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Sail Date: December 2013
Background: Traveled on a non-stop British Airways flight from San Diego. Used "Smiths for Airports" car service for transportation to/from Heathrow airport to Southampton. They were excellent and a great value. Spent one night ... Read More
Background: Traveled on a non-stop British Airways flight from San Diego. Used "Smiths for Airports" car service for transportation to/from Heathrow airport to Southampton. They were excellent and a great value. Spent one night at the West Quay Premier Inn. Nice room next to fun mall. Took taxi to port. Cabin #8132: Wonderful! Peaceful decor, comfy beds, very clean and plenty of storage space. Nice balcony too. Dining: I liked being able to get tea, orange and cranberry juice at all times in the lido. The bread/rolls were also good. Room service breakfasts were excellent and timely. The Golden Lion pub lunch menu was tasty. The dining room service was slow and the menu items just okay. I much preferred the dinner menus, selection and taste on the Holland America line. Soups, sauces and salad dressings were very bland. Shore Excursions: Took many ship sponsored tours and they were all fantastic. Well organized with knowledgeable guides. Entertainment: Music around the ship was beautiful. Night time shows were just so-so. Comedian was funny, but wish humor was cleaner. Quiz staff was polite, but lacked a bit of warmth. Enjoyed the Christmas carol singing and gingerbread houses. Disembarkation: Handled smoothly. Summary: Queen Elizabeth is a lovely and elegant ship. Very pleased overall with my Cunard experience.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
We have recently returned from a Christmas Markets cruise on QE. (13th to 23rd December). In recent weeks, it had been heavily discounted. This was probably due to its close proximity to Christmas, and sailing on Friday 13th! But even so, ... Read More
We have recently returned from a Christmas Markets cruise on QE. (13th to 23rd December). In recent weeks, it had been heavily discounted. This was probably due to its close proximity to Christmas, and sailing on Friday 13th! But even so, we sailed with an under capacity, 1700 out of a possible 2000 odd. This did affect the ambience on board, due both to the low numbers and the fact that no-one was spending in the bars etc. ( Perhaps when some were spending £40 per night all found, £6 a drink seems expensive!) It seemed like a ghost ship, but it did make many things much easier, eg not queuing overlong for the afternoon teas or shuttle buses, waiting for the lifts, choosing a seat in the theatre etc. The ports of call were the usual ones for Christmas Markets. Having been to Bruges and Brussels markets previously, when we docked in Zeebrugge, we decided to explore Blankenberge which was more interesting than the name suggests. High winds prevented us from docking in Amsterdam and we made a detour to Rotterdam, all expertly handled by Cunard in terms of reorganising shuttles etc. We stayed overnight in Copenhagen, which was lovely, as we could visit Tivoli Gardens and linger longer in the evening. We made a maiden call into Gothenburg, which unfortunately was spoilt by dreadful weather, but this was our only bad weather day. This prevented us from visiting the Christmas Markets, which are the biggest in Sweden. While we waited to disembark, I asked embarking passengers "was it worth going out in the rain?" And the answer was no, everyone could only battle with unruly umbrellas and couldn't even look up in the driving rain. We got on the shuttle bus and drove the twenty minutes into the city centre, and saw the dripping huddled queue waiting for the bus to come back, and made a quick decision to stay on the bus, albeit moving upstairs to the front seats. So our only view of Gothenburg was on a circular bus shuttle! Oslo was lovely, our second time there so we took the number 30 bus out to the Folk museum, a mostly outdoor exhibition of houses through the ages. We had some lovely sunshine and it was a wonderful experience, albeit not as well staffed as its website suggests, but it was winter! On our return it was an easy walk around the markets and a stroll back to the ship. We stayed in a Britannia Club balcony grade cabin. The cabins are on deck 8, so the highest deck, but as they are midships, it was a comfortable position, although we were not tested by heavy seas, unlike the next cruise! You could hear the footfall from the deck above, which could be more noticeable in the summer. The balcony was the biggest we have had in balcony grade, really roomy. We were given a whole bottle of bubbly and some chocolates. The so called pillow menu was a choice of two, synthetic or feather. The synthetic was lovely and soft, and the pillows were huge to match the bed. We are considering ordering a Cunarder mattress when ours is a little older! The bedding is of a higher quality, so altogether this enhanced our sleep. The steward was also one of the best we have had in over a dozen cruises, so I assume they match the more experienced stewards to the cabin grade? The restaurant was lovely, and the staff were excellent, soon remembering your little likes and dislikes. It holds about 80 pax, but as we were only numbering 24 on this particular cruise the service was amazing! There is also an a la carte section to choose from. One of the best points for us was that we could arrive any time as it suited within the opening hours, so tables for two seemed a sensible option to choose. And to be honest, and especially after having experienced a very "sociable" rail journey holiday the previous month, it was a lovely change just to relax and enjoy our own company! Another bonus was that we could order anything from the menus to be sent up for room service, which we did on two occasions, and it was lovely. The food was also the best we have experienced across Cunard and P&O, whether this was down to being in Club, I couldn't be sure, but rather suspect. These are the only differences I could see. Whether it is worth the extra money, and it is quite a bit, we remain in doubt. Perhaps save the extra and use the alternative dining venues? We thoroughly enjoyed our little pre Christmas break. After we left Oslo , Captain Wells announced an outbreak of NV and we were put on red alert, but luckily, we emerged unscathed. It was our first time on QE and she is a lovely ship. Quite similar to QV, but now one of our favourites. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Do I recommend Oceania Riviera cruise? It depends. This CC forum is full of Oceania fans who rave about Oceania gourmet foods, their elegant ships (especially Riviera and Marina.) We are no different. After being on Oceania Cruise three ... Read More
Do I recommend Oceania Riviera cruise? It depends. This CC forum is full of Oceania fans who rave about Oceania gourmet foods, their elegant ships (especially Riviera and Marina.) We are no different. After being on Oceania Cruise three times, we have come to love Oceania’s gourmet foods; clean, elegant ships, and most of all its customer-focused happy crew and officers. For this particular cruise, I like to point out what stood out for us was the crew and the things they do. First, our background: There were 3 of us on this cruise: my husband, my sister and I. This is my husband and my third Oceania cruise, and first for my sister. My husband and I have cruised about 17 times before. The cruise lines are listed below chronologically: We have cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, Azamara, Paul Gauguin, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal Cruise, Oceania. After sampling different lines, different sizes, we realize we prefer smaller ships. We are in our 50, 60’s. We are active, and love to walk and hike. Interesting itineraries, food, and service are what we look for. Second, embarkation: Our red eye flight from Victoria, Canada arrived in Miami according to schedule, around 11:30 am. We went straight to the ship, and was on the ship in no time. The taxi ride was about 15 minutes; traffic was light. It costs us $25 fixed rate. I know that is higher than last year, when our taxi charge by meter. The embarkation was a breeze. I believe that time frame was perfect, no crowd, no wait. Our cabin was not ready. We went for a light lunch. We met many familiar faces; the staff greeted us like family. (We were on Riviera in August.) We wanted to put in a few hours of shopping. Dolphin Mall seemed the closest. However, by the time we finished lunch, we did not have the time we thought we had. In addition, the rush hour traffic may delay our return to the ship, and the thought of missing this beautiful ship chills our spines. We left our belongings in the cabin (the steward was kind enough for us to do that because the cabin was not completed yet.) We took a cab to the Bayside Mall. Even though the mall was only over the bridge, less than 10 minutes, the taxi had to go around and wait for traffic lights and costs $10. The mall did not have much. It resembles those "markets", usually located just outside the cruiseship terminals, selling mass-produced “made in China” trinkets. Unless you absolutely need something like sun protection, I would suggest you skip this mall. We walked back to the ship. It took us 24 minutes to get over the bridge, and 30 minutes to the terminal. Fortunately, we did not buy much; our backpacks were light. I recommend that if you like to walk, walk to the mall from the terminal, and take a taxi back. The road back is more direct, and would have cost less, and less to carry, if you have made purchases. Our cabin: We chose suite 8000, category B1, right at the forward. We share a wall with Vista Suite, and another wall with B1 balcony cabin 8001. We chose it because the deck seemed larger than other balconies. Pros: the deck is larger. With 3 deck chairs, 2 tables, we had room to maneuver. We also like the view. The view was expansive. We like sailing into and away from ports. And one morning, the sunrise was right in front of us, putting an amazing show, front and center. With this cabin, it is like being in the front row center seat! The sight of the sun rising from the big blue ocean is something we never get tired of. Magnificent! That alone was worth it. Cons: we do feel more movement in cabin 8000. We also hear more banging noise when the seas was rough. I am a sound sleeper, and I get woken up a few times. Also, as soon as it gets dark, we have to ensure no light emits from our cabin. It has something to do with navigation at night. Just something to keep in mind. If the itinerary is such the sea is calm, and the weather is pleasant, such as parts of Mediterranean, I would definitely select a forward cabin. If you are prone to motion sickness, and a light sleeper, forward cabin is not a good selection. Disembarkation: We rarely have any problem disembarking in Miami. There were 4 other ships at port, and yet our disembarkation process was smooth. We went through custom, got our luggage, without any incident. We shared a van with other Oceania guests, heading to the airport. Only when we arrived at the airport did we find out our flight has been delayed, due to the weather in Northeast region of North America. My sister who has a later flight was planning to visit the Dolphin Mall, chose not to go because she thought time was too tight. Her flight was scheduled for 3pm. However, 2 hours before her flight, she learned that her flight was also delayed. It ended up delayed for 3.5 hours. She could have visited Dolphin Mall or other Miami sights. Spending all that extra time at the airport was not fun. But that is beyond Oceania cruise control. Maybe planning to stay an extra day in Miami in December is a better plan. Next time! Customer Service: Besides food, we like Oceania’s service. Allow me to share with you our memorable experience and illustrate their great customer service. During Captain’s welcome party, we strike up a conversation with a crew member, Ante. This gentleman was enthusiastic, polite, and very personable. He is lighthearted, mirroring my husband’s. The second time we saw Ante, at the “Loyal Customer” event, he is like an old friends to us. We learned that Ante is a concierge in the executive lounge. Executive lounge is a private room exclusive to suites. Ante was very knowledgeable and culturally sensitive. Even though he jokes around, we felt he genuinely cares. The topic turns to specialty restaurants on Riviera, and how popular they are. He then offered to check for Red Ginger for us! He does not have to do this. We don’t have suites, we were not on his deck. We were not his responsibility. Also, it is toward the end of the cruise, he and the rest of the crew were busy preparing disembarkation and embarkation process for their guests. We appreciated his offer, and did not expect much. Yet, the next morning, he left a message about some openings. By the time I got back to him, the openings were gone. Instead of saying, “sorry, I tried”, he said, “I will continue to monitor the situation. You never know.” And sure enough, late in the day, he found an opening for us. Even though it was for 2 only (there were 3 of us), we took it. Talk about going out of your way to make guests happy! He was definitely going beyond his duty for guests. This is not the end of this story. There is more. Due to our respect for Ante, and the Red Ginger staff, 2 of us showed up on time. We did not want to inconvenience anyone or add any strain to Red Ginger’s well-oiled system. Katya, the maitre D, whom we have come to know from our previous 2 Oceania cruises, immediately noticed that my husband was absent. She managed to find an extra spot for him, without making it a big fuss. To us, it is big. We know it took effort to do that on their part too. We had our final cruise dinner in Red Ginger, together! We were so appreciative and impressed. For the service, we highly recommend Oceania cruise line to those who have never tried. Having said that, I do not recommend the Caribbean itinerary (right before Christmas) to those wanting to try Oceania for the first time. We encountered disgruntled guests and heard complaints more so on this cruise than our previous 2 on Oceania. And the complaints or issues were mostly weather-related and or minor, IMHO. As we know the weather is out of anyone’s control. For example, my husband and I found it amusing when we overheard and witnessed guests requesting the deck chairs be set up on the upper deck, as the guests themselves were holding on to their hats, jackets, and to the hand rails, in the gusty wind. (The upper decks had to be closed to guests numerous times due to high winds.) In my opinion, it would be irresponsible for the crew to abide the passengers’ wishes. Second example, the lines to make or change reservations in the very popular specialty restaurants are always long. At least this time, I knew to line up in the right queue. Make sure you are in the right queue, before lining up. You don’t want the frustration of waiting for an hour, and then realizing you had to go to another desk on another deck! The 3 reservation desks are placed in different restaurants, separated by the color of the sea card. I assume it is easier for one desk deals with only one category. I have witnessed many angry guests and the strain the reservation officers went through for the first 4 days of the cruise. We were fortunate. Even though we are in the B category; the staff still managed to change 3 of our 4 reservations to early dining time. For that we are grateful. Were we upset with late dining in Jacques? No. In fact, we got to know a lovely waitress who looked after us very well that night. We cannot comprehend how anyone not enjoy this cruise! 