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1,220 Luxury Cruise Reviews

Azamura Club Cruises sell themselves as a Luxury Club Cruising option offering an interesting and slightly different itinerary, excellent food, luxury accommodation and a tip top crew offering a discreet and friendly service. Azamura get ... Read More
Azamura Club Cruises sell themselves as a Luxury Club Cruising option offering an interesting and slightly different itinerary, excellent food, luxury accommodation and a tip top crew offering a discreet and friendly service. Azamura get 2.5 out of 5 for this and 5 stars for selling an expectation!. Itinerary - The Black Sea itinerary is very worthwhile, the low points being the two V's Varna and Volos, but Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta make up for those, as does the overnight in Istanbul - a superb starting point. Do try to get to the opera house in Odessa for a performance, the atmosphere and ambience is not to be missed. Excellent food - Sorry, not even 3 star overall and therefore very disappointing. Why, well they certainly try, but they concentrate more on quantity than quality. The food presentation is unimaginative, bordering on poor, the crockery very plain, and the whole dining experience lacks finesse. We dined in all the restaurant choices: Aqualina was by far the best - a lighter, more stylish option with better quality food and much better in presentation. Prime C, as the name suggests, concentrates on prime cuts of meat, and although the meat was good, it was unimaginative in preparation and there was far too much on the plate and therefore off putting. The daily buffet, we used for lunch and it was okay, limited in choice, with very little daily variation. We also had two on-shore evening buffets by the pool and they were okay, but I have to say limited. Breakfast in the stateroom on the verandah was a very good daily experience, all delivered on time and accurately, with high quality personal service. We did comment on the quality of food at the cruise critic reception and we were given very special treatment - treated like royalty actually for a couple of days and we could have taken this further, but who needs to be a moaning Minnie on holiday! Luxury accommodation - Well the towels, bathrobes and bedlinen are excellent. The stateroom furniture is tired, but adequate and the artwork around the ship is very basic. Some nice touches, at the pool - iced towels and cooling cucumber and the sun beds are very comfortable - although need re-varnishing. The ship is in need of refurbishment and I believe this is programmed. Perhaps they should have done this before selling as a luxury club cruise though? Service Levels - on board are without exception 5 star. All the crew are well trained and offer a friendly service. The Captain was the most approachable we have ever experienced and made a real and genuine effort to make sure his crew and guests were happy. Little touches like his personal farewell as we left the ship, and his invitation to the bridge and to join the staff captain for dinner were very special and we cannot fault the service at all. Top Likes: Including high quality house wine at lunch and dinner. Fantastic Itinerary. Friendly and well trained crew. Excellent dis/embarkation and port organisation. Top Dislikes: Quality of food, tired ship, overpriced for current service levels Would we travel with Azamura again: Not until they deliver on their aspirations, or unless the price reflects the real service levels currently on offer Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Embarkation. I was told very clearly that I could embark on the Silver Wind, in Istanbul, at 3PM, but that I could drop off luggage at 11AM. I asked about this very particularly, and that was the answer. When I arrived at the ship at noon ... Read More
Embarkation. I was told very clearly that I could embark on the Silver Wind, in Istanbul, at 3PM, but that I could drop off luggage at 11AM. I asked about this very particularly, and that was the answer. When I arrived at the ship at noon to drop off luggage, I was ushered into the ship and told that "of course" I could embark. That was disconcerting but ok, although I might have changed my plans if I had been told that in advance. The Restaurant was closed, so I went up to the buffet, which was pretty much the way it was later on in the cruise, and had a nice lunch. Dining. Both in the dining room and in the Terrazza buffet the choices were more limited than on the ships I have sailed in the past. The quality of the food was generally ok, although the special ordered steak was tough and occasionally the food was overcooked. I ordered a pasta appetizer, as did the ladies to my left. When it came, all of to stuck together and one of the ladies said to the other that it was obviously microwaved; I agreed silently. In no way would I consider the food up to the quality of a superior restaurant in a major city. One time, though, bears special (egregious) mention. My wife was served some fish that was so salty it was inedible. She sent it back and they brought another serving of the same fish; again it was far too salty. The waiter returned to the table, and seeing our distress, he explained that all of that fish was too salty, and that they knew it in the kitchen. I can not understand why they would have served it, knowing that it was bad, and why on earth they would have served a second portion, again knowing that the first had been rejected. It makes no sense; was noone paying attention? I did find the Italian specialty restaurant to be a clear notch or three better than the main dining room. When they saw us coming, they knew to prepare some extra baked garlic for my wife, and the headwaiter knew our name, greeting us at other places and times on the ship. He was the only one, actually, that did know our name, which surprised me, given Silversea's reputation for personal service. Wines. The wines served were all in the retail $12 range. If you wanted a white wine but did not want a chardonnay, they opened a sauvignon blanc or a pinot grigio or even a verdejo; no albarino, I'm afraid. The same went for the reds: if you didn't want/like the cabernet sauvignon offered, they would open a chianti or a rosso d'somewhere or a shiraz for you, but no pinot noir. I cant speak about the hard liquor, because I have no experience with that. There were several dessert wines, including a muscatel and a Semillon, but no late harvest Riesling. Entertainment. There were a couple of song and dance shows that I found to be pretty poor except for the two dance instructors' numbers. What struck me, though, was that there was nothing else. No comedian or special music or anything. The Silversea brochure (p.11) says that there will be lectures provided by "Luminaries from the world of food and wine, famous artists and celebrities, world affairs experts". The port lecturer did a nice job of discussing travel photography tips, but this was not what I expected, and I was severely disappointed. Dancing. Note that I am a dancer, so I am very critical here. There were two regular dance floors, one in the Bar, and the other in the Panorama lounge. Both floors were circles, about 11 feet or so in diameter. That was a lot smaller than I expected, suitable only for latin dances or swing; you could not possibly do a fox trot in that space, let alone a quick step. Luckily, my wife and I do mostly Argentine Tango, and the space was adequate, especially since usually we were not joined by anyone else. Some of the Silversea advertising states that they have dance hosts for unattached women; I didn't see any. For the last night of the trip, they cleared away two or three tables in the middle of the MDR, and the band from the Bar played dance music. That was pretty good, although the floor was sticky, enough so that when the two dance instructors took a turn on the floor, I saw some looks of surprise as they attempted something and the floor wouldn't permit it. There was a problem with the dancing in the Bar. The dancing area is right in the middle of the smoking area. Once again, I don't understand what they are thinking. I did make out a complaint, when we received that middle of the trip request for comments, but I got a very distant and impersonal reply. I didn't really expect that they would take my suggestion, but I was astonished by the lack of a personal contact to apologize and explain. It would have taken them a good five minutes. Our cabin. We booked the least expensive cabins, and it was very very nice. There was a lot of space, a walk-in closet, and it was possible to close off the bed area from the sitting area. There was a very comfortable couch and two very comfortable chairs. Storage was more than adequate; we didn't use many of the drawers we might have done. The stewardess kept the room very well, and she did know our name. I never quite understood how to use the butler's services. I did leave shoes out once to be polished; they were returned cleaned but not polished. The bathroom was a little tight, with only one sink, no bidet, and with a shower design that I dislike personally. The amenities were otherwise fine. Fitness. The gym had two bicycles (one of them recumbent), two elliptical trainers, and 3 or 4 treadmills, each of which had a separate entertainment module. There were a few machines, mostly oriented toward upper body exercises, although there was one for doing quad extension and hamstring curl. When I met with the fitness person and showed her the exercises that my physical therapist had given me (I had a herniated L4-5 disk in November and was just recently back to dancing), she made a couple of suggestions, but admitted that there was a lot I needed that could not be done with the equipment at hand. I got the feeling that she really did not have the training needed to deal with anything that was not routine. I improvised. Fellow passengers. What a delightful bunch! Despite all of the negative things I've said above, I really did have a good time on this trip, and most of that was because I had the good fortune to meet other people who were a pleasure. Post Cruise. We disembarked in Venice on April 16, just after the Iceland Volcano blew. Our flight home on Sunday the 18th was cancelled. We spent many hours emailing and phoning the port agent, our travel agent back home, and our kids. At one point, we were considering taking a train to Genoa, a ferry to Barcelona, and a high-speed train to Lisbon, where air travel still existed. However, since we had booked the flight with Silversea, they transferred us at their expense to the Monaco hotel (one of the premier hotels of the city) on the 20th and 21st, until air travel resumed. They also obtained seats for us on the nonstop from Venice to JFK. They also provided water taxi transport from the hotel to Marco Polo airport! They told us that they would have put us up on the 18th and 19th also, but they couldn't find us. Conclusion. I've written more than I thought I had to say. I think it's obvious that in many ways Silversea fell short of my expectations. I wont be sailing with them again. But maybe someone from the organization will read this and start some shape-up activity, and others will benefit. I hope so. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was sold to us as a luxury cruise. It was far from this. The checking-in procedure at Singapore was pathetically inefficient and confused. We had done the on-line pre-boarding thing, yet had to wait in the same line as those who had ... Read More
