1. Home
  2. Cruise Styles
  3. Luxury Cruises Cruise Reviews

10,386 Luxury Cruise Reviews

October 31st through November 4, 2008 We packed up and left the Mystique hotel (Santorini) on Halloween and flew from Santorini to Athens to stay at the Intercontinental hotel. The intercontinental hotel was Seabourn's cruise ... Read More
October 31st through November 4, 2008 We packed up and left the Mystique hotel (Santorini) on Halloween and flew from Santorini to Athens to stay at the Intercontinental hotel. The intercontinental hotel was Seabourn's cruise line's pre-cruise hotel and they had representatives there to answer questions and shepherd us through the sequence of boarding. We decided that this hotel was too "5 star" to have authentic Greek food. I was dispatched in search of a Gyro. A plate of crackers in the hotel restaurant was on the menu for several hundred dollars - (let's not forget that they will deliver those crackers to your room for a 20% surcharge PLUS tip) Fairly typical for high end hotels. Seabourn's rep called us that evening to let us know they were taking a bus tour prior to the ship to the Corinth canal and the ancient city of Corinth. At first this sounded like something that might be interesting, however I did a little research and found the Corinth Canal - which I always thought was built by the ancient Corinthians, was constructed by the FRENCH less than a hundred years ago. Therefore, the use of modern explosives to create a canal through solid rock is NOT as impressive as if they had done it by scratching it out with their hands, or banging stone aged instruments into the mountain until it was five hundred feet deep and miles long. We didn't go. Next morning we got up early. Did a little sightseeing and then promptly at 11:30 am we stood in front of the hotel awaiting transport to the ship. A GINORMOUS (bigger than huge) Bus arrived to take us. There were only 8 of us who hadn't taken the tour to Corinth, therefore this bus was a bit of overkill for our small group. As this bus attempted to leave and maneuver down these small streets, a car was parked and the bus was unable to get through, The driver backed up for two blocks onto a busy highway to extricate us. A true feat of amazing prowess. Moving between hotels and airplanes is an exhausting task, even if well organized. Seabourn, is unlike any of the other Cruise lines that we've been on and there have been many. There are no long lines to board. You arrive at the side of the ship, a staff member dressed in black waistcoat, and white gloves takes your bag and they lead you into an air-conditioned comfortable lounge aboard the ship. They bring refreshments to you and when they are ready for you they call your name, you walk to the front of the lounge, are greeted cordially (drink in your hand) and photographed for your onboard ID. Once registered you are escorted by another white gloved attendant to your suite. We got into our suite and our stewardess immediately arrived with a silver tray, two glasses of champagne and hors d'oeuvres. You just want to melt into a comfortable puddle, it feels so good. You are also given a choice of soaps and shampoos (all very upscale brands) for your suite's bathroom and a selection of pillows (foam, feather, formed etc.). By the end of the first day every staff member aboard knows your name and greets you by name. THAT is an amazing feat and one which I have never seen on any other cruise line. The feeling you get once aboard is that you are safe, can relax and someone will take care of everything for you. Kind of like that feeling you have (and don't realize you have it) when living with your parents as a child - before moving out on your own. No worries, someone else will do it or take care of it for you, your sole job is to go out and play. We went to the top of the ship to enjoy the sail off from Athens harbor. They circulated with beverages for everyone at the rail, a small musical group sang a sophisticated brazilian bossa nova music. It was a beautiful experience. Formal dinner this evening, with fantastic. Great food, tuxedos evening dresses and most everyone on their best behavior. We were invited to join the table of one of the ship's officers. We met new people, had great conversation and even better food. Upon returning to our cabin we found two glasses of brandi, a rose and strawberries and whipped cream waiting for us. Seabourn has had a reputation since they were founded that whatever a guest wants, the crew will deliver. As the economy has taken a downturn and everyone is searching for ways to save money and still turn a profit, it has effected this cruise line. One of the staff told me that some of the passengers were making requests that were increasingly difficult to fulfill. "I'd like truffles that were gathered from a Patagonian swamp". They used to go to the Patagonian swam and GET those truffles and have them aboard by the time you arrives. While the chef was personable and prepared his cuisine superlatively, a lack of proper provisioning (supply) became obvious. As an example; we were traveling through the Greek islands and I wished to have a traditional Greek/Turkish breakfast daily. That consists of a hardboiled egg, some crusty bread with butter and fresh olives. On our second day the normal olives disappeared and I got a dish of olives that were pitted along with some martini olives (complete with pimento). When I asked about it I started an escalating Olive fiasco culminating with a volunteered "olive tasting" organized by the chef. Unfortunately, there appeared not to be a single olive aboard the ship except those used in martinis and black pitted olives (all directly from a can). One of my favorite dishes aboard a cruise or in an upscale restaurant is an Escargot appetizer. Two weeks aboard and they were unable to produce escargot (none aboard). Towards the end of the cruise my wife ordered cream of wheat for breakfast - they were out and had none. I can understand not having escargot, but cream of wheat is a staple of breakfast like eggs. In fact, I find it interesting that one of the other reviews at this site from the same ship but nearly a year ago made the same comment about lack of proper provisioning. I've been told that Seabourn's management reads these reviews, so hopefully they'll see a trend here and hire more forward thinking chefs who can provision properly for a luxury crowd. Our visit today was our personal re-entry into Turkey. Fethiye, A seaside yachting town with a population of a few hundred thousand. We walked ashore and after twenty plus years. Some of our Turkish language came back to us. We had lunch at a nice outdoor restaurant, sitting out on the covered outside tables, with Ekmek (bread) and delicious dishes made with vegetables and lamb. It was wonderful. My wife has a three piece "puzzle"ring that we bought when we lived in Ismir. We went into a gold shop and saw one similar but larger on display, heavier and even more beautiful. Buying gold in Turkey is traditional. They don't charge for the craftsmanship, they weigh the piece and you pay for the weight of the gold and it's value. Much has been said and written about Seabourn's complimentary shore excursion at Ephesus. Very probably the finest shore excursion experience to be found aboard any cruise line at any site in the world. A private, torch-lit evening in the ancient ruins of Ephesus. They close the entire ancient ruin site for Seabourn and it's two hundred guests, who are escorted into the ancient site along the road from the port where Anthony and Cleopatra once walked into Ephesus. Ephesus, is of course, many miles from any city and therefore is mostly deserted except by tourists visiting the site. The first time we visited Ephesus (I was stationed as a military pilot with NATO nearby at Ismir, Turkey at the time) was to attend the "camel fights" taking place on the hills adjacent. The hills were covered by spectators dressed in a myriad of ways from full arab regalia to western wear - down at the bottom they turned two camels loose on each other and they fought. It was quite a sight. . In my estimation, this was one of the most memorable experience we've ever had. At 8pm in the evening, everyone boarded buses and were driven to the ruins of Ephesus - 30 minutes from the port city of Kusadasi. The ruins were lit by floodlights from horizon to horizon were pillars and remnants of ancient buildings many reconstructed to the point where it was easy to imagine walking down the street of this ancient city as a Roman or Ephesian. Without a doubt one of the finest archeological sites in the world. Most sites of this sort, are so demolished that it is difficult to imagine what it looked like before its destruction. Dominating the scene as we walked into the city on this ancient main road (paved with huge rocks worn flat by thousands of years of traffic, chariot wheels etc.) Was a Roman Amphitheater. The Amphitheater was huge, an oval open on one side, surrounding a stage and rising up from around the stage to roughly 10 stories high. It was bathed in beautiful yellow light. We passed it and continued walking along the darkened main street for about half a mile through pools of light placed every so often to illuminate the road, as well as the buildings on both sides. As we approached a crossroad, "Roman Citizens" appeared standing on either side of the road, dressed in togas and other roman period dress down to the headgear, holding torches to illuminate our way. Following the torch lit guides stationed on either side of the road; we finally reached the world famous Ephesus library façade. It was like you were Roman Royalty being escorted to the performance. We walked down some gently sloping stairs to about fifty