10 Perth (Fremantle) Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise to celebrate my 60th birthday. Good points 1) very good service and meals at the traditional sitting (7.30 pm) 2) good company once again at the traditional setting 3) ship is clean and continually being ... Read More
We chose this cruise to celebrate my 60th birthday. Good points 1) very good service and meals at the traditional sitting (7.30 pm) 2) good company once again at the traditional setting 3) ship is clean and continually being maintained to keep it up to date. The sun princess was built in 1995 and is in good condition considering its age 4) The crew were polite and courteous as we have grown accustomed to with princess cruises Bad points 1) The wine list has become too expensive for the average working man as far as I am concerned. The cheapest cabernet sauvignon was a french wine ($42/bottle) and it was terrible. We found a decent South Australian wine from the Coonawarra but it cost $55/bottle. Princess used to provide decent Australian wines for $30/bottle which I was happy to pay but $55/bottle? We did not drink much this time. 2) We toured SE Asia and the cruise was not sympathetic to my wife who is disabled with rheumatoid arthritis. She was stranded on the ship for 8 of the 11 ports. The buses in Asia are not disabled-friendly. If you are not active then forget SE Asia. 3) You get ripped off at every port due to the cartel having first options for taxi services. Be patient and walk an extra 10 - 15 minutes and you might get a fair deal. The monopoly of the few needs to be broken. 4) The tours are too expensive. It is time competition was allowed into the ports for those who wish to explore on there own. Let a cruise become more of an adventure in this globalised world. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This was a getaway for a group of friends. It was a marvellous time, going to Albany and back. The food was amazing every night, could not be faulted. I definitely recommend the Astor for people looking for a wonderful relaxing time. ... Read More
This was a getaway for a group of friends. It was a marvellous time, going to Albany and back. The food was amazing every night, could not be faulted. I definitely recommend the Astor for people looking for a wonderful relaxing time. We were lucky enough to have an upgrade and got a small suite on the Atlantic deck, which was an unexpected surprise. The shows in the Astor lounge were fantastic, I really enjoyed the ABBA show, and throughout the day there were quizzes, bingo, and in the afternoon music from various members of the entertainment group. One of the members of our group had a significant birthday and the crew provided her with a cake and a number of staff singing happy birthday to her. Which was a huge surprise to her, however she really appreciated the moment. This is not a cruise ship with casino, huge pools etc, which is not something I was looking for, but if that is what you want, the Astor is not for you. This was my second time on the Astor and I will be back again, thank you very much Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose to cruise on Astor to check the ship out on a short cruise while contemplating a longer cruise on it. The prominent marketing in Australia of this boat sailing out of Perth-Fremantle using "pay for one and the second person ... Read More
We chose to cruise on Astor to check the ship out on a short cruise while contemplating a longer cruise on it. The prominent marketing in Australia of this boat sailing out of Perth-Fremantle using "pay for one and the second person travels for free" was an inducement. The daily charge of $10 Aust per person turned out to be more than better ships that we have cruised on. This is an old German ship which doesn’t have up to date procedures; e.g. a huge key and fob for entry to the cabin and a swipe credit type plastic card to transact on board both to be carried at all times, long slow queue to disembark and hand in the key etc. The mostly European crew were surprisingly curt. The PA system was unintelligible resulting in passengers looking at each other puzzled and asking ‘what did that announcement say?’ We bought the drinks package for $34 per person per day. We could have saved about $100 by simply buying drinks as we went. There was no advice about how to ‘register’ for the drinks package before you ordered your first drink at embarkation and paid full price. There were too many exclusions in the drinks package and no clarity about what was included; e.g. coffee was not included. The same drink was a different price depending upon which bar it was bought at. There was a receipt to be signed every time a drink was purchased, only one drink to be purchased at a time resulting in not being able to buy a friend a drink on your drinks package card, but a separate cash receipt had to be signed with that charged to your on board account which was tiresome and petty. There are only 2 dining rooms, a dining room with waiters and starched table cloths, and a cafe. Both are reasonable depending upon what you want and whether you want to be served. Both are small and usually busy with queues at the only coffee machine. The food is average compared with other ships on which we have travelled. Passengers shared serving utensils at the buffet and breakfast which is a potential health hazard not found on other cruise boats. Before we embarked we understood we had arranged for our party