We chose this cruise because we haven’t been to the Canary Is., and were looking forward to visiting. As explained earlier, we still haven’t visited them.. The Captain Did the right thing by avoiding the 70ft waves that hit ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we haven’t been to the Canary Is., and were looking forward to visiting. As explained earlier, we still haven’t visited them.. The Captain Did the right thing by avoiding the 70ft waves that hit Tenerife. The Company did the wrong thing by not crediting our accounts or offering some compensation for the missed ports and fuel savings.
it was also wrong to not totally reimburse passengers for the price of booked tours.
Embarkation and disembarkation were handled efficiently.
We will not let Oceania book our airfare again. this was their second chance. this time we travelled for 21 hours joining the ship in Barcelona from Phoenix.
we actually enjoyed the 8 sea days with no schedules to keep or ABC tours to take.
did a bus tour on our own in Malaga, a very lovely town.
entertainment on board was to our liking. Yes, the production company is young. But, unlike some, the singers can indeed dance, and the dancers also can sing. a few flat notes here and there. If you want Broadway caliber, those BIG ships or Broadway are the Place for you.
all on board staff, except one front desk guy seems to be happy doing their jobs and were very kind.
We did meet two women who enjoyed soaking In their tubs. Most of us wish the showers had taken the place of those tubs which just took up valuable space. How small? well, If you dropped your soap you had to open the door to be able to bend down and retrieve it.
Hubby says this is the best food at sea, Regent is right there in the running too.we enjoyed all the specialty restaurants. Food at Jacques, as you may guess, is very rich. the main dining room offers a fine selection each meal as well as the waves grill and the big buffet.
the special brunch buffet featured all the ice carvings and specialty desserts, and beautiful fruit and.vegie displays. Read Less
Third time on the Voyager, and sixth sailing RSSC. Good news: the regular cabins are still great; house keeping still strong and service oriented; refurb quite good; great menus in the restaurants; alhough food is very good, quality no ... Read More
Third time on the Voyager, and sixth sailing RSSC. Good news: the regular cabins are still great; house keeping still strong and service oriented; refurb quite good; great menus in the restaurants; alhough food is very good, quality no longer outstanding, and quite inconsistent; service WAY BELOW standards we always loved. Never had to ask for coffee, water and beverages in the past —— this time it was the norm. Wifi was the WORST! Regent probably had no choice but to give it for free.
Been involved in mergers and acquisitions —— understand how new owners assume that they can operate the new acquisitions better and more economically than previous owners. In my opinion NCL either reduced F and B staffing or have new members that are not well trained.
Captain and crew did a great job navigating the storm! Felt sorry for the room service waiters —— they really had a workout!
Took our first Crystal cruse last year. Other than cabin size, service and food was superior. Read Less
QM2 – NY to Southampton 11th to 18th November 2018
My wife and I are in our mid-60’s and have sailed with Cunard now for 125 days or so since 2011 on all their ships. QM2 is not our favourite ship, but we took advantage of ... Read More
QM2 – NY to Southampton 11th to 18th November 2018
My wife and I are in our mid-60’s and have sailed with Cunard now for 125 days or so since 2011 on all their ships. QM2 is not our favourite ship, but we took advantage of their offer this last summer to, effectively for free, include two nights at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Times Square (room only – normally c300$ per night), plus transfers from JFK to the hotel and from the hotel on the 11th to the cruise terminal. You had to book by telephone or via a travel agent and not online. I insisted on an early morning flight for Friday 9th, this meaning we would have at least 50% of Friday in NY + all-day Saturday, rather than arriving late-pm US time as most did. We booked the cheapest inside cabin for this voyage as there is not much to see from a balcony but sea, mist, waves and rain at this time of the year.
How did it all go?
The flight was with BA leaving at 0830hrs UK time arriving in JFK c1100hrs US eastern time. BA actually supplied a decent breakfast and service was fine and flight ok. We pre-booked our seats and checked-in online before the flight.
On exiting JFK Arrivals, we were met by two very nice Cunard reps’ who greeted us by our first names. It turned out we were the first two on the day of a 100+ total, but the only Cunard passengers on that flight. As a result, they had provided a taxi just for us and we were in our hotel room by 1pm – fantastic. Cunard have a desk in the hotel foyer, manned at certain times and later in the day we were able to confirm transfer times for the Sunday to the ship.
Transfer to the ship? This was 100% fine at 1100hrs on the Sunday. Luggage was collected from rooms by porterage before departure, but we had to eyeball it before boarding the coach and likewise at the cruise terminal. The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is basically a large shed with not much to commend it, but as Platinum Cunard World Club Members we bypassed the already mounting huge queues and were onboard by 1300hrs and the large cases arrived shortly afterwards.