tables each set with hors d'oeuvres and wine glasses. As we walked down the steps to the tables, young women Romans stood on either side with baskets of grapes, tangerines and other fruits offering them to us as we descended. We took our seats (there was room for two couples at each table); a Gentleman walked out onto the steps of the library in front of us and introduced himself as the Mayor of Ephesus (a role, of course, since Ephesus now has no population). He spoke for several minutes discussing the politics of the Gods, which was essentially a soap opera styled introduction to Greek/Roman mythology. He concluded and a five piece chamber orchestra came out and performed for about an hour playing classical chamber music. It was a beautiful experience. When the concert finished, we slowly walked the half mile or so back to the bus. There were four large buses waiting for us, each one filled and left as it filled. Well, being the photographer that I am, I was among the last few people returning to the sole remaining bus. Adjacent to the parking lot where the bus was waiting was a short string of shops. Of course it was late, near 10pm, and all were closed except one. This shop had done a brisk business selling wraps to the unprepared ladies on the way in - the evening was crisply cool. So as I walked down the final few hundred feet to the bus, I came up to this shop. The owner was standing in the middle of the street entreating people to enter and make one last purchase. He came up to me, entreating me in broken English. I told him in my very poor Turkish, "good evening, thanks for asking but sorry I can't stop the bus is waiting". He looked at me astounded, grabbed me in a big bear hug (he was a foot shorter than me, - a big barrel chested bearded Turkish man) kissed me on the cheek and began dragging me into his store. My wife, meanwhile, was about fifty yards further down and looking at me like "come on the bus is leaving, you idiot". I couldn't get free without actually WRESTLING this guy to the ground (I'm six foot one and 235 pounds). He was apparently so impressed that ANYONE would actually attempt to speak to him in Turkish that he insisted on giving me a wrap (kind of like a pashmina) for my wife. As he drug me through the door of his shop, he asked me what color my wife's hair was. I said black, and he selected a beautiful wrap pressed it into my hands insisting it was a gift. I was the last one onto the bus, but what a wonderful feeling. We returned to the ship arriving at nearly 11pm. The ships crew was waiting on the dock with a giant banner reading "WELCOME HOME" A small musical group was cranking out some loud, very festive music, the crew was dancing around (kind of doing it in place because they were all holding the giant banner. A tuxedoed waiter had a silver platter full of drinks he was handing to each of us as we returned. Not wine but warm apple tea (a turkish specialty). This would have capped a wonderful evening and experience, but it wasn't over YET. We boarded to find (few had eaten dinner before we left) a barbeque on deck. Fantastic food, a superb band on stage (they have a stage set up on top of the hot tubs) playing rock and roll music that was incredibly good. People started dancing and eating, it was magnificent. The ONLY thing that could have made this evening better is if we had more family with us to share it. We didn't get to bed until after 1am. Everyone stopped dancing and eating long enough to watch as we sailed out of Kusadasi to the sight of a castle lit up by flood lights and (not joking) a clear sky and beautiful moon over the vista. Seabourn has one of these excursions aboard each cruise. It's free and everyone is invited. Frankly, I don't know why we even bother with any other cruise line. A vacation is supposed to allow you not only to relax, but also to provide memorable experiences. Seabourn has it down to a science and there's not a staff member aboard who doesn't make you feel like you are royalty and they have nothing better to do but wait on you hand and foot (and they appear to love doing it). We arrived at Istanbul and it was the disembarkation point for those who were only aboard for 7 days (we have two back to back). It was a bit sad to see most of the people we'd gotten to know get off. We are now two of only sixty Americans among 200 passengers, roughly about 25%. The majority of the rest of the passengers are now European, French, Dutch, German and South African (which at one time was a Dutch colony in Africa). Disembarkation: Alexandria, Egypt - our last day aboard the ship. We are supposed to vacate our cabins by 8 am to allow the stewardess to prepare it for the next guests. After two weeks it feels like we're leaving home. I awoke at 5:30 am (nautical twilight) just as the sky was brightening. A look out our window told me we were almost there. I didn't want to miss seeing the sail into this ancient and very famous harbor. What I saw out the window was miles and miles of lights on the horizon. Alexandria is flat and narrowly situated along the ocean with a relatively short depth inland. I also saw about five cruise ships abreast of us sailing in the same direction. the ancient capitol of Cleopatra's Egypt is now fully gone and replaced with ramshackle apartment buildings. It's the end of the tourist season with bad weather descending across Europe and nearly everyone is headed either directly across the Atlantic to the Caribbean or through the Suez Canal to the Orient, Australia, India and Indonesia. Our ship will continue on the later itinerary. We said goodbye to all of our newly acquired friends yesterday, dispensed a few gratuities to particularly worthy staff (Seabourn, by the way, is one of the few cruise lines where gratuities are not part of the equation, i.e, they are neither required or expected - however, they were certainly DESERVED so we violated their policy and rewarded some of the particularly excellent staffers) Evening prior to departure is always difficult, because all of a sudden you have things you MUST do. We packed our bags had a very nice dinner, a couple of drinks and proceeded up to the night club. The night club is where a tiny, tiny casino is located. We've avoided all gambling while aboard not wishing to spoil our vacation by losing the amount of cash we brought along to buy junk food while ashore. My wife wanted to play the slot machines. She took $20 and disappeared into a small backroom which held all of the slots (about four machines) leaving me standing next to the card tables. There were only two tables - one was blackjack and the other was five-card poker, you play against the dealer and whoever has the best hand wins. Sounds simple, but if the dealer doesn't get at least an ace and a king, then they don't have to pay you your full bet. There was one man sitting dead center of the five chairs facing the dealer, all by himself. He didn't look happy. So I walked up and asked him if he cared which side I sat at, on his left or right. Some people who gamble are superstitious about that. He said he didn't care. Based upon that I seated myself on his left, which effectively caused me to begin receiving the hands that the dealer would have been getting if he continued to play alone. I judged from his sour demeanor that he was losing to the dealer. Turned out to be right. I started winning and in several hands lost only one. My wife came out of the slots after depositing her funds into the chute while listing to banging, whistling and chiming (something hypnotic about that garbage). She'd lost her twenty. I, however, had won a total of $375 while she was feeding her money into the slots. I offered to give her another twenty to take back into the pit but she declined. AND....... she hates standing around watching me gamble and won't even blow on the dice. So, we walked away winners (using the royal "we"). My winnings more than paid all the gratuities and left us in plenty of money for snickers bars. Arriving in Alexandria, I went up to the top deck where the view is the best. A magnificent sunrise, one like I haven't seen in a long time. The sun rose in the east (as usual- I thought we were headed south, but somehow the ship was sailing into the harbor to the north (I still can't figure out how that was possible, but it was). The sun came up a flaming red ball and was obscured so much you could actually look right at it as it rose over the buildings. We got off the ship and boarded a beautiful 50-passenger bus for transfer to the hotel in Cairo. Leaving a cruise ship is a catharsis. You walk out of an environment where dozens of people are standing around just waiting to rush off and bring you a drink, or a snack and are plunged into the ice water of the real world where you are once again responsible for doing everything yourself. It's a shock. Once again, everyone (all the other disembarking passengers) had opted to go on some sort of marathon tours and were hustled into little VW buses. We, however, along with only three other couples had declined and opted for direct transportation to the arranged hotel. We had the entire bus to ourselves and they put a tour guide aboard who spoke English and gave us a running dissertation of everything we saw as we proceeded to the hotel. It was as good as any tour we could have paid for aboard the ship. The bus dropped us off at the four seasons Cairo, Seabourn's post cruise hotel, which is directly on the Nile River in the center of Cairo. They gave us a beautiful room (this hotel reminds me of Las Vegas, all marble, flowers and well dressed employees everywhere). Our room was near the top of the hotel and overlooked the Cairo zoo and the Pyramids. This is the first time we've utilized Seabourn's pre-cruise and post-cruise hotels and transfers. It couldn't have been better. In a nutshell, Seabourn is unparalleled in my experience (we do one or two cruises a year and have been doing so since the early nineties). Where other lines have gotten more and more crowded, Seabourn caters to a smaller crowd. Boarding on Holland America as an example entails lines and much waiting (even if you've booked their top suites). Seabourn is like arriving at a private residence where you are the only guest. While the ships are relatively small, all of the amenities are there. One notable exception is their on board store which is poorly equipped. The only two things I can fault are the lack of provisioning (running out of cream of wheat/no olives or escargot) and that I haven't been able to buy a simple T-shirt that says Seabourn on it on either of our last two cruises. It's impossible to buy a traditional t shirt, but if you want upscale merchandise, it's there (a Ralph Lauren golf shirt or a hermes scarf or a very expensive watch). All of that is a minor distraction among the nearly perfect experience that Seabourn provides. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Let me open with a brief comment on why we took this trip. We completed a Regent cruise in April '08 with considerably less than positive results: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=41174 After ... Read More
