WE HAD THE BEST CRUISE EXPERIENCE EVER!!!!!! WE WILL BE YOUR CUSTOMERS FOR OUR LIFETIME LIFE !!!!!!!!
We have experienced other cruise lines over the years, but none of them were even close in comparison to what your excellent ocean ... Read More
WE HAD THE BEST CRUISE EXPERIENCE EVER!!!!!! WE WILL BE YOUR CUSTOMERS FOR OUR LIFETIME LIFE !!!!!!!!
We have experienced other cruise lines over the years, but none of them were even close in comparison to what your excellent ocean cruises have to offer.
As we became older we just didn't like cruising with 3,000 or 5,000 other passengers. We guess we just weren't FAST enough to get a lounge chair on the ship when we wanted to relax. Being able to enjoy the swimming pools was also not a fun experience because the pools were always crowded with kids or just too many people in the pool to have any space to enjoy the activity.
After we read your informative literature about the new ocean cruise ships, and also receiving excellent recommendations from friends who have experienced your services on ocean cruise ships as well as River cruises, we reached out to your Customer Service which was highly professionals, didn't pressure us and they gave us the answers to our many question.
We were surprised to hear about winter months cruising in Europe and decided to book a cruise leaving from Athens, Greece and ending in Venice, Italy.
The Viking experience was as good as it gets, compared to all of the cruises we had ever been on. We didn't get a chance to experience the infinity pool because of the winter season, however the smaller size of passengers on board was just perfect for us. The cost of our cruise was worth every penny because it included things such as: Complimentary wine,beer and soft drinks, internet availability with no charge, excellent entertainment, complimentary tours were available on each destination, very fine special restaurants on board if you wanted to taste first class food with a quieter setting and NO EXTRA CHARGE as most other ships add on more charges for these features.
We met two couples on the ship we became friends with and we are planning another cruise with Viking in the near future.
After the Viking experience my wife and I promised each other that we would take at least one Viking cruise every year.
The only suggestion that I would make is that there is not enough storage space for a 10 day cruise;maybe a few additional drawers for clothing would be a good idea.
ONE MORE THING, on our cruise because of bad weather one day, the ship's itinerary had to change and we were not able to arrive at our port when we were supposed to arrive. However, the professional, classy way your staff ff handled our unexpected delay was wonderful. Not one of the passengers on board that we encountered were outwardly complaining about our situation. Also as a surprise,Viking sent us a nice check for our inconvenience.
We also loved that you don't have a Casino, we don't need gambling casinos on a ship and we don't need all kinds of equipment for the kiddies, climbing walls etc. Who knows, you may decide to build a ship especially for family travelers,
In closing, after our trip we are telling everyone only to consider VIKING !!!!!!!!! Read Less
Visiting the Christmas Markets in Germany had been on our bucket list for some time. This Uniworld cruise that our friends found was the perfect solution to enjoying the markets, touring the area, learning the history all in extraordinary ... Read More
Visiting the Christmas Markets in Germany had been on our bucket list for some time. This Uniworld cruise that our friends found was the perfect solution to enjoying the markets, touring the area, learning the history all in extraordinary comfort and luxury! From the time we boarded the ship in Frankfurt until we disembarked in Nuremberg we were treated like valued guests... pampered actually. The daily historical tours were well organized, informative - excellent tour guides who "knew their stuff". The audio system for the tours was great - each traveler had their own small, easily wearable system and we were able to hear the tour guides wherever we wandered - had not experienced that before. The service on the ship was exceptional - never far from "more coffee" , "more wine", more anything. Very much appreciated the well staffed and professional crew and the high ratio of crew to guests - had never been on a cruise of this size before (130 guests). We were well informed every day and every night of what the next day had in store, options for the tours and the days' schedules - never had to wonder, or miss out on anything for lack of information and education. Of course the Christmas Markets were marvelous, everything we could had wished for. We recommend this cruise and Uniworld highly and absolutely do plan on more travels with this company! Read Less
As a regular (Diamond WC) I noticed again lowered standards. The meals in the Britannia restaurant have again lost quality and taste. Almost every dish was served cold. It was impossible to have a beer or a wine with a lunch neither at the ... Read More
As a regular (Diamond WC) I noticed again lowered standards. The meals in the Britannia restaurant have again lost quality and taste. Almost every dish was served cold. It was impossible to have a beer or a wine with a lunch neither at the Lido nor in the Restaurant as Sommeliers have been hiding somewhere.
Cabin (BB) was OK, but some rattling was permanent when balcony door was opened. Refurbishing the cabin is an issue.
Theater entertainment was a bit chaotic due to unforseen circumstances, but the ship and definitely the "Royal Cunard Dancers and Singers" did their best to comply. The Juggler wasn't worth watching, neither were the pianists.
The chamber music quartet only performend in A minor, even Mozart - we, the passengers, called them the "Funeral Orchestra".
The ports matched our expectations, the weather did not it's best - but no suprise in December.
The last two days bore a rather unhappy atmosphere within the restaurant staff. I had the feeling that there was some trouble within the team.
Anyway, we had a relaxing time and the seas weren't to rough. Everyone of our table of 8 was nice and we enjoyed the company as wel as our extrovert and entertaining waiter.
Next year we'll book Queens Grill and that should balance our needs. Read Less
...the level of entertainment in the theatre. Not a major issue but annoying to be offered third class acrobats, jugglers and so-called comedians. Cunard should try to understand that a Butlin's type inter-active panto style ... Read More
...the level of entertainment in the theatre. Not a major issue but annoying to be offered third class acrobats, jugglers and so-called comedians. Cunard should try to understand that a Butlin's type inter-active panto style offering is cringe making.
Apart from this the suite was lovely, the service immaculate and the Queen's Grill food was excellent. Embarkation was rapid though disembarkation was somewhat but understandably rushed. Cunard has now thankfully learned to make picture taking more low key and less hard sell.
The ports were OK: Lisbon, Cadiz, Malaga, Tangier and La Coruna. Unfortunately the weather was poor but this was hardly Cunard's fault. If weather matters perhaps better to stick with the Canaries in winter. As ever the excursions on offer were over-priced and rather disappointing.
The ship was beautifully dressed for Christmas. It is a stunning ship. Those lectures and activities that were provided were adequate but there should have been more for those who think rather than those who do. Martin Bell was good but let down by poor technical assistance and this applied to all talks.
I would certainly cruise again on the Victoria. Enjoyed it greatly. Read Less
We got on board Cunard Queen Victoria for 5 nights Channel Cruise in Nov 2017, we asked and got upgraded from inside cabin to a balcony cabin, for £150. Inside cabin was ok but very noisy with no windows and just a bed but balcony is ... Read More
We got on board Cunard Queen Victoria for 5 nights Channel Cruise in Nov 2017, we asked and got upgraded from inside cabin to a balcony cabin, for £150. Inside cabin was ok but very noisy with no windows and just a bed but balcony is fantastic in comparison, there is a sofa and table & a balcony with 2 chairs and a table. The bed is soooo comfortable with more comfortable pillows. Wardrobe space is limited but plenty of hangers, one cupboard has shelves which also can hold a medium size suitcase, we put the rest of our cases in the same wardrobe as our clothes. No shoe rack but enough room to put them next to the suitcase ( we like a tidy room ) depending on how high is the bed and your suitcases you might be able to fit them under the bed instead. There is a safe which can hold laptop and some other small items & it’s on one of the shelves. Adequate shower, basin and toilet. Shower gel, soap & body lotion, shower cap and cotton wool, flannels, hand & bath towels. Shaver plug, box of tissue. In our balcony cabin we also got really nice fluffy large Cunard towels which wasn’t in the inside cabin.
We got a 1/2 bottle of complimentary Champagne . They provide Bathrobes & slippers, tea & coffee making facilities & a small fridge.
TV is big but channels are rubbishbut if you have a smart phone (not sure about iPhone) you can connect it to the TV, watch any downloads or any TV catch up apps you may have on your smart phone.
Food is plenty and of good quality. There are sprinklers and fire alarms in every cabin and all over the ship which is very reassuring.
Many Restaurants and pubs. A buffet restaurant is open 24 hrs a day serving all kind of food from salads to hot meals, pizza & sliced meat & cheese, plus waiter service restaurants with set meals but certain opening hours.
There is lots of slot machines, roulette and black jack tables.
You have to buy WiFi , we didn’t & only used our own mobile data on each ports of stay.
There are lots of things happening such as bands, singers, comedians, darts, quiz, ballroom dancing which are announced on the daily programme left in your room.
Each port has a day trip, we bought the Amsterdam city tour & river cruise, we found the city tour very boring, the bus is too big to go to real places of interests such as Ann Frank house and traffic is heavy so lots of stops. We had been to Amsterdam 3 times before so may be that’s why we found it boring. We got an hour free time then the river cruise which was a bit more interesting than the coach trip. At each port there are bus shuttles to the nearest town every 10 minutes which if you can walk around is much cheaper and you can do your own excursion.
The outdoor lido pool is heated to 26c and is ok for a short swim in winter, there are 2 jacuzzi on either side, one day they gave me towels but not the rest of the time, I put the bathrobe & slippers on to get there & took one of our white towels with me. They pool is quite busy during Sea Days, but empty other times
Dress code for waiter service restaurants are jackets for men , cocktail dress or smart separates for women.
The Duty Free ship is NOT Duty FREE. Prices are expensive & they charge 20% VAT on top. So don’t plan to buy any alcohol, cigarettes, make up, skincare or perfume on board.
Tap water is drinking water but they try to sell you a 1 lt bottle for $8.50
You can buy small amounts of water, alcohol etc... when at port and being in but they have the right to confiscate it.
I found the 36hr sea day & night cruise awful, every one was on board therefore everywhere was crowded and packed, with public toilets starting to smell around the ship.
We drove our car to Southampton and there is no choice but to use the only valet parking available for £75 for 5 nights.
We opted out of the percentage they take out of our credit card for tips, you need to go the purser’s office as soon as you board, instead we tipped those who served us well in cash in US Dollars as the ship was sailing to the Caribbean next.
This was our cruise to try it, but no more, not for Read Less
This was our third Oceania Cruise, our previous two being on Regatta to Alaska. We chose Oceania this time due to an excellent experience on Regatta last July. I will be concise here as compared to my previous reviews.
Overall I would ... Read More
This was our third Oceania Cruise, our previous two being on Regatta to Alaska. We chose Oceania this time due to an excellent experience on Regatta last July. I will be concise here as compared to my previous reviews.
