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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
The saying is: never go back! In 2012 we had an unforgettable cruise on Aegean Odyssey and we have always wanted to return. So on 26 April 2019 we flew to Athens to join her for a Classical Greece and Islands of the Aegean cruise. All ... Read More
The saying is: never go back! In 2012 we had an unforgettable cruise on Aegean Odyssey and we have always wanted to return. So on 26 April 2019 we flew to Athens to join her for a Classical Greece and Islands of the Aegean cruise. All went well, transfer to the port of Piraeus was swift and we were quickly into our comfortable outside cabin. Later we attended an Excursion Briefing for the following day and noticed that though we were now leaving the first port five hours earlier than published in the Excursion Booklet, no explantion was forthcoming. Those guests who were staying on for the Black Sea cruise the following week were asked to stay behind. The next day we learned from those passengers that the subsequent cruise had been cancelled as one engine had broken down. So the pattern for the next seven days emerged. Each day the ship left port hours early so that it could proceed at half speed in order to reach the next port in time for the morning excursion the following day. At no time did Captain Pallas (soon named Captain Invisible), Cruise Director Alison Lewin or Tours Manager Chantelle offer any explanation and of course rumours soon materialised. Reference to the Cruise Industry News website revealed that Voyages to Antiquity had issued a press release announcing that ten cruises through the Summer had been cancelled and that the ship would enter dry dock for a replacement engine. However for us unfortunate passengers there was no such information. Further it emerged that the ship is to be reconfigured and leased to the Road Scholars group for three years. So it was then clear that we were on Aegean Odyssey’s Farewell Cruise and that Voyage to Antiquity is no more. This was born out by free drinks being available to all on the last day (though once again nobody knew). The cruise would have been good, but excursions were inevitably rushed, and little time was left after to explore interesting tiny towns in which the ship docked. The Greek Easter Sunday lunch excursion was outstanding in Heraklion, Crete as was the visit to the Stephanos Crater on Nisyros. All the included excursions were well guided by knowledgeable local folks. The food was was mostly good and the included wines plentiful in the Marco Polo MDR though service could be very slow particularly if on a large table. There was a relevant lecture program which my wife enjoyed but there is no evening entertainment of note. So farewell Aegean Odyssey, great little ship with lovely public rooms and staff, let down by management in the face of a crisis which can happen on any ship. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We travelled with Road Scholar, about 20 of us. We had our own guides separate from the what was provided to the other passengers on the ship. Pros - Nice size ship, under 300. Easy on/off. Restaurants not modded. - Very nice ... Read More
We travelled with Road Scholar, about 20 of us. We had our own guides separate from the what was provided to the other passengers on the ship. Pros - Nice size ship, under 300. Easy on/off. Restaurants not modded. - Very nice crew - Lovely outside deck for meals (there was also a restaurant inside, see below) - Food quality good - Good value - Spa services good Cons - Ship needs renovation. Rooms looks like my dorm room from the 1970s -- without the posters. Desperate need of soundproofing: sitting in bed at night each night, I could hear two people in the next room recounting their day like they were in my room. Spa facilities a bit low end for the prices, though the practitioners were good - At least on my level, there was frequently a septic smell in the hallways - The staff is very friendly, but any special request is met with a blank face and sometimes panic. I don't know what the training is that they get, but it must be about discouraging special requests. There was also the battle to get a refill on a cup of coffee each morning. - The shore excursions were rushed. For Road Scholar shore excursions, we went on our own, but we pretty much tracked with the ship. I don't know if this was required. We moved so quickly through sites that there was no time to sit and appreciate what we were seeing -- or to stop by the museum shop to pick up a book. It's not because we were sailing. We'd often sit in port for hours after, meaning endless rows of souvenirs shops. - The food was dull and repetitive. You would never know we were in the Mediterranean. For some reason, there was an "Asian Buffet Night". I assume most clients of this line want familiar food and that's fine, but I wanted an English type menu, I'd have gone to England. - We went along with the ship on two of their excursions that were really disappointing. First, Murano Island, which was solely a buying trip. We were discouraged from exploring the island outside the factory that we were brought to. The guide said "there's nothing see" which I knew wasn't true because I'd been before on my own. The guide also discouraged us from checking other shops/studios on the island. When I exited the shop to just look at the scenery, I was encouraged by the guide to go back in and do more shopping. What a scam! Second, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. We went at night. The site takes about 15 minutes to go through. The paintings are all copies. There was a reception for us, consisting of sparkling wine and little quiche cups things (we were ready for dinner by then). It took up the whole evening. Total waste of time given all the pleasures Venice has to offer. Groups of passengers