Holland continues to give you less on each cruise. Staff cutbacks and the quality of food products continues to degrade the experience. Have been sailing Holland for many years and have close to 500 actual days at sea with them. It looks ... Read More
Holland continues to give you less on each cruise. Staff cutbacks and the quality of food products continues to degrade the experience. Have been sailing Holland for many years and have close to 500 actual days at sea with them. It looks like Holland's management is more interested in they yearly bonus than the experience for the passengers. Ship was headed for drydock and needs for TLC to fix plumbing problems and water leaks in public spaces. gone is the lobster every Gala night, gone is the shrimp cocktail every night, gone is the librarian, gone is the fresh squeezed orange juice, gone is the great quality of steaks, gone is the free expresso at dinner, gone is great evening entertainment, gone is the ship's log at the end of the cruise, gone is the crew member that used to provide hand sanitizer in the public areas (replaced by machines that noone uses, thus many more sick days onboard a long cruise) and gone is the pleasant feeling that its really great being onboard (replaced by its OK) Read Less
I wanted to wait a few months to go by to write this review of our trip on the Volendam which left Vancouver on Sept 29, and ended in Shanghai a month later. This was our fifth cruise on Holland America and longest by far. Having never ... Read More
I wanted to wait a few months to go by to write this review of our trip on the Volendam which left Vancouver on Sept 29, and ended in Shanghai a month later. This was our fifth cruise on Holland America and longest by far. Having never been to the Far East, this cruise had us very excited with anticipation. The itinerary looked wonderful and we were curious to see if we would have any cruise fatigue for what was for us, a long cruise.
The Volendam is one of HAL's small ships, and just the right size for us. The ship was clean and appeared to be in fine shape, and our outside cabin on deck one was perfect. We planned excursions for every port, but also savored the 14 sea days.
To summarize, the Alaska portion of the cruise was very enjoyable. It rained in Ketchikan, but that did not stop us from having an enjoyable time with the Native Culture tour. A trip to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau is always fun, and the cruise through Glacier Bay was spectacular beyond belief, the weather being perfect that day. The ranger that gave the onboard commentary said that it was one of the best days of the year; the visibility was breathtaking. There was a scheduled stop after that, Dutch Harbor, that was cancelled, but more about that later.
I could go on and on about our stops in Japan, but I will just say that it was a dream come true to see a little bit of Japanese culture and hospitality up close. Kyoto and Tokyo was amazing with its shrines and temples, and we were treated with utmost courtesy everywhere we went. The smaller places we went, like Shimizu and Hakodate, were also welcoming and always interesting. The onboard lectures about Japanese culture and the upcoming Chinese ports kept us entertained as well as informed.
After a little over a week in Japan, it was on to Beijing. We saw the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, the Ming Tombs, and the fantastic Forbidden City. We did this over two days on a HAL overnight excursion. We had a fantastic guide, which we both thought was the best guide on any HAL excursion we had ever had. A one day stay at Qingdao followed, which was also very enjoyable. Last was Shanghai, which really blew us both away with its beautiful and modern skyline. We left the Volendam very happy, but actually wishing we could stay for more.
The main point I want to make about this trip is that if you look for positives, and stay upbeat, little problems (even some big ones) can be overlooked. I can't say this cruise was "perfect". No cruise is. Just to list a few issues - our dining reservations were mishandled somehow, and we originally were assigned to open seating, but it was quickly resolved. When we did get out preferred seating, one of the couples never showed up the entire cruise. The other couple spoke limited English. No problem, we made friends with them after only one evening. It rained off and on in Japan the whole time. However, if you take in the sights and appreciate the wonderful things you are experiencing, this is not such a big problem. The HAL front desk gave us a fright when they said that we had no disembarkation trip to the airport (we did). However, they later corrected their mistake. We missed a port, Dutch Harbor when a storm made the ship rock and roll and the Captain had to change direction. I got a little sea sick one day, which is always no fun. The entire Korean itinerary had been scrapped a few weeks before and replaced with more stops in Japan. When these little glitches happened, I kept one thought in my mind - how lucky are we that we get to see these wonderful places and enjoy this ship where you can take it easy on the sea days, and look forward to the next port ? I read some of the negative reviews on here and I simply can't relate to them,.Yes, I know that some people experience problems that are greater than the ones we had, but the overall experience is all important. Focus on the positive things. We loved this cruise and will be going back for more. Read Less
We live in Vancouver so departure port was perfect. We had a balcony on the first leg to Tokyo and then an inside for the second leg to Shanghai. As others have stated, the ship appeared rusty and needed some paint. Overall I thought it ... Read More
We live in Vancouver so departure port was perfect. We had a balcony on the first leg to Tokyo and then an inside for the second leg to Shanghai. As others have stated, the ship appeared rusty and needed some paint. Overall I thought it was a rather ugly ship on the outside with black deck and a square rear end.
On the first leg the lecturers and entertainment were superb. Best lecturers even on a ship. On the second leg they vanished and the entertainment went south (a harmonica player!),
Beautiful ship inside, reasonably quiet and the evening walk from dining to entertainment was a pleasure with lots to see and enjoy. Sticking the classical duo in a hall was not a great idea.
Shore excursion crazily overpriced.
The sanctuary (solarium) was a favorite quiet spot, but it could have used a bit of heat in the northern leg. Loved the stop at Dutch Harbor Alaska. Read Less
Pick this cruise ( vancouver to tokyo) as a part of our round the world trip. We flew from London to vancouver cruise to Tokyo and then by air to Sri Lanka and London.
We have had two previous cruises with the sister ship Zandaam and ... Read More
Pick this cruise ( vancouver to tokyo) as a part of our round the world trip. We flew from London to vancouver cruise to Tokyo and then by air to Sri Lanka and London.
We have had two previous cruises with the sister ship Zandaam and this vessel is exactly the same. The crew was even better on this voyage, the food an average of the same quality, slight below par the entertainment. We had a lanai cabin on the promenade, but it was very noisy with squeaking and knocking if the sea was a bit rough, which you have to expect around Dutch Harbour in october. We have had only one excursion in Juneau to see the whales and although expensive well worth it because we spotted five or six from very close distance. All in all positive, even if drinking and the extra fees to dine in the dedicated restaurants are getting quite expensive together with the excursion, some of which have quite ludicrous prices.....but you have a choice of doing your own arrangements. Read Less
After giving up on Crystal due to their diminution of services on board and the frenetic pace of the main dining room, we decided on Silversea. What a difference! Crystal still has the best cream soups at sea and the best enrichment ... Read More
After giving up on Crystal due to their diminution of services on board and the frenetic pace of the main dining room, we decided on Silversea. What a difference! Crystal still has the best cream soups at sea and the best enrichment speakers and lecturers, but Silversea's service is the best bar none.
I agree with other cruise critics that Shadow is a little worn and shabby, but that will be fixed at the turn of the year when she goes in for refurb in Singapore.
We noted how friendly and accommodating the staff are on board. They can take the time to chat and get to know you. Even though a waiter from the Philippines named Randy served us only once, he sort of adopted us and went out of his way to greet and chat whenever we were close to his station or we ran into him in the buffet. He gave my wife a big hug on her birthday All the staff were friendly and outgoing.
Due to its small passenger load and various dining venues this ship is ideal for luxury cruising. In the window radiating space where crystal has four tables for two, Silversea has only three. At times when a table for two was not available we were seated at a table for four, just the two of us. This was true in all dining areas. One morning we saw a single woman on board sitting at a table for six all by herself. They will accommodate you.
A table for two is large enough to accommodate a tray with oil and balsamic, salt/pepper mills, bread basket, bread plate, six glasses, two large platters, a vase, and a bottle of wine.
One thing on Silversea, they quite often leave the bottle on the table.
Shortly after we left Vancouver, the captain used the thrusters to do a 360 degree turn so we could see the countryside outside the harbor. It was a full moon that evening and it shone on the water later on. I got great pictures of the moon reflected on the water.
The La Terazzo Restaurant is the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast has ham and bacon that is flavorful, unlike Crystal where it is tasteless. Due to a rather large Japanese passenger load there were ample delicacies to satisfy their palates. One thing I love, but it distresses my wife, is pickled herring. They had three types and I was happy. Seating at the buffet is a check-in and get a table type arrangement. You do not have to hunt for a table holding a plate full of food. Lunch was equally extensive, with three kinds of lettuce and ample fixings. There was usually one special entree each day with other items typically every day.
On quite a few days, lunch in the main had special themes and cooking stations set up in the center of the room. Many days also had special hot desserts and we enjoyed peach flambe, cherries jubilee, some sort of pear concoction and cold pavlova.
Afternoon tea and not a tea bag in sight. It is all tea leaves along with an hour glass to set the steep time. It has the usual finger sandwiches and small desserts with a piano accompaniment.
Ping pong is indoors and it is nice to play without gale force winds. My wife beats me handily, but I sometimes manage to win a game here and there.
They have several drink making demos and my wife was the recipient of two of the drinks featured. Everybody else gets a small one or two ounce taste. They were a lot of fun along with the cooking demonstration by the head chef. An Italian cruise line with a French head chef. He was very informative and humorous. In French cooking, "you can never have too much butter". He used almost a whole kilo on the smashed potatoes. His advice on how to clean the raw salmon from the cutting board without using water, "flip it over".
Before we left home I counted out our prescription pills and made a huge error when my wife told me to take 35 days of her heart medication. I forgot that it is two pills per day. We went to the ship's clinic and the nurse was extremely helpful in that she had the medication my wife needed, only in 100 mg form. She took the time to quarter the pills to get down to 25 mg dosage. I think because of the way my wife wrote out the prescription pill description using medical terminology for dosage etc, she recognized that my wife was a nurse. I think it was professional courtesy that we did not get charged for the visit or for the pills.
The daily Silversea Chronicle is very well done with a full page color photo of your current port on the cover. It lists all the activities for the day as well as where all the Silversea ships are on that day.
We thoroughly enjoyed our first Silversea cruise. It definitely has six star service. We hope to sail with them again. Read Less
This was our 3 time cruising on the Millie - having sailed multiple times on the Connie, Summit, Mercury, Infinity and Eclipse - this was probably our 15th cruise on =X=.
