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20 Spain Senior Cruise Reviews

Chose this cruise because many of the places we hadn't visited before and also the ship itself, been on Spirit 4 times before and it never disappointed we liked the layout of the ship the crew and all the staff were top rank always ... Read More
Chose this cruise because many of the places we hadn't visited before and also the ship itself, been on Spirit 4 times before and it never disappointed we liked the layout of the ship the crew and all the staff were top rank always pleasant and helpful which to us was the most important criteria for a good cruise. Now from here we go downhill Marella as it's now called seem to be trying to cheapen it as much as they can because what there giving you is just unacceptable, the so called drinks package was just not worth it I am not a big drinker nor my wife so we just had a few gin and tonics but quite honestly we could not taste anything only the tonic which had too much ice in it also my wife tried the cocktails them were also tasteless. I would say to anyone going on this ship don't bother with any drinks package just pay as you go for drinks, it's sad really because on previous cruises on Spirit it was so much better, I personally think that Marella have missed a trick because they could have made this a memorable cruise and I don't think I'm the only one who's disgruntled with Marellas cheapskating I certainly won't be taking any more cruises with Marella. The dining experience whilst being adequate was not up to previous cruises on Spirit, it felt in our opinion a bit like a canteen rather than a restaurant with very basic menus. But I have to say it doesn't reflect on the dining room staff who did a really good job both the service and the smiles. Our cabin on deck 4 was superb as usual and we were well impressed with the 2 lads that looked after us they kept the cabin spotless a nd tidy at all times. Entertainment was ok but not brilliant,they worked very hard to put on the shows. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I have just returned from a weeks cruise which was offered at a knock down price due to the fact that the ship is coming out of service at the end of the year. We were a bit apprehensive as to what condition the ship would be in, the ship ... Read More
I have just returned from a weeks cruise which was offered at a knock down price due to the fact that the ship is coming out of service at the end of the year. We were a bit apprehensive as to what condition the ship would be in, the ship was as described as a bit tired and the cabins small however we couldn't fault the organisation of Thomsons everything thing went like clockwork from checking in at Gatwick to departure day at the end of the holiday, well done Thomsons. The ship itself was as described tired but everything worked as it should, the food was excellent as were all of the staff the entertainment was brilliant.It might not have been the best nor the biggest ship in the world but the atmosphere and the enjoyment was amazing. We would certainly book again with Thomsons due mainly to there fantastic efficiency Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Overall this was a pleasure with, if I want to be picky, a few grouches. Ship can get a bit overcrowded and shovey if you turn up at peak times for meals in buffet restaurants. Also, to be sniffy, some passengers would seem ... Read More
Overall this was a pleasure with, if I want to be picky, a few grouches. Ship can get a bit overcrowded and shovey if you turn up at peak times for meals in buffet restaurants. Also, to be sniffy, some passengers would seem close chums of portly Onslow and family in that Mrs Bucket comedy series. Or the Royle family on their hols. Brits abroad who let us down. Swilling drinks, shouty, bit whiffy, tattoed, smokers, regular belchers and trumpers, string vests and they care not a jot for other passengers. P&O try hard to maintain good standards but just a few passengers foil them! Not P&O's fault. Food, entertainment, crew and facilities are all good or excellent. Showers are a bit small with no doors, just curtains. Ship looks a bit tired and rusty in places but overall decor etc was good. Very good song and dance team. Theatre is a bit too small so get there about an hour earlier to ensure seats. Best to avoid school holidays. Sometimes have to go up and down stairs or lifts too much to reach restaurants if you're infirm. Conclusion.....Well worth sampling Ventura but some passengers said they also agreed with us that RCI was a bit better. The debate goes on......All depends who you chat to. Edith Evans would not enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Had a very good offer on an inside cabin so booked..we are actually going on the transatlantic repositioning cruise next month as well. Room was a reasonable size with good storage space, lots of room for all our clothes. The bathroom ... Read More
Had a very good offer on an inside cabin so booked..we are actually going on the transatlantic repositioning cruise next month as well. Room was a reasonable size with good storage space, lots of room for all our clothes. The bathroom was a reasonable size. The main dining room was excellent, we had chosen 1st sitting, and our waiters were really good. The standard of meals in the Windjammer was typical cruise fare but ok. Now for the reason I only gave the cruise an average rating... Only soap in the cabin, no shampoo or conditioner...although you could buy it. For some reason our cabin steward made the bed with about 2foot at the bottom without a sheet. Our feet were then on the mattress protector and not on a sheet. The solarium was open to the elements, therefore rather chilly, we didn't brave the pool. The film was also on deck,open to the elements..again far too cold. Except for the day we were in Le Havre when it was being shown in the theatre at 1pm. No enrichment lectures at all, very disappointing. Not a great deal to do during the day on sea days. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Chose this cruise because we have been on this ship twice before. Western Med ( Spain and Portugal). 19th Sept - 2nd Oct 2016. Standards have slipped and prices have risen. A glass of wine was 10 -12 dollars each. A bottle of water ... Read More
Chose this cruise because we have been on this ship twice before. Western Med ( Spain and Portugal). 19th Sept - 2nd Oct 2016. Standards have slipped and prices have risen. A glass of wine was 10 -12 dollars each. A bottle of water was $5. 18% tax added onto all drinks. The cost of tours from the ship were outrageously expensive. They now charge £5 to £10 for shuttle busses from ship into town. Which they never used to do. We found that we got virtually the same tours on the RED open top busses at a quarter or less of the organised RC ttours. . Our cabin was 7550. No bath, but a very adequate shower. Lovely balcony. Very quiet but towards the front of the ship and a very very long way from the restaurants. Our bathroom had nothing but towels for the first 3 days. No shampoos, tissues, face flannels, shower gel, conditioner or shower gel for first three days. Had to keep begging for anything we wanted. The Windjammer restaurant was a nightmare. Self service. Too many people fighting for too few tables. Dreadful VERY LOUD music playing all the time Complained, but no use. . Unable to hear each other talk so everyone shouting. Only used it at the last possible moment for breakfast. However, the Romeo & Juliet Restaurant was excellent. Went there every evening.. Only went to theatre twice, first time a comedian so offensive, we walked out. Second time the musical, Grease. It was fabulous! The Royal Parade is a High street full of bars and shops. Great to shop and people watch. We booked through SAGA and got a free door to door taxi and free insurance AND it was cheaper than 8 other travel agents we tried. Don't think we would choose this company again as it charges extortionate prices for drinks ( including water) and trips. Royal Caribbean will automatically add a huge amount of money to your account for tips every day unless you tell reception you wish to pay them yourself in person at the end of the cruise. . Bay of Biscay very choppy. You can get sea sick pills from the Medical until ( If you can find it ). They are one of the two things that are free on the ship. Ice cream by the pool was the only other thing. This cruise is excellent for disabled people, there were a large number of wheelchair users on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Family suite was the pull on this occasion , coupled with the itinerary. I have cruised with Thomson on umpteen occasions over the last decade on all its ships (8 times on Island Escape) + & never had cause to complain - this time one ... Read More
