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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
Itinerary, service standards and inclusions were very good. Food was excellent and the cabins are spacious and comfortable. The crew overall were very friendly and helpful and really are a highlight. Ponant also provide some very ... Read More
Itinerary, service standards and inclusions were very good. Food was excellent and the cabins are spacious and comfortable. The crew overall were very friendly and helpful and really are a highlight. Ponant also provide some very effective fares for single travellers using sole-occupancy. My only disappointments were: 1. the quality and value of some of the shore excursions. One in particular was rated moderate difficulty, but many able-bodied guests really struggled with it. 2. the poor satellite TV system which failed to automatically recover from the inevitable signal losses - it was necessary every time to change channels and back again when the satellite signal resumed. 3. the very expensive internet packages. Past guests get varying levels of free minutes (based on their status - but even the top level does not receive an "unlimited" package. Beyond the free minutes, additional packages are VERY expensive compared to competitors - and no "unlimited" packages are offered at all. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Our previous experience in 2017 on Le Boreal gave us confidence in the offerings of Ponant. In addition, this voyage had interesting Pre Voyage offerings, which we purchased, as the chance to use the 4 day tour of Osaka and Nara was really ... Read More
Our previous experience in 2017 on Le Boreal gave us confidence in the offerings of Ponant. In addition, this voyage had interesting Pre Voyage offerings, which we purchased, as the chance to use the 4 day tour of Osaka and Nara was really attractive to us as mature travellers. Of particular note was the quality of the Kyoto Hotel Okura, which dazzled us completely! The provision of an interpreter during this experience was of great value throughout our land voyage. As were the transfers included. Our rating of the Pre offering is a full 5 stars for value and content. The opportunity to then visit the ports of Hiroshima, Yakushima, Naha, ishigaki and Hualien-Taiwan on the way to Manila worked as a bonus to us. We ventured on Ponant excursions at all ports, and found the organisation, equipment and locations outstanding in all cases. The transport supplied, and the fact that all excursion groups were fully escorted worked really well at all times. Where excursions included catering, this was provided at great establishments, and the food and drink included were excellent. We have now completed 7 voyage sectors with Ponant, and are so content with the offerings that we have 4 more sectors under deposit, and looking at others! For us, the small ship experience is the way to go, always! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this particular trip to Japan because the ship was small and the itinerary was part land and part sea.While the ship itself was adequate- the small room was comfortable, clean, and well attended, the restaurants and food left much ... Read More
We chose this particular trip to Japan because the ship was small and the itinerary was part land and part sea.While the ship itself was adequate- the small room was comfortable, clean, and well attended, the restaurants and food left much to be desired. We are not "foodies", but were quite displeased with the food. The more "formal" dining room seemed to be understaffed, and the staff that was there seemed rushed, impatient, and sometimes a bit discourteous. The more casual dining room required an advance reservation, something we felt a bit odd. It was buffet,also understaffed, with a rather boring selection of food that hardly ever changed. Perhaps, in general, our biggest complaint was the lack of almost anything that gave you the feeling you were traveling in Japan: not a Japanese dinner, a few pieces of the same sushi at the buffet, no Japanese "entertainment", and very limited Japanese culture and the like. We were very fortunate to be traveling with groups that provided excellent speakers- unfortunately, this ship does not have the system allowing you to listen or watch the speakers from your cabin, if you wished to do so. Furthermore, the ship has a peculiar lay-out, lacking rest rooms near the restaurants and no "quiet area"- the "library" is part of a lounge - we tried to sit there, but were driven out by the noisy card players .We are "seasoned" travelers having taking many, many land and sea trips and would definitely not travel on this line again nor could we recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
I did back-to back cruises on L'Austral with the first being 10 days in Australia's Kimberly. It was excellent in every way -- itinerary, activities, cabin, food, and especially the expedition team. They worked together ... Read More
I did back-to back cruises on L'Austral with the first being 10 days in Australia's Kimberly. It was excellent in every way -- itinerary, activities, cabin, food, and especially the expedition team. They worked together beautifully., gave wonderful presentations and were always available for questions. The passenger makeup was mostly Australians, though about 20 French-speaking. I continued on the next cruise - Darwin to Bali - and the atmosphere changed a bit - now it was half English-speaking and half French-speaking. This was more of a cultural cruise as we made several stops in a few little-visited eastern islands of Indonesia. The island tours were well-organized. It was still active as we had several snorkeling opportunities. It is important to know that these were expedition-style cruises, and agility and balance are needed to board the zodiacs. It is active, with snorkeling and hiking opportunities. Everything is described in advance and passengers can self-select if they want to participate in the excursion. Ponant thinks of everything. For those of us continuing on, they provided a very nice half-day tour of Darwin with a good guide and a comfortable bus. I chose L'Austral for its reputation. I like the atmosphere and size of the ship.The fact that it is a fairly new ship (only 6 years old), and has continental food and service is a plus also. The back-to-back cruises were an excellent combination - with the first being all nature with a few visits to Aboriginal rock art; and the second more cultural. With such long flights to this part of the world, it made sense to do a back-to-back. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
My husband and I chose to travel on L'Austral with Tauck because we enjoy Tauck's level of service, and liked the idea of the small ship experience. I had done quite a bit of research on Ponant and L'Austral specifically, ... Read More
My husband and I chose to travel on L'Austral with Tauck because we enjoy Tauck's level of service, and liked the idea of the small ship experience. I had done quite a bit of research on Ponant and L'Austral specifically, and felt that we were well-informed on both the pros and the cons for this particular line and ship. I'm going to divide this review into two sections, the first dealing solely with our experiences on L'Austral, and the second touching on aspects that were primarily Tauck-controlled. L'Austral: Embarkation in Osaka was seamless, with our luggage waiting in our cabin. The cabin itself was compact, with space to move around the bed, but not much more. The shower and vanity and separate toilet cubicle were similarly compact, but perfectly adequate. Toiletries were L'Occitane. Beds were comfortable, bedding of good quality but not luxurious. There were several types of bottled water on a tray, and a small refrigerator with an assortment of alcohol and soft drinks. We liked our cabin, were happy that we had the balcony, and thought our room steward was friendly, efficient, and gave great service. There was plenty of room under the beds for our suitcases. For the most part, we used the main dining room. We ate one lunch at the buffet restaurant, but overall preferred coming back to the ship and being served by our (very welcoming)favorite waiters. The dining room decor was quietly elegant, the chairs and banquettes very comfortable, and the noise level low enough that it was easy to converse with your table mates without raising your voice. Breakfast was a combination of buffet and made to order items. The buffet tended to have the same assortment every day, with some variation in the available fresh fruit, and some of the made to order options. The breakfast pastries were very good, and obviously made fresh--we enjoyed those a lot! The lunch and dinner menus had choices for soup, starters, sides and dessert, and for the main course a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian option. The quality of the food ranged from average (some overcooked fish) to very good, with the majority being more towards the "very good" end of the range. However, for people who may have been expecting the variety and selection of some of the larger cruise lines, the food may have been a bit of a disappointment. Having read some of the negative reviews of the food on the Ponant ships, we were frankly surprised and relieved at how good it was. Portion sizes were European rather than American, which also pleased us. We did not go to any of the shows since those started at 9:30, and after a full day of touring, having frequently left the ship by 8:15am, after dinner we usually headed for our cabin to relax and prepare for the next day. We did see the dancers and two of the singers in the lounge during the cocktail hour, and thought that the little mini-shows were entertaining--but not entertaining enough to make us stay up long enough to attend the longer shows! The level of service from the majority of the staff was excellent: the waitstaff and room stewards were warm, friendly, and couldn't do enough for you. As an example, one of the people with whom we usually shared a table had a real weakness for chocolate--I think he had a chocolate dessert for every lunch and dinner--and one evening there was no chocolate dessert on the menu. Without saying a word, our waiter went to the kitchen and came back to the table with a mini-sundae with chocolate ice cream and cookies for our table mate. The women in reception were efficient, but not especially warm or helpful. Their coolness was especially noticeable since everyone else in a customer-facing position was so engaging. L'Austral is a small ship, but the public spaces are very pleasant, especially considering the fact that she is really an expedition ship, not a luxury cruise vessel. We hit some rough weather on our first night at sea, and while there was certainly quite a bit of motion that night, aside from that she was very comfortable, and didn't seem to be doing too much bobbing around. Tauck: For this particular cruise the Tauck passengers were divided into 4 groups of approximately 30-35, for a total of 120-140 total. This meant that the Tauck-ies constituted a majority of the passengers. I did wonder how this impacted the cuising experience of the other passengers, which, as nearly as I can remember, were a mixture of American, Australian, New Zealanders and about 20+/- French. My understanding is that next year Tauck will have 6 groups, which will effectively be the entire ship. There will also be some other changes in the tour, which this year began with 3 days in Kyoto, and next year will be based out of Osaka, with only a single day trip to Kyoto. We were happy that we were able to go this year, since we loved our time in Kyoto, and would hate to have missed it. As always, the Tauck tour director for our group of 30+ was wonderful, and kept us moving while still allowing for individual exploration and experiences. Our local guides were mostly excellent, and provided context and some nice extras, such as teaching us songs, playing counting games using Japanese numbers, and origami. Our hotel in Kyoto was the Granvia, situated on top of Kyoto Station. Two of the tour groups were based here, and the other two were at the Westin, and we had very little contact with them. The Granvia was a wonderful location, with underground shopping and restaurants, a department store, and easy access to both buses and subways which could take you to any part of the city. Kyoto site seeing: Kinkakuji(covered in gold leaf), the Pure Water Temple, Gion, a taiko performance, a calligraphy lesson, and a tea ceremony, Nijo-jo (where we heard the famous "nightingale floors"), a Heian shrine, and a welcome dinner which included a Geisha performance. I'm not sure how much of this will be included next year, but I would have hated to miss any of it. The first port after Osaka/Kobe was Tamano. Our group caught a ferry to Naoshima Island where famous architect Tadao Ando designed Benesse House and where other houses in the village have been incorporated into a living art project. In the afternoon we visited Kurashiki which has many 17th century warehouses built along canals, and the Ohara Museum of Art. The next port was Hiroshima, where we visited the Peace Park Memorial and museum, as well as the iconic A-Bomb Dome. This was a pretty intense and emotional morning, so as a way of shifting gears, we were taken for lunch to an okonomiyake restaurant, which was truly delicious. In the afternoon we visited Miyashima Island to see the Itsukushima shrine with its beautiful red gate surrounded by the ocean, and where the deer are protected and will eat the paper right out of your pockets. Uwajima was next, where we visited a pearl farm, saw a farm where bulls are raised for fighting, and visited the Flying Squirrel Temple. Kagoshima--We visited the base of Sakurajima, an active volcano, and the Chiran Kamikaze Museum, where we saw the bunkers that the suicide pilots spent their last night and read their last letters home. We also visited Chiran Samurai village, where there are houses that date back over 250 years, and in some cases still have the original families living in those houses. Nagasaki--In the morning we visited the Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum. The museum was very well done, and we actually preferred it to the Hiroshima Museum. In the afternoon we visited Dejima, which was the enclosed enclave that was the only place Dutch traders were allowed to live during much of the Edo period. We also visited Glover Garden, built in the mid-1800's for a Scottish physician, and containing the oldest Western style house in Japan. The next day took us to Pusan in South Korea where we visited the United Nations cemetery and memorial to the UN troops who died in the Korean War. We also took a trip to the Jagalchi fish market, where we saw fish that looked like something out of an Alien movie. Sakaiminato--In the morning we travelled to the Adachi Museum of Art, which has a wonderful collection of modern art, but where the real attraction are the incredible gardens around the museum. Every window in the museum frames another gorgeous view and viewpoint. In the afternoon we visited the Matsue black castle which is one of only 12 remaining original castles in Japan. Most of us climbed the 8 stories after having our photos taken with a samurai posing front of the castle. The next day we disembarked, which was a very smooth process, and were bused to Kyoto where we had lunch in a restaurant in the Gion district before we were taken to Kyoto Station to catch the bullet train to Tokyo. The bullet train was a great experience, and as a bonus, we got a superb view of Fujiyama on the way. Our Tokyo hotel was the Shangri-La, which was everything luxury hotel should be. We were taken on a brief orientation tour of Ginza, and then set loose to enjoy dinner on our own. Our last day of the tour began with a trip to the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple, a visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum (which really needed an entire day to itself to do it justice)and was followed by a "salaryman's lunch" at a wonderful restaurant. In the afternoon about half of the group, including my husband and myself, opted out of visiting the scheduled Meiji Shrine and chose to sightsee or shop on our own. That evening was the closing dinner at Happo-en which featured a demonstration by sumo wrestlers. As long as this review is, in terms of the Tauck portion of the cruise, I've really only given the barest outlines of what we did and experienced. Although there was some free time scheduled, for the most part we were kept moving. There seemed to be a larger than usual percentage of people in their mid-70's to mid-80's, and I believe that some of the people on the tour found the pace a bit taxing. My DH and I are in our early 60's and found the pace and activity level to be pretty much what we enjoy. How this compared to what the non-Tauck L'Austral cruisers experienced on their excursions, I have no idea, and I'm afraid I have no information on the quality of the excursions offered by L'Austral. Overall it was an excellent trip. We loved Japan, found the Japanese people to be warm, friendly and very helpful, and wouldn't hesitate to go back. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Chosen for itinerary and was intrigued to try out a small ship. Itineray was great but ship was a disappointment. Suite was nothing more than two standard rooms that adjoined, with the bed taken out of one and a couch and two chairs ... Read More
Chosen for itinerary and was intrigued to try out a small ship. Itineray was great but ship was a disappointment. Suite was nothing more than two standard rooms that adjoined, with the bed taken out of one and a couch and two chairs substituted. That did give us two bathrooms, which was important, since the bathrooms are tiny. the sleeping cabin was small with only about a foot or son between the end of the bed and the dresser. I have had suites on many larger 5 star ships that put this "premiere suite" to shame. The food was also terrible. Buffet breakfast and lunch was basically the same for 8 days. Being a French ship, I expected that at least pasties and deserts would be of high quality but even the croissants were dry, heavy. The best croissants I had on the trip was from a Japanese hotel (Shangri-la)m in Tokyo. Dinners were average at best and poor at worst. Beef steak lacked flavor. Fish was always overcooked and dry. There was no imagination with plating or menu selection. Only 3 entrees offered per night with an option for a steak, hamburger, etc all there time. Worst food we have ever had on a cruise ship. Staff was indifferent at best. Smiles were at the ready but real caring service was lacking. Waiters would walk by at breakfast with a coffee pot and never asked if you wanted more. We always had to flag someone down. Reception desk personnel sometimes acted like you were bothering them if you stopped and asked for something. Admittedly this is a small ship and you should not expect the comforts and activities of larger cruise lines. But the ship never felt comfortable and there are few places to go on board that offer a relaxing atmosphere. We are not mega ship cruisers but are more in the 750-1000 passenger ship category. Our experience on L'Austral convinced us to avoid small ships in the future and particularly Ponant Cruise line, which I feel was a poor representative of the small ship segment of the market. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise because of Ports of Call and time of year, and the smaller type of vessel. We were pleased with the choice of the Ports of Call but overall were disappointed in the Quality of the Cruise in a few facets. This is an ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of Ports of Call and time of year, and the smaller type of vessel. We were pleased with the choice of the Ports of Call but overall were disappointed in the Quality of the Cruise in a few facets. This is an expensive ship and we did not fell we received adequate value for the money spent The front desk staff were rude if not nasty, and very officious. The dining was good for Breakfast and Lunch but relatively poor for the evening The seating areas for both were less than comfortable and there were only 2 options for dining. The lack of any Japanese food on board and little attempt to make gala evenings feel gala. The local guides in japan were well meaning but generally incompetent in English and had very little of interest to report. The guide in Bosan was very good however. The tour locations were interesting however. This ship's bookings were dominated by Tauck and as a result we were isolated as a small group of English speakers who were not part of Tauck. Since we had a suite, we would expect a little attention and maybe a perq or two. There were none in evidence.. I think Ponant has a poor sense of customer expectations and I would rate it as much poorer than either AMA Waterways or Viking as well large cruise ships such as NCL. Having made these negative observations, I do want to compliment the service staff including waiters, butlers, and housekeeping. They were always friendly and very responisve Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
It started off poorly when we purchased Princess' airport transfer to the ship. They left 47 of us stranded at Osaka airport with no way to notify the ship that they forgot us. We contacted the Florida 800 number on our transfer ... Read More