Our cruise was 15 nights, "Japan Jubilee" from ... Read More
This was our 3 time cruising on the Millie - having sailed multiple times on the Connie, Summit, Mercury, Infinity and Eclipse - this was probably our 15th cruise on =X=.
Our cruise was 15 nights, "Japan Jubilee" from Vancouver through Japan and concluding in Shanghai.
We both agree that the Millennium and her crew are the least polished and professional. We are Elite Plus and on this cruise stayed in a Sky Suite. With the Sky Suite came the much-touted, "Luminae". We read reviews, posts, saw poster's pictures, menus, etc. but what we were surprised to find was many of the menu items (just a few months before) were suddenly dropped from the menu. And suddenly, there was no Brunch in Luminae.
The Maitre'D, though he smiled, never really made his presence known, other than escorting guests to a table. Service recovery was not as we have seen on the Connie, Infinity or Eclipse. You could see he may have had his "favorites", and that's cool - but honestly, the first server we had (Rick) was off his game. No personality. I'm not sure if he thought he needed to appear stuffy to wait on the suite guests? Not sure, but we didn't care for his behavior. We dined 2 nights and then thought, forget it. We started eating in the Specialty venues / room service or buffet. Much nicer...we did come back to Luminae but asked to sit in a different section, and was treated fabulously by Fazio. Super-friendly and engaging.
So the service level in Luminae picked up with the wait-staff change, but the food never really appealed to us. Lots of venison, and gamey dishes - including veal and the fishiest fish. Sorry, these are not what we like: No veal, ever - can't imagine eating veal cheeks...ugh, and venison / lamb just too gamey. Rarely was there pasta. We both ordered NY steak one night and my partner sent his back, as it was cooked well done and he asked for rare. The steak was not prime, but a much lesser cut as it was not tender. Lobster was never served. We ate breakfast in Luminae a couple of times and it was fairly nice (lobster Benedict and other dishes taken off menu). You know, I really don't mean to be picky but we've dined in all of Celebrity's specialty venues, buffets, pool side grill, Cafe el Bacio, room service, MDR and (our favorite) Blu. Luminae was absolutely a complete let down and waste of marketing, and hype to us. I'm sure others loved it, but we did not. At all. Take us back to Blu any time. Cuisine is subjective, so I'm sure other will not agree - but it really was a marketing bomb if you ask us. We won't try Luminae again and would much rather stay in a Aqua Class, to dine in Blu. Just our opinion...and the guests were stuffy-stuffy! OMG, the entitlement some brought into Luminae was as strong as their perfume and as high as their hair!
Sky Suite 6132 was amazing, for a Sky Suite. Sebastian was our Butler and Michael his assistant. Sebastian was the best Butler or Stateroom Attendant we have ever experienced, anywhere. We've had him twice now...He went out of his way to ensure our stay was enjoyable. He delivered meals, alcohol, flowers...just amazed us with his tremendous attention to detail. Michael was fantastic too and always had a smile. First cruise ever, where our assistant made us towel animals every night! Didn't have the heart to toss them either, they were fun to look at...and we joked about our suite becoming a zoo. Sebastian and Michael made our stay! Interesting, =X=, or this ship never delivered goodies on Formal Night. It was generally the same chocolate minis.
The entertainment on Celebrity is getting tired. Same ol' Same ol'....the cruise director was OK and the activities director was terrible. The activities director lead the "Celebrity Choir" and the "Celebrity Flash Mob" and he was completely tone deaf. We enjoyed watching many cruisers attempt a karaoke or two, LOL! We enjoyed the Naturist / Speaker - Captain Dave from the Deadliest Catch. I guess after so many cruises on =X=, it all seems to mesh together.
The M-Class ships have all been retrofitted to be "Solsticized" - and this means the addition of many more staterooms, hence a couple hundred MORE cruisers...so a sold out ship is super-packed. It is too crowded. Way too crowded. Nice for Celebrity to bring in more spending dollars, but we are left with smaller open areas and more cruisers sharing these spaces. What used to be a quiet and relaxing Persian Garden spa experience is fraught with a hoard of people who get the free pass, as they are in Aqua Class - and suite guests (or others) who pay a couple hundred for 2 weeks, get the same crowded experience. We did enjoy the Turkish Bath or the Rasul Ritual (a private shower and steam chamber with salts, mud, etc.). That was great.
There was a fair share of chaise hogs, but not as bad as I've seen - and I never witnessed the pool / spa patrol removing items, which did sit on chairs for hours.
The Aqua Spa Cafe was the worst we have experienced. No more containers of yogurt, to take on the run. No salmon. They had the same tired items every morning - 3 types of cereal, a smattering of fresh fruit or you could order a yolk-free, cheese-free, fat-free omelet. The servers were super slow on replenishing bowls, silverware and fruit. Had to ask a few times. Disappointing!
The Aqua Spa or Solarium is supposed to be a quiet place of sanctuary, but not anymore. With tons of people banging their dice and dominoes, and kids running about, it was a real turn-off. There used to be signs that read, "Quiet Please - Spa in Progress". Children were not allowed, and now there are "Family Days" in the Thallossotherapy area. Another bummer. The Thallossotherapy water did not seem to be freshened at all - we were grossed out after 1 dip. All these things used to be OK, and we have previously enjoyed them on other M-Class vessels, but it's getting too run down and not taken care of...and there are just way too many people trying to share the space.
The buffet area was a joke at breakfast and lunch...there was just nowhere to sit. People cutting and bumping into each other, eating while they're serving themselves and putting the serving spoon back...IDK, maybe some of this was cultural, but it was gross. We ended up grabbing food and hauling it outside or to the Aqua Spa - or just went to Bistro on 5 (which is $10 now)...still a good deal, and the most quiet place on the ship.
The excursions for our ports were pretty good. There were many sea days as we crossed the Pacific, and our ports were :
Dutch Harbor, Alaska
Yokohama (Tokyo), Japan
There was absolutely nothing in Dutch Harbor, but it was put on the map because of the TV reality show, "Deadliest Catch". It was a quaint, small town. The town has never had a ship as large as the Millie come in, and they used the town's school busses to carry us into "town" (which was the Safeway parking lot). No bus service from 1 pm to 3 pm, as they had to shuttle the school children! In town, you could visit the museum, which we did and shop at Safeway, or another all-purpose type of store. The people were very nice, but why did Celebrity choose this port?
Yokohama is the second largest city, next to Tokyo. We decided to enjoy this port city instead of taking a few extra hours to bus into Tokyo, and we are so glad we did! Our tour was fun and the city was very clean, people friendly and the food amazing. Lots and lots of people, and again, so friendly. We've been to Japan before, so were looking forward to more ports in this country.
Kobe / Kyoto was cool. We took the bullet train up to Kyoto and visited a few Buddhist temples and other shrines. Amazing shopping. Amazing food and the best tour guide.
Miyazaki was nice. Interesting island and it was reminiscent of the Hawaiian islands. The weather was getting warmer and more humid and we enjoyed this immensely. Again, the people were so friendly and polite. Gracious. We visited more temples and shrines, and did some fun shopping. Really cool and laid back.
Shanghai was the highlight and so glad =X= disembarked here - we stayed after a few days at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, on the Bund - and splurged for a river-view suite and it was on-the-Bund. The best time. Shanghai is vast and so international with many countries represented. I think we had the most fun here...
This was the cruise we decided that we will not cruise Celebrity in 2016 - and also, we will never again sail on an M-Class ship. The over-crowding really makes for a crappy experience. Thank God for our suite and huge veranda, as we were able to enjoy this and spend a lot of time out there!
I'm really sorry to say, but this review was the poorest experience we have written about, regarding Celebrity. It definitely made an impact on us. Read Less
Me and my wife cruise twice a year, so far this is the worse experience that we ever have. We were expecting lots of events during our 8 days of sea. The events is very minimal and you cant even compare it to other Cruise Line. SInger is ... Read More
Me and my wife cruise twice a year, so far this is the worse experience that we ever have. We were expecting lots of events during our 8 days of sea. The events is very minimal and you cant even compare it to other Cruise Line. SInger is awful, shows is below not good. To make things worse, they did take all the necessary steps to help us celebrate our wedding anniversary. We celebrated our wedding anniversary on the 14th We were expecting that at least a congratulation note be in our room on that day. NONE and when i confronted guest relations, i was told that there was a cake on our assigned dinner table.
I never went back to the assigned table because food was not good and very long wait. Buffet is just average and for the whole cruise, its the same food being served to us. Also service was very food. I waited in line for someone to get someone to just heat up the bread. Its seems there are more supervisor walking around rather than serving. If you are on mid 50's and early 60's. This is not your cruise ship. Its for 70's crowd. Even the gallery, most employee would just pass you without greeting you. This would be my first and last cruise with this company. Very dissappointing experience. Read Less
Critique of Cruise, Vancouver to Tokyo
We booked this trip while on last year's "President's cruise". The process went smoothly and we were well informed of all our amenities. Booking our return flight with Choice Air, ... Read More
Critique of Cruise, Vancouver to Tokyo
We booked this trip while on last year's "President's cruise". The process went smoothly and we were well informed of all our amenities. Booking our return flight with Choice Air, with the help of our travel agent went very well, and Choice Air kept us informed of flight changes.
Upon arrival at the ship, all the shoreside personnel were courteous and very professional. As the main check in room was full, there were chairs for us to sit and await our turn to go to the next room. Our Elite status and Aqua Class cabin permitted us to check in very quickly. The boarding process went as on our previous Celebrity cruises, smoothly until we arrived at the point where we actually entered the ship. Both my wife's and my sea card showed that we were already on board. It took several of the ship's security personnel, to bypass that glitch and allow us to board.
Our experience in cruising, had us arrive at the correct time and the cabins were made available just as we arrived. Our Aqua Class cabin was well prepared for our arrival, however my key card would not open our cabin door. The saving factor was that my wife's did and I had the card reprogramed at the passenger service desk. Our cabin was clean, our robes and slippers were in place, as was our chilled Champagne. We were welcomed by Nazareth, our cabin attendant, who was cheerful and attentive to our needs. He informed us of some changes since our last sailing, such as no more bedtime chocolates, and that all battery chargers must be unplugged when we were not in our cabin. As we had done many times, we brought freshly cut flowers to our room and looked for the vase in which to put them, but Nazareth told us the the vases and flowers were no longer being provided. He did however obtain a vase for our flowers. I know that there is a great deal of competition between cruise lines, but a few pennies for the very nice tradition of a chocolate on ones pillow each night, is not a good way for Celebrity to cut costs. On the first full day aboard, we did receive a vase with a nice rose, accompanied by a card from the Captain's Club. Nazareth was a great cabin steward. He always had a great smile, and when he saw us coming, would open our cabin door for us.