Family suite was the pull on this occasion , coupled with the itinerary. I have cruised with Thomson on umpteen occasions over the last decade on all its ships (8 times on Island Escape) + & never had cause to complain - this time one or two grumbles. The smoking restriction has congregated far too many smokers in one area with insufficient seating - Thomson is a budget line & as such captures a large market of smokers - if they wish to continue with a resticted policy they need to plan and accommodate that fact! Banning balcony smoking whilst reducing smoking deck areas doesn't fit and causes friction! Dinner in the main restaurant & Glasshouse excellent, food in 'Islands' invariably lukewarm & not acceptable! Dress to impress night a farce - neither formal nor casual nor anything at all - a mistake, particularly as the officers never 'dressed' even on the 'so called' Capts intro event! One last minor gripe - I did miss the traditional Thomson Dinning room waiting staff 'entertainment ' its a 'thomson signature' and promotional +! Policy planners take note! That aside an enjoyable cruise on a very clean and well run ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
The shower and toilet room flooded on two occasions,the toilet bowl filled up to within 1inch of the top on many occasions and the colour of the water was as black as your hat with all bits floating in it even with many flushes did not ... Read More
The shower and toilet room flooded on two occasions,the toilet bowl filled up to within 1inch of the top on many occasions and the colour of the water was as black as your hat with all bits floating in it even with many flushes did not clear I reported this to reception.The water from the taps was was a yellowish colour which was also reported. The size of the cabin was more lithe size of a broom cupboard we had to live out of our suite cases all week.The buffet you couldn't help yourself you hah to hand your plate to one of the chefs for them to dish out the food .The shore excursions were very poor for the price. The good parts were the cabin stewards went that extra mile to to help they were Exellent. Also the entertainment staff were also Exellent Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
The worse cruising experience I have ever had. From beginning to end. My wife and I have cruised with Fred Olsen cruises on three occasions this was to be our fourth, we booked a cruise for my mother and father in law, my sister and ... Read More
The worse cruising experience I have ever had. From beginning to end. My wife and I have cruised with Fred Olsen cruises on three occasions this was to be our fourth, we booked a cruise for my mother and father in law, my sister and brother inlaw and my wife and I. The cruise was on the "Black Watch" an eight night cruise sailing from Belfast October 2015. The cruise started on the 16th October 2015 we were told to check in at their facility at Belfast docks at 2pm, my brother Inlaw was given a 2.30pm checkin, why? After registration all 700+ passengers were herded into what I can only describe as a small warehouse with very basic facilities, like myself most passengers would have been retired with a large number of disabled people. We waited almost 2.50 hours in crowded cold conditions to be bused to the ship which was located at another dock beside an animal feed warehouse, the stench was almost overwhelming. The checkin warehouse had a hole in the wall canteen offering hot and cold drinks which we had to pay for, yet we had checked in, and all of our party had an all inclusive card, Both my wife's parents are in their 80's and sat shivering like others waiting on the inadequate number of coaches to take us to the ship. When we eventually arrived onboard we went immediately to our Cabin (Superior Outside cabin) which I can only describe as tired and past its sell by date, both single beds mattresses had bowed in the middle and looked like something you would get in some third world hostel. The usual ships newsletter was placed on the table it listed various events, restaurant times etc, enclosed with it was a special notice informing us that due to repairs to the ship auxiliary engine we would be missing our first port of call "La Coruna." The ship would be going to the second port of call "Bilbao" for repairs so we would spend almost three days there. We were offered £50 each as compensation which had to be spent on the ship. At this stage the ship had not left the dockside in Belfast. If Fred Olsen cruises had notified us prior to getting on the ship I would have cancelled, as one of the main reasons for booking was the opportunity of going to La Coruna and taking my wife's parents to Santiago de Compostela an opportunity which because of their age and cost will sadly not be possible again. Having sailed on Fred Olsen cruises three other ships I had no hesitation booking the Black Watch as the previous cruising experience on these ships was faultless, unfortunately the Black Watch fell way below their sister ships standards, the main restaurant was one of the worst I have seen, was more like a ferry canteen than an elegant cruise ship restaurant, It was to bright and lacked any atmosphere. The staff lacked personality and just seemed totally bored, unenthusiastic, we listened to a couple of the waiters complain about the salary they got from The cruise company and how it was topped up with the gratuities which we had all prepaid. In comparison with its sister ships the menus were boring, breakfast and lunch was a buffet but you could order off the menu if you could get eye contact with a waiter I gave up trying and opted for buffet. Trying to get a glass of wine on our all inclusive card on occasions took ages getting eye contact with a waiter got worse as each day went by, on the final night my father in law finally got a glass after he had finished his main course, in any case the house wine was practically undrinkable. The reception staff, shop staff were totally unpleasant, getting a smile was a rarity, the one area that I enjoyed on the ship was the observatory bar the staff were pleasant and efficient, the trio who played there every evening were excellent. One of my pet hates on any cruise is the constant manufactured occasions that their photographers use to get a happy holiday shot, captains dinner, captains farewell dinner etc, the photographs cost a fortune to purchase, on the Black Watch I seen one of the worse photographs I have ever seen, a couple getting photographed with the captain, his wife stood beside the captain, her husband was in a wheel chair, the photographer took this shot and put the picture on the usual display. The head of the person in the wheelchair was all that you could see of him sticking up at the bottom of the photo. All my comments like this are just a snapshot of a very bad experience on the Black Watch never to be repeated. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Arrived at ship at about 3 pm and asked to wait in lounge as cabins not available. About 20 other English people who had arrived as a group about 45 minutes before us were also waiting in lounge and like us were there early because of ... Read More