It started off poorly when we purchased Princess' airport transfer to the ship. They left 47 of us stranded at Osaka airport with no way to notify the ship that they forgot us. We contacted the Florida 800 number on our transfer paperwork, only to find that they didn't have any way to contact the ship and didn't have a list of all of us. We learned later that 26 passengers were also left stranded at Osaka earlier that day. A Japan travel agency rounded up a bus for us and we just made it as Princess was nearly finished with the lifeboat training. Cust Svc desk was rude and finally 5 days later they "investigated" and sent us a brief letter that notified they would credit us for the bus we arranged on our own, plus a $25 credit. We signed up and paid for daily excursions - identical tours were offered in Japanese and English, though English guided tours were $10-20 extra each. Guides on all but 2 tours spoke such poor English, they were completely unintelligible. We felt we should have signed up for the Japanese tours because we would have understood just as much! They ran out of red wine 1/2 way through the cruise, and still enforced not allowing off-board purchases to bring on. Come on...you can't have it both ways!! We purchased our air through Princess as well...on our return flight home, we had to fly from Osaka to Taiwan then to San Francisco. They scheduled our 3 hour Osaka flight early in the morning, and gave us an 11 hour lay-over in Taiwan to then board our 12 hour flight to SFO. We encountered other Princess passengers who only had a 2 hour lay-over in Osaka. We have been on Princess 3 other times and never had anything like this horrible experience - we did not deserve this for the amount of money we paid! I can only think that since Carnival purchased Princess, they are running Princess into the ground. In spite of Princess' efforts to ruin our trip, we enjoyed their happy hour upon return from our excursions, we enjoyed our dining table mates, and tried to make as much lemonade out of lemons each day. I filled out Princess Cruises review they sent me, but never heard a word in response. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Tough to tell whether this cruise is indicative of Azamara cruises, or is a bit mucked up because of pending dry dock issues. First the good. Even before remodeling, cabins and common areas are nice, food is quite good, staff very ... Read More
Tough to tell whether this cruise is indicative of Azamara cruises, or is a bit mucked up because of pending dry dock issues. First the good. Even before remodeling, cabins and common areas are nice, food is quite good, staff very friendly. Now reality. Cruise was shortened by three days, and Vietnam stop eliminated. We were notified ten days before taking off. We never received any information about where to board the ship in Osaka. Fortunately I had plowed through the Azamara web site prior to sailing to locate emparcation logistics. No luggage tags for boarding. Once again, I had printed out some samples that were labeled "Not for use as luggage tags," but which functioned fine. We had previously booked and paid for a Kyoto shore excursion. Just by chance we popped in the shore excursion line while waiting for our room to open up, and by accident found our excursion had been cancelled. No notification. Signed up for an alternative, and were able to secure last three spots. Were finally able to enter our room, found a land excursion packet informing us of cancelled excursion, but indication plenty of room on alternative tours. Not so. And so it went. This is our twelfth or so cruise, and first on Azamara. It is by far the least successful, and so far does not compare with trips on National Geographic, Voyages to Antiquity, or Regents. Target clientele appears to be elderly who are not particularly mobile. Shore excursions and guides are OK, but not exceptional. If you are an active person like we are, you may want to consider an alternative line. From an educational perspective, lectures are quite lacking. The Chinese lecturer on our cruise was excellent, but underutilized. The destination specific talks were more like commercials for Azamara partners. If your primary interest is shopping, this is good. If it is learning about history and culture, not of value. We were offered a 20% discount on a future cruise with Azamara due to elimination of Vietnam segment. Will have to really think whether this was a one off event or a normal level of service for Azamara. Read Less
41 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
READ THIS BEFORE YOU TRUST AZAMARA CRUISE CLUB. Firstly, we went to our travel agents to enquire about a cruise to Asia on Celebrity Cruise Lines as we have cruised with them before. As it turned out they were totally booked for the ... Read More
READ THIS BEFORE YOU TRUST AZAMARA CRUISE CLUB. Firstly, we went to our travel agents to enquire about a cruise to Asia on Celebrity Cruise Lines as we have cruised with them before. As it turned out they were totally booked for the period we were seeking. It was suggested, as an alternative that we look at Azamara Club Cruises. Oh, how I wish we hadn't done so. Honestly, it was the worst travel decision we have ever made. It was absolutely disgusting, to say the least. When we first looked into it we came across a 16 night cruise starting in Osaka and finishing in Singapore on the Quest which was supposedly being offered at half price.($10,998 for a balcony stateroom for my wife and myself) The travel agent was so excited because she said she had never seen Azamara advertised at such a low price. The more we looked at it the more excited we became as it was said to us that we would have the experience of a lifetime. How right she was, it was the most disappointing travel experience we have ever had. Two weeks before departure we were contacted and advised that our cruise would be reduced by 3 nights as Azamara wanted to put the ship into dry dock 3 days earlier then expected for refurbishment. (We were aware that the ship was to be refurbished at our cruises completion) We were also advised that Ho Chi Min City would no longer be part of our itinerary. We were told that we would be reimbursed for the 3 nights with the exemption of our gratuities and port taxes. (I don't know who got to keep the taxes for a port that we did not enter) We decided to except this reduction because we had booked accomodation in Tokyo and Kyoto pre cruise and had pre booked flights etc. so we would have lost too much money if were to cancel. After embarking in Osaka all passengers were gathered for the safety muster which is compulsory for everybody onboard in case of an emergency. Sitting next to me were several men who appeared to be dressed in some kind of uniform. I latter realised this was their work uniform as they began work straight after the muster was complete. As it turned out, Azamara, in their wisdom had decided to occupy the vacant staterooms (created by cancelations due to the reduction of nights) with contractors/tradesmen so that they could begin the refurbishment over the duration of the entire cruise. I can't begin to explain here what a nightmare this cruise was with all of the banging, drilling and obstacles we had to put up with for the entire cruise. (We have plenty of photographic evidence to support what we experienced) One of Azamara's claim to fame is that they can get their ships to ports that other cruise lines can't, due to the small size of the ship. (This is one of their main selling points) Well this wasn't so in Hong Kong. We were docked at the Old Airport Terminal wharf which after a very long walk through the terminal and then about a 40 - 50 minute shuttle bus ride to the Ocean Terminal Wharf, the terminal where we should have docked in the first place. The reason we docked at the Airport Terminal was so that Azamara could continue to carry out refurbishment works. Once again we have photographic evidence witnessing Azamara staff discarding of the soft furnishings from our staterooms (They disappeared about mid cruise and were not replaced) and laundry equipment, etc. being thrown overboard into rubbish skip bins on the wharf. They would not have been able to carry out works of this scope at the Ocean Terminal due to lack of space available. Our stateroom fridge was emptied by staff with 3 days remaining. When we asked why this happened, they told us that they didn't think we wanted to use it. There was one day when we were laying by the pool and contractors were dragging electrical cables along the deck amongst the passengers. On other occasions we couldn't leave our staterooms because the hallways were blocked both ways by contractors with ladders and spools of cables and tools. These are just some of the occurrences that we had to put up with for the duration. Then to top the whole thing off. When we disembarked in Singapore, Azamara informed us that due to the reduction of the cruise, they would as an extra gesture, set up one of their staff at our hotel to organise any shore excursions that we might want to take. Thinking that we would take advantage of this we decided to make a booking for a night safari excursion to the zoo on the following evening. When we arrived back at the hotel, 1 hour before the excursion was to leave, we found a note under our hotel door stating that the excursion had been cancelled due to lack of numbers. It was too late to try to organise another excursion so we just lost another night. Nothing but disappointment after disappointment right to the very end. I nearly forgot to mention the Azamazing Night in Hong Kong. This is supposed to be of a cultural essence pertaining to the country of port. It was set up in a large room in The Airport Terminal, Hong Kong. (Very sterile room with rows of chairs on a flat floor) If you were more than four rows back you couldn't see what was happening. In the end it was more like a group carrying out various party tricks. A party without drinks, as the drinks ran out well before the show was over. Not that we stayed until the end as we and most other guest left before it was over. (Not very cultural at all) Honestly, if you are thinking of taking a cruise. Don't go near Azamara. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Having cruised with Azamara 4 times before and having just completed the 16 night CUT to 13 night Asia cruise on Azamara Quest we felt it necessary to post this review: 1. We did not receive any communication from Azamara regarding the ... Read More
Having cruised with Azamara 4 times before and having just completed the 16 night CUT to 13 night Asia cruise on Azamara Quest we felt it necessary to post this review: 1. We did not receive any communication from Azamara regarding the shortening of the cruise - found this out by accident whilst checking the shore excursions on line, a few days before flying out 2. 'Azamazing evening' was abysmal - held in a sterile passenger terminal - a direct result of the culling of Ho Chi Minh city from the itinerary 3. Overall the food was not up to the expected standard 4. In Hong Kong we were docked about 1hour from the city making the return trip to the ship about 2 hours - lost sightseeing time. Our overnight in Singapore was also cut. 5. The number of workman on board the ship felt like we were already in dry dock renovation time 6. Despite receiving a net refund for the lost 3 days, no real compensation has been forthcoming for time/stress incurred, expense of rebooking 3 days in Singapore or associated booking fees & taxes for the cruise We are extremely disappointed with the manner in which Azamara has handled this whole situation. Azamara should treat their customers sympathetically and pay real compensation to win back their disillusioned clients! Read Less
