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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
I would like to comment on the excellent experience we had with my wife at Viking Sky. Before leaving, we had apprehensions regarding entertainment on board and the age of the passengers. We are not young (58 and 46 years old) but we ... Read More
I would like to comment on the excellent experience we had with my wife at Viking Sky. Before leaving, we had apprehensions regarding entertainment on board and the age of the passengers. We are not young (58 and 46 years old) but we knew that the average age was higher. The truth is that although the average age is higher, it was very nice for us to be on the boat without children or teenagers, without a casino, without photographers, without sellers of trinkets. the shows were of quality, the conferences very interesting, the first level gym, the extraordinary spa, the fantastic living rooms to read, the swimming pools with sun loungers available, the exceptional food both in the buffet and in the restaurant, always, and I insist, always with tables available for dinner, breakfast and dinners. This is our 15th cruise and we have used MCS, Costa, Royal, Azamara, Princess and Celebrity, and from all of the above we can say that Viking has been our best experience and best quality price ratio. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
This cruise on the Scenic Pearl far exceeded our expectations! We loved gliding along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers and gazing at the picturesque scenery along the way from our balcony, the dining room, lounge and top deck, there was ... Read More
This cruise on the Scenic Pearl far exceeded our expectations! We loved gliding along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers and gazing at the picturesque scenery along the way from our balcony, the dining room, lounge and top deck, there was always something amazing to see. Our cruise director was outstanding and all the staff were friendly and attentive and worked hard to make sure we had the best experience. The gourmet food was delicious, plentiful and well presented. The excursions and enrichment activities were very well organized and we also enjoyed the free time to explore on our own. Some of the highlights for us: The beautiful scenery, Amsterdam from the canals, Melk Abbey, Nuremberg, Saltzburg with some Sound of Music sights, the wonders of Vienna and the beautiful Opera performed just for us, ancient villages, castles and ruins and the surprise Budapest light show on our very last evening was truly spectacular. We can’t rave enough about this cruise...it really was a dream vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We chose this trip as some of our family had already booked, and it was something we thought we would like to do It was an amazing experience, and we all had a fabulous time. We would definitely recommend this to anyone First class ... Read More
We chose this trip as some of our family had already booked, and it was something we thought we would like to do It was an amazing experience, and we all had a fabulous time. We would definitely recommend this to anyone First class accommodation and meals, with an excellent itinerary with first class activities and outings included We hope to cruise with Scenic again in the future. It was so well organised and easy for passengers. The staff were wonderful and very friendly and accommodating All of the onshore activities were value for money, interesting and informative as well as a lot of fun. We felt very pampered and well looked after and couldn’t totally relax and enjoy our cruise holiday knowing everything was taken care of. The food and drink menu and waiters were amazing, and really made life on the ship so special, as did our cruise director, who made sure everyone had a fabulous time. Thankyou Scenic, for a truly memorable holiday Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I was on a Mediterranean cruise in 2015 on the Queen Victoria. That was my first Cunard experience. It has spoiled me forever now. I have been on two other Ocean cruises with Crystal. Nothing to complain about on Crystal however they ... Read More
I was on a Mediterranean cruise in 2015 on the Queen Victoria. That was my first Cunard experience. It has spoiled me forever now. I have been on two other Ocean cruises with Crystal. Nothing to complain about on Crystal however they have changed there format since being purchased by Carnival and now are less formal and the dining was "freestyle". One of the reasons i chose Cunard was because i like the formal nights and the set dining. It is one of the best ways to meet people that may eventually become friends off ship. I departed from my home port which is located 4 blocks from my apartment so super easy. Embarkation was longer than i thought it would be but not irritating. Note to cruisers departing from Vancouver...its a lovely city please add two or three nights pre or post trip. The cabin i had was an inside so not much to say except it was very well appointed and was serviced professionally and serviced twice daily. I like the amenity products. Food was spectacular. Never a bad meal. I started to order in room service for breakfast after going to the Lido the first two mornings. Room service provided fresh and hot food on time as ordered. High tea is not to be missed. As Vancouver has very similar landscape to Alaska i booked this trip to relax on an elegant ship. Cunard delivers. I can literally go 40 minutes from my house in September to see 100+ eagles in a tree and feeding on Salmon so it was quite funny when on the excursion, everyone was ooing and awwing over one lone eagle in a tree almost too far away to make out. Very few children on board which is a plus. I would definately book another Cunard cruise but would not go to Alaska again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Not my first Viking ocean cruise but my first on the new Viking Jupiter. While we got off on a rocky start as our ship developed a propulsion system problem leaving out of Greenwich, we were delayed 2 days in the small English port of ... Read More
Not my first Viking ocean cruise but my first on the new Viking Jupiter. While we got off on a rocky start as our ship developed a propulsion system problem leaving out of Greenwich, we were delayed 2 days in the small English port of Tilbury. Viking worked to organize a few tours in the Tilbury area, gave some onboard credit to passengers, and in general worked very hard to keep passengers pacified. Good news was that the needed repair(s) were made and we were on our way again. Sadly the ports of the Orkney and Shetland Islands had to e eliminated to get the ship back on schedule. Now the great stuff! Food was varied, plentiful and high quality. On sea days the chef arranged for fun/location driven lunches near the pool. Plenty of complimentary wines and beers during lunch and dinner. I also enjoyed dining in The Restaurant for breakfast and dinners. The specialty restaurants, Chefs Table and my favorite, Manfredi’s were very good. Hubby and I made a few trips to Mamsen’s for the yummy waffle served with the brown goat cheese ( try it before you judge), fresh berries and syrup. The pea soup served 10- midnight is also good. I enjoyed the classical music performances and the variety of evening shows in the theatre. The onboard planetarium had three programs during the cruise that I thoroughly enjoyed. Very limited seating, so be sure you make reservations when you board. Most of the excursions were very good. The Spa was very comprehensive with an emphasis on Nordic bathing ritual, comfort and relaxation. We took this trip to see the Norwegian fjords, and that part did not disappoint. Beautiful, sailing close to observe when possible was awesome. We had beautiful warmish weather without rain ( we were told this was not normal, but we enjoyed it). The trip entitled Into The Midnight Sun, was just that...the sun was up nearly 24 hours a day. A very different experience. I really loved sailing into the Arctic Circle and going to the North Cape. Saw herds of reindeer roaming! On board there were lectures about culture, space travel and other interesting subjects. I do want to mention if you have difficulty with the volume on your in stateroom TV, ask your cabin steward to bring the wireless headset to you. Wonderful in lieu of no closed captioning on TV. The ship is new, built like the other Viking ocean ships and is beautiful. Very relaxing public areas that are conducive to meeting/ making friends. Viking’s style is not for everyone, but I sure love them. Primarily the passengers are 50’s to 80’s that are active, well educated and well traveled. The Cruise Director said most of us are “travelers” with only some being “tourists”. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
My wife and I chose this Viking’s “14 Day Into the Midnight Sun” trip specifically because it had port stops in the Orkney and Shetland Islands and also crossed the Arctic Circle. We also chose Viking due to their reputation and ... Read More
My wife and I chose this Viking’s “14 Day Into the Midnight Sun” trip specifically because it had port stops in the Orkney and Shetland Islands and also crossed the Arctic Circle. We also chose Viking due to their reputation and positive reviews we had read. Unfortunately our trust was misplaced and we will definitely not be using this cruise line again. First, the positives: airport arrival and embarkation were amazingly efficient and easy, the ship is beautiful throughout with spacious well-appointed suites, the food was excellent, and the staff was very friendly and helpful. Unfortunately the rest of this review is less than stellar. The first problems we encountered were relatively minor: our luggage took over 7 hours to get to our stateroom, quite a bit longer than what we’d normally expect. Second, the remote control to our TV stopped working late at night and I had to get dressed and walk down to the help desk to retrieve a new one since I was cut off twice when I attempted to reach them by phone. These little irritations were a foretaste of what was to come later. Less than one day out of Greenwich the Jupiter lost an engine and had to return to the industrial port of Tilbury for repairs. The lost time subsequently led to cancellation of port visits to the Shetlands and Orkneys as well as reduced time at Edinburgh and Honningsvag. Needless to say we were extremely disappointed since visiting these destinations was a major goal of our trip. After the March incident involving the Viking Sky I felt that Viking would have ensured the mechanical integrity of the Sky’s sister ships, including the Jupiter. In a memo Viking assured us that we would be contacted regarding compensation after the trip was complete and that in the meantime we would receive a $250 per person non-refundable credit for shipboard purchases. However, instead of offering us a partial refund Viking would only offer a 20% discount on a future booking made within a year. According to one of Viking’s customer relations representatives this was justified on the basis that Viking wanted us to travel with them again in order to show us that they can deliver on a quality product. She offered no explanation when we challenged her as to why we would spend more money on a second cruise when our expectations on the first one had not been met. I certainly understand that missing ports due to ‘acts of God’ such as bad weather are beyond control and that’s a risk the customer assumes. However, mechanical problems should be the responsibility of the cruise line, especially when sister ships recently experienced such problems. It baffles me as to why some reasonable monetary compensation could not be provided since this has been the practice on other cruise lines. Suffice it to say that this was our first and will be our last cruise with Viking. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This was our first trip with Seabourn and will be our last. Our previous cruises have all been with Cunard in its Grills Suites. Cunard has bigger ships so more people but has immeasurably better staff and food. The food on the Ovation ... Read More
This was our first trip with Seabourn and will be our last. Our previous cruises have all been with Cunard in its Grills Suites. Cunard has bigger ships so more people but has immeasurably better staff and food. The food on the Ovation was boring and bland. The dress code is not policed and many evenings gentlemen turned up to dinner in polo shirts. The shore excursions were expensive and sometimes involved long journeys presumably because Seabourn do not wish to pay more expensive docking fees. The pillows and mattress had the consistency of a marshmallow. Despite firm pillows being offered our steward could not find any which wasn't great. The one female hairdresser on board was awful and the service generally slow. My husband ordered roses for our anniversary and they turned up at 10pm that night. The entertainment was boring and very few enrichment talks compared to Cunard. We could seldom have breakfast in the restaurant as we were on excursions and it did not open until 8am. The Colonnade was like a zoo. Very very disappointing. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Cons - Buffet area was way too crowded for breakfast and lunch and it was hard to walk without bumping into people nearly everyday. Dining in Silhouette was also very crowded and dinner took a full 2 hours and staff seemed like it was ... Read More