started going back to the ship earlier than planned because there was so little to see at the site -- and the ship, which was going to have dinner for us, said we had to wait until 10p. This is when the mask of geniality dropped and instead out came hostility. There's no flexibility or improvisation, which is what really makes good service. In summary: Road Scholar elevated my experience on the tour, but the ship is run-down and I wouldn't take a trip with them again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this cruise because we were faithful customers of the (much missed) Swan Hellenic ship Minerva...this seemed like the best match. In many ways it was just what we were looking for... - right size of ship- easy to get around and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were faithful customers of the (much missed) Swan Hellenic ship Minerva...this seemed like the best match. In many ways it was just what we were looking for... - right size of ship- easy to get around and didn’t feel too busy or crowded - everything very clean and tidy - comfy bed - some interesting fellow passengers - efficiently run excursions - pleasant pool area - no dining restrictions -choose your time, place and dining companions - friendly waiting staff and charming room steward - really good on board lecturers- this was a highlight - all knowledgeable and entertaining However... - lacking the special touches which made Minerva great...no invitation to visit the bridge, no live music with afternoon tea, no opera ensemble, no special dinners at the start and end, no invitation to dine with the captain (who was virtually invisible), no towel sculptures by the pool(!), no crew demonstration (cooking/wine/flowers etc)m no on deck barbecues - overpriced spa - pointless ‘shopping’ trip to Murano - lectures out of synch with port visits..some took place after the trip! On one occasion, a scheduled lecture disappeared and then reappeared (after the visit) but wasn’t advertised so most of us missed it...given the very high quality of the lectures, this was disappointing - very limited library space and book stock - inadequate for the number of passengers - there were a number of ‘groups’ on board for whom activities were arranged - bridge players, single travellers, Australians/New Zealanders, Road Scholars, choir members...if, like us, you weren’t part of any of these groups, you could feel excluded - we did...and it made meeting people more difficult as these groups tended to stick together - the biggest negative was the evening entertainment which was hugely disappointing...we initially thought the quality of the musicians was not very good until we heard a jazz session by two of the musicians...the classical double bass player and the pop pianist -brilliant -so maybe they were all otherwise playing music they didn’t like! Unfortunately the majority of the entertainment (6 nights out of 10) was provided by the cruise director...he was a charming and helpful presence around the ship -always cheerful no matter what but...we went to his first performance (ABBA I think) and realised it wasn’t for us which meant lots of dull evenings. I can’t comment on his talent or otherwise as we didn’t return but, however good he might have been, this type of entertainment seems a strange fit on a cruise focusing on Greek and Roman sites with accompanying erudite lectures...opera, classical, more lectures would be good...I guess this may be a minority opinion but it’s strongly felt We’ll consider another Aegean Odyssey again next year (if the itineraries are right) but will also look around for other options - mainly because of the entertainment issues Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Overall we had a wonderful cruise. Great little ship, fantastic service, wonderful ports and good friends. We are experienced cruisers and river cruisers and were anticipating a new adventure on this small all inclusive ship. We started ... Read More
Overall we had a wonderful cruise. Great little ship, fantastic service, wonderful ports and good friends. We are experienced cruisers and river cruisers and were anticipating a new adventure on this small all inclusive ship. We started in Athens with stops at Nauplia, the Peloponnese, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Split, Trieste and Venice. The Ship: Embarkation was a breeze in Pireus and when we walked up the gangway, each lady was presented with a red rose. Very nice start! We were very surprised at how beautiful and bright and airy this little ship was. I had read so many reviews saying how old and neglected it was. I thought it was very nicely decorated. Nothing fussy or over the top, just a clean minimalist modern vibe. I call it " casual chic". It was immaculate - everything was very clean (we even saw the crew polishing and dusting the ridges in the ceilings) It was very bright and airy - lots of windows and light in all the public rooms. All the flowers and plants on the ship were real. Artwork was modern, colourful and interesting. Loved that the ship was quick and easy to get around (no problems if you left something back in your room- just a quick trip to get it unlike on a big ship where it is a major trek to your cabin), but the ship never felt crowded. Lots of air conditioning - bring a sweater. The Cabin: We were in an outside on the Belvedere Deck, 507 near bow on port side. Smallish and plain but very doable for 2 people. We heard very little engine noise, but the air conditioner could be noisy- we just turned it down at night. Were disappointed that the beds were fixed narrow twins and would not push together. The beds were comfy and had bedding of good quality. We had no problems with rusty water - ever. I drank the water from the tap every day and had no ill effects. My only complaint is that the power plug is under the window between the two beds. There is no