Let me open with a brief comment on why we took this trip. We completed a Regent cruise in April '08 with considerably less than positive results: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=41174 After addressing this with Regent Corporate and receiving what we believed was a concerted effort to deny the existence of our issues, we began to believe it may really be our perception of what cruising should be. On a lark we went back to a Crystal Cruise to see if we were so hardened on this cruse thing our expectations were totally out of line. We discovered they were not. Crystal is truly luxury, and Regent might as well be a very expensive Princess Cruise. As an example, on the very first day of our Crystal cruise, my i-pod/ MP3 player froze and would not operate. Believing it to be a battery issue I went to the front desk to ask if they had a charger. The desk person, Anna Marie pulled one out, player still didn't work. She then went to her own cabin to use hers, it still didn't work, she called the ship's IT to help, it still didn't work. She then went on the Internet for a resolution, and fixed it. A small thing, but a huge indication of the efforts of the crew to make things right. We were home again at Crystal. Crew: Typical Crystal attention to the customer with greetings in the passageway by officers all the way to hull painters. You are treated as a guest, not a number. I believe this is what may set Crystal apart from all other lines. The sense is we are a welcome addition, not an intrusion like we felt on Regent. What a delight. Food: All in all, very good. Only one marginal night, and all of our dishes were not up to par, must have been the chef's night off. The rest was terrific and I can't figure out how all the fish dishes always came out perfectly, wow. Service was superb, all special orders handled quickly and were delicious. Silk Road (Specialty Nobu restaurant) is great. Service, while good, is not up to par with the main dining room, but food was over the top delicious. Mornings on the Lido deck was consistently good and the deck grill put our some wonderful burgers and steak sandwiches. As always, the crew did anything they could to please. You asked, they provided. Room: Think we did like Regent's better, a bit more room and the bath more conventional. We believed Crystal made a mistake with the new glass vessel bath sinks, intrusive and difficult to keep clean. Turn the water on full, and you'll only do that once as it blew over the edges. All else nice. Two robes, one light cotton and one plush for each room guest was grand. Room service was typically Crystal extraordinary. Entertainment: Mixed feelings about this one. Previous Crystal cruises the entertainers were spot on and well rehearsed. Not this time. "The Envelop Please" was very poor with one of the front line entertainers unable to get his lines straight the entire performance. Not sure what happened here, so we just passed to the rest of the shows and entertained ourselves, so can't comment if this was poor through all the shows. Ports: Cabo OK, Mazablan, probably wouldn't get off the ship to see it again, Puerto Viarta, very nice. Clean, old Mexico. The City has obviously put a great deal of effort in to make things right. That stop was worth the trip. All in all, a wonderfully positive experience back on Crystal. It's by far our favorite line . . . this is what cruising is all about. No more experiments, we're back. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
First lets get the nearly obvious out of the way. The really all inclusive is the only way to go! The crew really get to know you, the service, the wine, the food, the decor, all top notch as I'm sure you assume. The line has a great ... Read More
First lets get the nearly obvious out of the way. The really all inclusive is the only way to go! The crew really get to know you, the service, the wine, the food, the decor, all top notch as I'm sure you assume. The line has a great Crew to passenger ratio, with tons of empty space all over the place. Our cruise was 100% booked and with a long waiting list and yet we could take a walk around at night and not see a single other couple on the deck. Our Cruise was from Athens Greece to Dubai UAE. This was the trip of a lifetime, and the very first time this ship was in the middle east. For being the first time at all these ports every kink was well worked out ahead of time, and the middle east is no easy place to have everything go so smooth. With the extreme Volatility in the region, we still felt very safe and secure. The boat had several different defenses against modern pirates and we received a military escort that was never more than 20mins away at all times. The safety and well being of each and every passenger really is the ships #1 concern and it shows. The Cabins were spacious and they nearly all have a balcony. The beds were a great vacation for my back as well! Now on to the few things I was not so impressed about, and yes, it took me quite a while to think of anything to even speak of. As nearly every reviewer already stated, yes, there is quite a bit of vibration on the ship. This didn't effect us while sleeping though, but was a little annoying at times when eating on the higher decks. So to start off, the pool and Jacuzzis closed much too early each night. There really is no reason to close them at 7 or 8 pm. Most nights they even drained them and put nets over them. This not only took away from the aesthetics of the pool deck area but we heard several people say that they missed being able to take an after dinner dip in the pool or relax in the Jacuzzi, not in the heat of the mid day sun. I'm sure there's some insurance reason behind closing them, but it was very disappointing to see that the passengers were not trusted to swim once the sun went down. Now onto the TVs. All rooms have Movies on demand at no charge. Slightly tricky at first to figure out, I don't think we realized we even had this feature until about the 10th day! The quality of the movies was all DVD quality. BUT and this is a big but... whoever handles the Audio/Video on the boat should be at the very least, made to take some sort of course to learn what they are doing. Any special recordings or video interviews on the boat were just plain laughably horrible. Most of the color was green. For example, I watched the presidential debate live via satellite in the lounge and in my room. Than for the next day it was played back to back on one of the channels, but now in absolutely horrible quality. It was like watching a copy of a copy of a copy of someone who recorded the debate with a camcorder pointed at a TV. and than add some bright green and now you've got what it looks like. I have no idea why no one that works on the ship let this go on like this. We poked fun about this with several other passengers several times on our voyage. And this can't be blamed on the Satellite, because it came in perfect the first time. While we were in our mid to late 40's we felt like the real youngins on the ship. I'd have to say that on our voyage the average passenger age was 70. which was just plain higher than what we were led to believe. This is no cruise for a family with children, or for that newlywed couple... well unless your on say your 3rd marriage that is! But truth be told we met some amazing other couples on the boat. We enjoyed the company of so many people. We were just shocked by how friendly everyone was. As you talk to everyone throughout your stay you start to find out that nearly everyone on the boat this is now on average there 5th, 6th, even 8th time back with Regent. That alone speaks all for itself! There is certainly a reason why once you go Regent you never go back! I like to keep a healthy lifestyle and the ship had an excellent fitness center, stocked with 4 or 5 treadmills, cycling machines, all with flat screen TVs, free weights, and many machines. Also both a walking and a running path on the decks. Shuffleboard, golf, and a pool you can swim laps in. The menus each night also featured low carb, vegetarian, low salt, and simple dishes in addition to the regular menu, so staying healthy was easy to do thankfully. The Compass Rose was actually so much better than The Portofino. But that was mostly due to the Portofino having a authentic middle Eastern menu since that was where we were. But whatever restaurant you choose there is no waiting, a table is always free just for you. The music on board was just a 6 out of 10. It's all a little Corny and you can tell everyone singing just couldn't cut in in the industry and just settled on a cruise ship. I would've rather heard some violins, than heard the almost Disney like music acts that were there. We also would've like to have heard a little more Sinatra songs. Shore excursions were all decent. We set up many of our own things since we could set up some of the same exact excursions at 1/2 the price. This was our first cruise with Regent and we have certainly found our cruise line to call our own. We look forward to our next cruise in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Embarkation in Hong Kong took about 15 minutes and without incident. We were on the same ship in the Caribbean in March, so we knew what to expect. Our Luggage were delivered within 1/2 hour. We boarded the ship after spending 3 extra ... Read More