30C weather in the sun (occasional rain), water with 50 shades of blue, and no housework for 10 days! Any day with no housework is a great day for me! Quick note on other amenities on board: Perhaps you have noticed, I did not mention the nightly entertainment, the spa facilities, and the enrichment lectures. The only entertainment we watched was the fairwell performance from the entire (almost) officers and crew. We wanted to show support. We usually walked after dinner instead. My husband and I use the gym for stretching and yoga only. The room next to the gym (one used for yoga, pilate or spinning classes) was not opened until much later in the morning. We improvised and did our stretching and yoga out on the decks, when the wind was not too strong. Every yogi needs to experience the power and magic of sun salutation in the open sea, as the sun rises out of the dark blue ocean. As for the enrichment lectures, we missed because we wanted to enjoy the sun as much as we can. However, we do watch it in the stateroom at night. In closing, I bring back the question: do I recommend Oceania cruise. My answer was, “it depends.” If you love good food, appreciate excellent service and do not take things too seriously, especially on holidays, I think you will enjoy Oceania Cruise. And if you bring with you to Oceania Cruise your open mindedness, your positive outlook, and fun attitude, you will have an amazing time! In fact, I venture to say you will have a fantastic good time no matter where you go! Enjoy!   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Regatta is small and club like. Staff is attentive and friendly without being intrusive. Fellow passengers were friendly, with few young people--mostly in 50's, 60's. Surprise for us was the entertainment--our last Oceania cruise ... Read More
Regatta is small and club like. Staff is attentive and friendly without being intrusive. Fellow passengers were friendly, with few young people--mostly in 50's, 60's. Surprise for us was the entertainment--our last Oceania cruise was too port-intensive for late-night entertainment, but this one had many sea days. Previous posts were noted, but we thoroughly enjoyed the shows we saw, especially the foursome who did reviews of Broadway and famous songsters. The location of this cabin--4023--was close to elevators and stairs, midship but more aft. It was convenient and quiet except on early morning port days, when there were a few bangs from below, where the gangway was being moved. It really didn't bother us. Our BIL and SIL had a balcony, and while we have never felt that necessary for us, considering the extra cost, it truly was lovely! The ports were wonderful, where we took private excursions with the aid of CC reviews. Dora the Explorer in Cartagena and Sebastian Hernandez in Acapulco went out of their way to ensure our good time. Elizabeth Bell sent a wonderful driver/escort, Manuel, with us in Antiqua, where his knowledge and love of his country were obvious. Huatulco was beautiful, and while we only had a beer and swim at the beach, the day was delightful. On board, the food, as always reported, was great. Service is remarkable--once you were "known" by a server, what you wanted appeared magically. I took advantage of OBC to try out the spa, and had the best massage of my life, and my first facial--yummy! Regatta is scheduled for an updating, and I hope they retain the calming, quiet ambiance! (Yes, the artwork needs some help!) Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
Embarkation at the Brooklyn Cruise terminal was quick and efficient.We were in out cabin, along with our luggage within 45 minutes of arrival at the terminal. We were dining in the Brittannia dining room for lunch and dinner and at the ... Read More
Embarkation at the Brooklyn Cruise terminal was quick and efficient.We were in out cabin, along with our luggage within 45 minutes of arrival at the terminal. We were dining in the Brittannia dining room for lunch and dinner and at the Kings Court for breakfast. Yes the Kings court does get a little crowded, but we were always able to find a seat, the food was good and the staff helpful. We were on a table for 8 at dinner. There were three other interesting and engaging couples at the table which always helps to make the dining experience more pleasurable. The menu was extensive and the food excellent. We, or the other couples at the table, had any complaints about quality,quantity or presentation of the food throughout the cruise. The service and attention to detail by the wait staff at our table was truly excellent. Lunch was an opportunity to meet other people as there is no fixed seating. Again a full and varied menu and good food. The entertainment in the Royal Court Theater was very good with two extremely talented musicians. A violinist and a Flautist, both wonderful acts. The "headline" entertainers were West End/Broadway (Chicago/Les Miserables)singer Ruthie Henshaw who gave two outstandanding performances (although she did seem to talk about herself a lot between songs)and a British comedian/TV celebrity Roy Walker. Although his act was essentially British Humor, he was very funny. The Cunard singers and Dancers gave some very accomplished shows. We normally arrange our own excursions but this year we used the ship provided excursions (yes they tend to be expensive)and we we not dissappointed. Especially memorable was the scenic railway ride in St Kitts. On the return to New York and in view of some serious inclement weather forecasts, the Captain decided to speed up to arive in New York before the storms arrival.We arrived a 11 pm with the intention of starting disembarkation at around 8 am. That night the storm droppes some 10 inches of snow on New York with the subsequent disruption to transport links it caused. Disembarkation started at 9am and went relatively smoothly considering that not all the terminal staff, including immigration personnel had been able to make it into work that morning. by the time we were on the road all the major road links into Manhattan were relativley clear so we we alble to get home without much hassle. For us this was an excellent cruise, good food, good company and a relaxed "refined" ship. No "in your face" selling, NO excessive PA announcements and an attentive and polite crew from the catain down to the deck staff. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was the first time we've been on a Cunard ship, I knew all the history, Queen Mary, Elizabeth, QE2, QM2 etc and always wondered what it would be like. We went as a family of nine to have the ultimate Christmas and New Year to ... Read More
This was the first time we've been on a Cunard ship, I knew all the history, Queen Mary, Elizabeth, QE2, QM2 etc and always wondered what it would be like. We went as a family of nine to have the ultimate Christmas and New Year to remember. Ages from two to early 60's. Queen Victoria is a beautiful ship, she looks stunning. The first thing you see inside is the Grand Lobby, that sets the tone for the rest of the ship. We had a ocean view cabin on deck one and we were impressed. The best cabin we've stayed in so far. Queen Victoria is big enough to hold her own, but small enough to feel intimate. Actually it's the first time we've built up relationships with the crew. I love the feeling when you wake up early and it feels like you're the only one on board. Magically feeling. You can feel the history and spirit of the past, but in a modern setting. The Playroom (2-7 year olds) kids club is amazing. The best kids club on the seas. The team transformed our voyage by providing the best care possible for our two year old son, just enough time for us to have a break but able to leave him with confidence. Queen Victoria provided carol singing on Christmas Eve in the Grand Lobby, kids party with presents from Santa in the Queens Room. New Years Eve was very special, amazing atmosphere, the best one ever. Negatives: Some of the older passengers can be rude and at the start of the cruise look down at you because you have kids. But then again we're Cunard's future passengers and the crew made us feel amazing and loved the kids, they made such a fuss of them, they got to know them on first name terms. And by the middle of the cruise the older generations had mellowed out and enjoyed the company of the kids. We were really impressed with Cunard's Queen Victoria, the history oozes out in the right way on an ultra modern ship. We can't wait to get back on board or even try out Queen Mary 2 or Queen Elizabeth.   Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
If you're thinking of jumping ship from a mainstream cruise line and fancy giving Seabourn a try hopefully this somewhat extended review will prove useful. One of the difficulties I found was that a lot of the reviews out there are ... Read More
If you're thinking of jumping ship from a mainstream cruise line and fancy giving Seabourn a try hopefully this somewhat extended review will prove useful. One of the difficulties I found was that a lot of the reviews out there are written by long time Seabourn customers who have certain expectations and if they aren't met their writing is biased towards those variations from tradition. If the bread sticks are anything but the regulation 12 inches all hell breaks loose. Dare I say it there is also a bit of snobbery in some of the reviews, when such and such, "a good personal friend of ours", was hotel manager things were much better. Or else wines will be compared to fine vintages costing the per diem room rate of most cruise lines. I witnessed Louis XIII being served at $110 per 1oz measure which just about covered the bottom of a glass. Several glasses were enjoyed. I have no problem with that but it's safe to say drinking Louis XIII with such gay abandon probably wouldn't be the norm for most of us. The other type of review contains the phrase, "considering how expensive this cruise was I can't believe........" Price is very subjective so all I will say is our cruise on board Seabourn Sojourn was roughly on par with a premium cabin aboard Royal Caribbean. With this in mind we joined the ship with no particular expectations, we were prepared to take things as we found them and certainly didn't penalise Seabourn based on the price paid. Having experienced Seabourn for myself I consider it great value for money. Our standard balcony suite on deck 5 was slightly smaller than a Royal Caribbean Grand Suite, 300 square feet of inside real estate with the addition of a 65 square foot balcony. Decor was modern and fresh, condition excellent bar balcony furniture which had aluminium oxidation and bubbling paint. The bathroom was magnificent, double sinks, a bath and separate walk in shower, natural stone finish, soft floor mat, luxury Moultin Brown products - for a cruise ship it could not have been improved on. Actually there was one thing, the sink taps were not Grohe. When you went to turn them on the lever action felt plastic rather than smooth and luxurious, but hey, I'm having to dig pretty deep to find fault. We boarded the ship in Port Everglades Fort Lauderdale, dropped off the luggage, went away to hand in our hire car and got driven back to join the ship. No queues, no whistles blowing, no shouting, no horns just smiling faces. The check in process was measured in seconds rather than minutes, staff were on hand in the terminal with drinks if you needed one - we didn't as we weren't there long enough. Walking onto the ship we were greeted by a line of Stewards, our hand luggage taken and we were directed to the various lunch options. Choosing the patio grille there were a choice of several spare tables and we soon found ourselves enjoying a drink and a bite to eat all courtesy of waitered service. Contrast this to the scrum associated with mainstream cruise lines and you start to see the Seabourn difference. Muster drill was taken very seriously and we were seated in the dining room throughout. Sojourn is a modern ship, a miniature