a bit concerned if our cruise down the Nile on the Viking Ra scheduled to begin on March 6, 2020, would be cancelled. With Viking’s ... Read More
WARNING! This review is long. After reserving this cruise almost two years ago, we (group of 8) were a bit concerned if our cruise down the Nile on the Viking Ra scheduled to begin on March 6, 2020, would be cancelled. With Viking’s new cancellation policy, at least we could make a decision closer to the scheduled date so that gave us some flexibility with the ever-changing situation. We ended up going as scheduled and were thrilled with the entire trip, itinerary and experience that Viking provided. As soon as the trip began, we heard that Viking was shutting down all cruises for several weeks so this was the last cruise the Ra would take for awhile. We joked that we were shutting off the lights as we left each port. It was hard to think about the many tour agencies and other cruise lines that would be shuttering for awhile and how that would effect the many service people, vendors, guides and staff that we met along the way. Just like in all the countries around the world, their economy will take a hit and the poverty that we witnessed will only get worse. We had made our air reservations through Viking and we were so glad that we did. I’ve always been frustrated by their fees for any changes to the air itinerary even before the trip is booked so we have not always gone with their deal, but we decided to go with them two years ago because we knew with the length of this trip (17 days total with extension to Jordan), we weren’t going to add any more days (we do have to work at some point to pay for our travel! ☺) More on that later. From the moment we arrived at Cairo airport, the Viking staff took over. Someone met us at the arrivals gate and guided us through the areas at the airport. We had gotten our visas online through the government website ($25), another couple had gone through an agency, and the other four just paid for the visa on arrival. As so many others have said, just do it when you arrive. There was no line, they didn’t look at passports, they just asked for $25 USD (cash) and you walked on through. Took all of 2 minutes. Our luggage was taken care of and we really didn’t have to deal with carrying them the rest of the trip. Our Program Director, Hani, met us on the bus and gave a welcome, some history on the bus ride to the hotel and lots of clear and useful direction on ATM’s, restaurants, the information meeting the next morning and how our trip was structured. The Ritz Carlton Cairo was beautiful and in a great location right on the Nile and next to the Egyptian Museum. We had a bite to eat in the lounge and headed to bed. Our other breakfasts and one dinner were at the main floor restaurant and were all very extensive buffets (included in our tour). Our first touring day was the biggest one and after being awakened at 4 by the disco on the Nile or maybe on the small island in the middle of the river, I wasn’t sure how the day would go. We had an orientation meeting at 8 and started touring at 9. We started at the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, then a rug making school before lunch at a hotel buffet. The afternoon was spent on the Giza Plateau where we had time at the great Pyramids, rode a camel and visited the Sphinx. Let me just take a minute to say that Viking provides 2 Egyptologists and they are with you for the entire trip. You are broken into two groups and you stay with your Egyptologist (called Program Directors) the entire time. Our group had Hani and the other group had Tarek. We were so gratified all through the trip to have a Program Director leading us. Not only did they provide general information about each touring day, take care of all entry fees and most tips for the wash rooms, make sure we had the correct information for touring each site and gave us pointers on how to deal with aggressive vendors, but (what they were really trained for) they described, explained and enthused over the tombs, temples and pyramids we saw so that we could really appreciate and understand what we were seeing. Because we had the same Program Director each day, they could build on information they had given us days before and build on the picture that we were seeing of the country they loved. This was one of the few times when I saw the wisdom of going with a structured tour group instead of building a trip itinerary and doing it on our own. Great job, Hani! I’m sure you won’t get much from an in-depth review of each day, but I will insert anything that might be of use to future travelers on this itinerary. Day Two was the Citadel and mosque. Our PD did explain a lot about his personal Muslim faith and what it meant to him and his culture. I thought it was fascinating and insightful and the mosque was beautiful. Later that morning we went to the Egyptian Museum and our PD showed us the highlights. Since it was right next to our hotel, we headed back after lunch at the Ritz Carlton. One couple in our group paid to go into the mummy room and said it was worth it. If you can make it across the street (traffic is insane), there is a government shop (meaning that the prices are fixed) that had some good shopping. Our group booked two cars through the concierge and went to a recommended Middle Eastern restaurant on one of the islands on the Nile. The name of it was Abou El Sid and it had great food, including pigeon! About half of the large group went to the El Kalil market and dinner excursion. I heard mixed reviews. Day Three began early with a 5 am wake up call and bags out by 5:15. We had a buffet breakfast at the hotel and headed to the airport for our charter flight (8 am) to Luxor. As soon as we landed at 9:30, we headed to Karnak Temple. All transportation was seamless and taken care of by Viking. The buses they used throughout were comfortable with plenty of cold water bottles and a bathroom if needed. We headed to the boat at noon and a buffet lunch. Ah, the Ra. Beautiful ship. The common areas were well thought out, the two room suites were spacious and the top deck lounge area so inviting. Before we could get off the bus, medical personnel came on board with a questionnaire and took our temperatures. We had our temperatures taken each morning while we were on the cruise and that information was sent home with us incase there were questions re-entering our home countries. We heard there were 51 people on our tour so we assumed no one had cancelled before the trip but later we were told there were only 46 on the cruise portion, so I’m not sure if some left the tour after Cairo, whether we were not given the right original totals or we forgot someone at the airport. ☺ We were originally surprised more people hadn’t cancelled before the trip with the news that a Nile cruise ship had been struck with COVID-19 the week before After a welcome, port talk and safety drill we headed out to Luxor Temple. I thought it was great to see a temple lit up at night. Day Four was another early morning wake up at 4 am. We hopped on a motor boat for a 10-15 minute ride down the Nile and to the other bank where we took a short van ride to the balloon launching point. Yes, we opted for the Hot Air Balloon ride over the Valley of the Queens. It is something that you book when you arrive in Cairo and costs about $250, I think. I assume they have to wait to see what the weather will be like before they book. Only 13 of the 46 on our cruise did the Hot Air Balloon ride but each participants that I spoke with thought it was the “must do” experience of the trip. We launched on a beautiful, calm, gorgeous morning and were amazed at the sights below us. Such a unique way to see the temples and tombs that we would go inside later that day, plus just the topography and the graphic nature of that swathe of green extending from the Nile and then this sharp boundary where the desert begins. Amazing! Do it!! We had a wonderful breakfast on our return and then headed out to the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Ramses VI’s tomb and Queen Nefartari’s tomb are not to be missed. I think Ramses tomb is an extra fee. We also went into King Tut’s tomb which was an extra price. Our PD downplayed it, but we thought it was worth seeing. We also saw the Collosus of Memnon on the ride back to the boat. After lunch we had free time. During free afternoons our PD’s would sometimes have a talk including topics like – the Arabic language, Women in Egypt, hieroglyphics, ancient Egyptian medicine, etc. After dinner was a belly dancer and a whirling dervish in the lounge. It was hard to watch the belly dancer’s performance and I know that the staff said that they try to tell Viking that no one likes it, but it’s still on the entertainment schedule. You’ve been warned. Day Five we saw Dendera Temple in the morning and had the rest of the day to ourselves as we sailed back up the Nile.. It’s wonderful to sit on that top deck or on your balcony and watch the world go by. Day Six – the men in our group went to the 8 am tour of Esna Temple. We ladies decided to take the village tour and then did some shopping (you do walk by the temple on the village tour). I think enough people have reviewed the crazy, pushy, aggressive behavior of vendors. You get a bit used to it but it always feels rude because eventually you just have to be very firm. One note, if you really want something, just keep walking away. The vendor finally got to the price I was willing to pay for a galabeya (long flowing garment) when I was walking down the steps to the ship (Viking’s dock was right