8 Singapore World Cruise Reviews

Over the years, we have cruised for over 240 nights on all of the 5 Silversea ships combined with the exception of the Explorer-type ships. It is very sad to report that the last two cruises, back-to-back (25 days aboard), that we just ... Read More
Over the years, we have cruised for over 240 nights on all of the 5 Silversea ships combined with the exception of the Explorer-type ships. It is very sad to report that the last two cruises, back-to-back (25 days aboard), that we just finished: voyage 3404 from Singapore to Singapore (14 days) continuing on voyage 3405 from Singapore to Hong Kong (11 days) were really a disappointment especially when it came to the overall condition of the ship and especially the cabins. We last cruised on the Shadow in September/October 2013, from Vancouver to Shanghai (27 days) and the Shadow needed big time "TLC" then; we were told at the time that it was going to go in dry dock for a refurbishing before the end of 2013. Fast forward to this year's cruises and to our surprise when we boarded in Singapore we did not see any changes or updates in the public areas. When we checked into our suite, it looked dated to say the least and really needed work, the desk area looked like a mad child had taken a hammer and made nicks on its surface, the letter area on it was scratched and worn, the sofa and arm chair in the suite had threads coming out as if a cat with long nails had used them for scratching pad and the straight chair in front of the desk swayed like a rocking chair. The bathroom hardware was so worn that the chrome had worn was almost off. The black granite counter top was so worn out that it was white in some areas although the original color was black. The shelf underneath the two sinks was sagging and a someone had placed a large screw to hold it, but it had been so long that the screw had eaten through the wood and one had to be careful not to scratch ones hand when using the shelf. I could go on but I hope that by now the reader gets the idea of the condition of the suite. Silversea usually gives you a mid-cruise questionnaire asking you to return it to the Hotel Director, in this case it was Martin Blanar, I did write a lengthy review pointing out the things that I saw wrong and expressing my disappointment. Normally, once the questionnaires are submitted the Hotel Director normally sends a reply addressing the concerns, this time, we got a call from the front office requesting a face-to-face meeting with the Hotel Director and the Stephen, Guest Service Manager. I did go to the meeting and they basically told me, after apologizing profusely, that they kind of agree with me and that very little had been done during the dry dock to the ship and that they did not know of any plans to update the Shadow, and it was out of their control, at least they were honest. The next day when we were out the straight chair was changed and I noticed that the screw in the sagging shelf had been repaired. One of my big peeves is the fact that walking into a suite at any of the Silversea ships should have the same feeling as I was walking into a room at a Four Seasons, Ritz, Shangri-La, Peninsula or similar 5 star hotels. The suite should not feel like you are walking into run down Holiday Inn, especially for the premium prices that we pay to sail aboard a Silversea ships and the hype of their advertising. I do not know who bestows all the awards that Silversea gets but I am positive that these people have not sailed aboard the Shadow lately. Why do we pay so much money for these cruises and still have to buy blocks of time for the Internet, and be mindful of not over using them and making sure that we sign off correctly. Many times the sign on and signing off is so slow (I know because of satellites) that we have to go to the IT Concierge and when we complain and in most cases he gives you the time back without any fuss. It was announced during our cruise that Silversea was launching another Explorer-type ship, I feel that instead of expanding they should use the money to retrofit the existing ships, the company seems to be getting too greedy and it going to hurt them in the long run. I could go on but I don't want to lose the reader so I would just mention the latest "improvement" to the travel experience, it is the booklet that Silversea now sends with the ticket before we leave. It is personalized and it tells you all about the shore tours you have reserved, and it also gives you a partial description of the tour and it instructs you to go to the Silversea website for further information, unfortunately the company takes the tour information down one week before the departure so one is in la la land. When I asked the Tour Desk about the information they told me that they had no written information they could give me since Fort Lauderdale did not print the little booklet we used to get listing all the tours. Also, they used to send us two "leatherette" baggage tags, those were eliminated, I guess Silversea needs to save money. The booklet also tells you that now you can make reservations in the specialty restaurants up to 180 days prior to the sailing date. Who knows a few months before what kind of dinner one wants to have on a particular evening, I thought that one of the "big" pluses that Silversea advertises is that one could eat in any restaurant wherever one wanted, only La Terrazza, Le Champagne and pool Grill needed reservations, but normally you could get one a day ahead and in many cases the same day, I guess that we need to plan ahead from now or take our chances. I guess you probably wonder why we keep coming back to Silversea, and it is the wonderful crew and the service they give you. It never ceases to amaze me how they remember you, your name, and in many instances what your preferences are. The crew goes out of their way to make sure that all your requests regardless of how minute or odd may be, are taken care of. I hope someone at Silversea reads these reviews and wakes up.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Having previously only done Princess Grill, I was looking forward to experiencing the Cunard experience that most guests book - Britannia. Embarkation in Singapore was a breeze. There were no large queues and I was on board in about 15 ... Read More
Having previously only done Princess Grill, I was looking forward to experiencing the Cunard experience that most guests book - Britannia. Embarkation in Singapore was a breeze. There were no large queues and I was on board in about 15 minutes and my suitcase arrived at my cabin about 10 minutes after I did. I couldn't believe how quick and efficient the embarkation process was. After unpacking I did a quick tour around the ship and was impressed with the maintenance, everything looked spick and span. Cunard is obviously not cutting corners with regards to maintenance. Rather than do a short story on the voyage, I will summarise my observations about various aspects of the voyage: Service: In a word - excellent. The steward who looked after my room did an excellent job. He was always cheerful, friendly and kept my room looking very smart. Our table was served by a sommelier, waiter and assistant waiter. All three were very professional and our table received excellent service; we never had to wait for anything and there were no delays in regards to wine or alcoholic beverages. Our waiter was also very accommodating with requests. On lobster night our table all requested extra lobsters, a request which were happily granted by our waiter. Throughout the ship I encountered many different staff members from various locations (Sir Samuel's, The Commodore Club, Kings Court, Todd English, G32, the photography staff, The Chart Room and the Purser's desk) and they were all great, everyone was polite & friendly and the White Star training really shows. Accommodation: I had a D5 standard inside on deck 5. This was very conveniently located between staircases B & C and decks three & seven. The inside stateroom was very spacious and very well appointed. It was perfect for one person and I never felt claustrophobic. The only issue I had with the room was the engine noise that came through the pillow. The room I was in is located next to a void on the deck plan and I discovered that I was right next to a noisy crew staircase. This must have been the cause of the noise as occupants two staterooms down the corridor reported no noise through their pillows. I solved this problem using earplugs. Food: Again, excellent. I enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Britannia Restaurant and each time I found the food to be of a very high standard. I appreciate that the appetisers are a sensible size as the mains are quite substantial and this combination leaves room for the delicious desserts. I left the table each night feeling comfortably full - not slightly unwell from overeating. I heard some negative comments about the food in