of 8 to all sit together each evening, but the dining room concierge refused to honour this. They insisted that it was "free dining". The staff wouldn't let a couple sit at empty tables for 2 insisting that they join people at larger tables that were not full. This resulted in the newcomers at the table being ignored by the serving wait staff who had previously served those at the table who had arrived earlier. One night at the main dining room all but 2 of our group were at the restaurant door ready to be seated, but the concierge refused entry until all were present. This resulted in 2 ladies over 90 (one on a walking frame) having to stand for 15 minutes outside the door which was rude and discourteous. Some dining room staff (such as those clearing tables) went about their tasks oblivious to the diners, with the result that there was some ‘congestion’. The average age of the cruisers was about 75 and more than several had walking frames or wheelchairs. The ship is not set-up for these devices with door sill projections at the entrance to some cabins, toilets, and bars resulting in people having to step over them. They need ramps at each of these obstructions. There is no ramp at some ports so they use the ship's stairway. This is very difficult for those people who had difficulty climbing the steep stairway. The ship rolled about as it slugged its way South to Esperance. Several passengers were seasick. None of these experiences are particularly worrying, just tiresome, petty and inconvenient when you are on a cruise expecting it to be enjoyable and relaxing. A reconciliation of all expenses [fare, travel insurance, drinks package, on board expenses], associated with this 5 day cruise resulted in a cost of $770 a day. In hindsight, at this rate we would expect a better cruise experience than we had. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Chose the cruise several years ago but cancer delayed taking it. It was a "bucket list" item. 29 days Brisbane to Brisbane is a must do cruise Sun princess is an old ship with a number of infirmities as were most of the ... Read More
Chose the cruise several years ago but cancer delayed taking it. It was a "bucket list" item. 29 days Brisbane to Brisbane is a must do cruise Sun princess is an old ship with a number of infirmities as were most of the passengers. Wonderful crew and cruise director. Nothing too much effort. Great entertainment Bland food and lack of variety unusual for Princess, but may have suited Aussie tastes as thy numbered about 85% of us Hated fixed dining at 17.30 but alternative food in Horizon court was dire Constant drilling and hammering to effect repairs and maintenance. Ports all great and excursions good I have 147 days et sea with Princess so this is not a biased critique Health and safety let us down with a loose, trailing, in-necessasary cable in a walkway which caused a painful fall costing us money in the sick bay Balcony cabin was fine though the balconies were small. Quizzes were very good and were the most popular activity on the ship Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We've now traveled on 5 different cruise lines and thought Royal would be our home line, but they've disappointed us both our last 2 cruises. Start with the good. -Our room steward was great, they always work so hard. ... Read More
We've now traveled on 5 different cruise lines and thought Royal would be our home line, but they've disappointed us both our last 2 cruises. Start with the good. -Our room steward was great, they always work so hard. -Our waitstaff were very good. -Absolutely loved the ports in New Zealand! Every port in New Zealand had volunteers in port and around town helping to make sure you got where you wanted to go. Free shuttles into the towns, were great, way to make folks feel welcome New Zealand. I'd love to go back there! -Dunedin train trip was fantastic with beautiful scenery, great volunteers that go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your day. The lunch and wine were very nice!!! -In every port there were nice places to shop minus the multitude of junk shops and ship sponsored jewelry shops. And, really nice places for lunch or dessert! And talk about great fresh seafood, yum! - Best cruise directer ever! Bad, All are policy issue that I'm sure are management directed. 1.) Please stop pestering us at every single meal to buy water, buy the wine deal, the champagne meal, the drink deal, the specialty dinning, the chef deal, tour deal, sparking water, lunch deals, pictures, pictures, again with a lower priced meal deal, everyday it was something more. Very, very annoying!!! In every nook and cranny they came pestering you about more. 2.) Extremely harassing picture folks in your way through the halls, blocking the stairs, blocking the entrance to the dinning room to the point that I felt rude just trying to get from one place to another. They went so that they would take hold of your arm to stop you even after you said no thank you. Calling after you if you walk by, I mean yelling down the hall "hey you". 3.) More and more venues outside the dining room pestering you to buy their services to the point that I was uncomfortable walking by. 4.) The ship needed a good cleaning, it was very dusty in the public areas. The beautiful wall of windows outside the champagne bar were never wash through out the trip to the point that you could barely see out them. 5.) Our bathroom in our cabin was in need of minor repair, but it gave the feel of a 2 star motel, this could not be handled by the steward. 