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20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We speak only English and were worried about taking this cruise where the language is French. We shouldn't have been concerned. The staff spoke English better then French and many passengers spoke English as well. Often the staff ... Read More
We speak only English and were worried about taking this cruise where the language is French. We shouldn't have been concerned. The staff spoke English better then French and many passengers spoke English as well. Often the staff seemed relieved that we spoke to them in English. Although the entertainment was in French, 70% of the music was in English with songs from popular USA bands. The entertainment was mostly visual and was excellent. Our room was updated and wonderful. The hallways could use new carpeting. We had a balcony room and a few things came with this including a bottle of champagne, discounts on room service, priority disembarking in ports, and priority disembarking the day the cruise ended. Was sad that staff didn't make towel animals for our room--but worth it for the better price on the cruise. Food was wonderful. I thought we would have foie gras every night but it was an additional 15 euro per person so we didn't order it. No steak tartare either. French breakfasts can be just croissants and coffee so we were worried but breakfast was pretty good. We loved the muesli, cream fresh for our pastries, oatmeal and fresh fruit. Dinner was wonderful and there were some fabulous desserts. We loved that the French go light on sugar so you can actually taste the flavors of your dessert. The tap water on board was excellent. No need to order bottled water. A few times they put ice in our water as that is what Americans usually want. We let them know we didn't need it. One thing nice about this cruise that we didn't expect is that the passengers were so pleasant. The French tend to be polite, classy and speak quietly. My husband is from NYC and tends to speak loudly so we had to help him remember to speak softly in elevators and hallways. We didn't want to be known as the loud obnoxious Americans. We had no seasick days as the Mediterranean is so smooth. It's a great cruise for those who don't like movement of the ship. In ports: Barcelona-rented electric-assist bikes for $20 ea. These are amazing and keep you from getting tired and you can see all the architecture quickly. Highly recommend. Had tapas for lunch. Menorca-Rented a car and bought snorkel equipment. Drove half an hour to a spot to snorkel. No colorful fish but family loved it. Husband got a 100 euro ticket trying to navigate one of many traffic circles. Rome port-Walked to nearby markets and found amazing deals on wine (3 euro for 2 liters!) and food. Heard there was civil unrest in Rome (90 mins away) and other ships were telling passengers not to go there. Genoa-took the sightseeing bus for about 10 euro each that dropped us off at the best aquarium in the Mediterranean. Kids were free. Adults around 16 euro each. Ajaccio France-Walked around to see Napoleon childhood home, museums, gardens, town. Walked to the beach and spent second half of the day snorkeling there. We have been on many cruises and have never been allowed to take alcohol to our room that we buy in port. This ship allowed us to bring alcohol on board which was wonderful as there were amazing deals in the ports. One day at the market in Italy, we found some of the best wine for $1.50/liter. We also bought some fabulous Sangria in Barcelona for $6/bottle. It was so nice to get to enjoy it that evening before dinner. After dinner they always had something special planned that was loads of fun. One night they had a show in the disco mixed with dancing. We had a blast with our 3 kids aged 13, 17, 21. The music was great and mostly from the US. The staff taught us line dances. Another night they had 70s and 80s dancing with a band in the lounge. Another night they had a tropical midnight buffet and dancing around the pool. When we booked this cruise the travel agent discouraged us as it was a French speaking cruise. When he realized we were serious and were going to do it, he let us know that everyone who books it wants to go again. We met one other American on board and we both decided this is one cruise we will be going on again. There were 3 other families who were not French speaking and spoke English as a second language. I believe they were Asian. I highly recommend this cruise to those who are not concerned about being surrounded by people speaking French. It would be a great cruise if you are trying to learn French. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
We booked this cruise due to the itinerary which included: France, Gibraltar, Morocco, Canary Islands, Portugal and Spain. The itinerary included 12 ports and 2 sea days. We found little information on the internet (incl Cruise Critic and ... Read More
We booked this cruise due to the itinerary which included: France, Gibraltar, Morocco, Canary Islands, Portugal and Spain. The itinerary included 12 ports and 2 sea days. We found little information on the internet (incl Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor) so we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into after booking this cruise. The Zenith is an older, and smaller ship, and we understood that English was not the first language. We could find only one (but favourable) review in Cruise Critic, and nothing in Trip Advisor. We were pleasantly surprised with the ship, it's crew, and language did not pose a problem! The ship is older, but maintained in good condition, and although smaller than what we are used to (mostly Carnival line), we were able to enjoy ourselves (group of 6) in the cafe, the casino, the theatre, and of course "eating". Another bonus was the inclusion of beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) in the price. There are extra charges for "premium" alcohol, but we