Britannia, comments which I cannot understand as the meals I had in Britannia restaurant were excellent. Kings Court was great for a quick snack or an early morning coffee before a shore tour. I found the layout to be relatively easy to follow and the food to be very good. I also had dinner at Todd English one night and was very impressed with the food and service. Having not enjoyed a previous lunch experience at Todd English I wasn't expecting much but boy was I wowed. I certainly recommend dinner at Todd English during your next QM2 voyage. Shore tours: The shore tours in Bangkok and Saigon were okay. There was a two hour drive to each city from the port and the guides ranged from fantastic to good. I found the 'Highlights of Ho Chi Minh city' tour to be boring and wouldn't recommend that tour. The tours were, however, well organised and we left and arrived back at the ship on time. Activities on board: Bingo was a lot of fun and the entertainment staff made it very enjoyable. G32 was it's usual let down, the fact that there was no DJ in residence (we had a fill-in from Vibez) only compounded the problem. The daily activity sheet was filled with many activities and your day can be as busy or as relaxing as you choose. I decided to do very little each day and so can't comment on the lectures or the shows as I pretty much just swam in the pool and went to the gym most days. The Chart Room is a great hang-out for those Britannia guests on late sitting. The room has a great buzz and is a very enjoyable place to meet friends for drinks before dinner. Overall: I very much enjoyed this voyage and would do it again in a heartbeat. The food, accommodation and service were excellent (baring the engine noise through the pillow) and I cannot imagine how Cunard could make it better. The public rooms in the ship are beautiful and certainly convey that 'ocean liner' atmosphere. What makes it all the more real is that QM2 is an actual ocean liner and that is something you don't get on any other ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
I joined Arcadia in Singpore for a very relaxing cruise through Asia visiting Sihanoukville, Bangkok, Phu My, Ha Long Bay, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Nagasaki, Osaka, Rabaul, Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney. Overall it was an excellent ... Read More
I joined Arcadia in Singpore for a very relaxing cruise through Asia visiting Sihanoukville, Bangkok, Phu My, Ha Long Bay, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Nagasaki, Osaka, Rabaul, Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney. Overall it was an excellent cruise with some fantastic ports and excellent weather. I really did enjoy the cruise and found it very relaxing and entertaining. It had that laid back type of atmosphere onboard opposed to the fast paced mood of short cruises. Public Rooms - were all clean and well presented. Allot of the lounges and bars were spacious and it was very easy to find a place to sit down and relax and do whatever you wanted to do. Cabin - I had a balcony cabin on A deck which was clean and well presented. There was a little cosmetic wear and tear in the bathroom and on the walls, but there was no more wear and tear than you would find in a standard land based hotel. The cabin is excellent for a ship. It in no way compares to a 5 star hotel and if you wanted to compare it to a land based hotel you would be looking at around a 3 star + hotel. Dining/Food - Food is always subjective to the individual and what they like to eat. What I found on Arcadia was that the food served was far superior to any land based fast food chain like McDonalds, KFC, the average hamburger store, RSL/bowling club type food. If you have eaten at some place more upmarket then you will find the food on Arcadia does not compare to that. I found the Neptune Grill for burgers, hotdogs and fast food outstanding during the day and probably the best for day food on the ship. The Belvedere Buffet Restaurant was great for cold meats and salads but for lunch it was the slops line. Breakfast in the Belvedere was excellent as was Dinner. The Meridian Dining Room was always great and my selection always med with my satisfaction. As said above the food was much better than average land based places but not as good as the more up market places. In the 10 years I have been cruising with P&O the food standard has dropped considerably since the Carnival merger. Entertainment - This was excellent and the Headliners Theatre group always impress. The entertainment was run by a great Cruise Director and team who were very energetic and involved with the passengers. We had random guest entertainers to varied tastes on board. If you liked their style and genre then they were great. If the performer does something that your not interested in then obviously there is no point seeing them as you wont like it. Ship/Facilities - Arcadia is showing a bit of wear and tear. Whilst the public rooms that I described above are acceptable there are some small things that do pose a problem. 1. None of the whirlpool spas/jacuzzi's work at all. None of them blow any bubbles or have any jet pressure. They just dont work. 2. The pools are not being heated to a comfortable level. The Neptune Pool (the covered pool) is not heated due to it being under a closing roof and causing too much humidity when the weather is bad. Unfortnately the pool is unusable in cold climates. 3. Some of the decking is coming apart as well as some areas around the ship have leaks. There are pot holes in some of the carpet from the leaks. It is obvious that there are areas of the ship that need attention. It is not bad enough to ruin a holiday, but the lack of maintenance speaks volumes about the attitude of the management and their upkeep of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Day 1 23rd Nov The Radisson was an excellent place to stay prior to a Manchester flight it cost '£89 thro Holiday extras, hotel for one night and APH parking for 28days a bargain. Easy check-in and walk straight into the terminal ... Read More
Day 1 23rd Nov The Radisson was an excellent place to stay prior to a Manchester flight it cost '£89 thro Holiday extras, hotel for one night and APH parking for 28days a bargain. Easy check-in and walk straight into the terminal undercover in two minutes Day 2 24th Nov. We flew with Singapore Airlines, Manchester to Singapore with a short stop for fuel and some more passengers in Munich. Excellent service and food, the seat back entertainment was exceptional over 50 films + comedy shows+games and TV programs on a 10inch screen. Easy on-line check-in 24hrs prior to flight. Day 3 25th Nov .The pick up from the airport was excellent a gent with a board with our name was there, he showed us where to wait whilst he went for his brand new black Mercedes and took us straight to The Traders Hotel, the room was small, as reports had said but was adequate and aircon was good, the pool was excellent, shopping in Orchard rd, shuttle bus to town and routes, we did [a groggy "Orchard Road"] The shops in this city are awesome [not cheap] and everywhere they have Chrissy decorations up, it all looks so good!! Spent some time by the hotel pool in the sun at lunchtime until it clouded over and p-----d down for an hour! Had a meal in Tanglin Mall [attached to the hotel] and bought some food and wine for the evening Day 4 26th Nov. Hippo Bus tour, got over the journey, now up at 7am, today we are doing the hop on hop off bus around all the tourist spots for a quick view of Singapore! This was an excellent way to see the sites in a very short time with a running commentary as to where you were and what to see. We booked this via Viator on the internet and paid '£11pp on the day it would be $S23 It takes 1hr to do each of the two routes, then you can choose where to go and get off at that stop, then rejoin the trip when ready. We had an exceptional meal on Clarke Quay whilst on the route and even though it rained we were under cover and had excellent service and views, had a take away in the room that night and crashed out. Day 5 27th Nov. Lounged in the hotel in the morning chatting to the friendly staff and other people who were going on the cruise, There was one thing to mention, the maid had put a Kitkat on our bill, so we spoke to her and she said we had taken it and that she found the wrapper in the bin! {WE DID NOT HAVE THE KITKAT] so reception removed the charge, as we left the Hotel the next day we noticed a Vodka and Tonic had also disappeared!! Make your own assumptions, then the Taxi to the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre to book in for Transfer to ship [only S$10], this was poorly organised we are Elite so we are supposed not to have to wait but wait we did, in a grotty hall on uncomfortable seats until a bus took us thro a massive container port about 25mins drive away to join the ship, we then booked into the ship had a meal and relaxed. We