mirror on this wall so it was difficult to use a hair iron while the only mirror is from the closet doors across the room (and you had to open them just so to see yourself.) Hairdryer is fixed in the bathroom and works fine. There was plenty of storage- a big dresser/desk/night-table with 3 large drawers and 4 or 5 little drawers in the closet as well as a safe. Bathroom counter space is very limited. I will post some photos of this room. The Itinerary and Tours: Loved the itinerary and the choice of tours at each port. You do have to get over the fact that you will be travelling with "the herd" listening to the whisperers or Audiovox in each port for at least part of the day. Do plan for some time alone to explore the ports. One of my big surprises on this cruise was the age of the pax. Lots of people with canes and walkers and quite elderly. I was expecting most to be retirees in their early 60's since this was a vigorous itinerary with a port every day and tours with lots of walking, cobblestones and stairs. Well - good for them, they did amazingly well! Anyway, at the port talks, people were told over and over about the walking and the stairs.... but a lot didn't listen. The young woman giving the port tour information and the actual tour did not really align (some guides I think do their own thing ...not always a bad thing). In a couple of ports the guides would walk too fast and lose half the group. I think the groups may have been too large as well. In Venice, they had guides at front of tours and someone from the ship at the rear to keep everyone herded up. The audiovox system worked very well to hear guides. On the final night of our cruise in Venice, we had a special night. A museum, Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista was opened just for us and we had private tours and a lovely cocktail party after serving prosecco, bellinis and canapés in a beautiful old building. Lovely! Dining: We thought the food was very good, no complaints just compliments from everyone at all the tables where we ate. Ate breakfast and lunch in the Terrace Cafe and all dinners and a couple of lunches in Marco Polo. The fantastic service was a lovely surprise. You never have to carry a tray - ever! When you order an omelette, it gets delivered to your table every time ..... they always find you! And wine at dinner - it's a bottomless glass and there is always someone sneaking in to refill your glass ;-). And we found the wine to be quite good. Coffee was the one issue for me - it was not that great, but I think I got used to it by the end of the cruise ...Starbucks or Tim Hortons, it was not. When they brought the french press to the table, I found that if I waited a few minutes to press the plunger (the waiters wanted to press it immediately), the coffee could brew a bit and not be quite so bitter. I think one of the most enjoyable parts of this cruise was sitting at dinner with new friends and enjoying a great meal - unlimited wine didn't hurt ;-). Entertainment and Speakers: Richard Sykes was the cruise director and what a personable and talented person. We loved his singing shows in the evening. He could sing a large range of musical styles and he always got a crowd on the dance floor. The small ensembles(duet & trio) in the lounge ranged performed classical, jazz, standards and pot - all very good musicians. All speakers were excellent, very interesting! This cruise also had Bob Porter who directed a cruise choir - what a lot of fun, and anyone who liked to sing was invited to join. Pre and Post -Cruise: We were greeted at the airport by the VTA reps and put on a bus with commentary on our way to the hotel. What can you say about the Grande Bretagne in Athens but very posh! Beautiful rooms with chandeliers and marble, wonderful breakfasts with a view of the acropolis on the 8th floor, perfect location at Syntagma Square, and do check out the beautiful spa - many of the facilities there are included with your stay. The VTA reps were in the lobby to assist us and get all our tours organized. Post-cruise in Venice was just as organized, but I know many people had difficulty with the walk in Venice. A long walk to the bus from the ship and then another long walk from bus into airport all carrying your own luggage. Conclusion - We had a lovely cruise. I can see why it is so appealing to many, but it would not be for everyone. I think this is for a traveller interested in learning about history and cultures and is great for single cruisers. It was more like a river cruise than an ocean cruise for me. The pace is quite strenuous with shore excursions every day (I walked between 4-8 km at each port). Please go to shore excursion talks to get information about which tour is more suitable for you - some have more walking, and some are bussed. Would love to do another cruise with this company and so said many of the people we met on this cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Did 2 cruises back to back. First one around the Greek Islands and the second from Athens to Venice via the Adriatic Coast. From the moment we stepped aboard this cruise ship did not disappoint. Embarkation was quick and easy with only 350 ... Read More