next to the village). Get a tunic or galabeya before Egyptian night on the boat. It was fun to see people wearing these colorful garments at dinner that night. We set sail again and enjoyed a Falafel demonstration in the restaurant. That night was an amazing Egyptian dinner and the Nubian dancers in the lounge afterwards were very entertaining. Interestingly enough, we ran into a sand storm in the afternoon and had to dock at Edfu since all river traffic was stopped by the government. It was only through the hard work of our crew that we got clearance to keep sailing about 5 hours after the storm ended and were able to dock in Aswan the next morning so that those going to Abu Simbel could make their flight. Day Seven – I think it was at breakfast when Karoline, our Hotel Manager, told us the bad news that Jordan had closed its borders and we would not be able to go on our extension trip to Jordan. Our trip was cut short by 4 days. Here is where we were extremely happy that we had done the Viking airfare. By the time we got back from our jaunt to the airport, Viking had rebooked us on a flight out of Cairo for Tuesday and handed us our new flights times. Easy. They were actually better flight times than we originally had and we didn’t have to try and rebook and cancel flights online or over the phone (Karoline said the wait time was sometimes 6 hours on the phone). Our friends (they couldn’t book through Viking because of another reason) tried twice to talk with someone on the phone and after an hour wait were disconnected. They finally were able to use the ships computer to book a flight home and decided to deal with cancelling the original flight and getting the refund later. To Viking’s credit, they worked with all of the passengers whether they had booked their original flights through Viking or not, but those passengers that hadn’t booked with Viking did have to deal with the logistics themselves. Abu Simbel. What can I say. There are no words. Mostly because we only saw the Aswan airport. ☺ We did see the Aswan Dam in a 20 minute stop on the way to the airport. But once we got to the airport, we waited for our plane to come from Cairo. Unfortunately, because of a bad rainstorm the day before, Cairo’s runways were flooded and flights were backed up. (We also heard that all the schools were closed, local transportation cancelled and electricity cut off because of the flooding. Because they rarely get rain, let alone a lot of it, they just don’t have the drainage in the city. Who knew?) After several delays and concerns over another sand storm trapping us in Abu Simbel if we did make it there, our PD called the trip off and we headed back to our ship. The Aswan airport was an interesting morning tour spot with bathrooms that included toilet paper and no attendant to tip, shops that had fixed prices and a free soda at the cafeteria. After a week in Egypt, all three were welcome experiences. The others in our group that didn’t go on the eventful Abu Simbel excursion, said that their boat ride (although too windy for a felucca ride) and market visit were good. That night a few of us (20 or so) went to the Phillea Light Show by boat. There are 5 light shows at sites around Egypt and I was glad to get to go to one. I think our group was divided on how much we liked it. It is very artsy and was trying to showcase the history of the temple in a different way. It was professional and the temple is beautiful as it’s perched on an island, but you do see the temple in the daylight the next day. Day Eight – We had a lovely boat ride to a Nubian village where we visited a local home and the Papyrus Institute before heading back to Phillea Temple. The afternoon was spent cruising before reaching Kom Ombo for a late afternoon tour of the temple and the small crocodile museum. Day Nine – our last day of touring started with a carriage ride to Edfu Temple before sailing back to Luxor. We really enjoyed going through the lock and the activity of the vendors in boats alongside us tossing up their wares…our last experience with the aggressive merchants of Egypt. I believe that this experience is usually seen on the way upriver but because of the sandstorm on our way to Aswan, we went through the lock at night. Day Ten – the next morning we had to have our luggage out by 5:15, then our last breakfast onboard before boarding the bus for the aiport at 6:30 am. We were saying goodbye to an amazing staff onboard the Ra. This was my third Viking river cruise and by far the best staff across the board. Karoline, the Hotel Manager was exceptional. She has been with the company for over 20 years and my only regret is that since she is on the Russia sailings in the summer, we won’t have her on our ship next summer on the Volga. I can only imagine the headaches she had with this last cruise as the craziness around the world with the COVID-19 crisis changed things day to day and she and her staff took care of everything. We passengers have no idea of the turmoil below deck but I’m sure it was a massive effort. My husband had an eye problem during the cruise and she took care of arranging an eye doctor to come to our room and kept us informed. Excellent service. The restaurant staff was also exceptional. Kai and Abdullah were the chefs and we loved the quality and variety of food (wine selection was not up to snuff but that was because of excessive import tariffs, I’m told). Priscilla was the restaurant manager and she was friendly, efficient, welcoming. And that atmosphere was carried through in all of the staff – Wadde, Anastasia, Mohammed and Hussein made each meal so pleasant with their excellent service, pleasant nature and interest in making our meal times relaxing. Although I didn’t spend as much time in the lounge, I do know that the staff I came in contact with there were very pleasant, unobtrusive and efficient. The ship and staff of the Viking Ra have set a high standard for the next two cruises we’ve already booked. Our flight back to Cairo was uneventful and after a buffet lunch at the Intercontinental Hotel (beautiful hotel!), about 20 of us headed out on the Coptic Christian walking tour of Old Cairo. We spent a very interesting afternoon looking at the area and visiting a synagogue and church. When we got back to the hotel, we ladies headed next door to the attached 5 story shopping mall for some shopping before our farewell dinner. Because of the times everyone was heading home, it was an anticlimactic buffet dinner as we all said goodbye and wondered what it would be like back home. Some headed to the airport that evening, but most of us didn’t leave until 3:30 the next morning for our 6:30 am flights. Just some general thoughts on this massive tome: This was the first time that I was truly impressed with Viking. Our other two cruises were nice and we enjoyed them, but if this is the service, attention to detail and staff that is the standard of Viking, I will continue to give them my business. I thought this cruise was very expensive but I will say that I could see where my money went. We had wonderful accommodations at the hotels and on the ship. We had security personnel on every bus, during tours and even some police escorts – a necessary precaution but the areas we went to did not seem unsafe. Tips and entry fees were taken care of by our Program Directors with only a few exceptions. This made for a streamlined tour and faster entries. Having staff assigned to the airports, each hotel and our Program Directors with us the entire trip made all the difference in our enjoyment and the ability to see so much in this jam-packed itinerary. Another plus for Viking is that we never had other boats tied up next to us. We always had our own dock and some of that could have been happenstance but I know that in a few of the towns, Viking has paid to have their own docking space. At Kom Ombo I took a picture of three ships docked against the pier with up to five ships tied up to each of those ships. We were the only ones that had our own docking space. During the sandstorm a ship tied up to us because everyone was forced to dock, but other than that, I was always able to use my balcony and have a nice view. We had rooms 300, 301, 302, and 303. I was really glad that we had a balcony (I believe all the rooms on the Ra do) because I sat out there many times and read, had a drink and watched the shoreline. Our rooms had plenty of storage between the two rooms. There is room under the bed to store your suitcases. The bathroom was the biggest I’ve seen on a cruise ship. Our room steward kept the place spotless and fully stocked. Our only complaint was that most mornings we woke to the sound of chairs being dragged across the floor of the pool deck above us. Maybe the second floor would have been a better choice for rooms. We had to be up early most mornings anyway but it was a negative for those particular rooms. Just an FYI, the odd numbered rooms seem to be most likely to have a view of the Nile rather than the dock. Lastly, others have alluded to the fact that this is a tiring cruise because of the itinerary. We are in our 50’s and some in our friend group were in their 60’s. Some days were longer than others but I don’t think anyone thought the trip was grueling. There is not a lot of time for just casually hanging around but there is free time and I thought the itinerary made the most of getting us to a lot of Egyptian sites, experience some of the culture and making sure we felt like we were on vacation. A few in the larger group needed to use walking sticks, but they kept up fine and never complained. This was not a perfect cruise in description (sandstorm, cancelled Petra excursion, no Abu Simbel excursion) but it was the perfect cruise in actual experience. I commented to our group that I couldn’t think of one fellow traveler in our group of 46 that seemed to be a complainer or challenging in any way. Everyone seemed in good spirits, positive, on time, considerate, rolled with the changes in schedule and pleasant to be around. I highly recommend Viking and the itinerary they have put together. Well done! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