Cons - Buffet area was way too crowded for breakfast and lunch and it was hard to walk without bumping into people nearly everyday. Dining in Silhouette was also very crowded and dinner took a full 2 hours and staff seemed like it was struggling to keep up. Outside pool also extremely crowded. Also, 4 and 5 year old kids at the bars 11pm at night. And lastly, the cost for internet was really high, they were asking $28.00 just to buy 5 minutes of internet time to print out my plane tickets. Oh, and no towel animals. What the heck. Pros - Embarkation and debarkation were incredibly fast. Staff was very friendly. Service was Spectacular / Excellent overall and the staff worked really hard and deserve a lot of credit. Ship was also absolutely stunning - the furniture, the decor, the art gallery, everything was just so beautifully done. I had the standard balcony cabin on the 7th floor and it was also Amazing. Also noticed new changes this year - beach towels in cabin, new pillows, bath robes, and the mattress was so comfortable it was like sleeping on a cloud! We were also lucky in that we had nice weather, smooth seas, and the ocean breeze / Caribbean air at night was just perfect. In addition, the ship was incredibly clean - you saw a lot of staff cleaning / up-keeping the ship which was good. Our cabin was cleaned twice a day and our room attendant did an amazing job. The public bathrooms were also the cleanest I've ever seen in my entire life and I've been on a lot of cruises. Also, the hand towels in the public restrooms is a great idea. In addition, the entertainment was really excellent. Comedian Billy Garan and Jimmy Carol were a 10 out of 10. And the show "Topper" was great with the dancers in the artistic costumes and beautiful set design. The music throughout the ship was also good and there was LOTS of it - lots of musical shows in the theater, bands / singers at the pool and bars often and singers / band in the grand foyer every night and for the 4th of July party and the Great Gatsby party. There were also a lot more activities on the ship from when I went last year. Also,our cruise director Martin, was the BEST EVER - funny, entertaining, great party host, and he explained things very well. He was an A++ In addition, his dancing elevator scheme was very funny in how he caught passengers off guard in the elevator during the Great Gatsby party, and made them dance to get to their floor. The Food was u n b e l i e v a b l e. The quality and variety of food at the buffet was Astounding. Ribeye steak cooked to order one night. . as well as calamari, oxtail, chicken pot pie, and all kinds of fancy fish, pork, chicken and beef dishes. Many times the meat was so tender you could cut it with a spoon. Buffet desserts were also epic especially the german chocolate cake, the vanilla cannolis, and the butter cakes. And in the main dining room Silhouette, Superb new york sirloin steak, rack of lamb, shrimp scampi, creme brulee, strawberry cheesecake, and baked alaska. The mixed drinks were also made to perfection and the specialty coffee / espresso at Cafe Al Bacio was really good. Ports - ALL FABULOUS - Costa Maya was my favorite - took the short tram / taxi ride to Mahahaul beach which is the most beautiful beach I've ever been too - crystal clear warm water and no waves and palm trees that come right up to the water. Plus a great boardwalk with shops and cute cafes. However, did not like seeing all the homeless dogs not being cared for by locals and I had to buy them food / clean water for them. Wish I could have took them home with me. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I chose this cruise because of its itinerary. This was my first time on Regent. I usually do Princess. If you want to try Regent, start with another ship. The Navigator is old, small, has very little entertainment during the night or ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of its itinerary. This was my first time on Regent. I usually do Princess. If you want to try Regent, start with another ship. The Navigator is old, small, has very little entertainment during the night or day and the decor is average at best. One of my biggest problem with this cruise line is their costs to book your hotel and airport transfers. They pay for your first night before the cruise, but obviously it has been figured into the cost already. If you want to stay additional nights, I strongly suggest that you book it yourself. They charged $419 per person for the additional night. Our room only cost about $300 a night for double occupancy. So by booking with Regent, I paid over twice as much for that second night. I had my daughter with me on this trip and even though she was staying in our suite during the cruise, I had asked for an additional room for her before cruise. They put her in our room on the sofa bed and charged an additional $769 to do so. So now this extra night has cost me $1,607. Apparently, a third person in a suite does not get a free room the night before. I was encouraged by Regent agent to book the room through them because they could not guarantee both nights would be in the same room if I did not. I ended up paying for my daughter to have her own hotel room for both nights and Regent would not refund me the $769 because it was not done 30 days prior. I did not realize there was only one hotel room until I arrived in Dublin. Long story short - I would have saved a lot of money if I had personally just booked two rooms for two nights and skipped on their "free" one night of hotel. The airport transfers are no better. They have a private driver pick you up at airport which is very nice but they forgot to notice that my daughter was on a different flight and then never picked her up. She took a cab for $56. Regent charged us $113 times 3 for airport transfers. It did include a ride on a bus from the hotel to ship but still very pricey. The positive things about this cruise were the staff and the food. Everyone that assisted us on the ship were top notch. The food was the best I have had on a cruise ship. Their one specialty restaurant was excellent but we could only get one night's reservation on a 12 night cruise. All alcohol is included with your cruise and they serve excellent choices of liquor, wine and beer. The downside is people can over drink when it is basically free. The excursions were also included and they were satisfactory. We ended up paying for premium tours 3 times but there are plenty of free ones. Be sure and book those early on and do not wait till right before the ship departs. The good tours fill up fast. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Beware of what you think you are paying for!! Most likely it is NOT SO!! So I chose this cruise being that I had the Forth of July week off from my job. This fit great in to my plans, and I didn't have to rush back to work on ... Read More
Beware of what you think you are paying for!! Most likely it is NOT SO!! So I chose this cruise being that I had the Forth of July week off from my job. This fit great in to my plans, and I didn't have to rush back to work on Tuesday...Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth! That being said..... I didn't have big expectations for the ship, although the Norwegian Sun was refurbished in 2018 and the public rooms and cabins had the refreshed look, the feel of the ship was still old and out dated. Also, I wasn't aware that every passenger on the ship had the free drink package...so really, this is a "drunk" cruise. Beware! It felt like a half step up from a Carnival party cruise. On that note, one thing I was disappointed in was that there were no enrichment activities available during the day, such as classes or tastings, etc., that I have always enjoyed on other cruises. I believe that that this is due to the open bar policy, and Norwegian doesn't expect that a bunch of drunk cruisers would have the need for learning anything. They did have PLENY of BINGO though! yay :( I upgraded to a balcony cabin so that we could receive the "Take all" package offered to balcony guests. This is where I had the most problems with this cruise. BEWARE BEWARE!!! This offer included the top shelf drinks package, 100 minutes of WIFI and specialty dining for all nights of our cruise. There was also a $50 credit for a shore excursion for ONLY 1 passenger per cabin, but because most of the excursions cost a lot more than needed to be, we opted to not book one. The only package to be worth this upgrade was the drink package. We did enjoy top shelf alcohol (Grey Goose and Hendricks martinis, and a very nice bottle of champagne at dinner. at no additional charge!) very enjoyable! As far as the specialty dining, I made reservations for the Cagney's steak house the first night, followed by the Italian restaurant the 2nd night, and the French place on the 3rd night. After reserving these dining options, I was prompted to add them to a shopping cart, and then 'check out'. So, if you don't have the dining package like I was offered, you would see the cost of the restaurants in your cart, and have the option to pay the upgrade as these specialty places are not included in the included cost of the cruise. In my cart, however, the extra cost for my reservations came out $0.00, so no extra charge for the 3 nights dinners. Or so I thought! On the first night we had an outstanding dinner at Cagney's complete with a fantastic bottle of wine and absolutely exceptional service from our waitress Rhoda! We couldn't wait for the next specialty dinner. However, When we arrived for our table the next night at the Italian restaurant, we were informed that we had been entitled to 1 specialty dining experience for the length of the cruise and we had used that the last night, and it would cost us each $40 additional to eat there. I brought my printed payment proof document down the customer service desk to find out what was up and was told that according to my cruise card we were only assigned 1 specialty experience. I then showed the annoyed rep that I had made the 3 reservations and that the payment came out to $0. This is where I really feel that Norwegian has lost my business forever...back and forth the reps went with each other for over 20 minutes, only to conclude that they didn't feel that we had the bookings according to the "Ultimate Dining Package" that I had upgraded to receive, only reservations. Anyway, I got the same response as many other passengers I had talked to, that they would send a message to the Miami headquarters, and hopefully receive a response the next day, or later. This made me really confused as I asked how was that going allow me to eat at the specialty restaurants without having to pay for them as my package entitled me to? Needless to say, we never heard one word from customer service, or from the Miami office since and it left me with a very disappointed feeling overall for the cruise experience! Also, the "free" WIFI was useless, as neither me nor my roommate was ever able to get a web page on our phones or my tablet...just kept loading, while using up the free minutes! Very inadequate system. In conclusion, I know that this is a way too long review, but I am just trying to warn folks to beware of the so called 'free perks', as they may not be as expected. This cruise cost us over $800. each for 3 nights. I feel that we could have saved a lot by booking on Carnival for a similar, but much cheaper experience! Thanks for listening. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
GOOD - Nice Room with Butler/Concierge service, large bathroom and balcony, 24-hour room service. Main dining room and Toscana had excellent service staff and food was fantastic. Ship was nicely equipped and comfortable, albeit not very ... Read More