6.) This was the least entertaining of entertainment on any cruise. Several were very good, but centrium entertainment very very repetitive and extremely loud even on the upper levels you couldn't get away from it. I used to love Royal, but we'll go elsewhere even after diamond. Very sad. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise as it was its first time in Australia they over emphasised the fact because when we got on our interpretation from the advertising was different the services were appauling. When we embarked we waited 3 hrs just to ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was its first time in Australia they over emphasised the fact because when we got on our interpretation from the advertising was different the services were appauling. When we embarked we waited 3 hrs just to embark the line was huge and there was no effort to keep the line moving. We eventually got on and on one of the nights the ship movement was bad mostly everyone was sick, a ship like this isn't designed for Australian waters, during the night of a couple of the nights the noise from the ocean was bad as the walls and windows aren't sound resistent. Our stateroom attendant was very helpful all the way through and was very assitive. The food was appauling as they all had similar or same menus , windjammer was just basic and waiting for resturants was dissapointing. The cruise was good for those injured on crutches or in a wheeelchair as they would get priority. Entertainment for kids was good but to line up for activities was rediculous we waited 1 and a half hrs for bumper cars , had to book for Ifly, limited availability for roller skating sessions. Being on deck 3 was terrible as you could here everything. I would never travel on this ship again and it was my children's first time so we were dissapointed and unsure whether we would cruise again with royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Having sailed on the Sapphire and Emerald we dis not think we would be in for such a disappointment . MANY people had their rooms flooded, toilets not flushing, lack of hot water and the list goes on. Many mornings , early hours, there ... Read More
Having sailed on the Sapphire and Emerald we dis not think we would be in for such a disappointment . MANY people had their rooms flooded, toilets not flushing, lack of hot water and the list goes on. Many mornings , early hours, there would be noises like you were in an industrial area. Grinders, chipping hammers,paint odour and voices. I had read this type of complaint by past passengers butt it was too late. We had already paid and the cancel date had passed. The food and service was more than satisfactory. Would recommend but this review is directed at the ship. Incidentally this vessel has been sold to P & O. I heard it goes into dry dock around May 2017 and will be launched under a different name. As a cruise liner in its current condition it would make a great imitation reef. Be aware the photo shown of " your room" may not be accurate. Ours showed one thing and it was considerably smaller to the point one person could go to bed walking alongside the bed. The other side was absolute minimal room , about 200mm with a chair blocking access so you had to climb into bed from the end of the bed. DEFINATELY avoid this vessel for now. Certainly pay attention to passenger reviews. Our room was not as advertised but luckily we didn't have the inconveniences that many passengers encountered. Very disappointing as we have enjoyed previous tours with OTHER princess ships. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was our first cruise on the Astor, but our second cruise in three years. Our first cruise was on RCL Voyager of the Seas, so absolutely cannot compare these two vessels. The Astor is an old girl, as reflected in the decor and ... Read More
This was our first cruise on the Astor, but our second cruise in three years. Our first cruise was on RCL Voyager of the Seas, so absolutely cannot compare these two vessels. The Astor is an old girl, as reflected in the decor and furnishings, and also she's quite noisy. Lots of creaks and groans but she's well kept and maintained at least on the surface. Although the carpets are well worn and stained in parts, she's kept VERY clean. The Cabin: we were in cabin 480 on Baltic deck. Had a small window view. Yes the cabin is small, but it has plenty of storage for the two of us. No coffee/tea facilities which was disappointing but had a bar fridge. Small TV with limited channels. Bed was two singles put together against one wall left not a lot of room for moving about, but we requested a double bed and that's what was available. There was a constant noise from vibrations, rattles and the like due to the age of he ship, and that was annoying, especially when trying to sleep. But our biggest complaint was with cigarette smoke. Somehow cigarette smoke made its way into our cabin an a daily basis. And it was particularly strong in the hallway. I complained twice but it kept happening. Food: we ate like kings every night and put on 3 kg! So not complaining about that. Like every good restaurant, there were good and bad days, but in general food was great. Service: our cabin steward Agus, was a delightful man that cared very well for us and the cabin. Nothing to complain about. As for the rest of the crew, they are all very hard workers