Overall I would rank this cruise a B+ on the school grading scale.
1) The Ship/Cabin: We never sailed the Sirena when she was a Princess ship, but the $50 million dollar upgrade looks well spent. Hard to believe it was a 17 year old ship. She is beautiful: New and better furniture, marble public Bathrooms. computer screens in the elevators. Nearly a carbon copy of Regatta, but quite a bit newer feeling. Beds and linens brand new. Still need to get used to the small cabins on R-ships, but the public areas are immaculate.
2) Dining: We may not be a good source for this. We ate exclusively @ the Terrace Cafe with a couple stops @ Waves Grill. I was told that the table service at the Grand Dining Room was quite long (slow). We typically eat dinner early (5-6 pm) so we decided not to wait. That being said, the Terrace was excellent with a great assortment of food cooked to perfection. The new Tapas selections were particularly wonderful. Waves was just okay; nothing spectacular. Reminded me of an upscale Dennys. Fries were great however.
We unfortunately did not reserve any specialty restaurants, and were going to wing it on board. Very difficult to get a seating this way as both restaurants were fully booked by the 3rd day of a 10 day cruise. I am sure if we pressed, we could have gotten a seating, but my wife was satisfied with just eating at the Terrace. Frankly, I was just as happy. After 25 cruises on several lines, in our experience, nothing compares to the food quality on Oceania in terms of buffets. It is astoundingly good. Most of the dishes in the Dining Room were served here as well, but it was warm and ready to eat instantly @ 630pm when Terrace opens. Rarely a crowd here for dinner.
3) Service: As always, Oceania excels in this department. No problems whatsoever. As we do eat early, out room stewardess and steward were right on the ball making up our room spotlessly in record time. Excellent. Bar Service and Terrace service were equally excellent.
4) Ports: We have done the Mexican Riviera many times, so nothing new here, except for La Paz which was really nice. If you go, check out the Whale Museum in the heart of the Melancon. We also went to their local Anthropology Museum and had a nice guided tour. We did somewhat boring excursions in Cabo and Ensenada. Ensenada has great wines in case you did not know.
5) Entertainment: The Activities Staff did wonderful with a somewhat grouchy crowd. The String Quartet and House Band were great. We listened to the quartet extensively. They are amazing. Afternoon Tea was also excellent, with the Quartet being the centerpiece. We missed most shows as we are early crashers Casino staff were wonderful. My wife actually won. The Enrichment lecturer was quite good and very professional.
Overall Expression: Sirena is not quite up to the par of Regatta, or perhaps the other O-ships. 90% excellent, but it was the little things. Something was lacking. The Cappuccino machines were sometimes malfunctioning or not being maintained. Towels were sometimes not available in the bathrooms. A public toilet or two was not flushable, as was ours once (they fixed it immediately). Water and soft drinks would be available for bingo, but no glasses (once). The bingo machine died halfway through the cruise. One of the early morning cleaning guys had significantly bad B.O. and he would clean the library while I was reading and leave a NASTY presence. I was not sure how to address that, but clearly the Hotel manager should do so or at least notice. Little things kept reminding me of a certain lack of attention to detail. Christmas cookies would be out along some displays, but the next morning empty plates and a disastrous spread of cookies was sitting there way too long. Little things like that. Even Dottie, the cruise director, wasn't as bubbly and nice as previously. Our fellow passengers consisted of a large number of whiners and complainers which sort of put a damper on our experience. The demographic on this particular cruise was a bit older than I expected. There was only one child on board.
Don't get me wrong; we had a GREAT cruise, but not the best cruise. Still, we got what we wanted: a nice relaxing 10 days off to relax, to do nothing and to overeat some outstanding food. We were well pampered and well satisfied. Sirena is only 6 months into her life as an O ship. Still working out the bugs I suspect. Read Less
My mom and I were on the December 11, 10-day "Coast to Canyons" cruise on the Sirena. We traveled as part of a larger group. Other than a transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2, Oceania is the highest-end cruise line either of ... Read More
My mom and I were on the December 11, 10-day "Coast to Canyons" cruise on the Sirena. We traveled as part of a larger group. Other than a transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2, Oceania is the highest-end cruise line either of us had been on. I was a bit nervous coming into the cruise, having read some negative reviews of the ship. However, overall it was one of the best cruises I've been on, especially for the food.
Embarkation and Debarkation: The Sirena was by far the smallest cruise ship I've ever been on—Holland America's Maasdam was the smallest until now. With only 599 passengers to board, and no other ship at the Port of Los Angeles on our first or last day, getting on and off the ship was incredibly easy. It took barely 20 minutes from the time our group was called on the last morning to having our luggage and waiting for the bus home.
The Ship: Sirena was incredibly easy to get around. You could walk from one end of the ship to the other in just a few minutes. One night we had dinner at Tuscan Steak on the 10th deck and didn't finish until 9:20, and we were down the elevator and across to the Sirena Lounge on the 5th deck just after 9:30 and in time for the show. Our cabin, Stateroom 6017, was right above the Sirena Lounge but we never heard any noise from there, even during one of the production shows. I also didn't notice any signs of wear and tear with the furnishings. All the chairs were very comfortable, though I would suggest having chairs that are slightly less heavy in the Sirena Lounge to make it easier to arrange them for trivia. The boutiques were small but we made good use of all our shipboard credit. I was surprised that they don't sell bottles of liquor in the boutiques to take home.
The Cabin: Ok, this is the one big issue I had. The cabins were just too small. I knew going in the bathroom would be tiny, and it was. And I know that Oceania couldn't do anything about the cabin size. However, it was still a huge shock to open the door and see how little room there was to move about. I lost count of how many times I walked into the beds or makeup table. We did have enough space for all our belongings, by using every drawer and hanger available to us. We also used the laundry facilities once, and they would be a must on a longer cruise. But the beds were incredibly comfortable, and our cabin attendant Zin and her assistant were fantastic. We also appreciated having a minibar.
The Passengers: Befitting the higher cost compared to most ships that sail out of Southern California, the passengers on the Sirena were largely older. I'm 43 and was probably in the bottom 10 percent in terms of age. There was one little girl traveling with her grandparents, but no other children. We had a good mix of different cruising experiences, from Carnival through Seabourn. People were by and large very friendly and dressed nicely for dinner. I still can't figure out what country club casual is, though.
The Food and Drink: The food on the Sirena was easily the best part of the cruise. There were a few items we didn't like as much—my mom was disappointed by her monkfish in the GDR one night, as was I with the roast chicken, and our entrees at Tuscan Steak were overdone—but those were rare missteps. It's too hard to list all the highlights, but some of the best meals and dishes we had were the miso seabass at Red Ginger, all the breakfast pastries in the GDR and Terrace Café, the ice cream at lunch and dinner, the veal Bolognese in the GDR, and the omelettes. And I must give a specific shout out to the holiday cookies they started putting out midway through the cruise. The cocktails and wine by the glass selection were also very good, though we weren't able to get Moscow Mules in the Horizons Lounge one night because they had already run out of ginger beer. My favorite drink wound up being a sparkling wine cocktail, the Hugo.
The Activities and Entertainment: I do wish there had been more activities on port days, especially because these are ports that the heavily West Coast crowd had likely visited numerous times. Morning trivia would be nice, or perhaps other choices beyond putting, shuffleboard, bean bag toss, and spa seminars. I did enjoy the lectures we attended on sea days. The bright side was I got a lot of reading done on the port days where we didn't take excursions. The nighttime entertainment was very good and high quality. My mom enjoyed being able to understand the production show singers, and Dale Kristien was excellent. After a two-hour dinner and show, we were too tired to go up to the Horizon Lounge, so I can't speak to that.
The Excursions: We took three excursions, one each in La Paz, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. I liked the La Paz tour, which mostly took us around the city, and the Puerto Vallarta excursion, which included a tour and tasting of a tequila factory. However, the Mazatlan excursion was disappointing. It was an hour shorter than scheduled, and the guide did not make it clear when we were in the Gold Zone. Also, both the Mazatlan and PV tours included long stops in jewelry stores. I would expect a little better from Oceania.
The Service: Next to the food, this was the best part of the cruise. It helped to have 400 crew members to 599 passengers. The staff was always very helpful without ever being obtrusive. I loved not being asked over and over again if I'd like something to drink. The staff at the Terrace Café was always on top of things. I thought being served at the buffet might be inefficient but it worked great. A special nod to Valentina, who was always really kind and helpful, and very generous with desserts.
The Value: I have never been on a cruise before, excluding a riverboat, where so much was included. No charge for coffee drinks, or for lobster, or for ice cream. It's hard to judge how much we saved compared to sailing on Princess or Carnival or Celebrity, because I wouldn't have indulged like this on those ships. However, given the level of service and all that's included, I think Oceania is a much better value than I anticipated. I don't know when the opportunity to sail with them again might arise but I would certainly consider it.
Overall, I would give the Oceania Sirena very high marks but perhaps wouldn't mind trying an Oceania ship with larger cabins next time. Read Less
Oceania Sirena Baja California – Mexico Cruise December 11-21 2016
Why this cruise? We are experienced cruisers with 34 ocean and 3 river cruises over the past 17 years, enjoying ... Read More
Oceania Sirena Baja California – Mexico Cruise December 11-21 2016
Why this cruise? We are experienced cruisers with 34 ocean and 3 river cruises over the past 17 years, enjoying Crystal, Oceania, Celebrity, Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Commodore, Azamara, Princess and Holland America ships, as well as Viking, Avalon and Ama Waterways river boats.
We have always enjoyed the “small ship” cruises we have done on Azamara Quest as well as Oceania’s Insignia and Nautilus. We do not particularly enjoy the pre-Christmas commercial rush and noise, so this seemed like a good opportunity for a relaxing time.
Getting there and Embarkation. We considered driving from our home in Phoenix to a Long Beach CA hotel and leaving our car there until our return. We did this on our first cruise with Carnival in 1999, but finally decided that since we could avoid the crowds and confusion of LAX by flying directly into the Long Beach Airport on Sunday morning, we would do that. This airport is quite small and easy to navigate, and had only one other flight on the ground; so this proved to be a good way to go. The timing was virtually perfect and we went through the embarkation process at the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal in a few minutes. While waiting for the elevator upon boarding, we were pleased to hear that our deck’s staterooms were ready and available so we dropped our carry on belongings off, went to the buffet for lunch and then proceeded to the beautiful library on deck 10 to pick up some reading material. Since Sirena has only been sailing since the spring, the book selection was very up to date.