During a recent cruise on the Silver explorer of the Chilean fjords, a fellow guest was transferred to the local medical centre in the beautiful village of Tortel. As the local authorities were concerned that the guest was possibly ... Read More
During a recent cruise on the Silver explorer of the Chilean fjords, a fellow guest was transferred to the local medical centre in the beautiful village of Tortel. As the local authorities were concerned that the guest was possibly infected with COVID19, all guests who were ashore were directed to return to the ship immediately. The ship was shortly thereafter granted permission to continue the cruise, with a restriction of no landings until COVID19 test results were known. Two days later just prior to a scheduled shore excursion, the Captain advised that the result had come back positive for COVID19, and all guests were directed to return to their cabins. For the following 4 days information in respect to our situation was scant, but we were to realise later the need for discrete communications. Following the confinement to cabins, the chef together with his staff swung into action, and maintained the exceptional service for which Silversea is known. Prior to each meal we received a menu slipped under our door, which was astonishing. A full cooked breakfast was available with most of the accompaniments. Lunch was a three course meal with a two choices for each course. And dinner comprised four courses, with 3 choices for the main course. The quality and presentation of the meals which were delivered to our door was way beyond expectations. Furthermore, if you required any additional items for the complimentary mini bar, they were immediately attended to! On the morning of day four, the Captain advised that Silversea in conjunction with local authorities had developed a plan to repatriate all guests who were fit to travel. However due to sensitive local issues, we were requested not to communicate any information in respect to the operation. Later that evening guests were transferred by zodiacs to buses on a vehicular ferry that had rendezvoused at sea with the Silver Explorer. Once all passengers had been safely transferred to the ferry it set sail for Puerto Montt. On arriving at Puerto Montt the scale of operation became apparent. After the buses were placed in formation, the convey proceeded under very heavy police escort and back roads, to the local airport. Upon arriving at the airport the buses proceeded onto the airport tarmac, where one Boeing 787 Dreamliner was waiting to convey 45 American guests to Miami. Those guests immediately boarded their aircraft and were on their way home. The two aircraft for the remaining guests arrived two hours later. One Airbus A320 Neo to convey 40 English, and Europeans to London. And our dedicated aircraft, another B787 Dreamliner, exclusively for 16 Australians direct to Sydney. Like many Australians who have been overseas during the COVID19 crisis, we expected that we would be stranded and not be able to return home for a long time. The steps taken by Silversea to repatriate their guests were extraordinary, and I believe I can say on behalf of all the guests, we will be forever grateful for the repatriation operation undertaken by Silversea. The cost of the operation to Silversea would easily have exceeded $1,000,000. There was never any mention of guests contributing to the repatriation costs. Since returning home we have been contacted twice by Silversea following up on our welfare. In the first instance it was personally by the Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand. Silversea clearly demonstrated their priority for the welfare of their guests, ahead of commercial considerations. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Over a year and half in planning with another couple, we booked the Australian Wilds & Beyond (OCY200303-17), going from Sydney to Singapore on Crystal Serenity through our travel agent. We opted to book our own airfare to Sydney and ... Read More
Over a year and half in planning with another couple, we booked the Australian Wilds & Beyond (OCY200303-17), going from Sydney to Singapore on Crystal Serenity through our travel agent. We opted to book our own airfare to Sydney and home from Singapore using frequent flyer miles. And since we were going all this way, we decided to go to Sydney 5 days early to explore a city we had always wanted to visit. We also planned our return trip home out of the ending point Singapore, but 3 days after disembarkation. Trip began Feb 25, 2020 and was to end on March 23. On Tuesday, Feb 25th, we boarded our flight to Sydney and arrived there on Thursday, Feb 27th (Feb 26th in the US). Once we cleared customs and obtained our luggage, we received a phone call from our travel agent advising us that he had just gotten word that Crystal had cancelled the cruise completely. We were all tired and had prepaid transportation and hotel accommodations in Sydney, so we gathered our things and proceeded to our hotel. After relaxing for a bit, we regrouped and worked with our travel agent to rebook us on another cruise that was available leaving Sydney. We found several to choose from but fortunately we settled on the Silversea Muse going to New Zealand. Due to the current situation in the world, they had several cancellations and had some space available. Since the window was so short, there was no time to provide us paperwork for luggage and checkin. Our hotel however was a starting point for many of their booked passengers, and they had several representatives there to assist. The ladies were able to provide us the information we needed for the ship, and also some shopping advice for the few days we had left in Sydney. We also found out when the first bus was leaving on embarkation day so we scheduled a car to pick us up and deliver us to the terminal before they arrived. We were greeted warmly by the staff at the terminal and they were so helpful with our luggage even though we had no tags. We filled out the required health paperwork, had our temperatures taken and checked in within minutes. Before we knew it they were welcoming us onboard and we found that our suite was already ready and available and our butler, Rodney, was there to greet us. The suite was beautiful and the service impeccable. We really loved the daily laundry and dry cleaning same day service, out by 9am and returned by 5pm that same day, and hung in the closet. Rodney also took our shoes and polished them and returned same day. We had special requests for canapés and he handled that too along with stocking our favorite bottle of wine. We like coffee in bed every morning before we start getting ready, and it was delivered like clockwork every morning before we arose. After getting ready and going to breakfast, our room was cleaned and ready when we returned. We were always greeted by name, I think they get our pictures and study them so they can address us, first class service. We were truly impressed when on the first day we went to the excursion seminar and was greeted by the excursion desk manager by name as we approached the venue, having never seen her before, and she continued to delight us through the cruise, accommodating all of our needs, especially since we were so last minute with our booking and many of the excursions were full. The same is true for the restaurants as many were already booked fully but the manager gave up his table to accommodate us on formal night. The cruise director, Nolan, was amazing, keeping everyone entertained in daily trivia, doing standup in the theatre and singing, very talented and his team of performers were very talented as well. Our bartender, Oliver, in the La Dolce Vita lounge was a gem, having our drinks prepared the moment he saw us arrive so we didn’t even have to order from a waiter. I have to say that the service provided on the Muse was the best I have ever had on a cruise ship, and not just these people, but the whole crew. The wait staff, the maid service, the butler, the restaurant managers, the sommeliers, the performers, the spa professionals, reception desk, the excursion desk, all of them were so caring and wanted to make our experience the best, and they managed to do that and then some. We will definitely cruise with SilverSea again, hopefully sooner than later. Thank you. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We chose this cruise for a late-Winter getaway to the Western Caribbean as a great way to evaluate the all-inclusive nature of Regent. We were not disappointed at all. The accommodations are very nice (especially after getting bumped up ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a late-Winter getaway to the Western Caribbean as a great way to evaluate the all-inclusive nature of Regent. We were not disappointed at all. The accommodations are very nice (especially after getting bumped up two levels), the food is very good, and the crew is exemplary! The Coronavirus was just getting a foothold in the USA and Regent was surprisingly well prepared. Hand sanitizers were everywhere you looked and proper hygiene was highly recommended and later required. About three days before the end of the cruise, the CDC bumped up their report and Regent took a more stringent approach. Too many changes to write here, but as an example, the library was off limits, due to the prospect of sanitizing each and every page of each and every book, etc. The numerous free excursions were top-notch and the shipboard entertainment was amazing. The cruise director even sang and has a voice bar none. The free wine and liquor was also top notch and flowing. I really can't find anything bad to say about the cruise, but if I had to, I would say that I think Oceania's Mariner had a more beautiful atrium reception lobby with all it's Lalique crystal (which I believe is now gone). I highly recommend this ship and crew to anyone wanting a great voyage. It was worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our first Azamara cruise and we were so impressed with everything, we decided that we will be an Azamara Customer for life. The service was fabulous and with a smile. The food in the dining room was fabulous and the menu ... Read More