went for dinner 2nd sitting looking forward to meeting our new companions, they were a gentleman of approx 90yrs by himself and a family of 4 mum, dad and two boys one 9yrs and one 10yrs all from Auss. During the meal the 10yr old was unwell and mum went out with him twice on the 3rd occasion they came back he had the waste bin from the cabin with him! Within 5mins he was being sick in the bucket at the table!!! We resolved to move tables the following day. [And did!] We went to see the show and enjoyed the performance and went to bed! Day 6/1 28th Nov. Day at sea had breakfast on the balcony [room service Free] then decided to spend some time in the sun. It was partial cloud all day so we had a lazy day on deck but unfortunately got a little sunburn. The evening was formal night and Champagne fountain plus our new table [what will we get?] We also had a meet and greet with our friends in the Cruise Critic group at 11am to 12pm for drinks with the Captain, Cruise Director and staff which was good fun followed by another meeting some other good friends we had met on Facebook Rollcall and had had some Video chats with prior to the cruise at 6pm, this went on till Dinner at 8.15 and was an absolute brilliant party!! Then off to dinner at the new table, we couldn't have been more pleased we had a lovely lady from Sydney Sue, and her husband Max[who was Italian and was fluent in many languages] they where a joy to be with. Then another couple from Yorkshire turned up and the table was a delight, pleasant intelligent conversation with a bit of banter all night, then off to the show again till late, then bed. A thoroughly brilliant day!!! Day 7/2 29th Nov Ko Samui. Tendered to the shore for 9.15am which was poorly organised and time consuming then a mini-bus to Chaewang Beach, left to ourselves from 10am to 12am $29 each with Princess. The beach wasn't exceptional, many in the Caribbean and Med are much better, swam and enjoyed an expensive beer and returned on time. Had lunch with some people we had met in the Singapore hotel, it was to hot to sunbathe so we chilled out in the room with a few drinks. Went to dinner enjoyed a pleasant meal with good company then crashed out with a Baileys and brandy. Day 8/3 30th Nov. Bangkok/ Pattaya Took the FREE shuttle bus to Pattaya 45mins, what a brilliant place great shopping right on the beach [not sure about swimming though] spent most of the time spending money and choosing clothes great fun, Sandra bought a silk dress and I bought a pair of trousers. Shuttle back to the ship, crash out and relax with a drink!! Very happy with Pattaya went for dinner with our four companions Sue and Max, Sue and Allen, we have a great time with in depth conversations about just about anything, and we are always the last people out of the dining room. It's a relief to have such good company. Received our first laundry back today all properly cleaned and pressed and free!!! Day 9/4 1st Dec. Day at sea. Woke up this morning the sea is like a millpond not a cloud in the sky, we tried to buy some sunscreen yesterday on the ship but they only had factor 4!! Breakfast on the balcony Spent the day in the sun watched a Movie "Cowboys and Aliens" funny! A few drinks plenty of relaxing. Time for evening meal enjoyable as ever, then off to bed!! Day 10/5 2nd Dec. Vietnam. Decided the 2.5hr drive to Saigon would be to boring [which was confirmed later by people that went] so we took the free shuttle bus to a small town market 45mins away, what a treat, started at a decent supermarket then thought there must be more to see so we walked 2 blocks and found this huge 3 story local market with a food market next door, spent ages routing around clothes shoes belts everything you could think of, all genuine designer goods [not!] I bought an Armarniish belt! Ha Ha. Then off to the food market, OMG fish drying out in the dirt on the pavement, what a stink and flies everywhere, next the Veg. Market what a difference beautiful food everywhere the vendors were the classic ladies sitting amongst the produce sorting, cleaning, peeling and posing for photos, so friendly, indeed everybody was friendly, giggling as we tried to talk to them [apart from the occasional guy pushing sunglasses at you on the street]. A great morning out [except some poor cruisers didn't walk the block and missed all the local stuff, we told a few when we got back to the bus and they them went off to see the local market!] Bought a bottle of wine and twelve cans of coke and tonic with the rest of the Dongs and went back to the ship. Enjoyed the sun and the peace as most had gone to Saigon and we almost had the ship to ourselves! Excellent dinner, had a little argument with Sue who was a NHS worker supporting the strike! So I couldn't let that go and we had a ding dong [which I enjoyed but I don't think she did!] Day 11/6 3rd Dec. Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [ Chillin all day!!!] Dinner, atmosphere was ok all forgiven! Day 12/7 4th Dec. Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 13/8 5th Dec. Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 14/9 6th Dec. Bali Elephant Safari This was great fun, up early tender to the shore was 40mins and it poured down with rain, the people who got on first where on the open top of the tender and got totally soaked!!! Then a 1.5hr drive to Elephant park in the mountains of Bali. First we fed them then had a half hour+ ride on them thro the jungle, it poured down for 10mins, but they gave us capes for that and there where huge spiders all around us in the trees, then an Indonesian meal [not me normally!] but it was very enjoyable! Then an hours drive to a local market [just sold crap!] and back to the ship. A good day out and very enjoyable. Great meal that night and good company, we were late as usual. Day 15/10 Wednesday 7th Dec Day at sea Lovely hot day, too hot went to the room for a drink at 2pm and stayed till 3.30pm sunny on the balcony. Tonight is Captains Circle night so Formal and free drinks should be good!! Plenty of free drinks; the most cruised person was an Aussie who had done 1500 days at sea [over 4yrs at sea] now thats a lot!!! A good meal we don't bother with shows, so a walk around the decks and off to bed! Day 16/11 Thursday 8th Dec Day at sea Getting hotter as we reach the equator, Had to do Aussie customs today before Darwin tomorrow, all done by midday, sunbathe, but so hot, always above 30C we had to retreat to the spar for a break. Day 17/12 Friday 9th Dec Darwin 37C walked off the ship, passed the protected beach [protected from Box jellyfish] to a lift which took us 5 storeys up to the road into town. Walked into town and explored the shops, very pleasant, with lots of shops. Went to buy some wine in Woolworths, they wouldn't let us as we didn't have photo I.D. a friendly Aussie bought 3 bottles for us and we paid him [ace] Day 18/13 Saturday 10th Dec Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 19/14 Sunday 11th Dec Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 20/15 Monday 12th Dec Port Douglas, The Great Barrier Reef We where taken to the port by local tender to join the high speed catamaran for the journey to the Outer Barrier Reef [approx 90 mins] where the boat tied up to a pontoon above the reef, we were then given any equipment we needed [$5 for a latex stinger suit ref the Box jellyfish] and were then free to snorkel in the large protected area. The visibility was about 10 metres, there were plenty of fish large and small, We then had a semi-submersible ride around the reef for about 35mins, next we had a pleasant lunch on the pontoon or in the cat. We the returned to Port Douglas and due to time we where transferred straight back to the ship and missed Port Douglas itself [shame]. A long enjoyable day on a trip that has to be done. Day 21/16 Tuesday 13th Dec Airlie Beach, Daydream Island Resort, The Whitsunday Islands we arrived at 10am and had a right mix up with the tenders from the ship, it seems that they didn't have enough Auss customs officers to do both sides of the ship so we were delayed, we finally went to this beautiful island by cat arrived 12pm and watched the hotel staff feeding the fish on their living reef, it was very hot! We had a look around the 7 pools, it was now lunch time at the Fishbowl Restaurant after 30mins it started to rain slightly, we were sitting with a Scottish couple having a good natter and the wind suddenly changed direction. A mini Cyclone went straight thro the whole resort, smashing tables, glasses, chairs, and taking down a number of large trees, one landed on some sun beds crushed them and fell into the pool!!! It was one of those times when you say Wow! that could have been deadly. Luckily nobody was hurt and the sun came out and we enjoyed the rest off the day, 5pm to 7pm with low cost cocktails $3.99 in Skywalkers, "Rob Roy" was the best [Chivas Regal base] Day 22/17 Wednesday 14th Dec Day at sea This was a lovely day slightly cooler than