The over all appearance of the ship was crisp, clean and very well appointed. The Solstice Class upgrades were tastefully done and the addition of Aqua Class and Blu were very well appreciated. Of note is that if you really want to make this ship more like your Solstice Class ships, the over the head of the bed storage units should be added. We do however travel with much less than most others and the in cabin storage was quite sufficient. The cloths line in the shower is great and should be added to the Solstice Class ships. I think that is great that on each staircase the piece of sculpture has the same theme. As we almost always use the stairs, it helps orient us to whether we are forward, midships or aft. The ship has a fantastic amenity, the self guided art tour. However, when I asked at guest relations for a copy if the tour, I was told that it no longer exists, and that the artwork has been moved, but the signs with the stop numbers are still there. For an art lover, which many are aboard, the self guide tour would be a great experience, at the very small cost of printing the descriptions of the work at each numbered stop.
The mandatory safety briefing went as expected and we were glad when Captain Konstantinos informed us about the delay in embarkation. We very strongly believe that when changes are made, the passengers be promptly kept informed. Openness is essential for good relationships. In addition, at his daily updates, the captain informed us of changes in course and speed, and the reason for such. This is much better than the speculation and rumors that often spread when we are not kept so informed.
The usual first night's entertainment, a taste of what's coming, was well done and Steve the Cruise director is vivacious and an excellent choice for the position. All of the entertainers were quite good and the addition of some matinee shows helped fill the many at sea days. As always the production shows were as good as any on Broadway.
We attended the Art of Tai Chi sessions each morning and Steven and Laurelai were exceptional. They are very knowledgable, informative and with just the right amount of great humor. We had never done tai chi before and learned quite a bit.
The two Beyond the Podium speakers had very nice subject matter, but had a very dry delivery, often reading directly from their notes with little eye contact with the audience. We have had much more dynamic speakers on previous cruises.
Although we only attended one of the iLearn classes, it was great and we are sure that many passengers enjoyed and benefited from the sessions.
We need to use the internet often and for long periods. It is much slower than the shoreside equivalent, which we knew from past experience, so we learned to use it in off peak times and it was acceptable. We will soon become Elite Plus and will be able to take advantage of the additional free internet minutes. Since our last cruise, you have listened to our previous comments and made available the free links tab. We have commented in the past that it would be to your advantage to allow access to celibrity.com without using internet minutes, and you have done that. One new suggestion is that I should be able to purchase additional internet minutes when my time is running low, and before I run entirely out and the system logs me off in the middle of doing something. Another change which we found not to our liking, is that you can only be logged on with one device. I often have the need to be on two devices at the same time. Currently logging to a second device disconnect the first one. We should be allowed to be on more than one device, just charge for the minutes used on each one.
One of the more outstanding features of this cruise was the very high visibility of Captain Konstantinos, who seemed to be constantly walking the ship. I am certain that every things flows from the top down, and in walking about, not only does he speak with the passengers but he also sees first hand how things onboard are being done. On the last night, as we left the show, the captain greeted everyone and thanked us for choosing Celebrity.
The fitness room was excellent with new equipment. The one problem was that because of the time changes, everyone was up early, the devices were quickly occupied and I had to wait for a treadmill. This wasn't a problem and it was nice to see so many doing morning exercise. The men's changing room was a different story. For the first few days there were no locker keys, which wasn't a problem as I never bring valuables, and I just took an empty locker and left it unlocked. The problems arose when they started giving out keys, and someone with an assigned key, found that assigned locker was full with cloths, so he took out the contents and put it on the bench. I suggest that there be no keys, and everyone be informed to not leave valuables in the lockers. The key also becomes a problem when you use the sauna. On other Celebrity ships the key is on a stretchable bracelet, here it's on a cloth necklace with a relatively large cloth pouch, which soak up the water.
The ten dollar sale from the shops was held in an area that was much too small. There was a lot of people pushing and reaching over one another to get to the items. There was also limited control of the collection of payments, increasing the likelihood of theft. On other ships the sale is held in part of one of the dining rooms, which allows more room and the exit door with a cashier just before it controls the payment collection.
Blu, usually is a great experience. Our main reason for choosing Aqua Class, is the ability to enjoy Blu. The service and food usually is as good as any speciality restaurant, however on this voyage both were not up to our expectation. I reported to Vladimir, the maitre d' several service short comings, but they were not corrected. It should be automatic that when the bread is put on the table, so should the butter. If the waiter takes the lobster tail out if the shell fir you, the shell should be put into a separate plate, not your bread plate and left on your table. Artur the person who showed us to our table, after the first night remembered our name and welcomed us by name. That was an excellent addition to our meal.
Q-sine, something everyone should experience at least once. We very much enjoyed the atmosphere, service and food. We ate there as a couple and again as part of a large group, and both were delightful.
Olympic Restaurant, a great dinner ruined. We made a reservation for the five senses dinner, having had many such dinners with paired wines in the past, and none had a limit on the amount if wine. With the second course of porcini and morel risotto, paired with an excellent Barbera d'Asti, I politely asked for more of the wine and was told by the sommelier that there was only one glass of wine per course. The maitre d' came over and told us that each serving of wine was supposed to be only two ounces per course, as it was more of a tasting. It was only after my insistence, and my wife's suggestion that we leave, was I given some more of the wine. The decor, service and food were excellent, but the hassle over the wine ruined the whole experience. Afterward we carefully reviewed the menu with the description of the dinner, and it only states, "food and wine pairing". There is no mention as to how much of each wine. At every other similar dinner, either on a ship or a shoreside restaurant, there was no limit to the amount of wine. If we had known in advance that the meal came with only the equivalent of two glasses of wine, we would not have had that meal.
Elite Wine tasting, was nicely presented by the knowledgeable cellar master, however there needed to be something to clear your palate between wines. A platter with some cheese or even some crackers or bread sticks, would have greatly enhanced the experience.
On several mornings we took advantage of the Elite Breakfast, which was exceptional and we could eat more quickly than in Blu or the dinning room. The food selection was good and the freshly squeezed juices and smoothies was an exceptional addition, as was the cappuccino.
Elite Member Cocktail Hour, is a great incentive to repeat cruising with Celebrity. Since there has been a large increase in the number of Elite members, and there are now too many for any venue on the ship, we very much appreciated the coupons supplied. I suggest that the coupons be the standard on all voyages, as it limits everyone to three drinks, which we think are enough, and it gives us the opportunity to try different bars, or have a pre-dinner drink with people we have met who are not yet Elite members.
Dining, we choose Aqua Class because of our ability to eat in Blu with it's lighter, more healthful menu, and the grater ratio of staff to patrons. However, both the food and service has deteriorated from our previous voyages. We understand that in traditional dining, when you have the same waitstaff for each dinner, they learn your preferences, and accommodate to them, but having to ask several times at each meal for lemon, is not what we have become accustomed. Some of the food combinations were incongruous, such as orange sauce with lobster. We chose on a few evenings, to eat in the main dining room, and found the food generally good, but it has also deteriorated from our past experiences. One evening we chose to eat in the main dining room because of the Moroccan Style lamb shank cooked tandoori style on the menu. It had no relationship to our expectation, instead of being aromatic, with a rich blend of flavorful spices, it was exceeding salty, like it was soaked in heavy brine and not rinsed. The salt went all throughout the meat. In retrospect, we should have sent it back, but we had had a magnificent, large lunch ashore and were not that hungry. At that same meal, I had the Greek Salad, which came with popcorn in it. My wife's did not, so I wonder if it was a mistake or a trick played on me. I commented to our waiter, who said it was supposed to be that way. One of the table captains did discuss the salty lamb and offered another dinner, but we were tired and not hungry.
The hamburger bar was excellent, however the beverage station nearby was out of order for the entire trip, and on the few occasions that we ate there, we needed to go into the Oceanview Cafe to get a beverage. We ate at the Oceanview Cafe infrequently, and found the food mediocre. The pizza, however was quite good. Over all we found that the food was poorer than on previous voyages. It is interesting that at one of the cooking demonstrations put on by executive chef, Andy Bouchard, the necessary ingredients, and cooking utensils were not correct. He in fact commented several times to his assistant, about the short comings. Was this a reflection of the entire kitchen and staff not paying attention to the small details? We expect that on a ship that boasts luxury cruising, the small details are what makes the difference.
Entertainment, was acceptable and the production shows were spectacular. We understand that the larger ships have a greater entertainment budget, and we accept that, but on a fifteen day voyage, we would have expected three or four full cast production shows.
Disembarkation went very smoothly and Japanese customs went more quickly than we expected. The ship's staff were very helpful, and the announcements were clear and easy to understand and follow. The Elite lounge is a very nice place to wait for our time to leave.
Over all we had a good (not great) cruise. It would have been a lot better if the fine details were paid better attention.
The check in at the Cruise terminal in Yokohama was obviously my first experience with this cruise from Yokohama to Vancouver. It was a disorganized mess which one can hardly be attributed to the Japanese personnel being that Japan and its ... Read More
The check in at the Cruise terminal in Yokohama was obviously my first experience with this cruise from Yokohama to Vancouver. It was a disorganized mess which one can hardly be attributed to the Japanese personnel being that Japan and its people constitute a highly organized society. Therefore, the disorganization was probably due to Celebrity's lack of management control over this endeavor.
On boarding, I realized that the Celebrity Millenium is an older ship which needs much maintenance. I traveled in Aqua Class which has its advantages since the cabins were newer and rather respectable. In addition, the dining room provided only for Aqua Class passengers, designated Blu, is a small scale affair providing unfortunately highly unprofessional service with mediocre to poor food, supposed to be heathy and light, but far from what was intended.