This was our first Azamara cruise and we were so impressed with everything, we decided that we will be an Azamara Customer for life. The service was fabulous and with a smile. The food in the dining room was fabulous and the menu had many choices. Pool area had some shade with lounge chairs to get out of the sun. The gym was great with a view, plenty of equipment and area for yoga and Pilates classes, spin cycle classes. They offered watercolor painting , jewelry making, and needlepoint classes at no charge. The 3 piece live band played prior to dinner and after dinner. There were a variety of shows with 2 seatings. The Captain Carl and Cruise directorTony were always around smiling and available if you had any questions. The ship was very bright and very clean. If you have never been on an Azamara Cruise, YOU Should Go On One, You will not be Disappointed. We have been on other cruise lines and we were VERY impressed with Azamara!!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We chose this cruise at the last minute due to changes with our original plans and port restrictions in Singapore and Hong Kong. We decided to stick close to Australia/New Zealand. The Queen Elizabeth is a beautiful and classy ship ... Read More
We chose this cruise at the last minute due to changes with our original plans and port restrictions in Singapore and Hong Kong. We decided to stick close to Australia/New Zealand. The Queen Elizabeth is a beautiful and classy ship with amazing ambiance and so many beautiful pieces of furniture and decore. We loved the main dining room and were struck by how very good the menu was on each and every night. We felt spoilt for choice. On some days, we dined there at lunch time also. We couldn't have been more impressed with the offerings in the MDR. The service was also fantastic on each occasion. It was our pleasure to attend the formal evenings and watch so many passengers join in the dancing with the wonderful band on board. We were told that the ship was formal, but we did not find it stuffy or snobby at at all. We met many nice, friendly people from all walks of life on board and from all over the world. We really enjoy being able to wear nice clothes to dinner every night and we appreciated that other passengers embraced the standards that Cunard has come to be known for. We also went to the nightclub on a couple of occasions, which was open until very late. We don't understand the reviews here that say that most people on this ship go to bed early. We didn't see it this way at all. The nightclub was quite full of many younger people and family groups of all ages each time we went there. We didn't think that the crowd on this ship was any older than on other cruises we've been on, and even if it was, we would never consider that to be a negative. We love talking to older folk as they tend to have had many interesting life experiences that they are happy to share (we are in our mid-50s). Overall, this was a really fun ship and a great cruise around Tasmania to Melbourne. We were sorry that this cruise was only 5 nights and that we didn't book a longer cruise. We were really sorry to get off and now that there are travel bans on, we don't know when we will be able to experience the Queen again. We hope it's not too much longer. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We read , and foolishly believed the slogan” the most luxurious ship in the world, so promptly booked a Miami round trip, visiting Belize and Guatemala. We flew to Miami, staying in the superb Biltmore hotel prior to our cruise. ... Read More
We read , and foolishly believed the slogan” the most luxurious ship in the world, so promptly booked a Miami round trip, visiting Belize and Guatemala. We flew to Miami, staying in the superb Biltmore hotel prior to our cruise. Embarkation was a quick process, and we were welcomed onboard by smiling staff proffering small glasses of champagne. As it was lunchtime, we decided quickly to enjoy a light lunch and then to explore the ship . Lunch was adequate , buffet style, with no showpiece dishes to wow, but as we were hungry it mattered little that day, accompanied by a glass of wine. After lunch, like most people we made our way to our cabin , a stern facing deck 7 standard stateroom. It was large, but very oddly decorated and furnished. A sombre dark brown pleather bed head stretched up and over the bed, not matched by the grey and black bedspread. Cream cabinets faced a large dark brown foam slab sofa, sitting on orange and beige carpets, with red and cream curtains separating the two areas of the cabin. It all seemed to be a 1980s throwback in decor, far from luxurious. A welcome bottle of champagne stood chilling, but we didn’t open it at that point. Our stern facing , metal fronted , balcony was furnished with two huge rattan chairs ,no footstools and a tiny table. We explored the ship, loving the glamorously appointed public areas, the top deck sports areas and the lovely swimming pool, surrounded by sun loungers for sun lovers. We enjoyed the small deep infinity pool at the stern of the ship, always quieter and great for a dip. Prior to joining the ship, we had made dinner reservations online for the speciality restaurants, especially enjoying the French Chartreuse, and the Asian Pacific Rim. Other restaurants were popular, as was the main dining room. The food was, on the whole extremely good, but we couldn’t understand why fish was always served overcooked and in tiny portions, especially when compared to the gargantuan steaks being served. We found the breads were dull, the desserts very average, but the cheeseboards were excellent, as were the daily wine selections. As our preferences are for European wines, the sommeliers were always happy to offer wines to our tastes. As a malt whisky connoisseur, my husband was disappointed by the selection offered in the bars, and we were disappointed by the port on offer. As excursions were included, we had prebooked those that appealed in each port of call, tending to choose those of cultural or historical interest, the guides were fine, the transport the best available locally, often school buses being repurposed. We enjoyed the opportunities to revisit the rich Mayan history of the area. Entertainment onboard was very mediocre, we felt, with the usual singing and dancing shows, little in the way of classical offerings, and comedians of limited appeal to international guests. The showroom was comfortable, with good sight lines. For an upmarket expensive cruise line, we felt they could have done better, especially compared to the parent company, NCL which has fabulous entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
5 Star service and with an interesting itinerary. I am an adventurous soul who loves a bit of luxury. Lotus fit the bill perfectly with great shore excursions immersing us in the local history and culture. The attention to detail was ... Read More
5 Star service and with an interesting itinerary. I am an adventurous soul who loves a bit of luxury. Lotus fit the bill perfectly with great shore excursions immersing us in the local history and culture. The attention to detail was flawless with excellent service and great food. The fully inclusive nature of the trip was great. From an easy pick up in Siem Reap where we met our lovely host to how they coped with a flat tire along the way to the river port (Our guide simply took the opportunity to take us to a nearby cashew plantation where we learned more about that process, a chance to taste the actual fruit, and then visit a local roadside stand where he demonstrated some unusual Cambodian roadside treats with the opportunity to try. We had great cultural experiences, participating in buddhist rituals and even visiting our guide's home-village where we got to help an English classes. Our daily programme included a run down of Cambodian history, including the sad recent modern history, allowing us to visit Phnom Penh's Genocide museum with a far deeper knowledge. This is exactly the kind of special touch I appreciate on my holidays. I would heartily recommend Lotus Cruises to anyone considering a Mekong cruise - their product is out standing, it certainly felt like we had the best ship on the river as I compared to other river cruise boats sailing past which looked good, but we definitely felt like we'd made the best choice. I'd certainly consider them again if my travels took me that way again. They proposed an intriguing cruise upriver to Laos that would be an interesting new excursion Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We were looking forward to the places we had not been to and on entering the ship and cabin, our YouTube expectations were met by the fixtures and fittings we found. On sailing North from Singapore to Thailand all was well, but after the ... Read More