all the others [we are heading south out of the tropics] still very sunny and warm, sunbathing and a few drinks, we then had a goodbye party with the Facebook crowd at 4pm, till 5pm and cocktails in Skywalkers [Cocktail was "Chairman of the Board", Bombay Sapphire base] next changed for the formal night and free drinks at the captains farewell party, superb beef wellington and great company till late. Day 23/18 Thursday 15th Dec Day at sea Last day of the cruise, weather changed as expected, a lot cooler 20C and cloudy, packing has to be sorted as they take the cases tonight after dinner [or before if you want] sort out all the admin. Day 24/19 Friday 16th Dec Sydney, The Sail into Sydney Harbour to Circular Quay was amazing with fantastic views of the city, the opera house and the bridge! Disembark and get a taxi to the hotel [ only $A15 The 4 Points Sheraton Hotel, This is a lovely hotel, check in was perfect, no effort, bags taken to room. The room was a harbour view with a large picture window overlooking Darling Harbour excellent! That morning we chose to buy a joint ticket to The Aquarium, The Wild Life Adventure and The Sydney Tower. The Aquarium was brilliant with lots of exotic sea creatures that you don't see in the northern hemisphere, The Wildlife Centre was just what we wanted, we stroked Kangaroos, saw a Duck-billed Platypus, a giant crocodile, a Wombat and best of all we cuddled a Koala. Next a short walk, to the Tower fabulous 360 views of Sydney. Finally an evening having a meal and a walk around Darling Harbour, this was amazing, Christmas Tree, Carol singers and buzzing with loads of people having a great time in all the bars, a great day all round. Day25 Saturday 17th Dec Sydney Today we had breakfast in a Restaurant on Darling Harbour, the weather was a little cloudy but warm. At lunch time we decided to take the ferry from the harbour to Manley Beach. This was so easy $13 return every 20 mins, about 30mins to get there, the weather was now brilliant and hot, we were surprised how beautiful the area was, lots of shops, a beautiful prom and a fantastic beach, loads of surfers, people having barbecues on the beach, a market, lots and lots of things going on everywhere! That night we went back to harbourside and had a meal, It was Saturday night and was all set up for a fireworks display so we went back to the hotel to watch from our grandstand view room. It was a brilliant display especially with some chocolate and a bottle of wine. Prior to this we had to call our pick-up for the airport the following day to confirm, when we did we couldn't get thro' so I asked the Concierge to help, he tried and said they were closed, however, he went onto the internet and looked up their web-site, got an out of hours number and confirmed our pick up with them [all without me asking him to do it] absolutely excellent service!!. We then needed to check in to Singapore Airlines and print our boarding cards, I went customer services at the hotel and asked about the printer and the girl on the desk offered to do the whole job for me!! I gave her the flight details and she sorted everything out and printed the boarding passes!!! Another example of fantastic service by the hotel staff. Day 26 Sunday 18th Dec Fly home, We had the morning at leisure as our flight wasn't until 4.15pm, so we strolled around the harbour, had breakfast and did some last minute shopping. We were picked up on time by a company called Sunbuses and taken to the airport. Dropped the bags off waited for the flight to Singapore on the Airbus 380 8hrs, then a 2hr wait in Singapore for a flight to Munich 12hrs, then stay in the plane for an hour whilst some passengers left and others joined and the wings were de-iced then a 2hr flight to Manchester. Day27 Monday 19th Dec collect car Arrive at Manchester call APH, they sent a bus to transfer us to the car park. The car was parked ready to collect then off to home 40mins Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
OVERVIEW:Both cruises were excellent, and we would have no hesitation in recommending this line to anyone considering a keenly priced alternative to some of the 6 star ships, or for anyone on a higher cabin grade/cost on 3-5 star lines... ... Read More
OVERVIEW:Both cruises were excellent, and we would have no hesitation in recommending this line to anyone considering a keenly priced alternative to some of the 6 star ships, or for anyone on a higher cabin grade/cost on 3-5 star lines... With all the inclusions offerred (wine, gratuities, port shuttles, coffee and soft drinks) plus the fact that cabins are well appointed, laid out for max use of space, plenty of storage and well soundproofed, that excursions were fairly priced around the $80-150 mark, its a VERY good deal. Cuisine was well above average, with the finest ingredients, varied international menus and probably the best breakfasts we have seen at sea. A high standard of cuisine overall with some reservations as to SOME items - see details in section below.Add to this the excellent and friendly staff, bridge, engine and galley tours, smart casual attire and you have a product that offers a lot more value for money than we have found anywhere else. On top of this, the pretty well intelligent, professional and laid back passenger profile (UK, US, Canada, Aussies with some Euro pax), with age of pax around 38-55 means mid-agers will love it also for the lack of kids, no overdone formality or familiarity for that matter - just a friendly mix. It's a goodie !In a nutshell, for the rapid reader, here are our observations of the pros and cons, for more detail please read on after...! PROS + CONS:PROS: Company integrity and fair treatment after changes to itinerary; Overnight stays in port: pricing spot-on and included generous offerings of good wine and sodas; Staff, top service; well appointed cabins with quality toiletries and accessories, variety of entertainment, reasonably priced and well chosen excursions, shuttle buses. High degree of safety and security is a company priority. In the 'pirate-zone' special measures with costly diversions were made to protect the ship. Most of our small shipboard concerns and enquiries were acted upon and fixed almost immediately.CONS: Website a bit flaky; Some matters required referal to head office and the subsequent delay in reply from Miami meant some issues that should have been handled on board could not; Food quality superb though expertise in preparation was at times below the high standards elewhere; No AV "in" available on the LCD TV in the cabin to reveiw fotos/videos, lack of movie playing times in the onboard daily news; deck cleaning often in very late evening which made them slippery at times.ABOUT US: We are a well travelled, 50's same-sex couple of 29 years, who have a enjoyed a good few cruises, hotels, itineraries , destinations and voyages on 5 continents under our well-travelled belts. After 30 years in the travel industry and semi-retired, we now travel on FULL fares and costs are an important consideration. We chose our first trip on Azamara because prices were comparable to a one-way business class fare (very $$$ ex Australia to Europe). On reesearching, Azamara was also chosen because the cabin facilities and grade were above average, the published fares were almost all-inclusive - with fare inclusive of gratuities, complimenatry wine at meals, and soft drinks offered throughout on an itinerary with port overnights. In short - the Singapore-Dubai and Dubai Athens b2b cruises on AZAMARA ticked our boxes for a leisurely trip to Athens.Many of the other current reviews on sectors of the Azamara 2011 Asia cruises reflect the current layout, facilities and staff/service on the Quest very well, so won't repeat here, rather would like to truly review the excellent, good and 'almost good' of our Azamara experience....OUR CONCERNS BEFORE SAILING:Firstly, it was to be a long trip - all in all over 3 1/2 weeks on board for the 2 cruises. Secondly we had sailed Crystal as a premium product before, as well as cruising on 'value' lines such as NCL, so were prepared to experience, something in the middle with Azamara. Thirdly, as a same-sex couple, one of us a smoker and with this length of time at sea plus Azamara's tight smoking policy, there were some reservations as to smoking and acceptance of our discreet but alternative lifestyle. We need not have worried on any account...AZAMARA CRUISES THE COMPANY (PLEASE READ ALL !) :Having been in Management with airline, hotel and group & Consular travel services companies for over 30 years, the first consideration for a traveller should always be the company with whom you are making a transaction. Azamara was an unknown to us and when we first booked with our agent, we found the response from RCI agency in Sydney to be below par in coming back with some of the info we needed.Assuming this to be the fault of our agent, I tried myself to call. In short, it took a lot of time, yielded poor responses, often lacking in knowledge , and most especially - in the all important matter of showing empathy with your client. Turning to the website was not much better and the fact that the layout and user access to important matters was somtimes a bit "hit and miss" did not add to our initial impression.