Our Stateroom. The eight identical Renaissance ships; named without much imagination as Renaissance I through Renaissance VIII; were built between 1998 and 2001. So they all suffer from the somewhat dated design ideas of 20 years ago. This means that the “standard” verandah cabin is rather small, 204 square feet including 34 square feet of verandah. The Penthouse suite has 332 square feet which includes 66 square feet of verandah. We had chosen this suite for our initial cruise from Manaus out the Amazon to Barbados on Insignia, and been upgraded by Oceania to this class on a Mediterranean cruise. Our third Oceania trip was in a standard Verandah class, but since this seemed cramped we opted for the larger suite on Azamara Quest, (an identical Renaissance ship), in 2015, and chose it again for this trip.
Our stateroom was 8010. The prime motif was dark wood, with light grey textured walls, a large mirror on one wall, and a nice, modern painting above the sofa. The desk arrangement was convenient, and next to it was the decent sized sofa. There were two arm chairs and a small table, probably adequate for room service (which we never use on any cruise). The verandah was good sized with two adjustable cane arm chairs that could be fitted with a padded seat and back cushion. There was a small table and a faux teak deck. The bed had two gooseneck directed focused reading lamps as well as
normal wall lamps. These focused lamps made reading in bed very easy. The desk held a good sized laptop with internet service, which due to our suite status and prior sailing record, was free. I normally used the available computers in the Oceania @Sea computer room on Deck 9, since I like a mouse. We also enjoyed the full glass wall with the door leading out to the verandah, as it provided nice light all day.
The bathroom had a full sized, obviously new shower, with both a rain shower head, a hand held spray head and a towel rack holding huge bath towels in addition to the normal sized bath towels and other towels on racks in the bathroom. There was a single sink, but cabinets and drawers on both sides providing all the room needed for toiletries.
The closet was good sized with an easily sufficient number of nice quality clothes hangers provided. As usual on board ship, there was more than enough drawer space for all we brought aboard. The additional room provided in a suite meant that the stateroom was easy to navigate and well designed for relaxation. We liked Oceania’s layout better than the jazzy new design for these suites that we experienced on Azamara Quest on our cruise to Norway in July 2015. We had the prototype of this suite, and this meant that it was visited by the company CEO to show to a group of travel agents on our full day in port in Edinburgh prior to sailing. But the Azamara version has an open space between the closet and the desk, which is located all the way over to the verandah wall. This means that there is no sofa. In addition, the Azamara cabin chairs were less comfortable.
In short, we think Oceania’s Penthouse suite on the ships is a good idea for a more comfortable journey with some nice amenities. However, if one really wants a great ship’s cabin experience the penthouse suites on Oceania’s Marina and Riviera, with more than 400 square feet, are a most delightful way to sail away.
The ship itself. Sirena was launched as Renaissance IV in 1999, purchased by Princess Cruises and sailed as Ocean Princess for that line until bought by Oceania in 2015. Its “maiden sailing” for this line was in April 2017. The refurbishing done in connection with this acquisition shows up in many ways. Virtually all the furniture is new, as are some of the bathrooms, such as ours. The carpeting is new and the art work along the corridors and stairwells also, reflecting a very nice taste in non-objective art (if you like this art, as we do). Apparently the poolside decking was replaced also, as it looked very new and attractive. There were one or two blemishes or “dings” in two of the elevator doors, but we don’t know if these occurred before or after refurbishment.
The essential layout of the ship remained the same, of course with its handy concept of “eat aft” and “enjoy forward”. The one exception to this rule was that the daily tea was served in the delightful Horizon Room, forward on Deck 10. This site offers excellent views, forward, port and starboard from comfortable seats, with a small dance floor in the center. It is used for some daytime activities and ship sponsored gatherings, as well as late night music and dancing. The center section of Deck 10 is open to the pool below, with a walking deck leading aft. This is where you find the two specialty restaurants, Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger, as well as the most attractive small library at sea.
Deck 9 has the buffet aft, the pool area and the Spa and Gym forward. Decks 8, 7 and 6 are all cabins, with the bridge, forward of course, on Deck 8. Deck 5 has the show lounge forward, the casino, shops, the main bar, “Martinis” an “Upper Hall” seating area and the main dining room aft. Deck 4 has cabins and the Reception Desk, Destination Services and the Concierge, as well as the Medical Center. There are a few cabins on Deck 3 as well as the tender exits.
Generally speaking the ship was well taken care of, with crew members frequently in evidence maintaining furnishings and ensuring cleanliness. All in all, Sirena is a compact, nicely designed, easily navigated and attractive vessel.
Dining and such. Oceania has a well deserved reputation for providing a quality dining experience. Our personal favorite remains Crystal, and to be fair, we have not sailed on Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn or Silverseas ships. But Oceania comes in as our second favorite dining cruise line. It should be noted that Marina and Riviera, with four rather than two specialty restaurants, are a cut above the other four Oceania Renaissance class dining venues. Oceania does not have any added charges for its specialty restaurants and I believe that this is true for the other three high end cruise lines referenced above. All of the other major cruise lines have a range of extra charges for food venues beyond the main dining rooms and buffets.
Sirena offers 5 dining options in four locations. This arises from the creation of “Jacques’ Bistro” as a separate lunch option in the main dining room. We tried it once and it was quite nice with an orientation to French food as might be expected in a restaurant named after Oceania’s cuisine supervisor, Jacques Pepin. The buffet offered a pleasant dinner option having the tables set up with linen table cloths and nice tableware. I have mentioned the specialty restaurants on Deck 10; Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger. The menu for the latter is Asian fusion, while the former, as one might expect from the name, features beef and Italian dishes.
Without going into detail about our meals, it is enough to say that we were very satisfied. If Crystal scores 97 out of 100, and Marina 95, Sirena would reach 93. The range of ships in the Celebrity line would make it a little more difficult to reach an exact rating, but we think the probable score would be around 90. Azamara would come in about the same level, although, like Celebrity, it has additional charges for its specialty restaurants. We especially loved Red Ginger, dining there three times. We did not visit Tuscan Steak since we are not into that style of food. We did hear that the service there was not that great, that they tried to sell ordinary lobster tails as “Maine Lobster” but that the small filet mignon was great according to one diner. The main dining room has one level, and is a trifle noisy. The staff worked hard and was very pleasant, with no glitches in delivery. Open seating is the rule everywhere, and we used both the option to dine by ourselves or with others with no problem. Since the dining rooms open at 6:30 each night, there were lines at that time, but the maître d’ handled the rush very well. The menu selection was good with very little duplication of choices over 10 days. As noted, we ate at Red Ginger three nights. We loved this venue on our two Marina cruises, and were not disappointed here. The hostess; Alina, I believe, was charming and efficient, and the overall service level very high. The décor is very attractive and the venue quieter than the main dining room, with just enough bustle and activity to make it a charming experience. We ate one luncheon at Jacques’ Bistro, where the menu is fashioned after a Paris bistro, and thought that this was a great idea with a small but excellent menu and equally fine service. It was not too crowded, but probably draws enough patronage to justify its continued place in the dining firmament. We ate every breakfast and most lunches at the buffet. The “small ship” limitations was evident here in that the size of the service area was limited and that limits the extent of the menu. Despite this, the food was generally extremely good, and the selection broad enough for most tastes. The selection of fruit for breakfast was as large and good as on any ship. The service here was occasionally spotty. Edith liked to order cappuccino for her breakfast coffee, and sometimes delivery was slow.
It should be noted that the tableware in all venues was first class. The dining room featured Rosenthal Versace dishes, and all other venues used well designed ware from Schoenwald. This is “hotel” china, and not porcelain of course, but I used to sell fine china in a school job long ago at a classy Georgetown D.C. store, and have kept my love of good tableware ever since. The glass ware and utensils were of equal quality.
One other change from our prior Oceania experiences was the switching of the small bar next to the main dining room to a Barista serving cappuccinos, lattes etc. all day long without charge. Since this location is on Deck 5, fairly close to the main bar, Martinis, it made sense to skip the duplication and provide a new and pleasant choice.
Entertainment. There were four forms of entertainment aboard. A pleasant lady offered some good lectures on sea days, all connected with Mexico and our ports. Martinis has a pianist “in residence” providing appropriate cocktail lounge music. There was a string quartet from Eastern Europe playing largely classical music in the evening in the Upper Hall near the boutiques on Deck 5, and every day at 4:00 in the Horizon Lounge for afternoon tea. They were enjoyable. Then there were the main shows every evening in the Sirena Lounge on Deck 5. The problem affecting these shows is that the lounge has two levels of flat floor, so most of the seats are directly behind other seats, limiting the view somewhat. This did not make a lot of difference for the solo singer, nor I would guess, the comedian whose shows we skipped. But it did limit views of the “production shows” and I would think, the magician, who we also chose not to see. The other issue we had was the schedule. There was only on show each night, and that was at 9:30. This was simply very late for us, and we were often tired, especially after shore visits.
We thought that the production shows, with three singers and three dancers were entertaining in a simplistic way; about par for the cruise ship course. The solo singer, Dale Kristien, had been the lead female singer in the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera as well as the original Los Angeles production; and performed it over 1700 times. She was very good, and had a nice selection of songs.
We don’t enjoy comedians, and as noted, were simply too tired at 9:30 for the magician, despite that fact that I enjoy these acts. Overall we found the entertainment about what you expect on a small ship. Only Crystal seems to have its act entirely together as far as entertainment and enrichment go, even though their ships are not exactly huge, Crystal Symphony carrying slightly less and Crystal Serenity slightly more than 1000 passengers.
The crew. By and large their performance was exemplary. Our cabin attendant, Carolina and her assistant had our cabin made up every morning by the time we returned from breakfast. Our butler, Dorian, was efficient and helpful, although we did not use him very much and could have done without the $14.00 daily gratuity. We really did not need the 5:00 P.M. daily serving of peanuts, and could have managed the reservation at Red Ginger ourselves. All the rest of the staff was usually smiling and friendly. We were told by the Captain that while there were 14 different nations represented by the 599 person passenger complement, the 400 crew members came from 46 different countries. There were a few minor language difficulties, but all needed communications were accomplished.
The Itinerary. This was not the most adventuresome trip we have done, but had enough places of interest to be enjoyable. Our initial sailing was “26 Miles Across the Bay” to Santa Catalina Island, where we had never been before. We took a local bus ride with a somewhat strange driver, but still enjoyed this unique place and the cozy little town of Avalon with its plethora of four passenger golf carts.