version of what we are used to on Royal Caribbean. Finishes and materials used around the ship are similar, it's just smaller but then there aren't the number of other guests. It's like being on board during departure day when 90% of the other passengers have left. The other thing of course is pretty much everything you touch do or taste is included within your cruise fare. A cafe latte in the Seabourn square or an ice cream, included. Drinks around the ship, included. Speciality dining, included as is wine with dinner, liqueurs afterwards and so on. It is possible to spend money, premium wines, the Spa, casino and shore excursions would be the main beneficiaries as would the two shops, one of which sold jewlery, the other clothes, day to day bits and pieces and some costume jewlery. The sense of freedom in not having to keep signing for drinks is significant. Being able to ask newly found friends if they want to join you for a glass of something encourages discussion. On Royal Caribbean we are diamond plus members and so enjoy the use of the Concierge lounge and diamond lounge prior to dinner where complimentary drinks are served. Some of our best friendships have been formed in those gatherings, with Seabourn the whole ship is a VIP lounge. At no time does Seabourn come across as being mean with their offerings. Not once did I have to ask for a refill of my wine glass at dinner and cocktails are freely poured. Each night there will be a suggested wine with dinner but if you wish to try something else that is no problem at all. My request for the Petit Chablis was positively encouraged and the glass topped up accordingly. Throughout the cruise I was addressed by name and the wine waiter asked if I would be having the Louis Latour Chardonnay which became my standard dinner drink. There was a Stags Leap which proved popular as well. The staff really are magnificent. You see the same faces throughout your cruise and they remember your preferred choices. We are low maintenance customers and in the main things arrived before we had to ask but if there was something in particular we fancied then nothing was too much trouble. We ordered caviar and champagne by the pool on Christmas Day, all included within the fare. Contact with senior staff is regular and direct. You will see everyone from the captain to the hotel manager, the cruise director to the chief engineer on a regular basis. You don't have to fight for an audience with them as you would on a regular cruise line. This means any feedback is direct and any problems you did encounter could be dealt with promptly. I have to say we didn't find cause to complain, any discussions we had were to compliment. Despite dining at different tables throughout the cruise food preferences or special requirements follow you around the restaurant. Rather than a concierge desk with people waiting in line there are 4 desks in the middle of the square on deck 7. You are seated at a table when discussing things. We had a problem with a credit card which had been blocked, the concierge phoned our credit card company for us and there was no charge. Several reviewers have criticised food in the past. What their palettes require is beyond me. There were some stunning dishes served up in the main dining room. We enjoyed a very flavoursome scallop starter, as good a ribeye steak as I've tasted cooked to perfection and a hazelnut chocolate desert which delivered both richness and texture. I also enjoyed the most magnificent medallions of veal which melted in the mouth. If in doubt ask your waiter for recommendations, they have a menu briefing each day. I spoke with the executive chef Martin Kitzing on several occasions to compliment his team on some individual highlights of what was a superb dining experience. As well as the main restaurant there is restaurant 2. A much smaller more intimate affair which serves up a tasting menu of several dishes, changing on a rotational basis. The concept of a "premium" dining venue is not unique to Seabourn. Other lines have similar offerings and do the job very well. What sets Seabourn apart is the fact there is no additional charge to eat in Restaurant 2. Nor were we obliged to purchase a premium wine or pairing package. We asked for one of the house wines we had previously enjoyed and that was no problem. Neither were we charged for desert wine at the end of the meal. Dining in restaurant 2 really brought home the differences between Seabourn and conventional cruise lines. I wouldn't say the food was any better than the main restaurant, merely different. That isn't a slur on restaurant 2 more a sign of just how good the food in the main restaurant is. The number of people we meet grows as the days progress to the point where is is rare not to say hello to an "old" friend whilst walking around the ship. In the main guests are older than us but age doesn't have to be a barrier. There are some real characters and with the years come tales to recount. We are travelling with a 13 year old daughter and so that sets us apart. Notwithstanding a crew members wife and daughter there is only 1 other child on board. I know many Seabourn cruisers would rather not have minors on board, I can only say Emily has enjoyed her cruise and has met with no negative comments. To be fair she probably isn't your average 13 year old in that she shows maturity beyond her years and knows the etiquette required when dining and so on. She is also happy with her own company. There were no specific activities arranged for children so do keep this in mind. Given her cruise fare was identical to an alcohol drinking adult an idea for the future might be to include unlimited internet for any minors onboard. This would go a long way to alleviating boredom and also reduce the impact of kids on adult guests. An occupied child is a happy one and an unseen one! It would also seem a fair trade for the ban on any form of alcohol. I know Seabourn aren't looking to specifically attract children but when casting the net for new customers it is inevitable that people with school age children will be amongst the passenger roll call. Don't laugh but I attended some ballroom dancing lessons taught by Anastasia and Sergii the house dancers who are fantastic and lovely people. From a dancing perspective I have two left feet and am beyond hope but such is the inclusive nature of the ship I though I would give it a go. Dare I say it there was a glimmer of hope after each 45 minute session. Being that bit younger I had all but written off the entertainment. I'm not into musicals and Seabourn were never going to be able to match the magnificence of Royal Caribbean's lavish productions. Like everything else on board the entertainment has over delivered on my expectations. Smaller intimate shows more akin to an after dinner club than a theatre. The in house troupe consists of an excellent house band, a classical guitarist, a lounge pianist, several singers and the 2 dancers who fill a stage with their energy. There is also a cruise director, Annabel and her assistant Dan. Annabel had more energy than the Duracell bunny and constantly toured the ship involving everyone. The singers and dancers attended many of the evening parties to add life to the event and provide dance partners when required. Seabourn is a very gentle environment which seeks to include everyone. As well as the in house entertainment team there were guest entertainers which varied from a concert pianist, a magician, comedians and a singer. In all cases the entertainment was enjoyable. Some acts appealed more than others and you have to remember Seabourn caters for a very genteel section of society. The comedians in particular were extremely restrained with their clientele who include some "interesting" characters. Rich pickings for a more traditional comedian who feeds off an audience. We had a regular mid day quiz which sparked much debate and rivalry. On odd occasions a word choice or answer caused debate which extended long beyond the event. We had an intimate name that tune which was well received by attendees and featured the live keyboard skills of Jamie. There were guest speakers on various subjects and a bridge tutor in the card room. Sadly the beginners class started at 9.00am so I was unable to attend. Maybe on another cruise. There is a small casino on board. When we embarked 2 tables were set up, 1 for Blackjack, the other Caribbean Stud Poker. Sadly only blackjack was ever played, the poker top was replaced with another blackjack baize. To my mind blackjack is just a slow way to lose money, with a top odds of 1.5 to 1 for a blackjack you are never going to get excited. With the poker game 8 to 1 or even 20 to 1 is a real possibility and as a result the tables tend to be good fun. I walked in to the casino on two occasions with money in my pocket, on both times I walked out having not placed a single bet. I did speak with the casino staff who said their instructions from head office were that only blackjack was to be played that cruise. That, "from head office" is the only worry I have as the cruise comes to an end. Holland America / Carnival corporate head office tell everyone on board what will and won't be happening to the point where on the ground spontaneity could be lost. You will never see karaoke on Seabourn for instance. Guest "talent" shows also fail to make an appearance which is a shame. You get to know your fellow guests very well and so there would be a lot of support for performers in the room. This means that in spite of entertainers and staff getting to know their guests better than probably any other cruise line the chance to personalise and enrich is lost. The whole experience will always be a little bit sterile. You might argue safe rather than sterile but to my mind there is a bit of room for adding spontaneity especially on longer cruises. The one exception to this were the Christmas and New Year one off shows where guest acts, in house performers and entertainment staff all mucked in to put on excellent entertainment. The New Year show in particular lasted 90 minutes and held the audience well. Seabourn has a very loyal customer base. Of 450 guests over 350 were return cruisers. With this in mind the company has to be careful not to upset the apple cart but if they are to move forward I do think they have to allow staff on the ground to read the audience. A bit of impromptu late night singing amongst a crowd of "regulars" isn't going to upset more reserved quests probably tucked up in bed long ago. Similarly organising an additional activity or two to cater for a particular crowd who happen to be on board would positively enrich their experience. Would this sterility put me off returning? No it wouldn't, not for the moment. But it might mean I eventually tire of the product and end up nit picking my experience looking for any variations on previous experiences. Does this sound familiar ! The one thing we weren't blue to experience was the on board marina. This was a great shame particularly for active people such as ourselves. I understand that weather conditions have to be just right for the marina to be set up, sadly this wasn't to be on our cruise. About the writer: We are well travelled both on land and water visiting places such as Thailand under our own steam organising all the elements of the trip ourselves. Although somewhat formulaic cruising has it's place in our lives. At 47 years of age we are diamond plus members of the Royal Caribbean crown and anchor loyalty programme. Living just outside London we are familiar with good food and have eaten in some excellent Michelin star restaurants however we are equally comfortable in our local Italian. We know what we enjoy wine wise but don't consider ourselves connoisseurs. We are generally pot half full people and look for the best in any situation. We travel overseas several times a year and turn left when boarding the plane. We have been looking to explore the luxury cruise market for some time.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
The Amawaterways staff was outstanding. The ship was great. We were on the top floor with a Juliet balcony. I thought that the tours were wonderful as were the local guides. The food outstanding(except we've had better bread on big ... Read More
The Amawaterways staff was outstanding. The ship was great. We were on the top floor with a Juliet balcony. I thought that the tours were wonderful as were the local guides. The food outstanding(except we've had better bread on big cruise ships). Free wine, beer and soft drinks with meals a plus. The cruise line was very classy in our opinion, giving us Christmas presents and bon voyage presents at the end of the cruise. The entertainment at night was very enjoyable. We loved the free wifi and internet in each cabin. We did think though that it was too cold to travel in Europe then. We only saw Christmas markets 1 day in Prague. Christmas day everything was closed and we had to scrounge to find somewhere for lunch before we got on the ship. We had too much time to kill in Wurzburg waiting to reboard the ship. It was too cold to walk around. I would DEFINITELY recommend this cruise line to everyone....just not in the winter. Our cruise director, Sebastien Leroy was also wonderful. It was outstanding working out in the gym, watching the castles along the river...but the gym should have an elliptical as well as bikes and treadmill Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
The embarkation was very easy, though it was busy. We dropped off our hand luggage in our cabin and then went to have a buffet lunch. Everyone smiles! A very nice atmosphere. The gym has excellent, modern equipment. There is an excellent ... Read More