The disorganized service in the Blu restaurant overtakes whatever supervision is provided i.e., it can often be horrendous, taking almost two hours + to dine, and for breakfast to be served. Most food was served with numerous mistakes and often rather cold.The maître of the restaurant was a most agreeable individual with an excellent disposition, but somehow he often could neither fix the mistakes made by the waiters/kitchen nor the issue of slow service. Whatever issues were somewhat rectified were minimal. His good intentions surely were quelled by his superiors. In these days of cutting costs, Celebrity should not have permitted a shortage of capable personnel to provide appropriate service from the onset especially for Aqua Class passengers who have paid for a higher class of service.
As the Blu restaurant is not opened at lunchtime, one has to use the cafeteria or main dining room which can be a nightmare .The cafeteria is one chaotic mess, with unappetizing dishes, insufficient space to accommodate the passengers, and long lines . Moreover It has a slovenly appearance with so many passengers rushing and cutting in front of each other.
In addition, there are groups of people in the cafeteria who use large tables to play cards and other games while the cafeteria is functioning to provide lunch,thereby making it difficult for obtain tables.
The gym which I used frequently is poorly maintained, the trainers assigned to the gym, uninterested and unhelpful to the passenger not paying for specific services.
Throughout and I mean throughout out the ship,there is constant cheap bus terminal/airport music being blared on loudspeakers making it sometimes impossible to relax in public areas. Some of the Muzak is nothing more than a constant trump, thump. Pure noise. Perhaps such music is played to cater to some passengers tastes, but such noise pollution is not in everyone's interest, especially on a cruise ship. Such music also cheapens the image of Celebrity. When loudspeaker music was not being played, there were sporadic, interjected annoying musical performers,most of the time blurting out what is called music in order to fill in the spaces of golden silence. The passengers are entitled to pure silence to converse or rest from constant stimulation. The passengers should not be treated like happy campers requiring Muzak in order to be happy.
One most grotesque event with alarmingly high pitched music was one evening at around 10:30 PM when a disc jockey played very loud music on the 4th floor, a very public area , to which just a very few couples were dancing . Poor judgement was utilized by the cruise director in allowing the dispersion of so much noise in a highly public area. There was no need for this shrill, especially since it was appealing to just a few people.
Another event, practically on a daily basis, was the use of another disk jockey, also on the 4th floor, playing loud music at 3:30 PM, interrupting people sitting by the coffee bar on the 5th floor who were reading, talking or resting. There were no other people on the 4th floor listening to this music, therefore the disc jockey was alone, playing music at very high levels to no audience, and this blare circulated to other floors since it was being transmitted within the high ship atrium.
One important note: a set amount for tips is debited to each passenger on a daily basis. The passenger has the right to decline this automatic debit, and to tip directly to the people to whom he or she would like to tip. Towards the very end of this cruise, the stateroom attendant placed in the rooms of those who declined the automatic debit, a group of envelopes in which to place a personal tip along with the suggestion as to how much the tip should be. I find this practice an invasion of ones privacy. If one is going to tip personally, he or she will find a way to tip the people who rendered satisfactory services. However, giving out envelopes and letting the stateroom staff know in advance as to who declined the automatic debit is unethical. Why not just incorporate into the cruise fare the tips in order to terminate with this issue of hidden costs.
For 14 nights, this was a poor cruise choice for me. I fully understand that there are people who may not agree with my position with respect to the cruise, however, democratic forums are a manner in which a customer may express his or her comments. Read Less
We are seniors ; 15+ cruises with lots of time. The 22 night cruise left from Vancouver and went to Alaska, Korea, Japan & China. The ports were all new to us.
We pre booked a few sightseeing tours - but it was easy with some prior ... Read More
We are seniors ; 15+ cruises with lots of time. The 22 night cruise left from Vancouver and went to Alaska, Korea, Japan & China. The ports were all new to us.
We pre booked a few sightseeing tours - but it was easy with some prior research to arrange last minute tours on our own at the ports. Princess did a very good job of describing the ports (the night before)and arranged for buses to take us from the ports to town most without charge. Wonderful!! The ports in Asia were amazingly modern with skyscrapers and wide clean boulevards and could have been in any big modern 1st class city in the world
Downtown Vancouver our embarkation has many excellent hotels and it was an easy and inexpensive taxi ride to the ship. we stayed 2 nights at the Marriott so we could tour the city.
Our stateroom was not too far from the elevators and was a good size. It was by the art studio.
Our wait staff and the food was excellent with many high end seledtions, varied, and lots of choices.
We embarked early and had almost no wait. The same to disembark - (we pre booked a limo to the airport in Bejing as it is far). The staff on both beginning and end was efficient & helpful.
The entertainment was minimal but there was something every night and it was varied and acceptable.
In summary with all that was good I am not sure we would ever book with Princess again. They lowered the price of our cabin category by $450 per person and would not give us the lower price and refund our money. We knew about the lower price because our son received and e mail the day we paid in full. After much complaining ...($900 for the 2 of us is a lot to complain about) the gaive us an unobstructed view 2 decks lower. It left us feeling "gyped". Never book Princess early!!! Read Less
My husband and I had never been interested in cruising but after a 10 Day river cruise in Burma last year, we decided to try an ocean cruise and having been recommended and settled on Silver Seas, we were not disappointed. Here are the ... Read More
My husband and I had never been interested in cruising but after a 10 Day river cruise in Burma last year, we decided to try an ocean cruise and having been recommended and settled on Silver Seas, we were not disappointed. Here are the things we loved, embarkation was seamless, our cabin was spacious and well appointed and Gertha our Cabin Cleaner was a delight and very thorough, the restaurants had a good ambience, the staff were absolutely professional and the choice and quality of dishes was good, the complementary wines were fine, although the dessert wines were woeful, we did indulge in copious quantities of Cloudy Bay ($40.00 a bottle extra) when a fellow cruiser discovered that it was on board, in room dining was good too, but sometimes delivered lukewarm!
The entertainment on board was great, from the accomplished pianist in the bar to the nightly shows and the lectures in between. Tammy's efforts in trying to teach us Bridge were greatly appreciated and our lack of progress was in no way a reflection of Tammy's teaching skills. We loved the camaraderie and rivalry particularly over the table tennis and trivia, go Egg Heads... It can't be easy but Dirk handled the entertainment with aplomb and we thoroughly enjoyed the last show. Things that could have been done better...when we arrived on board, I was expecting to be asked to choose which bathroom amenities we wanted, how and with what we wanted the refrigerator stocked with and whether I wanted our butler to unpack our clothes (not that we did) but it didn't happen and I felt a little let down (having said that we did have to leave the ship soon after embarkation to pick up something and that could well have interfered with the process?). I made a mistake in not booking onshore excursions which, after talking to those that did, I will be doing next time but the two that we did belatedly book, were great and seamless.
The fitness centre was small but very well equipped and Tomaz was a great Pilates / Yoga instructor and ran a rigorous fitness class.
I unexpectedly enjoyed the prescribed dress codes which I had been dreading; our fellow cruisers were largely delightful and engaging.
All in all this was a wonderful holiday which my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed, so much so, that we have booked another for next year. Read Less
We were first time Silversea cruisers, chosen firstly for the itinerary and second to experience 6 star cruising.
Overall we had a pleasant 16 day cruise though honestly we are more comfortable on large cruise ships.
Really enjoyed the ... Read More
We were first time Silversea cruisers, chosen firstly for the itinerary and second to experience 6 star cruising.
Overall we had a pleasant 16 day cruise though honestly we are more comfortable on large cruise ships.
Really enjoyed the food and service in The Restaurant and had one very nice meal at La Terrazzo one evening, other than this found breakfast and lunch on the ship fairly average, particularly after 16 days. This is of course just our opinion based on the fact that this was a 6 Star cruise line and we had expected something more?
We found a little piece of heaven in the Panorama Lounge early each morning with a wonderful young barista, Paul, who made a splendid cappuccino and long black (or espresso) for us, and we completed breakfast with lovely fresh muffins and pastries and a plate of freshly sliced tropical fruits. Silver Shadow has by far the finest coffee we have ever had on board a cruise ship!
We thoroughly enjoyed the excursions we went on though felt truly embarrassed for those people at Petropavlovsk who hadn't been advised by anyone from that scarves or head coverings are required for women to enter Russian orthodox churches. We felt this was the ships duty to let people know this as we had learnt from a previous cruise to St Petersburg - all local customs were spoken about prior to disembarking for an excursion.
Really enjoyed the wine and food lectures - these gentlemen tried particularly hard to bring us information that related to the ports that we were travelling to or had just departed from.
First cruise with Silverseas on the Silver Shadow, a pleasant enough cruise blessed with generally good weather at almost all the ports of call. Here is a list of things that Silverseas gained points for, things that were a little ‘so ... Read More
First cruise with Silverseas on the Silver Shadow, a pleasant enough cruise blessed with generally good weather at almost all the ports of call. Here is a list of things that Silverseas gained points for, things that were a little ‘so so’ and things it lost points for, including the likely deal breaker for us taking another Silverseas cruise!
Merit points for;
Cabin/Suite - Our Silver Suite accommodation was very nice, had all the things required and the butler service is a nice touch. Having the included laundry service was also very good.
Crew Almost universally genuinely friendly and helpful. The duo in the bar were great and even learnt a song on request! The poor girls in the Casino did not seem to get that much custom, so they were happy to spend time teaching me to play blackjack!
Pool grill hot rock dining This was quite fun, sadly the colder weather closed the pool grill on quite a few evenings, but when available it was by far the best food on the ship for both lunch and the evening ‘hot rock’ dining (see later comments re the food in main restaurants).
Fellow passengers We met some delightful and interesting people on board and encountered very few crashing bores that we had to avoid. Not something a cruise line has any control over of course, but meeting fellow passengers is very much part of the overall cruise experience and this trip scored top marks on this front.
What was ‘so so’;
Range of activities There were a good range of enrichment lectures and food/wine demonstrations, but apart from that if you are not into Trivia (which we are not) then there really was not much else on offer for the several sea days.
Demerit points for;
Food The catering in the main dining room and the Italian al a carte restaurant were very much hit and miss. Some things were great and others were just plain dull. We eventually learnt to avoid the daily roast offering as it was usually well below standard. On a few occasions dishes had to be sent back as they were cold. We have done some previous cruising on smaller expedition style ships (not SiIverseas) and one trip on a larger Celebrity ship, frankly the food was not quite as good as any of our previous cruises. Just to be clear, the food was not bad to the point that you would complain, it was just not that outstanding. I should also add that despite the generally positive attitude of the staff, service in the main dining room could also be a little hit and miss.