We were looking forward to the places we had not been to and on entering the ship and cabin, our YouTube expectations were met by the fixtures and fittings we found. On sailing North from Singapore to Thailand all was well, but after the first port of Phuket the cruise went pear shape. Myanmar and then Sri Lanka closed its borders. So back to Malaysia and after landing in Penang, and the port for K.L., plus Malacca with no problems we headed to Langkawi and Malaysia then closed its borders down. Back to Singapore and what was going to be a recurring problem, one day out Singapore closed down, then Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Four things that saved us were the fact that the Captain had not jumped overboard like one other shipping cruise line captain we know about, no cases of Covid 19 had been detected on board with the crew or passengers and we were tested every two days, plus 10 days of not landing at any country and a third of the passengers were Australians, we headed to Darwin, Australia and home for us in Perth, Western Australia. During all this Cooks tour our Captain was praised by the passengers for keeping us up to date with the daily port closures, plus walking through the ship and entertained us with his funny version of English (I cannot speak his language of Italian). The crew and choice of food were magnificent with staff always happy and helpful and if you want to be on a ship in these bad times then this was the one. So we had a good clean happy ship that although maybe did not take us to our stated ports, but it brought us home safe and well and happy, what more can you ask for. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Having been to Europe on Viking River & Ocean we thought we would try South America this time. Disappointing as Argentina and Chile not very open to tourists. Getting off in Buenos Aires was a disaster-3 hours through customs and 6 ... Read More
Having been to Europe on Viking River & Ocean we thought we would try South America this time. Disappointing as Argentina and Chile not very open to tourists. Getting off in Buenos Aires was a disaster-3 hours through customs and 6 hours to get luggage delivered to room. The ship and crew as always were up to Viking standards! The excursions tried hard to show us items of interest but some places were far away from the landing port and some roads were just gravel and dusty. Both of us got sick with COVID-19 symptoms. So we self-quarantined in our room for 5 days. Others were sick as well. Crew not always present to tell people to wash hands. Getting off in Valparaiso we had to spend all day on an excursion and hotel (provided) as the plane doesn't leave till 9 PM. Overall-if it weren't for the penguins at Punto Tomba and Cape Horn-it was not as exciting as expected. Do not recommend Buenos Aires. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
One Transatlantic, two southern Caribbean and one eastern Caribbean, all on the Jade.We're platinum level. The service was excellent. The entertainment in the Atrium was so good that we didn't even go to the Stardust theater. The ... Read More
One Transatlantic, two southern Caribbean and one eastern Caribbean, all on the Jade.We're platinum level. The service was excellent. The entertainment in the Atrium was so good that we didn't even go to the Stardust theater. The bartenders you want to take home. Specialty dining excellent. Main dining room excellent.Food was excellent in all the restaurants. We had suites in the front and aft of the ship, Super. Cholette was a Concierge, now promoted. She is an excellent rep for NCL.The ship is in pristine shape. Not sure why the Cruise Critic didn't give it a better review. I suspect he/she spent most of the time in the Hold.On our last southern Caribbean cruise, we avoided the buffet, because of the Coronavirus threat but NCL would not let you anywhere near food without sanitizing your hands.We like the Jade because it carries about 2,400 passengers and seems more like a traditional cruising ship. Don't get me wrong. We've also been on the Epic and other larger ships and enjoyed them also but not as much as the Jade. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Having experienced their river cruise previously, wanted to try the ocean version with Viking. I was not disappointed by the experience. I found the company extremely professional in their approach to just about everything. The ... Read More
Having experienced their river cruise previously, wanted to try the ocean version with Viking. I was not disappointed by the experience. I found the company extremely professional in their approach to just about everything. The organisation/logistics efficiently well managed. Catering on board....great choice of restaurants/food and beverages and wonderful crew service at all times. The cabin (Penthouse Veranda) was worth the upgrade cost....very well designed with more than enough storage for 2 people and space to relax as well as the balcony of course. A complementary mini bar, was a welcome feature with guests able to ask the stateroom attendant for their favourite tipple! Entertainment was a good mix, catering for the demographics of the guests and the itinerary. Inclusive excursions were a bit basic, but gave you a rough idea to be able to navigate your own way around the ports at you leisure later. Some of the optional excursions were, I thought rather expensive, however, some of my fellow passengers (more seasoned than me!) had made their own arrangements with alternative providers at a better rate for the same excursion. A lesson for future cruises...! I also felt that the descriptions provided by Viking on their web site, at the point you might be considering booking these, were a bit scant on operational details. For example, the trip over land to the Arctic Circle involved a 4/5 hour return coach journey out of a 7 hour total excursion. Leaving little time to explore the features 'sold' to you on the web description. Also, on this particular trip, the actual Arctic Circle Centre we found on arrival was closed for the winter!! This fact was never mentioned previously!! Another point worth mentioning as regards the pre/post extension on this particular trip. The hotel chosen was the Radisson Blu in Bergen. An international chain, of course and in a great location right on the Bryggen. However, the over all experience at this hotel was poor. From the amenities offered, customer service and guest information....all below par for a 4* standard of hotel. Again, some guests had made their own arrangements hotel wise, and I think this might be valid suggestion for future bookings, despite having the convenience of Viking making all your on shore arrangements. I felt it did not represent good value for money at £389 for 2 nights bed and breakfast! The embarkation process at Tilbury could have had a smoother process for guests arriving into Tilbury town....no transport was immediately available to take people from the town to the dock area and a walk would involve c.20 minute route (with suitcases in tow!). So despite some of the above niggles I've mentioned, I would still highly rate Viking on the back of this Northern Lights Cruise and would not hesitate to make another booking with them. I have of course learned of some alternative options as detailed above and, with most things have a bit more experience to do things a bit differently next time. All crew and staff worked very hard to make your experience a 5* one, and with the few exceptions mentioned, I think they achieved this goal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Since we did an Arctic cruise in 2017 wanted to also do Antarctica. We were lucky enough to be offered a deal of 2 for 1 so grabbed it and consider ourselves very lucky., It was actually a sailing with embarkation on 16 Feb from Ushuaia ... Read More
Since we did an Arctic cruise in 2017 wanted to also do Antarctica. We were lucky enough to be offered a deal of 2 for 1 so grabbed it and consider ourselves very lucky., It was actually a sailing with embarkation on 16 Feb from Ushuaia which was an APT charter. This sailing does not appear on the Cruise Critic list! Unlike some of the other reviews we found the staff to be very friendly, the Filipino staff spoke better English than French, the Captain was very personable and obviously enjoyed mingling with the passengers. There was an open bridge policy unless the Red notice was on the door. As our cabin 505 was 3 away from this door we visited frequently, very useful when an announcement was made of something to see which should not be missed. The expedition team was excellent. The food was good but I did find myself wishing for cereals at breakfast and chocolates in the cabin at night instead of treat little cakes. With mostly Australians and New Zealanders on board they actually ran out of all their varieties of Black Tea! The organisation went well from hotel in Buenos Aires to Ushuaia & return. The APT representative who was with us from start to finish did a great job. I can recommend this cruise but for English speakers an appropriate charter may be easier. That said we had no incidences of French aloofness. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Wow! The Coronavirus caused us to have quite the unexpected journey. Fortunately no one on the ship was infected with the virus. We were sailing to Pisco, Peru on day 18 of our planned 20 day cruise when the captain announced Peru had ... Read More