from other parts of the world. Yes their way of speaking is different to us Aussies, but they do their best to accomodate every request. Some of you may take offence at their tone and briskness, but it's just a different culture and they are not speaking in their native tongue. Entertainment: BRILLIANT! The singers and dancers rehearse several times a day and it shows with very professional shows. The Ship: An oldie but a goodie, but having said that, there are a lot of trip hazards due to the build of the ship. You constantly have to step over a lip to enter the toilets, and access the decks. Ok if you are fit and able, but not if you use a wheelchair or Zimmer frame. The lifts.....only fit 4-6 people (at a squeeze) at a time and there are only 3 on the whole ship. Thats a real pain! Cigarette smoke: if you are a smoker you'll love his cruise ship as it seems you can smoke anywhere and get away with it. If you hate cigarette smoke (like me) then pick a cruise line that is smoke free, or at least has very limited and isolated smoking areas. We got sick on this cruise, a head cold, but had to stay n cabin for 2 days, But all in all we enjoyed it. Probably wouldn't sail on the Astor again, because we were spoilt on Voyager of the seas for size etc. Astor is great value for money, if you enjoy good food, great entertainment and excellent service. If you want a luxury cruise with plenty of onboard activities for kids and teens then look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
MV Astor 19 December to 30 December 2015 Fremantle – Bali – Fremantle Christmas in Bali Cruise Our family group of 8 (our ages 7, 11, 19, 41, 44, 64, 70 and 77) have travelled together for many years… This is a review of ... Read More
MV Astor 19 December to 30 December 2015 Fremantle – Bali – Fremantle Christmas in Bali Cruise Our family group of 8 (our ages 7, 11, 19, 41, 44, 64, 70 and 77) have travelled together for many years… This is a review of the latest cruise we undertook aboard CMV’s Astor. Having previously cruised aboard the more modern mega cruise ships, this was our first trip on a smaller ocean liner and approaching the Fremantle Cruise Terminal, it was quite an exciting novelty to be greeted by the Astor’s smoke stacks peeking above the building in an elegant fashion, rather than a towering 15 story high floating city dwarfing the terminal below. This does not mean however that we found the Astor’s dimensions to be undersized. In fact, for the most part, we were greeted with plenty of space. The embarkation process was a little haphazard, but quite speedy. Though there were a few issues with our birth dates and particulars having been mixed up amongst our group. I for one quite enjoyed being 19 for the trip, though my eldest was a bit disgruntled at being labelled as 64 yrs old, and hubby being classed as 7 years old was amusing for all concerned. This card printing error caused no issues at all, and was easily fixed in the onboard system at check in. No new cards were required and the novelty was enjoyed. Once onboard we were guided towards the rear of the vessel. This is where the two restaurants Ubersee – casual buffet, and Waldorf – main dining room, are located, as well as the pool deck and the late night, intimate Hanse Bar. This is one of three relaxation zones onboard. The others being the large comfortable Astor (show) lounge, and the main bar – the centrally located Captains Club with its flanking corridor seating areas. Upon boarding we enjoyed a casual lunch in the Ubersee. The food is a main topic of conversation amongst our family group and other guests onboard, and is one of the things that you should consider if you are considering booking a cruise aboard the Astor. Food Compared to larger ships the options are limited, but certainly adequate and do vary enough to keep you satisfied. All meals are served in both the buffet and main dining room, with strict opening hours. While the presentation changes, for the most part the same food is served in both venues. As a general guide, in the Ubersee all meal times offer the following… A choice of cheeses and cold meats, 3 ready-made salads. 3-4 salad vegetables and accompaniments in a DIY section, a good selection of bread and rolls and always two choices of soup (hot or cold). Hot selections for breakfast are always bacon, eggs 3 to 4 ways, sausages, fried tomatoes, potato of some type, and an omelette station… A few other offerings alter daily. Lunch and dinner usually feature 2-3 meat/fish options, a vegetarian option and pasta, rice, mixed vegetables and potato. Dessert is approx. 3 options plus fruit salad. Fruit salad is always available, with ice cream offered at lunch time. Made to order, and pre-made Sub Sandwiches are available at lunch time. The Waldorf offers a very similar buffet style breakfast as that in the Ubersee, though definitely more stylish. This is a good option to consider to avoid the crowds. Lunch in the Waldorf is a different affair. There is a small salad/cheese/cold meat buffet on offer, but this is just for a light snack as you wait. You are instead offered a 5 course menu similar to that offered at dinner time. You can then pick and choose which course’s you wish to order… though this can cause some delays if your table mates order more courses than you. Dinner in the Waldorf is a fancy affair. Absolutely no shorts, no flip-flops, no bathers. While they are relatively casual (with an open seating policy), there is a standard