Did 2 cruises back to back. First one around the Greek Islands and the second from Athens to Venice via the Adriatic Coast. From the moment we stepped aboard this cruise ship did not disappoint. Embarkation was quick and easy with only 350 guests. Our cabin was delightful. Clean, spacious with good quality amenities. Welcome bottle of champagne and petit fours was a nice touch. The ship was well appointed with ample spaces for everyone to enjoy the atmosphere. Library was small but provided a good range of books for guests to borrow. Dining was excellent - did not repeat any meals across both cruises!! We chose to take breakfast and lunch at The Terrace Cafe on the deck whilst having dinner in the Marco Polo restaurant. There was an exceptional choice of foods at all meals and local wines of good quality were included with dinner. Drinks at the bar were reasonably priced. As someone with a food allergy I could not fault the hotel staff. Each morning I was presented with the days menu and asked to choose what I would like. This was then taken to the chef who would change anything that included my allergen. Shore excursions were included at each port so we always saw the most important sites as well as being given ample free time to explore on our own. Prior to each excursion we had the opportunity to hear from renowned guest lecturers which provided an in depth review of what we were going to see - this bought many a ruin to life! Loved cruising with this ship and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting an all inclusive experience that was great value for money. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
I chose this cruise because of the wonderful itinerary around the islands in the Aegean. Embarkation was very well organised at Athens . Disembarkation early on the final day gave one the opportunity to explore Athens itself which was ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the wonderful itinerary around the islands in the Aegean. Embarkation was very well organised at Athens . Disembarkation early on the final day gave one the opportunity to explore Athens itself which was delightful. Aegean Odyssey is a very beautiful comparatively small and intimate ship which is exceptionally well maintained,The library is a splendid room as are all the public rooms . The Charleston lounge and bar is bright filled with natural light and very comfortable seating. My cabin on the foreword Bridge Deck was extremely comfortable with a double bed ,fridge ,adequate wardrobe space walk in shower . The Marco Polo Restaurant provides an amazing lunch and dinner menu.The Dining experience is one of fine dining every evening with impeccable service .The on board muscians were of a very high standard both the trio, double bass, piano ,and violin very versatile .Equally the piano/vocalist was of an exceptionally high standard in the style but not exclusively of Tina May,Clair Teal ,Jaquie Dankworth. The shore excursion programme was full and excellent as were the variety of lectures .To be able to relax and enjoy a cruise in which excursions and gratuities to cabin and restaurant staff are included and wine with dinner on such an inimitable ship is truly a tremendous pleasure . I was sailing as a solo but do not like labels ,I was a passenger and did not feel for one minute uncomfortable met many interesting people and had good dinner conversations Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
I chose this cruise because of the included Brandenburg Sing-at -sea choral experience, which was very enjoyable. I hope it will be repeated. The two days in Athens, the departure city! got us off to an excellent start being ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the included Brandenburg Sing-at -sea choral experience, which was very enjoyable. I hope it will be repeated. The two days in Athens, the departure city! got us off to an excellent start being interesting and educational. From first boarding the the ship to disembarkation in Venice at the end, I l enjoyed it greatly. I have nothing but praise for the dining and its superb cuisine, the service, the helpfulness and friendliness of the crew and the excellent maintain and of the cabin accommodation and public areas. In general, I found the air conditioning colder than comfortable however and, along with others, reported it. It was often colder than outdoors and jackets were needed. The excursions were well chosen and carried out though the local guides overwhelmed us with continuous talk. There's only so much information one can absorb. I will certainly repeat the experience and will most certainly book with Voyages to Antiquity again in the future. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
I was prepared to love this ship as the concept completely appeals to me: not a mega ship, emphasis on education and destinations. But my tiny, sterile, airless cabin ("Premium Outside" with a "partially obstructed" ... Read More
I was prepared to love this ship as the concept completely appeals to me: not a mega ship, emphasis on education and destinations. But my tiny, sterile, airless cabin ("Premium Outside" with a "partially obstructed" window) overwhelmed the good things about the voyage. Those included an excellent lecturer on Byron in Athens, generally friendly people and hard-working staff. As we sailed a wonderful itinerary from Athens to Venice, stopping at terrific spots along the way (e.g., Corfu, Dubrovnic and Split) one could not help but enjoy the beautiful scenery and visits to historic sights. Fortunately for me, I was on a trip (about 60 of the ship's approximately 300 passengers were on a guided trip) which meant we generally had much better guides and special attention, which helped a lot. Nevertheless, the long nights and much of the days were on the ship where it was very hard to find a comfortable place to sit or a decent cup of coffee. I'm an early riser so I was particularly unhappy that there was no place to get coffee before 6AM and regular breakfast didn't open until 7PM (at which the coffee was terrible). I love cruising and am generally an upbeat person, so I am sorry to write such a negative review of this ship, which has many fans. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
A thoroughly enjoyable cruise with fascinating sites, good guides and fine hotels in Athens and Istanbul at beginning and end of cruise. There were a number of disappointing elements mostly related to the ship. The air conditioning in the ... Read More