25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This is about the Azamara Quest 16 night Asian cities and waterways cruise, leaving from Osaka Japan on March 17, 2016 and supposed to be ending in Singapore on April 2, 2016. First: this was a 16 night cruise which I booked one year ... Read More
This is about the Azamara Quest 16 night Asian cities and waterways cruise, leaving from Osaka Japan on March 17, 2016 and supposed to be ending in Singapore on April 2, 2016. First: this was a 16 night cruise which I booked one year ahead of time in order for my husband to secure time off. This is a cruise that leaves in the middle the week, and therefore my husband had to take off three weeks from work, but we were excited about the itinerary including Osaka Japan, Hiroshima Japan, Shanghai China, Hong Kong China, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, and Singapore.. We were particularly excited about visiting Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon. The cruise was not inexpensive, however it was part of my bucket list – I didn't think I would be visiting Asia again. Two and 1/2 weeks before the cruise I got an email from my travel agency, telling me that because the cruise line needed to "dry dock" the ship a little longer, that Ho Chi Minh City would be removed from our itinerary, and the cruise would be shortened by three days!! Two weeks in advance? They didn't know this earlier? We were offered some money back and some discounts on future cruises. I do not plan to visit Asia again in my lifetime, and therefore this was a significant loss for me, The obvious disregard for the passengers was palpable. 2. The cruise line told me that I needed a valid passport, which expired no less than six months following the end of my cruise. There was no information about a required visa evident in the documents, and when I filled out my "Sea Pass" forms required for boarding, there was no mention about a visa either- just passport and credit card information. I therefore understandably assumed that all visa requirements would be dealt with by the cruise line as had been on the case on all other cruises I sailed on, which have been many.! Upon arrival in Shanghai, we were repeatedly reminded to bring our passports, photocopies of our passports with barcodes on them and our room key card. A visa was never mentioned. After leaving the ship and going through immigration, we were not permitted to enter Shanghai as we did not have a visa! We had to return to the ship and spend the two days in Shanghai watching limited television in our cabins. Perhaps the need for a visa in Shanghai was written somewhere in the small print, however there was no mention of it in any of the final documents I had to sign and review prior to the cruise. My passport information and credit card information was required in multiple locations. 3. A few other issues. The ship was decidedly in poor repair. I have to say that the crew on board were lovely, however the facilities were not. For example: During the first three nights there was an awful odor in my room interfering with my sleep. On the fourth day I noticed that the odor came from the carpet next to the side of my bed which smelled strongly from vomit. Over the next two days, the carpet was shampooed and dried, and the smell was improved. I was surprised that this was not cleaned prior to my arrival! There were additional problems with the cabin as well however I will not go into these at this time. All in all, this was an expensive cruise which was abruptly shortened without our knowledge even though it was clear that they must have known this earlier than we when we were told. As discussed above, two of the scheduled ports were eliminated. Given the expense and inconvenience that we suffered, I think that the cruise line should have offered more – possibly another way to include Vietnam in the cruise. At the very least, the need for a visa to visit Shanghai on a half day Azamara sponsored tour should have been clearly advised. I have been on multiple cruises from low-end to high-end, and I must say, I do nothing I will travel with Azamara again. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Having cruised with Azamara before, without problems, decided upon this cruise over a year before sailing in order to enjoy a little of Japan, a little of China, a little of Vietnam and Singapore at the end. It was to be a 16 day cruise ... Read More
Having cruised with Azamara before, without problems, decided upon this cruise over a year before sailing in order to enjoy a little of Japan, a little of China, a little of Vietnam and Singapore at the end. It was to be a 16 day cruise that was suddenly reduced by the cruise line a few days before departure to 13 days by eliminating Vietnam in order to allow more time for the maintenance/modernization of the ship. For this, the company offered full reimbursement, which on hind site we should have accepted. Instead we opted for their offer of taking the reduced cruise and being reimbursed 3 days from the net cruise fare (excluding the corresponding amounts paid for insurance and fees, which we consider inappropriate). In addition, it offered a fixed amount equal to 20% of the net cruise fare for a future cruise, expiring in one year. What did we experience? (1) Our cabin air system (cooling and heating) did not operate properly during the 13 days, having to ask for technical assistance many times. At first, to warm the cabin, but then to cool it. We really did not get a good night cool sleep until the very last night of the cruise. (2) The internet was the worst we have experienced in our more than 15 years of cruising with several cruise lines on many different ships -- too slow, not enough broadband capacity, intermittent and unreliable. (3) Fresh fruits were very limited or absent in all meal offerings, such as papaya, mango, avocado and many other Asian fruits that should have been easily available from the countries visited. At breakfast, for example, all berries were from cans, never fresh, and nuts were nowhere to be seen. The only fresh fruits were bananas, melons, watermelons, pineapples and kiwis on a few occasions. But no fresh berries, no papaya, no mango, etc. And never avocados, except on a very few occasions attached to salads. The salad selection was, however, acceptable. (4) Entertainment (live and television) was limited, not very good quality and with very limited choices. Live dancing shows were very good, but to enjoy them one had to arrive some 10 to 15 minutes early because the seating arrangement is inappropriate, all seats are at the same level. Television entertainment was very limited, especially classical music which was very repetitive. (5) Not content with the 3 days cut to begin work on the ship on dry dock earlier, a few days before arriving at Singapore the ship was invaded by dozens of technicians to begin installing cables throughout the entire ship, causing havoc and confusion among passengers, interrupting corridors on all decks and worst, interrupting communications and electric services several times. (6) The special Azamazing evening, although transferred from Vietnam to Hong Kong, was treated as a private function by Azamara, not as the public function announced and promoted with equal consideration for all. Some 200 passengers received special discriminatory treatment by providing them the best seats privately, on a reserved basis, while giving the remaining passengers the impression that the event was open to all on an equal basis. One wonders if the next step for Azamara (Royal Caribbean) will be to provide reserved seats for selected passengers on the tour buses, or the nightly entertainment shows, or the dining rooms at breakfast, lunch and dinner, etc. etc. Conclusion - Royal Caribbean has an insurmountable obstacle in front if it wants to use Azamara to compete with the luxury cruise ships of other cruise lines. We do want to praise most of the crew and attendants, who were always very friendly and showed willingness to assist in resolving issues and helping the best they could. Special mention to all members of the Reception Desk, to waiters and bartenders, and to the cabin attendants. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
I don't usually write reviews but feel it necessary to adjust the balance in the light of so many negative reviews. I am beginning to think we were on a different cruise! Like everyone else on our cruise we were disappointed when ... Read More
I don't usually write reviews but feel it necessary to adjust the balance in the light of so many negative reviews. I am beginning to think we were on a different cruise! Like everyone else on our cruise we were disappointed when we learned the voyage was to be shortened by three days and missing the call to Vietnam; but we decided to make the most of our hard earned holiday and take each day on its own merits. From the moment of embarkation we were not disappointed. The food was of a consistently high standard; included drinks were good quality and plentiful and most importantly all the staff on board were helpful, cheerful and professional. Our suite was excellent, a little tired in places but what else can you expect the week before a refit. We were pleasantly surprised by how little disruption we experienced due to work being carried out in advance of dry dock. I won't pretend it wasn't happening but it didn't interfere with our day. Our biggest disappointment was the change of dock in Hong Kong. Instead of walking from the ship into the centre of town we had a 20 minute bus trip which was not ideal. The reason was obviously to load supplies for dry dock but was elaborately explained away by Azamara, this lack of honesty was disappointing. Overall we had a wonderful holiday and our extra 3 days in Singapore made up for the loss of Vietnam and have had no hesitation in booking future cruises with Azamara. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We have cruised numerous times with Azamara and with Seabourn, taking price into consideration until now have enjoyed them equally. There were many problems on this cruise, the wine list was sadly depleted with several of the wines ... Read More
