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14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
The itinerary appealed to me and the time of year was perfect. I was led to believe that Cunard were an upmarket company but several things were not up to standard. Having sailed on several ships with companies as diverse as Thompson, ... Read More
The itinerary appealed to me and the time of year was perfect. I was led to believe that Cunard were an upmarket company but several things were not up to standard. Having sailed on several ships with companies as diverse as Thompson, Fred Olsen, MSC, Royal Caribbean, P and O, Princess,Holland America and Azamara I would place Cunard somewhere in the middle. My cabin was fine with an amazing cabin stewardess ( the best I have ever encountered) but the food in the main dining room was very poor. The descriptions on the menu bore no resemblance to the food presented which was barely enough to feed a sparrow and usually tasteless and sometimes actually inedible. The food in the buffet was marginally better but we could always fill up on salad and fruit. The waiters were at times rude and at best indifferent. The daily schedule was often inaccurate and on the evening before we were due to arrive in Sydney we were advised that tomorrow on our arrival in Papeete we would not need to carry our passports. This caused a lot of confusion. On one day the date was wrong. Would I sail with Cunard again? Only if they offered an itinerary not available elsewhere, the price was very low and I would only eat salad and fruit in the buffet and not bother packing formal wear. Read Less
60 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
Am a past Princess passenger with 3 decades of wonderful experiences with the line, until recently. I have found a sad downturn in the products service levels over the past 5 years or so, which includes, staffing, catering and general ... Read More
Am a past Princess passenger with 3 decades of wonderful experiences with the line, until recently. I have found a sad downturn in the products service levels over the past 5 years or so, which includes, staffing, catering and general value for money, which I believe has unfortunately taken Princess from a 4 star offering to a 3 star basic cruising experience. The Princess cruise line of old no longer exists but in name only - or so I believed. I decided to take this 18 day segment of the Pacific Princess's world cruise rather than the general round trip cruises offered for a change of scenery. I was pleasantly surprised. Though the ship is small compared to the regular tonnage the line offers, she was a boutique offering with an old world atmosphere. The cruise was only 18 days - being part of the 101 day world cruise offering. Many of the small touches which Princess was known for and are now lost forever on all its larger ships, this ship manages to retain the values of Princess brand prior to Carnival's take over. On board, the catering was expansive and well presented and I found more meal and menu options on this tiny ship than that on the larger ships. The old fashioned menu items, like escargot, variety of soufflés, proper surf and turf with lobster, along with the evening dinner menus showing more options than that on the other ships in the fleet a refreshing change. The ship also able to retain alternative dining options like Sterling Steakhouse and Sabatini's given her smaller size. Whether this improved catering was in line with the World Cruise experience, I cannot confirm, but was good to see it was provided. Sunday brunch in the main restaurant was another nice touch where it is transformed into a hall of culinary delights with food stations, chef carver's, and international flavours dotted around the restaurant in a semi buffet presentation, another great feature and a pleasure to enjoy. In the evening she offers the traditional 2 settings in her main dining room which may not be everyone's choice, but the system worked well with options to make table or sitting changes if required simple and efficient. the buffet also transforms into an evening al arcarte bistro for a 4th alternative dining choice. The cabins, though the ship is originally from a different cruise line, are very comfortable and functional with a beautiful wooden panelled and old world feel which Princess has kept. Even the smallest and economical cabins have a sofa and other small touches only now provided in the larger and more expensive cabins on Princess's larger ships. The best thing - no queues anywhere at any time, and only having a max of 600 passengers also assists with this. No need for a black card to see the front desk, you will be the only one in the queue at anytime. The same goes for the buffet, the pool, the lectures, the shows etc. The cruise was a pleasure, and a delightful change to the mega ships in the fleet. Her size of 30,000 tons may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you are tired of the inch of gold sales along with the hyper marketing and art auctions of the bigger ships challenging your senses everyday, then this one will be a definite surprise and refreshing experience. She also has a beautiful old world full promenade deck with space and multiple lounges for those who enjoy this feature of a cruise ship which is now sadly becoming something no longer supported in future ship designs. Another feature this ship has is her size allows her to dock nice and close to her ports of call, not like her larger cousins who sometimes need to dock 1 or 2 hrs drive from the centre of town. I would not hesitate in cruising on her again and bypassing the other ships in the fleet. If however your cruise focus is on having pool side pizza bars, waterslides, outdoor movie screens, and queue for everything while fighting to find a vacant deck chair, then this ship may not be for you. She does not cater for children so family cruising would not be for her either, but if you are looking for a quiet old world style of cruise she may be the vessel within Princess's fleet for you. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Dont expect Mega Liner inside, its clean and mostly comfortable in most areas, but Hans Bar could do with new more comfortable cushions on lounge chairs, there is no Casino on this ship only Deck Games pool and bars, there is a indoor ... Read More
Dont expect Mega Liner inside, its clean and mostly comfortable in most areas, but Hans Bar could do with new more comfortable cushions on lounge chairs, there is no Casino on this ship only Deck Games pool and bars, there is a indoor pool for if you are in cold weather. it has a small entertainment lounge that requires two sittings to see the show. There is no laundry but there is a Ironing room if you can wash you clothes in your Cabin Sink or Shower. It has a payed Laundry if you can afford it.This is the second half would Cruise we have done on this Ship, this time Westward Bound. Food was much better this time thanks to a Indian Head Chef, it was a very good selection of dishes on offer, but one small point was, Two many stew type dishes but his pork Belly was to die for, i give him a 3 star.I am sorry to say the entertainment was below average, they had three very good girl singers and three guys with with very soft voices all except two of the girls were frequently drowned out by a over enthusiastic Clarinet playing band leader who always had a microphone up the end of ever instrument he played, he did not need this in a small lounge,The Assistant Cruise Director would have been better as Director as he was only seen introducing the acts apart from small appearance in Sail A ways. he never tried to find out what peoples thoughts were about anything going on board, I.E. Dancers or entertainment. The main problem we had was in Hans Bar Deck was the German minority of people who smoked, there is a smoking area to the left of the bar having ashtrays on the tables, they insisted,( some of them but not all,) picking up the ashtrays and sitting in the middle of the Deck, We had to on several occasions get the Management to move them, they had great Bar staff and Hotel Staff, Just a pity about Entertainment, not like Last Cruise East Bound witch had Great Entertainment. We were in a suite, it was very good but bed was very hard, very good Cabin Staff. Will not be back on this ship as it is based in Perth Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Embarkation: Embarkation was painless. We arrived at Station Pier Port Melbourne on 24th May 2015, and dragged our suitcases to the upper level where 300 or so passengers were boarding the Sea Princess in Melbourne for a 102 day World ... Read More
Embarkation: Embarkation was painless. We arrived at Station Pier Port Melbourne on 24th May 2015, and dragged our suitcases to the upper level where 300 or so passengers were boarding the Sea Princess in Melbourne for a 102 day World cruise. There were no directions at to where to leave our suitcases, so we had to manipulate them up an escalator to the embarkation area, where they were quickly whisked away from us and taken onboard. Only had to wait a short time before the documentation was processed and Cruise Cards issued. Review of the Sea Princess: In writing this critique, it has to be noted that this cruise was full, with around 2000 passengers and over 1000 crew. The ship itself is getting older, and experiencing spasmodic maintenance problems that caused engine issues, and numerous episodes of leaking pipes which flooded staterooms, hallways, and the Princess Theatre. Staff were always quick to work on reported problems, & despite the age of the ship & all its fittings, everything looked clean, polished & well cared for. Dining: Despite having a pre boarding guarantee of “early seating” allocation for dining in the Traviata Dining Room, on embarkation that had somehow changed to late seating. When we questioned the “Maitre D” about the change, we were told that our guaranteed seating was only a “guaranteed request”. Following an elongated discussion, we were finally changed to our requested early seating by the 2nd day. It seems pointless in filling out the Cruise Personaliser on the Princess website, when Princess themselves have no interest in reading what we request. The information we provide appears to get stuck in Princess’s Head Office, and not passed on to the ships we travel on. The meals in the dining room remain spectacular, however a noted change was that the menu was repeated on a 10 – 14 day rotation with monotonous regularity. For long cruises like the 104 Day World Cruise, this became rather boring after a few weeks. For the first two weeks, there were only six people on our table, with another 2 joining in Freemantle. Our table of 8 became the best of friends, and apart from a few sick days, everyone fronted up each evening to enjoy the wonderful company and delicious food. Our waiters on table 184 were Mario and Alfie, who, between them, tendered to our every culinary need. Mario was a bit temperamental, depending on his mood, but Alfie being the junior waiter excelled at his job. Drink prices were expensive but wine left over was always named, recorked and available for the next evening meal. I renamed the Horizon Court buffet “The horror-zone” for obvious reasons, for it was terrible lining up for food, arguing with combative passengers, and searching for a vacant seat. The manners of many people left a lot to be desired, and you would think some people had never been fed before, the way they carried on around the buffet food. The Sterling Steakhouse was a joke, situated in a partitioned off area of the Horizon Buffet each evening. While it was busy most nights, and the food reportedly great, it could not be seen as a special dining environment. The Ice-cream Parlor outside on deck 12 under the movie screen was usually quite busy, however the quality of the soft serve ice-cream varied considerably, from very creamy to well watered down. All diners were looked after for Special occasions with a cake and a throng of caroling waiters and bar staff, which just made that special occasion even more memorable. Lounges & Restrooms: We always found the restrooms clean, tidy and well stocked. An interesting & well accepted change was that the toilets had disposable paper seat covers. Both the Vista Lounge and the Princess Theatre seat approx. 500 passengers each. With the decline in the number of evening entertainment options, seating for both ends of the ship could only seat 1000 passengers. For a ship holding 2000 passengers, a person would have to get to the main entertainment area (either Vista of Princess Theatre) at least an hour before the event started in order to get a seat. This created a lot of angst and friction among passengers, especially finding the entertainment areas completely filled 45 minutes before the start of each show. Several times over the course of the 104 days there was a leak from the ceiling of the Princess Theatre, and several seats had to be partitioned off as they were soaked. This intermittent leaking continued on for most of the cruise, despite numerous attempts by staff to try and fix the problem. The Wheelhouse Bar was used many days for trivia sessions, and trying to fit upwards of 400 passengers into an area that could only house 200 at best, was nothing short of nauseating. To get a seat, most people had to arrive for trivia almost an hour early, and this caused fights amongst passengers who tried to reserve seats for other members of their trivia team. Whilst reserving seats is a known “No-No” what else could people do. Many disagreements ensued because of this. Princess continually advocates that passengers must not save seats in the public lounges and theatres, however, despite this, seat saving continues at an alarming rate. On very popular entertainment nights, a passenger would take their life into their own hands if they needed to visit the rest room before a show started, because their seat then became fair game for whoever was waiting. The Laundry: The public Laundry was a nightmare, with only 2 machines and dryers on 3 of the passenger decks. Queuing was long and tedious, and those passengers who put washing in the machines and went away for hours continually aggravated fellow passengers waiting for vacant machines. Woe and behold anyone who touched anyone else’s laundry, and only remove someone else’s laundry at your own peril. The laundry proved to be a very entertaining area, with many altercations occurring daily. We found it easier to hand wash in the cabin, and hang it on coat hangers around the room to dry. Always take a small hanging peg line to hang in the shower, and this is great to hang smalls on, which dry pretty much within a day or do in the air-conditioned atmosphere. Staterooms: Surviving 102 nights in an inside stateroom was not a problem, given that this was our 4th time cruising for this length of time, but organization is a must. Having a place for everything, and keeping everything in its place, is a definite necessity. On this cruise we were assigned Stateroom B224, towards the front of the ship on Baha deck level 10. Our Stateroom steward was “Homer” until Dubai, then “June” from Dubai onwards. Both Stewards looked after us well. On embarkation and meeting our steward for the first time, we set out requests for dressing gowns; an ice bucket every night; extra coat hangers, and an extra chair as the stateroom only has one. This cruise we purchased a foam mattress overlay that we packed and took with us, as the mattresses on the ship are either rock hard, or very worn and dip in the middle. We also take our own pillows for much the same reason, and we were very glad we did, because the pillows in our stateroom were sadly lacking in substance. The room was always left clean and tidy, towels always changed each morning, and beach towels were replaced whenever they were used, sometimes several times during the day. Shampoo, soap, skin lotion & body wash (excellent for hand washing clothes) were replaced daily. Laundry bags for sending dirty clothes to go to the ships laundry service were sadly lacking, many times we were having to chase the room steward to get new bags. It’s not rocket science for a room steward to replace a laundry bag when they take a full one away. Entertainment: Having cruised for 104 nights with Princess previously, we had a reasonable idea what to expect as far as entertainment was concerned. In comparing the last 4 cruises we have done of 104 days, it is easy to see that cutbacks on entertainment for this cruise were very noticeable. As a comparison....... 2009 there were 104 different evening events and 14 Production Show 2012 there were 71 different evening events and 15 Production Shows, 2013 there were 62 different evening events and 10 Production Shows. 