The cabin? We had 6209, which is an Inside on Deck 6 and as it so happens is directly under the so called ‘Chef’s Galley’ at the after end of the Kings Court Buffet on Deck 7. It is a smallish cabin, albeit with the usual shower and w/c etc., large double bed and sufficient storage space. Unfortunately, during the day one could hear from time to time, food trolleys being moved overhead and at night the distant sound of vacuuming. This was not a terminal problem, but might really irritate some people. If you have a choice, do not choose any cabin anywhere on Deck 6, as Deck 7 is the main self -service buffet, Grills Restaurants + promenade/lifeboat deck are all immediately above.
Food? Super meals in Britannia Restaurant (we were second dining) but the buffet was so-so for lunch. Breakfast in the same ‘served’ restaurant or the buffet was 100% fine – decent choices, but probably hotter in the ‘served’ restaurant.
The only comment on the dinners is: Why cannot they simply do as any of their eight choices a meat or fish dish without it being covered in fancy sauces. Even roasted Haddock had to come with a weird coconut sprinkling over it all, making it look like a cheap pullover.
Tasty it was, but bog-standard fried cod and chips would have been nice as an offering. You can get this in the Golden Lion ‘pub bar’ as one of their lunch menu items, but this was always jam-packed from c1130hrs every day. We had to pretend to be interested in ‘Killer Darts’ between 10.45hrs and 1130hrs to get a table for two for a somewhat early lunch.
Afternoon Tea in the Queens Room? Nice, but join the queue early!
Speakers and Entertainment?
John McCarthy was the headline speaker (Beirut hostage crisis) + a variety of other speakers including a retired RN officer talking about submarine warfare in three sessions + Commodore Connell talking about ‘defence matters’ – he is/was UK Naval Attaché in Washington at the time of the voyage.
In the evenings it was the usual diet of song and dance, comedians you haven’t heard of, specialist musicians (finalists but not winners in Britain’s got Talent etc.). On the last night the entire Cunard team did Broadway Rocks, which was very good.
Service? Always good and friendly.
The downside of the voyage.
We will never have an inside cabin again unless it is a cruise with numerous ports of call – 7 days was, for us, claustrophobic. It is nice to have some natural light though a window, or door.
Drinks are massively overpriced in comparison to P&O and there is a 15% auto gratuity on every one purchased. For example, the Californian Rose wine we like at dinner was a total of 41.40$ a bottle (say 4 glasses) compared to the same on P&O for a flat £17.50.
Cunard are now offering a drinks package for, wait for it, 69$ per day per person when all in the same cabin. That would mean you would spend 966$ for the seven days for the two of you for a half-decent reduced selection of drinks from the menu and some of, but not all, the speciality coffees/teas and water.
We did not choose that option – did anyone?
Auto gratuities? I joined the long queue on the first day at reception having them removed or reduced. P&O are removing them entirely in May 2019.
Champagne Bar? – rarely saw anyone in it in the evenings.
A few young people onboard including one or two babies, but by far the average age of passenger must be 60+.
Cunard must advertise heavily amongst the LBGT community because there was a significant and noticeable presence onboard – some going out of their way to dress and appear radically different from everyone else. Cunard have dedicated meetings for LBGT, Friends of Dorothy as well as Friends of Bill W on all their ships. This is fine by us, but might be offensive to some. On the other hand, Mrs Essex Man noticed that many of our older ladies seemed to feel that ‘glitter’ in its various forms was the in-thing this year.
Evenings can be boring – you either have the bars, usually with some form of musical accompaniment, the theatre, G32 which is a small dance floor with a group or DJ who seems to like ABBA, or the Queens Court huge dance floor and seating area. This is predominantly for ballroom dancing which is not everyone’s cup of tea nowadays in-spite of Strictlys’ success.
Films – poor choice and always at wrong times.
Dinner in Britannia – Cunard must introduce Freedom Dining like P&O and other cruise lines ASAP. 8.30pm is too late to dine for many of us, but 6pm is also too early for some and why go to the buffet when you are paying a lot of money for proper service? We have never had a problem getting a table in Freedom Dining on P&O, particularly if one is prepared to share a table for 6 or 8. It is nice to meet other people – and you will probably never see them again on the same voyage if they are boring.
In summary, the whole thing was okay, but Cunard are now living in a bygone era and having trouble filling QM2 (at least trans-Atlantic). Captain Wells (a great guy) admitted as much when he mentioned that QM2 will be trialling voyages going via Dublin, Liverpool. Iceland and Canada before arriving at NY – in other words, more of a cruise than a straight seven-day voyage A to B.