Wow! The Coronavirus caused us to have quite the unexpected journey. Fortunately no one on the ship was infected with the virus. We were sailing to Pisco, Peru on day 18 of our planned 20 day cruise when the captain announced Peru had closed all its ports to cruise ships. Responding to this, our ship reversed direction and started sailing south with plans to return to the port of San Antonio, Chile. San Antonio was about a three day sail from our current position. After sailing toward Chile for a day or more, the captain made another announcement telling us that Chile had just closed its ports due to two cruise ships in San Antonio with infected passengers. Once again Marina changed direction to sail north to the Panama Canal. We arrived at the Canal on Wednesday morning then anchored outside the Pacific entrance to the Canal while Oceania worked feverishly to secure our ship a slot to transit the Canal. Eventually the captain was able to announce that we would transit the canal starting at 6 a.m. Friday. After spending all day Friday transiting the Canal, we were able to head directly to Miami arriving there early Monday morning. Oceania did a fabulous job rebooking our flight and arranging free bus transportation to the Miami airport for all passengers. The crew on Marina was consistently pleasant and positive in the face of this unexpected itinerary. It helped that the passengers too were pleasant and positive. Oceania was most generous in providing two nights of an open bar during the unexpected days at sea and a 50% credit toward our next Oceania cruise. We’ve already booked a Baltic Sea cruise in 2021. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I am positively sure that reading a review is one of the last things you would like to do, am I right? The experience we all are going through nowadays is very discouraging to say the least, that's why we need some kind of ... Read More
I am positively sure that reading a review is one of the last things you would like to do, am I right? The experience we all are going through nowadays is very discouraging to say the least, that's why we need some kind of entertainment to put our minds at peace and that's my goal in writing this review; I hope I'm able to accomplish it! Together let's make the best of it! This 10 day cruise was aboard the HAL Koningsdam to the Southern Caribbean and started on February 23rd. ending on March 4th. We left Canada towards Ft. Lauderdale one day before departure; at that time we were slightly aware of that virus and the effect caused on board the Diamond Princess but as I said, "just slightly". something that in a way allowed us to enjoy the cruise fully. Passengers and staff were also behaving completely free of any kind of concern. Before starting with the overall review of that cruise, I want you to know that last June 2019 we cruised around Norway on board the beautiful Nieuw Statendam (pictures & review's titled "Canadians on Viking Lands") it was too short (7 days), visiting too many places for the first time (e.g. Amsterdam, Oslo and another three Norwegian ports) and not having enough time left to be able to enjoy that ship. That made us try to find another longer cruise with her; unfortunately time-wise it wasn't possible so we opted to go with her older sister, the Koningsdam. Our direct flight to Ft. L. left Ottawa quite late so it was a very late arrival, to avoid having to wait for the free shuttle the hotel offered, we decided to take a taxi that costs us +/- u$s 25.- The name of the hotel was "Roadway Inn Hotel" and though it was quite close to the airport it is not possible for us to recommend it. Very weird and undescriptive entrance and reception area and to get to your room you have to follow (no porters) different lanes through a large courtyard in different directions trying to find your room number. The room itself wasn't bad but not going back. The following morning we took their shuttle (u$s 10.-) and because there were so many ships in port, the driver had to divert directions many times to be able to avoid the huge amount of traffic. It would have been a big mistake to take a taxi. Anyway, we got there and found a very large waiting line and it was then that we got our first shock! Embarkation The people waiting in that line were in their 80's plus and not in good shape either; we really felt like teenagers!! and certainly we're not (early 70's but in good shape). Embarkation was smooth but slow caused by the slowness of the passengers; once on board we bought the Elite Beverage Pkg. (EBP) having previously checked it out on the internet; with offerings of wines up to $15.- a glass (more about this subject later). Celebrating that we were on the ship and because that transaction had taken place at the counter of the Ocean Bar, at once we ordered a fantastic gin (Tanqueray 10) and tonic mixed by Michael, the bartender who took care of all the paperwork when buying the EBP and by the way he was one of the best bartenders on board. The very close second best barman was J.R. at the Explorer's Lounge Mid ship D 2 above the Rolling Stone Rock Room, who made the best "Oaxacan Old Fashioned" cocktail; with the usual ingredients the Old Fashion has, tequila is added so we asked for the "Anejo (Old) Patron" , it was a sensational concoction. The different ratings between them has to do more than anything else with the personalities of the two; Michael was a very friendly and approachable guy, meanwhile J.R. was quite distant and very curt, at any rate both were outstanding in their craft. Then "in good spirits" we walked around, realizing how identical, minus art work it was to the Nieuw Statendam, so there were not too many surprises for us and if any it was mainly the passengers on this cruise not only because of their age and physical condition but their attitudes and demeanor, not all of them granted, but quite a large number. After walking around the ship we felt the need to eat! (more about places to eat in the "Restaurants" section). Now we will proceed the review of this 10 day Southern Caribbean cruise clarifying that what you are going to read was our personal experience on this specific sailing, regarding passengers, staff, officers, restaurants, etc. Restaurants That first night we had dinner at Canaletto on D-9, and enjoyed everything, food, staff and drinks!. Also we had dinner twice at Pinnacle Grill on D-2 which was also as good as Canaletto though the second time, service was quite poor. You could have lunch at Pinnacle for $15.- pp., we never did because we wanted to be outside as much as possible to enjoy the weather and the sun, and being Canadians we knew quite well what kind of weather we could find back home! There is a third Specialty Restaurant called Tamarind on Aft D-10. We were really looking forward to going there after the unforgettable experiences we had in the Statendam's Tamarind! So much so that we prebooked two nights with them! what a let down it was this time! It started right from the beginning, the receptionist was cold, absent, indifferent and unfriendly, she was talking to us, looking at the computer but never at us, the sommelier was a very sleepy looking woman who gave us the impression that she didn't know were she was and not even what she was doing and to make things worse the place was practically empty giving a very boring atmosphere. Our waitress was quite nice and the fillet mignon was one of the best I ever had but regardless,y that wasn't enough for us; the reason? we do believe though the food is indeed very important, if the staff around you are not up to standard, that's a place not to go back to again. And that's what we did the following morning - we cancelled our second reservation.. The Maitre'd (another negative point) called us a couple of times trying to convince us to go back even offering a free meal but we couldn't care less and did not accept it. Main Dining Room Fwd. on Decks 2 & 3 (though only opens for the majority of guests on D 2); the food offerings were quite diverse and quality, temperature and presentation were excellent and the servers, sommelier and staff in general were outstanding. It comes to mind that one of them whose name is Dennis was an exemplary server who went out of his way to help us when we had a small problem leaving the Dining Room. Both Gala Nights took place there (it’s recommended making reservations before-hand especially if you like a table for two) and we were happy to see that people in general were dressed accordingly and not like what happened on the Statendam; (if interested read our review on that cruise of June 19th, 2019.). Dive-in Mid-ship on D 9 close to the pool, opens only for lunch and offers great burgers (seven specialty ones or create your own), huge hot dogs and the best fries on the ship. Waiters/waitresses are all around ready to take your order. Very pleasant and tranquil area to enjoy a relaxing lunch, many tables to choose from with a lot of space between them, but....but....with a caveat, many times tables that were there clearly for eating purposes were taken up by a group of people playing cards or dominoes or even just having a drink; this is one of the things, among others, that those type of passengers were absolutely selfish with complete disregard for the other passengers; we saw many people coming with plates loaded up with food looking for a table to sit and eat, quite