GOOD - Nice Room with Butler/Concierge service, large bathroom and balcony, 24-hour room service. Main dining room and Toscana had excellent service staff and food was fantastic. Ship was nicely equipped and comfortable, albeit not very large comparatively. BAD - Captain and officers were completely self-righteous and arrogant, to the point of being rude. The dining personnel in the "Polo Club" were incompetent and utterly unskilled in premier food service. We are not snobs and expect minor glitches in services, etc. However, the Polo Club is a "reservations only" establishment and one cannot simply enter at their leisure. The cruise was labeled "Gaelic Glory", but there was no glory about it. The theme was advertised as "Irish", but there wasn't an inkling of Irish theme aboard ship...no Irish food, music, or adornments...??? The entertainment was reminiscent of a theme park, with less than stellar performances. Shore excursions were offered by the cruise line at exorbitant prices, usually 3-4 times the amount charged by local companies at each port-of-call. If you did not book an excursion through the cruise line, you were not allowed to disembark the ship until all of those who purchased cruise line excursion packages had departed. This usually meant waiting 1-2 hours after arriving in port. The crew was extremely vigilant in enforcing this measure, to point of acting "Gestapo" like...very discourteous and unnecessary. I could list many more negative aspects about the cruise, but I think you get the picture. Overall...VERY DISAPPOINTED...!!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise because it was where we wanted to go and had the best ratings. The cabins were beautiful, the service excellent, and the food and drink fantastic. We were offered a variety of excursion options, and each one we chose ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was where we wanted to go and had the best ratings. The cabins were beautiful, the service excellent, and the food and drink fantastic. We were offered a variety of excursion options, and each one we chose was excellent. The staff were very friendly, accommodating, and proficient. The cities we visited were wonderful and the people who took us on the excursions were knowledgeable and often very humorous. When we encountered a broken river lock that prevented further travel by boat, our cruise Director, J.J., managed to arrange travel by bus and 5 star hotel accommodations that ensured we went to the cities listed and had available the same excursion options. In fact, the hotel stays allowed us to walk out the front doors into the heart of the cities, so that was a minor inconvenience. It was an amazing trip that we have recommended to every who asks. And we will do another cruise as soon as we are able. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise and ship because we had been on the same ship with a different itinerary less than 2 years ago. We even chose the same room. We were told that the ship had been refurbished. Not so, at least in our cabin. So many ... Read More
We chose this cruise and ship because we had been on the same ship with a different itinerary less than 2 years ago. We even chose the same room. We were told that the ship had been refurbished. Not so, at least in our cabin. So many things were wrong that it is hard to know where to begin. We boarded the ship at 2PM and didn't get our luggage until 5:30PM. The staff was all flustered. Something was off with the staff the whole voyage. Our cabin had stains on the carpet, rust on the balcony and lots of mold. The service at the restaurants was awful. The staff was inattentive and didn't clear tables, so we all ended up waiting or sitting at dirty tables. We had lots of trouble with our reservations at the specialty restaurants. The food was decent, but not terrific. Even on the first night, when the staff was introduced, they were not "on." Something felt off the whole voyage. We were supposed to leave Ketchikan at 4PM and didn't leave until 4am, so we missed all of our excursions and one whole day in port. That left us at sea for 3 out of 6 days. We got little in the way of an explanation and were each offered a voucher for $750 good on another cruise. Who would want to take another Regent cruise after this one...Viking is so much better and we are very avid high end travelers... Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We wanted to see Alaska & our travel agent advised us that Regent would offer us the best experience and value. Things didn’t go well at all & we feel we never got a true Alaska vacation as promised or the Regent experience! The ... Read More
We wanted to see Alaska & our travel agent advised us that Regent would offer us the best experience and value. Things didn’t go well at all & we feel we never got a true Alaska vacation as promised or the Regent experience! The ship lost an engine & we had to eliminate Juneau as a port & we had to eliminate the Hubbard glacier due to fog. We were at sea 3 of the 6 days. Not what we wanted and were only offered a $750 credit towards a FUTURE cruise to be booked within a year! In addition, restaurants were difficult to get seated in. Even the no reservation Italian restaurant had an hour and a half wait to be seated! Finding a table for 4 was virtually impossible. And to top things off, the casino manager cheated my husband out of winning a black jack tournament by verbally helping the other person in the finals! He then begged my husband to keep it inside the casino. We had 3 witnesses, reported it to executive concierge and the guest relations office has declined to offer an apology and/or give us any monetary compensation for a very bad cruise for so many reasons. Even my travel agent tried in vain to get us $1500 cash instead of future cruise credit, but they refuse to budge. What a terrible way to do business! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
North to Alaska! A review of our recent voyage on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner from Vancouver BC, Canada to Seward Alaska Alaskans are justifiably proud of their state! And, as we found out…. in Alaska size really does matter (as ... Read More
North to Alaska! A review of our recent voyage on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner from Vancouver BC, Canada to Seward Alaska Alaskans are justifiably proud of their state! And, as we found out…. in Alaska size really does matter (as we were reminded constantly!). Alaska is BIG! So big they consider Texas "Cute" :-) So BIG that if the outline of Alaska is superimposed on the outline of the "Lower Forty-Eight” It stretches from COAST-TO-COAST! BTW... most of the t-shirts appear to be somewhat of an exaggeration :-).... I'm just sayin' Alaska! It's also stunningly beautiful and awe inspiring on many levels and in its big BIG way! Overview and Why My wife said “it’s time to visit Alaska” and I agreed. We looked at the various options and decided a cruise would be just the thing to give us the opportunity to experience a wider sampling of what Alaska had to offer… in a pampered sort of way of course! We looked over the different cruise offerings and decided to try Regent Seven Seas despite the much higher price tag attached. We reasoned there were some perks offered that would somewhat offset the higher costs. 1. It is an “All Inclusive” cruise line so alcoholic beverages are included. Not that my wife is a big drinker (she’s not :-) but I have been known to tipple a bit. 2. A gourmet food experience that Regent advertises as “Exquisite Cuisine” 3. All balcony suites on the ship (SS Mariner) 4. And the real equalizer… A very good selection of included shore excursions. The only excursions that sported an additional cost were usually the helicopter and seaplane sort of excursions and a few of the all day things. I thought to myself “we could make up the difference in cost by taking advantage of this”. 5. Regents reviews and reputation as a first class, luxury cruise line. Note: I should have dug deeper! As we discovered some of the above is true and some not so much. Purchase Experience The purchase experience couldn’t have been easier. After choosing the cruise I simply called Regent and spoke to one of their representatives. He was helpful and guided us through the process smoothly. One thing to note is that Regent supplies airfare and all transfers as a normal perk of your cruise package. You can save some money by doing it yourself of course but then you have to take care of all airport/hotel transfers yourself. In the case of the Seward to Anchorage transfer (2.5 hours) that could be up to five hundred dollars! If you book one of their cruises and are flying intercontinental the covered airfare is Business/First Class. Since ours was not an intercontinental flight it was cattle car class. But, since the flights were direct to Vancouver and a direct return from Anchorage it was all good… On the surface this looked like a great cruise. It was rather shorter than many of the other itineraries (only 7 nights) on Regent or the other cruise lines. That was good for us as this was sort of a last minute decision (at least for us) and was only booked three months prior to departure. Looking at the cabins we a booked a “Concierge Suite” and were "treated" to an extra day in Vancouver at the Four Seasons Hotel. I liked this idea, not because of the extra day in Vancouver, but because we arrived a day ahead of the cruise to minimize any possibility of a travel snafu. Pre-Cruise - Pick up at the airport went well. Regent was well represented and greeted us as we exited customs. Transfer to the hotel was in a nice van with five other passengers. We were dropped off at the Four Seasons the rest of them went on to the Trump Towers. Luggage was handled appropriately while we checked in at the front desk. The hotel clerk immediately tried to up-sell us to a suite. If I understood her correctly it was “only” $950 for the night. After a split second I was able to choke out… “No thank you…” I told her… “we will be fine for the one night in the room booked by Regent.” The Four Seasons itself was nice but somewhat tired.... definitely showing its age. The neighborhood was fine and great for walking. After taking a walk we looked at the hotel food offerings and opted to go outside. At the recommendation of one the hotel bell staff we tried the Cactus Club Restaurant just down the street. It was great! A great choice whenever in Vancouver! Regent supplied a good breakfast through the hotel the next morning and at 11:45 we were bused to the Ship. Embarkation - started smoothly. We had to once more go through customs only this time it was US customs as our destination was, of course, Alaska. We had one heart stopping moment as one of the Canadian customs agents announced we needed to have our “TICKETS” in hand. “TICKETS??!!?? I don’t know anything about stinking TICKETS!” I started canvasing our neighbors in line to find while most had a printout of their “ticket” many did not. I snagged the first official looking (uniformed) person I could find and asked the question….”Do we REALLY NEED a ticket?” Thankfully the answer was “No, just show your passport and state what ship you will be boarding…” Whew! First bullet dodged. Heart Stopping moment #2 We wended our way through customs (Thank you sir, enjoy your trip!) and made our way through the Regent line to the check-in counter. They had eight or ten positions open and were smoothly processing passengers until, of course, I step up and hand them our passports. We took pictures in turn and then the agent went to find our ship passes and keycards and came back empty handed. While the agent approached us still clearly standing there in line another passenger pushed passed me and my wife and laid her documents on the counter glaring at the gate agent. I paused just a second and politely (kind of) said “excuse me… I don’t believe we are quite finished here.” She looked at me like I had a bug on my nose… for a moment I didn’t think she was going to yield but she did sort of huffing and puffing and with a bit of blustering and posturing…. Turning back to the gate agent I noted she appeared somewhat flustered as she told me it would be just a moment before calling a floor supervisor over. I glanced back to see “Pushy Lady” visibly fuming at the delay. Smiling inwardly I turned back to the agent now joined by a supervisor. I heard snippets of their conversation and understood her to say she couldn’t find our reservations in the system or our keycards in the pile. The supervisor calmly typed for a moment and pointed something out to the agent, left and came back with our documents a moment later while the agent stood frozen smile on her face. All was well and we boarded the ship leaving the dazed gate agent and “Pushy Lady” behind. We boarded the ship thinking to go directly to our room and drop off our carry-on stuff. Well that was the plan but we discovered that our boarding time was considered “early” and nothing was ready. In fact they later made a ship-wide page to the effect the rooms were off limits until announced. That could have been made clear upfront but it was not. A simple note via eMail or being told that at check-in would have been sufficient but neither effort was made to the best of my knowledge. A kind of ship-wide announcement in a semi-scolding tone was made but probably was not the best way to make that known. In any event we were able to tour the public areas of the ship and have a nice lunch at the Pool Grill. Initial Impressions Initial impressions of the Mariner were very favorable. As we moved about the public areas of the ship we were struck by the cleanliness and overall well maintained look of the vessel. The lounges, the restaurant areas, the seating areas and other public areas were clean, comfortable and inviting. Public toilets were spotless. The