This was sold to us as a luxury cruise. It was far from this. The checking-in procedure at Singapore was pathetically inefficient and confused. We had done the on-line pre-boarding thing, yet had to wait in the same line as those who had not, making huge long waits, standing in the extreme heat - very difficult for the many elderly and infirm passengers. Being used to cruising with Royal Caribbean, we expected certain standards. In some respects, these were achieved. The food was excellent. We particularly appreciated the fresh-squeezed orange juice and excellent pastries at breakfast and the free table wines at lunch and dinner. The staff were all courteous, helpful, cheery and in all ways satisfactory, especially our cabin cleaning lady, Girlie, all the Guest Relations staff, especially Louise, and in particular, the Cruise Director, John, who was indefatigable and appeared to be doing the work of ten men, with cheerfulness and a positive attitude at all times. Our only staff criticism would be of the ballroom dance instructors, who were inefficient and spent most class times arguing with each other. The beginner ballroom dancers were confused and the instructors took little trouble to assist them. Regarding the fitness center - there was nobody in charge for most of the cruise, so that there were no properly organized fitness programs until Dubai. The entertainment was amateurish and of a consistently low grade, in some cases embarrassing in its low quality. The huge amount one had to pay for internet service was extortionate. Nowadays, most people need access to the internet on a daily basis and since the ship had wireless access, the huge charges were nothing but a money grab....hardly "luxury". Pay-per-view movies in the stateroom were very expensive, and the much-advertised free movies had virtually no sound - none at all in most cases - so were unwatchable. Twice, the toilets blocked up for hours on the entire deck where our stateroom was. Several times, there was no hot water in the morning for our showers. With respect to the "luxury" designation of this cruise, I am sure that there are unfortunates from some third-world countries who would find travel in "steerage class" of the Titanic luxurious, but people who are accustomed to cruising expect higher standards on any cruise, especially one which is touted by the cruise line as being a "luxury cruise". Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was my first cruise on Oceania and I had heard so many good things about the line that perhaps my expectations were too high. I had previously sailed on Regent (Mariner of the Seas)at the same class of service and cannot say enough ... Read More
This was my first cruise on Oceania and I had heard so many good things about the line that perhaps my expectations were too high. I had previously sailed on Regent (Mariner of the Seas)at the same class of service and cannot say enough about that experience. Unfortunately, although a lovely ship, Oceania does not match Regent's class of service. The penthouse suites (with butler)do not come close to the luxurious feel of the Regent Penthouse Suites. The bathroom is quite small, and the feeling of separation between the sleeping and sitting area is non-existent. This may not be the case on their newest ship, Marina (there is a lot of anticipation by Oceania cruisers and staff about this new ship), but we were not impressed with the Penthouse Suites on the Regatta. They tout that your refrigerator will be kept supplied with water and soft drinks, but that was not our experience. We had to ask each time the supply was low and they grudgingly restocked only by request. They advertise that the butler will act as your own personal concierge and try to comply with requests for reservations at the specialty restaurants. I would advise that you make certain your reservations are booked before sailing, as our butler never complied with any request that we made. He did not even notify us of his failure to book. We were pretty much left to our own devices (luckily we had booked ahead of time). The only sign of punctuality that he showed was his on-time arrival before we left the ship. Of course, this was because he was looking for a tip (which we felt compelled to give him) above the amount that the ship charged to our account. The in-room appetizers become boring by the end of the first week. The selections offered never varied, and they do not offer nuts, chips, pretzels, etc. The food was not up to the standards that were advertised. It is certainly edible (and the restaurant ambiance is lovely), but the staff at the buffet seemed disgruntled and had a "take it or leave it" attitude. They did not seem to know anything about the daily offerings and they NEVER offered to carry your plate to your table as they do on Regent. One morning I had eggs benedict and the yolk exploded when pierced with a fork. It went all over the table, and was observed by one of the staff. Luckily she came over and was appalled by the incident. The eggs were obviously cooked the morning prior to serving and had been saved to re-appear the second morning. She promptly got me a fresh order, but my appetite and clothes had been ruined. If ice cream is your thing, (the chat boards give Oceania the thumbs up for their ice cream and milkshakes)you may be pleased with the offerings. I found the selections limited and uninspired. Yes, the milkshakes are good, but not exceptional--most milkshakes are good and almost every ship that I've been on offers some sort of ice cream service. Oceania restricts the opening hours that ice cream is served and, with only one server, lines can be long. I will warn you, although it is discussed often on the chat boards, the coffee is VILE. I don't mean that it is weak or strong--just HORRIBLE. Even the room stewards admit that they bring their own supply of instant coffee on board rather than drink the coffee offered on the ship. Is anyone at Oceania listening??? We did not go on the shore excursions offered by Oceania, but booked our own guides in each port and we were very pleased with that decision. We chose this particular Oceania cruise for the line's reputation and the various ports that were included on this trip. We were not disappointed by the selection of ports. Organization of the docking and tendering by the staff was very efficient and well managed. There were no delays in port and the wait for a tender was minimal. Since our time on board was limited (the ship more or less served as a floating hotel), and there were no "at sea" days, we did not participate in the on-board offerings such as the casino, evening shows, bingo, etc. so I cannot comment on those events. I will tell you that common areas are quite lovely (the library is very restful)and it is certainly a beautiful ship, but most of the staff seems to have the attitude "We are Oceania and criticism and suggestions are not appreciated." I don't believe that I will cruise with Oceania again. It's not my cup of tea--or coffee to be more exact. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Recently cruised on the Azamara Journey January 3, 2010 thru the Panama Canal. We mainly cruise with Celebrity and a few times on Royal Caribbean. Our last cruise was in May 2009 on Royal Caribbean's "Independence of the ... Read More
Recently cruised on the Azamara Journey January 3, 2010 thru the Panama Canal. We mainly cruise with Celebrity and a few times on Royal Caribbean. Our last cruise was in May 2009 on Royal Caribbean's "Independence of the Sea", which at the time was the largest cruise ship afloat. We decided to try a small ship and RCI had the luxury line Azamara cruises under the Celebrity Brand. Embarkation was a breeze but things got a little strange after that. We tried to upgrade to a suite and were told only a Penthouse was available, so we inquired as to what the cost would be and we were told 6K for the upgrade, which was unbelievable and it turns out that on the 2nd night of the cruise they gave it away at the first Bingo game. We also found out that Azamara is now Azamara Club Cruises as of January 1st and no longer under Celebrity Cruises Brand. They no longer honored Captain Club and we only got a few coupons and invitations from the Captains Club. Azamara Club Cruises all-inclusive and upgrades to the ship will start April 10 so our cruise was in limbo. Our luggage did not arrive until 4PM which is the latest we ever had on a cruise with the life boat drill at 4:15 and our dinner at 5:45 things were a little tight. First night dinner was unorganized to say the least and the food ran the gamut of bad to very good depending on what you ordered and the wait staff service was poor. We chalked everything up to the 1st day but as my wife said, why should the 1st day be any different that the previous days they were doing this, so we decided to wait for judgment and by the 3rd day we had come to a conclusion that this so-called luxury cruise was actually not up to Celebrity's standards. The food, the service, the entertainment and the lack of was not what we expected at all from a LUXURY cruise. Cabin: Balcony cabin was, of course, small and definitely needed new bedding which was worn and uncomfortable. The eggshell that our cabin steward put on the bed the next night did help a little. Internet Service: Reception was poor at best. Discoveries, Main Dining room: breakfast and dinner: food ranged from bad to very good and the service was poor to good. Windows Buffet: breakfast, lunch and dinner ranged from bad to good Pool Grill for lunch was great Aqualina's and Prime C the specialty restaurants: food and service was excellent. Cova Cafe the Specialty coffee shop: okay The Martini Bar: very good Looking Glass Lounge: we never used Afternoon Savories were good to very good Luxe Casino is extremely small with limited gaming. Two shops Aqua Spa Service was excellent but the Thalasso pool deck was not worth the $175 per couple. Even though they said they limited membership, the chair hogs prevented you from really using the private deck, and the pool was actually nothing more than a large Jacuzzi. One secret, instead of purchasing the package just enter the pool area through the fitness center or walk directly thru the Spa, they never checked once. Entertainment was poor to good. This was not a cruise for us because of the size of the ship and the fact that we feel that Celebrity is a much superior brand than this overpriced luxury Azamara. I do believe that this would be a great cruise for anybody 70 and over which was 85% of the passengers. It's small, quiet, very little to do except eat, sleep, and read and not care about service and food quality. Did check what their new improvements are going to be as of April and we are not impressed with them and the 45% increase in price. We did 3 shore excursions and missed one other port because of bad weather. The shore excursions we experienced were okay but the variety of shore excursions were poor compared to what we are used to.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
As this was our first experience of cruising we have nothing to compare it with. We could only go by the descriptions given be Silversea and some reviews we had read. It was promised to be a 5 if not 6 star cruise, we are well travelled ... Read More
As this was our first experience of cruising we have nothing to compare it with. We could only go by the descriptions given be Silversea and some reviews we had read. It was promised to be a 5 if not 6 star cruise, we are well travelled and do have very high expectations and these were not met.I would say it was more like 4 star. We found the food bland and a little boring, with nothing local on the menu. The wine was very mediocre, although there was plenty of choice it was not high quality, even the Champagne had been changed to a cheaper one, which was not a good one. It was evident that a lot of cost cutting had been done. We spoke to lots of people who had been with Silversea before and they commented that they found a difference in the food and wine quality. Also that the cabin staff was now all (almost) Philippino. The service in the cabin was very poor, the butlers did not seem to understand our requests for replenishment of drinks, toiletries etc. Lots of the passengers were unhappy, in fact we met many that left the cruise early because they were so disappointed with it, also some of them were ill with food poisoning. We spoke to eight people who suffered from this and there were lots more. The Gym was closed for half of our cruise and the Observation lounge had a problem with the Air Con and did not smell very nice. The water in our bath came out of the taps a nasty brown colour so we did not use the bath and cleaned our teeth with bottled water. I would not cruise with them again, maybe our standards are too high. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We have just returned from a 12 day canary island cruise on the Cunard Queen Victoria.The water was a little rough for about 8 of the days and the ship really cant handle it.There was a constant rolling motion and loud banging throughout ... Read More