upsetting! It is a problem but with a very easy solution; just place a note on each table stating that the table should be used only to have your lunch and of course the waiting staff has to keep an eye out to make sure that the tables are used for eating not reading or gaming. New York Deli & Pizza On D 10 overlooking the pool deck and also the Dive-in eatery. This was the place we chose on embarkation day after walking around the ship; we knew already how good their pizza was and can highly recommend both the "Tribeca" and the "Central Park" they're awesome!, as much as their salads and sandwiches. The service is excellent with a waiters/waitresses going around taking your drink orders and also in the same area is a bar where you can go and order for yourself if in a hurry. In general we had lunch many times in these two places (NYD&P & D-in) because they are and feel very airy, giving you the sensation you are having lunch outdoors! But in actual fact, the glass roof was often ¾ shut which was often good because direct sunlight made everything very hot.The problem with some passengers occupying tables rather than eating only happened occasionally. Lido Market Buffet Located on Aft. D 9, between the Dive-in and the Sea view Pool and Bar. The selection of food was quite large and of great taste but the place was always very busy with too many line ups and my God! those chairs at the tables are ridiculously heavy and difficult to move! Regardless the huge windows all around you looking at the ocean and the sky, you still feel that you are inside a room and that was the main reason we were more inclined to have lunch at any of the other two (Dive in & NY Deli) venues. It was so easy to order or choose your food, there is more space between tables, very easy to move around, and chairs are manageable! But the most important thing was that you really felt you were having lunch outdoors. There is a fantastic feature that the Lido Market has and we think HAL should consider the possibility of installing them in all of the other eating places. There are hand washing machines, four of them located near the main entrances. Each unit is divided into two sections, one for each hand. You just introduce your hands all the way up to the wrists and then a circulating spiral like spray washes your hands for about 12 seconds. You have to be careful not to get your shirt cuff or watch wet but the system is most efficient. Then you use nearby paper towels to dry off. There is quite a messy area around both openings due to all the liquids that drip off each user's hands. So it's best to wipe down the area afterwards as a courtesy for the next user. A very good system which should help improve overall buffet hygiene. Grand Dutch Cafe Mid ship D 3 A lot of offerings are free of charge like regular coffee (but not espressos), pastries, sandwiches. Good service, kind of dis-attached, and the area where the tables and chairs are, we found it very oppressive and too close between them. We went there only once. There is another Specialty Restaurant called Rudy's Sel de Mer on Mid ship D 2, but we didn't care to go. Many times we went by and the place was quite empty, so..... As you can see there are a lot of choices, try to make the right ones! The place to enjoy a great view with a good drink in your hands is the Crow's Nest, Fwd. on D 12 where also you can order coffee and pastries for a fee. There are a lot of Lounges and Bars throughout the ship, it will be up to you to discover them! Small hint, a very good one is the Sea View and Bar Fwd. on D 9. Elite Beverage Package - is it worth it? At a 10% premium over the standard beverage package, it was not really worth the outlay but from a point of convenience and status I would have to say it fit our style. The biggest issue was with availability of high priced wines. The standard package covers up to $11 per glass or shot while the elite goes up to $15 and both are actually worth more as the service charge is included and added onto the above rates. Unfortunately there are not many offerings in the range of $12 thru $15 and most are 12 and the few remaining are 14 or 15. Added to that, we experienced shortages on our 10 day cruise. At the first Gala in the main dining room we enjoyed but one glass of an excellent French red and then had to switch. This also happened later in the Polo Grill. And even our favorite Pinot Grigio ran out in most bars by day 8 of the cruise. And it was only a $9 glass. So Holland American made some money on us. The best you can and should do make your own numbers. Koningsdam cruise staff They were all extremely helpful, polite, friendly and fun, inevitably there were a few exceptions but on the overall they didn't count at all. I will repeat again what I said at the beginning, all these are our own experiences and opinions of this specific cruise itinerary, date and ship. Some of those on our sailing might disagree and that's natural. I would like to mention something we noticed about the passengers on this cruise; besides the already mentioned age and physical condition, there was a huge number of obese and morbidly obese passengers that mostly weren't too old; I was observing them eating and well!!! It wasn't difficult to realize why they were so overweight. This observation made me conclude that unintentionally the cruise lines are promoting obesity as much as alcoholism. In my opinion, they should take this under consideration and try to find a solution to those problems. All this might sound ridiculous but it’s in the way I feel. The ship in general was in very good shape, considering that she sails constantly and passengers are not very careful using the premises. We had the feeling that the ship was overcrowded! during the day, even in port, it was difficult to find a table on the Lido, Dive in or Sun Deck & Bar (Fwd. D 11). Never happened to us on any of the many cruises we've been to, especially when the ship is docked in port. We are closing this review now and really hope you had an entertaining time reading it! and learned a few things. Right now, we are living in very frustrating times, when it is impossible to make any plans because we don't know what will happen next. My philosophy is to keep myself very busy around the house that happy to say I really enjoy doing, to think positively, to try not to pay too much attention to the news and to take care of yourself and love ones specially when leaving your house and to wear disposable latex medical gloves, face masks to cover your nose and mouth and to keep a safe distance between you and people around you and please! do not let your kids go running loose all over the place (e.g. food stores). I am sure you know all of this but I feel compelled to do so whenever I have a chance. Well dear readers, till we meet again in more happy times I am sure! Make the best of it and a very Happy Easter to all! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We did arrive a couple of days before the cruise in Buenos Aires. It is a fabulous city to visit and take in the shows. We have taken 5 cruises on this ship and we just love it. It has the perfect size and the best service and food ... Read More
We did arrive a couple of days before the cruise in Buenos Aires. It is a fabulous city to visit and take in the shows. We have taken 5 cruises on this ship and we just love it. It has the perfect size and the best service and food ever offered in any other cruises. We were also very lucky because the weather was perfect during the whole cruise. I do not think these cruises have much to offer for children entertainment. This cruise was organized mostly to visit antartida in all its beauty. Seabourn had in every stateroom a fabulous jacket with lining which was excelent for everytime one got off the ship among the ice and the penguins. They also rented very comfortable boots . We also received a great backpack to carry everywhere. On board there were 20 additional staff members to help understand the land we were visiting ,its fauna ,weather etc. This personnel are all professionals in their fields and during the whole trip were giving talks in the main lounge or on the outside decks of the ships. They were also available for questions in all of the outings. Plain fantastic. The staterooms have a very comfortable size with a sofa for lounging around. The bathroom is of a comfortable size with excelent amenities . They would not allow any of the bottles to run out. The room was fixed in the mornings and also at night while we went to dinner. When we arrived at our cabin the first day there was a bottle of a delicious champagne bottle in ice. There was also a bottle of my favorite white wine in the refrigerator and a bowl of fresh fruits. Very welcoming. The food was always excelent in any of the diningrooms. They have many gourmet choices and also available were the basic dishes that some people prefer. All just delicious. I cant say enough about the excelent service at all of the diningrooms. All of the employees have been trained to cater to all of your whims and needs. You would meet the head chef everywhere walking around the restaurants and talking to the travelers. Very very lovely person. There is a fantastic restaurant on board handled by Tomas Keller. They do not have any extra cost but one does need a reservation to enjoy their wonderful food. I havenot mentioned the breakfast buffet the Colonade on the top floor with a marvelous view of the area we were cruising. It had choices for every ones idea of an excelent breakfast. You could also order whatever your heart desired. Before each meal both bars had music