The embarkation was very easy, though it was busy. We dropped off our hand luggage in our cabin and then went to have a buffet lunch. Everyone smiles! A very nice atmosphere. The gym has excellent, modern equipment. There is an excellent choice of DVDs to watch in the cabin. The library must be the largest on a small ship. Some quibbles: 1. $27.99 per day for wifi! Much cheaper off ship. e.g. in Grand Turk in the shopping area in the port go to "Froots" where it is free. In other ports we went to a café and for the cost of a drink were able to log on. In Castries, St. Lucia wifi in shopping centre in port area costs $5 per appliance for whole day. 2. Head phones at gym cost $9. Bring your own. 3. They add 18% to every liquor item from a drink to a bottle of wine. Why? Wine prices are similar to those in a good restaurant. The wine selection is good. 4. The food is very good with a good selection in the four speciality restaurants...difficult but not impossible to get additional reservations. 5. The buffet restaurant for dinner is nice with a good selection. Be aware! Though in all the other restaurants one can get to the restaurant at 9pm, at the buffet restaurant they start clearing the food away promptly at 9pm. We had arrived at 8:45pm, no one warned us that the food was about to disappear. 6. Polo, Toscana, and Jacques and well worth going to. The lobster in Polo is very good! If one does not enjoy water sports, there is not much to do in the Caribbean Islands. We did enjoy visiting George Washington's house on Barbados. This was more a "reading" holiday. The black and white chairs on Deck 14 are very comfortable. The music near the pool is not too loud...a blessing! We have cruised with Oceania 4 or 5 times now. The service is good, people smile, the afternoon tea is good. A lovely cruise line. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
Just returned from a near-perfect cruise and journey in all aspects. This was our fifth cruise overall (Seabourn, Azamara, and Celebrity previously); and our second cruise with Crystal. Crystal knows how to do it right! Celebrating the ... Read More
Just returned from a near-perfect cruise and journey in all aspects. This was our fifth cruise overall (Seabourn, Azamara, and Celebrity previously); and our second cruise with Crystal. Crystal knows how to do it right! Celebrating the holidays on a 6* ship plus experiencing Antarctica at the same time does not get any better. We were constantly amazed at how incredibly well Crystal provided for nearly 900 passengers + 500 crew, cuisine-wise, entertainment-wise, and service-wise. Exceptional quality and variety! We also like the demographics of fellow passengers: from all over the world and of all ages (we are 61 and 77 respectively). There were nearly 70 well-behaved children, ages Itinerary: Buenos Aires to Valparaiso Dec 20/21 - BA - we did on our own; we stayed at Caesar Park Hotel (excellent) and dined at NY Times recommended restaurant Tarquino's in Recoleta (seafood), a short walk from our hotel. Tarquino is for those who are not fans of beef or lamb. It is very stylish and non-traditional, if you are looking for the latest in dining adventures in BA! We did a Milonga tour in the evening and city tour the next day, both very expertly provided by Cultura Cercana Tours, in addition to airport/port transfers. (Andres and Mirta expertly navigated us through the city maze to Milonga venue; Flavio was our awesome guide for the city tour). Dec 21 - Embarkation in BA was flawless: well-signed, organized, and efficient, even though we had heard that BA embarkation facilities were not the best. Dec 22 - Montevideo - we enjoyed our day here, again pre-arranged with Cultura Cercana; we knew that Sunday the shops were closed, but we knew the Sunday market was in full swing (colorful and very local). Crystal had cancelled their Jewish sites shore excursion here well ahead of time via their website due to closed venues), so we advised CC ahead of time we were interested in seeing some Jewish sites. We had a great time with our 22-yr old novice guide, Emiliano, protege of CC's Bruno; he loves history and his city so we really got the most out of it, including a great seafood lunch at the seaside. Later back on the ship, we found most folks had not enjoyed their experience here. With a little pre-planning and research, one can get the best out of any place! Dec 23 - at sea - marvelous! Love the service and staff onboard! And the cuisine is divine! Dec 24 Puerto Madryn - this was the only Crystal shore excursion we took, because we were a little worried about making it back in time for departure. We should not have worried. We did the Punta Tombo excursion. The destination and the amount of Magellanic penguins (mixed with guanacos!) you could walk amongst did not disappoint. The drive there and back (2.5 hrs each way) isn't pleasant any way you slice it, but unfortunately the guide on the bus did not have the best command of the English language, so she was very difficult to understand. Had we arranged a private tour through CC, we could have easily asked our guide to repeat and explain better in the more intimate setting of a small vehicle. Next time.... The town of PM is not anything to write home about, but is only a jump off point for the Valdez Peninsula, Punta Tombo and other Patagonia wildlife areas and Welsh towns. Other folks we talked to onboard enjoyed their excursions to Valdez Penn. to see the sea lions etc. Back onboard, Crystal put on a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner. BTW - The decorations that Crystal had all over the ship were astounding and were all managed/maintained by 'Santa's Elves'. Very smart. And I don't think any cruise line tops the entertainment quality that Crystal does. Their in-house ensemble cast of singers/dancers/entertainers together with guest entertainers provide night-after-night quality and variety. Really impressive. Dec 25 - Christmas at sea - wonderful with Santa handing out presents to the children; Crystal's signature Christmas brunch with ice sculptures and phenomenal variety of cuisine was a huge WOW. Dec 26 - Boxing Day - Falkland Islands - this was a highlight for me (not so much for my husband); I love remote, expansive, unique places and interesting geology, fauna, and flora, so I was in heaven. We were lucky to be able to tender into this sometimes inaccessible place (40% of the time ships can not tender in due to weather/seas). We pre-arranged thru Nyree at Estancia Excursions a 4WD tour to Volunteer Point King Penguin colony. VERY bumpy ride to and from over non-existent roads, but amazing scenery, history, local commentary, and loads of King and Magellanic penguins. They should sell "I survived the ride to Volunteer Point" t-shirts! Do not miss this experience if you are waffling. Bring British Pounds with you to pay for the tour, as no ATMs in Stanley and only one bank. We were there on Boxing Day and also one of the days of the Stanley horse races, so again we knew some shops would be closed. But cruise business here is big, so some tour operators were working and a few tourist/handicraft shops and cafes were open. Cold and windy, but not rainy. Bring your warmest clothes! Dec 27 - Drakes Passage southbound - relatively calm seas so we were very lucky Dec 28 - arrived at Elephant Island at tip of Antarctic Peninsula; weather mixed but first glimpses of Antarctica were surreal; continued down to King George Island; amazing sunset tonight (11pm or so) Dec 29 - sunny weather with gorgeous white clouds for perfect photos; King George Island to Esperanza Station and Hope Bay in Antarctic Sound; AMAZING humpback whales and Amelie penguins everywhere with lots of icebergs; photo ops were continual. Hate to go to sleep, as the scenery is epic 24hrs a day (although the sun technically sets btw 12midnight and 2am, it is always light). Continued to Deception Island - again a gorgeous day with amazing Antarctic backdrop scenery; huge colony of chinstrap penguins at the deceptive Deception Island (so named because it looks like a round solid island from a distance, but is actually hollowed out with a narrow channel inside.) Dec 30 - to Gerlache Strait and through the very narrow Neumeyer Channel to Anvers Island. Again, picture-perfect weather and amazing scenery. We were lucky to transect this channel, as it was too full of ice the week before. If we were successful in getting through, we would be the first ship of the season to do so. We made it and continued to the U.S. Palmer Station on Anvers Island where we were able to pick up two zodiac loads of researchers and scientists there. They gave a great presentation on board and Crystal thanked them with lunch onboard and boxes of fresh produce and other goodies to take with them. A class-act all the way. At the end of the day we headed north into Drakes Passage once again. A bit heavier seas this time, but not bad. Dec 31 - New Years Eve bash onboard - another out-of-the park Crystal celebration - great entertainment, dining, and NYE party. One of our best, land or sea! Jan 1/2 - Ushuaia - 6pm arrival; clearing from some earlier rain; we disembarked to walk around this fun adventure-seekers town; beautiful backdrop mountain scenery. We were both down with minor sniffles and purposely did not pre-book any excursions here, as we knew the weather could be unkind. The next day, it was pretty overcast and drizzly and as others went off for 'scenic' shore excursions, we chose to take the morning off and then independently went through the wonderful Maritime and Prison museum, well worth a look. Jan 3 - Punta Arenas - again we did not pre-book any excursions here, again due to iffy weather, and we still had our colds, so we walked the town for several hours, using our guide book and had a wonderful seafood (King crab!) lunch at Sotito's near the port/water. A good way to spend the day if you are not excursioning. Jan 4 & 5 - at sea in the Chilean Fjords; cold, blustery and cloudy, but still amazing scenery with waterfalls and glaciers down to the sea. Many folks stayed inside behind salt-sprayed windows, but if you braved the outside decks you were rewarded with some interesting color and clouds for photos. Jan 6 - Puerto Montt - we pre-arranged an excursion here with Cultura Cercana to Petrohue Falls, Osorno volcano, and Puerto Varas. Our guide was the very good Claudio, who with his wife, Ingrid (an English teacher), are the guides here for CC. Claudio was very informative and responsive and whisked us away from port ahead of the excursion coaches and smartly headed directly to Petrohue Falls first. This was a gorgeous site with glacier-green waters. We then headed to Osorno volcano, which was shrouded in low clouds. The drive up was interesting for me from a geologic and flora perspective (beautiful native flowers in bloom), but the whole point of going to the top of the volcano is for the view, which was non-existent. Claudio probably should have had us go back to Puerto Varas first to walk around and have lunch, then go up to the volcano as the day cleared, as it usually does. Still, all in all, it was a pleasant day and we are glad we did it privately. Jan 7 - at sea along volcano alley; gorgeous weather as we progressed up the coast with one-after-another impressive volcano; again a photographer's dream with interesting cloud formations. And of course we enjoyed a final sun-drenched day by the pool to work on our tans! Jan 8/9 - disembarktion Valparaiso + Santiago - Valparaiso is a big, non-user-friendly port, but Crystal bussed us from ship to terminal and our luggage was ready there and very organized for quick retrieval. We again arranged transfer and tours through Cultura Cercana. This is the only time CC has let us down, but they quickly redeemed themselves. Leonardo (CC has 3 Leo's there, one of whom is the boss) was our guide for Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, and the Casablanca wine valley en route to Santiago. This Leonardo's English was sub-par, he was a bit late to meet us, and his greeting sign was pretty bad, so we were not pleased. He was not organized in how he toured us through Valp. and it is important when you do this crumbling heritage city that you have a good introduction, otherwise you come away frustrated and disappointed. It was very difficult to get any information out of him, so we didn't.... We did have a good visit at the winery Casa des Bosques and had a great lunch (on our own) there. We continued to Santiago where Leo left us at our hotel (arranged on our own). We stayed at the boutique Le Reve in Providencia, which we like a lot - quiet street amongst some of the best restaurants and cafes and near other upscale areas, such as San Sebastien. We had dinner at the hotel's recommended seafood restaurant a few blocks walk away, Aqui esta Coco. Outstanding cuisine as well as decor. Highly recommend this. I also contacted Cultura Cercana re our guide Leo, and they immediately remedied the situation by having the owner of their local office take us on a complimentary city tour the next day. Very smart and we had a great time, so we ended our trip on a high note. All in all, a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime trip. Nothing but the best regards for Crystal. The only exception is that from here out they will be charging a supplement for more than one dining reservation at each of their fine dining venues, Silk Road and Prego. Perhaps they will reconsider after a year and resolve the special dining venue demand differently. FYI - we used LAN Airlines, business class and were very impressed. FYI - Our cabin (Deluxe with veranda Cat A) we knew was not on the large size, as cruise ships go, but because Crystal Symphony's public areas are so spacious and inviting, we do not feel cramped in our stateroom. I do recommend the balcony even in cold destinations, because access to fresh air and unobstructed views for photos is important. Also we purposely chose a starboard cabin for this departure which definitely did afford the best immediate views during our right-to-left journey from BA to Valparaiso. AND one final important note - the onboard destination expert, Ed Larson, and the other enrichment lecturers, as well as our 'ice pilot' were all excellent additions to our experience. It would not have been half as interesting without their involvement!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