Embarkation in Hong Kong took about 15 minutes and without incident. We were on the same ship in the Caribbean in March, so we knew what to expect. Our Luggage were delivered within 1/2 hour. We boarded the ship after spending 3 extra days in HKG at the new W Hotel and it is high tech in everyway. In fact we had some problem figuring out how to operate room amenities. The view was partial harbor view, since there are couple of luxury condos in front. The hotel with the best view is the Intercontinental bar none. One unique feature of this cruise was that Mariner made 1 1/2 day ports of call at major destinations. HKG, Hong Gai Vietnam, Hue, Saigon, BKK and overnight in Singapore where we disembarked. This allowed us to participate more in depth excursions. Cruise provided one complimentary 4 hours cruise of Halong Bay onboard typical Junk which was very relaxing and beautiful. I arranged my Vietnam tours with local agency and it worked out fine, plus 50% saving compared to what was offered by the cruiseline. Our tours were private with driver and an English speaking guides. Transaction involving fees for the tours went without a hitch. Deposit and balance paid on arrival. What was most important was that dockside meet was arranged in advance by obtaining permit from the government which is included in the price. This was part of their Asia Golden Circle Cruise for the total of 102 days, but you can cruise on various segments you found interesting. The crew was very attentive as usual, good room service menu and best of all it is all inclusive. There is absolutely nothing to pay, unless you purchase premium beverages or make other onboard purchases(photos,boutique). Cabin is spacious and all have balcony, no inside cabins, free do it yourself laundry facility with ironing board, automatic detergent injection system. Our cabin was close to 400SQ, walk-in closet, mini bar provisioned with mixes, soft drinks and beer. You can also request 2 bottles of liquor for your room per cabin and bottle of champaign during embarkation. Tray of fruits always replenished daily, nightly turn-down service. I also would like to mention that under your bed has enough space to store 4-5 various size empty bags which really helps out. The ship departed HKG at 11PM on the second day and I must say the departure from HKG at night is spectacular. Most beautiful second to none, maybe Sydney? Our first ports of call was Hong Gai which is the closest port to Hanoi, very interesting city, if you can master navigating massive traffic congestion. It is most difficult to cross those street with hundreds of scooters and aiming right at you. The secret, our guide showed us, is stepping off the curb(not many traffic lights)maintaining steady pace(not slowing down or speeding up) which gives drivers to anticipate your movement which prevents surprises and prevents hitting you. Trick is to do it, but its hard stepping off the curb into on coming traffic. But it works and we did fine with no injuries(I'm 69 and my wife 59). Hue was very interesting, you have a choice of visiting Citadels and Temples in Hue or head out to HoiAn UNESCO Heritage Site. We went to HoiAn combined with Marble Mountain and Da Nang. Good choice, we thought. Onboard you have a choice of dinning venues, Signature, CompassRose, La Veranda and Latitude. We were not disappointed with any of them with few exceptions. Latitude menu was OK, but not thrilled with it(Indian, then Thai), I think many felt that way. We loved CompassRose, food was consistently good with variety, Signature over-rated, La Veranda(always casual)always had interesting menu selection. In defense of Latitude, they are replacing it with a Steak House, when the ship enters dry-dock at the end of this cruise cycle. We took breakfasts and one dinner in our cabin and both were on time, good presentation and full table cloth service. We ordered dinner with wine selection and two bottles were delivered with dinner. Breakfast was buffet, but you could request items at your table without serving yourself, same for Lunch. There were several poolside dinning with extravagant offering of lobsters, premium meats and numerous other premium seafoods, Mexican menu and even pizza. Absolutely no complaint with their foods and quality. Todays restaurant prices would command $50 per plate easily for what they were offering. The entertainment was fine, very quaint venue with variety of entertainment, nothing outstanding , since I'm very critical. But it is what is expected of cruiseship entertainment. Variety shows, singer, solo pianist accompanied by Regent's own band, small trio and solo instrumentalists at lounges. Done in good taste. We had 3 formal nights which I'm not too thrilled about, but ship of this class, you can always expect it. I prefer all country casual type of dress code for every functions, but the I feel that type of passengers this class of ship caters to demands it which is part in parcel of traveling on luxury liners. We participated on 2 nights, but decided on La Veranda instead on the last one which was fine. The ship enforces dress code for the evening very close. HCMC was very orderly compared to Hanoi, ship provided free shuttle service to Rex Hotel(one of the finest in Saigon with history). Because of our size we were able to navigate up the Saigon River for 4 hours to be much closer to city center. Mega cruise-ships on the other hand had to dock nearly 3 hours away, because of much deeper draft. This prevented excursions of any meaning, especially if they were scheduled for one day call at Saigon. Thailand was just as chaotic, but very interesting place to visit. Called on Ko Samui and BKK, spent one night BKK, because the drive into BKK was 2 1/2 hours again. Finally two days at see and arrived in Singapore on Nov 1 and disembarked on the morning of Nov 2. We stayed in Singapore for additional 2 days. Very clean and organized city, we can all learn from them. But the laws they enforce on their citizens can not be imposed in this country, because of ACLU and other organization. However, there are no homeless on the streets, no beggars, trash or graffiti and crimes are virtually none. If you are going to do some shopping get them done in Vietnam or Thailand, because Singapore is expensive and they don't bargain as much. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
As mentioned in the introduction, we are both seniors and this was our first cruise. We read every cruise review we could find and found the Cruise Critic site to be extremely helpful. Before selecting a cruise, we developed a ... Read More
As mentioned in the introduction, we are both seniors and this was our first cruise. We read every cruise review we could find and found the Cruise Critic site to be extremely helpful. Before selecting a cruise, we developed a "wish list" of expectations. First, we wanted to see as much of Europe as possible. We were interested in a relaxing atmosphere which ruled out children of all ages. (We're not anti-children, but there's a time and a place). We didn't want Las Vegas type glitz, but we also didn't want a strictly "seniors cruise." We wanted to avoid having to mingle with huge gaggles of humanity, and while we preferred to avoid the rigidity of a very formal atmosphere, we did not want to go too far in the direction of "casual" which all-to-frequently degenerates to "grungy." Finally, we hoped for some interesting dining experiences. We are very pleased to say that the Azamara Journey fulfilled all our expectations. The ship's capacity was 700 passengers which was perfect in every way. We never felt crowded, never had to wait to be seated in a restaurant, nor when leaving or returning to the ship. This cruise did not offer babysitting services nor did it have a "game room." Combine that with the time of year, and it was an all-adult passenger list. We experienced 10 ports with one day at sea. Because we were not familiar with any of the ports and did not feel comfortable touring on our own, we availed ourselves of many of the ship excursions. We were not disappointed. We were very pleased with the food preparation and choices as well as the wide selection of beverages. We had a choice of restaurants ranging from a casual buffet and pool-side grill to a main restaurant and two specialty restaurants. We also used room service on occasion. We were amazed at the quick response time for room service. We frequented the main restaurant for dinner. We always asked to be seated in an area served by one head waiter and his assistant. They were a real "dynamic duo" who not only provided excellent service, but entertainment as well. The ship's staff and crew were very friendly and helpful. We had arranged for a room with a balcony which was