2015 there were 57 evening events and 13 production shows The Production Shows for this cruise were changed, probably because most of the passengers were repeat World Cruisers, and had seen all the Production Shows Princess had to offer. For this cruise Princess, in their wisdom, decided to employ an outside company to produce the singers and dancers. While the quality was extremely high, and the entertainment good, all of the shows lacked all the glitz and glamour that Princess advertise for their cruises. There were no sets, & costumes were bland. However, the Sea Princess Orchestra always provided a sensational music backing for the production show team. Many nights on this last cruise we found there was nothing to do other than watch a movie, which I do not consider watching movies that are years old and repeated several times, as major forms of evening entertainment. The selection of movies available was antiquated, and despite many complaints, this problem did not change for the entire cruise. Several old & new movies were played on the in-house televisions, and under the stars, however, some of these were repeated with monotonous regularity. Overall, the Production Shows were good, but many of the comedians were aged, as were their jokes and stories. At various ports around the globe, artists got on and off, always ensuring a fresh supply of good and no-so-good entertainers. Pre & post dinner dancing was always available, & passenger theme parties were scheduled at sparse intervals. Morning & afternoon trivia sessions were a must for the brainiacs, who always played for sheep stations. We always tried to catch up on the Port lectures, especially for all the new ports we had not been to before, as there was always some interesting bits of info to take away. The port lecturer “Hutch” was sensational in his port presentations, always a wealth of information, and very approachable when questioned outside of lecture time. Other ways to keep occupied included scholarship @ sea lectures; library; church services; dancing lessons; sports tournaments; bingo; card playing; game shows; exercise classes; movies; choir practice; culinary demonstrations; & ice carving demo’s. Princess offered Service club meetings, which was relevant to us being Lions; but we did not avail ourselves of the Dr Bob & Bill W meetings, nor did we join in as GLBT groups, but it was entertaining to note that they cater for these groups as well. Gymnasium: We did manage to find the gymnasium several times, although not as much as we should have. The equipment was state of the art, and reasonably well utilized, but having someone available to help you to use the computerized equipment was not always available. The only scales on the ship was located inside the gym, and these came in handy to check out just how much weight we were putting on weekly. They probably explained why our clothes were shrinking at a great rate of knots, but on this score, I blamed the washing water for shrinking them!!! Shore Excursions: We researched all the shore excursions before boarding, so picked the eyes out of what was available, and made sure we selected all the important places of interest to us. While it has to be noted that all of the ships excursions were expensive, there was the guarantee of knowing that if an excursion got back late, the ship would not leave us behind, as did happen to several passengers who did their own thing and returned late. All of the good excursions booked out early, so if there is something special that you really want to see or do, then booking early is a must. On this cruise we booked about 50% of our tours with the Cruise Critic group. This is a great way to meet other cruisers, cuts down the cost of excursions, and in most cases, you get to see more places of interest on the tours because the groups are smaller than the big Princess ones. One thing that needs to be pointed out, is that Princess are not happy if tour soliciting occurs whilst onboard, so if you plan on doing Cruise Critic Tours (which I definitely recommend), make sure you have these arranged and paid for before you get onboard. Also note that if you are on a private tour, and you get back late, that Princess will not guarantee they will wait for you. The tender service remains a nightmare, however, I don’t know how else you could move 2500 people on and off a ship any other way. Queuing for tender tickets, then queuing again when your number was called, tended to take the excitement off getting off the ship at each port. If you fore went queuing for tender tickets, then you had to wait until everyone else was off before you could try and find the exit, and this definitely would cut down your time on shore. Possibly Princess need to use more tender boats when this arrangement has to be implemented, because the current arrangement is annoyingly frustrating. Queue jumping was a frequent occurrence, and many an argument was had while waiting in line. Service: Embarkation and disembarkation was handled extremely well. The Pursers Desk, Future Cruise Staff and Captains Circle staff handled most of our needs very efficiently. The Boutiques on board sell a large variety of merchandise, however, items that sold out very quick on our cruise were cough medicine and throat lozenges. Probably due to the air-conditioning, every time we cruise we get the dreaded sore throat and cough, which seems to do the rounds of the ship. A good suggestion would be to go prepared, and ensure you have an adequate supply of an appropriate cough syrup, and throat lozenges. Toiletry items such as soap, shampoo, conditioner & body lotion are supplied in every stateroom, and balconies and suite staterooms have access to other useful toiletry items. Tipping: For all Princess Ships based in Australia, tipping is included in the price of your cruise. We always choose to provide additional tipping to our Stateroom stewards and dining room waiters, depending on the quality of service provided. All drinks purchased from the bars have 15% tipping already added to the bill. It is always a bone of contention to tip or not to tip, but if I get exemplary service, it will be rewarded. The Cruise Staff: For this cruise of 102 nights we had 3 Cruise Directors: Dan Falconer, Peter Tredgett & Mat Thompson. Dan never quite had his finger on the pulse; Peter was patronizing; & Matt at least seemed to enjoy his job. Matt's wife Kim (who acted as Matt's deputy for part of the cruise) was always pleasant and helpful, and took over the Zumba classes whenever she could. The Assistant Cruise staff this cruise seemed to be the most disjointed group I have ever sailed with. They consisted of Sarah, Maddi, Kelly, Jill, Richy Rick, Sascha, Tina & Danielle. Most of them were disinterested in what they were doing, and many times they just huddled together, & avoided talking to passengers IN CONCLUSION: There will always be a few minor hiccups on long cruises, however, despite the few problems outlined earlier, we had a fantastic 102 nights, visiting many parts of the World we had only ever dreamed about seeing. With research and previous planning, we had the most enjoyable cruise ever, and have marked a lot of places off our bucket list. We were wined, dined and entertained in style, and will definitely sail with Princess Cruises again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
First i want to say "Thank you!' to everyone on the previous world cruise segment who cancelled this portion of the cruise, which allowed my wife and I the chance of a lifetime at a wonderful price! Seems Princess changed many ... Read More
First i want to say "Thank you!' to everyone on the previous world cruise segment who cancelled this portion of the cruise, which allowed my wife and I the chance of a lifetime at a wonderful price! Seems Princess changed many of the original ports of call due to the Ebola crisis. Since we didn't know of the original itinerary anyway, the trip and price were perfect for us. The Ocean Princess (nee Tahitian Princess) is on its last legs as a Princess cruise ship. It is being sold to MS Cruises in early 2016. Even still, the cabins and public areas were kept up and we very much enjoyed our time on this small ship. The staff and crew were marvelous, especially our cabin steward and the singers and dancers who doubled as the Cruise Director staff. Even with 16 sea days, we were never bored. Dining was excellent, but a little repetitive the last two weeks. The nitpicks are the nickle and diming that occurs now since Carnival took over. Many ports had shuttles that charged $8 or Euros to get from the port to the downtown area and another $8 to get back - ridiculous! These should be free or very minimal. Embarkation was difficult due the South African immigration checks that were needed, and some port stops (Namibia in particular) were ridiculous due to an inexperienced and overwhelmed immigration staff. The port stops were both interesting, adventurous and, in one case, down-right fascinating. Stops included Luderitz and Walvis Bay, Namibia. For my money, we could have skipped Luderitz and made Walvis Bay an overnight stop so we could have experienced the Namib desert dunes at Sunset and Sunrise. The dunes are the draw here and they were more, much more, than i expected them to be. Our choice of Sandwich Harbour 4x4 (off ship tour company) was perfect and we had a wonderful time. Luanda, Angola was an adventurous stop. This was a first for the Princess line and, despite all the hype and warnings from the port lecture, we found it a nice place to visit. It is a former communist-aligned country and they were devastated by a very long civil war. Now it is an Oil Oligarchy and the downtown area is booming, slowly pushing the slum areas out of the city and building high-rises everywhere. There are not many colonial (it was a Portuguese colony) buildings left due tot he war, but the old fort (now a war museum) was very nice. I wouldn't return, but I found it a very interesting stop and enjoyed it. Sao Tome/Principe is another former Portuguese colony of the coast of West Coast of the African Congo area. When the Portuguese pulled out in 1975, the economy took a tumble and it is just now regaining its footing as a tourist destination. Still riddled with poverty, many eco-resorts are being built and the Taiwanese Government is investing heavily. The US maintains a (secretive) communications area on the island. A nice day stop and the only tender port. Our crossing the Equator ceremony was postponed due to rain, but they held it a few days later and it was a lot of fun. Cape Verde is a misnomer of an island nation as they have been suffering a drought for the last decade and the main island (Mindelo) hasn't had a drop of rain in 18 months - even the palms are dying. However, we had a wonderful (off ship0 tour and, like Sao Tome, they, with Dutch and Eurozone help, are bringing the island up to tourist standards. Water will be a problem, though. Tenerife in the Canary Islands was a very nice stop. We just flagged a cab and went for a ride around the island. Madeira is absolutely gorgeous! I'd stay a week here the next visit. Casablanca and Rabat in Morocco were great stops. Very enjoyable tour as well. Ceuta, Spain was our first ship excursion - overpriced and crowded with a couple silly stops (a waterpark, really???) But the guide was nice and after the non-walkers left us, we had a good tour of the fortress. Malaga is excellent and we highly recommend the "free" walking tour offered from the square. Lisbon is always a great port (we have been many times as we have friends who live near there), but Princess really needs to plan a longer stay there. However it is one of the best sail-aways you will ever experience. Rouen France was a fantastic treat as we sailed up the Seine and actually ported right in the City not at Le Havre, so we had a bonus river cruise on the way out. We again took a ship tour to Giverny and Monet's gardens and home. A great guide, but again an overpriced, overcrowded group function. We made port in Dover and went our separate ways. There are a lot of things to like about a small (800 passenger) ship - more ports and less tenders, getting to know your fellow passengers and crew. There are some things that don't work - 24-hour service is nearly non-existent. Less choices for activities, bars, snacks etc. Overall, this small ship experience was excellent and we will miss having this option in the Princess fleet. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
We have sailed on 30 Crystal cruises, the longest cruise prior to the World Cruise was 21 days. This was our first World Cruise. Transfers The included Carey Limo SUV transfers from home-airport-ship-airport-home were seamless. ... Read More
We have sailed on 30 Crystal cruises, the longest cruise prior to the World Cruise was 21 days. This was our first World Cruise. Transfers The included Carey Limo SUV transfers from home-airport-ship-airport-home were seamless. Drivers there to meet us on time, assistance at the luggage carousels in FL and back in Houston, and strong enough to hoist all the luggage into the SUV. So nice to see a friendly, smiling face in the midst of airport and port commotion. Ports We sailed to 44 ports (47 ports if we count the missed/sail-by ports of Rarotonga, Port Elizabeth and Alter do Chao). Best ports: Cape Town, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland, Dunedin, Akaroa, Milford Sound. Ports we can say we’ve been to, and don’t need to return: Maputo, Manta Most unique and exotic ports: Easter Island and both ports in Madagascar Onboard Observations Dining: Main dinner sitting in the dining room was full capacity during all segments. We always opt for the late dinner sitting, and the dining room was never more than 2/3 full, often it was ½ full or less at the 8:30pm sitting. Service was unrushed, extraordinarily attentive, and the ambient noise level of the room very quiet. The menu choices, between the Modern Cuisine selections, the Crystal Classic selections, and our occasional off-menu special requests, were varied to suit everyone’s palate. Many appetizer and entrée selections did repeat during each segment, but we always found at least two courses (and often more) every evening. We were generally pleased with the all-inclusive wine selections; however, as we were sailing through some of the world’s best wine regions, we did purchase wines while ashore in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and thoroughly enjoyed them onboard during several dinners. (Whenever we chose to enjoy our own wines, I would bring the bottle to our sommelier in the dining room about 6:00pm, and it was then already decanted and on our table when we came to dinner at 8:30pm). Specialty Restaurants: Since so many guests chose to dine early, with the exception of the last segment, it was never a problem to eat at Silk Road, Prego or Tastes after 8:00pm. Especially for a table for 2. We often made reservations the same afternoon for dining that evening. And even during the last segment of the WC, Antonio and the specialty restaurants’ staff made every effort to accommodate everyone who wanted to dine. Again, reservations for smaller tables (i.e. 2-4 people) were much easier to reserve than tables for the larger 6+ groups. Cabin Comfort: We have sailed Crystal before, so we are very familiar with the amenities and idiosyncrasies of the standard verandah staterooms onboard. All of our luggage nested within each other and fit under the beds with no problem. We used the space under the sofa for storage of snorkeling gear and new purchases from ashore. We brought 25 extra hangers (the dry-cleaning type) which were very handy, supplemented the ship’s hangers and took up less space in the closet than the wood hangers. The cabinets under the bathroom sinks easily absorbed 4 months’ worth of toiletries. We brought a collapsible mesh clothes hamper from the Dollar Store, which was stored under the desk; we knew when it was time to do laundry when the mesh hamper was full! We raised the cocktail/dining table to its highest position and it stayed at that height for the entire cruise. Since most of the desk surface was occupied with electronics (PC, I-phones, Kindle, camera), the table became the only multi-purpose “flat space” in the room. We needed more magnets! The walls are metal and become a giant bulletin board. There are so many pieces of paper to keep track of! (Invitations, shore excursion tickets, restaurant reservations, WC newsletter, etc.). Entertainment and Special Events: We were wowed and our expectations exceeded the minute we arrived onboard. We were welcomed by name on the gangway by both Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez and Captain Giske. Our checked luggage was delivered to the stateroom within an hour. The onboard gala (dinner, bands, and entertainment) just blew us away. And it only got better during the next 108 days. We have sailed many Crystal repositioning transatlantic voyages because we enjoy the multiple sea days with all the activities. Well, the World Cruise was like a transatlantic crossing on steroids. With the exception of the Billy Joel “My Life” production show which was repeated on all segments (and we attended all 6 performances, btw), the variety of guest entertainers and large production shows were incredible. There were a few “misses”, but overall, the entertainment was truly world class. The lecture series offered so many options and so many differing views, there was something to suit most everyone’s interest. On some sea days there were 4 speakers scheduled: 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. The World Cruise special event in New Zealand at Hobbiton was jaw dropping. The laser light show, followed by the fireworks was an amazing production. And to be served and entertained by an entire village of costumed Hobbits, was something very special. The special event at the private estancia in Montevideo was a miracle of logistics. The weather more than cooperated, and it was like a massive, huge, gigantic picnic with about 550 of your best friends, with wine, beer, food and lots of entertainment. Lessons Learned: We brought about 1/3 too many toiletries; better to bring too much rather than too little, but we won’t haul as much the next time. We brought too many clothes, especially casualwear and underwear. The self-service laundries are so convenient, and the ship’s laundry & dry cleaning so efficient, we did laundry more often than we had anticipated and will cut down the amount for future long cruises. We will take an extra suitcase with us, even if it is under-filled on the outbound. Based on how much we bought during port calls, as well as the bulkiness on the special WC segment gifts, we could have used the extra space for the return home. We ate smart, exercised often, rarely used the ship’s elevators, and “only” gained 10 lbs. I got on the scale this morning and I’m “only” 4 lbs. heavier than when we left. We are so fortunate, lucky and blessed to be able to have experienced such a journey. So few people on the planet can even imagine an adventure such as this, especially after seeing places like Madagascar, Mozambique, and the less affluent areas of South America. Every day I look at the Crystal brochures and our upcoming booked adventures with a great sigh. I still tear up describing this adventure to people. This was not a cruise. It was a life changing experience. We are so glad we were there. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
This was our second World Cruise on HAL Amsterdam, but not our last. Our favorite cruise line is Crystal, but HAL is a better deal. 80% of the quality for 60% of the price. So when we can save up enough shekels we go on Crystal, when we ... Read More