to be maintained. On a normal night your menu consists of 5 courses, which are as follows: Appetiser – two choices. These are small tasting portions. Soup – two choices. Salad – one choice only which changes daily. Main – three choices. Meat, Fish and Vegetarian. Dessert – three choices. Cheese, Fruit Salad, and one other option. Please note that there is the option for grilled chicken, steamed vegetables and the Curry of the Day, offered in small print at the bottom of the menu if none of the offerings suit. The menu is listed outside the dining room each afternoon. We found it to be a good policy to check the menu early on, to ensure that the menu suited all of our party. A couple of our group, being more the meat and three vegetable types, chose on a couple of occasions to eat in the Ubersee, where they could focus on the more standard fare offered for the evening. It also bears mentioning that seating a large group is all but impossible in either the Ubersee or the Waldorf. Both restaurants cater for smaller numbers 2, 4, & 6, and we inevitably had to split between tables. Arriving early at Waldorf ensured we were well situated, however Ubersee was always very very busy during the breakfast and lunch meal times, and we often resorted to sending our party down in groups of two or three, holding the table for each subsequent group. It was normal for any spare seats to be snatched up by others hunting for somewhere to eat. This is great if you want to meet new people. This was however one of the only failings by the Astor team… they should have either made a greater effort towards encouraging use of the Waldorf for breakfast and lunch, or had the Ubersee open for a longer period to cater for the circling crowd. Beverage Package One of the most impressive features offered by the Astor team is the all inclusive drinks package. Offered at $29 per day per adult, this package well and truly pays for itself and is MUCH cheaper than other similar packages offered by other cruise lines. The drawback for us being that all people in a cabin need to purchase a drinks package including children ($19 per day). Master 7 thoroughly enjoyed the mocktail menu, and his 11 year old cousin was quite the knowledgeable party, learning the mocktail ‘drink of the day’ listed in each evenings Ship Newsletter. Normal consumption of soft and hard drinks comfortably covered the cost for adults, while some of our party far more than covered their (and everyone else’s) costs… and their livers will be punishing them for some time to come! There are three bars on the ship. The Captains Club, the main central bar.. the Hanse Bar, located on the 8th deck overlooking the pool deck, with a comfortable outdoor lounge area, and intimate booths inside… and the Pool Bar, which was only open during daylight hours. The restaurants do not offer bar service, but we found the waiters and waitresses were happy to supply cocktails/mocktails/spirits upon request which were sourced from the Captains Club. Occasionally, during peak periods, this lead to lengthy delays. The Cabins We booked this cruise only 8 weeks out, and as such did not get choice of cabins, but were still quite happy with what we ended up with. Located on Deck 5 (Atlantic), we were situated in cabin numbers 201, 204, 205 and 206. Of these, 206 was definitely smaller, with the angle of the ship culminating in less floor and storage space. All others were of a decent size and matched the pictures supplied on the CMV website. Be aware… most of the cabins aboard feature fixed TWIN beds only. Quite frankly, I doubt you could get around with a single Queen sized bed in the room. We were on the Christmas cruise… with children…. So had extra luggage for toys, decorations, and the usual. We ended up with three full sized suitcases in our cabin, none of which fit in the storage space under the single bed. We ended up pulling down the Pullman bed and using this as extra storage space. It worked well, but I do suggest that you measure the depth of your cases to ensure they will fit. The measurements are provided in the paperwork. In our searches prior to the cruise, we found no descriptions or photo’s of the standard cabin bathrooms, which led me to think the worst. I was pleasantly surprised. While not large, they were comfortably apportioned, a good sized rectangular shower cubicle with brilliant shower head/wand, great water pressure, a well-lit vanity mirror and a number of open shelves for storing all your various toiletries. The toilet button is on the wall above the vanity… a number of our party were left searching for some time to find the ‘hiding in plain sight’ button. Towels are white, and pretty standard. Not flash, but serviceable. Each room was supplied with white terry cloth robes for use by each guest. It was too warm for most, but my aunty did make use of hers on occasion and seemed quite happy with it. The biggest comment to make is about how incredibly spotless the cabins (and the rest of the ship for that matter) were… absolutely top notch! When we boarded, a good portion of the almost entirely European crew were finishing up their term of service, and the ship reeked of German precision and attention to detail. Amazing to see and enjoy! The ship dynamic did change somewhat after our sojourn in Bali, where I would estimate at least a quarter of the staff were replaced with their Asian and Indian counterparts, all staff continued to be friendly and accommodating, and if there were a