Sail Date: November 2011
General This ship/trip report (Safaga, Egypt to Barcelona, Spain) has been structured for better clarity, and this way you can skip the section(s) that don't appeal to you. It is rather detailed, so if you just want a quick overview, ... Read More
General This ship/trip report (Safaga, Egypt to Barcelona, Spain) has been structured for better clarity, and this way you can skip the section(s) that don't appeal to you. It is rather detailed, so if you just want a quick overview, you might look elsewhere. Before the cruise Documentation arrived somewhat late due to a new system. However, it was well structured and pleasant to read. Compared to earlier, this is an improvement. We flew into the holiday resort of Hurghada a few days ahead of the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton, half an hour from the port of Safaga. This would be our second cruise with RSSC Voyager. Pre/Post-cruise packages We initially wanted to join the Cairo-Luxor package, but considering our flight cnx and the political tension in Egypt, we later decided not to. Passengers that did, seemed to be fairly happy though, and all of them arrived in time for departure (after a rather long bus trip from Luxor to the ship) Embarkation This part began with a rather unpleasant incident, mainly because of incompetent and arrogant egyptian port officials. It costed us quite some spoilt time, from arriving to this small port of Safaga until reaching the ship. Thus, be warned for this place, at least if you are planning on arriving individually. Ship Assuming that several readers already know the ship, I won't mention much about that. Technically that is. Maybe it should be mentioned, that the ship received a few upgrades (new carpeting everywhere and some other minor changes) in September 2011. However, standard cabins have remained unchanged. In due time some upgrades will be necessary here. It is interesting to compare some figures (passengers space ratio and passengers/crew ratio) with other 4* to 5*+ ships (Douglas Ward -- see below, gives the Voyager only 4*+ though, just "a tad" under the score needed for 5*). Ship pax sp. r. pax/crew r. DW rating / points RSSC Voyager 59,0 1,65 4,5* 1'698 pts Crystal Serenity 62,6 1,7 5* 1'702 pts Seabourne Odyssey 71,1 1,3 5* 1'787 pts Hapag-Lloyd Europa (*) 70,4 1,4 5*+ 1'851 pts Carnival Splendor 37,0 2,5 3*+ 1'393 pts Silverseas S. Shadow 72,8 2,5 4* 1'445 pts MSC Musica 36,2 2,6 4* 1'462 pts * According to DW, this ship, the only 5*+ in the book, is mainly suited to germanspeaking passengers Of course these are just two aspects of a ship. Douglas Ward's "Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships" gives quite standardized opinions. The book is to my knowledge widely accepted by most cruise professionals. It is also quite a Handbook (Part 1) about all aspects of cruising for people just new to this way of travelling. Opinions by individuals (like you and I) can, as you probably know, vary considerably... But, as they say, you get what you pay for. On the other side, organisations like Cruise Critic or Conde Nast Traveller, just to name a few, give the opinions of a lot of passengers at a given time. Accomodation We had a standard cabin (suite, in companyspeak) on deck 9, midship, 355 ft2 / 33 m2, including a small balcony (teak floors) with a table and two conventional chairs. The cabin, nicely decorated has about everything you'll need. Walk-in closet with enough hangers, drawers and space for your shoes. Large safe. Also in the cabin itself is enough storage space. Kingsize bed with very good mattresses. We always bring our own pillows (tempur-type, the best there is) as these seem to be unknown by those cruising companies offering speciality pillows. Large fridge to be filled to your liking. Fresh fruit, replenished daily. Mirrors everywhere. Comfortable sofa, chairs (3) and a cocktail table. Bathroom large enough for size M. Enough storage space for his/hers stuff. However, shower stall is definitely only for maximum size L. Xes and up, be aware. Then there is the mandatory (?) bathtub, that most people I've spoken to hardly use, and one washbasin. Getting rid of the tub would leave space for a second washbasin and a larger shower stall. Service Is generally quite good. The staff is genuinely friendly and most guys really go out of their way to please the passengers (why some cruising companies have started to call us guests is somewhat strange -- we are still on a ship, not in a hotel, right?). In a few days most head sommeliers (In the Compass rose as well as in the Veranda) knew which wines and waters we liked. Even some of the waiters (like Dylan) did. The two special restaurants are run quite well with excellent service. Room service (used only once - in the morning) was quick and efficient. In the Cafe we normally only needed eye contact with the indian waiter at the coffe maschine (forgot his name), plus two fingers in the air -- and our cappus arrived within minutes to the table where we had sat down. In the restaurants the food normally arrives quickly. On the other side, we were always one of the first couples to arrive and to order. Could make a difference. In the Compass Rose, the staff should try to slow down their "speed" a little. Handling by receptionists, GM, cruise consultant, pursers and the like was professional and very good. Food and beverage Compass rose (main restaurant): Food quality generally quite good with some exceptions. Occasionally the main dish arrived luke warm. As the plates leave the kitchen hot (acc. the Chef!) it probably has to do with the large amount of covered plates arriving to the stations together, and (naturally) not being delivered