This was our second World Cruise on HAL Amsterdam, but not our last. Our favorite cruise line is Crystal, but HAL is a better deal. 80% of the quality for 60% of the price. So when we can save up enough shekels we go on Crystal, when we get to antsy to wait, HAL here we come. Back to this cruise. Wonderful ship, great food, friendly people, fantastic itinerary. Our main activities on board include eating, playing bridge, reading, evening shows, and just generally relaxing. The food in both the main dining room and the Lido buffet is very good. Not always perfect, but the friendly and helpful serving staff will do everything humanly possible to satisfy us. Great variety. The staff is excellent, with a particular shout-out to Presty. Cooked to order breakfast items are the best on any ship we've been on. Bridge lessons and afternoon play were first rate with Karen and Dave. And almost all of the players are friendly, and tolerant of differing skill levels. There were no cut-throat players on this cruise. One of the best libraries at sea. We only brought one book for the flight down and another for the return, got the other 4 dozen books we read from the library. There's live music scattered all over the ship, and the evening shows are generally very good to excellent. We were unable to attend most of the lectures, as they conflicted with bridge classes in the morning. Shore excursions on HAL are a disappointment. The quality and selection is on par with other ships, but the prices seem to be outrageous. With the exception of Indonesia, where local traffic mandates a police escort if you want to get back to the ship on time, we hired a taxi, booked a local excursion in port, rented a car, or rode off on our own bicycles. And at most it cost us 1/2 of what the ShoreEx cost, for the same quality. Yes, we took our bikes with us. Great fun! Previously we've kept them in the cabin, but this time the wonderful Hotel Manager Henk volunteered a place to store them. With the exception of Sydney they're not much use in the big cities, but on the islands they can't be beat. One other person that deserves special mention is Cristal, the Guest Services Manager. No matter what the issue, she would step up and solve it, with a smile. Henk and Cristal are the best in their respective jobs of any cruise we've ever been on. One of the most memorable ports was in the Azores. I don't know if it's like this year around or just the day we were there, but it was the most verdant land we've ever seen. Car rental for $30/day right in the port made it even better. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
Probably the best ship in P&O's fleet, having sailed on her, around the world and elsewhere, several times since 2007. Sadly her recent refit has removed one of her most loved features - The Bordeaux Restaurant, and replaced it ... Read More
Probably the best ship in P&O's fleet, having sailed on her, around the world and elsewhere, several times since 2007. Sadly her recent refit has removed one of her most loved features - The Bordeaux Restaurant, and replaced it with The Glasshouse which was noticably deserted for most of our cruise. Her well stocked Library is now crammed into the Cyber Cafe (dont think of sitting there quietly with a good book). The Sindhu restaurant has replaced the Library - OK for those who want a particular style of Indian food. Clealy the new features are centered around profit generation, but I doubt they will realise significant revenue as they are not in keeping with the British style of cruising. The change from the Pennant Grill to the Beach House does offer an alternative dining experience on the back of deck 12 which is recommended in the warmer climbs, possibly not so appealing on the Atlantic routes. The newly installed bulkhead which now divides the Vanderbilt room to provide a kitchen for the Sindhu restaurant lacks the original build quality, evidenced by the creaking whenever the ship gets into a lively sea - something which both Aurora and Oriana have not suffered previously. The multi million pound refit could have benifitted from removing the flaking paint and rust which is particularly evident around Deck 7 and elsewhere. On a more positive note Aurora still rides very well in rough seas - Coming through the Tasmin Sea in a Force 11 she remained very stable - so if your sea legs are not the greatest, this is the ship to choose. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Please note that we were on board for 162 days but the number of nights we could show in the summary has a maximum of 100 days. We sailed Crystal Cruises and remained on board the same ship for 162 consecutive days. We boarded ... Read More
Please note that we were on board for 162 days but the number of nights we could show in the summary has a maximum of 100 days. We sailed Crystal Cruises and remained on board the same ship for 162 consecutive days. We boarded Crystal Serenity on 12/21/14, remaining on board until 05/31/15, representing our longest cruise ever. Our first voyage began with a Holiday Cruise, continued with a Caribbean cruise, until the start of the 2015 World Cruise in mid-January of 2015. At the conclusion of the World Cruise, in Miami on May 4, we stayed on-board for two final voyages; Miami to Lisbon and Lisbon to Rome. Summary ======== We had an amazing time. Highlights included the places we visited and circumnavigating the Globe on World Cruise 2015, the cuisine, service, enrichment, entertainment and some very special shore excursions, most notably a Safari Overland in South Africa and attending the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. In the end, it was the people who made it most special for us including the extraordinary crew and so many nice people we sailed with. This was our seventh full and overall eighth World Cruise and for us it was wonderful. One of the main reasons we keep returning year after year is the people including the crew and the guests who in many ways have become our extended family. On this year’s World Cruise we not only sailed with friends from previous cruises but made many new ones several of whom were on their first World Cruise. The World Cruise on board events, which were created exclusively for the 2015 World Cruise, was the best yet in my opinion. To me this says a lot since the challenge was having 600+ full World Cruisers on board instead of an average year which is about half of that number, making logistics the more challenging and planning even more important. Some highlights included the on board World Cruise Gala which was the best yet and much nicer than what can be done at a Hotel, and then all of the on board shows created just for the World Cruise and the two themed on board dinners. I want to note that there were more on board shows created and performed on board Crystal Serenity just for the World Cruise than ever before on a World Cruise.. We also enjoyed a good deal of the other entertainment such as the Beatles Celebration Group. With very few exceptions, most of the events were for everyone whether on the full world cruise or one or more segments which we applaud. We appreciated the added diversity of food offerings in the Crystal Dining Room, which is a hallmark for the World Cruise given the overall duration and time spent on board by those taking the full World Cruise. The Modern Cuisine menus, which rolled out in May of 2014, added more choices than ever before. We were unable to attend the first of the two Shore-Side Events due to an illness, but heard that it was a lot of fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the second event held in Montevideo, Uruguay. The events were more challenging given that they were attended by close to 600 people. Crystal was very wise to make most of the on board events available for everyone even if they were not booked on the full world cruise including those who remained on for the start of the World Cruise from the previous voyage and attended the Gala, to the various themed dinners and on board shows created just for the World Cruise. I used a one to five * rating with five being the highest and one the lowest for my ratings and a plus sign (+) to go above the rating. Overall Experience ***** =============== Itinerary ****+ ======= The World Cruise itinerary was the first time a Crystal Cruises World Cruise has ever circumnavigated the globe, which we thought was extraordinary. We especially enjoyed visiting Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and the diversity of ports on this World Cruise. The reason I didn’t give the itinerary five stars is because of the timing of some of the ports which had Noon or later arrival times for some ports that only had a one day visit as well as a few ports which had overnights, but the arrival time the first day was around noon. I thought this limited the time in port and the selection of shore excursions and think that even if it means skipping a few ports it is better to arrive in the early morning than midday. I realize that sometimes timing has to do with issues such as the tides and how to put an entire itinerary together but if it was possible to eliminate a few ports to have created more full days in ports to me that would have been desirable. Post World Cruise we enjoyed Bermuda and especially the Mediterranean. Cuisine ****** ====== Recognizing that two thirds of the passengers for the world cruise would be on board for at least 108 days, the Crystal Dining Room menu continually offered new items in addition to those that one would expect when coming on board for one voyage. The Modern Cuisine Menu introduced on Serenity last year coupled with the Traditional Menu offers more options than ever before. In addition, menus in Tastes and Prego were changed from time-to-time and the menu in Silk Road was changed once. Although we don’t eat at the Grand Gala and other Special Buffets, we were very impressed with their offerings and they were offered one time on each World Cruise segment and on a couple of other voyages. Entertainment ***** ============ We were very pleased with the diversity of the entertainment knowing that we all have different tastes when it comes to this area. There was a wide range of offerings and something for everyone. Show times were adjusted based on where we were sailing. On the World Cruise there were more special performances than ever before, which were created just for one night that were absolutely amazing. As was the case with last year’s World Cruise, the on board entertainment team was augmented with two vocalists who performed in all of the shows created on board the ship and performed from time to time in other venues. The talent of the Entertainment Team is amazing and I am reminded of all of the hard work that they must put into creating these special one-time shows for all of us to enjoy. The preparation is more challenging that people realize. Other items related to entertainment-included movies, the pre-dinner magician shows along with the Strings Quartet and the Pianists. We thought that the movies that were available this year for viewing in the Crystal Cinema were quite diversified and included many highly rated movies. On the two voyages we were on before the start of the World Cruise we had the opportunity to see Pianist Mark Farris perform. Mark is one of the pianists who regularly perform on the Crystal Symphony and we thought he was amazing. Our only disappointment was the departure of pianists John Mentis and Colin Salter during the World Cruise. I also wanted to note that the crossing had terrific entertainment with no only the evening shows but some performances held before main dining. Enrichment ***** ========= Crystal offers more enrichment than any cruise line we have ever sailed and on the World Cruise this is augmented several-fold. There are so many programs offered on sea days that each day represents several days of activities. My wife participated regularly in the Odyssey at Sea Knitting Class and the Gentle Yoga Class, and I participated regularly in the Indoor Cycling Classes. We enjoyed many of the lectures with three lectures or more available on each and every sea day. We wish we had time for Memoir Writing and the Apple Computer Classes and hope to do this on a future World Cruise. Fifty+ enrichment programs are offered each and every sea day. I would say that 50% of the lecturers were exceptional, 40% strong, and about 10% weak. The ones that I rated weak are ones that either essentially read word for word from slides or from a prepared speech sounding more like a college professor from one of those introduction courses or ones where I simply had no takeaways from the talk or left without learning anything new. Because on a World Cruise, Crystal makes an extra effort to bring on first time lecturers you will see some being weak but to me that is fine because by bringing on new people you often find outstanding lectures who are asked to return on future voyages with some becoming part of the Crystal Family. I especially enjoyed Ocean Views, which is a panel discussion, and was hosted by Ken Rees and allows audience participation via hand held electronic devices. There were actually more activities offered during the World Cruise than ever before with additional courses offered on devices such as the iPad, a Book Club and a Zumba class offered on many sea days in addition to so many activities that have become a hallmark of World Cruises such as the College Computer Class, Memoir Writing, Language, and Piano Classes just to name a few of the programs. Similar to the entertainment, there was a tremendous amount of entertainment on the themed Miami to Lisbon Cruise, which followed the World Cruise. Shore Excursions/Land Programs ***** ========================== The Shore Excursion and Overland Programs offered not only increase in volume each and every year but also with the addition of many unique program offerings. Some of the start times were adjusted to later in the morning for those who are late risers. For us the highlights were private cars arranged through the land program department for some selected places including Bermuda, Colombia and Peru and attending the Grand Prix and also the three-night four-day overland program at the Phinda Private Reserve in South Africa. I also wanted to note that to me each year the on-board Shore Excursion Department gets stronger and stronger in terms of the personnel. We find them to be very knowledgeable and helpful and they do their utmost best to deal with any problems that come up and they were terrific in adjusting shore excursions when we missed a couple of ports and when our arrival was delayed to a couple of ports. Internet *** ======= Overall, the Internet was more reliable and faster than in 2014, which is positive given that overall occupancy was quite high with some voyages sold out and the one-hour per day of complimentary Internet for all guests who have previously sailed with Crystal Cruises. There were a couple of issues. One occurred on one of the World Cruise Segments when there was an equipment failure while we were sailing several days at sea which could not be rectified until we were in port. The other one happened on a couple of other crossings when there were times when we were moving from one satellite to another and encountered very slow connections or dropped connections and some outages. The latter is part of the challenge when sailing on a World Cruise or on a crossing. The bottom line is that there were days when the internet was very reliable and rather fast given the limitations of satellite technology, other days when speed was average, and other days when the internet was either down or very slow. As I mentioned, one of the challenges of the Internet this time around unlike in prior years that we sailed was that one hour of complimentary internet per day is now offered to each guest who has previously sailed with Crystal Cruises. This was even more challenging given that most of the voyages we were on were at full occupancy and the fact that more people come on board with more devices than ever before. Overall, the internet was the best we have ever experienced on board either Crystal Ship. The enhancements made not only in infrastructure, and augmented Satellite bandwidth but in the area of monitoring and control has really added to improved service. With that said, the speed and reliability of the Internet will never be the same as at home. The challenges include a sailing like the World Cruise where you are sailing in areas where access to a satellite is difficult and where you go from one satellite to another requiring manual intervention. On top of this there is the potential for equipment failures, interference caused in port or when sailing near land and the fact that Satellite technology in no way compares to fiber optics. There were a few times with durations lasting a few days at a time when the Internet was very slow or even not available. Because the Internet experience is just not going to always be the same depending on where one is sailing or if there is an equipment or some other issues, this is why depending on where or when you are sailing that you may have different experiences with one person saying how wonderful the internet is and another person saying it was not good. We also appreciated that FaceTime was often available which was not our experience in 2014. The investments made in 2013 to upgrade the internet infrastructure, the fine tuning that was made in 2014 before the rollout of the complimentary 1 hour per day of Internet for Crystal Society Members along with some other changes that were made did pay off in my opinion. Finally, the device one uses can make a big difference. For example, I find that the MacBook will provide a better experience than say an iPad. Even the type of Internet Browser that one might use can make a difference Finally, other techniques that one might use such as reducing the number of pixels in a photo before attaching it to an e-mail or including it in a blog will make a world of a difference in speed. Planning *****+ =========== I touched on this earlier but wanted to give the Crystal Cruises Senior Executives and the Senior Officers of Crystal Serenity excellent marks for all of the effort that went into planning the 2015 World Cruise. Changes were required based on the record number of full World Cruisers