Arrived at ship at about 3 pm and asked to wait in lounge as cabins not available. About 20 other English people who had arrived as a group about 45 minutes before us were also waiting in lounge and like us were there early because of arrangements made by their tour companies. No refreshments offered until asked for/demanded even though we had all been travelling for at least 9 hours. Bad start - how much does a cup of tea cost for the sake of good will? On the plus side the staff were friendly and helpful but I have always had better quality food on other company's ships. No choice either. Also, unlike most other river cruises on this one it was stay on the ship while it sailed up river or pay to go on a coach trip as it never actually stayed anywhere except for the first full day. Fortunately we were paired with a great Australian couple at meal and other times and the scenery was magnificent. Even though I would like to have been more positive as I have been in other reviews I would warn potential travellers about the miniscule toilet/shower rooms designed for Hobbits where it is possible to perform three forms of ablutions simultaneously. I would not travel with this company again Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our third cruise and second with Celebrity and we truly enjoyed ourselves. We chose this trip because of the itinerary - Barcelona, Palma De Mallorca, Gilbratar, Malaga, Lisbon and Cadiz (Seville) and it was during the ... Read More
This was our third cruise and second with Celebrity and we truly enjoyed ourselves. We chose this trip because of the itinerary - Barcelona, Palma De Mallorca, Gilbratar, Malaga, Lisbon and Cadiz (Seville) and it was during the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada where the weather was perfect for walking and visiting. Our overall impression of the Celebrity experience is positive - this ship had some of the friendliest crew members we've encountered in a long time. Our Silhouette dinning room crew, Milorad and Izlem, were top-notch. They were extremely attentive and fulfilled every request in a timely manner. They set the tone each day with a wide smile and friendly greeting. The decor is sleek and minimalist with white curtains hanging in the shopping area. Modern art photos hung on stairway walls throughout the ship. The atrium was impressive but featured a huge multi-colored vase with a tree that shifted in the "wind." The public restrooms were modern and featured cloth and paper towels. We really enjoyed the foods in the ship despite lack of some Asian foods on board, we appreciated more if we could have more Chinese and Vietnamese foods. We knew that there was a good Vietnamese cook on board. We bough all excursion on board and really appreciated all tours. However we appreciated most were Malaga, Cadiz and Gilbratar tours. One thing that really stands out the Celebrity Equinox ship was the help desk service attentional care. They kindly answered all our concerns. Thank very much Two Nguyen's families in Canada Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
My wife and two friends and I sailed on the maiden voyage of Anthem. The ship is amazing. The restaurants we used were the complimentary ones which we booked before sailing. The food was good in all of them. On Royal Nights they all ... Read More
My wife and two friends and I sailed on the maiden voyage of Anthem. The ship is amazing. The restaurants we used were the complimentary ones which we booked before sailing. The food was good in all of them. On Royal Nights they all have the same menu which is two items from each of them plus regular items. The entertainment was excellent especially We Will Rock You. The Two70 lounge is very nice and there is a buffet there for breakfast and lunch. The North Star we did on a port day and enjoyed it. We also had a go on the bumper cars. The ports of call were Spain and France. The weather was as expected for that area at that time of year. Bilbao was closed as it was a Sunday and the traffic to get from port to town was very, very busy. We did a trip to Paris which was a long way two and a half hours each way but we had a good time and saw the tourist attractions. We have sailed with RCI before and the four of us are Diamond members the diamond lounge was very busy. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Loved the ship. Great night shows. Great night time activities. Crew generally friendly. Food good. MAJOR lack of day time activities. Should you only want to layout around the pool I suppose all would be ok. There were 6 of ... Read More
Loved the ship. Great night shows. Great night time activities. Crew generally friendly. Food good. MAJOR lack of day time activities. Should you only want to layout around the pool I suppose all would be ok. There were 6 of us and also hear others saying the same problem. Lectures-if you want to call infomercials to promote the spa a lecture. Destination lecture also was poor, being again merely to promote shore excursions ( as if we were unable to read). Movies were available for kids but none for adults during the day (a great source of cheap entertainment). Total lack of respect for Veteran's !! Meetings were set up inside a bar with dance classes being held just outside the bar entry. SO vet's couldn't hear and share each others service experiences. Plus no one from Royal C. sponsored anything such as even a glass of water. Princess always has one of their agents to greet the vet's in a proper environment and champagne or beverage and appetizers are offered. Oceania has a agent to greet and a full brunch is enjoyed. Not that anyone needs drink or food but a proper environment would show some respect. 500 WWII vet's pass each day. Show appreciation for service to those still living. I am a 100% war disabled vet. Yes, I do realize generally a ship credit is given to vet's although none on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
First off all we really liked the cruise and will sail again if cruise itinerary will match our plans. We liked itinerary, customer service, newly offered cabin, food, how yacht was maintained, officers and specially captain. He was just ... Read More
First off all we really liked the cruise and will sail again if cruise itinerary will match our plans. We liked itinerary, customer service, newly offered cabin, food, how yacht was maintained, officers and specially captain. He was just fantastic. We all loved him. A few small things that can be easily corrected: when we arrived and got in our cabin, in a few hours we realized that air conditioning was broken, cold wind was blowing without stop and temperatures were at 62 F. Stuart tried to place the towels on the register; however, that did not solve the problem. We also contacted reception a many times, they kept sending people, however, they appeared and disappeared without explanation if they can fix the problem. Only at 2 am we were visited by one of officers Margozhata and she offered us to move to different cabin. Actually she saved our cruise (thank you!). Why it was done by customer service at the beginning? Margozhata also helped us to load our stuff on the cart and at 3 am we were moving to different cabin losing almost entire day of cruising. In addition we did not receive keys for a new cabin, contacted reception, were promised to send a stuart; however, we had to call again next day in order to get them. Second - communication problems with travel agent. Very seldom we received answers to our questions on time. We understand, that agent is traveling; however, they have to have a replacement. I believe that in the future we will try to book directly with a cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Thomson Dreamliner is a fantastic plane. Lots of leg room and free food and drink during the flight. But, what started well, ended badly. The Jamaican airport was hot, humid, crowded and queued. No where to sit, no air conditioning, no ... Read More