Pool Grill and Pool Deck was a great place to chill out while waiting for our room to become available. Food was sampled and found to be of good quality served buffet style. The Mariner is one of the oldest ships in the Regent fleet but has aged gracefully and appeared to be in great condition and more than serviceable. When we were finally able to enter our cabin it was a pleasant surprise. A very spacious “shotgun suite” awaited us. The suite contains a sleeping area that can be separated from the seating area by a heavy drape. The seating area has a, more or less, full size couch (actually more “Love Seat” size), small table, 55” flat screen TV atop drawer/vanity area, bar essentials (glasses and corkscrew) and a mini fridge stocked with beer and soft drinks. You also have the option to customize the stocking of the mini-fridge by contacting your room steward. Fresh fruit along with a bottle of Champagne were waiting for us. Neither of us are much in the way of champagne drinkers so it eventually went back into the fridge to be passed along to the next customer or, hopefully, a crew party. The WALK-IN CLOSET had a generous supply of hangers with ample room for clothes and a nice row of drawers for storage. The closet also has a safe and the Life Vests. The bathroom is large with a very reasonably sized shower equipped with both rain shower and hand held shower heads. Each suite has its own balcony… excuse me…. Veranda…. that was generous in size with two wicker chairs and a small table and topped with Teak decking. All in all a SWEET Suite! Tipping Mariner is a “No Gratuity” ship. “Gratuities are neither expected or required” as it was stated. That is certainly the case and never was there a hint from any of the crew that they were fishing for a tip. The Hospitality Crew and the Room Service Crew was universally polite and attentive and I could fault none of them. I enjoyed several conversations with several of the service staff. The majority seemed to be from the Philippines with several other Asian nations represented. There were also many others from Eastern Europe and Russia. The officers and administrative crew again represented several nations with our Captain from Italy, the Cruise Director from the US, and the rest from all points in-between. While our service crew and operational crew seemed to really be engaged in their jobs, our administrational and entertainment directors really just seemed to be “phoning it in” and were somewhat disconnected and appeared somewhat distracted. Entertainment - was a mixed bag. There were several entertainment venues on the ship. Most of the lounges, including the Observation Lounge, Mariner Lounge and Horizon Lounge had grand pianos or even a full stage that were in turn manned by a pianist, a duo (guitarist and a singer), single guitarist, or a full band. There was also the late night Stars Lounge that featured either Denis and Elina (Guitar and Vocalist), Karaoke or a jukebox request sort of thing. The Constellation Theater was the venue for the Broadway style Mariner Production Cast singers and dancers with the Mariner Orchestra (6 piece), the Featured Entertainers and the occasional movie. Throughout the voyage we took in several shows and found them to range from very good to just OK. Since Broadway shows aren’t our thing we really did not attend too much of the Mariner Cast Productions. What we did see was fun and good but did not strike me as stellar. The band was always good and the singers/dancers good but a bit variable. The “Headliner” this trip was Matilda with Patrick Murray. Billed as "Jamaica's Number One Comedienne" Matilda is a ventriloquist's dummy and the alter ego of Patrick Murray. Together a charming and funny duo! Overall the entertainment seemed slightly sub-par for a uber-luxury, and expensive, cruise line experience. The voyage itself was a relatively short itinerary. That was what we were looking for as we have much longer cruise coming up in August so thought this shorter cruise would be ideal… as it turned out, it wasn’t the best choice we could have made. Our published itinerary; June 25th – One night extension in Vancouver, Canada June 26th – Embarkation – Vancouver, Canada June 27th – Cruising the Inside Passage June 28th – Ketchikan, Alaska June 29th – Juneau, Alaska June 30th – Skagway, Alaska July 1st – Sitka, Alaska July 2nd - Cruising the Hubbard Glacier July 3rd - Seward, Alaska – Debarkation This looked like the ideal short-form itinerary but it wasn’t to be. What it ended up looking like was this; June 25th – One night extension in Vancouver, Canada June 26th – Embarkation – Vancouver, Canada June 27th – Cruising the Inside Passage June 28th – Ketchikan, Alaska June 29th – CANCELLED - Juneau, Alaska Just another lovely day “Cruising the Inside Passage” June 30th – Skagway, Alaska July 1st – Sitka, Alaska July 2nd - CANCELLED - Cruising the Hubbard Glacier Just another lovely day “At Sea” July 3rd - Seward, Alaska – Debarkation A little about about the TWO MAJOR stops on the itinerary were missed for different reasons. On the second day of the cruise one of the starter engines for one of the main engines failed stranding us overnight in Ketchikan Alaska. That might have been marginally OK if they had let us off the boat to go explore Ketchikan (again) at night... but no, that didn't happen. Instead they kept quiet about the issue even though everyone could see that the departure time had come and gone. A 4:30 pm departure had slipped to 4:30 AM with no information forthcoming from the Captain or the Cruise director. And, even as we got started, it was easy to see the ship was not running on both main engines and was just limping along! The constant TV presence of our Cruise Director, Andy, still extolling the wonderful sights we were about to see in Juneau suddenly shut off without a word leaving only a blank screen. Finally mid-morning there was an announcement.... Cruise Director Andy informed us that due to the (and only just now announced) engine problems. we would be skipping our stop at Juneau and would have another lovely day at sea on our way to Skagway. The passengers grumbles were louder than both engines when working. I was very disappointed because Juneau would have been our first Glacier experience! In my opinion it was unconscionable, inconsiderate and childish of Regent to keep us, the passengers, in the dark for so long on the status of the mechanical problem. It also blows my mind that a mission critical part was not stored on the ship. Sometime in the early afternoon we all heard and felt the second engine start and the ship jumped back up to a brisk 15 knots. Too little too late to save our Juneau stop.... In any event... while a major stop on our voyage was canceled we were still going to go to the face of the Hubbard Glacier, one of the four largest Tidewater Glaciers on the planet, and the largest in Alaska, on the next to last day of our trip. Right!!??!! We were supposed to go in, on the last day of our sail on the SS Mariner, through Disenchantment Bay to the face of the Hubbard glacier. The Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America and is a stunning seventy-six miles long, seven miles wide and over one thousand two hundred feet deep at the foot of the glacier! At least that is what we were told. Cameras were checked and rechecked.... Parkas and foul weather gear donned and snugged up tight. The big day comes and several passengers, including myself, are up early on the top deck freezing our "you know what’s" off. As we started to round a bend in the fjord called Disenchantment Bay we were faced with a monstrous wall of dense fog still several miles ahead stretching from mountain to mountain across the bay. The Captain and the Passage Pilot made the decision not to enter the fog because of some significant icebergs floating about. A second major disappointment was about to rear its ugly head... This one weather related :-0 Whether right or wrong, or for better or worse, we were told we could still see the glacier as that bright line across the top of the fog bank!.... I, for one, would have rather NOT HEARD that little tidbit! Disappointment on Disenchantment Bay how apt is that?.... Ironic or not???!!! This second MAJOR disappointment on this short voyage was very hard to take. Really, I certainly have no issue with the safety decision that was made... just disappointed (once again). After returning to the cabin to lick and bind my wounds (metaphorically speaking of course!) I emerged and prepared for our now established daily routine..... BREAKFAST, LUNCH and DINNER! The next day was Seward and the end of the trip. This was a rather pricy disappointment… but live and learn :-) But! We liked what we saw and experienced in Alaska so much that my wife and I agreed we would return in a year or so and give a different cruise line a chance! A brief note on the rest of the stops and sights we did see. I liked Vancouver, at least what I saw of it was a beautiful city and it would certainly be worth spending some time in the city and the area… at least more than a night and part of a day to see more of the city. Chinatown maybe??? Ketchikan, Skagway and Sitka were great stopovers and with more time in port could have been fantastic! Hey wait! We had that extra time in Ketchikan that was totally wasted and inaccessable! Seward, well, nothing to say or see… Got off the ship…. Got on the bus. The Food I know that this is what some of you were waiting for so here goes…. Regent touts the food on board as; "EXQUISITE CUISINE" "Nothing can elevate travel quite like cuisine. That’s why we take so much pride in creating exquisite dining experiences that are nothing short of superb. Experience all the wonderful flavors and delightful scents of choice cuisine from around the world." (direct from the Regent website) It goes without saying that the food is one of the most important components of a cruise for many passengers. From elegant A La Carte dinning to the Grand Buffet the food is oft the star. And while, for the most part, the food at most of the Regent Mariner venues was good, sometimes VERY good, it was far from consistent. Here I’m just going to detail our experiences at the two Regent Specialty Restaurants, Chartreuse French Restaurant and Prime 7 Steak Restaurant and give you a few overall impressions about the other eating venues. Chartreuse French Restaurant That evening I had scored an early reservation (it was the best I could do) at one of the Regent Signature Restaurants, Chartreuse a French Restaurant. I was excited to try what Regent called "Modern French Cuisine". While the dining room was well appointed and comfortable the initial service, and later the food, were a disappointment. We were the first in the restaurant (right at our appointed time) and service was, for lack of a better word.... inattentive. For being the first customers (read ONLY Customers) it took a while to be noticed and seated. The sommelier was slow in visiting the lone table we were occupying . Then the sommelier immediately tried to up-sell me to a $275 bottle of wine and it took me just a moment to catch on. I did ask him what the featured wines were that evening and he recited them showing them to me on the wine list. Regent advertises as an "all-inclusive" cruise and indeed they are. Two wines were included that night, as in every night, a red and a white. But.... If I had not noticed the tiny prices following some of the selections I would have purchased a $125 to $300 bottle of wine. When I quizzed him about the menu he reluctantly confirmed that there was indeed an "upcharge" for those particular premium selections. I told the sommelier please just bring the "house red" after I was clued into the rules. He was visibly disappointed at the lack of the sale :-) I afterwards found that there may have been additional wine selections included for the asking. However, even though I had asked, no other options were offered or clarified. The waiter came to the table immediately after the sommelier vacated and told us of that evenings chef's special choices then left us to peruse the menu. He returned after an appropriate amount of time and left with our order. For appetizers my wife ordered Escargot and I ordered the seared Duck Foie Gras. Entrees were roasted lobster for her and double cut Lamb ribs for me. The Escargot were terrible. Served in a disgusting gravy of some sort they were rubbery and served removed from the shells, a good indication they were (possibly) frozen or even (GASP!) from a can. My Foie Gras was somewhat better. It was nicely displayed/presented with three little apricot dots arranged on the plate. Taste was meh... rather tasteless and bland. The entrees didn't fare any better. My wife's entree, Roasted Lobster with Scallop Mousseline, Green Asparagus and Fava Beans (no Fava Beans were visable), was displayed well but was extremely overcooked resulting in a tough, tasteless piece of unrecognizable meat. The vegetables that were there were fine and well cooked. My lamb was delivered beautifully presented and