on board and the overall occupancy rate when most segments were 100 full. A wide range of items had to be addressed including: WORLD CRUISE GALA. Unlike in previous years when the kickoff to the World Cruise was held at a hotel on land, this was not possible given the significant number of World Cruisers. As a result the voyage began one day in advance and the Gala was held on Serenity. The Serenity was transformed for this as the Crystal Plaza was made over with lots of cocktail like tables with table cloths and lights providing a wonderful spot for the kickoff and the welcome by President and COO of Crystal Cruises Edie Rodriquez, a cocktail party and a balloon drop all in one. Following this, we enjoyed a sit down dinner in one of three dining venues with an assigned table and seating. There was lots of entertainment and by far this was the best World Cruise Gala we ever attended. All of the planning and coordination of this event was truly amazing. MEDICAL NEEDS. With so many full World Cruisers a very wise decision was made to have more than one physician on board for the World Cruise. As it turned out there were three Physicians as when the second person was hired he asked if his spouse who is also a Physician could share his contract and that is exactly what happened. All of this was a very wise decision because in addition to a couple of months of various upper respiratory viruses going around the ship, there were more major medical issues given the number of World Cruisers on board Serenity and the ages of some of the guests. DIVERSITY AND QUANITY OF ENTERTAINERS. Getting entertainers on and off the ship to make way for other entertainers and towards the end of the cruise getting additional land based musicians onto the ship when sailing full for the Crystal Serenity Pops Concert was amazing. SAFETY DEMONSTRATIONS. With two-thirds of the guests on board for the entire World Cruise Captain Giske thought it would be a great idea to offer a safety demonstration that gave passengers an opportunity to gain a more detailed insight into safety on board Crystal Serenity. This program was repeated twice during the World Cruise and provided us with a lot of information relate to safety. This included seeing a safety movie that was developed for each crew member, seeing one of the crew rafts which was deployed in the outdoor pool, seeing a life boat with all of the equipment that is on the life boat, seeing one of the fire fighter teams and also walking up a smoke filled corridor (smoke was simulated) when the safety lights were on. We thought it was superb and provided us with a wealth of information related to safety. The crew was on hand at each location to answer questions. WORLD CRIUSE SHORE SIDE EVENTS. Creating shore-side events that would work for 600 World Cruisers plus the Crystal escorts. This is no easy task and congratulations to the vice President of Crystal Land Programs and Port Operations, the on board team and the respective tour operators from the two ports of call for all of the efforts that went into these events. Service *****++ ====== I’ve listed service last so that we could save the best for last. For us service is one of the main reasons that we sail on Crystal Cruises. We find that the Service is the finest of any other cruise line we have sailed and any place we have dined or stayed at on land. The on-board crew is absolutely amazing. They have become our extended Crystal Family. There are many members of the crew that we have known since we first started sailing with Crystal Cruises as well as other members of the crew whom we have known for one or more years who just make each of our voyages the best it can be. On top of this even members of the crew who are on their first contracts quickly learned the Crystal Culture which stresses a high service level. The key for us is that the high level of service can be provided in not only a professional manner but in a manner that is highly personal. Rather than walking around like robots if you will, as they do on some cruise lines, the crew performs their responsibilities with caring and warmth for the guests they take care of. This culture is evident at all levels both on board each ship but also at the Crystal Headquarters. In the end, it is my belief that any successful enterprise is successful because of the people. You could take the most modern ship afloat and with the wrong people it will be a disaster. Crystal has mastered this area and it continued to be evident throughout the time we were sailing on board Serenity. There were certainly different ways to provide feedback on issues and that included comment cards that were provided to the full World Cruisers on two different occasions which could be filled out and submitted to the Hotel Director, and/or using the on-line form to submit comments to President of Crystal Cruises President, Edie Rodriquez, a conversation with a Senior Officer, or a conversation when Edie Rodriquez and Senior Vice President, Thomas Mazloum were on board. At the same time on the other voyages, there was a letter sent to the room from the Hotel Director providing his phone number in the event that there was some issue that needed to be resolved. While resolution cannot be realized for each and every comment I can point to numerous examples of items that were identified by people we know that were resolved expeditiously. In the end, this is my experience. At times I have used the word “we” rather than "I" as my wife also felt the same way that I did. I realize that we all have different opinions and see things in different ways. What one person enjoys another person might not and what one person does not care for, someone else might like. If we all saw things in the same manner, this would be a boring world. As I have said often, the only experience that matters the most is our very own. I am grateful that my wife and I had the opportunity to sail on Serenity for this extended period of time and have been humbled by all that we experienced on and off the ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
I boarded Queen Elizabeth in Southampton on December 23rd and spent Christmas and New Year on board before returning to Southampton Jan 6th.2015. I then crossed to Hamburg and back before setting off on my half of the World Cruise Jan ... Read More
I boarded Queen Elizabeth in Southampton on December 23rd and spent Christmas and New Year on board before returning to Southampton Jan 6th.2015. I then crossed to Hamburg and back before setting off on my half of the World Cruise Jan 10th., finally disembarking in Auckland on Feb 27th. Having enjoyed over 40 cruises to date, reaching Diamond Tier on both Seabourn and Cunard, I feel more than qualified to give a frank and fair review of my own experiences of the Queen Elizabeth My first cruise on the ship was in April 2014 from Dubai to Southampton and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. However, I did decide that April that my next trip would be in a Club Class cabin in order that I would dine in the splendid and comfortable surroundings of the elegant Club Restaurant. There I recently enjoyed over 2 months of wonderful service. The Maitre'd Tetiana was first class. Elegant, attentive and charming. As were my server Lhea and Sommelier Miroslav. 3 top professionals who all went to great lengths to ensure that my every wish was catered for. On the first night, I requested bread sticks.These were brought immediately and presented on my table every night without further reminders. Miroslav's knowledge of wines, plus him charm and humour were exemplary and between us I explored a wonderful wine selection throughout my cruise. Personally, I found the Eastern European staff to be mainly very good. Of course, some are better than others and this applies to ALL nationalities, but '' you'll never please.............'' Due to the high number of cruises I have enjoyed on Seabourn, one of the world's top lines I am aware that standards are higher on that line. However, cost for cost, I find Cunard better value £ for £ I am booked again on the Elizabeth for 7 weeks starting November 18th and very much looking forward to embarkation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014
This cruise offered unusual ports. I was on the last segment from Capetown South Africa to Southampton England. Our ports were: Capetown, Luderitz and Walvis Bay in Namibia, Luanda, Angola, two islands in Cape Verde, three islands in the ... Read More
This cruise offered unusual ports. I was on the last segment from Capetown South Africa to Southampton England. Our ports were: Capetown, Luderitz and Walvis Bay in Namibia, Luanda, Angola, two islands in Cape Verde, three islands in the Canaries, Agadir, Casablanca, and Tangier Morocco, Cadiz and Vigo, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal. As usual the service on Holland America was excellent. There were only 900 passengers on this last leg of voyage which basically circumnavigated Africa for 88 days. With so few passengers, the crew was even more attentive than usual. Many cancelled this leg of the voyage due to the Ebola virus. But, safety first, Holland America cancelled port calls in countries anywhere near the outbreak. The weather was perfect throughout the cruise. During sea days we were kept busy with excellent lectures on topics concerning ocean travel, its luxuries and travails and on wild life. The usual crafts, dancing and bridge activities were popular. You could even attend computer classes. The only portion of the voyage that did not measure up to Holland American standards were the shows put on by the HAL singers and dancers. Otherwise the entertainment was very good. We're told Holland America will not be offering the circumnavigation of Africa cruise in 2015, but Princess has a comparable cruise on its website. Bill Reynolds   Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
Our Voyage took us from Istanbul to Cape Town - 93 days of exploring exotic ports. The ports were very good but the ship was a zero !! Very noisy in every location; especially on the outside decks as the engine noise is not muffled. It is ... Read More
Our Voyage took us from Istanbul to Cape Town - 93 days of exploring exotic ports. The ports were very good but the ship was a zero !! Very noisy in every location; especially on the outside decks as the engine noise is not muffled. It is very difficult to have a conversation on the top deck or by the pool. The ship has a LOT of movement and doesn't handle the ocean very well. It is an OLD SHIP to begin with, and should not be sold as a luxury cruise ship at the current prices.It was built in 1989, and definitely shows its age. The ship has been "modernized", but the flow is very difficult as one has to walk through the main lounge to get to other venues; the ship is built like a railroad car, so you have to navigate through each room to get to the next. And if one room has a lecture or is occupied, one has to walk through the audience to get the next room.The room phone will not take messages .... you have to walk through the corridor to to your selected room and leave a note on the door to get a call back.The WiFi is not only SLOW, it is almost useless. Very difficult if not impossible to connect ones computer to the system ..... and then it drops off as you type an email.I have talked to the TI staff, and was told he has asked the UK office to upgrade this system for the past two years and nothing has been done; it must be a money thing ..... but they are not embarrassed to up the prices on shore excursions or anything the ship sells, including the price to book. The food is not outstanding .... more standard coffee shop variety ( Woolworth in the UK or Denny's in the USA). Service and the staff are excellent ... no complaints; however, their mantra when you order an menu item is "excellent choice" .... one get a little tired of hearing that three or four meals a day.The library books are from 1998 to 2008 .... must have been transferred from the MV Discovery ... get real... this is 2015. The life vests are dated 1999 and were last inspected at that time ..... does this seem correct for a cruise in 2015 ?? There is NO specialty dining room; that space has been converted to normal dining room service. The lunch at the Veranda buffet is the same as the dining room, and the variety doesn't change from day to day ... ditto for dinner. The ice cream that is served in the afternoon, after lunch, is always runny ... not hard ... as they do not have proper refrigeration on the outside deck where the ice cream is served. There is NO food service after they close the dining room or Veranda (buffet) areas. Once it is closed, you have to wait until the next regular meal time for snacks or any food ( except room service... which is limited). If you are an INDEPENDENT passenger, and do not purchase any shore excursions from the ship, you will be "stuck", and they make no attempt to assist independent passengers ..... you are entirely on your own .... even in port ..... when you are in a closed port, with no transportation, good luck trying to get to town !! The Brits love this ship as they enjoy being away from the UK ( weather). BUT, if you enjoy social activities, and want good shows, good entertainment, good stimulating lectures, etc .... look else where. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
A message was sent by email the day before we were to embark on our cruise. We were already in Vancouver and did not receive this email until after the cruise. Even if we had received this message, it would have been expensive and ... Read More
A message was sent by email the day before we were to embark on our cruise. We were already in Vancouver and did not receive this email until after the cruise. Even if we had received this message, it would have been expensive and stressful to change our flights. Holland America did not offer any refunds or assistance in making alternate plans. IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION: Please be advised that we have been experiencing a heightened level of Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) on the ms Volendam. Therefore, the ship will follow a special cleaning and sanitizing protocol developed in conjunction with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prior to our departure from Vancouver, Canada, on September 17, 2014. Consequently, embarkation will begin at approximately 1:00pm for a 4:00pm departure. Our guests are encouraged to delay their arrival at the pier until 1:00pm, as there is limited seating at the Vancouver facility. We regret any inconvenience this may cause. Holland America's Volendam cruise ship is obsolete, dirty and diseased. Check on the age of the ship before you book a cruise. Take a cab to and from the airport. The cab would have been cheaper and faster than the big bus with passengers coughing and sneezing during the long slow ride from the ship to the airport. I rarely get sick but I came home with a painful deep cough and sore throat. We were handed a piece of paper while boarding informing us of an intestinal virus onboard. Too late to cancel. They had been having this problem for weeks. We would return from shore excursions to see people with rubber suits and what looked like gas masks working to sanitize a stateroom as we walked down the passageway. Not exactly reassuring. We were led to believe that this was a temporary problem but it persisted for the whole cruise. The ship desperately needed repairs and upgrades including: newer TVs (ours had a blurry picture), gym equipment (parts were missing). Age appropriate music in the gym would have been nice (this was not the hip hop or rap demographic). The fitness staff was uneducated staff. There were rude employees everywhere. They were broken toilets in the common areas. Older passengers who move slower were having trouble finding a working restroom. We were not allowed to borrow DVDs and books or serve ourselves at the buffet because of the virus. The servers at the buffet did not understand English very well so it was impossible to get your food the way you wanted it. They dumped buckets of dressing on the salads. Everything was over cooked. Most of the time the food was not hot enough, vegetables were limp and fish was dry.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014
We have traveled quite a bit but this was our first Riverboat Cruise! It was a wonderful experience and a great way to some of European cities we hear so much about plus some smaller towns that you don't hear so much about. The ... Read More
We have traveled quite a bit but this was our first Riverboat Cruise! It was a wonderful experience and a great way to some of European cities we hear so much about plus some smaller towns that you don't hear so much about. The service, the food, to cabin, and the excursions were all well thought out and executed. We had lovely weather which allowed us to enjoy the upper deck a lot! So nice to be floating along just enjoying the scenery for awhile and then exploring a town without having to pack and unpack or figure out where to eat that day! The locks were interesting to experience and see and the captain and his crew have our utmost respect. We would highly recommend Viking! My only suggestion is to offer bike riding along the Danube as an excursion. We saw folks gathering for a ride while walking to the bus for one of our excursions. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
For many years, my husband & I discussed visiting the Far East and South Pacific. With our 50th wedding anniversary soon approaching, we started researching cruises to these destinations. Since Holland America's 2014 Grand Pacific ... Read More