We have just returned from a 12 day canary island cruise on the Cunard Queen Victoria.The water was a little rough for about 8 of the days and the ship really cant handle it.There was a constant rolling motion and loud banging throughout the night.We dont get seasick but many people on board were ill for most of the trip.We have been in rougher seas on other ships and never had this problem,so there was much speculation amongst the passengers as to why a big newer ship would be like this.The cabin was of average size,but I thought the bathroom was tiny even by cruiseship standards.The food was just Ok.I cruised on Celebrity Constellation last year,and thought the food was by far superior on Celebrity.It seemed to be an even older crowd than most cruises we have been on and needless to say any excursions we booked that indicated a little adventure,were cancelled due to lack of interest.In all fairness this happens a lot on the cruises we have been on.Due to a passenger having a medial emergency and the rough seas we were behind in schedule and one of our ports of call had to be cancelled,which was a disappointment but not the fault of Cunard.In Cunards favour ,their staff are very efficient and attentive and embarking and disembarking are the best of any cruise line.Their entertainment is top notch and varied.In closing I guess with Cunards long standing reputation,I really expected more but I found them only average compared to other lines Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
As a long time SSS member and Radisson cruiser, we have continued our cruising with the Regent product and each time, bringing our expectations and hopes that the experience remains the same despite the corporate change of hands. Our most ... Read More
As a long time SSS member and Radisson cruiser, we have continued our cruising with the Regent product and each time, bringing our expectations and hopes that the experience remains the same despite the corporate change of hands. Our most recent foray was on the Voyager from Athens to Rio. Sadly, that Radisson famous service is no longer available. For the very things that used to make cruising unique on this line and encourage longetivity and loyalty amongst their guests, all have gone by the wayside in favour of the bottom line. A fellow SSS passenger reported to me that the new president Frank DelRio himself gauchely stated to guests that he no longer wanted to world cruisers or long-term travellers, "there was no money to be made off them". In essence, it's a slow destrcution or "Carnivalization" model this company is moving towards, and they are taking no prisoners, and in our opinion going the entirely wrong way about it. Solid shoreside staff who used to be well equipped to deal with the unforseen, or resolving issues pertaining to guest relations have been replaced by managers with no practical business experience and who have instead ridden up the corporate ladder and weild their newfound power with an unqualified sword. One such manager (name eludes us- French guy?)was apparently boarding in Puerto Rico but outright refused to meet with any guests despite a group of us approaching the chief purser. Perhaps he was ill equipped (crew told us he was a former maitred!!) to deal with questions on his and other's decision making that are substantially affecting the cruise experience itself. Consequently, they are allowing all those wonderful and memorable staff you would recall from past cruising who genuinely cared about the company to mass exit, and instead replacing them with crew who will work for less, and be entirely too busy to pay attention to the finer details we had all come to love. Less crew and more work means they aren't happy. We noted a number of the former crew have relocated employers on our last Silverseas cruise, and in conversations with some of the key individuals still onboard, expect to see more of them mass exiting in future with little or nothing to be done in attempting to keep the very folk who made these ships worthwhile. Indeed, a sad state of affairs and points very much to the possibility of unqalified and foolish corporate decision makers. This is the only reasoning as to why they are willing to destroy the very product that set them apart from the rest of the industry. Compass Rose The best this has to offer is the flexibility for it's diners in both menu and seating. The food has certainly gone downwards, and although they do their best to disguise it, in quality it is apparent. Maitre'd Luis was on for part of our segment and is the consummate professional. The sommolier Craig is the finest we've come in contact with and knows his wines inside out. Ordering items that are off the menu still permits for those with discerning tastes, and this is a gesture appreciated in the ever-evolving cruise industry. A good meal, but has lost it's sparkle. Verandah Buffet style, and often destination based, the offerings up here are hit and miss. Certainly kudos go out to the effort in which it takes to serve up a large variety, and it does break the monotony of the other onboard offerings. But expect chewier, cheaper cuts of meat, less exotic fruit and veg, and instead more mass production. When we requested a specific regional wine, we got the impression that we were somehow putting them out, and yet, throughout our lengthy voyage this was the same wine we had requested with nearly every suited meal. No strike against our hard working wine sommolier or waiter, as it was apparent they were not the ones at fault. Evening and Day Entertainment Although the lecturers are still for the most part, top notch, the narration while arriving or going through interesting spots at sea or in ports has been lost, and the captain is the only one who manages to deliver some personality in his announcements. The shows are decent, but dated, but some recognition should be given to the Cruise Director Lorraine who seems to be everywhere at once, and even if out of breath, always professional. Elsa is a living doll and is also full of boundless energy and compassion, and from our observations, along with Elsa really took the solo travelling people under her wing. Ports- no complaints here- we chose this run based on our past visits to the same ports. Our only problem wast that the french tour manager was exteremely difficult to understand in her announcements, and attempts to coral the geusts at times were noteably futile. Onboard Activities There were good cooking classes, excellent crafts instruction and activities with Marsha,, interesting and relevant computer courses up for offer, and a large internet cafe and in-room wireless internet that was although agonizing in it's lack of speed, left one in good hands with the gracious female computer instructor. The gift shops were polished but lacked local and seasonal items, staffed with friendly folk and not too many of them! It always seemed someone onboard could dig up whatever it was a passenger lacked, which is also lost on the larger ships. There is no photo department any longer which is refreshing,although there were times a picture would have been great to have the option to buy. Not having the ability to purchase camera related items like memory sticks, etc was a let down. The manager onboard Englebert seemed to be more of a yes man than a man who got things done. Friends of ours in a gruop onboard had somewhat unpleasant dealings with him and although he had some decorum and professionalism, he clearly had limited or no power to change or adjust the arrangements that had been problematic. His overall impression he gave off was that of padding/bandaging the issues rather than truly working to fix things. All in all, rather ineffective. Debarkation was fairly smooth and the low passenger count definitely makes this a difference of night and day compared to much larger vessels. All in all, if you are expecting the personalized, stand-out treatment of the Radisson days, that is all but lost, along with most of the staff who facilitated that. Decent value but overpriced for the service they are touting that just simply isn't the same. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
After 10 years of travelling on 4 star cruise ships and last year on Silversea, we decided to splurge and try the "yet to be built Seabourn Odessey". Travelling from Australia to start your cruise from an overseas port can be a ... Read More
After 10 years of travelling on 4 star cruise ships and last year on Silversea, we decided to splurge and try the "yet to be built Seabourn Odessey". Travelling from Australia to start your cruise from an overseas port can be a very expensive exercise, but almost 2 years before the Odessey was built we booked our cruise on the inaugural Transatlantic crossing as we thought it would be a special 6 star experience with some added highlights as it was the first time it crossed the Atlantic. To say the cruise was a disappointment is an understatement. Whilst the staterooms were spacious and comfortable and offered decent facilities, the rest of the ship was a let down. Corridors were often lined with laundry trolleys for most of the day, carpets throughout the corridors and public areas were badly stained (looked like the cleaning product bleached the stains), carpets had been patched in many places (badly and this is in a ship that was barely about 4 months old. How could this happen? We also felt that the ship lacked artwork throughout, furnishings were dull and there was a mish mash of different carpets in areas that didn't blend in well with the colour scheme. It is always nice to see scuptures and paintings around and we missed this. There was also a distinct lack of sofas/chairs scattered around that offered a quiet place to sit or wait for friends. The theatre was badly planned. What could have been prime seating next to the aisle centre to the stage was blocked by large columns, and the timber stage floor was a dark brown flat stain finish that was scuffed and looked grubby. During the second half of the cruise we booked the exclusive and supposedly very upmarket private spa area for a cost of $300. No one informed us that the pool was initially freezing then emptied, the day beds and all outdoor facilities were covered with soot and some facilites were not in operation. We asked for a refund as did 4 others that we knew of. This was a huge disappointment as we had planned to use the spa on the Crossing. The rear of deck 4 had no ambience. Cushions on the outdoor furniture were stained and most days were missing altogether. Much more could have been done to brighten it up. A photo shoot was being conducted on board for the first 10 days of the cruise and paying guests of Seabourn had to watch from the sidelines whist the main pool and whirlpool was taken over by photographers/models etc. Various other locations around the ship were also out of bounds on various days. This was not acceptable and we should have told this was going on as the shoots went on and on for hours and hours each day. Hello -----we were paying guests who couldn't use the facilities. We also found out that the photo crew/models/hangers-on had been allocated much better staterooms than we had and we felt that in the interests of good customer service, this shouldn't be so. Our stateroom was located next to a service area and after the first couple of days of not being able to rest due to metal grinding through to 7 pm we asked to be moved to a quieter cabin. To cut a long protracted story short, our request was denied. Apparently there was no spare rooms. 4 days later and by this time the noise was driving us crazy and we continued to request a quieter room. Then whilst we were at breakfast on the 5th day, our belongings were moved to a disabled room without our knowledge. The disabled room was awful. Our things were moved back to our noisy cabin. Then after we let management know that we were unhappy with the way they were handling things, they "found" an empty cabin. We were shown an identical room on the next floor up, same location, same everything. The cabin was full of the models/photographers baggage and had been empty of guests for the whole 5 days we were requesting a move. NO SPARE ROOMS !!!Meanwhile another couple on deck 4 were upgraded to a quieter room due to similar noise we were experiencing. NO SPARE ROOMS!! The day after we changed cabins, we were preparing to go on tour when a huge noise rumbled through our room and water started pouring into our bathroom and under the door. Outside, the roof had caved in after a water pipe had burst. We missed our tour, we were soaking wet and very unhappy. It was beginning to be a nightmare. Our room had a mouldy smell for the rest of the cruise, carpets were lifted up outside in the corridor, noisy fans were working most of the day to dry out the carpets, the roof was being repaired and pieces of carpet were being cut out and patched with old carpet pieces that didn't match. It was, and looked dreadful. Nice relaxing cruise so far !!!! We felt that senior management treated us poorly and were lacking any compassion. The rest of the cruise was uneventful but the Hotel Manager ignored us for the rest of the cruise and seemed unconcerned about what had happened. Our friends who travelled with us were very unimpressed and will not sail Seabourn again. After returning home we have corresponded to Head Office and we have been given a discount on a next cruise, but to be honest, we would have rather been treated like valued guests on the cruise we were on at the time. Seabourn needs to lift their game. We probably will not be able to use the discount so we have ended up with nothing but a bad experience and a depleted bank account. Shame on you Seabourn. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