And price? It was £1240 each including the cabin for 7 nights, flights, hotel and all transfers for the total of 9 days, so it was a bargain. We spent a grand total of 419$ on drinks, a photo + a reduced gratuity of 50$ each for the 7 days. To be honest though, we had more fun on MSC Magnifica in early-October for £700 each INCLUDING their standard Classic drinks package and all in a Balcony Cabin for 7 days around Northern-Europe, and we did not starve either! Read Less
We travelled Eastbound on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 in November, so expected possible rough seas, which did not really materialise, which was good! The QM2 is a beautiful ship, one of the last "Liners" - as opposed to cruise ships - ... Read More
We travelled Eastbound on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 in November, so expected possible rough seas, which did not really materialise, which was good! The QM2 is a beautiful ship, one of the last "Liners" - as opposed to cruise ships - and the food (Princess Grill) and the service both in the restaurant and cabin, was immaculate. There is something to do from 6.30 am - 2.00 am if you wished to be constantly occupied, and what is offered is very varied and interesting. Our cabin was lovely with comfortable beds and a decent sized shower room. Only quibble is that it would be nice to have a shelf or two on which to put personal toiletries. However, the wine is horrendously expensive. Just two glasses of very ordinary NZ Sauvignon Blanc (currently selling in Tescos at £7.00 a bottle) was $51 and a bottle of NZ Cloudy Bay SB was $65.00. And two gin and tonics in the Carinthia Lounge were $21.00 which, seeing as they are mostly tonic water, seems really excessive.
But the main rip-off on board is the photographic department. Their prices are very high, but they know they have a "captive audience", and everybody is going to want to purchase their photo with the Captain, if available, so they can charge $35.00 for an 8 x 10 inch photo. They sent round a card which said: "Spend over $90.00 in the Photo Gallery tomorrow and get a free photo". This implies that if you spend, say, $92.00 you are entitled to a free photo. We ordered $119.00 worth of photos and asked how to get the free photo but were informed that we had not spent enough to entitle us to the freebie because, if they deducted $35.00 from $119.00 we were under the $90.00 limit. This seemed to contravene the terms of the offer, but in order to get the free photo we had to order another photo which brought our total to approx. $150.00. They then deducted the cost of the "free" photo, which brought our final total to $129.80. The offer stated unequivocally that you are entitled to a free photo if you spend "over $90": we spent well over that but still had to spend more to get the free photo. We should have just stayed with our order and forgotten about the so-called "free" photo. We think this is downright dishonesty, and sadly, because of this bad experience, I shall downgrade the "Onboard Experience" to two stars. It would have been five stars otherwise. The photographic department is run by a company in Southampton, to whom we have written, but they have not bothered to reply.
Apart from the sour taste left by the photo department , we really enjoyed our journey on the QM2. It is a wonderful experience, the staff cannot do enough for you and we had a truly good time. Read Less
We were originally scheduled to be on the Crystal Bach for a Rhine excursion from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. However, we were alerted a week beforehand that the cruise was being switched to another ship. We discovered a bit later in the ... Read More
We were originally scheduled to be on the Crystal Bach for a Rhine excursion from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. However, we were alerted a week beforehand that the cruise was being switched to another ship. We discovered a bit later in the cruise that the Bach had been hit by a barge and needed to be repaired.
We were offered to switch to the Bach's sister ship, the Mahler. Also, the itinerary was drastically changed due to low water levels in the Rhine. Our point of embarkation was also changed from Frankfurt to Cologne. Crystal took care of transfer from Frankfurt Airport to Cologne.
Although it wasn't the ship, nor the cruise for which we'd signed up, we had a wonderful time. The food was wonderful both in the Bistro and in the Waterside. The staff and crew were incredibly cordial and helpful. The excursions were great, especially considering that Crystal had to do some fast thinking to schedule them. Entertainer Neal Fullerton was a treat. He's incredibly talented and also knows how to get the passengers involved.
Our cabin/suite was a luxurious, comfortable haven. As always, it was stocked with wonderful wines and the nightly turn-down chocolates.