For many years, my husband & I discussed visiting the Far East and South Pacific. With our 50th wedding anniversary soon approaching, we started researching cruises to these destinations. Since Holland America's 2014 Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage was a perfect match for us, we decided not to wait for our 50th Anniversary. A major selling point for us was that there were no long flights to and from foreign airports involved. There would be little jet lag also. Two days prior to the cruise, we flew from Orlando, FL to Seattle, Washington for some independent sightseeing. On September 21, we boarded the ms Amsterdam in Seattle for our incredible 78-day journey. For us it was the trip of a lifetime. For many others on the cruise, this was their forth or fifth + Grand Voyage. Our Ports of Call were Seattle, Washington, Kodiak, Alaska, Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Kushiro, Japan, Tokyo, Japan (2 overnights,) Nagasaki, Japan, Jeju, S. Korea, Incheon (Seoul,) S. Korea (2 overnights,) Xingang, China (2 overnights,) Qingdao, China, Shanghai, China (3 overnights,) Hong Kong (2 overnights,) Phu My, Vietnam, Singapore (2 overnights,) Tanjung Priok (Jakarta,) Indonesia, Bali, Indonesia, Slawi Bay (Komodo Island), Indonesia, Darwin, Australia, Port Douglas (Cains,) Australia, Sydney, Australia (2 overnights,) Nomea, New Caladonia, Kuto (Ile des Pins,) New Caledonia, Lautoka, Fiji, Suva, Fiji, Apia, Samoa, Hilo, Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii (2 overnights,) Lahaina, Hawaii and San Diego, California. If you have never taken a Grand Journey or World Cruise, perhaps you think these cruises are just like other cruises only longer. These cruises are so much more than that; they are very extraordinary experiences. Passengers on our voyage bonded together immediately because we knew that we would be together for 78 days. We soon became like a family. The "precious" (HAL's word) staff, which for the most part is hand picked by Holland America for these cruises is even more attentive and friendly for the same reason. Service is far superior, more personal, although always wonderful on all HAL cruises. The passengers were mainly seniors, American for the most part but with some Australians and Canadian; there was only one child on board for the complete cruise. Other children did join the cruise for a segment and more children were on board for our Indonesian stops (crew families.) There were so many extras for every passenger. Among the most notable were, a Travel Journal (I used mine daily,) a strong zippered lined shoulder bag including a smaller matching toiletries bag with a leather stateroom/ ID holder and lanyard, a HAL-Steiff Teddy Bear Sailor, Grand Voyage Tiffany mug, ceramic Royal Goedewaagen Grand Voyage Plate plus a sturdy roll along piece of luggage to carry all the gifts home. Everything was of the highest quality. Passengers also earn unique Grand Dollars throughout the cruise by participating in various activities. I turned my dollars in for a flash drive, two compact umbrellas, HAL cosmetic case and ear phones. MP3 Players were a quite popular choice. Many evenings there were special Gala Celebrations and formal Theme Nights such as the elaborate Black & Silver and Black & Gold Grand Balls. Other events were equally unique only more casual such as the Halloween Monster Mash Party, Alaska Salmon Bake, Kimono Night, Tropical Paradise Dinner and Hawaiian Cookout. Three of my other favorites were the exciting Masked Ball (I loved my gorgeous complimentary hot pink mask,) Oktoberfest and the Red Lantern Formal Dinner. HAL went to great expense elaborately decorating the venues for all the planned themed events. All the servers wore themed costumes. Of course we had the usual Captain's Welcome Reception and Mariner's Appreciation Night that are always lovely and well-attended. Two other themed events were the Chef's Farewell Dinner and the Grand Show Buffet. Other exciting optional events were extra cost. Everyone who attend these thought that they were worthwhile. There were a total of nine formal nights on the 78-day cruise. As we departed each port there was a Farewell Party with complimentary hors d'oeuvres, sometimes even complimentary cocktails and live band. Although we always regretted that we didn't have longer port stays (are they ever long enough?) we all looked forward to the farewell parties. The ship had the usual daily Afternoon Tea at 3 PM; I only attended the most elaborate themed ones, Royal Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino and English High Teas. I photographed each lavish display of pastries. A more unusual high tea was the Cupcake High Tea. Speaking of food, on our Grand Journey there were better choices at all three meals. For example Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail was always on the MDR dinner menu. For breakfast crepes were an unusual offering. At lunchtime we could always choose from a whole section of sushi, sashimi, mussels and clams in addition to other selections. Even the room service menu had more choices. Since the food is always good on HAL, I never was tempted to try the specialty restaurants or extra cost dinners although I had plenty of onboard credits to spend. I was told that HAL allots more dollars per passenger for food costs on Grand or World cruises which would explain the greater variety and quality. MDR service was uniformly well-paced. We always finished dinner in about an hour or so (really, I know it's hard to believe.) We were encouraged to linger and savor our wine. Our servers, Adi & Fosil, always smiling, did an exemplary job catering to our needs and spoiling us. Assistant Dining room Manager, Pandi not only kept an eye out making sure everything went well, he also stopped by twice nightly making conversation and helping the servers in various ways. Noel our wine steward was always punctual, reliable and helpful. Grand Voyages passengers have a unique package option of a glass of wine each night and it is very reasonably priced; we took advantage of it. We also received excellent bar service in the lounges and poolside from Enrico, Ann Marie and Mary Jane. Without asking, they often anticipated our requests for ice water. Service in our stateroom was just as attentive. Our room was often made up sometimes even before we returned from breakfast. All of our special requests were attended to daily without fail. Arif (Lukman, earlier in the cruise) & Made always greeted us with smiles and engaged us in short conversations. They were very professional and efficient. Our comfortable oceanview stateroom #2695 was cheery and well stocked; it even had two hair dryers. We requested and promptly received extra wooden hangers. HAL also provided us with a power strip that we used daily. A suggestion to HAL is that they install bathroom nightlights. After being disturbed early in the morning on several occasion from crew working on the deck above, the noises stopped after passengers mentioned the problem during a Q & A session with the officers. Other minor problems were also fixed after this session. HAL did listen. The Queen's Lounge (theater) entertainment was diverse and professional although lacking stage sets. There was always a main nightly show except when there were port night excursions or when a movie on a big screen was shown in the theater. We usually had matinee shows if there was no evening show scheduled. Entertainers often appeared twice with a different show each time. I enjoyed the talented singers and dancers even when they repeated their three shows on another segment. They were always energetic. Just about everyone on board attended the fabulous Indonesian & Filipino crew shows. The theater was packed for both 3 PM shows and the crew was so proud of their performances - so were we. The shows really helped to bond the crew and passengers. HAL should schedule these shows at 3 PM on their other cruises as well. I know that my husband, I and others do not want to stay up until 11 PM to attend the late shows. I also enjoyed the nightly live entertainment in the various lounges. Adagio in the Navigation Lounge performed beautiful classical music on the piano and violin. We were regulars at their pre-dinner performances. Debbie Bacon performed in the Piano Bar; we attended her nightly show at 7 PM. It was always fun & games with her. One night she invited her husband, Ron to join her on guitar; it was the highlight for all of us. When we were in ports overnight, Debbie performed outdoors on deck under the stars. How romantic was that! We enjoyed the Adagio guys and Debbie so much that we purchased several of their CDs, which they autographed. When these performers were off, we enjoyed the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar and Larry in the Crown's Next. They were very entertaining as well. Although we had a couple of long stretches of sea days, I was never bored. There were so many daily scheduled activities that I couldn't attend them all. My favorites were the wonderful Port Talks by Travel Guide Barbara who was so knowledgeable and well travelled and the Kitchen Galley Tour. I attended most of the quality computer classes by Craig who made learning fun and easy. There were plenty of history, military history and talks on the culture of the foreign countries that we visited. I attended all the culinary demonstrations (with printed recipes and samples, of course) and a couple of movies. A big thanks goes to HAL for providing various religious services throughout the cruise. Few cruise lines do this anymore. By far one of the most unusual activities on board was the special Neptune Ceremony when we crossed the equator. What fun the crew, passengers and officers all had poolside. Complimentary specialty drinks, costumes and decorations added to the festive atmosphere. The exotic Ports of Call were the main reason we booked this cruise and each was exciting and memorable. My favorite, and it is difficult to pick just one, was perhaps Shanghai. We docked right in the center of the action facing a beautifully lit skyline complete with a laser show. The city has a lot to offer visitors. My husband's favorite was Ile des Pins with its stunning beaches. We both thought that the most unusual port was Komodo Island to see the Komodo Dragons. How many other cruises stop here? We enjoyed all of the HAL Shore Excursion and found them to be very worthwhile. One disappointment, though, was that the scheduled Tokyo stop was cancelled due to the eminent arrival of a typhoon. The captain anticipated the problem, substituted two other exciting ports, Kanazawa and Fukuoka (Hakata) on the opposite side of Japan. We did not encounter rough seas or rain perhaps just a bit of wind. Those who had previously visited Tokyo said that these were even better ports. Special for the Grand Voyages, HAL arranged complementary shuttles in the ports whenever it was feasible. This was a huge help especially for those touring independently. In only one port did I have a problem with the shuttles. That was in Dutch Harbor where there were only two buses in service and no HAL shore excursion offered. Many passengers resorted to roaming taxis. There were a few other port challenges mostly out of HAL's hands but with a trip this long no one expected perfection. HAL did their best to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for us all. HAL provided us all with a plethora of pre-cruise documentation and throughout the cruise. We received plenty of port information sheets, maps, ship logs and multi-page Explorer Guides to the ports with things to See and Do, shopping info, dining, sightseeing suggestions etc. At each foreign port we receive an extremely handy card listing essential foreign words, phrases, and a currency conversion charts that I used in every port. It also listed emergency phone numbers of the ship in port. I made a few minor suggestions to HAL at the end of our cruise. For the Lido Buffet, I suggested adding lemonade as a beverage. I enjoyed it in the mornings poolside. Ice tea is provided but the caffeine makes me feel wired. Tall glasses are needed as it was hard to fill water bottles using juice sized glasses. I missed having no fat milk available at breakfast. I suggested more variety of music poolside. Embarkation was very slow (45 minutes,) which surprised me but we were offered cold water or lemonade. It was just hard to drink the beverage while moving along the line with jackets and hand luggage while trying to complete the health sheet. A more serious problem was the fact that the very comfortable couches in the Queen's Theater are lower than the chairs. If you sit on a couch, it is difficult to see over the heads of people on chairs in front of you. The main problem for us, though, was the absence of flex time dining. In ports, it was a rush to make it to the MDR for our 5:30 Early Dining Time. I have to say that Pondi was always accommodating to our late arrivals. Only once did we have dinner in the Lido Buffet. Many of the excursion buses in Beijing were delayed two hours returning to the ship due to evening traffic jams. We were all treated royally in the Lido restaurant which stayed open late to serve us. It was nice not to have to change clothes for dinner. What I enjoyed most about the ship was the dome over the pool area. We could sit poolside even in Alaska where the temperature was cool. Although we experience very few rainy days, whenever it got a bit windy or cool, the dome was closed. Also HAL adjusted time zone changes eastbound at 2PM instead of the usual 2 AM so we didn't lose any sleep - great idea! The well-maintained ship was comfortable although there were several plumbing problems on the long journey. The ship was just the right size to get into the smaller ports and it was easy to find my way around the ship. Hopefully another HAL Grand Voyage is in my future - what a spectacular way to cruise and be pampered. One unique and valuable bonus offered by HAL is that for every $300 you spend on board, even pre-booked shore excursions and drink packages, you earn credit for a sailing day. We reached three star level a week early due to this bonus and are now only 8 days shy of level 4 stars when you receive complementary laundry service. We booked the Back to Back HAL cruise to the Panama Canal, keeping our same stateroom. So, our vacation lasted an additional 14 days. Due to the high cost of our return flight from San Diego, it was only a little more money to cruise back to FL on the ship and simply drive home. But, that is another review.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014
One of the plans you tend to make upon finishing your working years is what will you do to celebrate retiring. I had long ago decided to do a long and adventurous cruise to new places. I had my eye on the Grand Pacific cruise on Holland ... Read More
One of the plans you tend to make upon finishing your working years is what will you do to celebrate retiring. I had long ago decided to do a long and adventurous cruise to new places. I had my eye on the Grand Pacific cruise on Holland America's Amsterdam which left in Sept and was 70+ days around the Pacific. However, when I realized that HAL was doing a circumnavigation of Africa for the first time in 5 years with port calls at some places that were high on the bucket list, I decided to go with the Rotterdam instead. It was not listed as a "Grand Voyage" although the price was about the same as the Pacific cruise, but it was indeed grand! Flying from Florida to London was not a pleasure, as opposed to leaving from Ft Lauderdale or even Seattle, but after having to change to a flight to Washington DC, then Amtrak to Philly, and then flight to London followed by "tube" to London Victoria Station, then coach to Southampton, I made it. The Rotterdam had left Rotterdam the day before with less than half the guests before embarking the rest of us. I boarded around noon and the bags were in the room before I was, a first for me. Lunch in the dining room a few minutes later and then back to 1852 (outside mid ship) to unpack in my new quarters where I quickly felt at home. Five separate closets with plenty of storage as the Rotterdam was built for long cruises. The Rotterdam was redone about 5 years ago with new bathrooms, comfortable beds, all the usual HAL goodies. Room stewards couldn't do enough for me such as fresh fruit bowl and even some flowers. Cleaned every morning and turned down every night, and always asked me by my name if I was happy. I prefer the dining room to the Lido when time permitted. The greeter, who also always used my name, made sure I had a table and server of choice. Most of the dining room staff were excellent. I was treated like royalty and often was served my usual choices without even asking! If I asked the server which entree was better tonight, he would tell me and ofcourse return to make sure. If you treat these folks nicely, you will be amazed how great service is. I do mostly seafood or vegetarian and with rare exceptions it was delicious and well presented. Breakfast in a quiet dining room with a sea view table and a good server, Rosenthal china, and great cooked to order food....life doesn't get much better for me. The Rotterdam had about 1300 guests for the first 48 days, about 100 under "full capacity", with a lot of singles and no children. Well, one little girl who belonged to an officer. Never crowded, few ques, easy to find a seat for most everything, except some of the high quality lecturers. The lecturers were an important and quality part of this grand voyage. Entertainment also good to excellent. The cast shows were great; thought they should have performed more often. You could tell most of the staff were picked for this special voyage. Cruise director Michael and port lecturer KK were excellent. Many of the guests on this ship were frequent cruisers, some too frequent. By that, I mean, they were never satisfied with anything. To the staffs credit, they overlooked the TMC (Too Many Cruises) folks and still gave us great information and service. Keep smiling guys! The Rotterdam goes into drydock spring of 2015 and it does need some attention. It did have some plumbing issues, but I was lucky to have no problems in my room the entire trip. The dining room often had themed nights relating to the areas we were visiting. There were also special regional foods served around the pool area. Entertainers from the various areas were also brought on to add to the grand style voyage. We were the only ship in port with just a few exceptions. We only tendered in one port (Luderitz) and overnighted in 5 ports. The Rotterdam was a great ship for this itinarary as it is one of the fastest cruise ships on the seas, better to out run pirates and storms. We did run without most exterior lighting in the pirate areas and often maintained 20 knots. An officer told me with all 5 engines going and a freshly painted hull, the Rotterdam can do 26 knots. That burns too much fuel. Also, this ship rides deeper in the water which gives it more stable ride. We did have to avoid a cyclone in the Indian Ocean. A lot of extra sea miles and $75,000 extra in fuel costs, but the Rotterdam did very well indeed. I left on day 79 from Lisbon to fly home (flights were full from London so close to Christmas) only missing one port Vigo, Spain. After mostly great weather, it was getting cold and rainy as we returned to Europe and thus I didn't miss much. I would urge those seeking a long voyage exploring unusual ports on a great mid size (60,000 tons/1400 guests) ship, to consider the Rotterdam on this itinarary. As Holland America builds new (bigger) ships, their older ships will be sold. Don't expect a 100,000 ton/2500 guests ship to do these great places and that will leave only the more expensive smaller cruise lines to do them. The smaller ships can't handle the rougher seas either.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