My husband and I were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary, so this was the first time we cruised without our 7 year old daughter. We have been on 10+ cruises and decided on the Queen Mary II based on the itinerary and the Luxury ... Read More
My husband and I were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary, so this was the first time we cruised without our 7 year old daughter. We have been on 10+ cruises and decided on the Queen Mary II based on the itinerary and the Luxury Liner concept. We are both in our early 40's. Here is our review of the cruise: Ship itself: The ship itself is very clean and I would categorize it as "understated elegance". There is a very small Grand Foyer and all of the furnishings and public areas are very tasteful. That said, the entire ship seems to be laid out as one big afterthought. Apparently, Cunard had the ship designed as an ocean liner, then the interiors were laid out once the hull was built, at least this was the explanation we were given. If you like getting lost, this is the ship for you! If you enjoy finding interesting public rooms on the last day of your cruise, ditto! We were constantly going down a small flight of stairs, through a long "hallway" (that was made into the photo store or something of that sort) only to end up going up another short flight of stairs and stumbling onto the Ballroom, which was very grand but good luck finding it. Then off of the Ballroom were double doors leading to the disco, which had no windows outside to the view (both of these rooms were on level 3. The upstairs buffet was another horribly interesting space, it was so cut up, with 4 different food stations, plus the chef's galley (which was always closed) and the La Piazza (which we could not find) that if you were to meet someone up there for lunch you would NEVER find them. Many of the tables were hidden behind a pole and four small, two-top tables were squeezed into an afterthought of space. The Gymnasium was another afterthought. The entire space was completely cut up and too small for the amount of passengers. The Atlantic room for games or cards had a nice view, once you found it, but the tables and chairs were VERY uncomfortable...you would not want to sit and play games there, plus you could not find where the games were kept. The Library was PACKED with insufficient seating but an excellent selection of books and a nice (but overpriced) store. Ports: We were scheduled for five ports: Boston, Newport, Bar Harbor, Halifax and St. John. Unfortunately, the sea was too rough to navigate the Bay of Fundy, so we did not go to St. John. All of the ports were nice, the only negative was the fact that you had to tender into Newport and Bar Harbor and we both think that the tender drivers were on their first voyage. It took 4 tries for them to hook up to the boat in Bar Harbor...everyone commented on it. Food: Maybe our expectations were out of whack on this, we expected the food to be outstanding, although we were in the Britannia Room, not the Queens Grill (see below) I would rate it as very good but not outstanding. The selections at dinner were limited, typically 4 entree's with meat and one vegetarian. I have a food allergy (wine) which was put on our cruise personalizer and mentioned to our travel agent, but it was not picked up. The staff was very concerned with this, since apparently EVERYTHING is cooked with wine. So I had to pre-order my meals the day before. Afternoon tea: Not good... the scones were like soft dinner rolls and the service was erratic. We went once, it was not worth a second try. One very odd thing was that our dessert order would be taken, coffee cups placed out but no coffee served until after were were nearly done with dessert. It took a couple of days to figure out that is a "British" thing and once I asked our waiter to serve the coffee sooner he did. Todd English: We visited the specialty restaurant on board (which is on deck 8, off of a residential corridor, again, a complete afterthought on location). This was a great experience and worth the $30 dollars per person charge. The staff was attentive and the food was outstanding, even with my food allergy. Service: Again, we expected to be in awe by the service but I would say this was the biggest downfall. In the buffet (Kings Court) you could not find anyone to take a drink order. It did not matter what time of day. My husband finally got a bus boy to get him a soda, but begrudgingly. There were plenty of bus boys but no drink servers to be found. Most other cruise lines you barely sit down and you are approached for a drink order. Our Room Steward was another very odd duck. She would not dispose of used glasses! At one point we have 5 dirty glasses with straws sticking out of them when I finally realized she was not disposing of them. So I emptied them in the sink and stacked them up on the bathroom counter and only then would she remove them.... WIERD! I asked for a blanket and that took almost a day to arrive. My husband purchased the soda package and one evening he ordered a soda in the Commodore Room, he asked for two and the bartender ignored him. He asked again and she answered with "do you have two stickers?". He said no, so she gave him one, he drank it there and had to order a second one, then left. Our waiter at dinner was efficient but had no personality...at all! If you asked him for recommendations of what was good, he was little help. Entertainment: First, I have to say that the clientele on the ship, the average age was about 75 years old. We knew it would be a more sophisticated clientele and frankly we enjoy being around older folks but the entertainment did not seem to match the clientele. The show with the dancers and singers called "Crazy in Love" was so bad that we walked out. It opened with an extended version of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" song, which seemed inappropriate for the audience. All of the songs were awful and the singing matched. The movies played also seemed off - for instance they played two children's movies "Coraline" and "Monsters vs. Aliens" on two of the nights in Illuminations (the theater) which no parent on vacation wants to see and no one over 50 would be interested in. The big band and singer (Michel Chartier) were excellent, making the Queens Room the place to be, pretty much every night. We enjoyed watching the dancers and Cunard was wise to hire dance hosts which kept the single ladies dancing all night. The orchestration was wonderful and the room was the hub of activity for the ship. The juggler and comedienne were great and VIBZ, the band in the disco was fabulous! Summary: One last thing to mention is the caste system on the ship. This is the main reason we would most likely NOT book with Cunard again. We were in a deluxe balcony suite which wasn't cheap but there were guests in the Queens Grill and Princess Grill suites. It seemed that they were having a different experience than the "lower" class folks, for instance, they have separate dining rooms and a completely different (more diverse) in room breakfast order. From what we heard, their overall service and separate afternoon tea were exceptional, so maybe they get the "A" team and everyone else gets the "B" or "C" team. The only place the tables were even were in the Todd English Restaurant. The fact that everyone dresses for dinner was appealing to us, and people really did, which was nice. We had three formal nights, one was a black and white ball and one was a masked ball. However, overall it just was not the experience we were looking for and for the same money or less we would have had a better experience on Celebrity or Princess. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Soon after our cruise, 5 passengers ( with wives) asked me to communicate our concerns to Mr. Andre Norseth, Vp of Operations at Silversea . A fellow passenger used their booking agent to also contact Director of National Accounts. We have ... Read More
Soon after our cruise, 5 passengers ( with wives) asked me to communicate our concerns to Mr. Andre Norseth, Vp of Operations at Silversea . A fellow passenger used their booking agent to also contact Director of National Accounts. We have not heard from either party, and regretfully we must now resort to a very public forum to express our concerns. Reviews are by nature subjective and suspect because you can't calibrate your experiences and tastes with those of the reviewer. In our case we came from 4 countries ( US, Germany, Australia and New Zealand) and in my case, I was once a part owner of a Relais&Chateaux property in Switzerland. My experience does not make me an expert, but I am acutely aware of what it takes to achieve and maintain quality in service and food in a Relais&Chateaux property.My letter to Mr. Norseth explained in detail how Silversea had not met basic standards, and the comments to follow are redacted from my letter to him. In essence, Silversea has undertaken a subtle but relentless quest to reduce costs, and in the process, has produced a homogenized product, devoid of any character. Fortunately, this initiative has not affected service. It continues to be outstanding and should be a model for hotels around the world. The homogenized product starts with the new La Terrazza menu and food. Beginning in London, the restaurant had changed from a trattoria with daily ( fresh) specials, to a " continental food" dining room. The menu did include a swath of Italian antipasti, and the ridiculous invention of "pasta corta" and "pasta lunga", but there were only 3 entrees to choose from, none of which were remotely related to basic Italian cuisine. Furthermore, this menu was fixed for eternity, which for the uninitiated in the food business, is not only boring but the best way to reduce food costs. What I tried to impress Mr. Norseth is that the moment you abandon your roots as an Italian cruise line and try to get away with run- of- the mill Italian-sounding dishes, you risk your reputation with passengers who know better. The Main Restaurant was much better most of the time, but from time to time there were some horrific meals. One of the features of the menus were dishes originating from the Manoir de Lan-Kerellec, a Relais& Chateax in Brittany. Everytime I chose that option I was very disappointed. It may have been copied faithfully, but it was invariably bland and without the "caresse" which good French food imparts. Fussy perhaps, but if Silversea wants to carry the Relais&Chateaux emblem, they had better learn what it takes to make an exceptional dish. My fellow passengers had other observations. For example, never once did we have fresh fish ( always defrosted) despite having called on 6 ports where a great variety of fish was available. In fact, no meal highlighted the specialties of the regions we visited ( salmon from Scotland, Angus beef from the Orkney's etc.) and as a result, the food was acceptable but never good enough to meet Relais&Chateaux standards. From my experience, the food was the product of standardization of menus. The longer you get stuck in the cycle the worse the food gets. Image plays an important role in the value that passengers perceive they are getting, and this is particularly true with wines and spirits. The spirits ( liquor) were top shelf, but the wine ( the more expensive part of the equation) was definitely bottom shelf. On previous Silversea cruises, Italian wines were proudly highlighted, and they were invariably good to very good. On this cruise, they decided to go global with their tastes, and the result was a disaster. Everything from syrahs from South Africa to cheap maltecs from Argentina ( I lived there in the 80's) added up to a wine selection which was selected by an accountant rather than a person who enjoys to share good wine with his patrons. And the final proof is their decision to replace Pommery with Drappier Champagne. Drappier is Euro 10 cheaper per bottle in France, and you can taste it! My fellow passengers also asked me to point out deficiencies in the excursions, even though my wife and I were not impacted. The highlight of our itinerary was Greenland. Beginning in London, there was a wait list for visiting glaciers in small boats. Despite knowing the demand for the excursion well in advance, no effort was made to find more excursion boats. The result was that there were more than 100 passengers who were relegated to seeing Greenland from a tiny cafe next to an airport. The lesson being that if Silversea cannot accomodate the great majority of its passengers in a given port, why go there? My intent with this review is to tell Silversea that if they are serious about quality in food, wine and basic logistics, they have work to do. You can squeeze costs up to a point, but if the choice is between sacrificing margins versus quality, the answer is obvious. Silversea is a wonderful cruise line, and the reason of many good memories of its passengers, and I sincerely hope that they return to their knitting of uncompromising quality. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We first sailed Silver Cloud in 1994, six months after she was commissioned. This was our first time back, and, regrettably, will likely be the last. Silversea continues to have an excellent product in many ways- the ship sizes and ... Read More