well worth the additional cost. We used the balcony frequently when we were arriving at or departing from ports, and occasionally we ate breakfast there as well. Since this was our first cruise we were fascinated watching the pilot boat bring the harbor master out to the ship at each port to guide the ship into port. We were able to view this process each morning from our balcony. The ship was maintained beautifully. It was clean, neat, and nicely appointed. The service staff was excellent and made your comfort their priority. The entertainment was good and varied. The variety of excursions offered at each port was more than adequate. They ranged from mild to strenuous, and on two occasions we selected "strenuous" excursions which were still manageble for us. On a scale of 1 to 10, our tour guides ranked between 7 and 10 with a preponderence falling in the range of 9 and 10. We were able to tune to video introductions to each excursion from our rooms each evening so we had some idea of what to expect during the tour. We pre-arranged with private car services for tours of Rome and Sorrento and we were very pleased with our choices. In Rome we used Fabrizio Melaragno's "All Around Italy" car service that can be accessed at allarounditaly.net. Fabrizio was extremely animated, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. We saw more of Rome than we had ever imagined possible in one day. He also arranged for us a to have a personal guided tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica and Square. In Sorrento we used Renato Cuomo's Limousine Service which can be accessed at www.carsorrento.it. Our driver, Paolo, was wonderful. He knew everyone everywhere we went. We learned a great deal of information about Sorrento, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast that he shared with us from his personal knowledgebase. He made us feel very comfortable and welcome. We would strongly recommend both of these car services. We had such a wonderful experience on this cruise that we are already starting to plan our next one. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
"Emphasis on providing a delightful experience" "The Regent Experience" "Unsurpassed levels of luxury define the Regent Experience" "Your every desire and wildest dreams fulfilled" ... Read More
"Emphasis on providing a delightful experience" "The Regent Experience" "Unsurpassed levels of luxury define the Regent Experience" "Your every desire and wildest dreams fulfilled" "Uncompromising excellence" "Unparalleled service and attention" Just some of the claims made by Regent Seven Seas Cruises in their promotional material. As a special celebration for our silver wedding anniversary in March 2008, my husband and I, together with two friends, booked a seven-day cruise on Seven Seas Navigator, sailing in July. Regent's ships are advertised as being six-star and they frequently mention in their advertising material, "the Regent Experience", "The ultra luxury world of Regent Seven Seas Cruises". These are the reasons we decided to book with Regent, as we wanted a very special occasion. How we were disappointed! Within two days of boarding, three of our party went down with diarrhea and loss of appetite, which lasted several days. Consequently, not much food was eaten. There were several other passengers on board suffering the same complaint. We decided to treat ourselves with medication, as the cost for seeking the advice and help of the onboard doctor was very expensive. We brought our problem to the notice of the Cruise Director, but he made it clear he did not want to know. There were poor hygiene standards on board. The use of antibacterial gel was not compulsory, either when boarding the ship or when entering a dining area. It was available, but not in a prominent position and many passengers did not bother to use it. During our time aboard, there were two instances when we were given dirty glassware and crockery and we witnessed a waiter carrying a cream jug, to our table, with his hand clasped over the top, instead of carrying it by the handle. Definitely not six-star! There was poor service on the pool deck, tables left uncleared and no towels for the sunbeds. Again, not what one would expect from a 6-star ship. In the main dining room, on two occasions when a large party of Colombian people arrived, service at our table and others was extremely poor, with most of the waiters fawning over this family and we were left with empty wine glasses and long waits. Presumably the Colombians tipped well! The Asian staff on board worked extremely hard, were very pleasant and aimed to please, but they were under pressure and it showed. Some of the older Italian staff, we found to be arrogant. A passenger we spoke to also complained about lipstick on a glass she was given. The waitress asked her if it was her own lipstick! Our suite was very nice and we have no complaints there. However, suffering from diarrhea, we spent rather longer in our rooms than we would have liked! On our return home we wrote a very fair letter of complaint to Regent. Their reply was purely and simply a big brush-off. They don't want to know. They suggested we caught a bug from the airport and have told us that they meet the highest standards set by the US Public Health Authorities. What we experienced and witnessed could never be classed as high standards. We have sailed with other lines in the past such as Swan Hellenic and Seabourn and found both to be excellent. I would have far rather been writing a rave review and have wonderful memories of a special celebration. Unfortunately, we were very disappointed. We definitely did not get what we had paid for and will not be sailing with Regent in the future. The 'Regent Experience' we experienced, is not one we wish to remember! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
This was our second time sailing with Oceania (the other in 2005 Barcelona to Istanbul). We like the smaller ships (less than 700 passengers) and the port intensive itineraries of Oceania. The ships are very nicely appointed and have a ... Read More
This was our second time sailing with Oceania (the other in 2005 Barcelona to Istanbul). We like the smaller ships (less than 700 passengers) and the port intensive itineraries of Oceania. The ships are very nicely appointed and have a "country club casual" ambience. No need to pack all that formal wear. Although staterooms are known to be on the smallish side, they are very well laid out and comfortable. In 2005 we had Concierge Level balcony Stateroom which was very nice, however on this cruise opted for the somewhat larger penthouse suite which had a bathtub and came with butler service. Our butler was extremely pleasant and efficient but did not find having a butler significantly contributed to our enjoyment of the cruise. Although I was completely satisfied with the concierge level stateroom, my husband enjoyed the extra space of the penthouse suite especially as was 14 day cruise. Dining on Oceania was wonderful experience. Maybe not quite ***** but certainly much better than many of the larger cruise lines. We generally dined in the main Dining Room - no set seatings so could dine when you pleased. Had the option of dining alone, with group or to be placed at an open table. Many of the tables were for 2 but well positioned so could have a private meal but were at the same time conducive to meeting others. Particularly enjoyed the speciality Italian restaurant Toscana and dined there on a number of occasions. Polo Grill was also nice but menu limited to fairly standard steaks & chops. For breakfast we generally ordered room service & ate on our balcony or had croissants & coffee up in the Horizon Lounge (very quiet). We are not buffet type people and generally avoided the buffet except to pick up a few appies to enjoy in our stateroom. Unlike other cruise lines, Oceania do allow you bring your own liquor aboard to consume in your stateroom. Can also bring your own wine to dining room but charged a corkage charge so not worth extra cost. Normally we would order bottles of wine with dinner, and what was not finished was stored by the wine steward for the next day. Without set seating, you did not always have the same service staff. However being a smaller ship and longer cruise we did get to know a number of the staff. Service was exceptional and friendly. Where Oceania falls down is on entertainment and shore excursions. Entertainment - The house orchestras were OK but the headlined acts were so so bad. I generally would walk out but my husband would stay because they were not only bad but they were terrible! One of the entertainers on our Baltic cruise was the same as on our Mediterranean cruise in 2005. Oceania is adult oriented and do not have children's/teen programs. Not a "party boat". Shore excursions: Grossly overpriced and Oceania have the habit of canceling excursions at the last minute if they don't have enough people signed up. Excursion desk staff, although pleasant, were unable/unwilling to provide port information other than related to their tour. Generally a local tourist official would board when we got into port but a bit late for advance planning. For St. Petersburg , Oceania gave us the impression that it was very difficult to get a visitors Visa for Russia and it would not be possible to get off the boat without taking one of their excursions. Fortunately at the last minute we learnt this was not the case & booked 3 day tour with Alla Tours which was fabulous. Best advice is to try and pre-arrange own tours or get a good guide and do it on your own. With this last cruise, had a few problems pre-cruise with our flight deviations. Our itineraries were different as husband was returning a week later from UK. We received our flight confirmations from Oceania and all seemed OK as we had requested until we called the airlines to book our seat assignments. Evidently my husband's reservation had been changed & he was scheduled to fly out to Stockholm a day later than me. Took over a week to rectify. Would I sail again with Oceania - probably yes but am a bit hesitant because I enjoy going to the evening show as part of the cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