This is my 3 rd sailing to Alaska but first time with HAL on this route. Having done several other cruises also to Europe with HAL and other lines I find myself comparing. My husband and I felt that the overall experience was pleasant. The ... Read More
This is my 3 rd sailing to Alaska but first time with HAL on this route. Having done several other cruises also to Europe with HAL and other lines I find myself comparing. My husband and I felt that the overall experience was pleasant. The crew were always smiling and obliging, even when dealing with some demanding passengers! This was our first time visiting Sitka and we felt it was the highlight of the ports of call with very lovely scenery. In each port we did our own thing which was good since flying excursions were canceled due to low cloud cover. State room was balcony on floor 7. No complaints except for my husband who is 6'4" and had to stoop while showering! Our adult, disabled son was traveling with us and had the fold out couch which needed extra foam and was brought by the cabin steward on our request. We had room service in the mornings twice and it was prompt. We chose to eat in the MDR for most meals because the Lido was a zoo making finding a table challenging and there are no trays which means going backwards and forwards for beverages etc. The Pinnacle was good as was the Cannelto. Entertainment re the shows was well done. We especially enjoyed the Captain and his talk and the backstage tour with the performers. The group Recycle Percussion were exceptional. The cruise director was energized and entertaining and ran the Dancing with the Stars competition for the passengers very well which resulted in the grand finale dance off with the qualifying passengers being paired with one of the professional dancers to perform on stage for their fellow passengers. I availed myself of the enrichment classes that involved computer/camera lessons which I have enjoyed in the past and enjoyed adding to my skills again! MDR was not as good as I remember from past experiences with HAL. The portions seemed smaller...my husband had ordered the appetizer with the descriptive "Tower of crab meat and avocado" which more accurately looked like a smudge on the plate. Both boarding and disembarking were smooth and we were certainly accommodated with our son who has autism so we did not have to stand in the long lines to board. We greatly appreciated this. The general ambience of the ship is one of understated elegance with dark woods and brass accents which was very pleasing. The crows nest was a favorite spot giving great views along with comfortable seating as one sailed along. We used the gym daily and felt that it was adequately equipped. Unlike other cruise lines we did not feel as though there was any undue pressure to buy.....be it in the bars or anywhere on the ship. The afternoon teas have changed from the elegant service with the staff in their national costume to a self serve buffet which was disappointing. Also gone was the traditional appearance at Formal night with the march in of the Baked Alaska replete with sparklers that used to be carried aloft by the head chef with staff marching behind. Also gone was the midnight chocolate/dessert extravaganza....ah me. The Lido also closed down at times and it was difficult to find something to eat! Yikes! A lovely final touch however, was at disembarking as one crossed the gang plank to return to the normal life....the heads of each department stood on shore in a line waving all the passengers goodbye.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
Consider ourselves seasoned cruisers - 20+ cruises since 1996 and 10 or so with RCL. Maybe it was coming off of a rather wonderful cruise on the Allure in September, 2013 or just the time of the year, but it certainly wasn't up to ... Read More
Consider ourselves seasoned cruisers - 20+ cruises since 1996 and 10 or so with RCL. Maybe it was coming off of a rather wonderful cruise on the Allure in September, 2013 or just the time of the year, but it certainly wasn't up to standards. Time of year: week before Easter and Passover week so there was a plethora of youngins. Not much of a hassle on board but on the one snorkel excursion in Nassau, it was. Living in FL full time we are used to snowbirds but failed to note that this was a week where lots of parochial school kids would be out and travelling with families. Had heard some spring breaks were cancelled due to the number of snow days. It does NOT excuse the well below par food and service on the Enchantment. Our cabin steward DID find us a refrigerator when we didn't even have a mini-bar refrigerator the first night so we could at least chill (and freeze) water for shore excursions. We chose My Time Dining at 7;30 and had the same waiter (Valeriano) & assistant, Arturo neither of whom can be faulted for their services. Both were excellent and always at the ready with refills. The food in the dining room is where RCL fell way below par whether it was the soups, salads, entrees or desserts. My last meal, the seafood "mash" was cold and overcooked. I remarked that the scallops were hockey pucks and the cod "fillets" were the hockey sticks. The baked potato barely melted the butter. They left off the "brulee" part of the creme brulee. We did do one dinner at the Windjammer and it was unsuccessful as well AND without the service we expect from Royal Caribbean. The "lobster" bisque was so fishy tasting in an awful red "sauce" that I spit it out. Even the seafood "crisps" on the Indian buffet were stale and soft. Lunch at Windjammer was OK. The Park Cafe was the saving grace for this cruise. Breakfast had all we needed... warm bagels, a variety of cream cheeses, great lox and ok paninis. The BEST by far, hands down meal was the beef on weck (kimmelweck rolls) soaked in au jus for lunch each day. Small bit of horseradish made it even better. Decided to do one snorkel tour with Seahorse excursions and it was delightful VERY short walk to the catamaran with FOUR crew members AND the captain. TWO heads which were checked throughout the morning by the crew. All the water and punch (spiked on the return) you could drink. Two cautions: 1. The water is COLD (by FL standards) about 73 degrees, so bring even a shortie wet suit if you want to be in more than 20 minutes (me) 2. Admit that you CANNOT SWIM and take a life jacket/BC from the crew. They were not mandatory and when people (children esp.) owned up to not swimming, it took longer to get them outfitted properly. Had to wait about 15 minutes to get back on board while these guys were getting off for the first time. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Firstly, I'd like to say that myself and my partner (both 26) were travelling on this 14-day tour of the south pacific islands for our honeymoon. As a bit of background we both enjoy music (playing and listening), theatre shows, ... Read More
Firstly, I'd like to say that myself and my partner (both 26) were travelling on this 14-day tour of the south pacific islands for our honeymoon. As a bit of background we both enjoy music (playing and listening), theatre shows, dancing, and partying as well as relaxing with a good book. So we thought this cruise would provide the perfect honeymoon as a mixture of relaxation, beach fun, musical and theatre entertainment and some partying too. Ship: Pacific Jewel Cabin No: 11212 Cruise: 14-days around pacific islands - Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia Well it provided the beach fun and relaxation.... but thats about it. I'll elaborate more on the reasons why and what we did and didn't like about it later on. The main reason for writing this review is to inform others on what you will actually get on this cruise as we were very disappointed with the on-board entertainment and would, as a result, never cruise with P&O again and would NOT recommend it to honeymooners, 20-30 year olds, or anyone wanting to be entertained on board. Sea days (6 in total) were boring... which is a lot of time to be bored on what isn't a cheap holiday. Definitely a cruise for the lazy or those who literally want to do nothing when on ship... this may be suitable for some but was unacceptable to us. As I said we were on honeymoon. I booked it myself through the P&O website and was vigilant for anywhere I could use to let them know that it was our honeymoon, I had heard that on other cruises they would make you feel special, which I wanted for my new wife as she deserves it, and had also heard they would have a 'honeymooners club' with get-togethers on ship for all those on honeymoon - sounds good, right?. Finished booking... nowhere did it ask for additional information or special circumstances. Ok maybe I'd have an opportunity later. Forgot about it until less than a week before the wedding and my mother-in-law asked if I had let them know that it was our honeymoon. I had not... dammit! So she called and emailed P&O about it - they said "unfortunately we need to be informed at least 8 days prior to departure". We asked if there was anything that could be done - P&Os response "no"..... Right, well a little effort would have been appreciated but ok. So I decided to just let our room steward know on arrival to our room after embarkation. We let him know that we were on honeymoon, he congratulated us with smiles and enthusiasm (which was nice) and put some balloons and a sign up on our door to show it was our honeymoon..... that was the extent of 'special attention' given to us by P&O. Now I never expect special attention for anything but this was our honeymoon! Pretty disappointing - they didn't even organise a catch-up for other honeymooners despite seeing at least 5 other 'honeymoon' signs on other doors during walks around the ship. Moving on - we were originally booked in for an outside cabin located midship on level 9 (we picked it specifically) and asked NOT to be upgraded. Somehow about a week before the cruise we were informed of an 'upgrade' to deck 11, one cabin from the back of the ship.... definitely NOT an upgrade. but the midship cabins are easier to sell so they 'upgrade passengers from those to accommodate last minute sales. Not happy but didn't complain as it was 1 week away and we didn't have time to think about it with our wedding coming up. We were in room 11212 and ended up wit 'restricted view' out the window. Luckily for us we didn't have the 'chair scraping' issue that other cabins on deck 11 seem to have as we did not have any area of useable deck above us so for that reason it was quite good. It was also very close to the plantation restaurant (deck 12 directly above) and the oasis bar (below on deck 10). Cabin was clean and the cabin steward was very nice. On three occasions (over 14 days) we received towels in the shape of different animals. After only being on the ship a few hours it was clear that the average age of passengers on this cruise would be around 60! Also, putting it as delicately as possible and really trying not to offend anyone... a very large percentage of the passengers would be classed as obese! Whilst this is fine and has nothing to do with us it did, without exaggeration make navigating hallways and elevators very difficult. This is not a reflection on P&O as its not something anyone can help but it is something to consider! It could be very uncomfortable at times as we were the ones expected to get out of their way. Now you may think I have been quite negative so far but as reviews are generally viewed to get a sense of the negatives associated with the topic I will mainly focus on those and mostly summarise the positives at the end. The embarkation process was fast and easy, welcoming onto the ship was good, all the stewards, waiters, bartenders etc were very friendly and always helpful. The layout of the ship wasn't bad. The decor was simple, nothing opulent, and the common areas seemed a little cramped. The top deck consisted of a single common area with 2x small pools, 2x 6 person spas (for 1500+ passengers), a bar and 100+ lounge chairs with a balcony on the deck above overlooking this area. Food on board was either at the main buffet (Plantation restaurant), Waterfront restaurant (no charge), Salt Grill ($50pp) or La Luna ($40pp) as well as a cafe and a grill place for pizza, chips or anything deep fried. Buffet was reasonable. Food was very similar each day with small changes in variety of food supplied. Pre-made salads and baguettes/sandwiches weren't very nice at all. Had heard they do seafood buffets during the cruise - not once was this provided, which was disappointing. Some of the hot food was ok and was happy to try most things for lunch. Breakfast food was better than what was supplied for lunch or dinner. After 2 days of buffet food we ate at the Waterfront every day for lunch and dinner. Service at the waterfront restaurant was very good but was highly dependant on the waiter that you were allocated - we were very lucky. Ours were very friendly and between dinner courses would do magic tricks, tell us riddles or jokes, or made us intricate objects/animals out of napkins! The food was quite good considering there was no charge and we always got 3 courses, and sometimes extras if we were particularly hungry and asked them. We didn't eat in Salt Grill or La Luna so I can't comment on their service or quality. Food in the cafe or pizza place cost extra and were reasonable. Cocktails were very well priced at $9.50! We liked going out to the oasis bar on deck 10 and relaxing on the lounges with a pina colada! :) Considering the next topic this was about all there was to do during sea days. Entertainment - now this is a very important aspect of a cruise considering we spent 6 full days at sea, not to mention being at sea every night. So as far as we were concerned there needed to be enough entertainment to keep us interested and of good quality. We were extremely disappointed with most aspects of entertainment. When looking at the 'Pacific Daily', which is the daily schedule of activities, it would seem that there is a lot to do... but on closer inspection we found it hard to find 2 things per day to go to. We were MOST DISAPPOINTED with the quality of the musical theatre productions on board. The pacific entertainers (the dancers and singers on board) were absolutely terrible, we get better entertainment from our local scout groups annual performance - which is really saying something. The singing was average at best and the acting and dancing was uninspiring. We usually enjoy all forms of musical and theatre entertainment, so it might sound like we're being picky, but these performances were terrible and each night less and less passengers came to them. We only continued to go out of sheer boredom - it was either go to that or go to bed (at 9:30). The on-deck parties (I think there were 3) were an absolute joke. The pacific entertainers were unenthusiastic and failed to really interact with the crowd, seeming bored with being there at all. Rather than trying to improve the feel of the party they seemed resigned to the fact it was losing momentum (at 10pm). Bands on board were talented but failed to judge the crowd well and played the wrong songs at the wrong times - for party music they failed to get the crowd going. Now in all honesty this could have been due to the fact that 80% of the cruise passengers seemed to be over 60 years of age. Having said that P&O still should have made an effort for those who did want to say up until past 10 and enjoy some night time activities. Sigh... very lame. Dance classes - 2x salsa and 1x jive. Hardly extensive. Lots of bingo, at least once per day. Karaoke heats every day. Casino open most of the time. These seemed like the extent of regular activities- none of which i was interested in... sigh. During Sea days I did enjoy some of the on board 'adventure' activities (extra costs) including rock climbing up the rear funnel. These activities cost between $20 and $60 per turn but can be purchased as a package if you think you will use it often. To cut this review short and summarise: - Entertainment => Poor - Food => Reasonable - Service => Excellent - Ports => Great Not recommended for anyone under 30 or maybe even 40. Even young families may find the on-board activities lacking. Most activities have additional charges and they are NOT cheap. Even the pensioners we talked to on the ship were disappointed and the entertainment seemed to be directed towards them.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2014
30 day Hawaii & Tahiti Cruise----Feb. 14, 2014, 16 sea days and 14 port days. Although we are four star mariners on HAL it has been almost three years since we cruised with them. The following is a summary of the ship and my cruise ... Read More