I sailed transatlantic in a Queen's Grill Suite with my dog in the kennels. I have not cruised before, but have for many years enjoyed only the best travelling around the world for business. This was by no means a cheap trip, but I ... Read More
I sailed transatlantic in a Queen's Grill Suite with my dog in the kennels. I have not cruised before, but have for many years enjoyed only the best travelling around the world for business. This was by no means a cheap trip, but I felt it was areal value, an opinion shared by many others I met. Boarding was delayed due to the snow in new York, but the "dog people" were boarded with priority to minimize contact with other passengers. We were immediately taken to the kennel, left our dogs there and went to our staterooms. Luggage was either there already or very shortly after. My suite was spacious and very tasteful. Huge closet space which could take my 6 bags, king bed. Bar set up and 2 bottles of liquor included. Nice big balcony and 2 big windows. This suite includes a Butler and I can only say that it was like having one of my own. A phone call was all it took and all requests met with a smile. The same for the room steward - both were happy to talk and share experiences. I noticed that they, as did all the crew, weighed up a passenger to see how much and what kind of interaction was appropriate. In my case they correctly realized that I am very open and like to talk and get to know people and this is what they did. Queen's grill restaurant is very formal but again barriers broke down quickly and each guest was treated a little differently according to their type. Food was for the most part excellent, with huge amount of choice and imaginative daily specials. No-one could possible fail to find something they like. I can imagine that some cruisers may find Cunard just too formal, but I like that on special occasions, which this Cruise was too me and apparently to many others who were clearly enjoying it. The care for my dog was outstanding - only 12 kennels and only on transatlantic crossings, so "Cunard Dogs" are a pretty exclusive bunch and accordingly had QM2 jackets, crossing certificates and a photo shoot! We all agreed that it was one of our best dog experiences ever. JoJo the Kennel Master was a natural and installed total confidence in all the owners. Disembarkation was the same professional procedure - dogs off first and bags waiting - we were outside just about 45 minutes after leaving the stateroom. As one who is not easily impressed, this is a very memorable travel experience for all the right reasons. A truly professional operation from booking to disembarkation, with well-trained staff and excellent service.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
We spent the night in the Marriott Panama City but booked ourselves instead of through Windstar and saved over $100 each doing it independently. Very nice hotel in a great location with pool and helpful staff. First impressions of the ... Read More
We spent the night in the Marriott Panama City but booked ourselves instead of through Windstar and saved over $100 each doing it independently. Very nice hotel in a great location with pool and helpful staff. First impressions of the Windspirit was ‘great’ which was unfortunately rather muted after the 1.5 hour coach ride to Colon from Panama City having to listen to the tour guide drone on for most of the journey. Disembarking the coach and finding our way to the Windspirit was also very shambolic with no direction, signage nor Windstar representative but we all found our way in the end to the refreshing air conditioning of the ships main reception. Registration in the lounge was a little amateur but we got through it and were then directed to our cabin. Warmth and hospitality of the ship staff are one of the biggest plus points of the voyage with staff soon learning your name. Our cabin on deck one amidships was very comfortable but showing a little wear despite the recent refurbishment that took place. Our cabin steward was very helpful, friendly and made our stay very enjoyable. Depending on what muster point you are allocated for your lifeboat there is a clear difference in the quality of staff and the amount of information you receive from them. One hopes there will never be an incident. Without going into too much detail the other passengers on the ship were very friendly and nice people and we made friends with several. The entertainment was everything you would expect, and we wanted, from a small ship i.e. just a piano player which was very good. We didn’t take up the drink package as not value for money! We do like two or three cocktails/wine in the evening but it just did not work out financially as a good deal. We did, however, take up the laundry package which was great and well worth it. The food was lovely! We really enjoyed Candles on the pool deck although you do need to pre-book. The main restaurant AmphorA was very nice too with great service. My partner and I both need to go on a diet after all the great food which was always available. Windstar promote their ships as ‘private yachts’ and that is how it really felt. You wouldn’t have noticed 148 passengers on board. We went through the Panama Canal which was scenic but once you’ve done one lock that’s about it, but it depends on your individual interests. Christmas day was spent on Isla de Coiba in the Pacific. What a paradise and fantastic day on the beach, bbq and first real day on a beach in the sun. I would recommend you do detailed research on the ports prior to the trip and plan your own outings. Most companies will pick you up at the dock as part of the package if you wanted to do some zip line for example and they most definitely will be cheaper than booking through the ship. There may have been faults with either the ship, trips out, staff etc but we would most heartily recommend Windstar and are already looking at sailing with them again. This is the next best thing to having your own yacht so enjoy!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and I took the 8 night Christmas voyage on the Quest. I've written a more detailed trip report with photos on the Azamara forum of Cruise Critic but here's the more compressed version. Dining: excellent. We did not ... Read More
My husband and I took the 8 night Christmas voyage on the Quest. I've written a more detailed trip report with photos on the Azamara forum of Cruise Critic but here's the more compressed version. Dining: excellent. We did not dine at the two specialty restaurants this time but will do so the next as they looked very inviting. We ate mostly at the outdoor Sunset Bar, having gotten our food at the Windows Cafe buffet. Each night had a different theme--Asian, French, Turkish, etc. The staff was always willing to tell you about the food if you didn't know what all the items were. The dinners we had at Discoveries were delicious and service was efficient and unobtrusive. High marks there. Public Rooms: very traditional decor that was considerably enhanced by contemporary artwork, carpets, and accent items. It all worked beautifully together. Cabins: we had a V3 deck 6 balcony cabin that was lovely. We were wondering how we'd like it since the cabin is a bit smaller than you'd find on newer ships but it was all good, no small part due to the adequate storage we found. Even in the tiny bathroom! Entertainment: Russ, the Cruise Director, is very engaging and did a great job hosting all the evening shows, which were cruise standard singing, dancing, and the like. We thought the cast did a fine job and the guest singer was fabulous. We attended two lectures, one of which had us hanging on every word (given by Mario, the Art Director) and the other of which was a yawn. Spa: didn't go to the spa except on a ship's tour the first day. Everyone seemed excited about the big showers that were available for anyone to use. When we saw the itty-bitty shower in our cabin we understand why. LOL Family and Children: given that it was a Christmas cruise, there were plenty of families on board. I didn't notice many--if any--children though. Shore Excursions: we did several and were extremely pleased with all of them. Azamara hires plenty of transportation for their tour groups and we were never crowded. The tour guides we had were engaging. Even without the discount (sadly no longer offered) I would have no qualms about booking excursions through Azamara. Embarkation: easy and well-organized; same with getting off the ship on the last day. Service: stellar. This is what Azamara is known for and rightfully so. This ship has a crew who is professional, genuinely welcoming, and attentive to your needs. Azamara's best selling point in our books. Value for Money: what appears to be expensive at first glance readily reveals its value as the cruise days pass. We had plenty to drink. Wine, beer, standard mixed and water are included. Not all brands but we didn't feel the need to upgrade. The full list of included and not included is on Azamara's website so we knew beforehand what to expect. We had free laundry because of our loyalty status but there's a laundry room as well so you can do your own washing and ironing if you so desire. Gratuities were included in the fare. We really liked not having to consider additional expenses once we boarded and this added to the relaxation factor. Summary: we loved our first voyage with Azamara. The crew made us feel like special guests. We walked off the ship more relaxed and happy than we have on any other cruise we've taken. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
We have really enjoyed our cruise aboard the Quest. We have to start at the top and Compliment Captain Jose for a fantastic job in running the ship and taking the time to be sociable and friendly with the passengers. I don't know if ... Read More
We have really enjoyed our cruise aboard the Quest. We have to start at the top and Compliment Captain Jose for a fantastic job in running the ship and taking the time to be sociable and friendly with the passengers. I don't know if this man ever sleeps. The Quest is a fantastic ship and cuts through the waves smoothly. One night we experienced a bit of rock and roll but again the ship handled it great. The entire crew were unforgettable and just lovely people. We were particularly impressed with the shops and how they were run. The entertainment was mini Las Vegas with cruise director Russ putting on quite a show. the ports of call, although I was concerned, turned out to be perfect choices. There is really nothing but good to say about this whole experience aboard the Azamara Quest. This is an unfair question since we were spoiled on our last cruise aboard The Celebrity Equinox where we had a huge balcony cabin.  The Quest was a comfortable balcony cabin but unfortunately with the small veranda they placed a huge table and two chairs. Barely enough room to move around and robbed some of the comfort. Disembarkation was fine, BUT. The cruise line arranges the transportation from the ship home. It took us 23 hours to get from Miami to Vancouver, Canada. We as usual get up early and then follow instructions and go to the airport where this bus bus driver drops us off miles from the United Airlines Terminal. Looking out the door in front of the terminal shows a road letting people off and on buses etc. right at the United Airlines counter. Let me remind you that folks on the Azamara ships are not spring chickens. Then we have to walk all the way to the other end of the airport for the gate. Now we wait for hours. Then we finally board and again have to walk miles at the Houston airport to the United gate. Only after waiting further we are told we have to move to another gate at the end of the airport again. The United Airlines or their staff did not impress us in the least. Anyway, it went on and on. The bottom line is the Cruise line should co-ordinate the schedules to accomodate the traveller. We got up at 6:00am which is 3:00am Vancouver time and my head hit the pillow at home at 2:00am Vancouver time the next day. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
We spent 4 nights in Hong Kong then flew over to Singapore for a two night stay that we booked on our own at the Mandarin Oriental. The service throughout the hotel was outstanding and the location within walking distance of Marina Bay, ... Read More