This cruise was relaxing and lovely. Regardless of the need to go to "Plan B," we decided to do an open booking for a future cruise. Read Less
This is cruise 18 with Oceania on all ships but Serena. I am not sure if i have been unlucky but the service level was less than “normal”. For example at the Sunday brunch my wife and i finished before any staff member asked us ... Read More
This is cruise 18 with Oceania on all ships but Serena. I am not sure if i have been unlucky but the service level was less than “normal”. For example at the Sunday brunch my wife and i finished before any staff member asked us if we wanted water, juice or anything else except cocktails. At dinner in the dining room the opposite, cant find a drink waiter and have to ask. It seems there is a staff shortage. The other annoying thing is the berths, there was a German ship “AIDA’ shadowing us and in every common port it had the in town berth when one was available and we got the container terminal. This happened even when the advertised Oceania berth was in town. Is all this Norwegian cost cutting a little at a time? I also note that the level benefits are being downgraded next year. In a way that is good news for me because the loyalty program did have me captive to an extent so I now feel less trapped. About to try Viking for the first time and maybe not the last. Have already tried Ponant and although it is a very different product being “expedition” yachts of 200 pax it has overcome finding new places to cruise given i have exhausted the Oceania network. Read Less
We have never been on a cruise prior to this trip, we chose this PG because the boat was comparatively small and it was in Tahiti. Tahiti is a very expensive holiday destination and the cruise seemed fairly priced. We had a balcony cabin ... Read More
We have never been on a cruise prior to this trip, we chose this PG because the boat was comparatively small and it was in Tahiti. Tahiti is a very expensive holiday destination and the cruise seemed fairly priced. We had a balcony cabin on level 8, it was very quiet and came with a butler. Our butler was Harry and he was fantastic, nothing was a problem. Harry organised dining, drinks anything we wanted really. The ladies cleaning our room were really great also, very helpful.
The ship isn't new but we thought it was a lot better than some reviews were stating it was. We had many meals at the Le Grill restaurant that was very well run by Randy with great support from Joey and Roland, all the food was great. A special mention of Jobert a wine waiter, he was an amazing young man, he found out our favourite wine and next day we notice a bottle in our room - what a great touch. He was far more than a wine waiter and in a lot of ways this is how we found most of the staff on-board, this made for a great cruise. The other 2 restaurants were not as good but still very good food and service.
We loved the Gauguin performers, great fun.
The PG organised shore excursions were expensive, we found it was better simply to get off the boat and organise our own excursions. The only negative was in November it is starting to rain a lot in Tahiti. Read Less
We recently completed a 10 day cruise around Cuba on the Azamara Journey. This was our 4th cruise in total and our first on Azamara. We chose Azamara mostly because of the itinerary and that it's a small ship experience marketed as being ... Read More
We recently completed a 10 day cruise around Cuba on the Azamara Journey. This was our 4th cruise in total and our first on Azamara. We chose Azamara mostly because of the itinerary and that it's a small ship experience marketed as being more upscale and luxurious than the typical mega-ships. We have been wanting to visit Cuba since they opened it up to Americans and thought a cruise would be a great way to see more than just Havana.
After some initial snafus with our reservation that was graciously resolved by Bonnie over on the CruiseCritic discussion boards, we boarded in Miami for our 10 circle trip around the Cuban island with stops in Santiago de Cuba, Grand Cayman, Cienfuegos and Havana. The most appealing part of the itinerary was the promise of multi-day stays in port rather than the usual arrive-at-8am-leave-at-5pm schedules of other cruise lines.
Which leads me to our first big gripe with Azamara: it was only after plotting the arrival/departure times on the calendar that we realized that the "extended" time in port was very misleading. On the itinerary, it listed only 1 day at sea but in actuality we ended up with almost 4 full sea days. For example, days 3 & 4 were listed as in port in Santiago, however, we arrived at 8am on Tuesday and left at 6am Wednesday. That's not 2 days - that's one day + one night. Wednesday turned out to be really a sea day but that's not how it was shown on the schedule.
Same for Cienfuegos on Friday/Saturday. We arrived Friday morning but left the dock 8am on Sat and didn't arrive Havana until Sunday evening. That's almost a day and half at sea. We really only got 1 full day at each of these ports and just 2 days in Havana instead of 3. We talked to several others who felt that Azamara was very misleading in the marketing about the time in port. I know that ships can't magically teleport from one location to the next but it would have been less confusing if the itinerary matched reality so we knew what to expect and plan our excursions accordingly. Azamara highlights that they have more immersive itineraries by allowing more time in port but I don't think it counts when that time is spent sleeping.