We first sailed Silver Cloud in 1994, six months after she was commissioned. This was our first time back, and, regrettably, will likely be the last. Silversea continues to have an excellent product in many ways- the ship sizes and layouts are terrific, the service is generally very good. However, over time the quality has declined, and the amenities pale compared to the competition. Comparing apples to apples- in 1994, 'all inclusive' meant air, an included night's 5 star hotel, insurance, a "Silversea Experience", shoreside transport in every port. There was also real Sevruga (not lumpfish) caviar on request anytime, and on the menu on formal nights. None of those perks exist today, yet the per diem is around $800 ppdo, as opposed to $450 then. Yes- prices go up, but the luxury inclusions should not drop out. The ship has aged well, though the 2009 renovations promised in the brochure have not materialized. In fact, what used to be the observation lounge became the fitness center, commanding what is unarguably the nicest viewing space aboard. Clearly, the Silver Wind upgrades have not been mirrored aboard the Cloud. Despite that, the soft furnishings were in good shape, and the stateroom we were in had been partially remodeled. Mattress, linens, sofa and chairs all new. TV and cabinetry old. The bathroom not as grand as it appeared 15 years ago, and does not compare with the Silver Shadow at all. The cuisine was uneven and generally uninspired, but creditable. The new theme to the Trattoria simply is a dumbing down of what used to be memorable international items. The Restaurant lacked culinary excitement, though we did not have any 'bad' evenings, as other posters have experienced. However, I did have a steak which was thin, overdone, and had been thawed in the microwave. The wines were ok, not memorable- and we were told to take advantage of the Pommery, as it was being phased out. I was particularly disappointed by the dearth of fresh fish, though we were in Scotland. (this was not new-in Bar Harbor in 1994, we were anchored literally in the middle of lobster pots, but were served frozen lobster from South Africa that night...) The onboard entertainment was actually pathetic. Gone are the harpists and string quartets, and even the quirky puppeteer, instead, bad, genuinely bad dancers and an underutilized male lead belting out 'Mama Mia' tunes and the like. The Beatles theme was fun-sort of, but only because they gave away paraphernalia and did interviews. The Faux Beatles show was painful, but got some people singing along and dancing. Not us... The Robert the Bruce descendant was a huge breath of fresh air- with lectures about Scottish history and port orientations. A whisky event really was a promotional piece for Johnny Walker, replete with commercial videos, but the tasting was good, and he left a bottle of JW Blue that we polished off quite happily. (BTW- one could purchase same onboard for $180 USD, much less than any duty free store ashore) My biggest complaint was about the itinerary. We stopped in Leith (Edinburgh) during the Festival, but arrived at midnight and left the following late evening, then spent 30 hours traveling 190 nautical miles (10 hours steaming) to our next port of Invergordon. We could easily have stayed until a tide change the following day, (I checked with the port authority) allowing more time to enjoy the myriad events in Edinburgh. The captain essentially said that head office was calling the shots. Similarly, we went back and forth near the Isle of White and over toward France for an extra day at sea, rather than hit another port. I had made arrangements for a rental car in Cork, and was completely misled by Silversea as to where we would dock- the result was an expensive taxi ride through rush hour to get to where we were to pick up the car. No acknowledgement, and certainly no apology for the misrepresentation. The clientele is more demanding, less quietly sophisticated- read, more yuppies. That, balanced by quite a few Brits., understandable given the itinerary. The latter felt oddly out of place, possibly because the crew just did not understand tea service, British style. The servers became so confused, they automatically added milk to all teas, including herb teas, plus lemon, which of course curdled everything. There were notables aboard, and I found our dinner companions to be generally well travelled and read, genuinely interested in the area, and fairly happy overall with the new Silversea. I think that is because most had not experienced what Silversea used to be. I hope that with the new Spirit, and competition from the new Seabourn ships, Silversea will smarten up. But I am not holding my breath. I will go back to Crystal and Sea Dream, and maybe try Hapag Lloyd, before I venture aboard Silver Cloud again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
What was supposed to be the highlight of my 60th Birthday year turned out to be a little disappointing. The ship is badly laid out, the shops have no interesting stock and the special sales are overpriced kitsch. Our cabin was much ... Read More
What was supposed to be the highlight of my 60th Birthday year turned out to be a little disappointing. The ship is badly laid out, the shops have no interesting stock and the special sales are overpriced kitsch. Our cabin was much smaller than we have experienced on other cruises with Celebrity and P&O, however we have never had so many coat hangers on any cruise, pity there was no room in the wardrobes to use them. Our waiters and the wine waiter at dinner were superb and attentive to our every need. At breakfast it was a different story the waitresses were completely off hand and often forgot to bring what we ordered - their comment were always YOU NEVER ORDERED THAT - what a way to serve customers. Cunard claim the ship to be 5 star - I think it is more like 3. Entertainment is the worst I have seen on any cruise, with the guest entertainers being of the worst type - I know better jokes than the ttwo guest comedians who should have been made to walk the plant after their perforances. The costumes were lovely and the dancers superb pity there was no story to any of the shows and the singers could not sing. The Cruise Director was the worst I have ever met. Most ports of call were excellent except Kristiansand which was a complete waste of time and it should have been Oslo instead. In summary think before you book Cunard - you are paying for a name and not getting the service. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Paid for early embarkation, which I hear is now not necessary, they will allow it without additional payment. It was worth it to get on early, avoid crowds, get unpacked and organized early. Good service by crew helping us on board, ... Read More
Paid for early embarkation, which I hear is now not necessary, they will allow it without additional payment. It was worth it to get on early, avoid crowds, get unpacked and organized early. Good service by crew helping us on board, showing us to suite, showing us around ship. First trip on Silver Seas and it was a good way to get acquainted with ship before everyone was on board. Had the unfortunate experience of rain the entire trip. This caused rough seas, so Sitka, first stop had to be bypassed. It was a tender off, and this was impossible in rough seas. Second stop Juneau. Low clouds and rain. All flying excursions cancelled. I had a photo safari and hiking to Mendenhal glacier along with whale watching in Auke Bay planned. Got off ship for 9:30 a.m. Whale watching only to be told on pier, that maintainence on Whale Watching ship had to have repairs, our excursion was postponed until 2:30 p.m. No advance announcement to save us rushing to get eat breakfast early and get ready. Also meant afternoon private excursion had to be cancelled. Skagway hiking was cancelled as well as all flying excursions due to weather. That evening, announcement was made that captain was being removed from ship, he was not well and was being flown to Juneau for hospitalization. We had a temporary captain. Next day scheduled to see Dawes Glacier, after great anticipation of seeing much talked about glacier and calving and waiting on deck in cold windy weather to get good viewing position for 2 hours, announcement told us, couldn't see glacier because of too much ice in fjord. Next night announcement came over telling us good news and bad news. Good news, "Captain returning to ship in Wrangell. Bad news, leaving port 2 hours later than planned, one of ships engines needed repair. Shore excursion in Victoria of City Tour, advertised as 2 1/2 hour tour turned out to be 1 hr. 15 minutes. Many disappoints. Can't count on weather, but soooo many things on one cruise seems unusual. Dining room service was not the best. Had to ask for things many times. Main course served, but acoompaniments served much later, i.e., potatoes, vegetables came 10-15 minutes. Had to ask many times for them. Or they were forgotten completely. Menu was a little too esoteric for my taste; i.e., squid, venison, etc. I would have enjoyed a little more recognizable main dishes. I do not eat red meat and there were many nights, where all 3 main courses were meat. Since there were about 3 main course items each night, and they almost always were unusual items, I ordered salmon almost every night. That was not on the menu, but they had it. Breakfast, as an example, couldn't get eggs and toast and coffee at the same time, no matter how many days we asked for them to be served together. Seems the servers need a little more training Naturalist on board, Ian Denten, was fabulous in preparing us for areas we were headed for, he was enthusiastic, knowledgable, loved his subject, and was a wealth of knowledge. Only problem: We got all hyped up for what we were going to see, and then couldn't see it due to cancellations. Ship had many public areas for viewing the landscape, reading, etc., I do agree with others, the ship is tired and needs redecorting. Many stained carpets in common areas, not as luxerious as I had been led to believe. Also, too many smoking areas, expecially near the Terraza restaurant on 7th floor. The smoke permeates the entire hall way around the dining room. Also, Trivial pursuit, bingo, etc., are held in same room as smoking. They should be someone else as smoke clings to the areas where it is allowed. Smoking is a problem, because there are still smokers among us, however, for those of us who do not want to inhale someone else's smoke, we were faced with it in many common areas. Those are my comments. In spight of the above, I had a good time, met some nice people, and enjoyed a relaxing 9 days. But the ship is not as luxerious as I was led to believe. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Embarkation was awkward, as we were asked to wait in a small cold room on the wharf,with plastic chairs, until our turn to go aboard. One should be able to walk aboard, state your name, and receive guidance to the suite without delay this ... Read More