We spent 4 nights in Hong Kong then flew over to Singapore for a two night stay that we booked on our own at the Mandarin Oriental. The service throughout the hotel was outstanding and the location within walking distance of Marina Bay, Skypark, Gardens by the Bay, and other sites was perfect. We chose this cruise for the itinerary that took us for 3 nights to Yangon, Myanmar, overnight in Phuket, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The port that we could have done without is Belawan, Sumatra, Indonesia as the bus ride from the port to Medan was one and a half hours each way with really nothing to see other than piles of garbage. The palace, Great Mosque, museum were nothing special. This was our 3rd cruise on the Journey and our second with Captain Johannes Tysse and his "twin brother", Eric DeGray as Cruise Director both of whom we really enjoy for their sense of humor. Embarkation was real easy with no wait. Disembarkation from the ship was easy with the exception of the long, long, long lines from the ship to Singapore Customs and you can't blame the cruise line for that. Activities on board were adequate and nothing special. Entertainment: I'm very hard on comedians and I don't care for magicians. We did enjoy the production shows. Service throughout the ship was very good with special thanks to Slavko from Serbia and Agnes from China in Discoveries Restaurant for making each meal a dining experience. Dining in Aqualina, in our opinion, was worth the $25 each as the service and food was outstanding. Service in Prime C was outstanding, but the food nothing special. You could always find something for breakfast in the Windows Café even if you could not find a place to sit. The same goes for lunch. The Pool Grill had some great hot dogs and I don't usually eat hot dogs! Our cabin 7036 was clean and comfortable and the complimentary laundry appreciated. The AzAmazing evening in Yangon started well with vendors and finger foods and crafts, but when one moved on to the evening, the food was cold, you couldn't see what you were eating, nor could you see the performance unless you were at the very front. The highlight of this cruise was the overnight excursion to Bagan at $700 pp. I can't say that we've ever seen so many pagodas, temples, and monasteries all in one place with all of the gold leaf, plate or paint. The sites were awesome. The Aureum Palace Hotel was a total surprise and a 5 star experience. www.aureumpalacehotel.com. If you go, bring cash as the hotel does not take credit cards and be sure that your US$'s are crisp and issued after 1997 and has the right size head and bring your swim suit as the pool is beautiful. Overall, we enjoyed the itinerary and the onboard experience did not disappoint.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our first experience traveling with Oceania. We usually choose our cruise based on the itinerary. We had always wanted to see Easter Island and Pitcairn Island so we booked the trip. Oceania was offering free air as well as free ... Read More
This was our first experience traveling with Oceania. We usually choose our cruise based on the itinerary. We had always wanted to see Easter Island and Pitcairn Island so we booked the trip. Oceania was offering free air as well as free internet and prepaid gratuities. They also offered $500 in onboard credit and our travel agent also gave us $500 in onboard credit. Even with inflated wine and drink prices we would have a hard time spending that. We chose to take a credit for the airfare and used frequent flyer mileage to get to Santiago and fly back from Papeete. This gave us a little more flexibility and allowed us to stay on for a few days at the end of the cruise. We flew down from Los Angeles on LAN Chile and we are very impressed with the service LAN offered. We spent a couple of days in Santiago pre cruise and then took the bus down to Valparaiso. The ship offered transfers but they were expensive. The bus from Santiago was about $8 and very easy to take. Very modern Mercedes buses leave about every half hour for the 2 hour trip. Check in was super easy. We were onboard about 20 minutes after we arrived. Of course our cabins were not yet ready but we hung out in the upstairs restaurant having a light lunch while we waited. It wasn’t long until we could get into our cabins and stow our carry on luggage. We then explored the ship. We mostly have cruised with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Holland America. We quickly noticed a big difference in that Oceania isn’t always trying to sell you extra stuff. There were no photographers trying to get you to pose for pictures. That is not to say there were not opportunities to spend money. There is a small casino but there were not really that many people playing in it. Wine was expensive (least expensive bottles were around $35 but most were closer to $50 and some were in the hundreds) When we first got on, they were selling a wine package where if you bought two bottles you got a 20% discount and if you bought 3 bottles you got a 30% discount. We had a lot of shipboard credit so we used some on wine. Our cabin was quite spacious and the bath was fantastic with full bathtub as well as shower and granite counters and tile. The shower was a bit small so it made it a bit difficult to bend down if you dropped the soap. Still it was without doubt the best bathroom of any ship we have been on. The bed was extremely comfortable and we had a large balcony. The one design drawback was the closet access was limited by the location of a bedside table. It just meant that to access it, you had to lean way over. The room stewardess kept the room made up and always seemed to have it ready by the time we returned from breakfast. One small early complaint was that they forgot to bring ice several times. After I told them I really liked having ice, my ice bucket was filled twice a day. The food. What can you say that hasn’t been said a thousand times. It was the best we have ever had on a cruise. We were allowed 4 reservations at the specialty restaurants and we visited them all. We also could make additional reservations the day of, and managed 3 more visits. Red Ginger was our favorite but I couldn’t really see the need for being offered 6 different kinds of chopsticks. If we were not at a specialty restaurant, we ate our meals in the main dining room, usually asking for a share table. We met so many interesting people over dinner. The cliental on this ship were very well traveled. One dinner we sat with a couple that were taking their 53rd cruise and the other couple were on their 35th. Many dinners extended beyond 2 hours, partly due to the interesting conversations, and partly due to the wait staff not hurrying you to clear your table for more diners. In fact the main restaurant was rarely crowded. Many people were in the specialty restaurants and people in more of a hurry were eating in the buffet. We did eat in the buffet one night and it was very good for a buffet but it still didn’t have the elegance of the main dining room where you were treated like royalty and waited on. Still, the food at the buffet in the evening was just as good as the food in the main dining room, with lobster tails available every evening – not something we had experienced on any other cruise. The tours. We arranged tours for Easter Island and Bora Bora in advance with local tour companies. They cost less than half what the ship was charging and we saw a lot more. The only advantage I could see with a ship tour is you had priority for the tenders. We did take the “Le truck” bus tour around the island on our second day in Bora Bora but that was because we had extra shipboard credit to use up. The shops. They supplied the ship when they were in Barcelona so by the time the ship got to Valparaiso, there was not all that much available to buy in regards to clothes. They had a lot of high end jewelry but overall, the shops were small with limited selection. And we were surprised that there was no liquor store on board. Wine was available for purchase but that was the only alcohol. We were pleasantly surprised that they had a very good bridge program onboard. They had two excellent bridge instructors who taught lessons and then every afternoon on sea days, they had a duplicate game. We usually had 12 tables and they gave out ACBL points if you were an ACBL member. One disappointment was we never got to land on Pitcairn island. I had read prior to the cruise that usually the ships don’t land passengers due to the difficult harbor and the changing sea conditions but we had hopes we might be the lucky ones. Alas, we were not. A group of Pitcairn islanders did come out to the ship and they set up a bazaar in the observation lounge where they sold all sorts of stuff they make on the island. (honey, moisturizing cream, wood carvings, stamps, postcards, T-shirts and a whole lot more) They are trying to build a new harbor on the lee side of the island but for now, if you go to Pitcairn and want to actually land, you better go on a smaller boat and pray for absolute calm sea conditions. Entertainment was only so so. They had one show at 9:45 each night.. I liked the magician and have no idea how he did what he did. I was very disappointed in one of the comics as his material bordered on racism as he mocked the accents of Latinos. I just thought it had no place in a show, especially one that sailed from Chile and had lots of Spanish speaking folks on board. The music was sort of hit and miss. They had one lady who had been in a number of Broadway shows and she could really belt out a song. I kind of look at the entertainment as sort of a bonus. You don’t take an Oceania cruise for the shows. My overall impression of the cruise was very favorable. It was a little more expensive than what we were used to but the value was there. I will sail with Oceania again if I find a cruise that has an interesting itinerary at a time that fits my schedule.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
Last year I was in PG. This time I did QG. I did my own unpacking. The only two things the butler did for me was to bring me my canapé munchies in the early evening and a bottle of Drambouie. Not his fault, I just didn't need ... Read More
Last year I was in PG. This time I did QG. I did my own unpacking. The only two things the butler did for me was to bring me my canapé munchies in the early evening and a bottle of Drambouie. Not his fault, I just didn't need anything else and preferred to unpack and pack myself - in part because I decided to go on to Southampton - some of my luggage I sent home when we docked in NY. My room was lovely. I did have to move for the second part, this second room needed some repairs as the coffee table was very wobbly and the waste bin in the bath wouldn't stay closed - previous tenants must have been a bit rough. For the first three days the food was not very good. I actually considered going to King's Court.I think it was after the first port the food greatly improved. Don't know why except everyone was very unhappy. Never did like the lobster - it was way over cooked. Streaky bacon was cooked beyond recognition - but, I understand this is the way it is prepared in England. Shameful. Anyway, once we left the first port, food was otherwise very good. And, the service improved. No complaints here. I thought both trips were lovely. At least this year, I didn't get the dreaded (with good reason) norovirus. I heard some people got sick this trip so made sure my hands were clean at all times and never touched fresh fruit or anything I had to touch with my hands unless I had first used sanitizer. The number of people who did get sick must have been very low. I didn't think anything looked tired. But, then it has been several years of wear and tear since the last refurbishment. A lot less Christmas wrapped doors... I liked last year's Christmas gift better. What does one do with just one cup? Thought I would have a great time dancing, but it never occurred to me dancing styles would be different! So, it took several days to work that out - what can I dance with who... There was one couple who thought they owned the dance floor but after too much time I guess someone told them to tone it down. I do have to say that I thought the games Jessica played in the ballroom, though apparently enjoyed by many, were a bit silly. They interrupted dance time! I guess it was called a Sequence Dqnce, but that was fun to watch the officers of the ship have some fun! I thought the dance hosts did as good a job as can be expected with a number of solo female travelers wanting to dance. They have a hard time keeping very one happy and there were a couple of women who seemed to like to complain. They did their best. The orchestra was very good, as well as Michael Chartier. Vibz was good but a of couple songs went on forever - with jumping up and down kind of dancing. Not my cup of tea. I never went to the disco - every time I looked in it was empty. Last year I spent most nights in there with my table mates. Speaking of table mates, both years I have thoroughly enjoyed them! Spent many nights in Royal Court Theater. I do have to agree with other posters that the RC singers were not that impressive - not sure if it was the sound system or just them. At least this year, my ear drums were not blasted out of my head every night. As for the TA part of my trip, it was a bit rocky a couple of nights - other nights less so. I was told the trip from Southampton to NY was very rocky! A number of people suffered seasickness. When I was trying to decide if I was going to do the TA, I asked if it would be better another time of year - one can never tell was the answer. So, I stayed on board and went to the UK. Very glad I did. I have wanted to do a TA since I was a teenager. I will have to do it again! Overall? Great trip! Were there bumps in the road? Of course, but I didn't let any of it interfere with my wanting to enjoy my trip! Cunard? My cruise line of choice!! I did see other ships, but none that harkened me to give them a try.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and I researched all the Antarctic cruise choices thoroughly. Some ships are very small without stabilizers but they allow passengers to make zodiac landings. Other ships are large but because of the limitations of the IAATO ... Read More