**(IF the resident Cruise Critic blogger for Azamara Club Cruises happens to read this review, I would be most grateful for a private message so that I may discuss further this review on a professional level...)**That said, our ACTUAL experience was that Azamara Cruises are an extremely fair and customer conscious corporation:-We were advised in a timely manner, nearly 80 days before sailing that due to security concerns with the Mideast situation, our port call was being substituted from Alexandria to Santorini. The company not only advised early (unlike our upcoming Oceania cruise with about 17 days notice of changes), but Azamara also offered a very generous onboard credit to each guest as a goodwill gesture. Apologies were again given onboard. This is putting the customer first - well done Azamara !The company also suffered misfortune with bad fuel being supplied in Mumbai, but prudent fuelling and navigation planning ensured we were not "running low" and despite having to dock elsewhere this did not affect schedule. In fact the planning was such that the poor fuel was carried on board all the way to Athens for eco-friendly defuelling there - I am sure at great cost, but with full respect for the environment. The ship also faced the breakdown of our escort-ship from Dubai through the 'pirate-zone' off the horn of Africa. Consequently, Azamara went to great expense in loading our security team aboard in Dubai and then to dock again at Muscat to load their armaments. Again at great cost, but with schedule unaffected as the Captain kept full speed on for a week to meet schedules. The concern for safety. security and sticking to schedule could not receive high enough acclaim. Truly professional.THE SHIP. PASSENGERS, CABIN : The Quest was the first trip for us aboard any of the R Class ships. Quest was well apointed, nicely maintained and well laid out. She rode well and provided a feel of a good upscale hotel at sea with warm and traditional "club" decor. We prefer the more intimate and low key voyages offered on such ships. However if passengers, crew or services are 'off the mark'on such ships it can make for a stressed experience. Not so on board the Quest - it was a wonderful balance on all sides. Great fellow passengers, most of a semi-professional background, middle aged, well travelled and of a pleasant and entertaining nature. Passengers mingled well , without over-familiarity and the atmosphere was indeed that of the members at a friendly club. The cruise encompassed many "at sea" days - 9 in fact between Dubai and Suez but with a varied and diverse program on board, there was rarely any time that could not have been filled should you have wished. On board program covered everything from cuisine to dance - enrichment lectures - ships tours to galley, bridge and engine control room - games - spa, gym and excellent fitness instruction. A well rounded programmed indeed. even with nearly a month at sea, we did not grow weary of our journey and were sad to leave the vessel in Athens, (with still so much that we could have done !). Our cabin - 1B Veranda - was about 10% smaller than that on Crystal but well planned in layout. It offered great space and storage and despite reading of the 'shower curtain' issue, this was NOT an issue, the curtain is well designed, locked at one end and does not "flap out and cling" from the well designed shower stall. Storage again is plentiful in the bathroom. cabin service was almost immediate with several fellow passwengers remarking on the fact that the magical 'clean-team' would literally tidy up as one left the room. Cleaning was done thoroughly, all valet services efficiently and with a smile, a professional team here.SMOKING AND OUR 'ALTERNATIVE' LIFESTYLE :As a smoker, I was initially upset on boarding to having been 'relegated' to one upstairs zone to smoke, and not being able to do so on my cabin veranda. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. As I and my (non-smoking) partner discovered the benefit of a single smoking area on the ship - In effect an outdoor, weather protected veranda on the pool deck. Here, we mingled with others (who were also, more often than not, one smoker with a non-smoking partner !). The result was a group on board that met socially as they stopped by "for a fix" whilst not inflicting their bad habits on other passenegrs. The area actually became a social venue and many friendships have developed as a result of the friendly gathering that eventuated. On the issue of our lifetyle, the ship provided a discreet meeting time each day for people of same-sex orientation and again, friends were made on board. Crew and all staff were most accepting and kind in their dealings with us. Well done Azamara ... Good policy = good outcome for all. ENTERTAINMENT: Excellent for a small ship. The shows were well chosen and varied each night. Many guest artists joined at each port giving refreshment to the evening programme. In paricular, we should mention :Johnathan Johnston, an outstanding Flautist (and certainly a virtuoso on the flute) performed to standing ovations on the 12 day Dubai-Athens leg. Even the non-classical were blown away by this incredibly talented guy. The resident Raconteur/Pianist Donald (Jim) Badger was witty, incisive and brilliant in this difficult position on any ship. Filling a lounge or cabaret with a polished and varied act nearly every day. With a lot of B2B cruisers this is not easy, but his repertoire and humourin parrying with the audience in a playful manner made him a true gem of the offering.Azamara's keen eye for the small touches such as ; - CD of crickets chirping playing on pool deck area at night ! - A special memorial service for servicemen on Australia's ANZAC Day which was held on deck at dawn by the Captain and Senior Crew for Australian, New Zealand and other guests. - A Special "Gala" day for the British Royal wedding, with live coverage and catering.Kudos to all for a well selected and varied line up. 99 % well above average and very often just brilliant.CUISINE:Serving staff were faultless, bordering on brilliant. Nothing but the highest praise for their efficient, friendly and courteous service. all done without familiarity or cheesiness. These guys were well chosen, love their work and it shows. In all venues and without individual exception they were superb.The only SMALL downside for us was some small matters regarding cuisine. To set the scene - we are NOT "foodies" , nor do we eat out in 5 star restaurants weekly back home. We are of the old-school, 'eat what is provided for you' upbringing and certainly are not menu-snobs or wannabe Chefs... We also understand catering to 100's or 1000's of guests in varied restaurants over the course of a day and at sea is never easy.What WAS provided on Quest was excellent choices. International meant just that, asian, indian, greek, itlaian, mexican, french, spanish etc. Three included dining areas and two speciality restaurants were available each day as was room service from the in-room or restaurant menu of the day. This, by the way was very well done, offering a fast and friendly delivery of hot food and most importantly, all the condiments - never had to ask for sauce or spices, they were on the tray along with generous cutlery settings. Important when you have had the experience of having to ring again for the missing items !! Azamara had room service completely and efficiently taken care of - bravo ! Service, Variety and choice were never an issue.The ingredients, provisions meats and variety of fruits and vegetables was of the very best quality. The company has spent a lot of time and money here and it should show...However, although all ingredients were of excellent quality, esp. the never-ending lobster and steaks, both well cooked and presented, the Executive Chef for the main restaurants on AZ QUEST was, to our mind, lacking in his supervision and preparation of SOME dishes. I honestly believe that the preparation is more under par than admitted to... leading to a few dishes and menu items going out to tables that shouldnt have - I will not nit-pick , but for example (soggy batter on prawns, steak 'surf and turf' served but lobster forgotten (!) in Specialty restaurant, in particular we disliked the soups, often they were over-salted or over-sweetened with poor stock bases, and some weird menu items like chocolate or strawberry soup in the savoury part of the menu, that really have no place on any menu. A good stock/soup chef and deletion of some over-fancy bizarre cuisine ideas on some of the main Discoveries restaurant menus. Buffet overall was well above average and on many occassions superior to