Big time demerit points (and likely future Silverseas cruise deal breaker);
The extremely poor ‘all inclusive’ wine selection. This was by far and away the biggest disappointment, so much so that we may well not book with SIlverseas again for this one reason. The selection of wine offered as part of the normal ‘all inclusive’ selection was quite dire. Now I should add that we only drink white wine and Champagne, and the bubbly on offer (Monopole) was perfectly acceptable. But the white wines offered were a rather dull selection of old fashioned mostly French offerings, not one Australian or New Zealand wine to be found. The only ‘new world’ white on offer the the included selection was a Chilean Sauv Blanc that tasted like you could have probably happily driven your car on it. We are absolutely not wine snobs, but the selection really was very disappointing, we could not find one white wine that we really liked and so wound up drinking very little of the wines offered. We did speak to the head Sommelier and we were able to establish that they did have one of our favourite NZ Sauv Blancs on board, but it was $40 a bottle from the ‘Premium’ selection, and for some reason it did not even appear on the premium wine list! So we wound up spending quite a few extra bucks on bottles of that.
Overall, I am forced to conclude that the ‘all inclusive’ model really does not work, or at least as currently implemented by Silverseas it does not work. I would rather have paid a little less for a ‘non all inclusive’ package and then have selected what wines I wanted. As it is we paid for an inferior all inclusive style product and then were effectively forced to pay again to avoid a pretty dire selection of wines.
Unless Silverseas can demonstrate an improvement on this point then it’s fairly unlikely we will be booking with them again, which is a real shame as we otherwise quite enjoyed this cruise. Read Less
Having been through Vancouver before and faced major queues for emigration, we were pleasantly surprised to be the only ship in port and upon arriving at US emigration found 6 bored operatives who almost fought over our ... Read More
Having been through Vancouver before and faced major queues for emigration, we were pleasantly surprised to be the only ship in port and upon arriving at US emigration found 6 bored operatives who almost fought over our custom. The process was extremely quick and very polite. This was probably the nicest US emigration experienced in nearly 40 years.
We met Natalie, newly promoted from receptionist to Guest Relations Manager as we got on the Shadow, and it's always a nice surprise to see an old face in a new job.
Reception sign in, photo taking and credit card hand over were all completed with a minimum of fuss, and as it was just after midday, no queues.
The Shadow is still a great ship, the interior is still in pretty good nick, and it was nice to see the new pool furniture that had been installed since our last visit. The repair to the bow was more obvious from the outside, and really looked like a quick patch up job, but from the top of deck 9 it looked better, if a little obvious. The decking was in good shape, the jogging track also. The interior furnishings were not showing any age and our suite was also in good shape.
Guests & Staff
On the run up to Kodiak (which Silversea sold as an optional 6 day cruise) there were an additional 48 guests on board. After Kodiak we had 143, which included some 7/8 guest lecturers, bridge directors and chefs, and about 260 staff, so about 40 light from a full complement.
Guests were a good cosmopolitan mix, 20+ Aussies, quite a few Brits, some other Europeans, some Canadians and less than half were from the US. Unfortunately the removal of the Passenger Lists makes this very difficult to establish these days. As usual there were some healthy & active guests in their 80's. I think there were 23 singles, most of whom were female.
Most guests were over 50, a couple of late teens were travelling with families, but there were no children on board.
Only saw one instance of poor behavior, one of the Kodiak 48 got rather drunk, lost money in the Casino and was last seen banging the bar in the Lampadina. Rod (the barman) saw him safely to his suite and he was next seen at dinner the following evening, still nursing a hangover.
Ate here most evenings and apart from the galley lunch did not venture in during the day. Generally the food was very good. The Executive Chef Ricardo Dotti seemed to set a fairly high standard across the board. Had one bad meal when my steak came well done (ordered med rare) and when it reappeared some 15 minutes later was still well done and I had lost all my vegetables. It was easier to leave it, although no one came to check to see what had gone wrong. It was just a bad night.
I had met the head sommelier, Carolina, before and made sure that we drank what we wanted, and unlike some others I never had any problem with the house wines. It did help to have a chat with her on the first day and also to her main assistant. Plenty of choice with the wines, for instance 2 NZ SB's, two French SB's and one Chilean SB. Some nice Syrah and Cab Sav's.
One point worth noting, there were only two sommeliers onboard, I think one of the 40 staff who had been relocated was the other one, and this meant it was tough for them to cover all 4 dining areas in the evening. Occasionally they struggled, and I'm aware that it annoyed some guests.
Ate breakfast here most days. It was the usual buffet style, plenty of fresh fruit and there were always strawberries available. Service was always good.
Most days I ate lunch here as well, mainly for the Sashimi, and on this cruise the sashimi salmon was the best I had for a long time. The other food was generally good.
The day after leaving Vancouver they served approximately 350 fresh local oysters which had all gone by the end of lunch and were very good.
Only ate once in the evening and apart from the excellent duck ragout the food is not special anymore.
Ate here a couple of times at lunch, but for most of the trip it was either too cold or too wet to be outside. Came back late one day from a port (at about 3:50) and the chef cooked me an exquisite piece of Halibut. This was real service with a smile. On another occasion, and with a different chef, I had the surliest service on the ship. This was an Indian chef who had just been moved from the main galley and it was obvious that no one had told him how to react with guests.
Due to the inclement weather we only ate outside on the first and last nights. On both occasions we had excellent food and service, and we just love the hot rocks. Some hardier souls ate here more often, provided it was not closed.
Gave it a miss on this trip, but did have lunch with David Bilsland on one of his cook and learn days, see below.
In suite dinning / Room Service
Have never felt the need.
Afternoon Tea in the Panorama
Always a delight to have a nice cup of tea, not so sure about the array of extra food, although most guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
The main bar was run in an amazingly efficient fashion by Chester, supported by the lovely Welma. After asking for a particular pre dinner cocktail on the first night, it would be ready most evenings by the time Chester had spotted me walking to the bar. Smoking was still allowed on the right-hand side of the bar, but caused no problems at all.
Rod ran the Lampadina, which was much underused. Francis ran the Panorama and Marylin the Pool bar.
Bulter and assistant
Both were very sweet and did all we asked, but seemed worried that we had very little call on their time.
Apart from the cooking demonstrations we did not attend any of the lectures. We watched some of them on the TV on repeat. The lecturers themselves were nice, but it's not really our cup of tea.
The bridge lecturers, Tony & Dee Hoffman were outstanding, and he was a wonderful teacher. I was impressed that he had all his own audio/visual equipment for his lessons. Some guests thought he was the best bridge teacher they had ever met.
The afternoon duplicate sessions were well run and tabulated (by hand) extremely quickly.
Silversea should certainly use them more often.
Trivia was well attended, pretty competitive and very well run by the CD, Jimmy Kovel. He certainly introduced some new twists. Jimmy is actually a very good CD.
Bingo also existed, a mileage pool ran most days. There was putting with the SS Artistes, but no shuffleboard, table tennis and the weather was too nasty for water volleyball. There was a liars club one evening which was great fun, and a couple of name that tune evenings.
The Artists of Silversea put on a number of shows, now all based around singing, and ranging from classical to relatively modern. The best show, if a little short, was the British Invasion. It would normally be held on deck with a BBQ, but this type of crossing and the cold meant it was in the theatre. All three female and three male artists were very good, and very approachable outside of the shows. What was amazing was that one of the male artists had arrived on the ship at Vancouver and without any prior run throughs. He had to learn everything on the ship from the bottom up, and you would never have known. He was a true professional.
One niggle here was that Jimmy sometimes put the shows on at 9:45 instead of 10pm, which made it hard to get there for the start. Supposedly this was because of the constant time changes forward and the age demographic of the guests. We were not amused.
As this was an L'Ecole des chefs voyage we had David Bilsland onboard along with an American/Chinese chef named Ying Chang Compestine, who was very into green tea cooking.
In addition to the standard Ready Steady Cook show there were four or five other morning cooking demonstrations, all of which were excellent. David ran 3 cook and learn lunches in Le Champagne, again they were excellent and the food memorable. David also ran a market visit in Hakodate which was a lot of fun.
We thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the voyage.
Ports & Tours
The Shadow mostly docked very close to the centre of the port town, and when it was further out, as in Hakodate a free shuttle was provided.
We walked in Ketchikan, Juneau (went up the Mount Roberts ropeway which was fun if rather wet), Skagway and in Kodiak.
In Kodiak the only disappointment was the Russian Orthodox Church was closed at its normal afternoon opening time. It had been opened in the morning for a ships tour and I think we just lucked out.
Apart from Kodiak there were at least 2 and sometimes 5 other large cruise ships in port, and this meant all the points of interest were crowded.
In Petropavlovsk we did the ATV Volcano trip, which was awesome, and included 15kms up and then back down a dry river bed. They also provided an excellent typical local lunch along with local beer and vodka.
In Hakodate we did the market visit and then went up the cable car to the observatory. There were wonderful views of both sides of Hakodate. The town itself was a joy to visit, along with the English speaking schoolgirls who were waiting for us by the shuttle stop at the main station, and who came and did multiple renditions of the local Cuttlefish dance on the dock as we sailed away.
Tokyo was disembarkation day, which went very smoothly, but unfortunately it was teeming it down which rather made the day a very damp squib.
As expected it was cold once we had left Canada and even colder going across the Bering Sea. Things looked up when we got to Russia. The sea was also rough for two days in the middle of the crossing, and on some days it was pretty windy (>50mph). A number of days were wet and we also had a morning of fog.
We didn't go on any trips specifically to see wildlife, but did see a number of whale sightings from the ship whilst in Alaska, saw some seals and an otter, and also saw a pod of killer whales between Russia and Japan.
The removal of the Guest/Passenger List is a real drawback, and even if it happened because of privacy complaints (as was alluded to), this could be covered better in the Guest Info form that we all complete or with a check once onboard. It looks like SS decided to ditch it because it saved both paper and time. People should complain until we get it restored.
Because of an engine problem we did not sail past Tracey Arm, so saw no glaciers. Not a huge problem but a bit of a shame.