Embarkation was awkward, as we were asked to wait in a small cold room on the wharf,with plastic chairs, until our turn to go aboard. One should be able to walk aboard, state your name, and receive guidance to the suite without delay this is not a Carnival ship. Our stewardess knew nothing about the suite, and could not answer any question we had, even one concerning how to rotate the TV stand. The liquor we requested for evening cocktails in the suite was delivered several days later, after several requests. The once sterling menu was extra-ordinary: all frozen entrees. No fresh fish or seafood even though we were cruising Alaskan waters. Breads were often stale and tasteless. Desserts uninteresting and vegetables tasteless. The wine selection was excellent as usual. Service was poor, with many regulars missing and replaced by untrained, though sweet and willing;staff with very limited English skills. Internet service was very limited, with no in-suite connection. You had to use your computer in a public lounge.They still do not have hookups for iPod in the room. They had an excellent presenter, whom we heard only a few times, and a dry-as-dust speaker, whom we heard many many times. There did not seem to be enough linens to go around: every day we were missing towels. One day it was bath towels, the next day hand towels, the next day wash cloths. Any request of our stewardess had to be repeated to a supervisor or housekeeping, not because she was unwilling, but because she didn't understand a word we were saying. Books and tapes were thrown on library shelves in a haphazard way, and the selection was dated. The furniture and carpets are worn and not very clean.  There was tension on the ship, I believe, because of reduced staff, and customer (particularly returning ones) dissatisfaction. I would suggest avoiding Silver Shadow until Silversea is able to get things back to the standard expected of a luxury, high-cost, cruise line. It badly needs refurbishing,a menu review, and the return of experienced and additional staff. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
After a savvy cruiser told us one of her favorite cruise line was Regent, we decided to give it a try. Probably I overhyped myself to a level that was hard for Regent to fulfill. But upon further pondering I concluded that despite my own ... Read More
After a savvy cruiser told us one of her favorite cruise line was Regent, we decided to give it a try. Probably I overhyped myself to a level that was hard for Regent to fulfill. But upon further pondering I concluded that despite my own overblown expectations the service of the cruise was for sure way below average specially considering the price premium.  The amount of service offenses are too many to even describe them. I will mention a few of my negative observations as well as some of the positive points. Food was on the better side of my experience but I still found specifically breakfast to be the biggest letdown. I have seen food better presented on school cafeterias than on the Verandah restaurant. I hardly think of six stars when the prevailing items on the hot food section is Bacon, Eggs, Beans and Sausage presented in a straight forward boring way. THe almost 1 to 1 guest crew ration is very misleading if you include crew that have no contact with the passengers and this was evident in the terrace part of the Verandah where only two waiters saw to over 16 tables. The all too common never say no attitude at Silversea ships was not evident here. We got a bunch of no's to even common requests. Even after 20 Million refurb, some major maintenance and cosmetic faux pas were visible. It's only fair to also acknowledge my positive impressions. The space to guest ratio is outstanding to the point that the ship sailing at full capacity seems empty most of the time. The tours were expertly arranged and they made the itinerary seem full of special features. Fantastic interactive TV that displays even diner menus at all restaurants. I will not be sailing with Regent again. If service at a reasonable price is my calling I can find much better options that consistently deliver fine service like Holland America. But if I do want to splurge on an ultra luxury cruise line Regent fall far behind perennial leaders Seabourn and Silversea specially considering they are both launching bigger better brand new ships.  Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
About us: This was our second cruise. Our first one was about 10 years ago - Western Caribbean on the Celebrity Infinity. We're a 50ish married couple. Hotel: We stayed at Clairidge's. This was our first time in London. We knew ... Read More
About us: This was our second cruise. Our first one was about 10 years ago - Western Caribbean on the Celebrity Infinity. We're a 50ish married couple. Hotel: We stayed at Clairidge's. This was our first time in London. We knew it was pricey but did not realize how much! We read in a review about the hotel that if you have to ask how much, don't stay here. Our 3 night stay with room, food (we ate dinner in the hotel each night), drinks and taxes was almost $4,000 USD. The exchange rate did not help (the US dollar is worth very little in the UK and Europe). The room was a decent size but rather dark with no view. The marble bathroom was updated and had the most fantastic shower and toiletries. Getting to the boat: We were in shock to find out Southampton (the embarkation point) was a 2-3 hour car ride from the heart of London depending on traffic. After calling several cab companies we found out it was ~$500 USD for a taxi or ~$800 USD for a private car from our hotel. A couple we spoke to on board the QM2 said they purchased the transfer from Cunard and it was ~$500 USD but a nightmare. They were sent to the train station with all their luggage and had to wait around for hours, then board the train where there was little room for your luggage. They were quite grumpy by the time they arrived aboard. By contrast, although quite expensive, we had a smooth and pleasant trip from the hotel to the ship. Embarkation: Had to wait a bit but was very smooth - no real problems First impression on boarding the boat: Not impressed. Expected a fabulous and glamorous entry / lobby. But it was sort of blah. Room: We had a Queen's Grill Suite (Q6). Very spacious room, nice sized closet, nice sized bathroom. The balcony was a good size (not as small as we had feared) - you could stretch out on a chaise lounge at a bit of an angle. On arrival, a chilled bottle of champagne with chocolate covered strawberries awaited us. The cabin butler greeted us, showed us the contents of the mini-fridge which included another bottle of complimentary champagne, canned soda and bottled water. She indicated that we were entitled to two bottles of wine and offered us a choice of red, white or both. This was a very pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. The king size bed had no mattress on it. Instead it was a 2" foam pad over the box spring. When you tried to sleep at night, you felt the steel from the box spring in your back and a quite noticeable gap between the two sides of the bed. In the cabin, we heard a ship structural snapping and cracking noise in one wall. It sounded like the ship was going to come apart. We complained about the bed and the noise. They brought us 2 more duvets to put under the fitted sheet which helped but not enough. They told us the noise was normal and in all the rooms. We later learned that the cabins were constructed in modules with lots of plastic. When the ship twists / bends with the motion of the waves, the plastic in the walls creaks and snaps. The TV in the room was a modern flat panel. They played some great, newer movies around the clock at no charge. Room service was great. The butler and her assistant were friendly and attentive. We forgot to think about what side of the ship we should request a cabin. On these transatlantic voyages, one side of the ship is facing south the whole time. That is the side you want. So, go for port on Westbound and starboard on Eastbound. Food: The Queens Grill atmosphere was not the greatest. The food and service, however, was phenomenal. Plenty of choices on the menu, half of which changed daily. If you wanted something not on the menu and they had the ingredients available, you got it - no extra charge. In the Queens Grill, you do have an assigned table but no assigned time. You just show up during the dinner hours (I think they were 6-10) whenever you are hungry. Same concept for Breakfast and Lunch (same table). Each night, the cabin butler left us the next day's menus to preview. You can order as many appetizers or desserts or anything on the menu for that matter. No questions asked. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Strongly recommend the Dover Sole and the Short Ribs. The wine and liquor are reasonably priced. If you don't feel like eating at the Queens Grill the buffets were also pretty good with a nice variety of offerings. You can also bring your own bottle of vintage wine or champagne (brought from home or bought on board) to the Queens Grill for a nominal corkage fee. Bars: Our favorite was the Commodore which was just down the corridor from our cabin. It occupies the front of deck 9 and is a great place to view during the day. At night, there is a piano player. Nice, upscale bar. They also have an enclosed, ventilated cigar room. If you are a smoker, this is one of the few public areas where you can smoke. The cigars for sale there were mostly stale (not fresh) so recommend bringing your own. We also tried the Queens Grill Lounge but didn't like it as well as the Commodore plus it was at the other end of the ship from our cabin as well as being 2 decks below. Every time we decided to try one of the other bars, they were too crowded. Entertainment: We didn't go to any of the variety shows at night. We enjoyed some of the afternoon lectures and really liked a classical guitar concert offered. They claim to have the largest library at sea and it does have a good selection. Our cabin was one floor up from the library and very convenient. They also have a book club. Prior to the voyage, they will announce the book on the Cunard website. Or you can pick up copies in the library (purchase or borrow) when you board. Near the end of the voyage, they have a book club discussion. If you want to see a planetarium show, you have to pick up your tickets that morning. There is an observation deck where you can watch the Captain and crew "drive" the ship. Very interesting! If you want to use the golf simulator - book immediately. They fill up fast. One of the things we most enjoyed was simply walking around the deck. Be careful though, it can get very windy. If the winds come up it gets quite strong (if the ship is travelling about 25 MPH and the wind is 25 MPH in the same direction = 50 MPH effectively). Internet access: If you bring your own laptop, you can pay by the minute or buy a package. If you want to just check your email or don't have a laptop, there are computers in the library or in the computer center you can use. Same thing, either pay by the minute or buy a package. Cell phones: We didn't realize that they would work but they do! Had a signal most of the time but the per minute charges while away from shore can be pricey - I think they said it was $10/minute. While you are near land, you just pick up the normal cell signals. We had considered renting a satellite phone (for emergencies) but are glad we didn't'. Formal nights: There are 3 on the transatlantic and really are formal. Pets: There is a kennel on the top deck near the rear of the boat. They have a fenced area outside for them to run around in. We saw quite a few dogs and they looked like they were having fun. Casino: Was smaller than we expected. They did have a special table for Texas Hold 'em which is automated and there were plenty of tournaments if you like to play. Plenty of slot and bingo tournaments too. Ship: This ship is built for the transatlantic voyage. It is smaller than many other cruise ships for this reason. Very stable. You almost never feel the motion. If you are worried about being seasick, stop worrying. The length of the ship is dictated by the docking area in Southampton and the room to turn there. The height is dictated by the Verrazano Narrows bridge in NY (had to be able to sail under it). In general, the ship is looking a little outdated and is in need of a remodel. The passengers: This is an adult ship. We saw some kids but not that many. You don't need to worry about seeing a bunch of kids everywhere. The age group was mostly 45-80 years old although there were some younger couples. The mix was mostly UK citizens (about 2/3), followed by US citizens and a few from many different countries. Many of our fellow passengers were repeat customers. Definitely a gay friendly cruise. Tipping: They automatically add $13/pp per day for "service" (tips) and gratuity charges for liquor were 15%. But, on your check in the bars and restaurants they still have a line for tips. All of the staff are definitely looking for an additional tip the last day or so of the cruise. Disembarkation: Queens Grill passengers are one of the first groups off the ship. If you want to, you can not put your bags out the night before and leave the ship whenever. If you opt for a transfer, you report to the theater and are called in groups for your transfers. We did this. The cost was reasonable but our bus drive appears to have never been to JFK before and didn't seem to speak English. I think we drove around the airport about 10 times while he tried to figure out how to get to the terminal we needed. Note: We emailed Cunard after returning home regarding our uncomfortable bed and the noise in our cabin. We never received a reply. Although Cunard seems British, they are now owned by an American company. The attitude seems to be if you don't like it, go pound sand because they aren't changing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Jim (67) and I (62) chose this ship for our 25th cruise, mainly because it is the nicest ship in the Carib this summer, and has (we thought) a live Hold'Em Poker table.  Overall, the ship is stunning and service is good.  We are ... Read More