the food received in main restaurants of other ships.That said we ate and drank very well (The complimentary wines at lunch 11.30-2.30 and dinner from 18.00-21.30 , free flowing by the way, are all bottled vintages from around the world - very good too!). So please don't regard this as an indictment on the beautiful food and quality ingredients offered. We ate well - Azamara could just lift the supervision in preparation at times.We have expressed this to Quest's Hotel Director, Ryszard onboard and understand that they will review. IMPORTANT: To be fair, this is our only real issue, and on this voyage, there may have been some kitchen complications or absent staff. But, with the rest of the ship scoring near-perfect in our book, this, to US, if fixed, would put Azamara up close there with other 6 * ships on nearly every front.THE SUM UP As two value conscious travellers, in our early 50s, we are experienced of over 100 destinations over 30 years and look keenly at quality/price/value for our trips. We travel from 3-5 star on land/sea/air and can state that that this is a very, very good product which has come a long way since their initial poor start (we understand from early CC reviews in 2007). We travelled on Azamara's regular published fares and while this review may seem too glowing it is not, it's exactly the way we saw things. We review through our other compared experiences for price quality and value. All in all we would have no hesitation in recommending Azamara Quest, we will put this company on our preferred shopping list for future itineraries. ALL of our close shipmates concurred and are also very likely to choose Azamara again. So, go for it - its a good sail and these people delivered well ! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We booked our cruise through a cruise only agency, one that we have used for several years. We are too old and too fat to fly internationally in coach, so we usually buy our coach tickets independently and upgrade to Business Class with ... Read More
We booked our cruise through a cruise only agency, one that we have used for several years. We are too old and too fat to fly internationally in coach, so we usually buy our coach tickets independently and upgrade to Business Class with miles. However on this itinerary we booked Princess air through the travel agent because it was several thousand dollars less than if we had bought two one-way tickets each from the airline. We flew United on the outbound, and a combo of South African Air and United on the return. We flew into Singapore one day early, and booked the Pan Pacific hotel through the travel agent, who had a better price than I could find on the internet. It's a great hotel, and a real steal at $135 including taxes. Because we'd been to Singapore before, we chose to spend our 1.5 days there at the Jurong Bird Park, and the Orchid Garden at the Botanical Gardens. We were glad that we'd flown in early, and enjoyed two leisurely days. We embarked around 3 PM, taking a taxi from the hotel to the pier. No crowds at that hour, so we were in our rooms within minutes. I had assumed (wrongly) that Princess would have refurbished the ship when they changed it from the Tahitian Princess to the Ocean Princess. So I was surprised to see that the cabin showed signs of wear. Nothing bothersome, just a little tired. Our cabin steward was excellent, as they almost always are. The itin originally had 13 ports of call, but the Seychelles and Myanmar were removed before departure, reducing the number to 11, on a 32 day cruise. So nearly two-thirds of the cruise was at sea. The Seychelles was dropped due to pirate activity in the West Indian ocean, and I was definitely in favor of avoiding pirates! It was unclear why Myanmar was dropped, but it was suggested that it had to do with the tides in the river, and the scheduled times of arrival and departure. I'd visited most of the ports of call on previous travels, but my husband and our friend had not. We prefer to arrange our own shore excursions when possible. However on this cruise we only did our own tours in Malaysia, Thailand, and Cape Town. I just couldn't find reliable tour operators in some of the ports that don't have high levels of tourism. Kuala Lampur is a very modern and interesting city. We took a tour with Princess because the independent tour I'd hoped to book fell apart before we left home. In Penang,Malaysia (island) we booked a full-day tour with Mr. PG Lee, at a cost of 30 Malaysian Ringgits per hour (leepg2006@gmail.com). I especially liked the tour at the spice garden and the butterfly farm. And another fresh seafood lunch! Phuket,Thailand (another island) is charming, and has recovered well from the Tsunami, at least in the areas that tourists see. We booked a full-day island tour with Daj, http://www.independenttraveler.com/ at 1800 baht for the day, including petrol. Our guide was pleasant, and we enjoyed tasty seafood lunch at a local restaurant recommended by him. In Chennai we took the Princess tour to Mahabalipuram, to see the sea temples, which are interesting. I am a big fan of India, which isn't everyone's cup of tea, as proved by the reaction of many of the ship's passengers who had never been there before. IMHO one needs to experience the countryside in India, to offset the impact of the large, teeming cities. It's a place that grows on you with the length of stay. But cruises just can't provide that option. Mumbai, with its 14 million people and terrible traffic is also shocking for most Americans. We elected to take the tour which visited three different temples. India's various religions make it a very interesting place to travel. After several days crossing the Indian Ocean, we arrived in Oman, an ultra-conservative Muslim country. Muscat was small and bright and shiny clean, after India. Female passengers are advised by the Tour Consultant onboard to cover their legs (all of them), their arms (all of them), and also their hair if they plan to visit the National Mosque. A number of ladies just couldn't believe that this applied to them, so they were refused entrance unless they could cover themselves appropriately. The National Mosque is incredible...don't miss it. At the Souk we purchased Diet Coke for $5 a six-pack. Cheaper than $1.95 each onboard! Other people brought on soft drinks and water for their cabins. We next sailed to Dubai, where we had two days, since they had extra time due to the cancellation of two ports. This was very helpful. A lot of passengers had dinner ashore the first evening and we were ready for some individually prepared food. It's a fascinating city, because everything is so new. The question of whether or not they will be able to repay the bailout money and what will happen if they cannot looms large. In the meantime, construction is at a standstill, and my husband observed that you could probably buy a cement truck pretty cheaply (and all other construction equipment). We took the Princess Desert Safari Tour, which put 4-5 passengers in new Toyota Landcruisers with a skilled driver, who drove us into the desert for some dune riding. Fun! We also visited a camel farm, and had lunch at a desert camp where camel rides were available, and a belly dancer entertained. It's a great tour, although at noon it's well over 100 degrees, which is why the tour is usually run in the early evening. Some passengers mentioned that they had booked the evening tour online, and they picked them up at the ship. However you'd have to know the ship's departure time if it isn't a two day stop. On the second day we took a Princess tour of Dubai-Old and New. It was a standard city tour. One of the highlights was a small boat transfer across the Dubai creek, where we visited the spice market and the gold souks. I bought saffron in the spice market, which actually came from Iran. The jewelry in the gold souk is absolutely overwhelming! It all begins to look the same after the first three store windows. (Drum roll). And then we had seven days at sea. That's just too many on a small ship, in my opinion. We had a terrific Cruise Director (Sammi), but the lack of space limits the number and variety of activities that can be arranged. Our previous cruise was a Holy Land itin on the Royal Princess, which is a sister ship to the Ocean Princess, and we loved the smaller ship. But it was a port intensive cruise, with only two sea days out of eleven, which we all needed after our days on shore. On this long cruise I read about eight books on my new Kindle (perfect for traveling), saw at least six movies (the selection went downhill at the cruise progressed), and attended several lectures by the onboard guest speakers. But it was challenging to find appealing activities when the Princess Patter arrived each evening. We called on the port of Nosy Be, which is on a small island off the northwest coast of Madagascar. We elected to take the Princess tour to the smaller island nearby, where we could see the