flanked by two Chickpea Fritters. However I had ordered the lamb Medium RARE. It arrived terribly overcooked and tough. As a result of this criminal treatment of what likely started as a decent piece of meat it was largely tasteless and tough. My desert, Creme Brûlée was well presented and was tasty, rich and creamy with a satisfying sweet/bitter crunch from the caramelized sugar on top while the wife's Chocolate Napoleon was inedible. Prime 7 Steakhouse Tonight was our second specialty restaurant reservation. This time at Regent's steakhouse, Prime 7. We had been by the restaurant several times on the way to the Compass Rose and it was always busy and packed. We had a late reservation at 8:30 pm on the 30th. We showed up about five minutes early and were asked to wait in the lounge area. The Maitre D' came and collected us after a short wait at 8:33.... Perfect! After being seated we were immediately approached by our waiter and the sommelier. The menu as suitable for a steakhouse, was simple and to the point featuring mostly beef offerings with a few chops, seafood and poultry choices. We made our orders and sat back with a little of the house vino. A Palate cleanser of Tomato Bisque was delivered to the table followed closely by the appetizers. The presentation on her appetizer, the Tuna Tartar was very nice and she enjoyed it. My appetizer was Foie Gras Sliders with Rhubarb Chutney. It came out looking like two tiny little hamburgers, which I thought entirely appropriate for a steak house lead-in and they were delicious. Our entrees arrived. She had ordered King Crab and I ordered a 18oz Bone-In Ribeye. Mine was delicious! This was at least a pound of steak-y delicious-ness. Billed as a Prime, Dry-Aged piece of meat, it was cooked perfectly to my ordered medium-rare temperature with a beautiful seared crust on the outside. It was all I could do not to pick up the bone and start gnawing away at the steak like a wild animal. Luckily I was able to control myself and waited until the end of the meal before waving the bone around making a fool of myself. As delicious as my steak was, my wife's King Crab was not. She certainly received a big ol' plate of Crab. But that plate was overcooked, dry and lifeless. She could finish only a small portion of the total before calling it quits. I definitely felt bad for her and told her so between mouthfuls of my perfectly done steak! Dessert was Cheesecake for me and a Berries in Creme Anglaise for her. Both were a good choice and satisfied that Dessert Jones.... We said thank you to our stellar waiter Rochcelle.... and headed out. Some brief thoughts on the other dining venues…. Compass Rose – Compass Rose is the main dining room. Comfortable and well-appointed we found food here consistently good. Everything, with few exceptions, was well prepared and generally tasty no matter what was ordered. Service was always prompt and extremely courteous. Surroundings and ambiance were open, elegant and comfortable. It is open seating and we were always able to score a table by a window. Open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner it is always menu driven. La Veranda – Our choice on deck 11 for Breakfast and Lunch. La Veranda is buffet style serving. More elegant and more variety than the adjacent Pool Side Grille Buffet. It was consistently good. In the evening La Veranda transforms into the menu driven (only buffet in sight is a salad bar) Sette Mari At La Veranda Italian Restaurant. Sette Mari is a great alternative to the Compass Rose and other eating venues. The food is very good with a good Italian themed menu offering. The Pool Grille - was the one breakfast, lunch and dinner venue that allowed a casual dress in the evenings. The food there was served buffet style and usually had a good mix of everything from hamburgers to some simple seafood selections. Ice Cream and deserts were also featured along with a Fresh Juice Bar. For convenience it was located adjacent to the Pool Bar. NOTE: One thing that was, unfortunately, true across ALL of the RESTAURANTS is that they could not deliver a piece of fish that was not overcooked to the point of being criminal. Shrimp and Scallops on the other hand were usually delivered perfectly. Lobster and Crab… not so much. Meat temperature was better with my lamb served at Chartreuse being the major exception. My steak at Prime 7 was perfection! I also give you this as a sample excursion/meal… A Shore Excursion that featured a Crab Feast! Note that this was one of the MANY Shore Excursions that was supplied at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE. Cruise St. George Inlet and Crab Feast We enjoyed our time in Ketchikan walking around the city before going to a Crab Feast. Before the feast we went on a bus trip and then a small boat into the St. George Inlet. we saw some Bald Eagles and pulled up a crab trap to play with some crabs (yes, I know what that sounds like :-) Heading back to the small boat dock restaurant, The George Inlet Lodge, we indulged in our feast. It was all served with a large heaping bit of wit and wisdom from Asley our Charming Young Lady (I never thought I would live long enough to use that term... But there it is!!) of a server. It was very simply, a salad, a cold beer, and a never ending pile of the best Crab I have ever eaten. If you ever find yourself eating Crab at the George Inlet Lodge and served by Asley give her a big hey from Regent 06/28/2019 :-) Debarkation was fairly well organized but had a few hiccups. Debarkation occurred through an exit on Deck 6. Luggage was tagged and picked up from the cabin the night before. We had our breakfast and then made our way to the Coffee Connection area on deck 6 to wait for the call to exit and board the buses that would take us to Anchorage. The only sore spot was the ladies toilets on deck 6 were closed for whatever reason (men's was fine). My wife had to go down one deck to get to a bathroom..... That would not have been that much of an issue but all of the other ladies-in-waiting had to do the same and almost immediately a line formed. There were of course other public bathrooms but on the higher decks and not as convenient. As the traffic became heavier in the one bathroom on deck 5 the toilet paper ran out and was not replenished. It seemed to be “a not so fond farewell....” The bus ride to Anchorage (2.5 hr) was fine but stretched to 3.5 hours because of an accident on the one highway to Anchorage. Upon arrival, because our flight was in the evening, we were taken to the Anchorage Hilton to a "Hospitality" area arranged by Regent. For the end of a supposedly "high-end" cruise the "Hospitality" area was rather weak.... It was an old, no longer used, restaurant at the top of the Hilton. It was a bit tired looking and had little in the way of amenities. No water, hours old coffee, no hot water, and only a tray with a few cookie crumbs being there. No one replenished anything during the time we were there. There were people to help us with the shuttle transfer to the airport at our designated/selected time. We went out for lunch and settled on a nearby restaurant called "The 49th State". It was a casual nice place and had cold freshly on-site brewed beer and upscale pub grub. We ordered a pizza featuring Reindeer and Elk sausage that we enjoyed very much. When in Anchorage it would be a good lunch or evening meal stop! We wandered about downtown Anchorage for another hour or so and returned to the hotel for our trip to the airport and back to “The Lower Forty-Eight”. The wrap up! The Regent cruise wasn’t a total bust. The accommodations (cabin) and the hospitality crew are first rate. The fact that out of five stops we only truly made three was more than a little disappointing. I can’t say that Regent didn’t offer an accommodation because of the issue in by-passing Juneau, they did. But, it was not enough, in my opinion. What was offered was a $750 per passenger ($1500 total) off the your NEXT CRUISE with Regent. Sorry, those of us that were on this voyage, at least in my case, were not going to sign on again. We have been home now since the 4th of July and have heard nothing from Captain, Cruise Director, Chief Engineer or Regent Corporate concerning what happened. That seems like a bad case of “don’t give a crap” at the very least. A head-in-sand attitude at best. Regent is billed as one of the world’s premiere cruise lines which is why we gave it a whirl. Reviewers rate Regent very highly… I can only speculate they were not on our cruise! Would I cruise again with Regent? No, not as it stands now. That said…. If the perfect itinerary at a decent price appeared at the perfect time… I never say never :-) Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We have done 3 Viking River cruises and enjoyed them all. So, we decided it was time to try a Viking Ocean cruise. First and foremost, Viking needs to have BETTER included excursions. In just about every port the included excursion was ... Read More
We have done 3 Viking River cruises and enjoyed them all. So, we decided it was time to try a Viking Ocean cruise. First and foremost, Viking needs to have BETTER included excursions. In just about every port the included excursion was really no better than us getting off the ship to explore the little Alaska town we were in. In-fact, in Ketichikan we bought our own tickets to attend a "Lumberjack Show" (lasted just over 1 hr), and they cost $35pp. Why couldn't Viking have offered that as an included excursion? Bottom Line: Offer better included excursions and try and have more than 1 available in each port! Second, remove the curtains in the "Living Room", by the coffee bar and on the 2nd level. You can't see thru this material and it would be nice while your having a drink or coffee to see the scenery!! Third, you REALLY need to train your bartenders better. After trying two Pina Colada's and a frozen Daiquiri I gave up on any frozen offering. Each time the ice was not pulverized enough so when you tried using the straw, it would always get clogged. And yes, I went to THREE different bars and had the same very poor results. Hell, the first time my wife ordered a Banana Daiquiri, they brought it to her in a martini glass. No kidding, a Martini glass. Lastly, the entertainment was, for the most part, a joke. Every night a member of the ship's staff "entertained". The 4-some (2 guys, 2 gals) who did the Beatles show and the Abba show did a pretty good job, but the overall result was very un-polished and amateurish. We never (on a 10-night cruise), had a "head-liner" or a professional comedian or magician. Kudo's to the guys and gals who worked the stage EVERY night, but they should be "fill-in" acts not the main show each and EVERY night!!! If VIKING wants to compete with Azamara and Oceania they need to heed these words and I am sure the words of many other seasoned travelers. We have done one Azamara cruise, and VIKING isn't even close to them when it comes to food quality (and choices), entertainment, and overall service. We haven't tried Oceania yet, but have friends who have done both (Viking and Oceania), and MUCH prefer Oceania. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Having sailed on sister ship Riviera in 2018 we were confident in what to expect on Marina. Excellent service, wonderful ports and great food and spirits. Marina did not disappoint. The ship is small enough that you can easily move ... Read More
Having sailed on sister ship Riviera in 2018 we were confident in what to expect on Marina. Excellent service, wonderful ports and great food and spirits. Marina did not disappoint. The ship is small enough that you can easily move around, yet large enough to have multiple entertainment and dining options. My wife likes the shows, I enjoy making an evening contribution to the casino. It is nice that they still have a craps table. Many ships have done away with them. We enjoyed the specialty restaurants and Le Reserve. The main dining room is beautiful, we really enjoyed a peaceful breakfast in the MDR. The buffet option can be crowded. We embarked in Denmark visiting; Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and disembarked in Sweden. St. Petersburg was fantastic. We hired a private guide and driver through TJ travel. Excellent choice. Slatvana Andrusheko, was encyclopedic in her knowledge of Russia. In another life she was a Russian History professor. It really made the trip extraordinary. We had her and the driver for 2 full days. It is a big plus having a driver ready to pick you up to take you on to the next site. Plus they have already acquired all entry passes to the venues you must see. She took us to local restaurants and markets. We got a real feel for St. Petersburg. Our first port, Warnemunde, Germany was a real surprise. Very nice summer vacation spot with a real small town appeal. Take the train to Rostock if you are inclined, very easy trip. We rented a car on the Island of Bornholm, Denmark. A very nice day drive. In many of the ports, we just jumped on the Hop-On - Hop Off bus for a great city tour. Helsinki was really a highlight too. Our cabin was spacious and very accommodating. No complaints about the food or drinks. We do purchase a drink package and find it to be a good value. We didn't book any of our tours with the ship, we found better value doing it privately. We are also a bit more adventurous and enjoy hunting out different sights. The only "negative" we found on the ship was my wife wanted to participate in the on-board art class, but this ship had more children on then usual and they were crowding the art class. Not a big deal. We do enjoy Oceania because it is primarily all adults. We love children, but we don't miss the screaming, crying and running. The literature and website is quite clear in this is primarily adults. No climbing walls, no slides, no big screen TV, no Mickey and Minnie. As a grandparent, we have taken our grandchildren on cruises, but more age appropriate lines. All in all, Oceania met our expectations. We put a deposit down on another cruise in 2020. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