Thomson Dreamliner is a fantastic plane. Lots of leg room and free food and drink during the flight. But, what started well, ended badly. The Jamaican airport was hot, humid, crowded and queued. No where to sit, no air conditioning, no water and no where to rest in a confined corridor containing hundreds of people. Tempers flared after hours waiting to get to embarkation and some felt faint. A musical group from the island greeted us at the ship but the singer was out of tune and the musicians seemed fed up of playing it took that long for everyone to board. The buffets were always full of food and refreshments and the restaurant was great for an evening meal. However, the food was mostly overcooked, warm at best when eating and not very tasty in all the eateries. I did not like the fact you helped yourself to buffet with tongs. It would have been more hygienic to have been given the food by buffet staff. Despite the fact the ship had antibacterial dispensers throughout, many passengers ignored them. I had a bad tummy in the middle of the first week and was told by a passenger that the ship had had Noro virus aboard the week before resulting in the closure of the Jacuzzis. I was also by other passengers that many people were being treated for a bad cough, an outbreak which had been on board since December with antibiotic drips having to be issued for pneumonia and also that 5 people had died on board during this time. Myself and my husband both went home with a bad cough at the end of the cruise. One woman was badly burnt by a soot gob that had been blown from the ship's funnel. Many passengers had broken their arms whilst on board. Health and safety was an issue as I saw a crew member carrying two stacks of cups on his tray down a spiral staircase. Smoking was allowed on the decks which was very quickly extended to inside the ship and door areas by smokers who ignored the rules. It was hard to get away from cigarette smoke on the deck areas. We found it very difficult to get a sun lounger before 10am and these were hogged by selfish passengers all day despite the fact that they were not using them for hours. The ship had an overcrowded feel during the sea days and the days were quite strained. The behavior of some of the passengers was terrible despite their mature years. Tempers flared and a fight broke out over the use of a lift which carried on in the sun deck. There was a lot of foul language used by some of the down to earth types which did offend other passengers with their rudeness at times. Some of the deck flooring was bubbled and torn. The first port was La Romana. I wish I had stayed aboard the ship. We were transported by shuttle to the nearby town and was immediately bombarded by very persistent venders that were very intimidating. We all immediately got right back on the bus and returned to the ship. This port did not match the description at all. My favourite ports were St Maartin and Antigua. Shops were wonderful and there were many nice places to go. The Virgin Islands were a little boring as we had not been able to book a tour but on returning to the ship many passengers were disappointed with their trips here. One had gone to see whales and was told by locals that whales are a rare sight in April as they don’t arrive until June when the season for them starts. We did see some flying fish and dolphins on the sea days. Gibraltar is a nice place but there was very little time to visit more than one venue as the ship departs at 2pm and we had to be back on board by 1:30. We were talked out of using the cable car by the port taxi drivers who said that we would not have time to use it. The port inspector confirmed this when asked to back up the statements but on speaking to the tourist visitor centre they said we would have had plenty of time to use it. So I think we were conned into using them at a cost. To sum up, I personally quite enjoyed my time on this cruise but I know that quite a few other passengers were very disappointed and if rumors were correct some did not return at all. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
There was no doubt this time – a January cruise on the Oriana is a great way to get rid of those winter blues. So, twelve days cruise on Oriana from Southampton with six ports of call in Portugal, Spain and Morocco. Check in was ... Read More
There was no doubt this time – a January cruise on the Oriana is a great way to get rid of those winter blues. So, twelve days cruise on Oriana from Southampton with six ports of call in Portugal, Spain and Morocco. Check in was faultless and we were in our cabin before our daughter had got home – and she only lives 12 miles away. Freedom dining was the major change and very much applauded. Apart from a short queue for those wanting to dine at 6pm, we much enjoyed the opportunity of meeting different people each night. Crossing the Bay of Biscay both ways was in rough seas and F9 to 10 seas. The ship manages it beautifully although fair to say not for the feint hearted as it does crash and bang. The weather for the entire cruise was poor but, as a compliment to P&O, it made no difference – we could enjoy the facilities on board to the full including the outdoor, warm pools. The choice of films could be better: whilst varied, they tended to be American. The Theatre Royal shows were, without exception, all excellent and the Headliners amazing. Oriana beginning to look tired in some areas but I gather she is due for a refit. Would we go again? Yes, without doubt and on Oriana if we can.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Embarkation was much better than the Christmas Cunard cruise and boarded speedily standard of food still good, we went on freedom dining as we were late bookers. Hutch a bit noisy at night and early morning from persons walking on lido ... Read More
Embarkation was much better than the Christmas Cunard cruise and boarded speedily standard of food still good, we went on freedom dining as we were late bookers. Hutch a bit noisy at night and early morning from persons walking on lido deck above. Furnishing a little tired, varnish surfaces of wardrobes were bare in places. staff were their usual pleasant selves in cabins and dining rooms. Couple of good films in cinema , some had to be shown in the theatre during the day. Headliners shows usual standard, a very good comedian, Gerry Graham, and Beverley Davison a concert violinist who has amusing patter as well. I can not say much about the 'entertainment' which was not organised during the day. We had visited all the previously except for Casablanca, glad we took the trip out to Rabat as Casablanca has little to recommend it.. quite a few showers during all trips except for fine weather in Oporto. Malaga was a very wet Sunday, we took a taxi to the car museum which is quite a way out to the edge of town at an old tobacco factory and good for a 90 minutes or more walk round. There is also vintage haute couture to relieve boredom for the ladies. Cadiz was dry but there was a biting cold wind as we wandered round. the sea swell was rough a lot of the time, especially up the Portuguese coast coming home in a force 9-10, worse than Biscay both ways. filled in P&O questionnaire re recent oriana cruise x508. forgot to mention my disappointment re relaxation of dress code in the last year. appalled to see black tie nights code applies only in two bars and restaurants, and not throughout the public areas of the ship as it used to be. people are now allowed to enter the theatre in polo shirts on black tie nights, not even expected to wear lounge suit and tie now. at least Cunard apply the standard still. will P&O be downgrading the dress code to the level of the rest of Carnival US ships or Thompson? Spoke to one of the officers at a party, apparently P&O need to not put off customers by demanding high standards of dress. I know the ship is getting scruffy after 20 years but that’s not an excuse for lax standards. P&O need to put more effort into the mid size ships rather than the big Azura,Ventura Britannia or the adult cruisers will be deserting to other cruise lines.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