Second major disappointment was the overall lack of service throughout the ship. While the crew and waitstaff were generally good and always very courteous, it was decidedly less than what you'd expect from a "luxury" cruise line. Water glasses frequently went unfilled and you had to hunt around for someone to take your order or answer a question. The exception to that was for some reason the waitstaff was always there in a flash to whisk away your empty plate or glass - like there was a reprimand waiting for them if they left dirty dishes about but initial orders or refills were often slow to arrive. Other couples we met onboard talked about their past cruises on Regent or SilverSea and how the staff fell over themselves trying to serve you and worked hard to anticipate your needs rather than wait to be called upon. While service was not bad, per se...it just wasn't on par with other luxury brands or even some mainstream brands like Celebrity.
This brings me to the third major criticism and that was the food. The buffet was really disappointing as was the grill out by the pool. The food looked very nice and there was always good selection but it was also exceptionally bland and lacking flavor. Almost like salt and spices are forbidden in the kitchen. Several times we were let down by something that looked amazing only to be utterly tasteless. For example, the prime rib was very drab. How a kitchen can make a staple dish like prime rib boring and totally lacking in flavor is beyond me.
The main dining room was a bit better and we ate there most nights. Eventually we learned what things to avoid and how to ask for specific items we had had before. Most nights the menu followed a theme chosen by the chef. There were some rather odd choices some nights that really wasn't all that exciting, however you could always order a selection from the a la cart menu.
The daily wine selections were usually pretty good and we never felt the need to buy the special bottles listed at considerable upsell prices. We had the Premium beverage package which was adequate for our needs but you could see there are some shennanigans going on with the way liquor selections are structured. It's all intended to get you to go with the Ultimate package instead at $22/day. For us it wasn't worth it and we just paid for the few top shelf drinks individually. The premium package includes all beers and most lower tier "well" spirits and mixed drinks which is fine for most people unless you have a specific liquor preference. Many specialty drinks like caipirinas, desert wines and top shelf liquors are excluded and require separate purchase at full price. It's a little confusing as to what drinks are part of which package and I believe this is intentional.
We only got to try the specialty restaurant once and we really liked it in spite of the $30 per person cover. Had we known before that the buffet and main dining would be so lacking we would have made reservations at Prime C or Agualina every night. Reservations filled up quickly however - especially for the last night at sea. Another intentional method to get you to upsell over and above what's included.
I booked a massage at the spa for the first sea day and it was very good. I was not expecting the sales pitch for their high priced lotions so just be aware that they'll try to sell you at the end. Also, spa services automatically include an 18% gratuity so don't feel pressured to add extra tip. Otherwise the spa is rather underwhelming and not worth the high prices. There's a special sun deck and hot tub just for spa patrons but I don't see how it's worth the extra price. The exercise room is just off the spa and while adequate for getting a workout in, there isn't much in the way of equipment. The usual treadmills, stationary bikes and nautilus-type weights.
We booked a guaranteed outside cabin and the room was fine. A little small of course but perfectly adequate. I should have splurged for a veranda instead but ultimately it was fine for our needs. With the extra time at sea and most of our time in port dedicated to excursions, we didn't spend a huge amount of time in the cabin anyway. Our stewards were fantastic and were like ninjas - always slipping in to replace towels and straighten up while we were out. They greeted us by name each morning.
We were assigned cabin 6004 which is an oversized outside stateroom at the very front of the ship on deck 6 port side. It is extra long which allows it much more space than usual - about the size of a typical hotel room. This is due to the space where the balcony is in the veranda staterooms is replaced with a large round picture window approx 4 feet in diameter. It creates a bit of a "fishbowl" experience but it was perfectly fine as we spent most of our time outside anyway. There is a small loveseat and coffee table in addition to the desk & chair. Plenty of room to move around and we were not bumping into each other except for in/out of the bathroom and around the bottom of the bed (which is the same layout for all other non-suite cabins).
Being at the front of the ship you definitely feet the movement - both up & down and side to side rocking. Might be worse on really rough seas. We could hear/feel rumblings down below when the boat pitched upward that I suspect were the stabilizers kicking in. It's a smaller ship so this was very common throughout the boat even in the aft dining room. My wife is prone to seasickness and was initially worried about the location, however she did not have any problems.
Other issue with the location was the noise from the anchor chains and vibration from the front thrusters when entering and leaving port. This was temporary however and we did not find it too bothersome except for it waking us up at 5am on the last day.
As our cabin was directly above the Cabaret Lounge on deck 5, we could hear the bass and drums during band practice and evening performances. This might annoy some people but we didn't really have any problem with it as the shows are rather short anyway.
There is a connecting door to the suite next door and we occasionally heard muffled voices thru the walls and from the hallway but somebody suggested putting a towel or bathrobe against the floor and this worked to block out both noise and light. Otherwise the cabin is very quiet, secluded and dark.