It was often cold in the theatre in the mornings and on a couple of days it was freezing. People were wrapped up in blankets. When asked if the A/C had failed the response was no, but that the engineers never came up to the public areas so had no understanding of the temperature. Believe that one if you will.
There was a smell of drains on the 4th deck quite often, near the rear lift, and on one day in the Bering Sea it was across decks 4, 5 and 6. Someone very cleverly had opened the side doors on deck 5 near reception and it was blowing a gale through the middle of the ship. The smell was better than the arctic wind though.
There were no Gentlemen Hosts on this voyage, and with at least 20 single women onboard, almost no one to dance with. This was a serious oversight, and it's interesting that the 2013 voyage is listed with Gentlemen Hosts.
The slow erosion of the "benchmark in ultra-luxury cruising" continues and unfortunately it is not the Captain & crew that are causing this, but the bean counters in the offices who rarely get on the ships and see what really matters to Silversea's guests. Read Less
I sailed on the Silver Shadow from Vancouver to Tokyo in September 2012. The ship was not full - 189 passengers to Kodiak, then 139 to Tokyo.
The ship looked great and I really liked it's size. I had an issue with the air ... Read More
I sailed on the Silver Shadow from Vancouver to Tokyo in September 2012. The ship was not full - 189 passengers to Kodiak, then 139 to Tokyo.
The ship looked great and I really liked it's size. I had an issue with the air conditioning especially in the Athenian Lounge. It was so cold during lectures that many of us had to use blankets. I mentioned this in my mid-cruise comments and although I received a prompt letter from the HD, it didn't seem to get any better. There were also two occasions where a strong smell of sewage pervaded the ship. Not sure what happened but they opened a lot of doors to let the fresh (very cold) air in to get rid of the smell.
Terrace 533. It was a very good location and very quiet but was wasted due to the cold weather. I think I went out on it four times during the whole trip but on one of those occasions, in Petropavlovsk, I saw a seal swim right up to the ship and it was barking at us! That was special.
MDR - I ate lunch and dinner here on many occasions. The service was excellent (should be with the ship half full). I particularly enjoyed the soups. Just a note, if you like your veggies, you need to order them as a side dish.
Buffet at lunchtime and I always enjoyed the freshly made quiche of the day m,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,. I like being able to serve myself plenty of salad and there were some lovely seafood salads as well. I also had a seafood pizza freshly made for me. I had one dinner at LT and whilst I enjoyed it, the pasta was a little bit firm and I preferred the pasta that was served in the MDR.
In a word, wow...I was the only diner there so what service! It was a spectacular meal and well worth the additional $30. I'm not a wine drinker but I was able to have my cocktails during this meal. I really like the new system here, i.e. you order off the menu. They have done away with the 'themes'.
It was too cold for me to eat at this venue, although I did see some very hardy souls under blankets.
I had one meal here and it was on the last sea day before Tokyo. The weather had warmed up a bit. Service was good.
I ate breakfast in my room every morning. I had granola, yoghurt, mango and mixed berries every morning. And what was really good, we didn't run out. On previous cruises, these items have always run - too popular I guess.
Food is so subjective but I was surprised when a passenger told me she hated the food because it was so bland. I don't know what she expected but I certainly didn't find it so.
Allan from the Philippines was very attentive and on this cruise I used him more than I normally would have. I also bumped into my butler from my Cloud cruise in 2010 and it turned out that he and Allan were roommates on the Shadow. It was really lovely to see Ray again and we had a nice chat about the Panama Canal. I got the hang of using the butler on this trip and really liked having him look after me. I now like the whole butler concept. Patricia, my room cleaner, has worked with SS for 12 years, 9 of those on the Silver Shadow. SS must be doing something right for their crew.
There were two Professors that spoke about whales and glaciers. I found them interesting but Dr Herb, he's been on SS before and I'm not a big fan. I liked a couple of his lectures, but he was always trying to canvas his book and I found it annoying. At one lecture, he spoke about the life and music of Judy Garland but at the start, he sang 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'...it made me cringe, I didn't want to hear him sing it.
I really enjoyed Hyperion Knight's shows. He was another entertainer that I'd seen on a previous cruise.
I never miss Liars' Club and it didn't disappoint. Some of Jimmy Kovel's (CD) explanations were hilarious.
The cooking demonstrations were interesting and entertaining especially when one of the chefs was trying to cook 'healthy' and the other cooked up a lemon butter sauce with what looked like a kilo of butter.
I played Bingo and even won a few. I would have liked more Bingo but it was only played on sea days. I only play Bingo on cruises and I always enjoy it.
I actually was a part of two trivia teams. My first team left in Kodiak so I had to join another and my new team was great. We won three nights running and Mr & Mrs Silver Spectre from Cruise Critic were excellent participants. It was a pleasure meeting them. Jimmy Kovel did a fantastic job, giving little hints that really mixed up the play. He gave a great new spin to trivia that I haven't encountered before and you really needed to be on your toes to get the hints. Kudos to Jimmy.
Ports & Excursions
Ketchikan - I did the Misty Fjords by floatplane. This was fabulous and we managed to have the sun shining for awhile.
Juneau - I did the Tracey Arm fjord and glacier by boat. This was great although very cold but I saw lots of icebergs and saw the glacier calve...excellent! I'm glad I did this excursion because the ship had a problem and missed the fjord altogether.
Skagway - I did the White Pass Railway and Mushers Dog Camp. The railway is very scenic. Now the Dog Camp - well if you are expecting to see blue eyed Siberian Husky dogs then you are sadly mistaken and they tell you this on the bus on the way to the camp. These dogs are the sled dogs that run in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest and they are bitsa dogs bred for endurance - they are called Alaskan Huskies - so I guess that's where the confusion is. They are extremely hardy and gorgeous but they aren't the Huskies that some of us were expecting. The dog sled ride was also a bit lame. The 'sled' is like a large golf cart and the dogs pull it around a loop...probably 10 minutes if that. Seeing and petting the puppies was lovely.
Kodiak - I had to cancel my walk in the Fort Abercrombie park so I got the shuttle bus into town and wandered around myself.
Petropavlovsk - I did the ATV volcano trip. This was great, although extremely bumpy, because the weather was perfect and it was a really pretty port surrounded by lots of active volcanoes (29 of them to be precise).
Hakodate - I did the highlights tour because this was the only tour on offer due to low numbers. Hakodate was a very pretty city and the view from the top of the mountain was spectacular.
Tokyo - I did the city tour and transfer to Narita. This would have been great but it was raining too heavily to do any sightseeing and most of us stayed on the bus.
SS provided shuttles in Kodiak and Hakodate as the ship was a fair way from town. All of the other ports were walking distance if you wanted to pop into town on your own. Petropavlovsk was a tender port but only took 10 minutes (if that).
I found the weather very cold in Alaska, especially Kodiak. The Bering Sea crossing was brutal at times for me. Not being able to get on deck and four days of 75kph winds started to get to me. One night I nearly fell out of my chair whilst typing on my computer. Some people thought this was mild, I'm just not a good sailor.
Many people on the message boards have said that SS has lost its edge. I did not find this although I did notice a few little things that have changed. No welcome champagne, no fruit bowl, no next day's menu in The Chronicles - although I rectified this by requesting it at Reception. Caraffes of water in the bar fridge instead of bottled water. The silver cardboard breakfast menu is now on photocopy paper and alas, the passenger list is no more. Of course, you need to opt out of the charity charge, but that's easy to do.
This was cruise number 5 on Silversea and I've booked another for next year. I enjoyed the cruise and was happy with the level of service that I received.
If anyone would like further information or copies of The Restaurant's menus, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Less
Silver Shadow far exceeded expectations. I was greeted by my butler immediately upon arrival, suitcase delivered promptly. After contemplating the food offerings for three weeks, I can say that the quality was excellent altho' Italian ... Read More
Silver Shadow far exceeded expectations. I was greeted by my butler immediately upon arrival, suitcase delivered promptly. After contemplating the food offerings for three weeks, I can say that the quality was excellent altho' Italian desserts were not as rich as some I have had. The moderate serving sizes of the various courses were inspiring and indirectly pointed out the massive portions expected in most American restaurants. I liked the moderate portions. Eating as an indoor sport does not interest me.
I dined on two occasions at La Terrazza for an Italian evening meal and I would not try it again. At one point, a small dish of pasta was presented and, when I tried to use a fork and spoon to eat it, I could easily lift up the entire mass with my fork. Evidently I'm not that big a fan of "gourmet" Italian food. But the offerings in The Restaurant (the MDR) were quite good each evening and all of us quite enjoyed the artwork of the pastry chef on the plates as dessert was served. Quite imaginative and well-rendered to lend an elegant touch to a meal.
My suite was lovely - quite large and usable, lots of storage space, no wear-and-tear visible throughout the suite. There were minor nicks in the light-wood desk-top which were caused by pax slamming down their ice buckets down on it. The large bathroom had dual sinks, a separate bathtub and shower.
I do take off points for lighting over the couch - if Gideon, my brilliant butler, hadn't come up with the solution of a floor lamp, I would have been unable to read my Kindle which is an important part of my daily shipboard life. Having said this, I would point out that this problem with lighting was immediately resolved by Gideon who also kept me supplied with a daily variety of fresh fruits which I enjoyed in my suite in lieu of afternoon tea.
My Vista suite had a large picture window which fulfilled my desire to view the ocean and local ports. I don't feel that I need a balcony in my cruises as I am rarely in a warm part of the globe. Terrace suites, one level up from mine, share a balcony which is not acceptable to me. My Vista suite was 287 sq.ft. and perfect for this solo traveler. I appreciatedthe severely-limited smoking areas.
The artwork throughout the ship lent an air of luxury and elegance to the experience. The fact that all of it was for sale deducted nothing from the effect.
I didn't attend the entertainments other than one - George Sakellariou is a world-class acoustic guitarist, well known in those circles. I never missed his performances. He was selected by Steve Jobs some years ago to perform for a family reunion and George has played all over the world. Did not see other entertainers.