For several years now I had wanted to cruise the Danube, maybe from watching all the Viking ads on PBS’ Masterpiece programs. So I began researching river cruises around the time Crystal first entered this market, and the reviews ... Read More
For several years now I had wanted to cruise the Danube, maybe from watching all the Viking ads on PBS’ Masterpiece programs. So I began researching river cruises around the time Crystal first entered this market, and the reviews immediately pegged it as the top of the line for luxury cruises. By the time we were able to actually book a cruise, Crystal’s river fleet had expanded and we wound up on a 10-day expedition on the newest addition, the Crystal Ravel. We were not disappointed: In fact, it was one of the rare experiences that totally exceeded expectations. First, the ship itself was smallish (four decks), with about a hundred passengers. I loved that it felt intimate—I have a horror of the 10-deck behemoths that cruise oceans. At the same time it was also stylish and modern. Our cabin wasn’t huge, but it had a small walk-in closet, a bathroom with two sinks and an excellent shower, and a very comfortable king sized bed. It also had a large flat screen TV, and we enjoyed watching a movie on it one night. Overall it was a very comfortable refuge. Then there was the food. We live in San Francisco, a foodie Mecca, but the cuisine on the Ravel was nothing short of marvelous, especially the sit-down dinners (they only had a buffet one night). Almost every meal was like eating at a five-star restaurant, with service to match. Wines on the all-inclusive menu were good to great (you can opt to pay extra for premium wines but we never felt the need). Two special meal options are worth mentioning: The bistro dinner in the smallish cafe (it’s free but you must reserve a seat since they can’t accommodate more than a couple of dozen diners), and the gourmet experience in the Vintage Room, a pricey but amazing 8-course meal with awesome wines (you must also reserve this ahead of time—we ate with four other people). Even if you don’t splurge on the Vintage Room, definitely try the bistro meal, which is sort of tapas-like—a lot of small plates with everything from steak tartare and gravlax to prime beef, shrimp, and caviar. It was outstanding. Breakfast buffets were great, and you could opt for ordered specialties (e.g. eggs Benedict); I rarely even ate lunch but people I spoke with also enjoyed casual bistro and served options. Crystal’s all-inclusive shore excursions covered all the basics, and we also opted for a couple of esoteric extra-cost outings (for example, Vienna’s Jewish history). Guides were generally excellent, especially the one who escorted us through the infamous Mauthausen death camp. I liked that he didn’t sugar coat his comments on the complicity of the Austrian people. Finally, the service. Every single crew member, from housekeepers and wait staff to tour organizers, the couple who provided musical and games entertainment at night, and the butler who twice a day refreshed the ice in our ice bucket, seemed truly dedicated to pampering and otherwise seeing to our comfort and satisfaction. By the end of the 10 days they seemed to know all of us by name, and always greeted us as we walked by. This cruise was a splurge for my husband and I, but we both felt it was well worth it. Crystal In our view lived up to its reputation as the best European river cruise line out there. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We (2 couples) chose this cruise to return from a European vacation rather than fly back to the US. We knew the cruise would be very formal but as one English passenger said when I queried him about his experience on the 2nd day of the ... Read More
We (2 couples) chose this cruise to return from a European vacation rather than fly back to the US. We knew the cruise would be very formal but as one English passenger said when I queried him about his experience on the 2nd day of the cruise, "They are quite serious". LIkes: We booked the Brittania Club, therefore we had our own private dining table for four each night with the same servers. The food was truly excellent, on par with Oceania Cruise line, which is noted for it's food. (Kudos to our servers, Brendo and Orsulah). We ended up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the restaurant. We only gained an average of 2 pounds per person for a 7 day cruise and we believe that is because we mostly avoided the Kings Grill, which is very chopped up, located in several separated rooms with a limited selection of food. We understand it had been upgraded in 2016 from the original design. I cant see how it could have been much worse then. Also, the brewed coffee in the restaurant is very good, unlike the machine coffee in the Kings Grill. We had dinner one night in the Verandah steakhouse restaurant for a small upcharge of $39 per person and it was the best steak we have ever had. 35 day aged beef. The Enrichment and Art seminars, Tea Time and Gala Evenings were spot on great! We didn't mind the tuxedo and formal dress evenings and enjoyed the Masquerade Ball. The planetarium and Queen's Theatre were great venues also. Dislikes: Probably because we have been spoiled by cruises on Oceania Marina, Rivera, & Insignia and Holland Statendam and Koningsdam, we didn't appreciate the QM2 as much as we should. Even with the retrofit in 2016, she looks a bit tired. Very chopped up, no flow to the design. What's with the Churchill and Chart room locations? You have to go through the Brittania Dining room to access the Queens Ball room or go through the Art Gallery up and down stairs to access. Also, the aforementioned non functional Queen's Grill area. The Library boasts 8 thousand books and a room the size of an average family dining room and each passenger is restricted to 2 books at a time with the shelves locked during night hours? That's when most insomniacs need to find a book. We found this very unusual as Oceania ships boast great libraries with a barrista next door. Their libraries are unlocked and open to all cruise passengers 24/7. Finally, what ever you do don't buy the liquor package!!! Very limited pours (50 ml) which makes no sense, as it requires the staff to service you more often. (However, once they see you have a drink sticker on your card, they avoid you like the plague, and you practically have to tackle them to get service). This occurred in every lounge but was particularly acute in the Golden Lion Pub! The wine steward in the Brittania Club restaurant also was put off by our asking for wine refills at dinner, until 3 days before the cruise ended, when he finally increased the pours, which saved him extra trips. (We were not heavy drinkers, drinking no more than 2-3 50 ml pours at dinner) or any other sitting. The package was very restrictive, nothing over $11. If you want to purchase a $20 cocktail, you have to pay $16 (purchase price less 20%), which begs the ? why purchase the liquor package? Also, our traveling companions, (one who drinks and one who cannot drink because of medical reasons), cleared with Cunard corporate that if she brought a Doctor's excuse that he could by the package but she wouldn't have to. We spent the better part of the first afternoon being shuffled between the Purser's office, the G. L Pub and were even sent to the spa, because no one could or would make a decision on allowing our friend to purchase the liquor package alone. Finally, a bartender in the G.L. Pub told us in great whisper (I am not exaggerating) that he would allow it if our non drinking friend would purchase the $30 per day beverage package (water, soft drinks and coffee). You could not purchase wine by the bottle at dinner like on Oceania or HAL only by the 50 ml glass because of the liquor package restriction. The ship was good in the water, you never really felt any motion. However, it felt as if It was designed more for sailors than passengers and the staff was not there to serve you as much as ensure that all rules and regulations would be followed and not be infringed on! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We have been on the Queen Victoria before and also the QM. We are regular passengers on other lines. This was the first time we had tried Princess Grill and it was a real treat. We were on board for the ship experience and not the ports. ... Read More
We have been on the Queen Victoria before and also the QM. We are regular passengers on other lines. This was the first time we had tried Princess Grill and it was a real treat. We were on board for the ship experience and not the ports. Priority check in but when waiting at the Mayflower terminal the suite guests were just huddled in a separate area no real advantage. We just sat in the main area as there was more room. We had researched about the Grills experience - strange but the Britannia Restaurant is described as the Britannia Grill? Anyway we knew pretty much what was in store for us. This was a no holds barred cruise so if we wanted it we bought it. First this was a spa package as we did not expect to be able to use the outside pool so we bought this for 2 for 7 days no discounts so this came off our on board credit. I know from experience that drinks prices on board the Queens are about the highest afloat but so to is the quality. So we had decided that we would buy 2 full drinks packs for the full 7 nights this was $69 a day each so $138 so with our exchange rate it was £109 a day so £763 for the week. We were told that we could only buy this on board so we went to the Grills lounge and asked. It would seem that there have been problems with this package as people have not really read the small print. You are limited to the number of alcoholic drinks - 15 each per day. But the soft drinks and mixers are unlimited. Some staff had difficulty understanding what unlimited soft drinks meant! OK so I like a drink and this is for 7 days. I tried my best but I really could not get through 15 alcoholic drinks in one day! We have been on other ships with these packs and we see people simply ordering the bar taking a sip from each and throwing the rest away just because they can. So a limit is sensible if in some cases a bit frustrating. We eventually bought the pack and ordered drinks. At the end of the cruise we worked out that had we paid over the bar it would have cost us over £1660 and I never manager 15 alcoholic drinks in a day and neither did my wife! Food is next and the menus in the Princess Grill are fabulous, service to was the best we have experience so far and we have been in suits in Celebrity ships. We had the same table for all our meals which was fortunate in being next to the window - we were lucky I guess. Drinks before dinner in the Grills lounge where they brought round a selection of 3 hot and cold canapes. Dinner was 7 courses including cheese board and coffee. We ordered wine by the glass from our package and this was perhaps a bit limited. Menus were everything we were expecting - fillet steak every night if you wanted, lobster twice that week. There were specials that you could order at lunch time so they could be ready for you in the evening. We did this once with Duck L'Orange where a whole duck was cooked for us to share - has to be cooked so long and it was fantastic. You can also ask the Maitre'D to do Crepes at the table Weather was not too great but toward the end of the cruise there was a bit of a heat wave. So much so that we were able to dine outside in the Grills terrace. The lunch time menu is a bit smaller but quality was top. Breakfasts were again at our table and usual range with just about everything on call - eggs Benedict, fillet steak and eggs and the ubiquitous English breakfasts. Didn't go much on the entertainment this time. Saw Mick Miller on the second night but after that I we were not really too fussed and went to the commodore club to listen to the lady piano player and singer. Only did afternoon tea once which was in the Princess Grill restaurant. Very goo but too much. We