Jim (67) and I (62) chose this ship for our 25th cruise, mainly because it is the nicest ship in the Carib this summer, and has (we thought) a live Hold'Em Poker table.  Overall, the ship is stunning and service is good.  We are not, however, accustomed to such a BIG ship with SO MANY passengers!We booked our own flights, planning to fly in a day early so as not to risk missing the ship.  Our first flight was late, making us miss our connecting flight.  Delta confirmed us on a 5:05 flight, but was nice enough to put us on standby for the 2:30 flight, which seated us.  Even though we could not sit together, we were thrilled to make the flight.  If these plans had been for cruise day instead of the day before, we might have missed the ship, meaning we'd have to make our way to Ocho Rios three days later to join the ship. Whew!We checked into the Holiday Inn Bayside, expecting the promised bay view, only to discover that all the smoking rooms are on the 3rd floor, and not high enough to see anything else but traffic.  The room was small but comfortable.  We walked across the street to Bayside and, after browsing the many shops and kiosks, had a wonderful dinner at Bubba Gump's.  The next morning we had a great buffet breakfast at the hotel and grabbed a cab for the short trip to the pier.EmbarkationWe arrived at the pier at 11:30, and after going thru security and checkin, we were in the Lido line in 15 minutes.  We easily found a table for two by the window, and even when we left 30 minutes later, saw no evidence of anyone wandering around looking for a table.  We sat by the pool for awhile and around 1:00 went to our cabin.Our cabin, JS-9644, was a spacious room with a walk-in closet and plenty of other storage space.  The balcony was deep enough for two loungers and two other chairs and small cocktail table.  The bathroom, however, was very small for a Junior Suite. The small single-sink counter could only accommodate one person.  Only 2 doors away from the elevator bank, we never heard any noise from the passageway.  A sign on our cabin door indicated a non-smoking room, and when I called the front desk, I learned that all cabins are non-smoking, but we could smoke on the balcony.  Inconvenient, but acceptable. That's the most Jim has used the balcony in all the years we've been cruising!We took our traditional nap before the safety drill, and prepared for our first (early) dinner in the Rembrandt Dining Room.  We were seated with a couple from Florida and another couple who didn't show up until the next night.  Our waiter, Andrae and his assistant were attentive and prompt, and the DR Supervisor came by to see that we were being taken care of to our liking, and with one exception, we were.The Soca-licious Parade was really cool with the staff/crew/entertainers dressed in elaborate Carnivale-type costumes, singing, dancing and interacting with the crowd... really fun!We adjourned to the casino where we donated a little to the Dealers' Benevolent Society (missed the Welcome Aboard Spectacular), and retired early.On Sunday, our first sea day, I ventured to the Windjammer for my traditional lox and bagels.  It was a little crowded, and although the lines were short, I had trouble finding a table for one.  One of the stewards took my plate, found me a table with a view, and had someone get me some coffee.  The food and selection was very good, but it was difficult to carry a plate, bowl, silverware and a drink by yourself.Our CruiseCritic Meet 'n' Mingle was held at 10:15 in the Olive or Twist lounge.  We had about 35 attendees, which is great!  Carla and Andrew  were very personable, having provided a gift for everyone, coffee, tea, juice, canapEs and pastries, and raffled off bags of very nice ship stuff.  Although we were allotted 45 minutes in the lounge, we were gone in half the time. The Port & Shopping Show (which was billed as a 'must-see show') was scheduled for the same time, so we missed it.On Tuesday, in Ocho Rios, we braved the hoards of Taxi drivers and wandered into the little shopping area off the pier.  One driver took us to a shopping center where the locals shop, and we picked up a few things we had forgotten to pack.On Wednesday, the second formal dinner, we were surprised that there was not enough lobster to go around. At our table, one couple requested and received an additional lobster tail each.  The remaining diners were told that not only could we NOT order two lobster tails, but that there were NOT ENOUGH for even ONE ORDER PER PERSON on this EARLY SEATING! The waiter said that any remaining tails were reserved for the second seating.  Our table mates brought this up with the Concierge, and the following night all six of us were served lobster in addition to our chosen entrees.Saturday was Debarkation Day, and I was, as usual, dissatisfied with the procedure.  As suite guests, we were nearly first off the ship.  Even at this early hour, the lines for Immigration and Customs were unbearable.  We got off the ship quickly, but the luggage was not on the proper carousel, and when we found it, it took a long time to find a porter to help us through the line.  There were two lines with at least 200 pax (some trying to maneuver their own luggage) and quite a few successful line-jumpers.  Once past this roadblock, we easily found a cab and were on our way.Due to air traffic congestion, we missed our connecting flight.  Delta once again got us standby seats, and we didn't have to wait too long.We liked the size and layout of our suite (except the bathroom), the attentive waitstaff in the dining room, and the friendly and helpful dealers in the Casino.  Other than that, We did not have any use for most of the activities and attractions on the ship, and did not care to take any of the excursions this time.  I think the Liberty was simply more ship than we needed.  We can generally overlook minor things that are not to our liking, but we do expect a higher level of service than we experienced on the Liberty. 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Sail Date May 2009
Review MS Europa Cruise, from 10 May 2009 to 16 June 2009 - 37 days. By Gerardie. Athens (Piraeus) to Hamburg, Voyages EUR0910, EUR0911, EUR0912, EUR0913. We first heard about the MS Europa when we were on a cruise on another German ... Read More
Review MS Europa Cruise, from 10 May 2009 to 16 June 2009 - 37 days. By Gerardie. Athens (Piraeus) to Hamburg, Voyages EUR0910, EUR0911, EUR0912, EUR0913. We first heard about the MS Europa when we were on a cruise on another German ship, the MS Deutschland in 2007. Passengers were referring to the MS Europa with some deference and comparisons were made between the two ships. We had made travel arrangements for a vacation to Europe in March. However, changed circumstances made it necessary for us to defer our plans for a couple of months. Looking for a suitable alternative cruise in Europe, we came across a Mediterranean cruise on the MS Europa. The itinerary suited our intentions and we decided to take 4 sections consecutively from Athens to Hamburg. MS Europa of Hapag Lloyd, did not advertise any of these sections as bilingual, in other words, on this cruise, the Europa catered in the main, but not exclusively, for German passengers. We are not native German speakers; my wife speaks no German apart from a few words, but I am fairly proficient in the language. Our experience on the Deutschland had prepared us for life on a German ship, and we enjoyed our cruise tremendously. So without trepidation we booked on the MS Europa. Even though this cruise was not bilingual, the staff and crew spoke English and apart from the occasional misunderstanding, we had no difficulty in communicating with anyone. The MS Europa have excellent International Relation hostesses, who helped with the translations of the menus and the daily activity sheet in English. The daily news was provided in German only. The male hosts on board spoke excellent English and were a great help. The concierge sorted out shore-going trips and outings. So the Europa with regard to accommodating non-German or English speaking passengers is fully prepared. People cruise for a variety of reasons, but the expectation of good food and service usually is one of them. It is surprising, therefore, that the Europa thinks it should cater to the German taste only. German travellers also want to experience international and country specific cuisine. Why go on a cruise to be served food you can find in any half decent restaurant anywhere. My harshest remarks will be reserved for the standard of the food and its style, and the lack of innovation on the menu. Even though we were offered caviar several times, this does not make superior cuisine. The food in the main is well presented but bland and tasteless. The hotel manager and executive chef are responsible for the standard and quality of the restaurants and they must meet passengers' expectations. The executive chef is not hands-on overseeing the restaurant's out-put at each service, because there were some near disasters. There were complaints and rumblings from German passengers aswell. We had some very good meals, but also many mediocre meals. This inconsistency shows a lack of quality control. The Europa has great serving staff, who at times have to make up for the shortcomings of the kitchen. We met with the hotel manager who looked into our concerns; the result was that staff, probably having been told, became obsequious. That was the last thing we wanted, and for the rest of the cruise we kept our concerns to ourselves. Our criticism of the standard and quality of food does not apply to the speciality Italian restaurant Venezia. We ate here on a number of occasions and each time we came away with having experienced a wonderful meal. The food is classic Italian; the menu is frequently changed to include regional Italian dishes. The Italian restaurant manager knows how to please his guests and went out of his way to arrange for us some of our most loved Italian dishes. The table service is friendly and impeccable. The other special restaurant is the Oriental restaurant, serving dishes from the Orient, with regional themes. Bookings for both of these restaurants is required and it is wise to do so early in your cruise, because the restaurants are usually booked out. We booked the Asian restaurant, but our booking was cancelled because of a function. We did not re-book and never ate in the Oriental restaurant. There is no additional charge for dining in the speciality restaurants. The restaurants are open for lunch and dinner. Cruise ships such as the Europa, with fares* among the highest in the world, are expected to deliver new dining experiences and to provide thoughtfully conceived and perfectly prepared food. On the Europa there are a number of areas where this falls well short of best international practice. Passengers are entitled to expect more than a slogan (Weltbestes Kreuzfahrtschiff) to make a cruise memorable. *The fare includes travel cancellation insurance, but the Europa is one of the few cruise ships which still imposes a daily fuel surcharge. The disappointment in meeting our expectations on the MS Europa lies in the main with the cruise director who is responsible for creating the right atmosphere and conditions for the full enjoyment of the cruise; to organise exciting entertainment, passenger activities and leisure programs. We acknowledge that the entertainment was directed at a German audience, but there was some bad programming and often a poor timing of activities. The ship itself is well run; all schedules were met, we arrived on time and left on time. There were no break-downs. The ship is extremely quiet and stable and even under bad weather conditions there was no discomfort. We had read up about the MS Europa and were looking forward to the advertised wellness programme. On our first day on board we found that