30 day Hawaii & Tahiti Cruise----Feb. 14, 2014, 16 sea days and 14 port days. Although we are four star mariners on HAL it has been almost three years since we cruised with them. The following is a summary of the ship and my cruise experience, beginning with the positive followed by concerns. Generally speaking—I find no significant degeneration in HAL's service or facilities. This was a very good cruise and I highly recommend it. Excellent weather and relatively calm seas all the way except Moorea, the port we had to miss due high winds. * I recently read a review from a lady regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the Statendam in which she condemned the ship and company for allowing the ship to deteriorate. I find that not to be accurate at all, conversely, this ship is well taken care. The Statendam entered service in 1993 and, with the possible exception of the Prinsendam, I find it better maintained than most of the HAL fleet we have previously sailed on, most of which were newer ships. HAL has always enjoyed a reputation of taking good care of their ships; I find they still do so. *The meals were better in general than I recall on most previous voyages, the only exception being the “Pinnacle” which is still good but has slipped slightly, we used it 6 times. The Lido buffet seemed to have a larger food variety this trip and HAL does a great job of making certain everything is sanitized. I love the fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning there. The Canoletto was very good and made for an intimate dinner, last time we were on the Ryndam they didn’t charge the $10.00 per that they do now in the Canoletto. However, on the Ryndam things were so crowded, probably because no charge for the Canoletto, that the tables, even for two, were so packed together that it was like joining a "6 conversations going at once club". *Shore excursions were all pretty well put together and of quality. All escorts were tour knowledgeable and easy to understand. HAL did not overload the coaches and managed to keep most of the passenger loads to around 50% max. We also sail a lot on Regent which equally has excellent excursions, but their price is included in the cruise package which I greatly prefer. *During our last 200 days or so at sea we have elected to take open dining. No more traditional for us. We experienced excellent service in the main dining room by HAL personnel and always got a table for two, seldom we had to wait, maybe twice for a minute or two. This is our second voyage on HAL using their “Any time you wish dining”, or, almost 60 days at sea with HAL using that service. It is my opinion that HAL critics of this procedure are flat wrong. *The gym on this ship was excellent in that it had lots of modern workout equipment, was located up high with good views of the ocean and not overcrowded like so many of them are. *The Statendam is one of HAL's "S" class ships. So is the Ryndam which we have also sailed on. It occurred to me that this class ship has more open deck public area per passenger than any ship we have been on. This proves to be a major plus for guests on cruises where a lot of scenic cruise days are involved, like along the coast of Alaska, glacier viewing, Antarctica, fiords of Norway and so on. All open decks on this ship are planked with Teak, and there is two 360 degree complete walk around decks, the promenade and the uppermost outdoor deck which runs around the top perimeter. Also there are many decks where public can gather to sightsee. On so many ships when approaching spectacular points of interest, like Hubbard Glacier at Yakutat, everybody is on deck trying to find nook for good viewing. Decks are so crammed that it is ludicrous. One frequent criticism of the newer megaships is that they have little open deck space for observation, sunbathing or cozy quiet places to read, which used to be considered of value for traditional ocean travel of yesteryear. Instead, the ships are designed like shopping malls and amusement parks where guests are pretty much confined to interior areas. Even though these ships might have excellent space to passenger ratios, getting out and enjoying an open sea breeze is not a number one priority for ship designers anymore. *Prior to boarding someone told me that HAL still had the same old selection of news service on cabin TVs. I dread being relegated to watching only FOX and CNN, so I simply leave the TV off. Imagine my surprise then, when I find MSNBC (My favorite), BBC, and FOX. HAL got smart and got rid of program duplicity leaving CNN out and giving their guests a “fair and balanced” selection of news choices and reviews. *As always, HAL has provided a good selection of theme lecturers for a voyage. Three in particular I liked so much on this one I didn’t miss a single one of their presentations. On this voyage they have something new, a Polynesian, Kanioa, who works full time describing ports and history of the Pacific, he even does some Alaska and South America. He has an artful sense of humor that really cracked folk up occasionally. Quite a change from the old travel agent style delivery by someone speaking about everything in general with a delivery similar to reading from a text book. Both HAL, Regent and Princess are excellent in providing experts for areas being traveled, such as naturalists, biologists, anthropologists and historians. HAL is one of the few lines anymore that provides a protestant cleric for Sunday services and daily devotionals. *We had a normal balcony stateroom located on deck 9 slightly forward of midship. Enjoyed it although would like a larger bathroom without the tub, but only a shower. Great balcony, larger than most. Even though this voyage has been very smooth, one time during the day when we couldn't get into Moorea I felt the ship take on a big one, I looked outside, through our patio windows, to see a wall of white water completely obscure the view for a few seconds. Being on deck 9, or 7 decks or stories above the water line, the spray must have reached 10 stories up. *We had seven formal nights, which we like. *I really like their hot tubs on the Lido deck, used them every day. *Entertainment was pretty much on par for most ships this size. They had some great singers and performers and have pretty much done away with the bore comedians with their corny political jokes that leaves half the audience mad and the other cackling (although they do have a comic now and then that is very good they are now wise enough to stay away from ignorant politics or religious issues). *Most unique port visited: Fanning Island. *Best deals and quality on local made items: Fanning Island. *Most exciting: Port: Rangiroa--Due to dicey departure through channel in order to enter ocean again. Also, best demonstration of Black Pearl farming found here. *Most educational shore excursion: All day tour around Island of Tahiti which looked good in the shore excursion description but expensive. Later, when I checked it out on the ship it was closed out. But later yet they expanded it. Sure glad they did, besides being an excellent tour it included lunch at a restaurant that was out of this world, du Musee Gauguin. If we ever get back to Tahiti again we are definitely going to try to get there for dinner. Regarding the down sides: *HAL has definitely reduced staff levels. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have that many apparent negative ramifications, although the reductions do have an impact. For instance, the laundry equipment was down more often than should be and all around staff effort isn't near as coordinated as it used to be so there is a lot of reacting and not enough anticipation of potential problem areas. *I am not enamored with HAL's new wine policy. I do miss the old one where one could bring a modest amount of wine on board at any port without charge or restrictions, it was an unique feature of their sailing experience. Since they are determined to go the mediocre route in order to fit in with most of the other big cruise lines, the least they could do is provide a red wine selection that is more reasonably priced. For instance, a $12.00 bottle of Cab. from COSTCO sells for about $55.00 on board. If you buy at COSTCO and pay the $18.00 corkage to bring it on board, you pay about $30,00. I would gladly pay HAL $35.00 for this wine and eliminate the hassle. *The price of Internet is horrible due to the slow speeds. I wish HAL would give free Internet perks like Regent does. I would greatly appreciate that over some of the other Mariner perks provided.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2014
We recently returned from our 3rd Azamara Cruise, our second time aboard the Journey. We boarded the ship in Hong Kong on Feb 17th for our journey through the China Sea, to Tokyo and finally Shanghai. The Journey had been upgraded since ... Read More
We recently returned from our 3rd Azamara Cruise, our second time aboard the Journey. We boarded the ship in Hong Kong on Feb 17th for our journey through the China Sea, to Tokyo and finally Shanghai. The Journey had been upgraded since our last cruise with new carpets, upholstery, cabins etc., and mirrored the Quest. No matter which ship you are on you feel comfortable and at home. The Journey remained over night in Hong Kong so we were able to see the Hong Kong harbour light show. Breathtaking! The next day we began our Journey, stopping at several islands in the China Sea; Xiamen, Taiwan, Ishigaki and Okinawa. This was our first trip to Asia so we booked Land Discoveries at each of the ports of call. Our guides on the tours were from the same company so we saw them at several of the islands. Their language skills and knowledge were very, very good and we would highly recommend the tours. We arrived in Tokyo on the 25th for a two day stay. Our first night there was our AzAmazing Evening. We were bused to the Japanese Matsuri Gardens, where we were greeted by Kimono clad ladies and music on traditional Japanese 15 string guitars. Lovely venue, lots of walking around room, lots to see & do. Traditional music and dancing, drumming & singing. Local artists created and shaped animal shaped lollipops. Calligraphers did our names in traditional Japanese writing. Sumo wrestlers performed for us. Refreshments were varied and abundant. Truly an AzAmazing Evening. Entering Tokyo harbour the ship hit an underwater obstacle which we later learned damaged the Port propeller. The Captain came on the PA system and told us that we would be proceeding to Osaka Japan with only one propeller so our arrival time would be somewhat later. The next morning Captain Jason gave a full presentation to the guests describing the damage, including underwater pictures of the propeller. While we were in no danger, it was decided that the cruise would end in Osaka as the ship had to proceed to dry dock for repairs. All the Osaka tours were rescheduled to accommodate our late arrival. We were very impressed at how well the Captain and crew kept us informed. Our cruise was scheduled to end in Shanghai two days later. The home office, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines flew a “GO” team of 30+ people to Osaka to ensure that individual arrangements would be made for all the guests. We were flown to Shanghai and put up at the 5 star Hyatt Hotel, on the Bund. This hotel overlooked the beautiful Shanghai harbour that, like Hong Kong, had a fabulous night-time light show. All expenses were covered and the GO Team was there and arranged our private transportation to the Shanghai airport the next day. We were also well compensated by the cruise line for shortening of the cruise and any inconvenience. The ship and its crew continue to exceed our expectations. They go out of their way to make you feel at home, and this is one of the main reasons that we have chosen to cruise with Azamara. Unfortunately we had occasion to make use of the Medical facilities. Dr Dahl and his staff were highly professional and followed up to ensure all was well. From the start of the cruise, Captain Jason and his officers of the ship were out and about every day, talking to guests, answering questions and ensuring that everyone was being taken care of. Chef Fabio’s cuisine was exceptional as usual. Cruise Director Tony kept us informed of all the daily activities and the evening shows were very entertaining. While not as incident free as our previous cruises with Azamara, the way in which the Captain, the crew and Royal Caribbean handled the technical difficulties has reinforced our confidence in and loyalty to Azamara Club Cruises. Cruise #4 is in the works!   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
Over the years, we have cruised for over 240 nights on all of the 5 Silversea ships combined with the exception of the Explorer-type ships. It is very sad to report that the last two cruises, back-to-back (25 days aboard), that we just ... Read More
Over the years, we have cruised for over 240 nights on all of the 5 Silversea ships combined with the exception of the Explorer-type ships. It is very sad to report that the last two cruises, back-to-back (25 days aboard), that we just finished: voyage 3404 from Singapore to Singapore (14 days) continuing on voyage 3405 from Singapore to Hong Kong (11 days) were really a disappointment especially when it came to the overall condition of the ship and especially the cabins. We last cruised on the Shadow in September/October 2013, from Vancouver to Shanghai (27 days) and the Shadow needed big time "TLC" then; we were told at the time that it was going to go in dry dock for a refurbishing before the end of 2013. Fast forward to this year's cruises and to our surprise when we boarded in Singapore we did not see any changes or updates in the public areas. When we checked into our suite, it looked dated to say the least and really needed work, the desk area looked like a mad child had taken a hammer and made nicks on its surface, the letter area on it was scratched and worn, the sofa and arm chair in the suite had threads coming out as if a cat with long nails had used them for scratching pad and the straight chair in front of the desk swayed like a rocking chair. The bathroom hardware was so worn that the chrome had worn was almost off. The black granite counter top was so worn out that it was white in some areas although the original color was black. The shelf underneath the two sinks was sagging and a someone had placed a large screw to hold it, but it had been so long that the screw had eaten through the wood and one had to be careful not to scratch ones hand when using the shelf. I could go on but I hope that by now the reader gets the idea of the condition of the suite. Silversea usually gives you a mid-cruise questionnaire asking you to return it to the Hotel Director, in this case it was Martin Blanar, I did write a lengthy review pointing out the things that I saw wrong and expressing my disappointment. Normally, once the questionnaires are submitted the Hotel Director normally sends a reply addressing the concerns, this time, we got a call from the front office requesting a face-to-face meeting with the Hotel Director and the Stephen, Guest Service Manager. I did go to the meeting and they basically told me, after apologizing profusely, that they kind of agree with me and that very little had been done during the dry dock to the ship and that they did not know of any plans to update the Shadow, and it was out of their control, at least they were honest. The next day when we were out the straight chair was changed and I noticed that the screw in the sagging shelf had been repaired. One of my big peeves is the fact that walking into a suite at any of the Silversea ships should have the same feeling as I was walking into a room at a Four Seasons, Ritz, Shangri-La, Peninsula or similar 5 star hotels. The suite should not feel like you are walking into run down Holiday Inn, especially for the premium prices that we pay to sail aboard a Silversea ships and the hype of their advertising. I do not know who bestows all the awards that Silversea gets but I am positive that these people have not sailed aboard the Shadow lately. Why do we pay so much money for these cruises and still have to buy blocks of time for the Internet, and be mindful of not over using them and making sure that we sign off correctly. Many times the sign on and signing off is so slow (I know because of satellites) that we have to go to the IT Concierge and when we complain and in most cases he gives you the time back without any fuss. It was announced during our cruise that Silversea was launching another Explorer-type ship, I feel that instead of expanding they should use the money to retrofit the existing ships, the company seems to be getting too greedy and it going to hurt them in the long run. I could go on but I don't want to lose the reader so I would just mention the latest "improvement" to the travel experience, it is the booklet that Silversea now sends with the ticket before we leave. It is personalized and it tells you all about the shore tours you have reserved, and it also gives you a partial description of the tour and it instructs you to go to the Silversea website for further information, unfortunately the company takes the tour information down one week before the departure so one is in la la land. When I asked the Tour Desk about the information they told me that they had no written information they could give me since Fort Lauderdale did not print the little booklet we used to get listing all the tours. Also, they used to send us two "leatherette" baggage tags, those were eliminated, I guess Silversea needs to save money. The booklet also tells you that now you can make reservations in the specialty restaurants up to 180 days prior to the sailing date. Who knows a few months before what kind of dinner one wants to have on a particular evening, I thought that one of the "big" pluses that Silversea advertises is that one could eat in any restaurant wherever one wanted, only La Terrazza, Le Champagne and pool Grill needed reservations, but normally you could get one a day ahead and in many cases the same day, I guess that we need to plan ahead from now or take our chances. I guess you probably wonder why we keep coming back to Silversea, and it is the wonderful crew and the service they give you. It never ceases to amaze me how they remember you, your name, and in many instances what your preferences are. The crew goes out of their way to make sure that all your requests regardless of how minute or odd may be, are taken care of. I hope someone at Silversea reads these reviews and wakes up.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
We joined Arcadia in Los Angeles, at the start of the second sector of her World Cruise, and disembarked 7½ weeks later in Dubai. It was our first time on this ship, and the longest cruise we have yet experienced. We found Arcadia to be ... Read More