We have cruised numerous times with Azamara and with Seabourn, taking price into consideration until now have enjoyed them equally. There were many problems on this cruise, the wine list was sadly depleted with several of the wines advertised unavailable. The food was just okay, again several obvious items missing. Berries were frozen and mushy and the fruit and juices were never varied. Steaks overcooked and veal greasy and appeared deepfried. Wait staff training seems to have relaxed and waiters regularly walked away when being spoken to, reached in front of diners to retrieve dinnerware and on one occasion dropped dirty cutlery in my lap. Entertainment was dreary, bingo ball machine not working, and run through so fast by a crew member we could not understand that all enjoyment was lost. The Azamazing evening was a disgrace, held in a terminal hall with no atmosphere a few dreary performers and long lines for a caricature or calligraphy drawing. Within fifteen minutes they had run out of beer and white wine. Second half of the cruise the ship was invaded by workers filling the corridors with men, ladders, cables and removed wall and ceiling panels from morning to night making pleasant travel impossible. on the last day they pretty well dismantled most public areas making everyone feeling they couldn't wait to get rid of us. I could go on but will end by saying it is the first time I am pleased to be at the end of a cruise. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
What a greeting we got the window to board was one hour we had come from Tokyo by bullet then a Taxi that did not know were the port was then we got out of the Taxi two crew took our bags and lead us to the gangway very nice touch, on ... Read More
What a greeting we got the window to board was one hour we had come from Tokyo by bullet then a Taxi that did not know were the port was then we got out of the Taxi two crew took our bags and lead us to the gangway very nice touch, on entering the Ship 23 min early we were treated to you are early sit there till your cabin is ready , our party was made up of a 86 year old a 70 & a 60 year old the attitude shown was rude abrupt discourteous and not a credit to the French people it followed on with the reception counter staff also French The cabin was great but no list is given on what is included in you package and what is paid for the most of the cabin crew & restaurant staff are great not French the off handed French restaurant manger falling over the French customers but keeping away from the Australians Food quality could not be described a fine dining it had its moment but over all was not up to P&O at half the cost P&O , Carnival Line & Princess Line are able to handle 2500 passengers boarding in four hours this boat could not handle 200 Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
We paid £350 per person per day for an 8 night cruise around Japan on Le Boreal. Having paid a price similar to those on "Six Star" cruises such as Seabourn or Silversea I think it wasn't unreasonable of us to expect a ... Read More
We paid £350 per person per day for an 8 night cruise around Japan on Le Boreal. Having paid a price similar to those on "Six Star" cruises such as Seabourn or Silversea I think it wasn't unreasonable of us to expect a similar standard of food. We were sadly mistaken. Both Breakfast and Lunch are served as a buffet. The choice, presentation and flavour of the food on offer was distinctly 3 star or inedible, for example, American sytle bacon was served undercooked and submerged under 2 centimetres of molten fat! Dinner was a slight improvement but nowhere near the standard of, say, Seabourn. Poor service, cold soup, watery Caesar Salad and a miniscule overdone steak on three of our eight nights compounded our dissatisfaction. On most nights of the cruise the small boutique was not open. When we enquired why it wasn't open we were simply told "Because the manager has decided so" Embarcation on Ponant ships starts at 17.00. Not very useful if you have flown in earlier that morning. They provide no facility to store your baggage prior to embarcation. The embarcation process itself is shambolic e.g. luggage taken from you without being tagged, medical questionairre not collected. Entertainment on such a small ship is obviously going to be more restricted than on bigger ships. However, matters were not helped by the schedule of events being manipulated to suit "private events" or a cruise director who seemed incapable of keeping to a schedule. The ship itself is superb, service outside of the restaurants is excellent and the bars are outstanding. I've complained to Ponant and after three weeks they've offerred us a €500 onboard credit to spend in the spa or boutique. The spa is very expensive and the boutique is hardly ever open! If we'd had paid half of what we did I don't think we would have complained about anything, except breakfast which was truly awful. However, we paid £350 per person per night and it simply was not worth it compared to what you can get for your money elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
This 27 day venture was both a touristic and educational experience. Traveling from Miami to Kansai International airport (KIX) in Osaka via Frankfurt avoided additional plane changes in the US and Japan. Flight path diversions were made ... Read More
This 27 day venture was both a touristic and educational experience. Traveling from Miami to Kansai International airport (KIX) in Osaka via Frankfurt avoided additional plane changes in the US and Japan. Flight path diversions were made to avoid flying over the Ukraine and North Korea. A Limited Express train from KIX to JR Kyoto provided direct connection to our room in the Hotel Granvia located directly above this modern station. Kyoto is the 7th largest city in Japan and was the imperial capital of Japan for over 1000 years. It is the cultural capital of the country with numerous Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, often located together. Although about 80% of Japanese are secular, many are influenced by these ancient beliefs and celebrate them in a secular way. Secretary of War Stimson (who had spent his honeymoon in Kyoto) urged President Truman to spare Kyoto from the A-bomb since it had such cultural significance. Using public transportation, our guide Ken Sakurai took us to various temples and shrines on a two day tour including Nanzen-ji Sannen-zaka, Yasaka shrine, the Gion area, Tofuku-ji Fushimi Inari shrine and Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion covered with gold leaf), Kitano Jingu shrine and the Bamboo Grove in the Arashiyama & Sagano area. Riding the JR local train to the shrine provided more local color. Ken also provided guidance for our visits to Osaka, Hiroshima and Miyajima. Returning to Osaka to board the Azamara Quest at Tempozan Port via JR Special Rapid provided another look at the efficient Japanese rail system. Osaka is a very modern city. Overnight aboard the ship provided time to see the nightlife district (Dotonbori) and the famous Osaka Aquarium before departure for Hiroshima. At Hiroshima we boarded the high speed ferry for the island of Miyajima to view the Great Torii gate - one of the most famous landmarks in Japan. It appears floating in the water at high tide. This island is also home to a herd of tame deer as well as the Itsukushima Shrine and Diasho-In Temple at the foot of Mt Misen. We did not have the time to take the ropeway or to climb to the top of the mountain. We did not have quite enough time to walk from our ship to the ferry for our reservation. The volunteers at the port drove us to the ferry without compensation. This was an example of the courtesy of the people of Japan. We viewed the A Dome and Peace Park in Hiroshima – a sobering reminder of the horrors of war. Japan now has a population of 126 million, expected to decline to 100 million in 2050 and 67 million by 2100. Although it is the world’s 3rd largest economy, it is now stuck in a cycle of stagflation. Our next port of call was Shanghai, a vibrant city of 23 million and the center of Chinese commerce. Our smaller ship was able to navigate the Huangpu river and dock near the famous Bund. Our guide for the day – Jean Liu – took us to the old city where the street vendors preserve the old market open-air market traditions. These areas of the city are being replaced by larger more modern structures to accommodate the growing population. We then toured the famous Yuyuan Gardens built in the Ming Dynasty over 400 years ago by a merchant who wanted a suitable place for his parents to retire. We also saw the Jade Buddha Temple built to contain two jade Buddha statues from Burma and the old French Concession area, now an upscale dining and shopping area. Jean provided an excellent narrative for each place we visited. Jean provided a driver so that we could visit more places than would be feasible with merely a walking tour. The next day In Peoples Square we toured the free Shanghai Museum that contains collections of ancient Chinese bronze, jade, ceramics and sculpture among its many collections. We also saw A Chinese Acrobatic show in the evening. There are several venues in Shanghai for this show. The performers were quite talented and reminded me of the high wire acts in the old Ringling Brothers circus. Viewing the new Pudong area with the Oriental Pearl Tower directly across the river from our ship at night was awesome. Twenty years ago this area was mot much more than a swamp. Today it is the commercial center of mainland China. We took the modern efficient subway to Pudong and the elevator to the 95th floor of the “Bottle Opener”. Fortunately, there was little pollution to obscure the view. Traveling in Shanghai you must be aware of various schemes like the infamous “tea scammers” who also approached us. It is not wise to talk with strangers, just pretend that you don’t speak English. China has made great strides in the past 30 years with rising incomes and market-oriented reforms. Yet China has many problems to solve including pollution, political corruption, and poverty especially in the outlying regions. The rising middle class is now traveling in great numbers and overwhelming the tourist areas throughout Asia. Major cruise lines are repositioning some of their larger vessels to Asia to capture this market. Our next stop was Hong Kong – a territory on the South China Sea bordering Guangdong province. It is a leading financial, business and cultural hub. Most of the residents are Chinese but there are still a significant number of expatriates. Our ship was small enough to dock at Ocean Terminal in Victoria Harbor adjacent to the Star Ferry in Kowloon. This convenient location allowed us to use the Hop-On Hop-Off (HOHO) buses as the primary mode of sightseeing. After crossing to Hong Kong Island on the Star Ferry, we boarded the RED HOHO route for an early tram ride to Victoria Peak before the midday crowds. This vantage point allows a view of all areas of the city. Transferring there to the GREEN route, we passed Stanley Market and alighted at Aberdeen for a sampan ride. Seeing these old boats that serve as fishermen’s homes with residential skyscrapers as a backdrop as well as passing the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant was interesting. After