and singers just to have a drink and enjoy the company. We loved to be there from 6 to 7.30 and just relax. As everywhere on Seabourn ships, all drinks are free. They also have some canapes to enjoy with your drink. There were late afternoon parties on the pool deck with great music. A great way to mingle and meet new friends. We like to take all of the ship tours mostly because they offer what we want to see and we know we will be back on time for the ships sailing. They have chosen good sights and great places to have a snack or lunch all included in the price. The guides were all very good and spoke excelent English. I liked most of the lectures offered during the whole trip. The persons offering the lectures were also very knowledgeable. The 45 minute lecture was enough and after they all had some time for questions. I cannot say much about the shows on board, because we were always so tired and sleepy that we just went to bed. On this trip we used the zodiacs a great deal to go to land sightseeing. The organization and helpfulness to all of the passengers by the employees in this area is unbelievable. Always on time , always with a smile and always catering to every need. I personally enjoyed our cruise through the Chilean fjords the most. Many hours of cruising through some espectacular scenery. I cannot say enough about our marvelous experience on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I went on the same boat last October and booked again because every single aspect of the trip exceeded my expectations. The itinerary and staff ratio led me to book the first time, but the food, accommodations, and crew made it an easy ... Read More
I went on the same boat last October and booked again because every single aspect of the trip exceeded my expectations. The itinerary and staff ratio led me to book the first time, but the food, accommodations, and crew made it an easy choice for trip #2. The islands are wildly different depending on the season, I definitely recommend going more than once! The guides are excellent and the small groups lend to not only seeing the animals up close but also amazing pictures. If you're into focusing on the scenery other guests are always glad to share photos (airdrop saved me this trip as I left my DLSR at home). I've done both trips solo but would also return for a 3rd (or more!) trip with a friend or my boyfriend. I'm sure a +1 would be great but as for solo trips, booking with Quasar is by far my favorite. The other guests are good fun and every detail is handled making this the most refreshing week ever. I love that there is no guest phone/wifi service on the boat, I hope that never changes. Food is excellent. I'm vegetarian and was very impressed with their attention to detail and always having separate plates for those of us with dietary requirements/preferences. I requested almond milk and on the first breakfast I was promptly brought a glass before I could even pour my coffee. Outside of the boat, Quasar's level of service is remarkable. I (half-joking) emailed Diane for a local orthodontist recommendation since I melted my retainer on day one of my week prior to the cruise, when they didn't catch me at the hotel - they called my guide en route to our excursion with an appointment scheduled that day. I was impressed but not surprised given their excellence with every other detail of my previous trip. Speaking of recs, Diane's suggestion to stay at Hacienda Jimenita the week before my cruise was also wonderful and I would definitely stay there again! I didn't even have to think of my flight, Quasar organized everything with the hotel for my transfer and pickup time. I cannot imagine visiting the Galapagos with anyone other than Quasar and have recommended them to all of the friends and coworkers that have asked about my trip. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Hello, we just got back from our Viking Ocean cruise from Australia and New Zealand on the Viking Orion. First let me tell you it was well worth the time Money and experience. We had a great time on the ship and the ports of call. The ... Read More
Hello, we just got back from our Viking Ocean cruise from Australia and New Zealand on the Viking Orion. First let me tell you it was well worth the time Money and experience. We had a great time on the ship and the ports of call. The crew is absolutely fabulous, they were the friendliest and most helpful staff I have ever cruised with (with about 12 cruises so far that saying something). The food is excellent and the preparation is 5 star. The rooms are spacious and well setup. Free use of the laundry rooms was a very nice perk for a 2 week cruise. The onboard entertainment is fun and professional. Brian the Cruise Director is a classical trained singer and has an exceptional voice. The embarkation and disembarkation was quick and organized well. With all the Virus scare going on they were very careful checking us in the first day. Most of the included excursions are just a bus ride around the local city. The quality of the excursion is based on the quality of the driver who talks about the area and sights. He has to do this while driving so can sometimes loose his train of thought. All the ports were worth stopping at and exploring. We did 3 privet tours and one Viking paid excursion. All the passengers were friendly and had no problems with any of them. The only complaint I have is the constant changing of tables when dining (first come first assigned and rotated to balance out the restaurant. The plus side of this is you meet more people, The down side of this is you don't really make any real connections with your new friends and get to know them well over an extended cruise. The internet is spotty and weak and very bad in port. We really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the cruise and the enrichment lectures they had on the area and people we were going to visit. From the lands history to the origin of the people living there. Informative and relevant information was passed on to help you get the most out of each port. We will be doing another Viking cruise in our future, both Ocean and River. The have earned their quality reputation. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
The cruise to the Amazon is an excellent cruise, although there are a lot of at sea days. So bear in mind that Viking does not have large shows, casinos, or a lot of shops. But that said, the Viking Sea is a very nice ship which is well ... Read More
The cruise to the Amazon is an excellent cruise, although there are a lot of at sea days. So bear in mind that Viking does not have large shows, casinos, or a lot of shops. But that said, the Viking Sea is a very nice ship which is well designed and has enough open spaces so that you never really feel crowded (except during port talks where the entire ship tries to show up in the Star Theater). As usual, the Viking experience is very good. Their policy of unlimited wine and other drinks at meals is very good. Dinner at the chef's table (changes every 3 day) is not to be missed. Those dinners include a wine partnering with 4 wines per meal. Given their standard policy, you really have to drink a lot to justify the beverage package. Manfredi's is very good but not exceptional Italian fare. The ability to eat in the standard restaurant, the World Cafe, or in your room (all with similar menus) really makes Viking a good deal (that and there are no formal nights - only collared shirts and no jeans required for men in the restaurants make it perfect), Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Did the immersive African Cape cruise Fe 2020. Booked it for 2 significant life anniversaries Boutique six star so didnt. Mind paying more, WHAT A LET DOWN Tired old ship with worn out carpets and furniture in public areas. ... Read More
Did the immersive African Cape cruise Fe 2020. Booked it for 2 significant life anniversaries Boutique six star so didnt. Mind paying more, WHAT A LET DOWN Tired old ship with worn out carpets and furniture in public areas. Cabins compact not boutique. They said bathrooms were small - too right they were about the same size as an aircraft toilet. You couldn’t bend down in the shower unless you stuck your rear end out of the shower curtain. { no glass cubicle too small ) We’ve been on pads of cruises and had better for less Food was good and on the upside it’s small and not rammed with passengers but on sea days you were struggling for sun bed space which despite a polic6 saying they couldn’t be retained or reserved this was not enforced so lots of books and towels had a good days sunbathing whilst their owners were elsewhere Entertainment not good in fact on sea days we spent most of the time in our cabin due to the aforementioned sun bed issue watching very outdated films or CNN back to back - yippeee ! Wi fi was about 150 dollars for the cruise so we sacked that. Land tours wer3 equally extortionate mostly consisting of long days on safari so we sacked them as well Tge itinary ( cape of Africa Cape Town Richards bay Durban port Elizabeth ) was spoiled by constant warnings about safety and the possibility of getting robbed. Complimentary buses took you to shopping centre. - really immersive. - don’t think so! Goodness knows why folks like Azamara in our view ( and we are both well travelled and well cruised ) its an overpriced mediocre overblown overrated little boat. We’ve been on much better for less not value boutique or six star. Put us off cruising again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020

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