to the tables at the same time. Various excellent wines (changing daily) for dinner. If your taste was different, there were always sufficient alternatives available. We hardly enjoyed brakfast here because of tight schedules in the mornings (excursion buses waiting!) as it took longer here than at the other (selfservice) breakfast alternatives. Prime 7 (steak house) and Signatures (cuisine franaise) are reservation only (no charge) restaurants with excellent food and wines (charges only for exclusive wines from a separate list -- that we never tried. The free wine selections are "tres bien", believe me). La Veranda, the italian restaurant at the uppermost deck (with a nice view and also some outside tables), was really our favourite "eatary" for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Buffets for appetizers, soups and salads, and main dishes from the menu (dinner only), served individually. Good to very good food as well as wines and mineral waters (Perrier and San Pellegrino). The room temperature however, was often really icy. Why?? The "Pizzeria" is not excactly what you would expect. It is just a window in the wall in the starboard part of La Veranda, and only open during lunchtime, serving slices of two different styles pizza (Margarita and a daily changing variety). The Cafe has the best speciality coffees (espresso, cappucino etc.) onboard. But sitting space is rather limited and not excactly cosy. Observation lounge A nice place on deck 11 to sit and watch the bow of the ship plowing thru the waves. Normal bar service at fixed hours. Pianoplayer in the evening. Voyager lounge: Midship on deck 4 next to the atrium (which reaches to deck 11). Dancing floor and a stage for music and entertainment. Bar service in the evening. Horizon lounge: At the aft of the ship with an outside lounge area. Dancing floor with room for 6-piece band. Bar service at fixed hours. Afternoon tea trivias as well as bingo. Entertainment The 2-3 shows broadwaystyle that we visited were rather professional and enjoyable -- had it not been for the terrible loudness over the loudspeakers. As if that was not enough, the female leadsinger of the shows (otherwise quite a good singer and artist) had to scream into the mikrophon now and then. We talked to several other passengers sharing our opinion and mostly also refraining from going to the shows as well. I spoke to the cruisedirector and other officers a couple of times about this -- with no noticable result. The same problem goes for the music at other spots and occasions, like the lounges on the pool deck. The latter is a great place to have lunch and a chat with friends. However, as soon as the music starts -- forget about conversation. Even if we were sitting at the other end of the deck (and music)... This wouldn't be a topic at all -- if we were onboard a Carnival ship or the like (where I will never be found alive). But mind you, the average passenger on this ship is probably 65 or above! However, this nuicance seems to be a desease that is spreading all over the cruise industry. And as long as not more passengers complain and in stead rather keep their fist in the pocket or just stay away -- things won't change. I wonder what it is, that keeps the the cruise directors and others from applying some changes... And more passengers from complaining. Public rooms Spacewise more than sufficient. Very well maintained. Rest rooms extremely clean and well cared for. Even tissues at the inside of the door (for those guys that don't wash their hands afterwards). A cosy library (but only a few chairs) with several daily newspapers (satellite prints). Seating in the restaurants could be less cramped. Particularly in Compass Rose, where the chairs are very comfortable, but very, very bulky and heavy. Ports For this cruise there was quite a selection (10) of interesting countries and ports to visit. The organization of the different excursions (90% free of charge, unless you want to take a helicopter ride or so) was excellent. Timing for debarkation; buses, guides, intinaries and so on, very good. Probably the most impressing trip for us was the halfday tour to Efesus (port of Kusadasi) in Turkey. Spa and Fitness The fitness room (with the machines) is for a 700 pax ship absolutely too small. Particularly when used also by entertainment staff... I tried a couple of times to get some workout on a maschine -- no chance, always full. On the other hand, next to this location is a rather big, empty room that obviously only now and then was used by some of the artists for their daily stretching or whatever. The same problem goes for the sauna and the steam room. Both of them (male department) are fully booked (!) with more than 4 visitors. Same goes for the steam room, which is also way too hot. I can't speak for the rest of the spa as neither I nor my wife paid a visit there. Miscelleneous - RSSC (and others) should quit promoting the silly "2 for 1 fare", it is not impressing anybody these days. Or do they really expect somebody to pay the "normal" fare?? - A chokolate on your pillow in the evening s nice, but the flavours could change once... - Dress codes are fine -- but only when enforced. It is like speed limits; if not enforced, they cease to exist. Some passengers show up at dinner in the same outfit with which they toured the desert during the day... - Even ashore you are recognized and friendly greeted by staff members on short leave (for example the Veranda waitress Olga, one of several). Nice. We have experinced the opposite on other ships, even though the crew members in question knew you quite well (on board...) - We were lucky to have our old, italian friend Mario as our very special captain. Grazie! - One