Cabo San Lucas was a partial tour failure. This was not a ships tour, and we did reach Todos Santos up the Pacific Coast for an abbreviated excursion. We received partial reimbursement.
La Paz on the Sea of Cortez side was about 11 miles from where we docked, but again a free shuttle was provided. We spent an hour or so there, and the waterfront with its Malecon is attractive.
Our private tour into the hills outside Matzalan was very worthwhile. This city has grown a lot, and the north waterfront area has a wide range of newer hotels, condos and apartments. The interior was more typical of rural Mexico, and we enjoyed walking in on a three baby baptismal ceremony in a local church. Since many of the relatives were using their cell phone cameras, we felt comfortable in using ours. Another church in our final destination, Copala, was built in 1565, and still dramatic.
There was another tour mix-up in Puerto Vallarta. But we did arrange a short tour downtown, with a full refund of our pre-paid charge. Since it was a Sunday, many stores were closed, but once again, the stunning growth of this area in the 16 years since our first visit was remarkable.
Summary. This was largely an enjoyable trip. One very pleasing facet of the small ship experience is the higher degree of contact with your fellow passengers. If you are cruising on a 5000 passenger Royal Caribbean monster, and have dinner with a nice couple, the odds that you will ever run into them again are miniscule. On a 600 passenger ship you will probably see them at the buffet, a show, or tea or in a boutique some other day. This makes for a friendly and cheerful atmosphere.
We also noted that almost all our fellow passengers were very experienced cruisers. While most were from the United States, there was a contingent, as always, from Canada, and some from Australia, as well as Europe. We were mostly senior citizens, and while Oceania does not have a children’s program, there were two young – about 10-12 years old – persons aboard, and they seemed to be doing fine.
We would recommend Sirena for any cruise up to 21 days. Beyond that its size limitations might make the sailing grow a little tiring and boring. But it is a first class ship and rates very highly among our cruising favorites. Read Less
Our 2nd two-week Viking Ocean Cruise and our 1st on Viking Sea. We did a Venice prestay for 3 days. The ship actually did not depart from Venice--it departed from Trieste because fog prevented it from docking in Venice. That was a very ... Read More
Our 2nd two-week Viking Ocean Cruise and our 1st on Viking Sea. We did a Venice prestay for 3 days. The ship actually did not depart from Venice--it departed from Trieste because fog prevented it from docking in Venice. That was a very challenging start to the cruise part of the trip because Viking didn't have any on-the-ground people who knew what was happening and it wasted a day in Venice for anyone on the prestay because our hotel Viking representative said to stay put, rather than go out and around Venice. So everyone waited for hours in a hotel and then a port terminal lobby doing nothing until mid to late afternoon when buses took everyone on a 3 hour bus trip to Trieste. Arrived in the dark and cold and stood outside the Trieste port terminal with 900+ others while 1 Italian whose English was a bit spotty searched names on a pages-long list to match it to the passport. This went on into the late hours of the night. We are very able-bodied, but felt bad for many elders who had to stand for hours or needed assistance where none was to be had. I insisted on being allowed to access a restroom in the terminal and a local Viking rep helped me do that finally.
Onboard: We had a penthouse veranda stateroom deck 5. Because we arrived late evening and things were chaotic, we were never shown around our stateroom by a steward and we really didn't run into our steward the whole trip. I supposed we could have asked at guest services for the steward to come by, but we didn't bother. Funny thing is that we did not see the refrigerator stocked with the champagne and snacks until the day we left as we checked all drawers in the room. The frig is in the far end of the desk and corner of the room and we never thought to look there.
Room and closet were spacious; plenty of drawerspace. Loveseat had a few stains on it, which is too bad for a new ship. There were also 2 chairs and a coffee table, but not really any place to dine together if you ordered room service. One ate on the coffee table and the other at the desk. Bathroom was nicely appointed. They could do a better job of cleaning the corners of the shower, though, as we noticed slightly pink slime build up there. Towels are thick but a bit scratchy. Shower is decent. Heated floors nice.
Recreation on ship: Weather can be and was mostly mild in Mediterranean in winter. So we like Deck 8 sports deck to walk, play shuffle board, putting green, bowling green exercise equipment. Problem was that the equipment was in short supply. For example, 2 shuffle board courts and only 1 set of gear in less than optimal condition. Exercise equipment was stripped of weights needed to use the stuff. We asked about this, but the staffer on the deck said they didn't have any other equipment, so we couldn't play at times we wanted and couldn't use some of the stuff we would have used.
Inside, recreation of some classic board games is on Decks 2 and 3 atrium. They also have some big round computer tabletops to play computer solitaire and other games. The Scrabble game set was missing about 10 letters. Someone ripped pieces of paper to write letter names replacing the missing pieces. This seemed very tacky and was annoying to try to play with. There were a number of small things like this that should not be for a ship line claiming to be #1 and "luxury"--especially a new ship.
Dinner: We are 1 meathead and 1 vegetarian. Viking was a tiny bit better this cruise than last with vegetarian options at dinner--but that isn't saying a lot. The option was more often than not a bland risotto with some chopped up vegetables. One time it was vegetarian moussaka that was 99% potatoes layered with tomato sauce. One tiny sliver of eggplant was on the bottom. Their chefs clearly don't know how to prepare anything substantial or flavorful for vegetarians. We had the best dinner in Manfredi's. Dined there twice. We canceled Chef Table reservations because it didn't work well for us--was not veg friendly, though we could have asked for something nonmeat, but that's not the point of that restaurant.
Afternoon tea was OK, not great. We tried it twice. Ironically a proper Afternoon Tea is where one might expect more vegetarian options--but they had only a bland cucumber sandwich and all else was canned tunafish or smoked salmon. We asked, but no other options like a nice egg salad, or olives and cream cheese. Also the service at Tea was not good. We waited 15 minutes at our seats before anyone came to us--yet we were seated adjacent to the serving counter where all the waiters got the trays of food and tea. When service, the water was not hot, waiter was very abrupt, and never checked back to see if everything was OK.
Breakfast: We ordered room service for efficiency before going on excursons. They came on time and food was hot--though the order was messed up a few times but usually in terms of excess things we didn't ask for--so a lot got wasted.
Lunch: We ate in the World Cafe though at times it was over crowded and sitting outside wasn't an option because it was too cool. On warmer days, outdoor dining was lovely. The service was typically very good and the waitstaff really hustled. Food was OK.
Excursions: Some were great, some were very ho hum. We did Rome on our own and don't understand why they charged $69 per person for a bus ride when they offer an included Rome panorama tour free. We would have done Florence on our own also, but they didn't offer that option when we booked online. We heard that had offered it and cancelled from too few takers, but we never saw the option.
Our conclusion about excursions is that trips that include lunch waste a lot of valuable time--takes a good 2 hours out of your day and food isn't usually anything to rave about. We tried to avoid those this time. Another thing that affects tours is all the time on buses (and group bathroom breaks), the quality of the local tour guide, and also the mobility of the people in your tour group. It's nice that Viking accommodates people with impaired mobility to some extent--but unfortunately it also slows down the pace at which a group moves. If you can tour on your own--independently you will do and see a lot more. For example in Rome, we hired a terrific cabbie who was a great tour guide and knew how to get us around most efficiently in the time we had. We got our own Vatican tour tickets in advance so did not have to wait in line. In Monaco, we did our own walking tour and went to the aquarium, walked back to the ship and then got the "Nice on your own" bus and had a great afternoon on our own in Nice.
Onboard entertainment: On both ocean cruises, we give this an "A" for effort, but a "C" for talent for most of the singers/dancers. Some of them sang songs that made you think "you just shouldn't go there" because of brassy, pitchy voices. Two of the voices were solid. The pianist and classic trio were a cut above--they both got A+ for talent. The band was just OK.
Onboard port talks and lectures: The cruise director was great. Very personable, had a very nice singing voice himself, a good sense of humor, and a good pick for the job. The Excursion Planner was a nice gent also and gave good port talks. Of the 2 guest lecturers we went to this cruise, we found only 1 to be interesting. The other was very dry, academic, and monotonous. Boring. Last cruise, guest lecturers were much better.
Laundry facilities: Very nice that they offer them. The instructions for use are terribly confusing though and took a few of us consulting with each other to figure it out. Facilities were always crowded (3 washers/dryers in a laundry room per deck) and you had to waste time waiting for them to open up (or lose your turn) so they could benefit from a larger laundry self-service, but I don't expect that will happen.
We concluded our trip in Barcelona with a wonderful excursion to the Montserrat Monastery. This was a great excursion because you were on your own most of the time. We saw the famous black madonna and child in the basilica and hiked for a couple hours around the mountain. Train up the mountain was great, and the bus ride down was also very scenic. They got us there very early in the morning, which was fabulous because by the time we departed, it was a packed zoo. This was the day after Christmas so a lot of people were on holiday. We disembarked in the middle of the night to get to the airport. We learned subsequently that the ship had broken down on its way as we cruised to Barcelona and it limped into port. So, the 930 people anticipating embarkation for a 2 week cruise of the Mediterranean didn't go on their cruise. Feel sorry for those poor people, especially for a ship less than a year old. Same thing happened on the Viking Star early in its first year. Hope they get things sorted out before we go on our next Viking ocean cruise this summer. Read Less
It was my first cruise with Azamara, the first of two cruises booked with them. I didn't enjoy any single part of this cruise and feel "ripped off" as I did the last time we travelled with RCI. There were some points that ... Read More
It was my first cruise with Azamara, the first of two cruises booked with them. I didn't enjoy any single part of this cruise and feel "ripped off" as I did the last time we travelled with RCI. There were some points that were good, these being a nice cabin, nice ship, good service, good organisation at ports. Now for the bad points:
The day time activities were beyond poor; a few trivia quizzes on sea days and two uninteresting lecturers, one talking about the past history of the ports being visited and one discussing whether China was defensive or aggressive. Certainly not topics that most women onboard would want to attend and not interesting to me.
The entertainment by the visiting entertainers was reasonably good but the shows put on by Eric, the ships entertainment director and the ships singers and dancers was poor. I was fed up of seeing and listening to the narcissic Eric at every end and turn and the singers overall were far too loud and the words of unknown songs could not be distinguished. Overall, other than the visiting entertainers, the routines were amateurish. The guitar player was too monotonous and the ships pianist whilst good on the one night he played in the theatre but for the rest of the time was mundane. Few people attended the Living Room after 9:30 pm so dancing was none existent. It seemed to me that most people went to bed early. The ship in the evening was dead.