This was our first cruise with Crystal and our fourth different cruise line. We chose this leg of their world cruise in order to visit cities where we had lived and worked during our careers. The cruise was March 15 through 27, and its ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Crystal and our fourth different cruise line. We chose this leg of their world cruise in order to visit cities where we had lived and worked during our careers. The cruise was March 15 through 27, and its route was Hong Kong - Chan May (Hue) - Saigon (overnight) - Laem Chabang (Bangkok)(overnight) - Koh Samui - Singapore (overnight). Our travel to and from the cruise was independent; we spent several days in Hong Kong before the cruise, and we travelled further in the region after disembarking. Embarkation in Hong Kong: Boarding from the Marco Polo Hotel was painless. The bell boy just pulled our two suitcases from the hotel to the ship baggage area in Ocean Terminal. We were on board by 1230; our cabin would be available at 3. One piece of missing information for boarding for independent travellers is that you receive no instructions when and where to board. You also receive no contact instructions. My wife and I are well acquainted with Hong Kong, so we knew the ship would be at Ocean Terminal. We did not know the ship would be in port for two days; on its first day we just went to the ship security personnel at the gangplank and asked. They said that we could board any time after 12 noon the next day. Now, this information along with a contact phone number could easily have been added to the massive packet one receives from Crystal. Some statistics: The ship can carry 1,080 passengers; we are ca 900 on the leg Hong Kong - Singapore (remember this is a round the world cruise, Los Angeles - Southampton in 104 days). I don't know how many got off in HK, but ca 500 boarded; 380 got off in Singapore. There are only 167 Crystal first time passengers. Around 400 are doing the entire world cruise. The story is that around 125 book the world cruise every year (seems that Crystal alternates this cruise between its two ships). The staff of 650 is from 45 countries with no one nationality predominating. Our stewardess (not cabin boy) was from Croatia. Our head waiter was Austrian, senior from Turkey, and junior from India. Our cabin with verandah was smaller than Holland-America, but it still had lots of nooks and crannies for storage. Room under the bed for suitcases. Two sinks in the bathroom. The usual TV, safe, fridge, robes and slippers, and an impractical, too large, Crystal tote bag (however, useful for taking dirty clothes to the laundry). Fellow passengers: older and moneyed, and very international, although Americans were the majority. A guest list is published for each leg listing passenger and state or province (US or Canada), or country. I would categorize most of the men as either business or lawyers, with some medical persons. There were at least two retired generals. The passengers ranged from very pleasant and interesting to the very stupid and obnoxious, eg, Where is the capital of Viet Nam? Why do I have to use Baht in Thailand? On a large ship you don't necessarily have to be around the people you don't like. When you are only 900, the chances are better that you will meet them more than once. There were a few infants and children. While jewelry was not in short supply during the day, it really came out in the evenings. Formal nights also brought out elegant dresses and quite a variety of men's formal attire. The ship: As it's smaller, it was easier to negotiate. Decks 5 and 6 were the public areas. Decks 7 through 11 were cabins. Deck 7 was no verandahs, 8 and 9 were verandahs, and 10 and 11 were penthouses. There are no inside cabins. Deck 12 was the pool, Lido, and the like. There are only three shops - all upscale - on board: two jewelry and one clothing. The clothing shop has a couple shelves of sundries, and that is it. There is no liquor store; there are special order forms if you do want to buy liquor. Like other cruise lines, there is artwork on board for sale. No auctions; you see something you like, contact the sales person. Period. In fact, the best example of the sense of the Serenity is that there are no public announcements. No count down to bingo, no art auction, no t-shirt sale. The captain comes on once a day from the bridge, gives the ship's location, maybe a comment about the day's activity (his welcome party, for example), and a "thought for the day." And that is it. All you need to know is in the daily newsletter/activity page; if you have a question, go to the front desk or ask the concierge. Crystal Lines assumes the passenger is intelligent and literate; he does not need to be told what activities there are. The ship has a relaxed itinerary; it rarely moves at 18-20 knots. Sometimes it only does 12 knots. Dining: On this leg, dress was three formal, two informal, and the rest casual. Crystal Lines is no better than any other cruise line when it comes to handling your dinner request for table size and time; they will screw it up. We asked for a table for two, first sitting, and got no table, second sitting. We stood in line along with everyone else to talk to the maitre d' and got first sitting and a table for 8. Fortunately, our table mates were a most genial and friendly bunch, and we had a great time for the entire trip. The other three couples had also each asked for a table for two. With overnight tours and other dining choices, we were rarely the full complement at dinner. Two nights my wife and I were the only ones; I think at least four nights we were not present. The dining room dinners are excellent; just notch up whatever meals you know from your current cruise line. Service is, of course, what one expects. When you enter the dining room, the string quartet is playing, and the waiters are lined up to escort each lady to her table. Nice touch! Trouble is, most husbands don't know what to do when the waiter comes forward and offers his arm to the lady. The wine list is excellent and pricey (hey, this is Crystal), but you will have interesting choices. You definitely have to try a dinner at the Italian Prego restaurant and one at the Silk Road Chinese restaurant. No extra charge for the meal; just tip extra. Remember to make your reservations for these two restaurants on-line; do not wait until you board to make them. We did not try the sushi bar attached to the Chinese restaurant; it looked good, but we have enough sushi places at home. The Lido buffet compares roughly to that on any other line - the food is just better quality. And the service is better; a lady will have to fight to carry her own tray. And if a male looks even a bit wobbly or old, his tray will also be carried. An interesting touch that we at our dinner table all jumped on is the "Tastes" dining area at poolside. This is full-service dining with a menu almost the same as the dining room (limited because of the small kitchen). This is elegant casual dining every night with no time limits; and yes, there is a wine list and full bar. I think this became quite popular as people "discovered" it. There is also a respectable hamburger joint and ice cream stand at poolside. The Crystal touch: We celebrated my wife's birthday on board. I booked dinner in the Prego restaurant and requested some sort of chocolate dessert. My cruise agent said that Crystal acknowledged the request, but I should check with the Prego maitre d' after boarding. I did, and he said that they usually serve a chocolate cake for such an occasion. Fine. I also asked at the photo shop if a photographer could take some pictures. No problem. What happened at dinner was amazing: first there were a couple balloons at our table when we arrived. When it was time for dessert, the cake (with one candle) came simultaneously with the ship string quartet playing "Happy birthday." And the photographer was on hand for the whole show. Well done! Another touch was on our return to the ship from Bangkok. The timing was such that we could have missed lunch in Bangkok. We boarded the ship at 4PM. In our cabin were two large plates of sandwiches and other cold goodies with a sign, "welcome back from Bangkok." Activities on board are varied: lectures on a variety of subjects, music lessons, dance lessons, ikibana lessons, Spanish lessons (?), computer courses for college credit, etc, etc. The fitness center seemed to be active, the library, while small, was well stocked, the casino did not appear to be busy when we dropped in (possibly busier around midnight), and there were relatively current movies on in the theater. We only attended a couple shows, and they were quite good - a Broadway singer and a ventriloquist. We did not have the impression that there was a thundering herd heading for the theater after dinner as on other lines. The internet center seemed to be quite busy, probably because in part of all the people on board for the full 104 days. There are live cameras on board that broadcast on the internet. One fellow at our table coordinated with his son by cell phone when and where in the internet center he and his wife should stand so that the children could see them. Other people were also using the center to download