touring the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, we returned to Kowloon. The evening laser show on the skyscrapers was a backdrop to the White Night party on the deck or our ship. The next day we used the HOHO BLUE route to tour Kowloon. This densely packed area is the site of much new construction. After riding the Star Ferry one hour harbor tour on a replica of the ferries that plied the harbor in the 1920’s, we walked the Avenue of the Stars and spent considerable time at a Chinese cultural dance performance with dancers from various areas in highly decorated native costume. Our next stop was Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). Our ship was able to navigate the twisting Saigon River and docked in the heart of the city. Larger ships require guests to travel two hours to the city from a container port. We did not expect to see a booming metropolis with skyscrapers. There were newly constructed high-rise apartment projects along the river. Additional land has been cleared for more of the same. If we came back to the city within the next five to ten years it may look like the Florida coastline from Palm Beach to Miami. That evening we celebrated the AzAmazing Evening at Binh Quoi Village on the outskirts of the city. This is a standard event for each Azamara cruise. The ship staff transports all the passengers to this memorable event with local entertainers. Our next day in Ho Chi Minh City included guided visits to the Unification Hall – the former Presidential Palance where a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the front gates ending the Vietnam War, the History Museum illustrating the cultures of Vietnam from the bronze age to the present, Notre Dame Cathedral dating from the 19th century, the old French Post Office, and the Thien Hau Temple dedicated to the Goddess Protector of Sailors. We lunched at a restaurant where Bill Clinton dined and his picture is prominently displayed. We also saw the Rex Hotel where General Westmoreland gave his infamous “we see light at the end of the tunnel” daily briefings. We would not attempt to navigate this city of 10 million without a guide. Crossing the streets with 7 million cycles going in every direction is not for the timid. Our guide zemman02@yahoo.com led us safely through the maze. We did however take an hour long rickshaw ride through the midst of this mayhem. The history of the disastrous Vietnam War is much more complicated than our leaders informed us at the time. After WW2 the French tried to reinstate colonial rule and were soundly defeated at Dien Bien Phu. They were 80% funded by the U.S. The Geneva accords of 1954 called for a temporary partition of the country with national elections to be held in two years. A corrupt puppet - Ngo Dinh Diem was installed in the south but refused to hold the election since he was widely despised and knew he could never win. Ho Chi Minh, although nominally Communist, was really a nationalist who saw Communism as a way out of imperialism. He actually quoted Thomas Jefferson in his writings. In 1945 he asked President Truman for help but was ignored. His forces created the Ho Chi Minh trail and tunnels bringing weapons to the south. President Johnson escalated the war but realized it was not winnable and didn’t run in 1968 to be the first Democrat to lose a war. Nixon and Kissinger were looking for a graceful exit but after the pictures of naked children being burned by napalm and agent orange killing civilians caused worldwide outrage, the war effort collapsed. It is sad that we never learn by our mistakes – if only Bush and Cheney had read history before leashing their immoral war in Iraq! It is ironic that Boeing, whose planes bombed Vietnam, has now opening an airplane door factory in Hanoi. Our port of debarkation was Singapore – an ultra-efficient modern island city-state at the tip of the Malay Peninsula with a population approaching 7 million in less than 300 square miles. How Singapore came from a British colonial backwater to having one of the highest per capita income in the world is due primarily to one man – Lee Kuan Yew who died at 91 in March 2015. Squatters were living on public land and in shantytowns with limited hygiene. There were race riots between the Chinese and Malay factions. There were others, including Indians who made up a significant share of the population. Singapore was forced to leave the Malaysian Federation in 1965. Except for some colonial buildings downtown, the city was a complete mess. Lee was able to form a strongman government to take charge. He went about nation building by having the various ethnic groups blended into public housing. He was instilling a sense that we are Singaporeans, not various ethnic blocs. The campaigns against spitting and chewing gum in the streets are well known. Singapore’s strategic location along the Strait of Malacca allowed it to develop into the world’s most important port. Investments in education and compulsory voting have resulted in a highly motivated skilled workforce. High tech manufacturing and financial services account for a significant portion of the economy. The government is highly autocratic. When Lee feared a burgeoning population, he instituted a to child limit per family. When he saw that the most educated were not marrying, he sponsored “love boat” cruises to encourage marriage. When using public transportation to ride the Singapore Flyer (huge Ferris wheel) and to attend the famous Night Safari at the zoo, we saw the immaculately clean subways and people queuing up in line at bus stops. On a half day guided taxi tour to Changi airport with Eason Lim (Lin Yisheng) we visited a few temples including the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, the iconic Merlion (lion head, fish body), Raffles Hotel (home of the Singapore Sling), viewed the new Marina Bay Sands hotel – a three structure complex with a structure in the shape of a boat atop and connecting all three. Our layovers at Changi airport were more like visiting a tourist attraction than sitting in a terminal waiting for a plane. There a garden displays and a rooftop swimming pool and gym in each of the three terminals, butterfly and cactus gardens and a koi fish pond where tourists could actually feed the fish. Our final destination was Siem Reap Cambodia and the famous Angkor Wat temple complex. We were surprised to see Air Force One on the tarmac until we found out the Michelle Obama was in town for a three day conference on women after having visited Japan. We were glad that she had visited Angkor Wat the day before we did since her visit caused some disruption in normal tourist traffic. This temple complex in the ancient city of Angkor Thom dates from the 11th century and was built primarily by Jayavarman VII one of the most forceful and productive kings of the Khmer empire. Originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, it was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century, and statues of Buddha were added to its already rich artwork. After the Thai’s invaded, Angkor was despoiled and disappeared into the jungle until 19th century European discovery. It was closed again in the 1950’s during the Vietnam War. In addition to Angkor Wat – the largest religious building in the world, the complex contains many structures including the Bayon (a stone mountain of ascending peaks), Phimeanakas, Baphuon, and the Elephant Terrace. Ta Prohm temple was left in its natural state surrounded by jungle as it appeared when rediscovered. The 2001 movie Tomb Raider was filmed at this site. Touring this vast complex provides some insight to the power of this ancient empire. Some of the temples contain holes in the walls where precious gems were installed. The main temple is very busy all day with visitors lining up to see the sunrise on one side of the temple and in the evening to see the golden sheen created by the sunset. Some of the lesser temples afford more leisurely viewing. Our local guide Sok Dat Soy and our driver Ang Vuthy took us around for two days in an air conditioned car. Many visitors ride the open air tuk-tuks that are much less comfortable during the heat of the day. We stayed at the boutique Pavilion d Orient Hotel including two large swimming pools that provided a respite from the midday heat. The larger hotels are overrun with visitors from China and Korea. They are now constructing a very large hotel on the infamous killing fields of the Maoist Pol Pot from 1975 to 1979. Of all the countries visited, Cambodia with a population of only 14 million is by far the most “third world”. However, the people are generally friendly and helpful. In summary, this trip was a most rewarding experience. The upscale Amazara Quest provided a high end experience and I highly recommend it compared to other lines on which we traveled. It was like sailing with family. The officers and crew at all levels were most helpful and efficient. We met some very nice people on the cruise and look forward to traveling with them again on Azamara.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
This was not the best cruise we have been on. We were in a suite on deck 8 and it was clearly not worth the price. Every morning we were wakened between 6:00 and 6:30 by banging of tables and chairs in the pool deck over our heads. The gap ... Read More
This was not the best cruise we have been on. We were in a suite on deck 8 and it was clearly not worth the price. Every morning we were wakened between 6:00 and 6:30 by banging of tables and chairs in the pool deck over our heads. The gap under our door was large enough that hall noise disturbed us and the whistle of the wind reminded us of an Oklahoma tornado. We had to roll up a towel and cram under the door to reduce the noise to a more acceptable level. The tub was raised too high and I had to shower bent over. Lighting was poor and there was only a single plug-in available for curling irons or charging electronics. Service on the Journey was noticeably better than the Quest. Often our water glass was often empty and there were long pauses before you could get your wine glass filled. Not all tables, some had superb waiters but many were not as capable. Shore excursions were usually not worth their high cost. We took a few walking tours (our favorites) but groups were too large and you rarely could hear the tour guide. None of them used electronic devices such as a radio and ear buds for tour members. I have no idea why such a simple thing was not available. Often there were guests that had limited walking ability on a tour defined as strenuous. This shortened the tour as much time was spent waiting and made it boring. They need tours that cater to people with limited motor skills, especially given the age demographic that is always on their ships. Enjoyed the tours in Shanghai and Singapore and Hong Kong. The rest they could have kept. Interesting that several very senior officers and often the captain of the Journey met passengers returning from shore excursions. Made you feel valuable. Didn't happen on the Quest. The food was good as was bar service. Speciality restaurants were satisfactory but could use a little more diversity in their menus. Cabin steward and butler were fantastic (as they seem to be on every cruise we've ever been on). Shows were pretty much exactly what we saw on the Journey ten months earlier. The band drown out the stars and the drummer drowned out the band. Not very good quality. The ship is due for a refit so maybe it'll improve. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