there were no Yoga classes, no oriental type massage, as there was no masseur on board who did oriental massage. Matters did not improve when I ordered my first hot breakfast in the Lido; the outcome was very disappointing. We flew from Australia via Dubai to Athens. Hapag Lloyd had a hospitality suite in the Hotel Royal Olympic in Athens. We had booked into another hotel and took a taxi to the hotel, where we were welcomed and our luggage was taken care of. Light refreshments were available. We had time to spare so we revisited some sites in Athens until it was time to depart by bus to Piraeus and we were on board in no time. After handing in our passport in exchange for our cabin card (and charge card) we were shown to our cabin. We were aft on Pacific deck. Flowers, champagne, chocolates and strawberries awaited us. The bar fridge was stocked with juices, beer and soft drinks. Passengers have their fridge restocked daily with beverages of their own choice. The cabin was large with a separate sitting area, a good size balcony, a sleeping area with twin beds pushed together (at our request), a walk-in wardrobe, a bathroom with bath and shower. All finishes were of the highest quality and of modern design. We were also provided with a bathrobe, slippers, soaps, plenty of coast hangers, etc. A good feature in the cabin is the interactive television/radio/internet entertainment centre. With our travel papers we were given a personal e-mail address; so we could receive and send e-mails (but no attachments) from our cabin. There was a choice of TV stations, mainly German, but included CNN. The ship's daily programs and activities, menus in the restaurants, port lectures etc. were screened each day. A selection of different music, classical, jazz, rock etc. is available, as well as videos, including a good selection of titles in English. The Europa was built in 1999. It is a comfortable and very spacious ship with a nice dEcor. The most surprising thing is that so much of all that space is seldom used. There is the Club Belvedere with a beautiful forward view over the sea. It is used for afternoon tea, church services and the occasional musical performance. During the day we found the church paraphernalia were often left in place, or the blinds were drawn. At other times this lounge was used for practice by the performing artists. Passengers seldom used this lounge, and no wonder. Then there is the Clipper lounge on deck 4. In all the time we were on board it was only used for one performance; the ship's band plays there from time to time. The rest of the time this lounge is not used. The Havana bar, opposite the Clipper lounge, the place to enjoy a cigar and a drink, is rarely used; perhaps because smoking is still allowed in many areas of the ship. The auditorium on deck 8, a nice little theatre and ideal for lectures or film screening, seldom used. The art workshop or hobby room; we are not aware of any activities organised or conducted here. There is also a well set-up kids' club and a gallery. There were some exhibitions of artists, with their work for sale. There is a comfortable library with plenty of books, magazines and games. Alas non in English. Most of the entertainment and special events take place in the Europa lounge. Also port lectures, in German only, readings, etc. were conducted here. They were well presented and always attracted good attendances. The nightly shows are performed here. Before the show, the ship's band plays music for dancing. The band is capable, but seemed rather tired. Their repertoire is limited, and therefore the same tunes kept coming up. After the nightly show, the most popular place for relaxation is the Sansibar; a small bar with a narrow extension onto the deck. It was usually crowded and noisy and in our opinion inferior to the other venues. The Europa is now 10 years old and it shows. The dEcor of the ship, the pictures and decorations were state of the art at the time of building. The problem with all 'modern' fit outs, is that they date so quickly. The Europa's overall appearance is nice enough but it lacks a timeless elegance. During our extended cruise, there two special events. The first, a charity gala off the coast of Cannes. This was a three day cruise from and to Nice. It was a fund raising event for "Menschen fuer Menschen" and we understand it raised a considerable amount of money for the charity. Most of the activities took place on the Lido deck and for the occasion a special temporary stage was erected over the swimming pool. Extra waiting staff, and a band and entertainers were brought in. The stage, tables etc. were beautifully decorated with imported flower arrangements. There were many invited guests, celebrities, lots of press and television. The event was spectacular with among other things a helicopter showering rose petals over the gathered mass on board. Later that evening there were fireworks from a barge moored between the Europa and the city of Cannes. The festivities carried on well into the night. This event was good public relations and advertising for the Europa. During these events all drinks, including in the restaurants and lounges, are free. The Europa does not skimp on food or drink. The other event was on the last segment to Hamburg. In Antwerp, on board the Europa, we experienced Europe's Best Cuisine. Again, the ship was packed with guests and the media. Chefs from a number of well known restaurants in Europe had been invited to show off their best dishes. On the Lido deck, brand-new Gaggenau cooking stations had been set up for the chefs to cook their signature dishes for the guests and passengers to sample. There were cheeses to try from France, wines from Germany and elsewhere. That evening we had another fireworks display over the water. The quality and variety of food was an eye opener after the mundane offerings from our regular restaurant. Passengers and guests seemed to relish this food experience. It also suggests that management of the Europa should not think it necessary to cater mainly for the German taste in their daily food presentation. The Europa had a new port of call almost every day, and there were very few sea days. We used these sea days to catch up on e-mails, domestic chores. etc. Incidentally, there is no laundry on board, but there is an ironing room. On sea days we had our massage in the Ocean Spa. Here also is a sauna and steam room, and relaxation area. All very stylish and relaxing. The facilities are mixed company. As soon as the sun comes out people are out on the deck. There are plenty of deck chairs, towels and blankets. We did not find many secluded spots for a quiet read, or a place to keep out of the sun. However, there are umbrellas aplenty and deck staff will position them to your liking. Drink service is available on deck. Our daily routine began fairly early. My wife did her yoga exercises by herself in the exercise room, and I was in the gym by 6.30 am. The gym is very well equipped with exercise apparatus on a lower level with a forward view over the Lido deck, and on a higher level weight lifting and like equipment. From here there is also access to the FKK (nude) deck. Towels and cold water are available. On port visiting days we had an early breakfast in the Lido cafe and then took off for the town. We did not go on shore excursions because they were all conducted in German. The evening before arriving in port, information was available in English about the port and we prepared our own plan. The concierge often provided additional information. In all ports the local tourist office has either an information stand or a representative on or near the ship. We consulted the local tourist people first. They would tell you the best places to go to, how to get there, and how much it would cost. Where the main tourist attractive is not at the port of call, as for instance, in Cadiz to go to Seville, we hired a taxi for the morning or day. You negotiate a price beforehand, and you are then free to go where ever you want. This gives you much more freedom than on an excursion. It often is also cheaper to make your own arrangements. MS Europa is one of the few ships that we know, that allows visitors on board. This is great if you have friends or family in the ports of call. We made good use of this and we had visitors in a couple of ports. Your visitors can eat on board for a small charge. To obtain some further privileges, we joined the Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten Club. There is a joining fee, but for every sea mile, you earn bonus points which can be used for purchases on board. You also obtain discounts on future cruises. The Europa is not an "all-in" ship; you pay for drinks ordered in bars and the restaurants, services such as hairdressing, massages, excursions, etc. Although the Europa advertised that tipping is included in the fare, tipping is nonetheless allowed or suggested for exceptional service. This defeats the whole purpose of the so-called inclusive tipping. We noticed that most passengers tipped. We did not find the Europa a convivial ship. Apart from the customary "Morgen" or "guten Tag", passengers did not reach out and kept very much to themselves. Before leaving the cruise we were asked to complete a satisfaction questionnaire, and whether we would consider a return visit. We believe that MS Europe management needs to change their approach and attitude, regarding dining and passenger activities, and accommodating non German speakers, before they can be truly regarded as part of that select group of international luxury cruise ships. In our opinion, as it stands at present, it will not be "auf Wiedersehen" but "Good Luck". Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
My wife,Pat and I had only ever cruised once before on the Arcadia. This was two years ago when it was then the P&O's latest vessel. Our experience was a brilliant one,leaving us looking forward to the next one but not hooked on ... Read More
My wife,Pat and I had only ever cruised once before on the Arcadia. This was two years ago when it was then the P&O's latest vessel. Our experience was a brilliant one,leaving us looking forward to the next one but not hooked on cruising to the neglect of other types of holiday abroad. Our only misgivings were that you only have a limited time ashore to explore and discover the countries visited. What it does do is give you a taste,which then encourages you to return at a future date to expand further. The food was magnificent,the entertainment was fantastic and the ship was awesome. When the offer dropped into our laps to cruise on the Ventura with upgradings at a reasonable cost we jumped at the chance as it had to be bigger and better than Arcadia ! Our first disappointment was on the second night when we went to watch the show. This was nowhere near as good as the talented group of performers on Arcadia. We thought that the performance would get better as the week progressed,but no,in fact it got worse. People were leaving before the end on most nights. This was particularly true with the second Comedian "Sludge" Lees who was awful ! The food in the Saffron was O.K. without coming up to the standard we had come to accept on Arcadia. The buffet restaurant (the Waterside) was nowhere nearly as good as on the Arcadia with poor choices available most of the time. Our experience wasn't helped by the wine-waiter throwing a glass of Chateau-neuf-du-pap over me on the second night. I'm still waiting for an apology from the lady in question and a replacement glass of wine ! They did launder my shirt and "cream" trousers however. Although we would prefer to cruise without children,the 20 or so that were on board during our cruise did not bother us and they were perfectly behaved. However the next cruise after ours had 450 children,that would have been a nightmare ! We renewed our vows whilst on board,which was a moving experience for us both. The package at £250 is not cheap,but we were glad we did it. The icing on the cake was that we had Captain Dowds to perform the ceremony as he was the Captain on the Arcadia on our first cruise. Sadly the 80 pictures taken by the onboard photographer left much to be desired and we were unable to select 24 for the album of the occasion (another £120) but luckily one of our table companions had taken some excellent photos of the occasion on our camera so we got our album at a fraction of the cost ! Ventura is big. Very big !! But we were left thinking that much has been lost in P&O's efforts to go larger. The experience hasn't put us off cruising,but we won't cruise on Ventura again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008

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