evening there was a strange "happening". Everybody should take a glass and position themselves in gangway and shake hands with everybody, including the passing officers. Red and white (sour) wine was served by some of the waiters. I hope everybody washed their hands afterwards (although I hardly believe so...). Hygiene? - Thank god (and RSSC) that we aren't continously being pictured all the time!! - Plastic sunloungers and corresponding tables might be ok on a fun ship... But on a ship like the Voyager? - Restaurants are often closing too early for passengers returning in the afternoon from excursions, wanting to have a late lunch. Not everybody is satisfied with a burger or a hotdog on the pool deck. - Cleaning the pool decks in the morning should be done earlier - How come the silly art auktions have not yet been abandoned on this kind of ships? - The ship is very quiet, no unneccesary announcements, no elevator music and such. - Value for money? Generally good! - Rates per day? Vary considerably from trip to trip (check!). This time ok. - Internet room: Always free screens, internet speed very good (being satellite) - Kids club missing, an advantage - Fresh whole wheat rolls should be available for breakfast - A computer class would be appreciated - As there is a daily meeting for AA people, why not a regular gettogether for christians? Like a bible study or somehing like that? Perhaps not politically correct? Or there are more AA's than believers? Disembarkation Everything perfectly organized. Group by group left the ship between 8 and 9 am. We said goodby among the the last passengers, found our suitcases right away and could make a short walk to a waiting cab which took us to the BCN airport. Passenger mix As always the main part of the passengers originate from N. America. A few come from Europe (mainly the germanspeaking countries), Australia, NZ, Asia (we had a "geisha" and her husband with us -- quite nice people), latin countries and others. Perhaps 10%? Of course, you don't get to know everybody... However, the ship is definitely geared to the North American clientele. I sometimes wonder though, if not some of the passengers rather should have chosen a Carnival ship. With regard to their manners... Bottom line 50% of the passengers are repeaters... Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2011
I promised myself I would write this review today as I feel obligated to warn fellow cruisers of our experience as a 7 day cruisers on the tail end of a World Cruise. My husband and I choose this trip as a 25th Anniversary ... Read More
I promised myself I would write this review today as I feel obligated to warn fellow cruisers of our experience as a 7 day cruisers on the tail end of a World Cruise. My husband and I choose this trip as a 25th Anniversary Celebration and fully expected a wonderful cruising experience on the Silver Sea Spirit- cruising the Red Sea- Petra, Sharm, Suez and Alexandria- ending in Greece. We travel a lot but both are still self employed and do not desire to take long vacations, however, we take many small vacations every year. We have traveled from Galapagos, Trans Siberian RR, Borneo, Europe, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Morroco, Baltic Countries, South America, etc... We stay at 5 star and we stay at 2 or 3 star accommodations. We enjoy many types of experiences. So I believe we set off on our adventure at Easter to meet up with the Silver Sea Spirit at the Red Sea with good expectations and as experienced travelers. However, we should have known something was wrong from the minute we joined the group on a day trip in Luxor. The cruise director who was there early had no idea we were joining group and questioned us on whether we had paid for that part of excursion-we had.(Though it was free for all other travelers as mid- cruise excursion) After an afternoon of touring in Luxor we boarded the pre-assigned bus #6- which had our name on a list and set off for a 3 hour in the dark trip to Red Sea and Safaga. At arrival on the ship no one greeted us, bus driver stopped us from pulling our own baggage but yet we had to go to a harbor police to find assistance- Silver Sea knew we were on that transfer but made no effort to greet us. Upon arrival in our room, our assigned Butler was off so some one showed us a couple things, no offered to help unpack -champagne and fruit was waiting. I do not know what the purpose of the butlers are other than to bring coffee when I ordered in the morning. There was no attempt to anticipate our needs, no attempt to bring snacks to pool as Beaches/Sandals Butlers do, no attempt to bring canapes/snacks before dinner- nothing. The gift shop was very poor selections on everyday items, I hunted the whole cruise and at the ports for curlers or curling iron, having forgot mine to no avail. Nor did any staff seem to care- Meals were so so and not any better than Carnival. The Supervisor of the Butlers should go to school at Beaches/Sandals and figure out how to be make a vacation truly enjoyable.... Our Butler was nice and brought coffee - when I ordered- that was it..... However, the purpose of my review is to explain NEVER EVER to join a world cruise in the last week or two of their 100 day cruise even if it is free- unless your time is worth nothing- then only if free-- There were no activities on board except shuffleboard, scrabble and bridge that no one was playing. There were no cooking demonstrations, no ice carving, nothing. Even the captain's bridge tour was limited to those who had "signed up 10 days earlier" in Dubai or something, since we joined 7 days after Dubai that was not much help. The staff made no effort to meet us at arrival. (another