Bathroom is tiny and takes some getting used to with regards to maneuvering - especially the shower. The shower curtain clings to you but we found if you put the bottom edge of the curtain outside the stall (there is a groove in the floor leading to a drain outside the shower) then it helps to create some additional space. Not a lot of space to spread out so you have to be creative with storage. This is true on any cruise ship however.
Bed was super comfortable with nice linens and comforter. A/C was great and kept the temperature perfect. Closet organizer was efficient and adequate with plenty of storage. Mirrors and lighting was terrific.
Note to others...do NOT attempt to bring onboard any kind of travel iron or clothes steamer. Ours was confiscated from my wife's luggage upon embarkation. There was no mention of portable steamers being prohibited in the boarding documentation but they said they can set off the fire detectors. The self service laundry on deck 7 has ironing boards and irons as well as laundry supplies. The machines are free but limited so you have to be diligent and strategic about timing in order to get a load or two done ahead of others.
One other gripe...the onboard Internet was so slow it was almost completely useless. Thankfully we did not pay extra for this otherwise we would have been really upset.
Eric, our cruise director was fabulous and very funny. His "grandpa" jokes were groaners but perfectly pitched for the audience. He and the captain even formed a bit of a comedic duo on the daily announcements. You can tell Eric has a definite flair for Broadway showtunes as the music was decidedly tilted towards that genre. Overall the performances by the singers and dancers were very good and entertaining with a good mix of contemporary and traditional music. I'm sure some of the older crowds didn't fully appreciate the ABBA night show. The lounge pianist was charming and the trio band was pleasant. They played upstairs in the Living Room at night and by the pool during the day and at sail aways. It added to the overall pleasantness of the cruise. Nothing was offensive or too wild - nor was it just Perry Como elevator music either. It was a good balance of entertainment for the crowd which definitely skewed a little higher on the age scale than the brochures allude to.
The White Night party was held in port at Cienfuegos and it was the highlight of our trip. The food buffets were over the top and truly gluttonous. Lines were long - especially for the lobster tails but there was something for everyone. The music was fantastic and everyone's spirits were very high. Eric led an actual conga line around the pool area and had a very memorable duet with one of the passengers. It was really a great party and something to look forward to.
We ended up booking a couple of Azamara sponsored excursions and a couple independent trips on our own. In Santiago, we found a local taxi driver who took us to a couple of places like Castro's grave and the memorial to Jose Marti. We saw the changing of the guard at the national cemetery and had lunch in a local paladar with our taxi driver. We got to sit down and chat with him about the country and his life which was very interesting since his English was as limited as our Spanish.
In Cienfuegos, we opted for the excursion to the El Nicho waterfalls about an hour away. This involved a hike in the mountains over some pretty steep terrain although the views at the end were worth it. We also got to visit an artist commune and watched some interpretive dances which was strange to say the least.
Grand Cayman - we had been there before on a different cruise and there's really nothing else to do but go to the beach. We decided to walk which was a mistake in 90+ degree heat and humidity. We caught a bus back to the dock for $5 bucks.
We arrived in Havana Saturday night. We booked the show at the Cabaret Parisian rather than the Tropicana. From what we heard the Tropicana was probably a better choice but the shows are essentially the same. It was a late night however as the show didn't start until 10pm and we didn't get back to the ship until midnight.
Sunday we had arranged for a private tour guide through HavanaTourCompany.com. Our guide was awesome and even managed to deal with including a couple we met onboard at the last minute. We had a fabulous lunch in Old Havana then took a walking tour and convertible ride through the city and to Fusterlandia outside of the city where we bought some original artwork. We saw all the main sights and learned about the history, finishing up that night with dinner and a show at La Taberna. It's definitely worth it to use an independent tour guide in Havana and not go with the overpriced tours offered by the cruise line. You get better pricing, a customized itinerary and the guides are little more open to talking about their lives than the "official" government approved Havanatur.
Monday morning we did the coffee, rum and cigar factory tour. We visited the Partaga cigar factory (which makes 25 other brands like Cohiba and Montecristo). It was a literal sweat shop with 4 floors of un-air conditioned rooms and workers hand rolling cigars for pennies a day. We were then bussed around the city to several government shops to buy cigars and rum getting a bit of a guided tour along the way. Rum and cigars are the same price everywhere (state controlled) so don't feel pressured to buy them on the tours. We were warned not to buy cigars on the street however as there are no guarantees as to quality. It helps to know in advance what you're looking for in terms of brand, sizes and shape. Expect to pay approx 50% less than you can find authentic Cuban cigars elsewhere (Canada for example).