However, what really upset me most was the poor quality of the food. My wife, daughter and daughter in law are all excellent cooks and we all enjoy quality food. My grandson is a trained chef and his chef uncle on the other side of the family has cooked not just for me but for Margaret Thatcher, The Queen, the late King Hussain of Jordan and Sir James Goldsmith. I know what represents good food and this didn't come anywhere near the mark. I don't believe the chefs are chefs, they are poor cooks.
Breakfast was OK in the Windows restaurant although there was no Finnan Haddock and no Kippers. Lunchtime on sea days in Discoveries restaurant was uninspiring so most meals were taken in Windows Cafe. This was also disappointing as no meals were enjoyable. it was just food. Individual bowls of tomatoe, cucumber, onion, peppers and chicken served one day were in my opinion used the following day by turning them into a special salad using all of the same components. On several nights there was a theme, Indian, Morrocan and British. I decided to try the British night, my home country. Fish and chips were on the menu but I have to say that there isn't one British fish and chip shop who would offer the meagre portion of fish served by the server. There is more fish in a half a fish finger and the server then asked "Do you want one or two pieces".
It was clear to me that the ships budget is limited in cost. Pasta and chicken dishes in Windows cafe and Discoveries restaurant predominate the menus. On the day of the barbecue it was held indoors. I asked why and they said it was the likelihood of rain but it was a sunny day and as we were only a few days into a long cruise it could have been postponed to another day but wasn't. There was not one single barbecue item, not a single sausage. Inferior chicken was offered wrapped in breadcrumbs to disguise the bone and gristle. A poor representation of a real barbecue. On another occasion in the cafe lamb hock was offered but since when has a lamb hock had a knee joint?
After a few days of poor food I confronted the two Head waiters but it didn't make any difference. The menu in Discoveries restaurant is basically 75% the same every evening. So called specials make up the rest. Yet on one evening there was two chicken dishes and two broiled New York Steaks so limiting the choice further. One night I had the seafood soup. On the following night I had a different seafood soup but it was the same one as the day before: one prawn, one mussel and some clams. On the last night I had a lamb hock. I don't however believe it was lamb as the bones were far too big for a lamb and more likely to have been mutton. This was not five star food, I have been served better food in a works canteen. There was no sirloin steaks, no rump steaks, no steak Diane, no Tounedos Rossini, no cod loin, no chateaubriand. I have had those on other ships along with first class enrichment lectures and entertainment at less than half the price paid to Azamara. Since when has skirt from the bottom of a cow been served as a steak?
The coffee in the Mosaic cafe was poor and several other people commented about this. Finally why do professional cocktail makers use measuring cups when dispensing the components of a cocktail when on Azamara the components are dispensed without regard to using the correct measures? Every drink served varies from the last one.
All in all a thoroughly unenjoyable cruise. Whilst on the ship I contacted my travel agent and cancelled the second paid in full future cruise on Azamara. I will never travel with Azamara or RCI ever again. Read Less
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - we wanted to see Vietnam and Thailand. The cruise starting in Hong Kong and ending in Singapore was a bonus. If you are looking for a cruise with lots to do onboard or for families with small ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - we wanted to see Vietnam and Thailand. The cruise starting in Hong Kong and ending in Singapore was a bonus. If you are looking for a cruise with lots to do onboard or for families with small children - this may not be the ship for you. It's a quiet and classy ship with outstanding service, but not a lot of the activities the mega-ships have.
As I said - we chose the cruise for cities it was going to And the ability to get closer to the main cities than larger ships was a big difference. As as example - larger ships are a few hours from Bangkok, where the Journey was maybe a half hour from the city (more with traffic)
The entertainment (and cruise director) were first rate - I did not expect a ship with just over 600 passengers to have the quality of shows that they provided.
The main dining room was better than any other main dining room we've been on (though Aqua Class on Celebrity may be a bit better), and many passengers chose to go to the dinner buffets - where a different country's food was offered each evening. The specialty restaurants were fine, with good service, but I'm not sure they are better than the main dining room. Read Less
We originally only planned one cruise this year, and chose Azamara for an August cruise from Venice, through Croatia and the Amalfi coast to Rome, because of it's wonderful itinerary. We had never heard of Azamara before that, and ... Read More
We originally only planned one cruise this year, and chose Azamara for an August cruise from Venice, through Croatia and the Amalfi coast to Rome, because of it's wonderful itinerary. We had never heard of Azamara before that, and loved the cruise and everything about it -- ship, room, food, service, ports, etc.
One month later, my husband got an email from Azamara highlighting this Asian cruise and said "We have to go. It's the cruise of a lifetime!" I originally thought he was crazy since we already did our "big" vacation in August, but eventually, he talked me into it, and boy am I glad he did!
Our August cruise was 7 ports in 7 days, and while wonderful, was tiring not to have time to rest before the next port. This cruise was 13 days, but it had 4 days at sea in between, and more overnight stops, so the pace was easier.
We started in Hong Kong (loved it. It also reminded us a lot of NYC, where we live, but it had the best fried rice and bar-b-que pork we ever had.) Day 2 was at sea, which was great.
Then we had 2 nights at Halong Bay -- the most beautiful bay area we've ever seen. On day 1 we did the ship's tour to Hanoi (it was a 12 hour tour, with 3+1/2 hours each way and 5 hours in Hanoi itself). We're glad we did it, but wouldn't go through it again -- too much travelling back and forth. On day 2, we did a ship's tour of Halong Bay. Magnificent! I skipped the cave, because it was 200 steps (too much for me), but my husband went and took great pictures. If you're physiclaly able, you should visit the cave.
Day 5 - We got a private tour guide to visit Da Nang and Hoi An. Her name was Xuan Tu, and she was amazing. Her contact info is firstname.lastname@example.org and I would highly recommend her. She was adorable and had a very bubbly personality, and was an excellent guide. She took us to a special tea room in Hoi An, run by people who could not speak, and it was an amazing experience. She found other unusual places to take us, like a Vietnamese sandwich place that Anthony Bourdain raved about. It was fantastic!
Day 6 was at sea.
Day 7 was Ho Chi Minh City (still called Saigon by the locals), and again we hired a private guide. Her name was Diem Kieu (email@example.com), and we got her through Bao Loc (firstname.lastname@example.org). We opted to do the Meking Delta boat tour, rather than the Saigon city tour, but Diem Kieu managed to show us both places. She was excellent. Very warm, and friendly and kind, with a true love of her city and her people.
Day 8 was at sea again -- a welcome day of relaxation!
Days 9, 10, 11 we docked at Bangkok:
Day 9 - we did the Azamara free "Azamazing Evening" - a free ship's tour, where we went to the ancient city at night, which was spectactularly lit up, saw a private show of Thai dancers and boxers, and then had a candle-lit ceremony where we lit candles and set them off on the water to "float away" our negative thoughts/experiences. The evening was truly amazing.
Day 10 - we did a private tour of Bangkok with "Chob@thaitourguide.com" and chose Ms. Joy from their huge array of tour guides, based on past reviews. We chose well. Ms. Joy was a joy to work with, going above and beyond, when we asked if she could find us something for bug bites, and helping my husband print and scan and email something he needed to do for a client. And she bought us a souvenir "longtail boat", to remember our boat trip with her. Ms. Joy's contact info is email@example.com
With Joy's help, we visited the Grand Palace and grounds -- with each building/setting more beautiful than the next, and the flower garden.
Day 11 - we did another tour with Ms. Joy and saw the Railroad market, which I would highly recommend. This market existed for a long time. Then the railroad came and insisted that the train needed to go where the market was, and the market people refused to move. So the railroad built the tracks in the middle of the market. So 4x/day when the train comes through, the people get a warning signal, and must move the produce, etc. off the tracks, wait for the train to leave, and put it back. It was amazing to see. In the afternoon, we saw the floating market, which was really neat.
Day 12 - was 1/2 day at Ko Samui, Thailand. We just walked around the port a bit and had a relaxing time.
Day 13 was at sea -- a welcome, relaxing day (except for having to pack to leave the boat the next day.
Day 14 we arrived at Singapore, and left the ship with 1/2 day ship's tour of Singapore, which I would highly recommend.
In Singapore, we would recommend the Orchid Gardens in the Botanical Gardens, and the Zoo. We did the "Night Safari" at the zoo, which shows the nocturnal animals all lit up, and included the Asian buffet, which was excellent.
So we chose this cruise, again because of the itinerary, but also because we already knew we loved the ship and the crew and everything else about Azamara. They are a first class company! Read Less
My friend and I booked this cruise as she wanted to go the Christmas market in Bruges, Cunards dates Friday to Monday worked best for us and I live in Dorset so Southampton is an ideal port for me and a free day at sea to make use of the ... Read More
My friend and I booked this cruise as she wanted to go the Christmas market in Bruges, Cunards dates Friday to Monday worked best for us and I live in Dorset so Southampton is an ideal port for me and a free day at sea to make use of the onboard facilities. We got a great price online and parking cost was reasonable. Car drop off with CPS and check-in were so easy and fast I was anxious as this was my first cruise and I'm used to airport parking, airport check in, 2/3 hours at the airport then boarding a transatlantic flight for 10 hours of movies. My anxiety was gone as soon as we stepped aboard, barely any time from arrival at the dock.
We had a twin obstructed sea view on deck 4 which was perfect for us, slight view but we weren't planning on sitting by the window much and we were amazed how large the cabin was and how gorgeous with sofa, fridge, comfy bedding and our welcome wine. Reggie serviced our cabin multiple times a day, always had ice, our bedtime chocolates and all the information we needed for the next day.
The Queen Victoria was stunning, so beautifully decorated, we went prepared for seasickness and didnt need our Kwells or Seabands. We were in the Britannia restaurant and the food was to die for. Never went hungry or ate too much, portion sizes were just right to enjoy the delicious food, with great service and menu choices at breakfast lunch and dinner and a fantastic sommelier who remembered we were diet coke drinkers. We used the Lido restaurant for buffet breakfast twice - once after a late night and the second time on disembarkation day. There was plenty on offer and our choice of cereals fruit and pastries with juice and coffee was just what we needed on those days.