were served tea on the grills terrace in Rotterdam which was also very nice but had to be careful because dinner is just around the corner though you can go in at any time and your table is waiting for you. Tipping is always controversial and Cunard apply a daily charge to your account. Our rate was $13.5 per day. We usually remove one of the daily charges from one of us and then give individually the same amount or indeed usually more to staff who have stood out. I am now not to sure that this achieved what we wished. On the last night I handed out envelopes to both waiters, sommelier and Maitre'd. I also gave cash in dollars to our room steward. We paid out more than if we had had the automatic gratuities but at least I know they actually go to who I wish without interference from Cunard. My wife was therefore startled the following morning to see the waiters and all staff making a big fuss over another table and thanking them for their tips whilst our service was a bit flat. I seem to think that they thought that we had only given them half of what they expected yet we have given them more! This did leave a bit of a sour taste. I will talk a bit about the drinks pack we bought. We worked out roughly how many drinks we were likely to have each day including coffees, water and soft drinks. A large gin and tonic would have cost around $15 which would include the mixer and the 12%service charge. On the pack you could have any drink up to $11 but you were then given the mixer free so to speak and did not have to worry about the service charge. Coffee in the lounge was around $4 so a couple each in the morning after breakfast would soon mount up. We also ordered a bottle of water with nearly all our drinks the pack limited you to small bottles but you could have as many as you liked during the day. There had to be around 10mins between each alcoholic drink order. This was starting to get complicated. As I said I never got through 15 alcoholic drinks in a day though I did try! I could not keep this up for any longer but this was a holiday. Now saving for the next one. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We are Heritage members and sailed with Uniworld before on the S.S. Joie de Vivre from Paris to Normandy. Our experience with Uniworld in 2017 was exceptional! BUT THIS EXPERIENCE ON RIVER PRINCESS WAS NOT! Front Desk Hotel Manager ... Read More
We are Heritage members and sailed with Uniworld before on the S.S. Joie de Vivre from Paris to Normandy. Our experience with Uniworld in 2017 was exceptional! BUT THIS EXPERIENCE ON RIVER PRINCESS WAS NOT! Front Desk Hotel Manager and staff looked upset and serious if you asked a question. No smiles at anytime. It was as if all of them had some attitudes. The wait staff were arguing at times in their Romanian or Slavic language-you could see the tension. I even had to get up at dinner to ask for water. They forgot my meal and had to remind them but all they always said was it is coming and then they would turn to each other and argue. It was extremely uncomfortable. The dining room was poorly set up not allowing much choices on seating to meet others and definitely NOT what our last experience was. It was a typical dining room as if it were on a Celebrity Cruise. The food on the River Princess was below standard-not typical of Uniworld’s fine culinary fare. It tasted comparable to most large massive mid budget cruise liners. We were extremely appalled that we were served a buffet one evening for dinner. Our Food was served Luke warm or cold at table side. I sent back several dinners due to flavor and being cold. My husband ordered a simple steak and looked grey in color as if they threw it is a broiler and rushed it out. He sent it back. We waited so long for our food to come a good portion of the time. Having to remind them! Never told in the morning there was a special dish. When the omelet station chef overheard me speak to another guest he said there is always a special and showed it to me. When I asked him to order me one, he said, " sorry, you have to go to your table and ask your waiter". The waiter NEVER CAME! I had to flag them down. That was done more than just one day on a 8 day trip. The choices of food served were the same almost everyday at lunch or breakfast. Many times.I had to wait 30 minutes for poached eggs. Poached eggs take 2-3 minutes to make. I made my own toast. The Eggs Benedict in morning was cold and thick sauce I could not eat it. Our tour guides were not the best and rushed us. Even an expert lecturer who traveled on the ship and spoke about the history stopped our guide during a tour and told her she was not telling the history as per the Jewish Heritage Tour it was to be. The ship was old and tired. My advice would be to remove this ship from circulation. It is old and many issues. The trip was from Vienna to Prague. They went to Nuremberg and bussed us to Prague-(4 hours) not given water bottles and stopped 1/2 way to buy some! Our choices of tours were do as locals with a basic walking neighborhoods, biking, hiking in Bavarian Forrest or Pay for other tours that were not worth the money-Especially the Schoenbrunn Palace-we paid 66Euro per person. We were taken to 4 rooms that were an apartment of a Queen who liked tropical islands and murals on walls, no furniture at all to view. Rushe in and out. There maybe 15 minutes it was so small. Took us on a specific tour in a museum to see directly the Vermeer painting a just a few other paintings. Then told to go to the gardens and walk around for 45 minutes in the blaring heat! She was abrupt and she had 45 minutes to herself and she could have let us stay in the museum if we chose too. But we HAD to leave it! We hung around in the heat and had nothing to do. I wrote a letter to corporate office explaining our experience in detail. They had the audacity to insult us with a $150 per person credit on board to be used on our next trip and expires no later than December 2020! Other passengers who had been on Uniworld before and had good experience prior were also upset and said Viking they took once did a better job on food , staff and quality. We are done with Uniworld. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We sailed on the Quest from Seward to Vancouver and it was one of the best (of many) cruises that we have done. The voyage through the Alaskan scenery is almost indescribable. We have taken so many pictures and everybody says they are ... Read More
We sailed on the Quest from Seward to Vancouver and it was one of the best (of many) cruises that we have done. The voyage through the Alaskan scenery is almost indescribable. We have taken so many pictures and everybody says they are wonderful but we don't think that they show the beauty of the area as much as looking at it "in real life". The different ports were very good, perhaps with the exception of Icy Straight Point. It's good to get off and have a walk around but if you're looking for lots to do or see, then you'll be disappointed. Our cabin was the 1st level of suite, it was roomy and exceptionally well looked after by our room steward. The bathroom is small however. We did have a bath with the shower included with the dreaded shower curtain but that is being picky and certainly didn't upset us in any way. The MDR was very good and we also ate in the steak restaurant (twice because it was so good) and the Italian. We didn't enjoy this as much however this was due to personal taste rather than quality of food or service. What can i say about the staff - they were wonderful. Whether you dealt with staff in the buffet, MDR, speciality restaurants or in the service areas (guest relations, concierge or house keeping), they were wonderful. They find a way of being friendly and very helpful but still getting the job done. A great balance ! regarding excursions - I did the whale watching trip in Juneau which i would highly recommend (i couldn't count all the whales we saw) and my husband did the salmon fishing trip - both of which were excellent. Very well organised both on and off the ship. My husband did the salmon sports fishing in Sitka and was very disappointed with it, particularly after such a good trip in Juneau. We met lots of passengers that did the fishing trips and by the sounds of things Sitka trip was the "odd one out" of high standards. It's also worth mentioning the Azamazing evening which was local to a port and where we watched a Lumberjack show. It was great fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Praise is also due to the Buffet staff as we all landed in there when we got back on board and it was exceptionally well organised. Embarkation and disembarkation were both handled very well and were very smooth. As you meet passengers during the cruise you realise how many folks are return "Azamara's" and suffice to say, we enjoyed the ship so much we have booked again for next year (albeit a different destination). My final point is praise for a few folk. Air Canada lost our luggage and we were facing the possibility of having nothing before we sailed. Luckily, one case just before we left but it was another 5 days before we got the 2nd one. The Concierge (Adrian i think) was superb, he took over and said that he would speak and sort. It didn't resolve the situation but it certainly made everything easier so our thanks to him. Also to the shop staff (Lois) who went out of their way to try and help us get the items that we needed. Due to this out first few days weren't ruined. Here's to next year :) Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable ... Read More
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable service, cuisine, facilities, entertainment- there cannot be a better cruise line than this. I am a customer service expert, so I have high standards and Crystal surpassed every expectation. Every single item of cuisine at every single meal or snack was exceptional. They even had a wonderful variety of sugar-free and gluten-free treats which were most welcome for those of us with dietary restrictions. The staff handled all that with ease and a smile. Every single staff member from the gangplank to the crew to the waiters to the stewardesses were delightful and the best you will ever experience. Really marvelous service. The entertainment was way beyond what I was expecting, and there were informative lectures and movies, and so much more. They even had the astronaut who rescued the Hubble Space Telescope giving talks. Very impressive. They imported a number of special guests performers, and the in-house artists were all world class too. The excursions, while expensive, and extra, were ll top notch and absolutely beautiful. The fjords are astonishing and spectacular. The ship has been nicely refurbished and is spacious, bursting with every possible amenity, planet of space. There is so much to do, or not do, that every taste will be satisfied. The spa and fitness center were excellent and spacious. The cabin was ample and the double sink in its bathroom was a nice touch. the bathroom was sizable, and I could even stand up n the show and in 99% of the ship even though I am 6'-8"/203cm tall. We loved having a verandah and could have sat out there all day and never left and been very happy (thanks to the free and wonderful room service). Of course, there was some internet spottiness above the Arctic Circle and in the fjords, but it's still miraculous to even have internet on the high seas. It turned out to be a minor inconvenience, but was better than our last Crystal cruise on the Symphony, but that was before their remodel and internet upgrade. I would HIGHLY recommend Crystal Cruises for any route, and I would very much recommend Iceland and the Norwegian Fjords as destination- really exceptional and awesomely beautiful. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital ... Read More