lemurs for which Madagascar is famous. We did see one variety that is very small, perhaps weighing a couple of pounds. The villagers were thrilled to have visitors, which only occurs a few times a year. The children are let out of school, and they sing and dance to entertain (and request a 'local donation'). I was relieved that there were no accidents in the loading and unloading of the small boats that took us back and forth to the small island. Madagascar is a huge island. I wish Princess would try to develop another port of call somewhere on the island. Three more days at sea before we arrived in Durban, which is quite a lovely city! We did the Princess tour to 'Land of the Thousand Hills', taking us through some beautiful countryside, and ending at a Zulu tribal village where we saw a well done Zulu show, shopped in a nice (and huge) souvenir store, and toured a reptile farm (shudder). At the Durban ship terminal at least 100 vendors set up stalls, selling good quality handicrafts. The prices were much lower than found in the stores. The Zulu bead work is beautiful. In Durban about 100 passengers disembarked for an overnight at a luxury game camp. We picked them up the next day when we called on Port Elizabeth, where there is absolutely nothing to offer tourists. Someone suggested that the only reason we stopped there was to pick up the group who went to the game camp. I think that's probably correct. We took the shuttle bus ($5 each way) to the local mall, which went through downtown but didn't stop. It was a nice enough mall, but not worth the trip. Finally we arrived in Cape Town on our 31st day, and over-nighted on the ship there. Before leaving home we had purchased tickets online for Robben Island and for the Table Mountain tram for those two days. We docked right downtown, at the Victoria and Alfred (not Albert) Waterfront. What a great location! The first day was spoiled a bit by a downpour, put we visited the Slavery Museum, which was excellent, had lunch and spent the last afternoon packing. The museum included an exhibit about the life of Nelson Mandela. We were planning to stay another week in South Africa, so we bought two-day Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus tickets. The next day brought sunny skies, so we took the HOHO bus to the Kirstenbosch Gardens, which are fabulous, if you like gardens and really wonderful native sculpture. Our next stop on the bus was the Cable Car for Table Mountain, which was totally clear. Another 'don't miss' experience. We continued on the bus to Camps Bay, a sophisticated suburb on the water where we had a delightful alfresco lunch. We spent three nights at a private game reserve, Sanbona, which is about three hours East of Cape Town, in the Little Karoo area. We hired someone to ferry us back and forth since they drive on the other side of the road in S. Africa, and we didn't really need a car. It was a wonderful experience, and quite different from other game experiences in East Africa. The high points of the cruise were 1) the crew and 2) the other passengers. The crew seemed to work very well together, and were always helpful and good natured, although several of them expressed an interest in working on a larger ship, where I'm sure they make more money in tips. The other passengers were extremely well traveled, both in cruising and in land touring. It was always fun and usually educational to sit at breakfast or lunch with almost all of them. What didn't work? On the small ships there is not an option for anytime dining. One must pick first of second seating, and we had chosen second seating because we like time to shower, change and have a drink before dinner. There were 530 people on board, with a ship capacity of about 680. Apparently there were a lot of cancellations, since at one time the ship was supposed to have been fully booked. So our party of three was at a table for six, but there were no other guests at our table, and there were several partially filled or even empty tables in the dining room. I do love my husband and our friend, but dinner would have been much more fun if we had had someone with whom to discuss our day's highlights. Perhaps the moral is to choose early seating, when there are lots of sea days. The food was mediocre, although always beautifully presented. We attended a Chef's demonstration early in the cruise where he emphasized that he had 32 entirely different menus. And there were! But it's difficult to successfully duplicate a national cuisine for 530 people in two groups. For example, the Greek dishes tasted similar to Greek food in Greece or even US restaurants, but not the same and not as tasty and fresh. Maybe it's because they have to provision far in advance, and freeze a lot of the food. Maybe it's because they modify the seasonings for the audience they serve. But it generally wasn't very tasty or interesting, in the opinion of many passengers. They do a good job of getting the food to the tables while it's hot. The waiters and the kitchen staff have a well developed system that works very well. They rely on pre-packaged products. The coffee in the Horizons Buffet is nearly undrinkable. It's made from a syrup, rather than brewed. Some passengers figured out that they could use their coffee cards at the coffee counter up there for brewed coffee, and they weren't charged. Iced tea was also made from a syrup, and was so strong it was undrinkable, even after diluting it by 50% with water. One lady solved that problem by ordering a pot of hot tea and three glasses of ice with most meals! It seemed to us that Princess has cut so many corners to remain profitable that they have changed the nature of their product. It felt more like a Carnival cruise or an NCL cruise. We've sailed with Princess many times, and may sail with them again. But we were disappointed with this one. It just didn't meet our expectations. We had a nice time, but it wasn't a wonderful experience, as you want all of your vacations to be. We've booked our next cruise on Oceania, and are looking forward to comparing the two cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
The original intention of this cruise was to get us to or near Japan where we would visit with old friends. This was actually a segment of a segment of the world cruise that was meant to begin in Mumbai. When we saw a shore excursion ... Read More
The original intention of this cruise was to get us to or near Japan where we would visit with old friends. This was actually a segment of a segment of the world cruise that was meant to begin in Mumbai. When we saw a shore excursion opportunity to Angkor Wat we priced it and decided to begin the segment in Singapore instead, and spend what we would have spent on shore excursions for a three day holiday in Bangkok, three days in Siem Reap (for Angkor Wat) and three days in Singapore where we would meet the ship. The cost of those nine days in 5 star hotels and air from Bangkok to Siem Reap and Siem Reap to Singapore equalled what we would have paid for a two and a half day shore excursion offered by HAL for each of us! Such are the costs of shore excursions. The Ship The vessel is what you would expect from one of HALs flagships. It seemed to be in terrific condition. From cabins to public rooms, the ship is beautiful. I didn't see evidence of aging. Our cabin had a leak in the bathroom and there was an occasional odor of diesel fuel just outside our door, but neither interfered with our enjoyment of the ship. People are always interested in food. HAL seems to be putting the money out in the food and beverage department. The usual comfort food was available poolside, as was an assortment of pastries for a good part of the day in the Lido. Breakfasts were unremarkable which is not a bad thing. They were breakfasts and hard to fault in the Lido or DR. Lunch was a different matter. The stir fries were awful, and truly an embarrassment. The vegetable chicken stir fry had a single piece of chicken and when I asked where the vegetables were, the server found one with his tongs and added it to my dish. I would not mention it except that I saw a video of the executive chef talking about his wonderful "fresh fresh fresh" stirfries so I thought it was worth a notation. I think dinner was what you would expect for a vessel catering to North American taste. The steaks in the dining room were of generous portion. I don't think they did vegetables well and on the whole I thought dinners sort of missed. Or - it may just be that we don't eat those sorts of dinners anymore. I heard no one speak of the food in either positive or negative terms. Oddly enough, complimentary champagne flowed on two nights. As to the atmosphere of the ship, well, that was a big surprise. We were used to going on vacation cruises with other people going on vacation cruises - with all the positive energy that that implies. Cruisers are usually excited, and that rubs off on the crew. Well the majority of people on this