You can pick your friends but not your fellow cruisers and their was some miserable people on board her this time, thank goodness for freedom dining as if I had to sit with some of these people for the whole cruise I would have swam back ... Read More
You can pick your friends but not your fellow cruisers and their was some miserable people on board her this time, thank goodness for freedom dining as if I had to sit with some of these people for the whole cruise I would have swam back to Southampton, I would also say that at least 30% of the people on board did not join in the "Formal Nights" but of course that is their choice as for us it is a big part of the whole cruise experience and at the formal nights we did meet some lovely people who had cruised before.. The Captain on this cruise was a very boring character and I could not wait for his lunchtime speeches to end as all he dribbled on about was Knots & litres of fuel per hour (it was like being back at school) he needs to take a lesson off Captain Robert Canby who is captivating and has a good sense of humour, with him you saw him a few times a day walking round the ship talking to fellow cruisers but with this guy you saw him when he gave his welcome speech at the welcome drinks party and never again after that.. The entertainment team were also lacking personality and wow factor and seemed to huddle in clusters amongst themselves chatting instead of interacting with fellow cruisers but like they say "You are only as good as your leader", what a travesty that Elaine the last Cruise Director has moved on to pastures new as she was a great asset to this ship as was her team.. We travelled to and from Southampton with Eavesway travel which is always a nice start to your holiday and the check in process was a speedy affair with our cases being placed outside our cabin within thirty minutes, our steward Victor was amazing and provided us with a spotlessly clean cabin, extra coat hangers and feather pillows (which would ensure a good nights sleep).. Because we booked only three weeks before travelling we were given an inside cabin on the starboard side of "D" deck, we could not have wished for more as it was spacious with abundant amounts of storage and the biggest shower cubical we have ever had and I would not hesitate to stay there again.. It was just above the Yacht & Compass Bar and the Footlights Theatre but it was so quiet you would never have known this, my partner uses a walking stick but everything was on our doorstep : Café Jardin, Atrium, Lifts, Launderette - perfect.. It was lovely to discover that Protocol & Power Supply were on board as they have performed on Oceana when we have sailed in the past so we knew we were going to enjoy some of the entertainment, we didn't bother with many of the Headliner shows as we found them pretty hit and miss but the coloured singer one night was outstanding as were the four guy singers who performed.. Food in every venue on board was fresh, plentiful and enjoyable even the Plaza has vastly improved since we last cruised on her.. Café Jardin was our place of choice for either a hearty breakfast or light lunch and the food is outstanding and a very civilised way to start the day with attentive staff & exquisite service.. Being on freedom dining we ate our evening meal in the Ligorian Restaurant (special thanks to Dallon for looking after and remembering us from previous cruises) Food was always hot, delicious and well presented and on some occasions completely outshined the dinner guest we had been sat with.. The new menu in the Ligorian is a great idea and we loved having a daily menu on one side as well as all the P&O classics opposite, service on occasions was a little strange as they cleared a table before everyone had finished and others on your table were still eating.. All in all we enjoyed our twelve days away with more pluses than minuses and I'm sure that we will return to Oceana some time next year even if only to celebrate our Anniversary again with Protocol (Glenn & Jean) who made it truly a night to remember.. We enjoy cruising with P&O and for the fantastic deal we got when booking you really cannot knock it too much Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
As this was the last scheduled cruise by the Aurora before its well-publicised re-fit, we did wonder if standards might be expected to slip, but our fears were groundless. This was our third cruise but we have never been with P&O ... Read More
As this was the last scheduled cruise by the Aurora before its well-publicised re-fit, we did wonder if standards might be expected to slip, but our fears were groundless. This was our third cruise but we have never been with P&O before, and the convenience of boarding at Southampton meant no flights and therefore no weight restrictions on baggage. Paying the cheap rate for P&O cabins means you don't get a guaranteed car parking slot on the dockside, so we did the next best thing and booked with Alternative Cruise Parking (ACP). That was also a good move, since mini-bus transfers to and from the ship are included in the price, and the staff there were extremely friendly and helpful. Both embarkation and disembarkation procedures at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton worked flawlessly and we had virtually no delay for queues either getting on or off the ship. That was another big plus for us, having previously suffered chaos and long delays with MSC at Genoa. We booked a balcony cabin on deck 12 (Lido deck) which is on the same level as the bridge, and by chance were allocated a cabin on the port side just two windows behind the bridge itself. It was clean and tidy, and everything that we had expected. The bed in particular was much bigger than the one we have at home, and has set my wife off on another shopping hunt for a new one, but that's another story. The balcony was the type with a framed opening rather than floor-to-ceiling view, which was quite good on some days for minimising the spray from the Bay of Biscay! Even so, the two wooden chairs and little coffee table out there did tend to get wet overnight, and we got into the habit of stashing the seat cushions vertically against the forward wall so they didn't get splashed. We booked excursions at each of the five ports of call: La Coruna, Casablanca, Malaga, Cadiz and Lisbon. On reflection this was probably a bit on the "manic" side for us, and another time we'd probably set aside at least some of the ports to do our own thing. However: La Coruna: we booked a tour called "Discover the Way of St James" which involved a 90 minute bus trip, then a 3km walk through verdant green rolling countryside, followed by a further short trip into Santiago de Compostela where we had free time to wander around the shops and admire the architecture. The weather was initially very wet but we had taken the precaution of wearing walking boots and carrying waterproofs. Our guide was Jutta, who was enthusiastic at describing the local culture as it differed from national