We chose to save money and get the free shuttle to Blankenberg and catch the train into Bruges for less that 5E return and do our own thing in Bruges. We saw the market, had a boat trip, a wander round the shops and some lunch, a fantastic day. Shuttle back to the ship was fine and we had enough time ashore. Next time we'd probably go for buffet breakfast on trip day ashore to save time and get out earlier but for first time cruisers you live and learn and we had a great full breakfast in the restaurant.
Entertainment on board in the stunning theatre at sea was superb - Troubadour male vocal group, Roy Walker - legend of catchphrase and the ships dance company on our final night. We made use of the pub, casino slot machines, Queens room big band and dancing room, Hemispheres night club, the day spa and couldnt fault anything, we were so relaxed and switched off from life. We watched some of the dance lesson, played speed bingo, browsed the shops and art gallery went to the Masquerade ball and couldn't fit anymore in around sleeping and watching one of the great movies in our room on the TV. We could have stayed forever and were very sad to leave.
Disembarkation was super smooth, after breakfast and a short wait in our waiting area, straight off, collected luggage and across the road to collect our car and keys. I was pleased we were on a mid to lower deck as you disembark later so would probably go for that again and our deck and cabin grade meant we were so close to all the ships facilities.
We got a soft drinks package which worked out great value for us and after chatting to other passengers we heard that the service on cunard was the best they had ever experienced so we have experienced the best, how do we cruise with another company. I'm already looking at which mini cruise I can afford to go on next. Would highly recommend Cunard and this mini cruise. Read Less
This was for us a "taster" cruise to see if we liked the whole concept of a cruise break/holiday - having become disillusioned with airports and the delays and waiting times. The experience could not have been smoother and more ... Read More
This was for us a "taster" cruise to see if we liked the whole concept of a cruise break/holiday - having become disillusioned with airports and the delays and waiting times. The experience could not have been smoother and more relaxing. Having stayed at a quayside hotel overnight, we waited there for our designated boarding time. The hotel concierge drove us over and twenty minutes later we had embarked, our luggage was whisked away right to our cabin (deck 8 starboard) and we had been issued with our boarding passes which gained entry to everything and covered all the expenses we needed while on board ship.
The ship itself is fabulous - big but not daunting and all the public areas are beautifully kept. Fresh flowers everywhere: plus the whole place was tastefully decked out for Christmas. Our cabin steward (Bryan) was excellent and always helpful and attentive - leaving us in peace if we were in the cabin, but buzzing around and replacing towels etc. whenever we seemed to be away. The dining experience was equally excellent. The Brittania restaurant was fine: once we had sorted out that we preferred to dine alone rather than in a big group, The whole ambience of the ship was exciting and interesting (especially if you are a "people-watcher): whether it be the experience of teatime in the ballroom (with a tea dance on Sunday) or sitting in one of the bars or enjoying the entertainment in the theatre (we bagged a box for two of our nights away). The entertainment was good: a lively male singing quartet, a comedian and then the ship's singers and dancers on the last evening with a new show. We also attended a daytime lecture (on the RNLI in Suffolk) which was well done and interesting.
Our overall impression (as first-timers) was excellent. We were on deck 8 (just below the aft pool deck). I suspect this might be noisy in the summertime - you could hear people walking about above us on the deck. But nothing was intrusive and people kept to themselves: it is a sedate experience and very enjoyable. We found all the staff (our steward, the waiters, the bar staff and the purser's office) all very helpful as we had a few issues with our card opening the cabin door (keep it away from your mobile phone was the answer!). Even disembarkation was smooth and painless. The system looked complicated (parting with our luggage by 11pm the night before). But it all worked out and we were off the ship earlier that timetabled as the luggage was ready and waiting for us after our last breakfast at 6.30am.
The food - excellent throughout. The self-service restaurant (The Lido on the top floor) was well presented buffet-style food - but good - not that we needed it! But the restaurant food was always beautifully presented and the cuisine is a credit to the many staff who must work tirelessly behind the scenes. It would be hard to fault anything we experienced.
My only comment would actually be about the fellow guests on board. We were informed well in advance of travelling what the dress code would be: certain evenings informal (jackets for the gentlemen but ties could be optional). Then one night was formal - (dinner suits or dark suits). If you wished to avoid this, you were urged to keep to the top floor buffet restaurant. Despite this, several gentlemen did not wear jackets when asked to and several of them removed their jackets (even on the formal night) and put them on the back of their chairs. I don't think this is on when the air of the whole experience was the create the right atmosphere to meet the occasion. Play the game chaps! I am surprised the maitre'd didn't tap them on the shoulder and ask them to put their jackets on again! The ladies did the occasions proud and many of them looked very elegant indeed. It made for a magical experience to see people looking smart on such an elegant ship such as the Queen Victoria.
We had one day on shore and chose the trip to Ypres, Tyn Coyte war cemetery and Flanders Memorial Museum. We were a small group (suited us): but I have to comment that our guide was excellent. He delivered nothing short of a lecture on the nature, causes and details of WW1 as we made our way to the cemetery. He was well informed, communicative and very interesting. Thank you for that: we felt that although these trips ass to the cost of the cruise - on this occasion it was well worth it and we could not have undertaken this (and been so well informed) had we done it ourselves. Read Less
It was my 4th cruise, and this is my first review. First time in a small ship and probably not going to a big one again! My impression of Windstar Cruises is that everyone was REALLY interested in make my vacations happier and my life ... Read More
It was my 4th cruise, and this is my first review. First time in a small ship and probably not going to a big one again! My impression of Windstar Cruises is that everyone was REALLY interested in make my vacations happier and my life easier. Really looked to me like the crew enjoy what they do. I never heard a "NO" for any request. We went to French Polynesia. The excursions was TOP. Never crowded. Never got lines. Me and my husband were called by our names all the time. We made great new friends, but that aren't many people at our age (37-44). Most of the passengers were older. The food was the best I ever had in a cruise ship, including special creations with local food. The chef, Darin Erp, tried all the food in every venue in every day. I would certainly back to a new cruise in Windstar. Read Less
My wife and I went with another married couple and we can honestly say that we all thoroughly enjoyed our holiday with Silverseas. We were warmly greeted when we came on board the ship at Barbados, and that warmth was a feature of the ... Read More
My wife and I went with another married couple and we can honestly say that we all thoroughly enjoyed our holiday with Silverseas. We were warmly greeted when we came on board the ship at Barbados, and that warmth was a feature of the attention that we received while we were on the Silver Spirit.
Our cabin was spacious, tastefully decorated and boasted numerous cupboards and shelves where you could store clothes and your personal belongings.
The bathroom/shower room was luxurious, with a shower that was easy to operate as well as being effective for it delivered a torrent of instant warm/hot water.
Our cabin was cleaned daily to the highest possible standards - in fact, the cleaning staff did an amazing job in this respect.
There is a wide variety of restaurants on board the ship to suit everyones taste and once you're sitting down, the standard of food and service in all of them was excellent, indeed, nothing was too much trouble for the waiters. Every meal was a fine dining experience since the food was beautifully cooked and presented.
The entertainment on board the ship was of the highest standard. The course director, Moss, was a brillliant host, entertainer and coordinator. We saw most of the evening shows performed by the team of resident entertainers and I can honestly say that the singing, dancing and costumes were fantastic.
A special word for the reception staff. They were always, polite, friendly and very anxious to resolve any issue that you might have. I couldn't fault them.
I would certainly recommend Silverseas for a great cruising holiday. Read Less
This was our first expedition cruise after many years of cruising(Regent and Crystal). Our travel agent recommended Silversea and we thoroughly enjoyed the ship,crew,fellow passengers,guides,and the wonders of the Galápagos. This is not ... Read More
This was our first expedition cruise after many years of cruising(Regent and Crystal). Our travel agent recommended Silversea and we thoroughly enjoyed the ship,crew,fellow passengers,guides,and the wonders of the Galápagos. This is not the typical luxury cruise,but is the most pampered and comfortable way to experience the islands. Our suite was on the small side ,but well-appointed and comfortable. Our butler Jimmy was every bit as good as our Crystal butlers (and that,s saying a lot!).
The crew is a bit rough around the edges but very eager to please and hardworking. The food was for the most part very good. It was obvious that great efforts were being made and we were often asked if we wanted or needed anything else.
This is such an interesting destination and the guides enthusiasm for their subjects was infectious. Juan Carlos and Gilda were our favorites but all were good. When I fell out of the zodiac trying to get back in after a wet landing excursion our guide Jan kept apologizing for not being there to help me (believe me it was my own fault!). Every excursion was well briefed and well guided.
This is an adventure everyone needs on their "bucket" list and Silverseas should be their choice. Read Less
Off season time in the Caribbean is a great price. Age of guests is pretty much the same as Regent and Oceania.
Internet went out for a day and the captain gave everyone a $200 credit. Nice touch.
The wine was exceptional ... Read More
Off season time in the Caribbean is a great price. Age of guests is pretty much the same as Regent and Oceania.
Internet went out for a day and the captain gave everyone a $200 credit. Nice touch.
The wine was exceptional throughout. Not super expensive wines but in the $15-20 range, far better than the cheap stuff on Regent in Alaska. The food did hit a few rough patches. The main dining room was always excellent, but we were disappointed in Stars supper club and the Hot Rocks. Hot Rocks is where you cook your food under the stars outdoors. It was super hot and humid so that made is uncomfortable. The steak was nothing special. But the prawns were delicious and the largest I’ve ever seen. The salad, potato and vegetable was disappointing. Stars club had a great pianist and singer but they tried to do too many things in their tapas and they weren’t all good. I would have preferred they let you order your own tapas rather than have things cool and made ahead of time.
Le Champagne, the pay extra restaurant, and Seishin were both outstanding.
Entertainment was a bit lacking. Due to the internet problem, the movies didn’t work, so we got half way through and had to quit watching. The only regular TV was news channels.
The jazz singer was the best evening entertainment and you could go in there even if you weren’t having dinner. She was great for after dinner drinks and music.
We had the beds made as twins, and since they are a queen when put together, they were very small. We did ok but I’d prefer a king bed, broken into twins. You don’t get that on very many lines though unless you are in a fancy suite.
We did get upgraded 3 levels, although all that does is put you on a higher floor. Service was absolutely excellent everywhere. No one ever left our wine glass empty. We had trouble with that on Regent in Alaska.
There were only two boutiques and they didn’t have anything casual - all high end jewelry, clothes and perfume. I like some simple tshirts and silver jewelry which was missing.
Room - same size as Regent and Oceania. Larger shower which is nice, and a tub which we don't use. Bulgaria amenities but you can have Ferragamo or a non- allergenic option.