In all cases, the waiters were good, many were excellent, and they made outstanding suggestions for my dining pleasure. Ariston was a key player for me in the MDR with good menu suggestions and topnotch service. I enjoyed speaking various languages with the crew. I was so warmly welcomed onboard that my joke is I felt like ship's pet. The hospitality and genuinely positive response of the hotel waitstaff to this solo traveler made this voyage outstanding and memorable.
I did not attend onboard activities; I made it up as I went along. No trivia, no bridge, no "Italian as a second language," few Enrichment Lecturers altho' I watched several of them on my flatscreen, in-cabin TV. I had to quickly bone up on one lecturer as he and I wound up dining together every night for the week in Alaska that he was onboard.
The manager in the Internet Caf, Ian, patiently taught me about the good and the bad of new softwares, laptops, choices. It is wonderful to have that kind of expertise available. I was constantly asking questions about a future purchase of a laptop and softwares. On my last night, Ian helped me use the online check-ins and print out my boarding passes. His cheery attitude and welcoming manner were appreciated.
The few public rooms I used were well-appointed and luxurious. In the 3 weeks I was onboard Shadow, I never had afternoon tea nor did I use the Fitness Center.
I have been on cruises as an adult since 1979 and, since Royal Viking pulled up its gangway, I have been searching for an equivalent luxury-ship experience. After this Silver Shadow Vancouver-to-Incheon voyage, I have come home to Silversea. It is now the official cruise line for Saga Ruby.
I would not hesitate to repeat this itinerary because 12 out of 21 days were sea days and that was the main appeal for me. I've been, seen, and done enough in the cruising world that I have little interest in finding a new, exciting itinerary. I embrace the exceptional level of service onboard Silversea and will watch for cruises on her and her sister ship, Whisper.
Silversea positions itself as a small, elegant luxury cruise line. For me, that is a perfect description. Read Less
This was my 12th cruise. I chose it as it was advertised as a Transpacific to Japan cruise. Originally it was to cruise the Aleutians and a stop in Russia, but neither happened. Many passengers did not hear of the changes and were ... Read More
This was my 12th cruise. I chose it as it was advertised as a Transpacific to Japan cruise. Originally it was to cruise the Aleutians and a stop in Russia, but neither happened. Many passengers did not hear of the changes and were disappointed. Cabin: the cabin was very attractive and had enough room for a sofa for two. Though we had an inside cabin we did not feel claustrophobic. Food: Variable, from bad to mostly good. The pastry choices were excellent. I would rate the food as cruise fare. The average person will love it, but foodies will be disappointed. The wine steward was aggressive, trying to sell wine by the bottle rather than by the glass. Entertainment: Standard for cruises. The dancers were very good and some of them were obviously very enthusiastic. The person in the light booth could not keep his hands off of the lighting which at time was distracting. More than once spot lights were shone in the audiences faces. At times it distracted from the dancers and singers. Shore Excursions: were very expensive, a big complaint with many passengers. The cities visited had a lot to offer for those who wanted to do their own tour. Ports: We stopped at Hakodate, Otaru, Kobe and Aomori Japan. These are not ports usually visited and are good stops for a day. Season: We were traveling in typhoon season, and were lucky enough to be able to go around one. Because of the typhoon diversion we missed the port of Yokohama and arrived in Kobe one day early. Water: rough 7 out of 8 days on the trans Pacific portion. Embarkation: Vancouver, BC, Canada was the embarkation port and is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A couple of days before the cruise would not be time wasted there. It took 30 minutes for embarkation. A very large ship was accepting passengers at the same time at the terminal which may have made the process slower for us. Passengers: This was the oldest and most physically challenged group I have ever seen on a cruise. For our group of 60 we had a need for 8 wheelchairs. Read Less
We've been on several Princess cruises, this was our second trip to Alaska, but have not gone this far north. The extra days to go to Whittier and Glacier Bay was a better Alaska experience. I say that because you just aren't ... Read More
We've been on several Princess cruises, this was our second trip to Alaska, but have not gone this far north. The extra days to go to Whittier and Glacier Bay was a better Alaska experience. I say that because you just aren't seeing the typical tourist town. You are seeing miles and miles of wilderness, we were so lucky to see a lot of sea life. This was our first time with a balcony. It was wonderful having the balcony, we had our ocean breezes and star gazing on demand. Getting away from the crowds and being able to enjoy fresh air and sunshine was great, even if you didn't feel like getting dressed. The six days crossing the Bering Sea was a very relaxing time and we loved being on the water. We both felt that the cruise directors office did a poor job of preparing the cruisers on what to expect on each port of call. We had days of talks on Japan, almost the entire 6 day crossing. Then on the day before Russia there was a very dry, read from script, talk of Russia. Albeit, history is fantastic for the most part, however, when you have a few short hours to see a port, speaking to that port and what it has to offer would have been a valuable asset. Instead we get a boring, monotone history lesson on what the Czars did and why. I wanted to know about the port, what it had to offer, what was significant, what should be avoided, like being in a bus all day because of traffic. Also, there should have been a seminar to cover all of the tours offered. It would have been great to know that the City Tour and the Historic Tour of Russia were almost exactly the same tour. Also, if we would have been informed that the traffic is so horrible in Russia, maybe it would be a good idea to take maybe one tour and do a walking tour for the rest of the day. There was no shopping talks, like we had on a previous Princess cruise to Hawaii.
I don't know what I expected, fishing villages in So. Korea and China? It would have been great for someone to say, "Hey, these are big cities with everything to offer, shuttle buses, shopping, walking tours, and oh, here are the tours we are offering, pros and cons, if you are looking to see a Temple, these tours are fantastic, if you are looking to see the country side, these tours are great, etc. Since this was the first time to Asia it was a real shock to see that there are no western toilets! On the tour papers, in small print on the back, it stated you had to supply your own toilet paper and hand cleanser. No mention that you had to squat over a porcelain urinal. I never saw a local carrying a satchel with their toilet supplies, do we want to know that they have no need for toilet paper or hand cleanser?
The air pollution in Russia and China was absolutely terrible. There should have been a warning by the ship if you had breathing problems or sensitive to air quality you should take notice and take precautions accordingly. After several days of terrible air, I got really sick when I got home.
I guess the worst thing I have to say about this 22 day cruise was the ship did a very poor job of describing ports of call and preparing us with what was offered. Also, in the evening after So. Korea, the ocean was full of squid boats, with bright lights, some getting pretty close to our ship. Our neighbor was practically in hysterics thinking we were being invaded by North Korea or China. Putting a note in the Princess Patter to make sure you notice the fishing boats at night would have been a comfort and a bit of trivia for the cruisers.
The diamond Princess is huge, good and bad. Good that there is a lot to do. Bad that there isn't really a quiet place to hang out and read. The library is tiny, the writing area outside of the library is out in the walkway area, not quiet at all. I was hard pressed to find a quiet place with like minded people. So, I spent a lot of time in our room, enjoying the ocean and fresh air, in peace.
The staff was again great. One funny thing, A year and a half ago, in December, we went on a 15 day cruise to Hawaii, we met one of the photographers, we call Gorgy. He was fun and we had some banter back and forth, bought a few pictures. Then the next May we took a 10 day from San Francisco to Alaska, the same photographer was on ship. He remembered us and that was neat. Again, fun banter back and forth. So, this cruise, 22 days from Alaska to Asia, we were happy to run into Gorgy again! What are the chances? He was helpful in pointing us to local restaurants and things to see. Also, one evening I wasn't feeling well at dinner and had to leave the table. The waiter sent to our room a green apple, which he said would help and it did. The next evening, everyone, from the Hostess to the waiter, bus boy and Maitarde asked how I was feeling. At first I was a little embarrassed, but then I realized they were really concerned that I was not well.
When I first got home, I was ill from the bad air for about 5 days, not sure what it was actually, just chest congestion and feeling like crap! Then when I was asked if I liked the cruise I was like, "Never want to go back there again." No toilets in Asia, Russia was dirty and traffic was horrible. Now, if we did take this cruise again. I would not take any tours with the ship. I'd take the shuttle in So. Korea and walk around the town, which I did a little in the morning but had to go back to the ship for a tour at noon. I would not take a tour in Russia. The ship is practically parked down town. I would walk around and see what there was to see. We had a great time in Japan. Muroran was awesome. I think Bolta was the bomb! I wish I had of bought more figurines. They are hilarious. China tours were so tight on time there was no time to shop, on any of the ports actually. No shopping unless you went on your own. Russia had some tables set up near the buses, Japan had tables set up, So. Korea did too, but if you don't buy post cards and such before your tours you may not have time to get anything. I ended up taking the addresses with me and writing cards on the bus. Oh yeah, it took one month for the Russia post cards to reach the USA west coast.
So, it boils down to this. No shopping on any tours after Alaska. After Japan the air pollution is awful. People in Pusan, So. Korea and Muroran Japan were very nice. No toilets, like you are used to, in Asia. The Great Wall was a once in a life time event. Seeing the Water Cube and Bird's Nest, T Square, and the forbidden city are have to's. We saw the city stuff by cab. Also, one more thing they didn't tell us. The hotel room in Beijing electricity only comes on when you slide your room key into a slot on the wall next to the light switches. If you have two room keys you can go out and leave the AC on to cool the room. Oh yeah, don't be shocked by the gas mask in a can in your closet, next to the ironing board and slippers. If the tour guide on your bus wants to sell you a stamp with your name and your Chinese name, it's pricey at $20.00, buy one on the great wall for half as much. Mine was wrong and there was no getting another one. There are souvenir tables at the great wall and the prices are not bad, this maybe your only chance to get little tokens and post cards. That's it... Read Less
On Sept 22 we left Vancouver Canada for Asia via Ketchikan,Juneau,Skagway and Whittier Alaska. Six days at sea brought us to Muroran Japan, then Vladvostok, Russia, Pusan South Korea, and Dalian,Qingdao and Xingang China. In Xingang we ... Read More
On Sept 22 we left Vancouver Canada for Asia via Ketchikan,Juneau,Skagway and Whittier Alaska. Six days at sea brought us to Muroran Japan, then Vladvostok, Russia, Pusan South Korea, and Dalian,Qingdao and Xingang China. In Xingang we took the ships tour to the great wall. It was a wonderful way to see these ports and easy, as the ship handled all the paper work. Most ports had free shuttles into the city so it was possible to do your own thing or take a ship's tour. From Xingang we went to Shanghai, Okinawa Japan, Keelung Taiwan, Hong Kong, Nha Trang and Phu My Vietnam, Sinagapore then to Bangkok (Laem Chabang). From there we flew via Quantas to Sydney Australia to catch the Star Princess back to Las Angeles, a 30 day trip. Again the ports of Okinawa, Hongkong, Nha Trang and Singapore had shuttles into the cities. The only port we misjudged was Keelung, where we had planned to take the train to Taipei. However we were there on a Sunday, thus the train schedule was not suitable to a day trip. In Phu My (for Saigon) we took the ships tour to Saigon as the port is isolated. It was well worth taking the ships tour. The only problem we encounter was with Quantas, as we assumed they would charge for a second bag as do the American airlines. From what we were able to understand they charge about $25 US a kilogram for extra weight, thus the airport personnel got some free things from us. The flight personnel were excellent, just plan to travel with one bag and read all the fine print about weight! The ship was excellent. There was a super typhoon that moved up from Japan and toward Alaska; however the Captain took the ship behind the Aleutian Islands avoiding the worst of it. We like the way we were kept informed from the bridge on daily weather, port rules, regulations and documents we needed with us ashore. Food and service was outstanding and it was the little things that made the ship home. We will definitely do it again. Read Less
After reading some of the negative reviews here I was hesitant to book a cruise on this ship. I was also a bit hesitant being on a boat for 22 days with so many sea days. But it was such a low price since it was a repositioning cruise I ... Read More
After reading some of the negative reviews here I was hesitant to book a cruise on this ship. I was also a bit hesitant being on a boat for 22 days with so many sea days. But it was such a low price since it was a repositioning cruise I decided to book it anyway. I was sure glad I did. Most of the complaints people have are nit picks to me.