This is my first cruise in Asia and the worst cruise for my previous 10 cruises(with NCL, princess(with alaska), Royal carribean, carnival, etc) in United States. I am comparing its quality with those that I have went. 1)Smoke area ... Read More
This is my first cruise in Asia and the worst cruise for my previous 10 cruises(with NCL, princess(with alaska), Royal carribean, carnival, etc) in United States. I am comparing its quality with those that I have went. 1)Smoke area outside the open deck - If you are allergic to smoking or did not like the smoking smell, this is NOT the cruise that you want to go. The cruise has no control of smoking area, so whenever you step outside on the open deck, especially deck 6, 7, you will immediately smell of smoking. I am allergic to smoking smell, so I ended up did not go on those open deck. rated:1 star 2)Food is suck -with my past cruise experience this is probably the worst western food provided. Since majority of the passengers are coming from Japan and Korea, they might be fooled by this bad quality of food. Food is either tasteless or very salty, even though they have all those fancy names on the restaurant menu. This cruise only have restaurant menu for diner. The rest of the time, food will only be offered by buffet/pizza/paid restaurant. Food in buffet is suck and they have exactly the same type of food for 9 days! I did not eat much after the first few days. rated:2 stars 3)No hot showers - Dont expect they have hot showers. I showered twice a day because of the hot humid weather, 85% I only get a slightly warm water shower, 10% I got cold showers, and only 5% I only get warm shower. There is NO HOT SHOWER at all! One of my family told me that you either let the water run for at least 30 mins to get warmer water, or have 2 persons showered before you so the warm water can start coming out. We are at deck 8, so I dont know if you live upper floor or lower floor will get warm water faster? rated : 1 star 4)Not much entertainment - Besides the regular night show, there is not much cruise planned activies. I believe it is because most of the passengers are elderly japanese and Korean ppl and they do not speak english, so the interested rate to have those other entertainments that normally see in U.S.A cruise ship is very low, therefore, you dont see much activities there.. rated:2 stars 5)price is good - for this cruise, we pay around $1200 USD including the airport transportation, so the price is good, but dont bother to go if this is the only place you go. Adding the plane ticket is not worth it. We just happened to swing by Taiwan before the cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2013
Let me preface all my remarks with the fact that we are elite members and have gone on 18 Princess cruises. Not only have we cruised extensively ,we have also done a fair amount of land trips too. I really have only wonderful things to ... Read More
Let me preface all my remarks with the fact that we are elite members and have gone on 18 Princess cruises. Not only have we cruised extensively ,we have also done a fair amount of land trips too. I really have only wonderful things to say about the itinerary.Having always wanted to see Japan, this trip took us to well traveled areas of Japan as well as less visited areas. The people and places were amazing! However , the Sun Princess, is ready for retirement! We originally booked a Ba cabin,midship on caribe deck, room C507. This room was unsuccessful because the air conditioning was not working. We were shown two other balconies, one of which was already occupied, but the pursers office was not aware of this small detail. The second room was hotter than our original balcony. They graciously offered us a mini suite on dolphin deck d 748. The room appeared to have air conditioning and we were elated to have this wonderful room. Our joy was short lived as that first night, during a rain storm, the room flooded.I am not talking about a few small water stains, I am talking about a major flood so extensive that our carpeting was changed the next moring! We had to vacate the room to fix a faulty balcony threshold. When we returned to the ship, all appeared to be fixed! U fortunately, that evening, the room flooded again and they sent an engine to find out what had happened. This time a neighboring room flooded as well due to broken pipes that appected our room and two others. These rooms were so badly damaged that they were vacated and stripped to bear walls. This adventure was not over yet! The next day as they fixed the leaking pipes, the air conditioning broke I. Our room and had to be fixed! The following the electricity went out! All in all, the ship suffers many problems and needs a major overhallM As stated earlier, I have been on many cruises. The food in the dining room was largely inedible due to poor quality of the meat and seafood. Most dishes were prepared with heavy sauces to disguise The tough beef and frozen fish! Have you ever heard of leather jacket fish? I have not and wouldn't eat it due to its vile smell. I understand that taste is subjective, but I am not talking about taste, but more importantly the quality of the items served. We stopped going to the dining room and chose to go to the buffet where we could see what was being offered. We had an amazing cabin steward, and many of the staff are friendly and attempted to help us, but the ship is just in dire need of repairs! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
Our April 15 to May 1 time on the Volendam as we crossed the Pacific Ocean was mixed between positive and negative. Perhaps this is the case with others on the subject cruise, as well as many on other cruises with Holland America, as well ... Read More
Our April 15 to May 1 time on the Volendam as we crossed the Pacific Ocean was mixed between positive and negative. Perhaps this is the case with others on the subject cruise, as well as many on other cruises with Holland America, as well as on other lines. First, the positive. The ship was in excellent condition. Never did I see any worn carpet, or worn upholstery on furniture. Contrary to other reports, all the the ship's water supply was properly filtered and treated. We had no problem with foul looking or tasting water as reported on other reviews and information about the Volendam. Our shower could have had more water pressure and hotter water, but it was adequate. While our initial boarding was delayed, the ship's captain made the correct decision by ordering a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all areas of the ship. The previous voyage had experienced much illness of the GI type. A free shuttle bus was provided from and back to the boarding terminal. The bus went to and returned from a very nice and large Kobe department store. I was able to purchase four bottles of good wine for later consumption on the ship. The captain correctly continued having the ship areas disinfected and insisting that all passengers and crew wash hands and use the hand cleaning dispensers available throughout the ship. As a result, the extraordinary procedures for sanitation were relaxed about half-way through the cruise, although reinstated for a short time a few days later. The entertainment was generally good, although sometimes not well attended. The Piano Lounge pianist, Steve, was very skilled, clever, and entertaining. My wife, more of a knowledgeable musician than I, said he was an excellent pianist and accompanist. Steve also organized, was Master of Ceremonies, and accompanied singers for the guest talent show. I believe all the participants performed well, and that the two to three hundred in the audience enjoyed the show. I think, and hope, my 'Ol Man River was appreciated. As is proper, there was no determination of a winner, etc., for the talent show. These shows used to occur on most cruises, but now seem to have been replaced with Karaoke contests, with winners determined by ship staff personnel. While I enjoy Karaoke as much as anyone, I believe making it a contest is inappropriate. The adagio performers in the Explorer Lounge were a violin and pianist from the Ukraine. They were good musicians and played well, but attendance was too often sparse. They did give a fine performance at their own show one afternoon. Our favorite waitress was Marivic, who served us in the Explorer Lounge. She is from the Philippines, always pleasant, and with a great sense of humor. Our Neptune Lounge concierge ladies were also exceptionally pleasant and helpful. Now for he disappointing factors. For the first time ever, we splurged for a Superior Suite, named a Deluxe Verandah Suite, or Neptune Suite, on this ship. The pricing, changes in pricing, and our final attaining of the best price by contacting high level management are too detailed to get into here. The suite in general was what we expected, although perhaps a bit smaller than those on larger ships. Our main problem with the suite itself was the bathtub-shower. We only showered, never using a filled tub or the water jet function. We found the width of the tub base to be extremely narrow and uncomfortable for showering. Two feet would barely fit, and we are not large people. The verandah was very wide, as much as 11 or 12 feet. While this would be nice for warm weather cruising, the great width would hardly compensate for the very narrow bathroom and its narrow tub. Why the ship was designed this way in the first place escapes me. However, except for the very small bathroom and tub and waisted verandah area, the suite was nice. The complimentary laundry and dry cleaning service for suite guests was a plus. Cabin cleaning and service was fine, given that we seldom saw the cabin steward or assistant. In room breakfast service was good and on time. A minor problem occurred with the one live plant in the suite. One day my wife noticed it was drooping and lacked water. She watered the plant and it recovered. The cabin steward should have done this. Our major problem occurred during our first night on board, and continued for several nights. It happened that our cabin was immediately under the dishwashing room on the Lido deck above. Early every morning at about 6:30 am the dishwashing machines would be started. As they were drained the night before, the start-up was accompanied by a loud water hammer, or other such noise. Then, for a few more minutes, other noises