Spanish culture. Exploring Santiago was fascinating and we found a good tapas bar for lunch (Taberna do Bispo) and bought various gifts at other shops nearby. The Spanish bagpipe player in the town square, wearing a sort of jester outfit, was memorable. Casablanca: the quayside was covered with a slick layer of filth that looked like a mixture of tar, molasses and camel poo. We had no option but to walk across it in the morning, although by our return in the afternoon it had to some extent been covered up by sawdust or sand. Everybody complained about it, not least those operating wheelchairs. The Captain later apologised and said that a complaint would be made. We had booked a tour covering the Hassan II mosque, the olive market and some free shopping time. The mosque was certainly impressive and we learned a lot about it from our friendly guide (Radwan) who had a good sense of humour. The olive market was colourful and noisy, but in the end we didn't have enough time to explore the bazaar area for ourselves, although we bought various craft items such as a leather belt and some coloured scarves, very cheaply. Malaga: after another day at sea, during which our very helpful cabin steward (Floyd) had managed to clean the Casablanca stuff from my shoes, we docked at Malaga in the evening for a 24-hr stay. The contrast with Casablanca could not have been greater. Very modern cruise terminal building with automated walkways adjusting to the height of the ship. In the evening we decided to stay on board for the excellent dinner in the Medina restaurant, but many others went ashore to find dinner there. Next day our excurson guide was called Sergio, although he pronounced it Serchio with the ch as in the Scottish loch. The first part of the tour took us around the narrow streets of Malaga to visit the statue of Picasso seated on a bench, then the unfinished "one-armed lady of Malaga" which is an unfinished medieval cathedral that should have had twin towers but they ran out of money when only one had been built. The best part of the trip was a visit to the hilltop Castillo de Catalina. This started life as a castle, became a private residence maybe 100 years ago and more recently converted to a hotel. Impressive tiered gardens with good views of the city below. In one of the rooms adjacent to the rear courtyard we were treated to a wonderful flamenco music and dance display by four performers in national costume, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Cadiz: another clean and tidy quayside, and docking was a bit like reversing up the high street. Some of the quayside buildings were taller than the ship. Our vivacious tour guide (Antonia) accompanied us on a 45 minute bus ride to Jerez, where we passed huge sherry warehouses adorned with familiar names such as Harvey's Bristol Cream. The initial stop was at the Williams Humbert winery, where another clear-voiced guide called Christina explained the process of sherry blending, which involves siphoning a portion of each year's production into the barrels on the layer below. We were then seated around large tables and invited to taste three different sherries. I always thought I didn't like sherry and now I'm quite certain, so the less said about that the better. The final stop on the excursion was to the Equestrian centre in Jerez where we saw a terrific performance by the Royal Horses. With rousing Spanish orchestral music and interesting coloured lighting, up to eight riders at a time were demonstrating absolute control of their horses including sideways, diagonal and reverse steps, airborne kicks, threading between poles and each other, etc. There was a carriage driving section as well. Very impressive, and something that my wife has always wanted to see. Lisbon: the weather had sadly deteriorated to some extent, but the arrival up the Tagus river was nevertheless impressive. Underneath the suspension bridge buzzing with road and rail traffic, then another dockside with two other cruise ships already in place. Steeply sloping terrain rises behind the waterfront, covered with white-walled and red-tiled buildings. Must be one of Europe's most beautiful capital cities, and despite the rain we were able to appreciate it. Our afternoon excursion, in the company of our multi-lingual guide Isabel, took us to the charming medieval village of Obidos, some 70km north of Lisbon via the A8 motorway. The weather was still wet but it didn't detract from the quaint cobbled streets, the archways and viaduct, the blue tiled wall decorations something like delft pottery, and the inevitable souvenir shops. We bought superb cotton bedspeads here (after I had learned the Portugese word for cotton) and found some late lunch in a very good little restaurant called the Petrarum Domus bar (review on Trip Advisor). The bus driver did well to get us back to the ship on time despite continuous torrential rain on the motorway. Dining: we were given table 74 in the Medina Restaurant and ate there every evening with two other couples, with whom we struck up an instant friendship. Our waiters (Noel and Monico) were attentive and soon learned our preferences. Sadly this is apparently the last Aurora cruise to feature silver service by waiters at tables, since the forthcoming re-fit will change the manner in which food will be plated and served. We wondered what will happen to the waiters then? Apart from the Medina we sampled the Café Bordeaux which was particularly nice for both breakfast and lunch, which is another shame since it is as I write in the process of being ripped out and replaced with something completely different. The Orangery buffet was also very convenient for quick breakfast when we were short of time, or afternoon tea with naughty cakes, particularly as it was a quick walk along the same deck from our cabin. The Crow's Nest bar featured wonderful sea views, discreet piano playing, and sadly repetitive background music when the pianist wasn't there. How many times did we hear two half-strangled girls singing about how easily they bruised, or begging for mercy? I would definitely have bought more drinks in the Crow's Nest if it hadn't been for them. Entertainment: theatre and shows are not really our thing, although we did support the crew talent show one evening. We saw at least two very good films at the Playhouse cinema ~ "Lucy" and "Saving Mr Banks." The TV in the cabin had one film channel with a somewhat limited repertoire, but I did get to see one or two memorable films there too. There were very few children on the ship during this cruise but there are clearly facilities for them. Activities: about the only on-board activity we sampled was swimming. The Jacuzzi pools were very warm and lovely, the Riviera open-air pool was also slightly warmed and quite invigorating. The Crystal pool has a roll-over roof something like the one at Wimbledon, but that was firmly closed at this time of year. The table tennis tables around the upper balcony overlooking the pool appeared to be popular with other guests. Days at sea: a welcome break from excursions, really! And we saw dolphins on at least three occasions, and one sighting of a whale spouting not 50 yards from the ship, just below the bridge. After consulting a number of books in the ship library I came to the conclusion this could have been a female or juvenile sperm whale. It had the right nose shape, with the blowhole right at the front, the dorsal fin was not noticeable as with many other types, and the size was at least three times that of the dolphins we had seen. Not one of the world's commonest whales, that's for sure. We saw this on the approaches to the Gibraltar straits between Casablanca and Malaga. Summary: we loved every minute of this cruise and are already thinking of a Caribbean trip next, probably one starting and finishing in Southampton. Although we live in the Scottish highlands we have family and friends in Oxfordshire, and we can combine visiting them with the drive to Southampton.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