few delays as new staff learnt the ropes, we weren’t in any rush, and happily excused the delays. We did have the opportunity to spend some time in the Astor Suite, and found the amenities to be fantastic. Well worth the extra cost if you can afford it. The massive balcony area would easily fit 50 people, and a party for 15 were comfortable in the lounge area, though seating was limited. Once again, all is very much as displayed on the CMV website. Our family of 8 would have been quite happy in the one suite! Entertainment There are three entertainment teams onboard. The main show team featuring, singers and dancers, plus the fabulous ship band, who provide a different cabaret performance most evenings at around 21:15. And two duo’s who perform throughout the ship. A singer and pianist, and a pianist and violinist duo. The violinist is outstanding… definitely make a point to attend at least one of her performances. In addition, the show team host various trivia, bingo, and game activities throughout the day. Not a massive schedule, and the second half of the cruise was quite limited, but if you bring a few books, head to the sports areas, or find yourself a comfy position on a deck chair, then you will be well situated. Please be aware that both pools, the indoor and outdoor are both only accessed via ladder. This restricted access for most of the elderly passengers, leaving the pool for the use of the younger element onboard. I suggest that anyone intending to cruise aboard the Astor should give serious thought to bringing a book or two to read, some cards, a board game, or some other form of entertainment suitable for your cruising group. This is a relaxing ship, and quiet entertainment prevails. That being said, it is also a very, very friendly ship, and you are sure to form a few friendships. Other stuff The onboard shopping is limited, and shops are only open for select hours. Cabins are accessed via a normal key, rather than electronic card slot. Your in room safe also requires an actual key… which you can get from Reception on Deck 5. If you are a smoker, there is only one area designated for your use. A section on the rear pool deck, starboard side, with a few tables, and chairs. This area was always well populated, and the smoking crowd seemed to have a great time getting to know one another. Children – there were less than a dozen children under 15yrs on our cruise, so there were no activities planned exclusively for them. However, as long as you came prepared with toys, games etc, (luckily Santa planned ahead for our two!), then they will be fine. There were always a few activities each day that were suitable for our pair to join in on (Quoits, Darts, Shuffleboard, craft sessions etc.) We noted two young (under 5yrs) children onboard… the parents were on-hand 24/7 with these two. Not a relaxed cruise for this family unfortunately. Be prepared for the chance of a lot of ship movement, with the smaller ship bobbing a lot more than the larger heavier vessels. The front of the ship had a good amount of vertical movement, whereas the rear of the ship wallowed into the swells at times, with some of the elderly passengers requiring a goodly amount of assistance to get around. This ship is NOT wheelchair friendly. You can get around if you are injured and have no choice.. but avoid this ship if you are in a chair permanently, it’s just not worth the struggle to get around. This should also be a consideration for people with heavy mobility issues. If you rely heavily on a cane or walker to get around, this ship with its heavy movement, and high door thresholds that need to be stepped over were quite dangerous for some less steady passengers. In summary... Astor is a lovely lady of the seas. Maintained to impeccable standards of cleanliness and functionality. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, the ship is elegant and refined, and anyone looking for a quiet, relaxing cruise should definitely consider booking a vacation aboard the Astor. While we enjoyed our cruise with children, and our kids did have fun, I agree that the Astor does not cater for families, and is most definitely geared towards those aged between 60 and a healthy 90 years of age. Overall a wonderful cruise, on a beautiful ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Exhilarating because of the bracing weather and southerly force 7 wind. Old-style because Dawn Princess lacks the specialty entertainment and dining options of newer, larger ships. Pre cruise I was booked on a balcony guarantee. 2 ... Read More
Exhilarating because of the bracing weather and southerly force 7 wind. Old-style because Dawn Princess lacks the specialty entertainment and dining options of newer, larger ships. Pre cruise I was booked on a balcony guarantee. 