traveler we met last day advised of same experience.) The staff made no effort to provide any orientation to the few couples that arrived at Safaga. Never ever was there a meeting to acquaint orient, to explain availability of shore excursions, anything about ship, anything about anything- we were just shadows- maybe SPIRTS! who joined at Safaga etc. We were advised when I asked on 4th or 5th day that this had been done earlier in the 100 day world cruise- My newspapers did not start until 3 days later- All I can figure out is the staff was worn out from 100 days or they themselves had joined the world traveler club of which we were not a member. A mention about other travelers- The first couple of days we could not decide if the mostly elderly travelers had a hearing problem or were simple rude. My husband is 85 and I 55, so we are used to dealing with people in this age range. It is common courtesy for us- to say Good Morning to someone we pass in the hall- outside of the restaurant heading in to breakfast- however- they would look past you -like you did not exist- finally, we quit saying good morning. Perhaps none of them could hear- or they were too tired of their trip, or they simply did not associate with the common people who did not have their name engraved on a brass name plate outside their room and only joined the cruise for 7 days- I truly believe it was the latter based upon multiple experiences. So as you can see- a group of very "cliquish" travelers- who already were in the group- (Thought perhaps I was in junior high again and a new kid) and a ship staff that did NOTHING- let me repeat NOTHING to welcome you, to orient you, to provide activities and information to the few couples that joined in Safaga or even Dubai as I was advised from a Dubai embarkation couple. Since, you do not know WHO this handful of newly arrived travelers were- as there was not even an orientation meeting- you couldn't even find travelers with same experience going on. One evening was touted as Arabian night- since we had no pre-warning of this other than the daily paper- I did not bring my Abeya or a head wrap etc, I looked at the yet another empty port town on the Red Sea that we stopped and could find nothing, I looked in ship's gift shop and they had nothing- yet when we arrived at the pool side dinner- (the one special dinner) this whole group of world travelers were dressed the part and dancing and carry-on etc. When I questioned how they could find such outfits and had such warning, I was advised that -oh they bought those in Dubai where they planned it with cruise staff a week before we arrived. I do not understand why the cruise staff could not have had at least some head wraps- etc for sale in the gift shop or something for the rest of us, infidels. The Suez Canal transit was very boring, just desert on both sides and flat, so nothing entertaining like a Panama transit. In addition, the "expert" only spoke from a loud speaker that was not audible from the observation deck. (The stated reason was that a ship of the calibre of Silver Sea Spirit could not figure out how to broadcast in the observation deck/room without broadcasting in the spas.? Go figure..) The last port was Alexandria and as my husband and I sat sipping coffee, a couple walked by that I recalled meeting 6 days early on an elevator and thought they may have arrived the same day as we had arrived. I said hello and we sat and had coffee, they had the exact same opinion on these topics in which I post- When I said to them that I had told my husband that morning that I felt like we were the "Black Sheep of the Cruise"- she laughed and said she had said -just that morning that they were the "Lost Children of the Cruise." They advised that previously they had been on the first week of a world cruise and the experience was totally different and activities were going on- and guests were friendly- (probably didn't realize they were only on for 1 week-ha) Speaking of that the ship staff had a couple special meeting/dinners for these really special people- who were part of the world cruise- which is fine- BUT they still needed to do something for the rest of us. Other than handing us a bucket and mop to mop the floors - we were treated like 4th class travelers. Very poor and one could not PAY me to take another SILVERSEA World cruise-in which I only joined for a week. I might would consider a week or 10 day cruise that all guests were on the same itinerary- however, I would look close at what the ship had to offer in activities on board etc before I wasted my money on Silver Sea again. I did mention the last night my dissatisfaction to the Butler on these issues on the cruise- I did not think much of this was his responsibility- and he immediately brought his supervisor- who had just joined the ship from I think a South America cruise and she was very kind, understanding and seemed genuinely concerned and appeared to believe these issues were unacceptable. At a minimum she had been trained on how to handle a customers dissatisfaction.- not that I ever heard anything more- nor did I really expect to. I was disappointed that the comment questionnaire did not have a company land address to mail them to- therefore I did not take the time to complete as i assumed it would not make it off the ship. In any event, I hope this review helped some in deciding whether to join in the middle of a world cruise---On a side note- since nothing going on- I was able to watch Royal wedding and the Osama death coverage in the beautiful cabin and I appreciated the veranda and the heavy curtain separating the bedroom area from sitting area. LP Read Less

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