My wife and I are retired and in our late 60's and have primarily cruise on Princess. This cruise from Rotterdam was only our third Holland America cruise and our 22nd cruise overall since we took up cruising in 2003. My wife prefers ... Read More
My wife and I are retired and in our late 60's and have primarily cruise on Princess. This cruise from Rotterdam was only our third Holland America cruise and our 22nd cruise overall since we took up cruising in 2003. My wife prefers large ships (Ruby Princess) while I prefer small ships (Pacific Princess). The Rotterdam is a perfect compromise for us. We flew out of Seattle on Iceland Airline 757-200 airplane to Keflavik, Iceland where we had one and half hour layover before boarding another Iceland Airline 757-200 airplane to Amsterdam. Iceland Airline is the UPS of passenger airlines, all of the "packages" are flown to Keflavik and then "sorted" and put on airplanes to their final destination. You have the option to delay in route and spend up to seven days in Iceland at no additional cost in the total fare which if booked early is much less than the major airlines flying to Europe. Arriving in Amsterdam we took a prebooked Schipol Business Taxi from the airport to Hotel New York in Rotterdam less than a 100 meters from the cruise terminal. With three large suitcases, two backpacks and two small personal bags there was no way of getting all of that on the Inter City train. The Hotel New York is housed in the former Holland America Line Headquarters building. The exterior is unchanged from the original building. The corporate offices were replaced with 72 guests rooms, several meeting rooms and a large restaurant while retaining many of the architectural details of the original building. In many ways it was like staying in a museum with comfortable accommodations and great food. We spent two full days in the Hotel before making the short walk at noon to the cruise terminal on embarkation day. It only took 20 minutes from dropping off our bags to entering our Vista Suite on deck six just a few staterooms forward of the amidships stairway. After dropping off our backpacks we went up to the Lido restaurant on Deck 8. I was expecting the usual chaotic embarkation day lunch time scrum and instead it was a more normal sea day lunch experience. We actually found a table in the Lido in just a few minutes. Departure down the Maas river to the North Sea was delayed two hours to complete refueling of the ship which for some reason took longer than normal. The 6:00 pm departure was somewhat disappointing since I was looking forward to taking some pictures of the river transit to the sea and the ambient light was poor for photographs due approaching sunset and a partially overcast sky. This was our first time on a R Class ship our two previous cruises were on the Vista Class ships the Westerdam and Oosterdam. It was hard to believe that the Rotterdam was built in 1997. The ship's public areas and are stateroom were in amazingly good condition and very clean for a 16 year old ship. It was the first time we have encountered dual language announcements (English and Dutch) which well done by the Cruise Director and not a problem in any way. We later found out that over 1300 of the passengers where Dutch speaking and around 100 passengers were English speaking. We had requested and received late dining (8:00 pm) at a table for 8. Two of the couples were from the US and the third couple from the UK. The wait service on the first night was slow and a bit disorganized. We did not finish diner until after 10:00 pm and while dining service improved during the cruise, most nights very slow causing us to be late for the 10:00 pm shows several times. I am not sure if the issue was short staffing of the waiters or kitchen staff but it was not up to the standard we experienced on other Holland American or Princess cruises. As to the food. I am a vegetarian and I will say I did not starve and even gained two pounds during the cruise. My at home diet for protein consists primarily of beans, lentils, tofu, yogurt and cheese. On the ship I was very happy with the breakfast. Lunch was a problem, it was either cheese sandwiches, cheese pizza or pasta with or without cheese. Dinner was better than lunch with better variety of vegetarian items. My issue with dinner was in that no way was the vegetarian choices equivalent to meat and fish dishes. On the third formal night, my table mates has steak and lobster while I had a cabbage roll stuffed with rice and corn with red pepper sauce drizzled on top of the cabbage roll. Not exactly a formal night dish. My other issue was with the second course which half the time only had a cold soup as the vegetarian choice. Off the anytime menu there was the Caesar Salad which was very bland. However, the deserts were great. I particularly liked the fruit crisps and the ice cream selections. The vegetarian meals on both Holland America and Princess are behind in selection and taste when compared to the food of the vegetarian restaurants in Seattle. We really like our Vista Suite and it was a step up in space and comfort from the normal balcony rooms we choose on Princess. It was also correspondingly more expensive. We always book a balcony/verandah stateroom which is not available on the R Class ships. The Lanai staterooms while a good value do not work for us in terms of privacy. We choose this cruise because of the itinerary. We has always wanted to spend more time in Rotterdam after a port call there several years ago and both Cadiz and Lisbon which we have port calls twice before are both some of our favorite European cities. It was a real treat to overnight in both of these cities. The other thing my wife really like was that we docked at all of the ports. She does not like tendering after we have experienced rough conditions returning to the ship. We do not do excursions and prefer to get off the ship and explore the city by walking and using local transportation. For attractions further from the port we will rent a car. During my working career I had the privilege of doing a lot of international travel and as a result I am very comfortable driving on the left or right and in any country not on the State Departments Advisory List. We enjoyed visiting all of the ports except Leixoes, Portugal which was a half day port call in the morning and in windy and wet weather conditions. One of our favorite stops of the cruise was A Coruna, Spain were we toured the San Anton Castle and archaeological museum and the Tower of Hercules, a second century Roman Lighthouse which is still operational. It was renovated in the late 1700's and is opened to visitors. We were able to climb to an observation level near the top of tower and enjoy an incredible view of the city and coastline. The entertainment on board the ship was excellent . We really enjoyed the piano and violin group, Adagio, which performed every night from 7:00 to 11:00 pm in the Explorer's Lounge. The two young ladies from the Ukraine very talented classical musicians and real joy to hear perform. Our favorite showroom performance was on the night of the last port call in Vigo, Spain. Jazz singer Denise Thimes accompanied by Llew Matthews on the piano who previously had performed on Holland America jazz cruises gave her first performance on a regular cruise. It was an hour of really incredible music. Dismbarkation was just as easy as the embarkation 14 days earlier in Rotterdam. We got off the ship at 9:00 am picked up our bags in the terminal and took a cab to the Hilton Hotel in the central business district in Rotterdam. The Hilton Hotel is only two blocks from the Central Trains station so it was easy to go further afield. In the subsequent 6 days in Rotterdam we took the train to Amsterdam and toured the Rijksmusem, went to Brussels and also Delft. Rotterdam is almost the direct opposite of Amsterdam as far as architecture as the result of being flatten by bombing during World War II. It has some incredible architecture and great museums which we really enjoyed. Also, they are few tourists so it is very easy to get around and into museums without having to deal with long lines. In summary we liked the itinerary, the friendliness and great service of the crew, the spacious explorer's cafe and library on Deck 5, a very comfortable and well maintained stateroom and the politeness of our fellow passengers. We did not like the smoker in the adjacent stateroom whose verandah smoking made it impossible for us to use our verandah nor the below standard service in the main dining room during the second seating. All in all we really enjoyed the cruise and have booked Alaskan cruise out of Seattle this summer on the Amsterdam. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