were quite happy with what was served within the package price. Another bonus we discovered... while checking in was that we had "VIP Service". We are not sure why we received this service, but it included priority boarding, champagne & fruit in our room upon arrival, and additional fruit baskets throughout the week. We also received coupons for Casino play. The majority of the passengers were French speaking. Our guess was of the 1100 or so (of ~1600 capacity) passengers on board, is that less than 100 passengers spoke English as their first language. Even though all of the announcements were first made in French, they were generally repeated in good English. And an effort was made to provide some information sessions in English only (excursions, and disembarkation information). Something we found very odd, was that for those passengers not in the European Union, needed to surrender their passports to the "purser's office" for immigration/customs purposes. We sailed the Mediterranean with Carnival in 2011 and this procedure was not required. Needless to say, we refused to leave our passports onboard when going off of the ship. When we brought this fairly significant issue to their attention, we felt that our concerns fell on deaf ears. It was only after much effort that we understood that we would receive our passports immediately after immigration/customs clearance each day and that this process would not hold us up for long. Special thanks to "Jean Luc" who was there most days to see us off the ship asap, in many cases before others on board. Also, we thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment provided in the theatre each night. Kudos to Cruise Director "Kamel", and the animation crew. Kamel's enthusiam, and smooth transition between the French and English languages was fantastic. The shows were "incredible"! A definite highlight of the trip. We understand that they do not have many 14 day itineraries, so there was much extra work to provide unique programming for 14 nights. Special guest entertainers were brought in, but the on-board entertainment was spectacular (including a group of ballet dancers from Brazil in the line-up). Overall we were very pleased with this cruise. This review is made of my own accord, there was no request made by cruise staff to review our experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2012
Hmmm. I'm the first to review a Croisieres de France cruise, probably because it's French based and French speaking but read on....you might find something useful. The in-laws are French so we went with them on this cruise ... Read More
Hmmm. I'm the first to review a Croisieres de France cruise, probably because it's French based and French speaking but read on....you might find something useful. The in-laws are French so we went with them on this cruise starting and finishing in Marseilles. Booked in France through local travel agent but the Croisieres de France (CDF) website is www.cdfcroisieresdefrance.fr Officially, French is spoken onboard but special announcements (including lifeboat drill) are given in French and English. The ship's crew is made up of 37 different nationalities and they don't all speak French. In fact, the entire dining room staff (who were fantastic) were all from Mauritius and could speak English. Bear in mind though, that 99% of your fellow passengers will be French speakers so it may be awkward for you if you like to chat, make friends, share a dining room table etc. The cruise was the 'Tutti Frutti' and - after a group discount because it was booked for 50 people - the price was 970 euros. This was all inclusive - all food and drink and tips. There were additional items you could pay for on board e.g. the spa sessions, laundry, some specific cocktails or special food e.g caviar but, to be honest, it was a French ship and the French expect good food as standard so there was absolutely no need to pay for any other food (apart from waffles/crepes at 1.75 euros from the poolside creperie, which my wife insisted on having every day!). The ship was the Horizon (bought by CDF recently, refurbished in early 2012 and now painted up in the dark blue livery of CDF). Despite 12 decks, it's actually quite a small ship when you see it beside other cruise ships. 1500 passengers and 650 crew. We docked beside the Costa Magica in Valletta and it was massive compared to our ship but we actually liked the intimacy of ours. It had a variety of bars, dancefloors, casino, theatre (nightly entertainment, cabaret style), shop, children's club and gym. The outdoor pool had a children's pool beside it and two jacuzzis. Evening meals were in two sittings, which you had to reserve at the time of booking - either 1900 or 2115. Initially, we thought 2115 was too late to eat each night but it actually worked out really well as we returned to the ship each day 1700/1800, went for a dip in the pool, lazed about, got showered/dressed for dinner, went to the 2000 cabaret show or aperitifs in the casino then up to the restaurant so the pace was actually quite nice. It would have been a rush if we'd had the 1900 sitting. You sat at the same table every night, the food was fantastic and the Mauritian waiters were just brilliant. The restaurant dress code was smart-casual - no shorts or t-shirts. You had the option of a less formal meal in the grill room each night too if you preferred. We did this once. It was buffet style and eat as much as you want. Our cabin was on deck 6 and a fairly decent size. Our cleaner cleaned twice a day. We actually said to him not to bother with the second clean. He worked very hard and the cabin was spotless. The only gripe about the ship was the lifts. There were 3 or 4 sets of two lifts but they were always busy and you had to wait ages - a problem for those with medical conditions. Overall, though, we were impressed by the ship, despite its small size and the waiting/cleaning staff were amazing. Read Less
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