Originally the AzAmazing Evening was scheduled for our evening in Santiago but was changed at the last minute to our arrival night in Havana. Since we had already booked a show we ended up passing on this event. We heard it was rather interesting - a special ballet performance at the Grand Theater.
Overall, we were pleased with our first Azamara cruise and we even booked a second one to Alaska next July - this time with a balcony. We enjoyed our trip and would recommend it to others with the caveat that it all depends on your expectations going in. Some things were great compared to a typical cruise - most standard drinks are included as are tips. There are some areas where you still get nickle & dimed but it's not nearly as bad as the major lines. The smaller ship is a double edged sword - it's more intimate with much fewer passengers but it's also a rather boring ship with not a whole lot to do if you're the type that requires constant excitement. The demographics skew older with not a single child onboard. Most were in their 60's, 70's or 80's although there were a few younger gay couples as well.
The marketing material would have you believe that Azamara is a luxury cruise line - on par with other luxury brands like Regent, SilverSea or Paul Gaugin. In the end, it's a bit like first class on Delta or United Airlines...yes, it is a much better experience than flying coach but it's also no comparison to foreign carriers like Singapore or Emirates. Go in with the proper expectations and you'll have a great time. Read Less
This is our 6th Silversea cruise, we have sailed on several other cruise lines but SS for the most part. When the Muse was launched, we knew we had to go on it! Something new and hopefully fresh and different from previous cruises. Now ... Read More
This is our 6th Silversea cruise, we have sailed on several other cruise lines but SS for the most part. When the Muse was launched, we knew we had to go on it! Something new and hopefully fresh and different from previous cruises. Now that may seem like a negative about previous cruises, but not exactly. Silversea was my first cruise ever and has always held a special place in my heart but after a few cruises, we felt like maybe we didn’t exactly fit in with their usual clientele. Hence, we started exploring other cruise lines to see what else is out there. We are American 46 and 51...a bit on the young side for Silversea. In the past, the cruise demographic never seemed very varied. Primarily Brits , over the age of 70. We had felt that the social life on board was pretty quiet and reserved. Not as friendly as we would like. Well, the Muse blew that out of the water. I dont know if its because of the new ship, bigger size, the itinerary, different marketing?? I dont know, but it was a vast improvement. Super friendly, outgoing, social folks everywhere. There was definitely a livelier vibe on the ship , really good energy that I hadn’t felt on SS before.
So we flew from Florida to Singapore to board the ship. We spent 3 nights at the Mandarin Oriental in Singapore first. We love SIN and were happy to spend a few days there. We couldn’t find any info from Silversea on which port they use in Singapore. It was pretty frustrating not knowing where to go. We finally looked at cruisemapper to locate the ship. If the info was printed somewhere, we sure couldn’t find it. Otherwise, embarkation was quick and easy like always.
We LOVE this new ship and hopefully this new design is reflected in future ships and refurbishments of the old ships. The other ships we had done were classy, elegant, but the kind you find at a wealthy grandmas house . It was fine, but a bit dark and not our cup of tea. This new design is gorgeous. Loved the colors, textures, materials. Loved the use of wood looking tile for bathrooms, and many public spaces. The ship is bright, the lighting is great . Very well done! We were getting pretty excited about this trip! Cabins werent ready, so our routine is to eat lunch at the pool grill. Menu had finally been changed and expanded. I ordered the BBQ chicken wrap but didnt care for it at all ,although my partner loved his?? So....? After lunch, we explored the ship and shortly thereafter we went to our cabin. The ship is just gorgeous!
Typical veranda stateroom size which suits us just fine. Again, it echos the rest of the ship, just beautiful. Lots of storage space, big deep drawers. Lots of counter space in living room area. I don’t like the 2 TVs in the mirror in the living area and the other in front of the bedroom. They are too difficult to see unless the lights are off and curtains pulled. Our other complaint and really biggest complaint is the mattress...so hard! Like really hard! My back was killing me so bad. We requested the egg shell foam thing they can put under the sheets, but apparently there were no more available. Obviously we werent the only ones that thought the beds were hard. The awesome suite attendant put 2 duvets under the sheets and it was more comfortable for the rest of the trip.
I was stressing over this honesty. Food had been hit or miss on past cruises. And not having a main dining room per se, I wasnt sure how all these individual restaurants would work out for us.
Atlantide: we ate here twice, first time the filet mignon was cooked to perfection, so delicious and tender, the 2nd time it was over cooked and I didnt care for it. Otherwise both dinners were very good. We also started eating here for breakfast rather than the buffet at La Terraza. It was quieter, more civilized , I dont care for buffets much anyway, food was hotter and service excellent. I highly recommend it, not many folks ate here each morning.