photos from their cameras and send them on to friends and family. Shore excursions: We found, as with other lines, that it is better to book your shore excursions on-line long before you board. If you wait, you may not get what you want. For example, in Laem Chabang, Crystal offers an overnight in Bangkok at the famed Oriental Hotel. We booked and got the hotel. Others waited too long and while they got the trip to and from Bangkok, they had to overnight in other hotels, and not the Oriental. News is readily available. A small news compilation is delivered daily to your cabin. The cruise line version of the NY Times is available at the front desk. CNN and ESPN are on your cabin TV. A unique offer - at $6.50 a copy - is a daily copy of your complete hometown newspaper (minus ads). The selection of newspapers is amazingly large and international. The paper size is roughly tabloid size; the NY Times version was quite a thick package. Laundry: While there is the usual laundry service on board, there is also a free laundry room (four washers and dryers) on each deck. This facility is quite popular - at all hours - and some of the genteel civility onboard disappears once people enter the laundry room. Disembarkation: Given the location of Singapore, many flights leave at night. Thus, some people had to leave the ship at 3AM. Independent travellers were "invited" to leave by 10AM. The ship managed to make one final mess for us. When we boarded, the staff made the usual swipe of my credit card for the payment of the ship bill. Several days into the cruise I was notified to go to the front desk to make arrangements to settle my account. Many apologies, but apparently some of the card swiping at check-in did not get into the computer. They swiped my card again, had me sign a blank AMEXCO form, and all was done. At 8AM on debarkation day in Singapore, I was called by the audit staff to settle my account at the front office. I was not a happy camper, and the girl at the desk was scrambling to find my blank form, check my account in the computer, and in general try and figure out what happened. She finally did find my form and muttered something about my name having been misspelled in some entries. The account was settled, and we were on our way. It just showed that for all their highly touted efficiency and service, Crystal can - and does - screw up like any other line. Even with my grumbles, this was a fabulous cruise, and I would gladly sail with them again. Any questions, e-mail me at LTC519@satx.rr.com Fred Groth Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Hey it only seems a short time since I wrote our last review and here I am back to share more with you on our cruise on Azamara. Since I last wrote, we are both one year older but still (if you will allow us) wish to consider ... Read More
Hey it only seems a short time since I wrote our last review and here I am back to share more with you on our cruise on Azamara. Since I last wrote, we are both one year older but still (if you will allow us) wish to consider ourselves mid 50s, we are British so we do not cope with change too well so were stressing ourselves pre cruise - after ten trips with Celebrity why had we allowed a lovely future cruise consultant to convince us to try Azamara? Pre cruise and embarkation As always we did our own pre cruise arrangements so we flew out via Paris with Air France and enjoyed an excellent two days at The Fullerton in Singapore, right beside Merlion. Singapore is a very organized city, some might say antiseptic - it certainly was going to be our last port where we would see this type of environment for a while. It was very easy embarking at Singapore (even if it did look like we were coming through a workman's hut to get there), our cases were immediately looked after by porters and the whole process was very straightforward. As we were in a suite it also included making arrangements for dining in Prime C on the first night. Non suite passengers were being given "timeslots" for the Main Dining Room. Stateroom Immediately on boarding it was clear that the smaller ship was going to have advantages - not sure if this was an advantage but I made a pledge to always use the stairs as it was only a maximum of 4 floors for us. Our Sky Suite was spotlessly clean, we did see our Butler aka Stateroom Attendant (whom we never saw again until the night he was hoping for an extra tip - we had prepaid our service charge in the holiday cost) and later the Senior Butler introduced himself. Two nice guys but both struggled to hit the standards we had enjoyed in Celebrity, but no big deal. Nice touch on Azamara is the night time treats made by the pastry chefs left in the room for you and the afternoon canapEs had been replaced by lovely "tapas type" selections from Mosaic Cafe (Cova to those used to X!) Dining We quickly settled into a routine, we were sailing with friends - it was clear if we wanted to eat together and enjoy the Speciality Restaurant some planning was required so we made all our reservations (8 in total) for the whole trip. You need to make plans quickly if you want your chosen days so be warned, don't get into relaxed shipboard life until you get your plans made. Which restaurant was my favorite - that's an unfair question because they are both wonderful - excuse me drooling again I remember the Black Angus Steak in Prime C and the Sea Bass in Aqualina and the bad girls dessert - the Chocolate Fondue. Recommended service charge $5 per person is very fair. We did however notice when we ate as a group of 6 in Aqualina the service was slow, however when it was just two of us it was very slick. The main dining room had a couple of bad days not in terms of food but very shamolic service, not in getting seated but after then. There were a lot of crew off sick and I think the others were just so stretched. The senior managers recognized the problems so no big issue - the bottle they sent over was very appreciated so I forget how long we waited each night but it was about 4 wine glasses long. Again we found eating as a 2 was handled far better than when we were a 6. That said, the quality of the food and presentation was very good indeed and we did feel it was lighter. The range of choices was very good with a whole page of staple choices available very night (steak; salmon; prawn cocktail; Caesar salad etc) as well as a menu that changed nightly I am a sloth in the morning - sorry others say a Grouch, so we enjoyed breakfast in the room most days. We did venture to Windows Cafe a couple of times at breakfast, it was a bit crowded but there was a lovely lady making fab English muffins and I loved the granola yogurt and fresh fruit mmm So overall I gorged my way round Asia and dreaded my home appointment with Mr Scales. Activities and Entertainment Shipboard activities were the usual, trivia, dance classes, bingo - what was a notch up was the enrichment series; it is an absolute must. Jonathon Fleming's introduction to each country - culture, history, key sights etc - was wonderful and as it was replayed on the stateroom tv you could fit in listening to him at a time to suit yourself. Evening activities did not work for us as we tend to eat at around 8pm. With the slow service in the dining room (and our deliberate decision to enjoy the slower pace in the Speciality Restaurants) we never made the shows which tended to have 2130-2200 starts. There is everything of a large ship - just on a smaller scale, casino, bands in lounges, a disco and smaller revue shows. Our ports of call As we were overnighting in Singapore before an early afternoon sailaway we had the chance to do a trip on the morning of Day 2. The must do is take the Sentosa Skytrain (cablecar) the station is in the tower block beside the Cruise terminal. Sentosa Island is OK, but the big thing is you glide about 200 feet above your new home - and can get amazing aerial photos of the ship. Cost was about $30 (Singapore dollars) for the two of us and they took credit cards. Anyway, the ever informative Captain Carl "I've doubled up and come down to two and one" Smith - that's the ropes he is talking about by the way, had us set sail and our adventure began. Immediately he was challenged by strong currents so it became a flat out run slightly bumpy at times to reach Laem Chabang (for Bangkok) in time. So what of our excursions - on this trip when we had excursions we arranged them all through the cruiseline, we were not adventurous enough to go it alone as we usually do. Some of the guides were very good the others, particularly those in Hanoi and Hoi An were not well organized so time was wasted and we became self managing tours. Bangkok - We did the Treasures of Bangkok trip. The journey into Bangkok took about 2 hours each way and the coach was very comfortable. We went to Happy Rooms - yes a new name for the holiday vocabulary - at very clean service stations. We had an excellent guide and were taken to Wat Trimit, the Temple of the Golden Buddha, known for its famous Golden Buddha which is 3m high and then on to Wat Po, the most extensive temple in Bangkok with its 15 meter long reclining Buddha. Thank goodness it was lunchtime, I had been exercising all morning take your left shoe off put your left shoe on take your other shoe off - you know the no shoe rule so do not wear lovely new white socks as dear husband did - no amount of power powder will clean them! Lunch was excellent, with a Thai buffet served on a converted rice barge as we cruised along the Chao Phraya River - this was a really good use of time. Later we visited King Rama V's favorite place, Vimanmek Palace. Unfortunately shopping was at a "jewelry store" - the cruise line had warned us about this in advance it seems it something they