The two-tier Palladium is the main entertainment venue onboard Ambience. Featuring a large LED screen for effects and videos, the twice-nightly shows performed by the Ambience Theatre Company were always well attended (so arrive early if you can) and the energetic team put on a variety of acts including cabaret performances, comedy theatre and high-energy dance acts.
One of our favourite shows was ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ which showcased world dances over the decade and was choregraphed by and starred (virtually) Strictly’s Anton Du Beke.
Ambassador Cruise Line has also lined up a number of guest acts and themed cruises with stars of sport, radio, television and more. Our cruise was no exception; comedian Lloyd Hollett performed two shows and there were ‘Voices of Radio’ legends Mike Read, Chris Baird, Mark Wesley, Louis Rodgers and Tony Prince who took part in Q&A and DJ sets throughout the cruise.
For night owls, the Observatory on Deck 14 is the place go. Home to late night discos, Karaoke and cabaret performances, the music goes on until the early hours. By day it’s also the place to learn dance routines with the show team – with everything from Rumba to Ceilidh classes on the agenda.
On a sea day in particular, everywhere you turn there is something going on onboard Ambience. All activities are detailed in the "All Aboard" programme which is left in the cabin each evening.
Ambassador Cruise Line had planned to go paperless with the programme available on its onboard online app and interactive boards around the ship, but at this point, customer demand is still there for the physical programme.
Quiz fans can join in both morning and pre-dinner trivia at the Purple Turtle pub on Deck 8, which also plays host to bingo and other game shows throughout the cruise. Crafters meanwhile can head to Kapoors on Deck 6 to make their own jewellery, key chains and more for a small cost.
Centre Court, which is not only home to the reception, shore excursion desk, future cruises, coffee shop, shopping outlets and the casino is also a hub for activities; during our cruise there were Q&As with guest acts and a wonderfully heart-warming choir class taking place.
Shore excursions, or ‘destination experiences’ as they are called on Ambience are well organised and varied. On our Norwegian Fjords cruise there were bus tours to attraction in and around the port stops as well as more adventurous excursions such as RIB boat safaris and hiking in the fjords.
While Ambience is geared to a more mature cruiser, that doesn't mean it's for a shy and retiring crowd. While the dancefloor isn't likely to be packed at 3am, the bars were always full pre- and post-dinner with guests enjoying entertainment and cocktails aplenty.
For cocktails and classical music: Botanical Lounge bar
Our number one lounge is the beautifully-decorated Botanical Lounge bar on Deck 7. Always a popular spot for a pre-dinner cocktail, guests are also treated to classical tunes by the ship’s musicians.
For a pint: The Purple Turtle pub
No British cruise ship is complete without its local pub. Previously the ship’s casino and completely renovated (with some classic British beer signs on the walls), the Purple Turtle on Deck 8 really is the heart of Ambience with activities from morning to night. Beer on tap includes John Smiths and Fosters, with prices from £4 per pint.
For the night-cap: Raffles Bar
With plush sofas and atmospheric purple lighting, Raffles Bar on Deck 7 is a great spot to finish the evening after taking in a show. If you’re lucky you might see the fantastic pianist who will take requests. And if you’re still hungry after dinner be sure to sample some of the late-night snacks that are handed out after 11pm.
For a caffeine kick: Dickens Coffee Shop
If you need your daily latte or cappuccino hit then be sure to stop by at Dickens. Located within Centre Court on Deck 5 it’s a great place for a cuppa and something sweet -- the carrot cake on offer is sublime!
There is a new small casino with slots and tables located on Deck 6.
The two hot tubs on Ambience are located in an enviable position the aft of the ship on Deck 11. While for some it may be frustrating that they are located are away from the main pool area and sun deck, there are some lovely cabanas and beds close by, so if you’re looking for peace and quiet be sure to bag one of these spots.
There is one main unheated swimming pool on Ambience as well as a smaller relaxation/splash pool with fountains.
With newly refurbished wooden-style decks and a giant screen for watching news and sports, the sundeck has plenty of space to relax for when the weather allows. During our cruise to Norway, it wasn’t boiling, but it was largely dry and sunny so guests did gather on deck on sea days. While busy, there were always loungers available.
There is a self-service laundry area located on Deck 10 with prices from £3 per wash. Wi-Fi is available onboard and connection was largely good. Prices start from £9.99 for 60 minutes on two devices.
Located on Deck 2, The Green Sea Spa hasn't changed since sailing as P&O Australia's Pacific Dawn, and while it's down on a lower deck with no windows, it's an expansive, calming space to get some R&R.
Open daily from 8am to 9pm, the spa features eight treatment rooms as well as a thermal suite made up of a steam room, sauna and a relaxation area. We sampled a reviving facial (£59 for 45 minutes) which was just heavenly!
There is also a hair and nail salon within the spa.
*Tip**: Check out the spa offers advertised around the ship -- you can often get a 60-minute taster of three treatments for really reasonable prices.*
Adjacent to the spa is the gym which has been kitted out with new cardio machines and a large of selection of cable and free weights.
Away from the gym up on Deck 14, the refurbished Active Studio has been fitted out with new flooring and yoga mats ready for sessions. While aerobics classes come as complimentary, yoga and Pilates are an extra cost.
Ambience's wraparound promenade deck features both a long and a short track for joggers and walkers (joggers run outside clockwise, while walkers go inside clockwise). The longer track works out at 6.5 laps to one mile, while the shorter track is 10 laps for one mile.
Ambience is an adults-only line for over-18s so there are no facilities for families with children or teens. However, on selected summer dates Ambience will offer multigenerational cruises so children can sail with their parents and grandparents and the ship will host entertainment and activities for all the family.