Indochine: we ate here twice as well. Restaurant is gorgeous ! Loved the decor. Was never crowded. Food was so good. This is the only restaurant that we heard from a few other passengers that felt like the food was so so....but we didnt find that at all and really enjoyed it !
La Terrazza: we ate here twice for dinner as well. Much lighter and brighter than on other ships. Felt like food was much better and so was service. They had an amazing gnocchi and ossobucco that was to die for! We did breakfast here a couple times until we found Atlantide ...much prefer blast there. We were happy to see that SS could finally get us a cup of coffee before we finished our breakfast! This was something that happened a lot on other ships, very slow coffee service. We had lunch here a couple times, buffet is fine...nothing too exciting. Seabourn does it better.
Ate here once as its $60 per person. It was way too much food for us. It was all very good, but the service takes too long for us and we couldn’t finish most things. As much we enjoyed the food, we wouldn’t do it again at $60/person.
Did this once...also $60 person. We had eaten at La Champagne on our first cruise years ago, but now it s called La Dame. There was much better selection of items than previous La Champagne restaurant . We really enjoyed it, food wasn’t too much, didnt feel overly stuffed. We really loved it and had wonderful folks sitting next to us that entertained us..again, everyone was so friendly and like to strike up conversations with us at nearly every meal.
Silver Note; didnt try it this cruise .
Spaccanapoli: we were super tired after a 12 hour excursion to Hanoi, so we got back late and just went for casual pizza night. It was sooo good! And we were the only ones there that night. Its super popular and packed during the day for lunch but for some reason people avoid it at night?
Did this once. We have cooked our steaks many times on the hot rocks, so we dont do it anymore. I prefer someone else cook my dinner. Steak was excellent as were the sides. It was pretty chilly and we had to move our table as it got drizzly , but still a nice night.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES:
We dont play shuffle board or bridge or trivia or any of that. We did go to a couple lectures by an amazing guy who did lectures on Vietnam...he was one of the best lecturers I have ever heard. Guests talked about him all the time every day on the ship. Everyone thought he was fascinating, and his material moved at a good pace. He was phenomenal!
We usually try to hit the casino but didnt make it in . We peeked in one night, it was very quiet and notthat big.
Well unless you are in the market for jewelry or a lady, not much there for men . A handful of things, terrible marketing for Silversea. Just lousy for men or people that even want a few souvenirs or snacks or something. Lame.
Was very good. We were fortunate to recognize some staff that we have sailed with before on other SS ships. It s like seeing family you haven’t seen in a long time. Always made us feel welcome..so warm and gracious. Really couldn’t fault anyone . Staff seems to really be happy on this ship and they will tell you how much they love it. I imagine a new ship is more user friendly, things dont break etc. Plus they have bars in every restaurant now..so smart. Before they would have to run front the restaurants to the main bar to get a cocktail for you if you didn’t want wine.
PORTS AND EXCURSIONS:
Well, I could write tons on this but I will just say please book a trip to Vietnam ! It was fantastic! We got our own guilds for Saigon, but did ship excursions for others ports. Such a fascinating country!
This cruise renewed our excitement and interest in Silversea again! We loved the ship and will look for future cruiees primarily on the Muse or any of the newer ones. This ship really suited our style. The passenger demographic was much more diverse. There were people from all over , not one nationality seemed to prevail. There was also a better age mix than previous SS cruises. The vibe and energy on the ship was great and seemed a bit more relaxed than previous stuffy cruises we have done in the past. Hopefully this trend will continue. Read Less
I had taken a Viking river cruise and wanted to experience the ocean cruise. The ship is beautifully decorated, The cleanliness is so evident everywhere. Service and food is outstanding. My usual cruise lines I travel on are all ... Read More
I had taken a Viking river cruise and wanted to experience the ocean cruise. The ship is beautifully decorated, The cleanliness is so evident everywhere. Service and food is outstanding. My usual cruise lines I travel on are all deluxe-Sliver sea-seabourn etc. and I must admit Viking Ocean is right up there and maybe surpassing them. I was in a Penthoust veranda suite 6019, comfortable plenty of draw space and closet.One complain I do have is the difficult maneuvering one has to do to use the TV. If the remote is not aimed just right it wont work. The two or three shows they have were very good. I also think they should go to a truly all inclusive , as the other deluxe lines . On the Cuba itinerary being in Cienfuegos for 3 nights is quite inconvenient for visiting Havana. It is almost a 3 hour drive
And you really need to stay overnight in Havana to get to see anything, and that is not really enough. Read Less