Comfortable chairs that recline on the balcony.
Room not as fancy interior as the others but they are redoing this ship next year. It's fine just not noticeably fancy. 2 tvs in the mirrors with over 300 movies for free (until it didn't work). No sports channels - just news and movies.
Internet is free and not fast but ok for email.
Beds comfortable but small (we have them made as twins). Choice of pillows and blankets or down quilt.
AC works well.
Great lighting for makeup.
Extension cord readily available for c-pap machine.
The ship is like a comfortable yacht. Only 2 shops. Expensive art work for sale on the walls but no dramatic staircases etc like other ships have. We like it fine but there isn't a wow factor other than art.
Food is better than Regent and Oceania across the board. For example, the lobster is fresh Maine lobster, not frozen or Caribbean as it was on Regent. Foie gras on menus although I don't like it. Great sushi.
And service is outstanding. The free wines are much better than Regent Alaska cruise. The markup on the special wines is not high at all but we've been happy with the wines provided and they don't try to push you to buy a more expensive one.
Entertainment is a weak spot.
The excursions are very fairly priced ($59 for a 3 hour snorkel trip) so they don't gouge on that like Oceania does. Spa is expensive as all the at sea ones are. Read Less
Friends had fortunate experiences and we were looking to see if Cunard could be a standard way of traveling from the US to Europe, South Africa, Australia, and through the Panama Canal. The answer was a definite NO! we now don't even ... Read More
Friends had fortunate experiences and we were looking to see if Cunard could be a standard way of traveling from the US to Europe, South Africa, Australia, and through the Panama Canal. The answer was a definite NO! we now don't even want Cunard literature through the internet or by mail.
The basic aspects of the cruise consisting of stateroom, entertainment, dining, library, and their associated service were excellent as expected. Areas of the ship suffered from severe smoker's stench despite smoking being restricted to two specific areas, The vaunted Planetarium showed an aged tape on construction of the space station and the age showed in its clarity. One had a feeling of being nickle and dimed throughout the cruise. The photographing was ubiquitous and expensive. The shopping was primarily for the wealthy although a few cheaper things could be found. My wife suffered food poisoning and we both suffered a major respiratory ailment by the time we left the ship.
Embarkation was easy, provided you arrived early although they lost our picture and credit card so we had to have them re-entered, then they lost the credit card again, and again. it is disturbing that they had such problems with a critical piece of information. The debarkation was a horrific debacle suggesting they had never done it before. We were supposed to have priority to meet our shuttle buses to the airport to make our Cunard scheduled flights but wound up stuck in the assembly area for two and a half hours without any information and no Cunard staff so that food, drink, or bathroom breaks were essentially unavailable as we could be called at any moment. The luggage pickup indicated that we were the last people off the ship and there was no information in debarkation documentation or Cunard people that indicated where the shuttle buses were. The Shuttle drivers did not appear to know what airlines were at which gates at the airport, which extended the delay. We missed our flight, which began the real inexcusable aspect of our cruise.
We had purchased, by heavy recommendation, Cunard "Care" which was supposed to provide complete protection and handling of our vacation from the moment we arrived at our home airport until we returned. Understand that Cunard scheduled everything and we paid a lot of extra money as both flights were one-way on different airlines. Because of the debarkation debacle we missed our flight and discovered that Cunard had not provided a phone number for Cunard Care in the debarkation documentation. Fortunately we found a Customer "Service" number which eventually routed us to Cunard Care after a multitude of "Please Hold" delays. Once reaching Cunard Care we were initially told that it wasn't their problem, further delays, and a clear indication that these people had no interest or understanding of how to solve our travel problems. One Cunard Care person told us to save our food and drink receipts because they covered that, but that turns out to be a falsehood. We essentially got home with the assistance of American Airlines in spite of Cunard "Care".
After getting home, we requested reimbursement from Cunard Care through their insurance company and were rejected for interrupted travel expenses because "Cunard delayed our disembarkation" rather than a common carrier!
We then experienced Cunard Customer Service which was an unending series of fatuous platitudes about how wonderful Cunard Care is despite how worse than worthless our experience with it proved it to be. Needless to say, Cunard apparently has no interest in making this right despite the promises made by Cunard in their literature.
Our recommendation is to:
1. Find reliable trip insurance and avoid Cunard Care.
2. Do not use Cunard scheduled shuttles as our experience showed they were totally unreliable, neither arriving on time or knowing where they were going.
3. Do not use Cunard scheduled air transportation.
4. Do not trust Cunard to make things right. Read Less
Many staff friends and passenger friends from the Radisson / Regent recent past recommended Viking Ocean, then the Star came to the Caribbean and we jumped at the chance to be on her. We fell in love with the vessel and its entire staff - ... Read More
Many staff friends and passenger friends from the Radisson / Regent recent past recommended Viking Ocean, then the Star came to the Caribbean and we jumped at the chance to be on her. We fell in love with the vessel and its entire staff - top to bottom. Viking Ocean (and Viking River) focus on the destinations and the onboard experience. Nothing over the top. Nary a zipline, Karaoke, nor casino to be found. Instead an excellent small-ship experience without crossing the line to gaudy. Excellent food in all restaurants. And the SPA!!! Did I mention THE SPA?????
The entertainment on board uses top notch talent in cabaret settings. No Broadway production numbers, just solid talent. And they support them with the most innovative use of LED screens you will have ever seen. Loved it.
The passengers were a very congenial lot on this cruise. No grumps made themselves obvious. Lots of closely-spaced two-tops in the restaurants that almost always joined themselves in lively conversations.
Absolutely superb in every way Read Less
This was our 4th trip on a Lindblad/National Geographic ship, and the 4th great experience we've had with them.
Our journey started with a 3 day shore extension to the cloud forest in Costa Rica with a Lindblad Naturalist (Fico) ... Read More
This was our 4th trip on a Lindblad/National Geographic ship, and the 4th great experience we've had with them.
Our journey started with a 3 day shore extension to the cloud forest in Costa Rica with a Lindblad Naturalist (Fico) and driver (German). Normally 10 to 20 guests participate in the extension but this time it was just the 4 people in our family. Not only did Fico and Herman take us to see everything on the itinerary but along the way we stopped to watch howler monkey in trees on the roadside, stopped at some road-side fruit stands to pick up some in-season treats, and others that made the drive to the Cloud Forest part of the adventure. At each destination Fico would talk about the animals or plants we were seeing or hearing which turned every stop from a sightseeing experience to a learning experience. Since there were only 4 of us, they allowed us to deviate from the planned destinations and activities because the smaller group size gave us more flexibility. For example guests normally had to pick between a zip-line through the forest canopy, and a walk through it on suspended bridges - but my daughter really wanted to do both so they made it happen. The accommodations were great (we saw an armadillo, parrots, and other wildlife on the grounds of the lodge we stayed without much effort). The restaurants for all good, and we generally at whatever German (the driver) suggested because he knew every restaurants specialties.
After returning from the cloud forest we boarded ship in Costa Rica. We'd previously sailed on the Sea Lions sister ship, the Sea Bird, so we knew what to expect. The ship was in good shape. My wife, daughter, and I stayed in a triple and my brother had a single. The cabin was well maintained and clean with enough storage space for the 3 of us (largely because the bed was raised high enough we could stash our luggage under it easily). In our first trip on the Sea Bird we found the 'shoilet' (small toilet area that doubled as the shower) a bit disconcerting but time around it didn't seem as odd. With 3 of us cabin space was tight, but we spent so little time in the cabin it really didn't matter. Almost the entire day was spent on excursions, in the lounge debriefing with other guest or looking at the photos we got (or didn't) on the computers, or on the partially covered sun deck either enjoying sun, or shade, as we wanted.
Food was served in the dining room. It's all 'open seating' and we tried to sit with different guests at each meal. Breakfast was a buffet and generally included fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, breads, bacon and/or sausage, some type of egg, sometimes crepes, waffles, or pancakes. Lunch was similarly buffet with salad, soup, and fruit always there with different choices each day like burgers and dogs, tacos, thai chicken, and veggie medleys, Dinner was served with soup and fresh bread, with a choice between a meat dish (flank steak, rack of lamb, prime rib, etc.), a seafood dish (sea bass, etc.), and a vegetarian option (portabella risotto, etc.). If none of those sounded good a full size salad or chicken breast was also always offered. Dinner was followed by a desert like flan, fruit crisps, and the like. My daughter had a bit of motion sickness and the hospitality manager (Anna Marie) noticed her not eating and each morning would inquire if she wanted one of the items on the days menu or if she'd prefer some more kid-friendly fare like chicken tenders, pasta, a hot dog, or mac-and-cheese. Most of the time my daughter was good with the normal menu items but a few times she did take Anna Marie up on her offer and got a custom dish just for her. Most meals the natural history staff and some of the ships officers would join us at meals, and we'd learn about them and (since they were from the local area) we'd hear about the culture of the area and what it is like to live and have grown up there.
As my review title says, the real high point of the trip was the activities - the shore excursions with the natural history staff. Every day had at least 1 multi-hour activity in the morning and a second in the afternoon. We'd generally take a zodiac from the ship to shore (most often making a wet landing, so shorts and shoes/footwear you are ok getting soaked is mandatory) followed by walk into the forest or along the coast with a naturalist and/or photo instructor. Those guys were amazing, With their naked eyes they spotted sloths in the trees (if you've never seen a sloth in a tree, from the ground it looks like a brown blob in the branches of a tree, and you don't have motion to draw attention to them), howler monkey, spider monkeys, white face monkeys, parrots, toucans, macaws, hummingbirds, alligators, tarantulas, bats, and mountains of other types of birds and animals. They pointed out plants and type of plants, talked about the life cycle of the forest and how gaps in the canopy result in pioneer plants which eventually end up with the forest terminal state foliage. They could identify birds by call alone, and in most cases then find the birds.
The photo instructor (Jose) was great. In addition to being a naturalist and point out the animals and plants, walks with him always included hints and tips on how to photograph them more effectively, the right types of light, moving to better angles to capture the life better, camera settings so you could get the effect you wanted from stop-motion (real cool for birds in flight, or dolphins jumping from the bow or in the wake of the ship) to blurred (great for the some of the waterfalls we visited).
A clear highlight was seeing a sloth in a tree on the start of a walk, and on the way back seeing that same sloth with it's new born baby. The videographer that accompanied us everywhere even got some real "National Geographic" quality video of the sloth eating the placenta after giving birth. A real 'once in a lifetime moment' even for our naturalists who spent decades in the rain forest!