My husband and I researched all the Antarctic cruise choices thoroughly. Some ships are very small without stabilizers but they allow passengers to make zodiac landings. Other ships are large but because of the limitations of the IAATO rules which state that only 100 people are allowed to go ashore at one time, they do not make any landings. We picked Seabourn Quest because it is mid-sized, offered zodiac landings in the Antarctic, plus we knew we would be more comfortable and we thought they would look after us well. The Antarctic is an unforgiving place, the Drake Passage is one of the worse bodies of water in the world, and we wanted a ship with a strengthened hull and good stabilizers. The itinerary was excellent: busy but with some days at sea to rest a bit. We began in Valparaiso and made our way down along the Western side of South America. The Chilean Fjords are lovely, and shore excursions there interesting and fun. But everyone started to get more and more excited when the captain announced that, because there was an opening with good weather, he wanted to make a run across the Drake to the Antarctic peninsula sooner than scheduled. We would be in Ushuaia a day ahead and then head south. At Ushuaia we took on an extra pilot with experience in ice filled waters, who had previously served with the US Coast Guard in Alaska. So now we had 2 pilots, plus there was a large expedition team of naturalists, zodiac drivers, and researchers on board to help. The Quest took about 400 passengers, so we rotated in groups to land once we arrived at the Antarctic peninsula, and it worked out very well. We were always carefully looked after. They helped us in and out of our gear, helped with antiseptic washing down of clothing, equipment and the like, and were scrupulous in efforts to prevent contamination of the environment. We had extra landings whenever the weather permitted, and went to South Georgia a day earlier than scheduled, so had more time there where we saw more amazing wildlife. Captain Larsen was very flexible with the schedule, and seized every opportunity he could to show us more and more places. But we had to be flexible too - one day we were out in zodiacs when he blew the ship's whistle and all the zodiacs had to hurry back to the ship. We had to leave there quickly, because the wind had changed direction and sea ice was starting to close in around the ship. (At about this same time we were getting reports of a ship trapped in ice in the Roth Sea, and icebreakers had been unable to reach it.) We had wonderful lecturers, many with years and years of experience in the Antarctic. Of course Seabourn serves great food and the liquor is all included, whatever you want. Yes, Seabourn is a luxury line and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. But I will remember this trip as the trip of a lifetime. It was worth every penny. I can not think of one "con" about this cruise. Everything was wonderful.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
We had been on the Quest in 2012 and thought nothing would be able to beat that experience, but we were wrong. The Journey also provided us a wonderful cruising experience and the crew from the Captain down should be commended for making ... Read More
We had been on the Quest in 2012 and thought nothing would be able to beat that experience, but we were wrong. The Journey also provided us a wonderful cruising experience and the crew from the Captain down should be commended for making everyone feel so at home and comfortable on the ship. We flew into Hong Kong via Singapore from Adelaide, Australia arriving late at night and took the wonderful airport train to Kowloon station,then a taxi to our hotel Novotel HK Nathan Road. We had an Executive Club room, the most compact club room we have ever been in with a very difficult to use lighting system. Breakfast next day was excellent in the dining room downstairs. We spent the morning before boarding visiting the HK History Museum a very interesting and spacious musem and a lovely walk from our hotel. We took a Taxi to Ocean Terminal a 5 minute ride and boarded at 1pm and because we were in a Club Continent Suite had priority boarding so were onboard in about 15 minutes. There was a long line for non suites, but lots of checkin in staff to handle this. We were in 8047 starboard side and our Butler, Crooxie, and Room Attendants, Kadek and Esmail looked after our cabin and us wonderfully well throughout our cruise. Our suite came with 2 bottles of house Champagne from the Captain and the Hotel Manager and 4 bottles of included liquor, which we exchanged for 3 bottles of Bombay Sapphire and one of dark Rum, which we found difficult to get through with all the wonderful included cocktails now on offer. We also had a fruit basket and fresh canapes from cheese plates to prawn plates and various other lovely treats throughout our trip each day. We could also have afternoon tea in our suite which was tea/coffee with scones, jam and cream and various cakes and biscuits, but believe me we didnt partake of this too often as it was just too much food. The suite had new carpet and curtains and was well maintained and the bathroom although it had a shower curtain was not clingy as we had a bath as well, which helped with that problem. Life boat drill was at 5.30pm after boarding and we had dinner the first night at Windows Cafe with some of the others from our Roll Call who we were doing private tours with. It was Seafood night and there was a huge array of seafood including bbqd prawns, scallops, and squid and then of course the Light and Sound show and sailaway up on deck made a fitting and lovely end to our day. Next day, a sea day, we had our CC Roll Call get together at 10.30 am provided by Azamara and there was a large number of us,around 50 and we were given tea/coffee and cake/biscuits and welcomed by Captain Johannes Tysse and Cruise Director, Eric de Grey, Hotel Director, Heike Berdos and Future Cruise Director and CC Host Dina Stuehler, (who is about to go to the Quest full time). Eric asked everyone to introduce themselves by name and CC roll name and give information about where we were from and how many times we had been on Azamara we then met up with our fellow private tour members and chatted to several others, before heading to the pool deck where the menu special was a grilled chicken club sandwich which we enjoyed with the best fries at sea and a Pina Colada and Tropical Lemonade, all delicious. You leave your order and they will find you whereever you sit. We then went and booked another cruise with Dina to get the onboard cruise credit and had a look at the World Owners Suite aft, which they were giving to whoever won bingo that afternoon. A rest and then smoked salmon, prawns and other canapes with a G and T and Rum and Coke on our balcony before dinner, which we enjoyed in Prime C. The show that night was the Azamara Singers and Dancers performing numbers from various movies and was excellent. Next day was our overnighter in Halong Bay. We had organised a private boat with 12 other CC members and were picked up by our guide Zoom from Vietnam Package Tours at 8am. This was a wonderful way of seeing Halong Bay, even though it was overcast and misty all day. We disembarked at Surprise Cave (Hang Dau Go) walking up steep steps to access it and then walking through the huge cave complex beautifully lit. Walking back down to the junk we passed many local traders on their boats selling seafod, fish, fuit and vegetables and souvenirs, all very colourful. We then had a seafood lunch on board cooked prawns, stuffed crab, pippies, fish, and squid, breaded pork steamed cabbage and rice. All delicious. We visited Tip Top Island before heading back to the ship. US$89 pp paid by paypal in advance, very easy and good value. That night was Dinner under the Stars which was a real hit as there was an Asian buffet with noodles, fried rice, chicken legs, satay pork, spring rolls and lots more, including a stir fry station and bbq. The entertainment that night was also great. Amanda Poulsen singing Epics under the Stars (Memories, Ive got you under my Skin, Nesan Dorma and some other operatic favourites) Then we had a salute to Michael Buble with Alex Mac who had a great voice and was backed by the Azamara Orchestra and people were up dancing in no time. A great night was had by all. Hoi An was our next port of call. Hoi An is a 45 minute drive south of Danang port where we docked and for this instead of taking Azamaras Do It on Your Own at US$99 pp, we visited the Concierge and arranged a Minibus for 8 with driver for US$450 for 6 hours. Well worth the money and US$60 pp instead. Hoi An was a delightful town and well worth a visit. We were shown around the usual art factory and silk factory but they were all interesting. Then we had a guide from Hoi An take us around the main sights. This ended up at another factory which we declined to visit and spent the rest of our time exploring and then found a lovely local restaurant where we enjoyed the local beer and salad and satay. Discoveries for dinner that night was very enjoyable, with clam chowder and roast lamb cutlet. The show was Sioban Philips, who gave us a fabulous evening of song and comedy, a very funny night. The lecturers on board were both very interesting. Dick Farkas gave insights into all the countries we were visiting in the way of politics and culture and economics, his topics included Hue, Culturally and Geographically half way between HCMC and HANOI:Can Communism survive Entrepreneurs and Dr Chris Whelan whose talks were more economically oriented and extremely interesting. His topics included United Nations on Trial-Mission Impossible;The Euro and the Dollar-A Race for Supremacy. We thought the entertainment was fabulous on this cruise, a real step up from last years on Quest. Our other ports were Saigon where we cruised right up the river and shuttles were provided for our short trip into the town, dropping us off at the Rex Hotel, where we had a wander admiring all the Xmas decorations and then an enjoyable and tasty lunch. Bangkok was our next stop and my big birthday which we celebrated on shore at a beautiful Thai restaurant in the Sukothai Hotel. Fabulous and original Thai food with flavour and heat. The next day we had organised a private tour with a group of 6 others from CC with Bangkok Private Guides and we were taken on a guided walk of old Bangkok including the Golden Buddha, China Town, the flower and silk markets and then a fabulous long tail boat ride along the Chao Phraya river then into the network of Klongs (canals) where we fed Koi fish at a temple with bread provided by the monks and admired the water scenery along the way, returning to the Chao Phraya by a lock after dark. It was a wonderful 6 hour trip and our guide Ms Aom was outstanding. We were picked up next day and taken to the Maeklong Railway Market, a real sight for sore eyes and so interesting, then onto a coconut plantation to admire a beautiful old traditional teak house and try coconut milk and sweets. Then to the Damnern Saduak Flower Market. Ms Aom arranged two boats for the 8 of us so we had lots of room and other than the noise from the very noisy 2 stroke motors on the Long Tail boats, we were well paddled by two delightful "old" ladies, and once away from the main market area, we visited some of the smaller quieter canals, narrow enough for just one boat and where we could really appreciate this water life style and see how the locals lived. It was a wonderful experience. We would thoroughly recommend this tour company as Ms Aom could not do enough for us, buying us treats to eat, drinks, stopping for a light meal the first day as we werent back till late, and on leaving us giving us each a tiny brass elephant for good luck. We were blessed in meeting her as she bought Bangkok alive for us all. We then had a day at sea before arriving into Singapore at Harbour Front terminal. We thought the meals in all the restaurants were very impressive and Windows cafe was also good and although its small, it serves up a good choice of foods. We mostly ate dinner in Aqualina or Prime C as these are included in the fare of a Suite and we met some delightful others to dine with, so had some very sociable nights here. Discoveries Restaurant, the main dining room, was also excellent. We think Azamara deck night Buffets were fantastic. The included wines and cocktails more than met our needs, and we liked the fact you could ask for a previous days offering if you didnt like what was on offer that day. We would LOVE to see a Cava or Prosecco included onto the free list as thats something that is really missing, and everyone we spoke to said the same thing. Come on Azamara!! We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and had some wonderful experiences with new friends we met on board, and have two more booked for next year. We love the ambience and friendly casual feel of Azamara and think the crew and everyone on board do a remarkable job. Thank you to all the wonderful people we met and the crew who made this cruise for my 60th birthday very special.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
The trip started with the big DFW snowstorm. Had to sleep in Admirals club in MIA after many hours of delay DFW, more delay MIA. Luggage went to NY, and I arrived in Rio day late, no bags. Met a friend right away, also with lost luggage ... Read More
The trip started with the big DFW snowstorm. Had to sleep in Admirals club in MIA after many hours of delay DFW, more delay MIA. Luggage went to NY, and I arrived in Rio day late, no bags. Met a friend right away, also with lost luggage and managed to tour RIO for several hours before boarding Symphony. Crew was great locating all the lost bags and gave great service regarding laundry and follow up. Christmas decorations were wonderful and the cabin very nice. I travel Solo, so a room alone price was reasonable. Have been on 12 cruises on various lines and Crystal is the best overall value for the quality. The excursions could use some price lowering or upping the trips, but still a great cruise line. I had a window only cabin, and was pleased. Stateroom attendant was fabulous. Meals great, piano bar fun. Shows actually good and we got the postage stamp disco going nightly. Met friends easily and sat with other Solo travelers at late seating. Perfect !! I am booked on a back to back AKL-SYD-BALI in Nov 14.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