ship had been aboard for a very long time, with a long time to go. They were "residing" on the ship as opposed to cruising on it. It seemed to be less a vehicle for a cruise than a giant apartment building with a rolling view. The atmosphere was flat. You saw it in the passengers and you saw it in the staff. I have never seen staff so ambivalent. Not nasty or lazy - they just didn't take the pains to give a darn. This was an observation confirmed to us by other cruisers who came on for a while in Singapore. "Boring" was the word that kept coming up to describe their experience. The ports themselves were interesting. Cambodia and Viet Nam were both worth the visit. though the port was quite a distance from Ho Chi Minh city. I would say I do not agree with HALs new policy of requiring no signature for beverages purchased under $20. I myself have disagreed with charges on my cruise bill on previous cruises and by producing the original signed bill, the issue was resolved. Business should be done in a business-like manner, and charges should be signed for. Bills, however small, must be signed for in the shops. When I enquired as to why, they said their experience was such that bill signing was deemed to be imperative. I agree. Also, HAL has a policy of not allowing your internet time to lapse if you are still connected with your computer. The rationale is that it is a courtesy to allow you to finish your business. But if you forget to log-out and leave your computer or ipod or device connected for an hour or so, you will be billed. I asked the administrator how that could be as it would be clear that a machine was not used over that time. He said Windows machines send message packets out periodically and that constitutes use. So Moral Hazard hit HAL. Wall Street sails the high seas. Guest Relations was surprised to hear of the new policies which are fleet wide. They sent a message to HAL about both issues. HAL sent a subsequent communication stipulating the $20 rule must be followed. I heard nothing about the internet rule. We disembarked in Singapore in what was a smooth process, and we were on our way. Would we sail HAL again - probably, but not based on their performance on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
As a shareholder of RCCL I am really appalled by my recent cruise experience on this ship. It was like drinking warm "COLA" without the fizz!   The product was subjected to savage cost cutting by RCCL and very poor ... Read More
As a shareholder of RCCL I am really appalled by my recent cruise experience on this ship. It was like drinking warm "COLA" without the fizz!   The product was subjected to savage cost cutting by RCCL and very poor management structure by RCCl which relies on "bullying " the staff to be pleasant to passengers to make up for the shortfall of quality! The ship is managed from Miami with people there who have no idea how to treat a worldwide clientele.  The management structure is top heavy and relies on the Hotel Manager and the head Maitre'D to sort out the daily mess of the incompetent heads of some departments who are there with their partners who may also be working on board who have a very "cosy life " on board. For the first time on a cruise ship we encountered many files when boarding in Singapore and in India.   These were in two areas where people ate on tables and in the food counters in the buffet line areas - especially in the salad and sandwich bars.  I spoke to the F&S manager about this and he told me that he could do nothing more than he had already done which really raised my blood pressure and I decided to speak to the Hotel Manager and he instantly responded by adding in more processes to their daily cleaning which did help but did not completely eliminate the problem throughout our cruise and we still had flies on board on getting off at Athens.   Food - we usually eat in the buffet restaurant for breakfast and although there was lots of choice if you were not worried about your cholesterol I was very disappointed with the quality of the bread (at breakfast - because at lunchtime and dinner the bread selection was much better).  I also was very disappointed that there were no mushrooms for breakfast except for two days.  At lunch we ate at the buffet again and usually it was quite good with plenty of choice.  In the evening we started off eating in the restaurant and my wife got fed up with having her fish undercooked all the time.   I could not get a decent curry for love or money.   In all fairness they did try many times and it was not for lack of effort on their part.  I am not quite sure if the Chef was up to the job really and this was an opinion expressed by many other guests.  The maitre D' did say that they did not have the correct spices on board to make a curry.   In the end we ended up eating in the buffet area most night and the stir fry counter was absolutely superb in their stir frys and nothing was too much trouble for them.   The sushi counter was also excellent.   They always had a curry and usually some sort of sort of a carvery which was for the most part very good.  One thing to note is that in the buffet area you cannot get decent coffee after breakfast as you have to use a machine which produces very chemically tasting drinks.   The tea selection was excellent which was only let down by the temperature of the water needed to make hot drinks as it could not go above 95 degrees.  The cold drinks selection was also very good (better than on most ships). Eating in the dining room we never once had a problem getting a table for two - one negative the service was always very slow - another reason for eating in the buffet section. The in room service was second to none and very prompt and efficient and the menu selection was the best we have ever seen. Entertainment - TV - films - shows - singers/entertainers - During the day we tended to take part in the quizzes going on where they give you one stamp for turning up and one stamp for winning - if you think you are going to get a better prize for having more stamps (winning all the time like we were) then you will be disappointed as most people at the end of the cruise got the same prizes (or very nearly) - still it was a nice idea to get some prizes. The questions in the quizzes tended to be repetitive and very much aimed at a very much older crowd (over 60s). It is also worth noting that passengers were encouraged to write quizzes as the cruise activities staff ran out of ideas. As for the TV - it was a complete disappointment - free movies - the same programmes on all channels were repeated throughout the day and throughout the week and all the good stuff required you to pay for the same. Very few movies on in the evening i.e. in the cinema (cabaret lounge) and those that were on were old and for kids or over 60's again). There were only two or three entertainments that came on board and they had to overcome the absolutely bad acoustics of the cabaret lounge and ended up being way too loud to enjoy - most of the entertainment was geared for the over 60s again and anyone younger felt very much left out). There were three onboard entertainers in the evening - the harpist was very good, Jim Badger (pianist/singer) was at times quite entertaining and friendly - we also enjoyed Kenny Stringer who was a guitarist/singer who did as many requests (from his list) as possible and it was enjoyable and we were able to join in and sing along. Gym - the Life Fitness equipment was superb - however the instructor was not very on the ball with regard to health and safety as there were a number of machines that needed attention, he also allowed people to use the machines in sandals and even barefoot and sometimes men came in with just their swimming trunks which really does not promote hygiene. Tours - we went on one tour in Alexandria and it was disappointing in the lady who was conducting the tour was too much focussed on getting all the people on our bus to buy jewelry in a store we would be going to at the end of the tour. An extra hour was added on to the tour for this purpose. When we got the store at the end and were told we would be there for an hour we were livid as we did not want to buy anything and a group of us just stood outside waiting to get back on the bus and get back to the ship. It was a complete waste of our time and we do not like tour operators bullying us to buy stuff. It should be mentioned in tours in future that there will be no shopping trips and that we will not be taken to various locations just to get us to buy stuff. Would we recommend Azamara to other people? This is a hard one -not if you are under 60! If you are over 60 however and would like to go to bed at 2130 hrs then this is the ship for you. We would like to praise the Captain, the head Maitre'D and the Hotel Manager who do a great job with limited resources. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009

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