Embarkation - smooth. Took about 30 minutes to go through the assorted lines and find our way to our cabin. Went to the buffer for a late lunch, bags were waiting when we got back from lunch.
Although the ship is 5 years old, there was nothing significant broken, overworn, or old in the common areas or my room. Booked an inside cabin on deck 10, first time on an inside and did not miss the window. Great for sleeping late on sea days and didnt spend a lot of time in it anyway. The room had plenty of space, a large open close that separated the bathroom from the rest of the room which I liked. So you can step out of the shower and get changed in front of the closet while someone else is in the bed area. Tv was not an LCD flat panel but didnt mind. Had about 20 channels with about 5 working when sattelite had bad reception which wasnt a big deal. Got to watch some football games. I was pleasantly suprised at the size of the bathroom, the toilet was well laid out so you didnt bang your knees on the wall or door. Water was always hot in less than 10 seconds and water pressure was good too.
The food. I was on the anytime dining which worked out great. Could go to anyone of 3 restaurants which were right next to each other, so if one was crowded, just went next door or down 1 flight. The pacific moon could get a bit loud but thats where many Chinese dined who tend to be loud talkers when dining. After more people boarded in Japan, the dining rooms tended to fill up about 6:25 but then were empty again by 7:45. The hostess at Sante Fe was awesome, if that restaurant was full she got us seats somewhere else, including empty tables at the main dining room which was reserved for fixed seating times (some no shows each night).
Food was very good on most nights. never had so much steak, lamb and shrimp. They did tend to overcook meat, but i just started ordering rare when medium rare consistently came out like medium or medium well. The steak on the every day menu was excellent - better than some of the main course steaks that changed daily. It was a tenderloin as opposed to a ny strip you get on most other cruises. When nothing appealed to me, you couldnt go wrong with this steak. Salads were good, soups so so but loved the cold fruit "soups" which were more like a fruit smoothie. Desserts were ok - stuck to cakes or the different ice cream flavors most nights since you could only get hard ice cream in the dining rooms but the cakes were also at the buffet. Soft serve was available on the pool deck from 11am until about 8pm. Service was generally good, but did take 1.5 hours to get through dinner especially during peak hours. Had lunch in the main dining room most days, the menu was limited but almost always found something interesting that was usually very good. Service here was same as dinner - a bit slow when busy. It took about 1 hour 15 minutes for lunch.
The buffet. At first, I thought it was small, but then realized they had a second side which they opened during peak hours of breakfast and lunch and dinner. This allowed them to close half at a time and clean it thoroughly at least once a day while keeping the buffet open 24 hours. Finding a table could be hard during peak hours, but was easy to share a half empty table with others. Ate breakfast here most days. Loved the fresh made to order waffles you could get at the pool deck. Didnt eat dinner here but did check it out a few times - they usually repeated about 3 of the dishes from the main dining room. They also had same desserts so if you saw something else in the dining room, you could come up here after a show for another round. The buffet was open 24 hours with something decent available all the time. The staff in the buffet were good, after a week you got to know them. They also helped find you a table, carried your tray if you needed help and were usually very quick to offer to get you coffee, tea, water or juice.
Entertainment. The comedians were very good, with probably about 6 different ones during the cruise. They would board in one port and leave a few ports later. The production shows in the main theater are not my thing, but they were usually crowded. They did repeat several of the popular shows (early and late on same day, plus 2 days in a row) so you usually had 4 opportunities to catch a show. They staggered the overlap, so there was at least 1 new show per day. The piano players were good too, but also not my thing so didnt spend a lot of time in the lounges/bars. The same band was with us for all 22 days playing almost every night and they were good but a bit loud.
Pools were open late (dont think they closed) and were empty in the evening hours so I could swim laps. During the day, wasnt usually a problem to find a lounge chair. But that could be due to average age on this repositioning cruise in september of 60+. Water was heated and very comfortable, and 1 pool was covered and very comfortable even in Alaska. The gym had cybex weight machines, free weights up to 50 pounds and the usual treadmills, ellipticals and bikes. On sea days during peak hours, a few fights almost broke out because people were not observing 30 minute time limits on the treadmills, but to me this wasnt a big deal - just avoid peak times (9-10:30, 1-2:30, 4:30-6). There was no one in the gym after 7 at night and I quite often was the only one there at the 10pm closing time.
The ports. The cruise operated tours are way overpriced but not worse than other lines so I toured them all on my own. When will cruise ships realize if they priced something other than a walking tour at Read Less
We booked almost a year in advance and looked forward to a great adventure seeing Asian ports for the first time from the comfort of a cruise ship. We had to get visas for the China portion of our trip. We also had tetanus, typhoid and ... Read More
We booked almost a year in advance and looked forward to a great adventure seeing Asian ports for the first time from the comfort of a cruise ship. We had to get visas for the China portion of our trip. We also had tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A jabs in preparation. About a month before our departure we received an upgrade from the outside cabin we'd booked to a stateroom with partial balcony. Everything sounded great and we were very excited.
Our flight to Vancouver from Heathrow was pretty uneventful (although British Air packs people in like sardines and there's no legroom). Problems started once we had cleared customs in Vancouver airport. 96 of us were booked into the Four Seasons Hotel but there were no busses at the airport. We had to queue up for an hour at the airport before we were finally picked up. Then at the hotel, instead of being able to check in and go to our room (all we wanted to do was have a hot shower and go to bed), we were herded into a function room off the lobby where we had to queue up for another hour so the Princess rep could hand out immigration forms (which easily could have been mailed ahead of time). Next morning, after being charged a fortune for hotel breakfast, we were again made to queue up for over an hour to return the forms to the Princess rep. This was only the beginning of a horrifying ordeal with US Immigration where we had to again queue up for 3 1/2 hours. Princess certainly had not prepared us for this!
At last we boarded the ship and went to our stateroom which was lovely. We were in the bow on Deck 11. The balcony was great and our cabin was comfortable. The steward who took care of us was very professional and we were impressed by his good service.
We had a table for two in the Vivaldi Dining Room at the early sitting. The dining room staff who waited on us gave excellent service throughout the cruise. Overall, the food was good (especially the beef), although the Alaska King crab was terrible. The lobster was excellent. Breakfast was in the International dining room. We enjoyed meeting other people there and the food was good, although the service deteriorated and by the end of the cruise it took up to 40 minutes to get served! Lunch was in the Horizon Food Court (buffet style). The food was abundant and I enjoyed the fresh fruit and vegetables on offer. About once a week sushi was also served (not the best selection but fresh). We did not try the specialty restaurants as there were only two (an Italian and a steakhouse).
We took 4 Princess excursions. Overall we felt they were overpriced. We booked one in Vladivostok because Princess told us we needed to get Russian visas unless we went on one of their tours (this turned out not to be true). The train trip in Skagway was a good way to see the mountains with breathtaking views looking back toward the harbor (but very expensive..$120 each for 3 hours). We were pleased with the self-guided walking tour of Sapporo, Japan. However, the tour of the Great Wall was a fiasco. It took us so long to disembark the ship (due to Princess not being able to unload our baggage in a timely way, then blaming it on local officials) that the tour was very late. There was no opportunity to have a meal all day. Instead of going directly to the hotel in Beijing after the tour, they took us to a cloisonne factory for an hour. So we had nothing to eat between 7:30 am and 7 pm. Then we had to immediately go to bed as Princess changed our flight to an earlier one (our wake up time was 4 am!) Our journey home took almost 20 hours. Although Princess booked some people on direct flights from Beijing to London, many of us had to fly by Dragon Air to Hong Kong (3 hours), wait in Hong Kong Airport for 3 hours, then take a Cathay Pacific flight to Heathrow (another 13 + hours).
We thought the entertainment was poor. The comedians were dismal and we are not fans of song and dance shows. At least one third of the passengers were British, yet none of the entertainers were. It would have been nice to have a place to go to dance all evening. However, most places offered dance music for only an hour or so, then changed to a variety show or other form of entertainment.
We were constantly being solicited to buy things. You couldn't even get a coke or water without paying extra. We found it very unpleasant to be nickled and dimed every day, especially after paying a lot of money for the cruise.
Our biggest problem with the cruise was the stress caused by the mismanagement of Princess staff. We would have understood the need for some inconvenience due to security and immigration requirements. However, we were never briefed ahead of time about what to expect. The result was constant queuing, interminable waiting and delays and overall chaos caused by ill-trained staff who seemed to be reading from different scripts.
My husband took another Princess cruise about 5 years ago (to Alaska) which he very much enjoyed. But given all the problems we had this time, we will never take another Princess cruise. Read Less