Well it has been a while but I thought to write a review anyway! It was all about two weeks of relaxation and getting spoiled from the great “ White Star Service” as Cunard calls their Service rules. This cruise took place December ... Read More
Well it has been a while but I thought to write a review anyway! It was all about two weeks of relaxation and getting spoiled from the great “ White Star Service” as Cunard calls their Service rules. This cruise took place December 2013 ! From Southampton to Southampton! Canary Islands! Pre Cruise stay: Prior the cruise I stayed three night in The Goring, London- Belgravia! Now THAT was an experience in itself- dear me! It is a very small Hotel, compared to the other Hotel chains!! Still family owned and it still bears the name of that family- Goring! After an hour everybody know ones name, how they do that I have no idea! The ideal spot for people watching, which I love, was the Lounge, Bar and Tearoom. Very elegant but a bit over the top- anyway I enjoyed every minute of it- and would go there in a heartbeat! For example I ordered my usual tea, the first cup was poured from the white gloved waiter. When this delicious cup went down nicely and I was about to pour my next cup- out of the blue or somewhere a waiter appeared ( in white gloves – of course) and took the teapot out of my hand and said that is his job to do. Dear me, heaven and hell! When my sandwich arrived- I was hungry as usual- I waited and waited – that some waiter may appear ( in white gloves- of course) to hold the sandwich whilst I bite on it. Well he seems to have been busy- I went through the ordeal of eating it with my own ungloved hands. That just won´t do- and a complain letter is already on it´s way. LOL! ( THAT was a joke of course…) The Goring is very close to almost everything weather by bus, cab or in walking distance- depends how much “ walk “ one can take! Ground- Transportation: Then the time came for Cunard to take me from the Goring to Southampton- I expected a bus with fellow cruisers, who were taken on at the airport. No such thing! A nice limousine was waiting in front of the Hotel – the driver already waiting for me to leave the Hotel. I was nicely seated in the back, two bottles water next to me – well that’s a way to go Cunard I thought. The bus would have suited me perfect – but I won´t complain about this nice , fast and very “ posh” transportation to Southampton! Embarkation in the Queen Elisabeth Terminal in Southampton was also quick and painless- worked like a charm – very, very well done Cunard! The Queen Mary 2, the Service , the Style and the “ Royal Show” : The cruise itself was great, the ship , well, QM2 is not to compare with any other ship, she is unique- VERY VERY BRITISH! As I like it! ( oh well that sounds almost like a Shakespeare Play) Even though I sailed her before I forgot how big “ Proud Mary “ really is- quite a walk from there to there- which is good, helps burn calories. What I love is that wonderful real teak outdoor promenade which wraps around the whole ship with wonderful views out to the sea. There are no Rock Climbing walls, no ice rings and so such things. Gives one the real ocean liner feeling. In the Service and food compartment Cunard is to compare with Celebrity- in some ways Celebrity shines, in some Cunard! What I found a bit too much or in this case “ overboard” were the many formal nights- five all in all in ten days. THAT IS – even for me ( I have no problem with dressing up – still…) a bit too much! Informal means , Jacket required , tie optional . We had a simple ( well as “ simple “ as Cunard goes..) Gala, then a black and white ball, a fancy dress ball, Royal Ascot ball- that´s how they called or themed their formal affairs! The Royal Ascot Ball was something not to be missed- many Ladies with a hut in the Dinning room and afterwards in the Queens Room. They made a “ Lady with hut parade” the one with the best hut won a bottle of bubbly ! That´s what I called “ The Show” – so much fun to watch- and all served with this great British Humor! The Destinations : The Canary Islands were great ( Madeira and Tenerife were my favorites) - but almost in the way- and I thing they experiences there were all over these boards often anyway! For me the ship is much more the destination than the port of calls! The post cruise experience: The Debarkation went as well the beginning- so only praise for Cunard here as well! The drive from Southampton to London Heathrow – well that was the bus then, but as soon as I sat down I fell asleep anyway- happens always with me in buses – I don´t know why! Went as well as could be! Fast and efficient! Final Thoughts: All in all a very recommendable cruise experience and a very very recommendable Ship! If Cunard would get the right deals for both solo cruises and couples I would exclusively sail Cunard- but their prices are sometimes a bit over the top- in other words you get more days at sea or more time on board for the price you pay on the other mass market cruise lines! Preferably HAL or X – which are also mass market- of course , but more in the premium segment, with little touches other cruise lines have long forgotten or fell victim to the all too obvious cost cuts. Michael Bayer   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
I have taken over 35 cruises, different sizes, destinations, etc. This was my second time on the Paul Gauguin and after having such a wonderful cruise the 1st time I was afraid that the second time wouldn't live up the what I ... Read More
I have taken over 35 cruises, different sizes, destinations, etc. This was my second time on the Paul Gauguin and after having such a wonderful cruise the 1st time I was afraid that the second time wouldn't live up the what I expected. It was actually better. The service was beyond belief. I had a bout of sciatica and had trouble walking. They actually loaned me a wheel chair for the whole cruise and treated me like royalty. When we were in Moorea it was raining very hard. The restaurant by the pool is covered but you have to go outside to get there. A lady was getting up from her table and a bus boy ran over to her with an umbrella and walked her to the stairs. That is what I call service. The food was exceptionally good both in the selection and quality.It does sound a bit pricey but for what you get it is an excellent value Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2013
Throughly enjoyed the ship, the destinations, the cruise and the staff were fabulous. We were fortunate enough to have the wonderful Willie Aames as our Cruise Director and he went above and beyond to engage with all the passengers from a ... Read More
Throughly enjoyed the ship, the destinations, the cruise and the staff were fabulous. We were fortunate enough to have the wonderful Willie Aames as our Cruise Director and he went above and beyond to engage with all the passengers from a simple hello whilst eating in breakfast at Waves by the pool to being at the end of the steps when leaving the ship to go on shore and ensuring we didn't trip. No other cruise director ever since then has done so much to engage with people and ensure a safe and happy trip. I only wish we could have him as a cruise director on every ship. This was magnificent cruise in terms of destinations and experiences. We embarked in Barcelona which is a beautiful city and port with the port being right in the city. We then sailed quickly across the Mediterranean overnight to Rome - it was quite rough at sea as there were storms about and it felt like being in a washing machine - I was filled with some dread that the entire cruise would be the same but the rough weather only lasted that first night. We then visited Naples and Pompei, Patmos Greece, Ephesus in Turkey and it was wonderful time of year to go there as the weather was mild. Then followed Rhodes in Greece where we encountered a rainy day and then Limassol in Cyprus which was so interesting and I have fond memories of sitting in the square having coffee. Then an amazing 3 days in Israel where we visited Haifa, Jaffa and Caesaria. The Suex Canal transit was beyond amazing and we saw some incredible ships travelling back and forth and enjoyed the Egyptians waving to us from shore. Cruising the Red Sea we then sailed to Jordan and spent two days in Aqaba. Then we cruised the Red Sea for 3 peaceful days of smooth sailing before beginning the cruise of the Gulf of Aden and spent our time trying to spot the pirates - we found none. The Captain has reassured us that he was in touch with international forces all the way. Salalah in Oman was the next port of call followed by Muscat in Oman and we visited the Sultan's palace. The cruise ended in Dubai in the UAE and we did an amazing troy from dawn till dusk of Dubai covering so much of the city. We disembarked in Dubai the next day after experiencing an incredibly memorable journey. Unlike some other Oceania cruises the entertainment on this cruise was quite good with some solo performers. Thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Regent did a great job of making the trip as seamless as possible. The flight from Houston was non stop to Frankfurt and small hop to Venice. The water taxi from the airport to the hotel was nice (we rode by ourselves), ... Read More
Regent did a great job of making the trip as seamless as possible. The flight from Houston was non stop to Frankfurt and small hop to Venice. The water taxi from the airport to the hotel was nice (we rode by ourselves), accommodations(Hotel Excelsior) in Venice were upscale, and the water transfer to the docks was pleasant. Boarding the ship was quick (Champagne as you arrived), everyone was processed in the Constellation Theater. Luncheon buffet was served in La Veranda and the cabins were ready within two hours of arriving on the Voyager. The cabin appeared just like the brochure showed (well appointed and plenty of hangers in the closet). Well appointed cabin with a large closet and bathroom. The closet had plenty of room for two people, suitcases, and enough hangers for your clothes. The bathroom had separate tub and shower, and shelves and cabinet storage. The mini-fridge was kept stocked and the Welcome Champagne was a nice touch. The bed was comfy, plenty of pillows, and the linens were soft. Plenty of room in the cabin to have friends over for evening drinks. Shore excursions were well organized but when traveling in Europe walking surfaces are rarely flat or smooth surfaces. All the dining venues were great, but the main dining room, Compass Rose, is not open early. If you are taking an excursion, La Veranda, Pool Grill, or room service are your options. We enjoyed the evening entertainment (plenty of variety - Don't miss the Crew's show) and the afternoon Tea. We did not visit the casino, the internet cafe, gym or spa. We tried each of the lounges but preferred Horizons and Observation lounges. We opted for extra days in Istanbul (on our own), so we left the ship late. We walked for the ship claimed our luggage and had to to leave the port terminal to meet our hotel transfer. Overall, if you like being spoiled, I would recommend sailing with Regent. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
It would much quicker to mention the few things that weren't perfect, but this cruise deserves a full report. From start to finish we were impressed with efficiency of the staff. Their level if service is so high, and yet is ... Read More
It would much quicker to mention the few things that weren't perfect, but this cruise deserves a full report. From start to finish we were impressed with efficiency of the staff. Their level if service is so high, and yet is accompanied by what feels like genuine warmth. Getting on board was as smooth as it could be. I don't think I will ever forget jigging down the corridor to have a sneaky peek at our room before many people boarded! I was so excited. The room was spotless, thanks to Wendy, and well designed. I loved the twin sinks and the walk in wardrobe. Each visit to the main restaurant was a delight. Each and every meal was like eating in a Michelin-starred restaurant. We liked that Roger described the wine of the day, with a little info on where it came from. Not once did I need to ask for my water or wine glass to be replenished. My husband drinks Diet Coke. He likes it without ice or lemon. Those waiters remembered this from our first day aboard. I don't know how the do it, but they are professional, friendly and efficient. Every night we visited the little intimate Groucho bar for pre dinner drinks. Albert greeted us by name, prepared our favoured tipple and acted as the perfect barman and host, a truly charming person. We met some wonderful people, one couple I hope we will remain friends with. There were just a few not so wonderful travellers, those who treated the staff as if they were their own personal servants...it made us cringe. Poor Alan the waiter, but he dealt with it with complete dignity. Impressive. One or two people seemed to be paying staff to hold sun beds for them, this is quite wrong when some people were unable to find places to be out of the sun. Guests, you should be ashamed of yourselves! One of the excursions in St Lucia deserves a mention. We were taken in a mini bus to a hotel, a long and bumpy journey. We were given an ok lunch then an 'opportunity' to see the rooms in this luxury hotel. We were then left to sit outside for about an hour until it was time to leave. It was very hot, we weren't offered a drink, or use of the pool. The swim off the catamaran was ridiculously short. We paid a lot of money for what was essentially a sales opportunity for the hotel. We felt conned. Big time. Other than these annoying issues, we would thoroughly recommend Silversea. A wonderful trip that we will never forget. In case you're reading this, a huge thank you to the wonderful people that made this very special holiday very very special. Read Less

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