2 days before the cruise I was allocated a balcony cabin on Riviera deck forward port side. The day before the cruise, Princess rang me and offered me a full refund if I would give up my balcony cabin and take an inside cabin on Caribe deck instead. Deal or no deal? Deal! As a single cabin occupant paying double the usual 'per head' price, it was a bit of a no brainer. The refund was going to be either cash on board, or cheque if there wasn't enough cash in the onboard float. Ok. On board they said they would refund back to my credit card but I resisted as it would take me a month of Sundays to spend that much on my credit card again (as I had already paid the bill with the cruise on it) and there's no way the credit card company is going to let me cash it out without fees and charges. So hopefully the promised cheque arrives soon. We originally looked at a P&O cruise, but P&O weren't happy about a party of 3 in 2 separate cabins. They limit the number of single occupancy cabins, even for people prepared to pay the same as a double occupancy would cost. For the cruise we looked at, I could book 2 cabins for 4 people but not 2 cabins for 3 people. P&O said (in February) that the earliest booking I could get with them for a single occupancy cabin in Australia would be November, even at full price. They said this was because of "weight and balance issues" with the ships - what utter nonsense. Embarkation Embarkation at Fremantle was quite efficient despite the crowds. I was travelling with my elderly parents. Dad normally uses a walking frame and he was given wheelchair assistance to board, which made the experience smoother although we still had to wait in several lines (unlike boarding on Celebrity at Vancouver where the wheelchair got priority through every checkpoint while boarding). A small criticism is that the man pushing the wheelchair was a Fremantle port employee not a Princess employee and he seemed not to have a great knowledge of the embarkation process or the ship's layout. Embarkation was staggered by deck, Riviera (deck 12) and Aloha (deck 11) first at 1pm followed by the other decks. Caribe deck 9 was scheduled for 2.30. I think pax with Princess status were allowed to embark when they wanted. We arrived about 12.50pm and embarked straight away. Mum and Dad were on Riviera deck in a balcony cabin right next to the bridge door (so we saw Captain Jerman one day, in his running clothes! He was very charming, with an English accent although apparently he lives in Sydney now). No welcome drink was offered on board. The dining room was open for lunch 12-1.30pm and we just missed it. The Horizon Court was busy (obviously) but the crew helped dad to find a table quickly. It was a much smaller buffet physically than I am used to seeing on Celebrity. However the food quality and variety for lunch was perfectly fine, and for the breakfasts I had there. Not as extensive as Celebrity but plenty of choices and there would be something to suit everyone except perhaps total fussers. The cruise We were a couple of hours late with sailaway as there had been a delay with a fuel or oil delivery. We had a sunset drink in the Oasis bar (deck 14 aft) - it would have been nicer to be departing but never mind. The ship was sailing full on departure. We headed south down the coast and then headed east past Cape Leeuwin which is Australia's most south westerly point. A lot of the pax were Perth or WA locals having a weekend cruise break. Overall the pax were predominantly Australian with a few Brits, a smattering of North Americans, not much of anyone else that I saw. Service crew were predominantly Filipino, Asian or Eastern European - very few from the Americas, and no Caribbean crew that I saw. The next day (Saturday) was a sea day. The captain's morning announcement warned of 3-3.5 metre swells in the Southern Ocean in the afternoon and evening, so I started taking ginger tablets at lunchtime as a precaution. I was glad I did. It got very rocky. I later heard 300 pax sought treatment for seasickness in the medical centre, and many disembarked at the first port, Albany, rather than endure the voyage back. I had no trouble with my appetite or with sleeping on the moving ship. It was chilly on deck with a strong breeze but still comfortable to walk. It was great that on deck 7, Promenade deck, you can walk all the way round outside without having to cross deck indoors. There was a sewage smell at one area outside on deck 7 which I noticed all voyage. The smoking area is also outside on deck 7, so there were 2 small areas of unpleasant aromas! Lots of pax got dressed up for Saturday night on board even though there was no scheduled formal night on only a 4 night voyage. In fact I felt like people were generally better dressed for 'smart casual' that evening than I have seen on some Celebrity formal nights! We arrived in Albany on Sunday morning. The weather wasn't great, cloudy and a bit drizzly. Avis were right near the wharf for car rentals even though when I had rung up a couple of months before, they told me they would not be at the wharf. But hey, my car was right there as booked online so I skipped having to make a taxi trip to the Avis office. All good. We drove around Frenchman Bay. Interesting scenery. Dad can't walk far so I didn't get to go down some of the tracks right on to the beaches like others were doing. We stopped at Mt Adelaide and Mt Clarence and saw some of the new Anzac memorials for the departure of the first Aust/NZ ship convoys to WW1. That was interesting. We didn't go inside the Memorial Centre and I heard later it was crowded so I'm glad I missed the crowds. We stumbled on an old pub called the Earl of Spencer for lunch. It was on Earl St and Spencer St and was nothing to do with Princess Diana's family! There was a small market set up in the town centre for the cruise pax to look at. I heard later there had been a bagpiper on the wharf when we docked around 7am but I didn't see or hear him. There wasn't much else going on right at the wharf, you had to go into town to see anything, about a 1km walk or shuttle bus trip if you didn't have a car. We were a bit late departing again, due to a