The last two days of the trip, when we traversed the Panama Canal, was a bit slower than the previous days but that was because we had to defer to the canal authority to decide when we could cross. We entered the canal in the evening (passenger ships as 2nd priority, the big cargo ships go first) which gave us a great chance to photograph the canal and operations at night. Jose, our trusty photo instructor, seemed to be everywhere helping guest capture the night canal night crossing in pictures the way they wanted. We spent the night in the canal itself (Lindblad is the only cruise that stops mid-way) and visited the Smithsonian Institutes tropical research center on Barro Colorado Island at first night, which included a talk from a long-time researcher from the island (I suppose spending 30 years as a researcher on that island counts as a long time). We were then lucky enough to traverse the 2nd set of locks in the day; so we could see lock operations both at night and in the say.
As crazy as it sounds, another highlight for me was the last night which we spent in the container port on the Caribbean side of the canal. We were moored right along side some Panamax and post-Panamax contain ships and from the sun deck we could watch the loading and unloading of those ships up-close and personal. The Sea Lion seems like a little minnow tied-up along those mega-behemoths.
The trip concluded with our Lindblad representatives taking us to the airport in Panama City for our flight how. Along the way we stopped at the Mira Flores Locks (the ones we traversed at night) so we could see them from the day from the visitors center; it really made us appreciate the experience of having crossed through the locks as well.
We were sorry to see it end, and are already thinking about what Lindblad voyage to take next. If only I could wrangle a month off (and I could con Lindblad into giving me a break on the price!) it'd probably be Antarctic and South Georgia island. I'm not sure it could top the sloth giving birth but I'm willing to let them try! Read Less
We had done a Viking River Cruise and decided to try to Ocean Cruise.
Pros: the ship is beautiful, the public spaces were NEVER crowded, there were chairs by the pools, there were areas with many books, games and even some museum ... Read More
We had done a Viking River Cruise and decided to try to Ocean Cruise.
Pros: the ship is beautiful, the public spaces were NEVER crowded, there were chairs by the pools, there were areas with many books, games and even some museum pieces, The staff were always friendly. the dining rooms were never crowed. The organization for the excursions was extremely well done (a carryover from the River cruises?) the process of getting on and off was easy and fast. The two specialty dining rooms were AMAZING! The food at the Chef's table was incredibly interesting and really tasty. It is a set menu and on two of the occasions that we went there was one item that we were not crazy about, but the rest was really really good. The waitstaff was knowledgeable and very attentive. Making a revising reservation on board was easy.
Cons: the staff need a lot more training.
It took me three tries with three different waiters to get ice for my water on one occasion, They never did get the minibar in our cabin stocked with what we wanted (diet soda, half with caffeine and half non caffeinated). My husband liked eggs Benedict, unfortunately, the staff who was cooking were able to get it done and to him in a reasonable time on occasion and sometimes they were not. In the main dining room, people complained that they were completely neglected or that the orders were incorrect. The fitness center had equipment that had electronic options, HOWEVER, only the option that worked was gaming, the music, videos etc etc were not functional. In addition, the staff did not even know how to work what was there.
The included tours simply do not work for the Caribbean. The model that works in Europe and Asia does not work in the islands. There are few historical items to be seen and for many of us, sitting on a bus or a minibus etc just was NOT what we went to the Caribbean to do. It is my suggestion that they give each person a ship board credit and let them chose what excursions they want to participate in. Those of us who were a little younger (the passengers were mostly older and many with mobility issues) would likely want more active excursions. We finally chose to pay additional money and took active excursions the last few days.
After reflection, I decided that there was mostly positive on this cruise and I might consider another ocean cruise in the Baltic or Mediterranean, but not in the Caribbean. Read Less
We wanted to try a trans-Atlantic cruise just because....
It was wonderful. We took a southerly route and in spite of the season (December!) we spent each day at the pool or walking about the ship, or just sitting out on our balcony ... Read More
We wanted to try a trans-Atlantic cruise just because....
It was wonderful. We took a southerly route and in spite of the season (December!) we spent each day at the pool or walking about the ship, or just sitting out on our balcony reading. It took a little time to realize we could have what ever we wanted, when ever we wanted it! This kind of pampering is not normal. And it was all done with a smile.
The staff are incredible. It very soon feels like everyone knows your name, your drink preferences, how you like your coffee. And they are unfailingly cheerful while maintaining a very professional demeanor.
Also, our stateroom was spacious and very comfortable. The best it the industry, in my opinion.
Finally, we were first attracted to a trans-Atlantic cruise because of the price. I believe we got what we paid for and more. We had a wonderful, very relaxing time, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
My wife and i cannot express our true pleasure sailing with seabourn again. in fact we sailed 5 previous weeks on the seabourn sun. now the princendam a member of holland america.
Also on the spirit. we have one thing to say about ... Read More
My wife and i cannot express our true pleasure sailing with seabourn again. in fact we sailed 5 previous weeks on the seabourn sun. now the princendam a member of holland america.
Also on the spirit. we have one thing to say about the odyssey-perfect. the highlight of our trip was shopping with the chef. Thomas was his name and seabourn needs to keep him forever. he has a outgoing personality and is truly a delight to be around. Food, what can i say terrific. service could have not been better. 6 stars+ in every aspect. Our cruise director david was a delight and we even had his assistant ross who was marvelous, funny and extremely talented. the trivia game at 12 noon everyday was a hoot. not serious which makes it fun. we met a lot of cruisers who will probably remain friends for a long time. seabourn again, yes sir without a doubt. Read Less
This was our first Oceania cruise- and we're glad we did! I have been hearing about how great Oceania was from friends for several years, but we have become quite partial to our familiar Celebrity. We've also cruised with ... Read More
This was our first Oceania cruise- and we're glad we did! I have been hearing about how great Oceania was from friends for several years, but we have become quite partial to our familiar Celebrity. We've also cruised with Seabourne, and actually preferred Oceania in that it seemed a little less pretentious, and the specialty restaurants were wonderful.
We chose this cruise because of the amazing deal- we ended up with internet, cabin credit, free gratuities, and a drink package, as well as free shore excursions for a very reasonable price. On Celebrity, we always upgrade our beverage package to the premium one, but were really glad that we did not on this cruise. Generally, we mainly drink wine with our dinner, and don't drink a lot that isn't around meal times. The basic beverage package covers all wines and beer with meals- with no price limit by the glass. This differs from Celebrity in that the better wines are only available on the premium package. Probably different if you wanted to drink several cocktails in the evenings.
We flew into Rio de Janeiro, and elected to come three days early to go to the Iguazu Falls- so glad we did! It was very easy to arrange to just tag a one hour flight to Fos do Iguacu onto our incoming flight and carry on. We easily booked a hotel- the Viale towers- that was more than reasonable for the price and right in the middle of town, so that we had a choice of restaurants. Tip- go onto Trip Advisor- there were a few very good restaurants to choose from. Try The Mafia- lovely little Italian place- make a reservation- they will come and pick you up from the hotel. Also eat at Zaragoza- great old style elegant Spanish restaurant with wonderful paella. We found that the desk staff at the Viale were very helpful. The breakfast came with the room and it was very good, with lots of selection of hot and cold food, as well as a very good cup of coffee.
From the Viale, we took the staff's recommendation and caught the local bus to the Brazilian side of the falls- for about 1.50$. The bus stopped right at the entrance, and we only walked about one block. It was very easy to spend 2-3 hours walking around the paths at the falls and we walked over to the bird sanctuary after- about 2-3 blocks away. A lovely day! The next day, the staff arranged a taxi to take us to the Argentinian side of the falls- for about 45.00$ he helped us through the border crossing and waited for us for four hours while we were at the falls. It was nice to see them from both sides- you do get closer to the falls from the Argentinian side, but you are above them, so it gave a great perspective of their size to have seen them from below the day before.
We flew back to Rio easily, and checked onto the ship by 11 am. We just took a taxi from the airport to the ship for about 30 dollars. We were able to sit in the buffet restaurant, until our room was ready at about one. We had been offered and accepted an upgrade to a Penthouse suite so really enjoyed the extra space. The bed, as per reputation, was extremely comfortable. There was more than enough storage space, with a walk in closet, as well as many drawers in the room. We had a butler for the first time, Akshay- who was lovely, but underutilized as we didn't quite know what we were supposed to be asking him to do! He shone our shoes, ironed a few things, and helped us get reservations practically nightly for the specialty restaurants. The ship was not full, or I assume that would not have been possible. Despite our understanding that there was only one reservation at each of the restaurants per cruise, the reservation desk in the main lobby was very reasonable to work with to find reservations on a daily basis. Try all of the restaurants- Red Ginger was definitely our favourite- the duck confit and watermelon salad was so good! Because we had a penthouse suite we were also able to order off the specialty restaurant menus for room service and we did have a few of those salads along the way. The staff were amazing in the entire ship and called us by name, and remembered our favourite wines for dinner.
We had breakfast daily in the Terrace restaurant- lovely to sit outside with a huge selection of foods, juices and coffee drinks. Even dinner was very good in the Terrace when you wanted a break from the two hour multi course dining experience. The Grand Dining room was great for dinner. All in all, the only trouble was figuring out how to ration out the places to eat so that you didn't feel overfull all of the time. We finally tried the 4 pm tea in Horizons on a rainy day in Buenos Aires, and it was lovely, with a four piece string band playing classical music. The only problem with the tea was that it was hard not to overindulge and ruin your dinner!
The ship itself has many lovely quiet areas to hang out in- the library is exceptional, and adjoins the coffee shop- so you can sit and read in deep comfortable leather chairs while sipping cappuccino and munching on bakery treats. We had access to the area at the front of the spa for lounge chairs and hot tubs- also a great spot.
We went daily to the trivia sessions- Peter, our cruise director was so funny- and he seemed to deal pretty well with the die hard, very serious, fight to the death teams that were really taking themselves way too seriously.
We went to several of the entertainment shows- a British band called 5 O'Clock Somewhere were absolutely fantastic. The ships own crew were pretty good. The house band was also quite good. We enjoyed the educational lectures about the local area that were put on in the afternoons. There were no cooking classes due to some funny Brazilian laws. However, I must admit that we go on holidays to relax and love to spend a lot of time just chilling and reading our books, so I'm not really a good judge of quality of the shows- We loved the air of relaxation that the boat promoted.
All in all, I'm very happy that we tried Oceania, and look forward to sailing with them again. Read Less