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital with heart problems and we cancelled the cruise and got all of our money refunded from our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in California. By late summer of 2018 I was feeling much better and we booked the Iceland-northern Norway cruise on the Crystal Serenity for 2019. Unfortunately by February I had more heart problems and was back in the hospital for 45 days and three operations. But, damn it; we were not canceling the 2019 vacation. It turned out I should have stayed at home, The cruise was Reykjavik to Copenhagen over 17 days. We had two prior cruises on the Crystal Symphony that were great. Getting There: We love Icelandair! It is the only airline we can afford to fly first class on (they call it Saga Class), but getting a flight from St. Louis to a city served by Icelandair can be a problem. You have to get your baggage after your domestic connecting flight and recheck it. We went through Chicago this year, which was a bit of a mistake. The International Terminal is nowhere close to any another terminal, requiring a bus ride across the airport complex. We were delayed two hours for a 45-minute flight because they had to replace a seat (apparently there was a human discharge.) Once in Chicago things were a little smoother, with one exception. I left an “Andy Carpenter” mystery novel by David Rosenfeld that I was in the middle of on a luggage cart stand. The flight to Reykjavik was great and in fact one of the flight attendants was on our Iceland Air flight in 2006. She did not appear to have changed a bit in 13 years. There was a free large bus from the airport to the dock. This is where I frist discovered I would be having problems. The long walk to the bus showed my heart was still having issues. I had to stop about every 100 feet to catch my breath caused by my heart beating too fast. I had left instructions that if I die on this vacation to give my body to a medical school in Reykjavik or Oslo and save the shipping costs back to the U.S. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The unusual: There was a long line to get onto the ship. It was outside and there was a cold wind blowing with drizzle. This was unusual for us as past Crystal Cruise there were no lines. The Usual: Since Crystal is “an all inclusive” line I have referred to it as the “Cruise Line for Alcoholics.” Passengers were met at check-in by staffers holding trays of glasses of Champagne. Once on board check-in was very fast and efficient. The Stateroom: We got what we paid for even if it was about $7,500 a person for 17 days. The stateroom was small. The only chair in the room was a desk chair. The sofa was narrow and low to the ground with a vinyl covering. You had a tendency to slide off of it. Unlike the beds on the Symphony which had firm mattresses, the bed had a soft uncomfortable mattress and the cruise was for 17-days. If you are in colder climates dry hair is a must and there were two hairdryers, one in the bathroom and the other by the desk. Since our last Crystal cruise they added large screen TVs. There was no disk player in the TVs to play DVDs or music on CDs. However the new large screen TVs came with a selection of downloads that included 84 movies, TV shows and several hundred music selections. The bathroom was nice with a couple exceptions. There was not a walk-in shower but a high wall bath tub/shower combination. The tub was short. Since most people on Crystal are going to be older, this creates two problems. It is difficult for people with knee and hip problems stepping over the high wall of the bathtub. It also seems that the tub was so small it would be difficult to get in and out of it unless you are 5-foot-1 or smaller. A walk-in shower would still need a higher lip, since the drain is slow during peak hours of use, but it would better than the tub. The other areas of concern was that they could use another “grab bar” in the shower and one next to the toilet seat, which like all other seats on the ship is low. THE FOOD: As usual the Crystal food was better than I have had on any other cruise line. There was one exception. One night in the main dining room T-Bone steak was on the menu. My steak was so tough that you could not cut it with steak knife. This was not an isolated bad piece of meat. Diners at other table had the same problem. If you could cut off a piece you ran the risk of choking on it. WHAT? They did have Beef Stroganoff on the menu. I didn’t look closely to the menu since everyone knows Beef Stroganoff is served on noodles. Everyone knows that except the chef and cooks on the Serenity where it is served on rice. The Main Dining Room: It is named the Waterside. As usual there were no lines or long waits to be seated. Service was very efficient but not rushed. My wife had a favorite waiter and we sat in his section on most nights. This was good as I did not have to feel guilty about not leaving a dozen waiters a tip, I could simply leave one large tip at the end of the cruise on our ship’s account for one waiter. Beyond the call: All the desserts were good depending what you like. My wife asked a question if they ever had Strawberry/Rhubarb pie. They don’t, however a maitre told her to come back the next night as he would have one especially baked for her. They did and she said it was very good (I’m not eating rhubarb on a bet.). The same thing happened at the Palm Court bar on the 12th level. I was easy as I always wanted a Coke or a Dr. Pepper. But my wife enjoys mixed drinks. One night she ordered a “Bee’s Knees” cocktail. The staff was unfamiliar with the drink. But the bartender looked it up on the internet and the next afternoon she was served a Bee’s Knees. The specialty restaurants: These were all good, plus they had a few items on the menu that were not part of the specialty dishes for spouses who hated the normal specialty items. At the Silk, a Chinese restaurant I was disappointed they did not have my favorite “Lo Mein” on the menu, but I was well aware that “Lo Mein” is not really Chinese, but something sold at American Chinese restaurants. Bistro: We would often skip the traditional breakfast and go to the Bistro on Deck 6 for fresh fruit and muffins. At night we would often skip dessert in a dining room and go to the Bistro where they had a number of desserts for you to pick from including chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate truffles (I started with 3-truffles a night and by the end of the cruise was downing six.) plus desserts in cups such as Crème Boule. ENTERTAINMENT: Dan Davies in the Piano Bar, The American Saloon, isn’t American but is an Australian. He also was the best entertainment on the ship. He was funny and showed signs of being a very good jazz pianist. He won’t be selling any CDs of his vocals, but still he was worth several trips to his venue. The majority of the passengers got sick with colds and sore throats Dan was not an exception, but his piano work was so good on the nights he could not sing it was still very entertaining. The passengers’ requests were a problem. People should realize the piano bar guys hate playing the Piano Man and My Way. It didn’t stop the passengers from requesting them and Dan reluctantly playing them. There were two comics on this cruise, both British entertainers. One was very good and the other was barely “OK.” On July 4, a British female singer with a number of performances in shows in London’s West End was the featured entertainer. On the program it stated there would be patriotic 4th of July songs for the Americans. I thought it was odd that a Brit would be singing songs reference a war that King George III lost. My worries disappeared when the only song she sang was “When the Saints go Marching In” which has nothing to do with American Independence and is most associated with New Orleans which belonged to the French until 1804, The Crystal Quartet was a group of musicians from the Philippines. They performed music from the American Songbook and pop tunes through the 1980s. They usually played in the Palm Court on the 12th floor. This is also where the ships male dancers, the Ambassadors, who danced with single women or wives whose husbands could not dance, were found on most nights. You could detect a slight accent of the female singer, with one exception. When she would sing songs made famous in the 1950s by the “Singing Rage Patty Page” she sounded just like her. TORTURING OLD PEOPLE: Just like in the cabins, in the bars and lounges all the chairs were extremely low to the floor. In the Palm Court there were four high back chairs that were actually off the floor and they were always occupied. Older people getting up from all the other furniture sounded like a Rice Krispies commercial, “Snap, Crackle and Pop” coming from people’s knees. THE CON: One lecture on the ship was “The History of the Swiss Watch.” The lecture was not by a nice person from Switzerland but by a Brazilian, who happened the run the ship’s “Watch Shop.” He handed out raffle tickets to people attending, but the winner was not announced at the end of his talk in the movie theater. You had to follow him to the Watch Store where he would draw the winning ticket for a small gift certificate. I did not follow him to the store. I felt I was being scammed and walked in the opposite direction. THE DIRT COVE: On thing that really amazed me was that for a ship that was in dry dock for an allegedly complete interior overhaul, was how filthy the white chairs in the Crystal Cove. These were covered in dirt and it is hard to believe that staff was not aware of their condition. This is one of the higher priced cruise ships in the world. You would expect the furniture to be clean. HIGH MARKS: Chief Concierge Marco Juen from Germany went out in the rain and got us a taxi to standby when we simply asked if there were any cabs available while the ship was docked in Tromso, Norway. Juen told us to have a seat. We thought he was going to make a call. Instead he went off the ship and retuned in 10-minutes, wet and telling us there was a cab waiting for us. MOST POPULAR GUY: That would be the guy manning the Scoops Ice Cream bar from noon to 6pm on the 12th level next to the Trident Grill. This guy was serving up Ben and Jerry’s and soft serve for six hours straight, often getting unusual requests to mix the flavors in half or quarter scoops. Regardless how busy he was and how stupid the request was, he always had a smile on his face. FREE: This was the first time on a cruise ship where the computer/internet service was completely free. The ship had a computer room with at least 12 computers available for passengers. Several other computers had leading newspapers’ online editions at no charge. SYMPHONY VS SERENITY: While we found almost everything on the Serenity to be very nice, we preferred the Symphony. Everyone we spoke to who had been on both ships said the same thing. TOURS: My wife and I often differ on places to see. I like to see where people live and styles of houses. She likes to go to where the tour busses are going to famous locations. To handle this dilemma we try to find a taxi that will give us an hourly rate. On this cruise we found that the taxi was often cheaper than the ship’s tour bus trips. The only problem was in some smaller towns there were no taxis to hire. The last full day of the trip was in Copenhagen. The ship offered a free shuttle bus into downtown Copenhagen. It was about a 30-minute ride one-way. It was a rainy day and they rain increased when we got downtown. We just stayed on the shuttle bus and went back to the ship. We got a free 1-hour tour of Copenhagen, a city we had been to before and spent lots of time on a sunny day seeing the tourist sites. WEATHER: Iceland was relatively warm with temps around 54f. In the Norway towns north of the Arctic Circle there were July days where the temperature was near freezing with a combination of drizzle and snow. THE COUGH AND SNEEZE: By the end of this cruise at least half the passengers were coughing and sneezing. Both my wife and I went to the Ships Medical Center. We knew better than to rack up a big bill by seeing the doctor. Instead nurses gave us cold medicines that were very reasonably priced. My wife was in bed for three days on the ship and a week after our return. I was carrying a wash cloth to cough into while on the ship. Counting the cost of the cruise, airfare and other transportation, plus the dog sitter back home our total cost was around $22,000 and perhaps in years to come the biggest memory with be the cough and cold. DEPARTURE: My wife had signed up for the shuttle bus from the dock to the airport. On our last full day on the ship we learned that a taxi to the airport was the same price as the bus or cheaper. Marco Juen at the Concierge Desk had no problem cancelling the bus. We were then able to reserve a taxi with someone from Copenhagen’s Tourist Bureau who was on the ship. It turned out the taxi fare was cheaper than the bus. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This was our first cruise ever. We had very high expectations based on what we heard about Scenic cruises and we can say that Scenic far exceeded these already high expectations. The food was excellent, the attention to even the smallest ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever. We had very high expectations based on what we heard about Scenic cruises and we can say that Scenic far exceeded these already high expectations. The food was excellent, the attention to even the smallest detail was outstanding, the staff was excellent, friendly, always smiling and ready to help. We especially appreciated our cruise director, Yvonne! Here enthusiasm was contagious, and her port talks each day were very helpful. The tours were extremely well organized, not too long and had wonderful, knowledgeable tour guides. We especially enjoyed the Heidelberg tour and the Amsterdam canal tour. Even though there was a slight hiccup due to a malfunctioning lock (out of Scenic's control), the Scenic team worked through it seamlessly. We were impressed. We highly recommend Scenic to anyone. We will definitely cruise with them again! Thinking of either the Prague to Budapest or a France cruise. Read Less

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