medical disembarkation. It was rough weather again that night as we headed back west in the Southern Ocean along the south coast of WA. It was so rocky that after dinner I couldn't be bothered staggering my way to the evening show and just stayed in my cabin reading a book and watching TV. So glad I didn't get seasick. Ginger tablets really worked for me this cruise. I felt worse on the section between Vancouver and the Alaska Inside Passage on Celebrity Millennium despite that ship supposedly having more modern stabilisation than Dawn Princess. Can't remember what the swell was there, they probably told us in feet anyway so it wouldn't have meant much to me. At half past midnight there was an announcement in all the cabins in an accented voice (maybe Filipino?) "first stage response to Jammers deck 7". I stayed in bed, figuring that if they needed pax to do something they would be a lot more explicit. Sure enough about 10 minutes later the announcement was in the captain's voice "first stage response stand down". The next morning I asked at the purser's office what it was about. I was told that someone had smelled a burning smell in the nightclub, and the crew decided it was best to wake everyone up while they checked it out in case it was a fire and the next thing was the evacuation signal. I guess some people would have been annoyed about being woken, especially with kids. But frankly I would rather evacuate with kids who were already awake rather than kids just waking, if we had had to evacuate (and if I had been travelling with kids). One lady thought the announcement was that everyone had to come to deck 7 in their pyjamas because she misheard "Jammers". Plenty of people got out of bed and got dressed as a precaution. My parents saw a tall man with a Scottish accent in their corridor resplendent in purple silk pyjamas with a matching hat!! I figure it was an officer whose cabin was on the bridge near their cabin. (The officer of the watch who ran the muster drill had a Scottish accent on the announcements for that drill). Anyway he reassured them there was no need for them to evacuate. Imagine if we had to get into lifeboats in 3.5m swell, it would have been horrible. Luckily it didn't happen. We arrived off Busselton around 7.30am Monday and I was off the ship on a tender before 8.15am. The sun was finally out for the first time of the cruise. We hired a car and drove to Margaret River to tour around the wine area, which we enjoyed. Busselton put on a big arrival greeting for the ship with a brass band and a local market close to the docking point. Also there were lots of local tourist advisers on hand to assist with ideas on how to spend the day. It felt very welcoming. Disembarkation Disembarkation on Tuesday morning was very smooth. We docked at Fremantle at 5am. The Pacific Jewel arrived shortly after but the cruise terminal coped well with the numbers. 2 things I particularly liked about disembarking - one was that the crew stayed friendly right to the end. On other cruise lines you feel like they don't care any more on disembarkation morning and they just want to get rid of you. The other thing was that Princess doesn't mind if you leave the ship after your bags - you can stay on board until breakfast finishes after 9am even if your bags are ready waiting for you on the wharf at 6.30am. Princess only wants to know if you want an earlier disembarkation time than they have allocated for you - later is no problem and you don't have to tell them. On this cruise Riviera deck bags were on the wharf at 6.30am and Caribe at 7.50am - it was in the same staggered order as boarding. We left the ship about 8.15am and were in a taxi by 8.35am. No compulsory standing around endlessly waiting in lounges with people tripping over everyone else's bags, no herding of great masses of people to the gangway, just a civilised departure - well done Princess, I was impressed. Food The food in the Venetian dining room was brilliant and we had nice table-mates. Personally I think it's a shame that allocated dining tables are less common on cruises than they used to be, because it's nice to get to know people over a few days even if you don't immediately have lots in common. I particularly liked the Princess 50th anniversary dinner, with a retro course from each decade and a spectacular choc raspberry heart-shaped dessert. Another night I specially liked a chilled pear ginger soup that was served in a cocktail glass and looked like a Piña Colada - tasty but also innovatively presented. A small disappointment was one breakfast where the waiter recommended poached eggs - it was literally 2 poached eggs on 2 pieces of toast - no garnish of any kind. It looked like something you might get in a highway roadhouse. Also a vegetable risotto with small pieces of carrot and peas didn't look great even though it tasted good. But generally high marks for the food at all mealtimes. I got into the habit of asking for a small serve because the usual servings were about double as much food as I would usually eat. The service from Poomii and Jorge on table 181 was top notch, also Lawrence on table 154. Poomii did some great tricks making balloon animals and flowers, and napkin origami. A consummate host indeed. Drinks Bar service was often slow all over the ship as they seemed understaffed for the demand (too many hard drinking Aussies on a long weekend maybe? Read Less
Sail Date April 2015

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