occurred. We occupied 7028. I soon learned the suite guests on both sides, 7030 and 7026, were also awakened each morning by this noise. One of these guests inquired and was told nothing could be done about this noise. I then visited with our nice concierge lady in the Neptune Lounge and discussed the problem. She went to the Lido deck, asked about what correction could be made, and was told nothing could be done. I then asked to see the Hotel Manager. An intermediary then had the problem fixed by the dishwashing people using a different procedure. However, I still later met with the Hotel Manager who maintained that no one had previously complained about the early morning noise. What! Are you kidding me? I also spoke with this gentleman about the fact that shuttle buses in the Japanese ports we visited were never announced in the Explorer, the daily "poop” sheet. He responded that each city provided these buses, and it was not known if the buses would really be there. Well, then write a probable/possible entry for the Explorer to inform people that he buses could be available. While the Cruise Director spoke to our Cruise Critic "Meet and Greet” group the first cruise day and said Karaoke would be several times, it was provided only once. Our dining room experience was sometimes fine, but often lacking. Escargot was offered only once. As an example of our disappointment, I offer this. Once the menu included pheasant. The serving consisted of only the leg. The same occurred with duck. Neither menu stated leg. It is expected that if nothing is otherwise specified about the pheasant or duck part, the serving will be the breast. But I repeat, neither menu stated leg. I will not further elaborate about dining, but the experience was mixed. We did not participate in Pinnacle dining except for the complimentary lunch for Neptune Suite people, That was very good. So I could write much more, but the above may provide a flavor of our cruise experience on the Volendam across the Pacific. Bob (bobblsc) Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
After our comfortable flight with Emirates to Osaka we had a night to relax in our hotel.transfer to the port of Kobe seemed to be well organised but on arrival at the embarkation it was absolute chaos.It took nearly 90minutes to board ... Read More
After our comfortable flight with Emirates to Osaka we had a night to relax in our hotel.transfer to the port of Kobe seemed to be well organised but on arrival at the embarkation it was absolute chaos.It took nearly 90minutes to board .endless queuing despite documents being in order.Not a good start to a 5 Star Cruise! Our stateroom on the Verandah deck was as expected.our stewards were extremely helpful. No complaints. However the food in the Rotterdam and the Lido were not of the same quality we had on previous cruises.we had fixed dining in the Rotterdam every night and soon discovered that the food was not served hot . We complained to the maitre d and had a very indifferent reply .(how dare you !) The stewards were very efficient being let down by the kitchen. Entertainment was ok nothing outstanding .daily activities were adequate . Travel guide information was good but information for the independent traveller was not very forthcoming .many of our fellow passengers did not like to be herded in large groups on shore excursions .The prices were so inflated too. Nagasaki was ideal to explore on your own using public transport.the ship docked conveniently within walking distance. Shanghai was the best port of call.We docked opposite the Pearl Tower. A fantastic view from our stateroom. We choose HAL because the smaller ships can dock in places not suitable for larger vessels. However Hong Kong was The Great Anti climax.instead of the Ocean Terminal we docked at a container port without any facilities. Not only were we robbed of the spectacular entry into Hong Kong Harbour but wevended up in a backyard! The cruise information on your webside tells you that ships are docking at the Ocean Terminal,Downtown. As a result disembarkation was a debacle. No taxis were available and your choice was you and your luggage were transferred to the Ocean Terminal.What a joke! The second choice an overpriced bus transfer to your hotel ($34 per head !) costcutting by HAL and a further opportunity of taking money of its passengers Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
This cruise was good, but mainly because of the food, the service and the company we were lucky enough to meet. We're in our early to mid 50's but were much too young for this cruise.......... Entertainment was sparse! The ... Read More
This cruise was good, but mainly because of the food, the service and the company we were lucky enough to meet. We're in our early to mid 50's but were much too young for this cruise.......... Entertainment was sparse! The nightly shows were all (apart from the comedians - I use the term lightly) directed at the 70+ age group - we were told average age was 63...more like 75-80! Operatic and really constrained. Activities were also sparse, even Pictionary only ran twice. Apart from Trivia and the odd wine tasting (additional cost) there was not a great deal to do. Many people enjoyed the line dancing but were very disppointed it only went for 1/2 hour and was only on 3 times. An hour would have been much better for the people I spoke to. Shore tours were very expensive and quite rushed. On one of our tours the tour guide said almost nothing after the 1st 20mins on the bus and fell asleep on the way back. She also told us we'd have free time to shop and then when we'd finished the tour and asked for shoppng time she said "I went slowly so you could shop" Who moved the goal posts and why?!!!! At our Beijing stop (which is listed as Xing Yang (Beijing)) we found to our surprise (maybe we are ignorant but it still should have been pointed out) that the port is about 2 1/2 hrs drive from Beijing and that the VERY expensive tours are mainly driving. The only way the ship offered to minimise travel was to offer a 2 day/1 night tour (incl accom) for US$890 per person. We, at the last minute organised a similar tour which was VERY good for less than US$300/person. Only trouble is that before we organised the tour we were told that we had to re-board and hand in our passports by 6PM 2nd day. After we'd booked and were leaving the ship we were told we had to do this by 4.30PM no explanation. Tends to mess up a tour a bit. This sort of thing happened all the time - times were given in writing and then changed verbally without explanation or apology at most destinations. Information WAS forthcoming but WAS unreliable! When trying to find out about hop-on/hop-off buses and other info for arranging our own tours we were met with little help or advice unless it was a ship-organised tour. Some of the problems we had with entertainment not fitting our age group has to be attributed to our travel agent giving us poor advice but I do believe that the targeted audience was MUCH too narrow. Ship temp TOO HOT ALWAYS-VERY UNCOMFORTABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Ultimate Japan & China. March 2013 Very disappointed with Holland America, not up to 5 star standard expected. Kobe Japan, Check in experience very chaotic. Nearly every passenger was extremely jet lagged after long haul ... Read More
Ultimate Japan & China. March 2013 Very disappointed with Holland America, not up to 5 star standard expected. Kobe Japan, Check in experience very chaotic. Nearly every passenger was extremely jet lagged after long haul flights, this was not taken into consideration. Our luggage was not put on our transfer coach it was taken to a truck, this included my hand luggage which contained articles that I needed in the cabin. I had to chase around up and down stairs with an assistant to look for it. Cabin On entering the cabin strong smell of sweat, on bed especially pillows. Blood on floor and wall of bathroom not ours, reported then it was cleaned. Bath slip mat black around logos. Dirty black stains on pillow case before use, reported it,they changed pillow case. Thick streak of dark blue paint across window, rectified after about a week Dirty windows for the duration of the cruise, not cleaned in port. The painting around the window has been poorly executed, smudged and sloppy. Promenade Deck The painting on promenade desk was amateurish, there is no excuse sloppiness Lounger cushions dirty with bird droppings. Rugs were left out to get soaked and could not be used when needed. White plastic tooth pick/floss tool was in the gutter for days. Restaurant Trying to get a 2 table each night was a joke, staff stared blankly at the screen as though no one had ever asked for a table for two before, always had to wait even though there were loads of empty tables. Service patchy, waiters seemed to be novices or bored, working by rote. Muddled orders and long waits, stacked food left for 10 minutes to get cold before taking to tables. Lido, Outdoor table-tops stained and worn not clean, these should be replaced, even on 3 star ships they are not this bad. Coffee mugs often dirty and stained inside. Plates are badly crazed, we would have thrown them out at home ages ago. Some Food not hot enough, thermometers should be used surely? Last day on board the passengers and outside tables on lido deck were showered with large flakes of black soot. That's a first on a cruise! No attempt by the crew to remove the dirt from tables or the deck, they just took a couple of empty glasses away and left. The soot was getting into peoples hair and onto their light coloured clothes. Red Tape Disorganised 'face to face' with .Chinese officials Excessive queuing due to passengers arriving too early, before their allocated times, just because they were not told NOT TO. Surely their vast customer research has taught them to manipulate crowds, or at least keep them happy while waiting. Ports of Call We feel that Independent travellers were treated as second class passengers NOT 5 star ones. When booking a cruise, the most important thing for us are the ports of call, each one is analysed for the length of stay. All our previous cruises have allowed half an hour before departure - for all aboard. As one example 6.30 departure normally means 6 .00 all aboard, not 4:30 last shuttle for a ten minute coach trip, or 6:30 last shuttle when we are overnight onboard!. Shuttles were too late departing and too early coming back,this made it impossible to achieve our planned itineraries on several occasions. Their excuse to us was Chinese Red Tape, so does lengthy red tape only apply to those not on excursions? The shore excursions were leaving hours earlier and coming back 30 mins before sailing This was a once only holiday, we cannot consider repeating it to catch up on the missed sights. In all aspects a very tired ship. Crew suffer from lack of motivation and loss of any identity. Read Less

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