have no control of for this year but have made it known that this is not what is wanted. Day 2 we went to the amazing Sanctuary of Truth, a wooded temple that has given employment for over 25 years to local crafts people but is still 15 years away from completion. It is hard to describe this place - but you can also leave your own bit of carving, so up top beam front building left you will find my scratch. On the way back out of Pattaya (seedy and not nice) we stopped at - you've guessed it - another branch of the jewelry store. If you want to shop in Thailand it is going to be tricky as the port is not near any shopping and the excursions do not give you any opportunity. Pattaya on your own does not really help as Pattaya is not a good place to find any shopping. Sihanoukville - Many went on the long trip to Pnomh Penn and came back with good stories. We knew that we could not do too many long trips and decided to have a local day which gave us a good chance to explore locally. We took the ships shuttle (free) into town and then negotiated a Tuc Tuc for $5 to get to Sokhu Beach which has a good hotel. For $8 we were able to enjoy all the facilities including their private beach (no hawkers etc), nice loungers. It must be the best place to go as we met the Captain, Hotel Director and four other senior officers on the beach during our day there. Cambodia is a poor country, you will see sights that are not what westerners are used to and you probably will not want to eat much ashore. But it is worth every minute ashore Ho Chi Minh City - We did the highlights tour and it was a really good value 5 hour trip with a good guide in which we saw all the main highlights. Although you will see lots of lovely buildings etc the fun of this place is the sights and sounds. Just count how many are on the motorbikes and see what is the most eccentric thing you see being carried on the back of the bikes - you will have dinner conversation material for the rest of the trip and beyond!! Hoi An - Here it was Chinese New Years day. Again, the port in Da Nang has nothing near so we opted to see if we could find anything open further afield. We went on the Hoi An on your own trip. This is the best way to do Hoi An you have the advantage of the transport (local taxis are very scarce indeed) and a little input from the guide but then you are free to see all the sights on your own and all the places are well signed and have explanatory plaques. This is also an excellent shopping stop - mind you the lantern is going to be bigger than your case but that's another story and it is home ok honest!! Hanoi - Again a 2 hour bus run from Halong Bay took us on the Hanoi Past and Present trip. This is another day when the shopping is not good - whilst it states shopping opportunities this is at the Service Station (overpriced) you stop at both ways for a rather long time. Good news - absolutely spotless Happy Rooms. Past and Present gives a really good overview of Hanoi including a visit to the "Hanoi Hilton" and a fun rickshaw/cyclo ride - individual seats and shut your eyes at the junction; remember red lights are only suggestions in Vietnam. Seriously though you really get the feel for the city in this half hour ride right at street level. We had an overnight stop and the must do was the Day one trip we did to Halong Bay by boat. You can see why the Bay is being considered as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. It is a very pleasant cruise around though be prepared for traders who rope up and hop onto the boats. The first words the little children learn there is not Mum or Dad but "One dollar". Just remember to have plenty one dollar bills with you (Guest Relations have loads as they know everyone will need them all this cruise) and the traders do give up quite quickly and move on to another boat. Hong Kong - We were berthed on Hong Kong Island away from the centre so a free shuttle was put on to the ICF which was ideal as that was right by the subway and bus station. It is also by the 3 mile elevated walkway where you walk through office buildings and malls above street level - very pleasant. We did our own thing, took a bus to Aberdeen Hong Kong - the Aberdeen Scotland graduate had to see the other Aberdeen - and then we went up on the Peak Tram as the weather was clear. In Hong Kong you need to have flexible plans as there is no point going up the Peak unless it is clear - then you just have to go for it!! Getting around is so easy HK$50 for a 24 hour subway pass, great value and it is so efficient, clean and easy to get around. Ending the trip Disembarkation was so easy - you stay in the comfort of your room until your code is called - you can listen via the ship TV - you go down, the officers shake hands with you and off you go. For us, it was 7 minutes from the code being called until we were in our taxi with our luggage where we were off to the Peninsula Hotel, a grand dame, bit expensive but an experience. Summary Well we don't do change, but we did and we enjoyed it. Azamara Quest is a good product, its got glitches, its report card against Celebrity does have some areas where it can improve particularly around the dining room and butler service but it is a great experience. We ventured to countries we would never have gone to without the comfort of our ship and we had our eyes opened. It was fun and we will be back on Azamara Quest in August - decision has been confirmed! Oh and PS - the use the stairs only rule was met and with the healthier food served onboard the weight gain after two weeks of the feeding frenzy was ZERO!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the ... Read More
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the 1960's version of 'Dr. Dolittle' with Rex Harrison (after attending 6 yrs of vet med and dreaming of becoming a doctor since I was 5 and when the movie came out...I was about 7 and knew it would be a veterinarian because of it lol.) We drove from New Orleans to Miami to visit family before we fly to Puerto Rico to board. This went well enough but living in Vegas for a year...my first impression was that it was as gaudy as the casinos :P No matter. It was about the ports of call and although I felt like a kindergartener getting off a bus for a field trip...I was pleased by all the different places you could see in a 1 or 2 weeks on these things! As bikers, we are used to a lot of freedom so being cramped in what we called a sardine can and having to dine at the same place at a certain time didn't appeal to us. Nor having to come in from play at certain times but all in all...the trip to St. Lucia with its Pitons, Harley rentals in Guadeloupe, and the spice island of Grenada (which also had a vet med there) was worth it (we didn't care for the us virgin islands or other places...we are rain forest, hiking trails, waterfall buffs. I had a beach house anyway so laying on a beach wasn't a vacation to me at that time). I didn't cruise again until last year. Twice. Now it will be twice this year! I am gaining more knowledge on how to use the ship's facilities, book my own excursions if they are sold out or have nothing appealing, make sure we are in a large balcony at minimum, and dining alternatives (although the busy carpeting is an eye sore lol) and realizing the value of these types of vacations!!!! You can't stay at the holiday inn down the road and eat at fast food joints for these prices!! And really....although bikers will say that it is all about the journey....sometimes I'd prefer to dig the destinations :))))) All in all...I wish I did these cruises more when I was younger. I am partial to carnival because of the king bed and a bit larger rooms but would like to try other ships. I believe for the value though...I'll always be loyal to Carnival :) Looking back now that I am older and wiser now Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We have travelled worldwide and vacationed a lot. But never cruised, For my 60th Birthday we decided we would try it. After considerable research and lots of friends recommending Holland America, Cunard, Princess, we opted for midsize ... Read More
We have travelled worldwide and vacationed a lot. But never cruised, For my 60th Birthday we decided we would try it. After considerable research and lots of friends recommending Holland America, Cunard, Princess, we opted for midsize luxury with Regent. I liked the all inclusive idea. We added a 5 day land tour also booked with Regent which subsequently we regretted as it would have been better to do land tour first and end on a high of luxury cruise ship, rather than be disappointed even by 5 star hotels. and a bus with guide and others was not what we wanted. Next time we would still cruise with Regent but hire a car and do our own tour. Regent booked and included flights from Orlando, met us in the Vancouver air baggage claim and that was last we saw of our bags until we reached our suite onboard. A private car took us from air to ship terminal. The TSA were still there but were not as annoying as usual. Champagne welcomed us on board, and as it is my favourite drink when mixed with cassis, Kir Royale,we started as it continued for 7 days, free booze throughout trip including wine with all meals. The room was big with a balcony, I would not travel without one. The service was exquisite. Food knockout. We breakfasted in bed every day, and it was about 3 days before we got hang of order card so we ended up with 4 breakfasts every day for the 2 of us. Scenery is fantastic on Inside Passage, and we saw whales, dolphins,seals, and went on some excursions which took us even closer to blue glaciers. All well organised, no queues as we were about 500 folk on a 700 ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click