On reading previous reviews I have come to the conclusion that this ship can be classed as the Marmite of the Cruising World; it's either loved or hated. I have just returned from a 10 day cruise to Holland, Spain, Portugal and ... Read More
On reading previous reviews I have come to the conclusion that this ship can be classed as the Marmite of the Cruising World; it's either loved or hated. I have just returned from a 10 day cruise to Holland, Spain, Portugal and France. This is my second cruise on the Opera and my seventeenth cruise overall. Previous cruise experiences include P&O, Cunard, Princess and Holland America, as well as several other MSC ships. I therefore consider myself experienced enough to write a fair review and make reasonable comparisons. Embarkation: This has to be one of our best embarkation experiences to date. We used the free car parking facility at Southampton. On arrival at the car park our luggage was taken from us and we did not see it again till we were on board. The passengers were transferred by mini bus from the car park to the terminal. There were no queues, so once the formality of checking in was completed we were on board within minutes. Disembarkation worked equally as efficiently. Accommodation: We booked a balcony cabin on deck 9. I have to say that this was the smallest balcony cabin I have ever seen. The actual cabin area was no larger than an ordinary inside cabin! The balcony was also small. However, the cabin had all that we required, enough storage space, plenty of hangers and was perfectly adequate for our needs. The cabin was kept clean and tidy by our room steward, who provided us with a good service and clean towels twice a day. Dining Experience: There are two main restaurants, a buffet, pizza bar and grill. We chose to eat all our meals in the MDR as the buffet was too much of a bun fight for my liking. Service at breakfast and lunch varied as you were not sitting at your normal table. Service for dinner was extremely good and the waiters were friendly and helpful. The food was in my opinion excellent, with reasonable choice and quality. I have read so many poor reviews of the food and do not understand how with a menu that offers a seven course meal plus an ‘always available’ menu offering simpler fayre, people felt the need to go to the buffet afterwards, as they were still hungry!! There is no tea or coffee service offered after lunch and dinner; if you require a hot drink you have to either go to the buffet area, where you can obtain a tea or coffee without charge, or you can pay and have a good cup of coffee from the Aroma Coffee bar. Drinks Packages: There are various packages that you can purchase either before the cruise, or once you board the ship. It is worth pointing out that if you pre-purchase online you will not have to pay the 15% service charge. As we are not big drinkers we chose to stick with the basic package that was included by our travel agent. This package enabled us to have unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks with our meals. This was perfectly adequate for our needs, but the quality of the wine was a disappointment. Entertainment: There was plenty going on for those who wanted it: dance lessons, aerobics, arts and crafts and games and quizzes. Most of this was not my cup of tea, but was available. I cannot comment first hand on the kids and teens activities as we were not travelling with children. However by talking to two young people who dined with us, it appears that there was not much for teenagers. There were some excellent shows in the theatre featuring singers, dancers and acrobats. Many of the shows received standing ovations (something I have never experienced before on a cruise ship). The Cruise Director, Massimo, had the most amazing command of at least 6 languages - yes all announcements are in six languages, but you get used to it. There was music and dancing in various bars and lounges each evening and there were a few thieme nights, but we were not advised of these prior to the cruise, so did not take the relevant items of clothing to enable us to participate. Something which appeared to be new for MSC was a guest speaker (for the British passengers). The speaker, Ms Lina Mookerjee, was a charming and interesting lady, who provided a series of talks on a diverse range of subjects. Sadly, these talks were very poorly attended. On other cruise lines I have often had difficulty in finding a seat to listen to a guest speaker. Itinerary and Excursions: Amsterdam, Guernsey, Vigo, Lisbon, Bilbao & Le Havre. Guernsey, a tender port, was cancelled due to bad weather - this was unfortunate, as for many people this was the most highly anticipated call. But safety of passengers must come first. We pre-booked the ship’s excursions in Amsterdam, Vigo and Le Havre - they were each on a dual nationality coach. This was far from ideal, as a commentary in two languages made it very difficult to follow. However, the guides worked hard to try to keep everyone happy. We used the MSC shuttle bus in Bilbao. It was a public holiday, so many of the shops were shut. Our plan was to go to the Guggenheim which we ensured first was open. Bilbao is a pleasant city to walk around, especially the old city and the riverside, and there were plenty of bars and cafés open. In Lisbon we took a private tour by taxi from the port; negotiating a price first and we had a wonderful day visiting most of the major highlights of the city, as well as going to Sintra and Cascais. Service Charge: A few previous reviewers have expressed surprise at MSC’s policy of adding gratuities to the bill. I would just like to clarify here that this is nothing new - all the cruise ships that I have been on do this, and on some cruise lines the charge is twice the amount that MSC charge. However, it is also no secret that you can adjust or remove this charge at your discretion. Cruising is one of the best value types of holiday available and MSC are are among the most competitive lines. So personally, I think that the addition of 6 Euros (£4.80 / US$8.00) per person per day is not unreasonable to be shared among hundreds of crew that work so hard to give each one of us a fantastic experience. Conclusion: I really enjoyed this cruise. The ports of call were interesting and varied. I enjoyed meeting some lovely people and I think that the ship is still as nice as it was 10 years ago when I first set sail in her. I loved the food and the shows - all things considered I think that MSC represents excellent value for money and I would happily consider them again, but probably not in high season. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014

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