We joined Arcadia in Los Angeles, at the start of the second sector of her World Cruise, and disembarked 7½ weeks later in Dubai. It was our first time on this ship, and the longest cruise we have yet experienced. We found Arcadia to be a very welcoming ship, and she very soon wrapped herself around us and became ‘home’. As with most cruises we have taken, we’ve come home with a bag full of impressions, some good, some not so good. Our comments here are intended to be positive and constructive, and we hope readers will take them this way too. Arcadia had just undergone a refit which seems to have worked well for the public areas, but not so well perhaps for the cabins, which have retained tired-looking bathrooms and limited storage space for such a long cruise. Our cabin was on C deck, overlooking the stern, and contrary to some passengers’ perception of these cabins we experienced very little engine noise, and a very sheltered balcony which we used a lot. Arcadia does however have a rather strange arrangement on the stern, with balconies on D deck being larger, but completely covered by the C deck one above (very little sun), and those on E deck being completely open to the sky and to those looking down on them from above (so very little privacy) Future cruisers beware! With the refit also came the introduction of ‘Freedom Dining’ on the upper level of the Meridian Restaurant, and the abandonment of ‘silver service’. Both changes worked well for us. Restaurant Manager Rajeev was adept at matching us to the size of table we wanted, and we rarely experienced queues. Until the very end of the cruise we also enjoyed meeting different folk each night (and at breakfast and lunch, since we took most meals here). The lack of ‘silver service’ actually meant that our food came quicker, on (very) hot plates, and looking as the chef intended. On the whole, the standard of food was very high, and we made only 3 visits to the two speciality restaurants, the main advantage being to escape the noise in the Meridian at its busiest times. Service in the Restaurants and throughout the ship was superb. Daytime activities could have proved problematic on such a long cruise. We enjoy dancing and in Jeffery Dobinson (ably assisted by Brenda Twigg) we found one of the best teachers we have ever had. He quite literally ‘made’ the cruise for us. The ‘downside’ was that his lessons had to be held in The Retreat, up on Deck 10, a room intended for Yoga and gentler fitness classes, NOT for ballroom dancing ( with its low ceiling and unsuitable floor). The ship added its own movements to the dancing, too! Other venues were also badly matched to the activities planned for them, and far too many events started at around 11am, making choices difficult. Painting classes were held in the Globe, a gloomy space with no natural light (but the obvious choice for dancing!), and quizzes in The Rising Sun, right next to the noisy Casino. Classical artists had to perform in the Crow’s Nest Bar, where new screens put in at the refit meant that they could be seen properly only by a select few sitting right in front of the piano. The acoustics there were poor, with low ceilings and thick carpets. On just three occasions they were moved to the Palladium, a much better space for them. We particularly enjoyed Allan Schiller, the pianist (by far and away the best of the performers) and the clarinet and piano duo of James and Maciej. Another example of mismatching was the siting of the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party in the Neptune Pool area. With the roof closed, this event was unbearably noisy, and the Captain’s speech could not be heard. Surely the Palladium Theatre would have been a better choice? We noticed that areas such as the Spinnaker and Intermezzo Bars were not used for events at all, because they remain ‘open plan’. Maybe that was why they didn’t seem popular as bars, either! We did not take many of the ship’s excursions, but those we did do were generally well-planned and enjoyable. We do wish, though, that the planners wouldn’t assume that we all need toilet stops and ‘shopping time’, which eat into time better spent at more interesting places. On the Mumbai tour, for example, we had 1¼ hours ‘shopping time’, but only 5 minutes at the ‘Gateway to India’! The Port Talks on board were excellent, and Sam was always ready to give her advice to independent travellers, too. Evening entertainment was a bit ‘hit and miss’. The ship’s own Headliners were brilliant (particularly the ‘Killer Queen’ show), but we got far too many ‘crossover’ acts (two violinists, two pianists, even two sets of tenors!). The Palladium is a lovely, comfortable venue, but sight lines are obscured by pillars and high-back sofas, and it was often impossible to find a seat at the first show if you arrived after 8pm. We enjoyed the regular dances in The Globe, though after the first few weeks things did get a bit repetitive! Internet use on board most cruise ships continues to be fraught with difficulties, and the charges that P&O make for it are quite outrageous, given its slow speed. We had reason to query charges twice, because the connection had been lost, and we were clocking up the pounds and pence simply getting back on to email. I guess most of us are not interested in using the service every day, or even every week, but we do like to keep in touch with family and friends on a very long cruise like this one. Passengers could be seen scurrying ashore with laptops at every port of call, to the cruise terminals and beyond, just to get a connection at an acceptable price. We managed 2 dollars an hour in Singapore; on the ship, this would have added £30 to our bill! Free Internet use should be included in the cruise fare, and if this causes problems with bandwidth on board, passengers can be allotted specific times to access it. These few ‘moans’ apart, we had a fabulous cruise which was excellent value for money.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Arcadia world cruise 2014 Auckland to Southampton We returned to UK from a month touring in NZ by 51 days on Arcadia. This was our first time on P and O and we chose this cruise because of the port calls which seemed to us a wish list of ... Read More
Arcadia world cruise 2014 Auckland to Southampton We returned to UK from a month touring in NZ by 51 days on Arcadia. This was our first time on P and O and we chose this cruise because of the port calls which seemed to us a wish list of many places in the world we wanted to see and we were not disappointed. Sadly, the planned calls to Egypt could not take place because of the security situation; P and O substituted Sallalah in Muscat which was a waste of time as the majority of passengers did not get off the ship, and also Aqaba, which gave us an excursion to Petra and was the high point of the trip. We liked: our cabin (E deck next to midships gangway), the promenade deck, some of the lectures and entertainment, the art tutor, the Captain who is outstandingly good, reception staff, the port presentations, the excursions we took. The entertainments staff worked hard but there is a great reliance on quizzes. Headliners theatre company are very good, but on a long trip you eventually get repeats of the same show. The ship is modern and comfortable but not glitzy. Disembarkation was rapid and efficient. We disliked: the food, quality was very variable. In particular, preparation and cooking of vegetables and selection was poor (‘not peas again’). For vegetarians it was difficult. Meridian restaurant menus became somewhat predictable. Belvedere self service was often over busy and with bizarre choices, some days lots of curries, other days none at all, some days plenty of non meat choices, other days none at all. The beauty salon is over priced and not very good, I had a poor experience myself and heard many unhappy stories from other women passengers. We would have liked: better lecture choices, (there was rather a lot of history of the second world war), an experienced choir leader and I was surprised that the ship does not carry a chaplain. A lot of passengers seemed to be ill towards the end of the cruise. While P and O do have some hygiene procedures in place, they do not enforce rigorously, nor remind people as often as they need to. I think there is specific problem on a world cruise, where new groups of passengers, up to 600 at a time, are embarking for a particular sector, and bring with them a lovely selection of winter infections which they then fail to keep to themselves. Those of us who had been away from the UK since January did not stand a chance. Overall this was a successful cruise which met our expectations but we would probably not travel with P and O again, as we now know that we prefer smaller ships with fewer passengers.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
FIRST SECTOR OF 2014 WORLD CRUISE EMBARKATION We arrived at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton at 12:30 and were told there was about a half hour delay in boarding. We were nevertheless on board and in our cabin by 1:30pm. We then went up ... Read More
FIRST SECTOR OF 2014 WORLD CRUISE EMBARKATION We arrived at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton at 12:30 and were told there was about a half hour delay in boarding. We were nevertheless on board and in our cabin by 1:30pm. We then went up and found a seat in the Lido self-service restaurant and had a leisurely lunch. CABIN We had a balcony cabin on deck 8, directly below the Lido, from which we heard no noise during the cruise. The cabin was clean, in good condition, with little evidence of wear and tear. There are two wardrobes, with 40 hangers provided. There are also shelves and drawers, which should provide ample storage for a 2 week holiday, but perhaps not for a full World Cruise. The cabin was kept clean by the steward while we were at breakfast and dinner each day – excellent service. Dressing gowns and slippers are provided. The bed linen is very good quality fine cotton. The two beds can be arranged as twin or double. They are reasonably soft, yet supportive. There are two large pillows, one square and one oblong, with good quality foam filling. The shower room was also in good condition, except for some mould on the tile grouting in the shower area. The shower curtain is a heavy fabric material, rather than plastic, which is much more practical. This was very clean, presumably because it can be easily placed in a washing machine. The shower thermostat was not always very effective at controlling the water temperature, but we have had the same problem on other ships. The strength of the lighting was good and a shaving/make up mirror is provided. Gilchrist and Soames, soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion are supplied and replaced as used. The bath towels were fluffy and an adequate size, but certainly not bath sheet size. There are also small hand towels and flannels. The balcony has two chairs and a table, but no recliners. The small flat screen television in the cabin provided general information and often had a recording of one of the talks from the previous day. It had US news channels, plus Sky News and BBC World. A number of films were shown each day, but the quality of the picture was so bad that most were not worth watching. FOOD Britannia restaurant. We were on the second sitting at 8:30pm. Our waiter, Dennis, from Dubrovnik was a real character. He was full of advice about which choices to make and even sang to us on one evening. We were initially impressed, but soon realised that he spent too much time entertaining us and not enough time serving and his assistant struggled to make up the lost time. Unlike tables served by other waiters, we were asked to choose our desserts with the starters and main course, instead of deciding on a light or more filling dessert after our main course. This procedure meant that it provided extra time for Dennis’s entertainment. Unlike other sections around us, we were rarely offered the Petit Fours with our coffee. It will be interesting to hear other peoples’ experience with Dennis. The food itself was good to excellent and there was no indication of the budget being cut since our last Cunard cruise in 2012. It is certainly much better than that provided by P&O. In particular we enjoyed some superb steaks, of a quality one would expect in the best restaurants. We also ate breakfast in the Britannia Restaurant, where the quality and choice was consistently good. You can have the full range of cooked English breakfast, cereals, pancakes, fruit, yogurt, bread and pastries, etc, etc. We normally had lunch in the Lido, where there was always a good choice of hot and cold dishes, plus pasta and pizzas made to order. Chocolate and vanilla ice cream was always available from a machine – parents please note! When the weather was bad it was difficult to find a seat between 12:00 and 1:00. If it was really full, a more leisurely lunch was available in the Britannia Restaurant. When the weather is fine the Lido grill is open where you can dine outside. This mainly offers burgers and hot dogs, with chips or salad. They no longer serve steak, so that is one cut back on the budget. Cunard’s famous afternoon tea is still available in the Queens Room between 3:30 and 4:30. Even if you only go once, you have to experience it. It is just not the same to have a self service tea in the Lido. DRINKS As is normal on Cunard and many other ships, the drink prices are very high ( from around $10 for a glass of wine) and there is also a15% service charge. We noted that many only drank water with their meals. THE CRUISE The title “Lost at Sea” refers to the fact our 10 day cruise from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale was just that. The stop in the Azores was cancelled. After leaving Southampton we experienced 3 days of rough weather. At one stage speed was reduced to just 4 knots due to the storm force winds (Normal cruising speed 20 knots). On the third day (4th January) we were advised that our one and only morning ashore in Ponta Delgada in the Azores had been cancelled, as the weather would be too rough to enter the harbour. On the morning of our intended stop (6th January) the wind and sea conditions had moderated as we passed South of the Azores. Since the cost of fuel is now a major factor in running a cruise ship, it is clear that the cancelled stop had more to do with the additional cost of the fuel that would be needed to make up lost time, than the sea conditions. If you were in a restaurant at 9am or 12 noon when there was a report broadcast from the bridge, you would not hear these and the only way to monitor progress was on the “Report from the Bridge” shown on the television. This was often not updated and continued to show the previous day’s position, speed and sea conditions, or nothing at all. Despite the rough weather experienced at the beginning and a swell in the middle of the Atlantic, only a gentle rolling motion was experienced, except during the storm, when there was more rolling and pitching which some found uncomfortable. ENTERTAINMENT For the first few days we were entertained by a comedian and a singer. We did not find anyone who had ever heard of them. Presumably they work mainly on cruise ships. The Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers appeared towards the end of the cruise. We were told they were a new group and had to rehearse before appearing. Although the singers were good, the dancers were typical of those seen on cruise ships and lacked experience. They were certainly not up to the standard of those previously seen on Cunard cruises. There were also a number of musicians who performed in the theatre and around the ship and these were generally good. It had been intended that new acts (and Speakers) would join the ship in the Azores. Having cancelled this stop, the comedian ran out of jokes and the singer expanded her repertoire. We did have some interesting speakers. An adventurer, Adrian Hayes, who told of his mountain climbing, trips to the poles and trek across the desert. He was certainly entertaining. A retired policeman, David Bright, was less so and openly admitted that speaking was not his forte. He regularly over ran his allotted time and was unable to finish his story. It was more like listening to an ex-copper talking in the pub and as such was nevertheless fairly entertaining. An ex-BBC man, Peter Dorking, gave us a potted history of the BBC, with both archive film and sound. These were well produced talks. OTHER ACTIVITIES There were talks on how to dress (women), jewellery, learn to dance, fence (yes, with swords), get the most from your i-phone, i-pad etc., etc. There were also films shown in the theatre, cooking demonstrations, an audience with the Captain and many other things throughout the day. In fact it was often difficult to fit in time for your meals!! CREW Overall we found the crew courteous, helpful and very professional. Well done Cunard for the standard of training. One thing we did notice was there are now a much greater number of waiters from Eastern European Countries and they certainly were able to provide a better service, having a greater understanding of English and European culture, than many of the Asian crew members. DISEMBARKATION Where immigration does not take place on board, but in this case, ashore at Fort Lauderdale, be warned, it is a very long process. We stood “in line” for over an hour. The Americans certainly do their best to discourage tourists! CONCLUSIONS Firstly one has to bear in mind that as with most first sectors of a World Cruise crossing the Atlantic, the fares are heavily discounted and offer exceptional value for money. Even leaving this factor aside, we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, which was followed by a few days of hot sunshine in Florida. We were certainly relieved to find that Cunard have not lowered their standards. I did hear one woman ask at the Purser’s deck “Can I wear jeans in the restaurant tonight?” “No” was the answer, “The description of semi formal clearly states no jeans”. As I say, Cunard have not lowered their standards.   Read Less

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