A thoroughly enjoyable cruise with fascinating sites, good guides and fine hotels in Athens and Istanbul at beginning and end of cruise. There were a number of disappointing elements mostly related to the ship. The air conditioning in the cabins is pretty primitive and extremely noisy and the ambassador lounge which is used for the lectures is unfit for purpose. The view of the screen is very poor. We were promised that fresh local produce would be used but saw little evidence of this. We ate mostly in the Terrace cafe where lunch was quite good but evening meals were poor. The menu was unimaginative but the most disappointing feature was the poor quality of the ingredients. Fish (cod and perch, how Mediterranean!) was bland and tasteless and many of the main course meats, particularly the veal, were so tough as to be inedible. These cruises are not cheap and we expected much better. Desserts were gelatinous and unpleasant. Wine was included with dinner but rather than being 'carefully sourced' was poor cheap, mostly Greek wine. Better wine was available at a stiff premium. When French wine was provided it was vin de table (the sort of stuff you can buy for a couple of euros in a supermarket) and again not the standard we expected. Most of the excursions were well organised although the timings were not always appropriate. However on Santorini, there was a huge melee and a wait of over an hour for the cable cars back down to the beach. In temperatures of 40C it was not surprising that queue jumping with resultant scuffles took place. Most disappointingly the passengers (who were mostly elderly) were left to fend for themselves with none of the excursion staff present. Although many passengers complained no apology was made by the company and I feel this is unacceptable.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
I am a great fan of this ship,and unhestitatingly recommend it to anyone looking for actual enrichment and cultural /religious learning. I have been on several previous voyages,and all were wonderful down to the very last detail. The ... Read More
I am a great fan of this ship,and unhestitatingly recommend it to anyone looking for actual enrichment and cultural /religious learning. I have been on several previous voyages,and all were wonderful down to the very last detail. The food?fresh,varied,healthy,served with a smile in the restaurants or in the covered verandah. Cleanliness?the ship was spotless The itinerary?the ship ,being smaller,can access ports and harbours the large cruiseliners cannot. We were able to go to places not used to large crowds/tourists,and received a more genuine experience of the culture.Much thought has gone into the choice of ports,and there are inevitably some very interesting and less-visited spots on each itinerary. The staff?helpful,friendly,professional The recreational areas ?(gym,pool etc) More on the basic side,but most days are spent on land and one tends to walk and gain exercise that way. there are daily yoga classes.The gym has adequate and well-maintained eqipment. Library? Amazing collection of books,reference titles,decent novels,magazines all located in a comfortable room with a window wall....very pleasant, Ambience? the ship is refined but casual in feel.No stuffy formal nights,no screaming kids (in fact none at all),no gambling,nice live music every evening and night.They do have trivia sessions and movie nights. The cabins? Quite adequate. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2013
In common with some others we found the food, though reasonable in quality, to be extremely bland and uninteresting. One exception was a lunchtime special dish of casseroled octopus Croatian style. The largely Filipino staff are ... Read More
In common with some others we found the food, though reasonable in quality, to be extremely bland and uninteresting. One exception was a lunchtime special dish of casseroled octopus Croatian style. The largely Filipino staff are enthusiastic. Plates disappear from in front of you with remarkable speed even when other people are still eating. Don't be on the late side for breakfast as they do not keep a small area fully laid up and quiet but rather allow you to sit anywhere and carry on clearing away and setting up for the next meal all around you. The wines are served by the bar staff. In the buffet restaurant there is often a long wait for wine as the "ordinary waiters" are not allowed to get involved. "The bar is a different cost/profit centre to the catering was the explanation - hardly of interest to a customer. All it means is that their internal organisation is not customer focussed. The ship is well run and clean. .It is badly in need of its' planned refurbishment. The large lounge where the lectures are help is poorly designed for that purpose. The ceiling too low to allow proper projection and the seating very poor. I would not travel on this ship again without a personal recommendation from someone who travels in it after refurbishment and whose judgement on the catering I fully trusted Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2011
Having only experienced mid sized cruise ships before, this was an entirely different experience that we initially had mixed feelings about. However having just done Sicily is the Key to Everything on VTA's Aegean Odyssey, we were ... Read More
Having only experienced mid sized cruise ships before, this was an entirely different experience that we initially had mixed feelings about. However having just done Sicily is the Key to Everything on VTA's Aegean Odyssey, we were surprised just how much we really enjoyed the feel of being on a much smaller ship. We found the ship positively charming, yes she's an old girl, no getting away from that and at times a little noisy, but she's been tastefully refurbished and the staff are absolutely fantastic. We started off with 2 nights pre-cruise stay at the Atheneum Intercontinental in Athens,loverly modern room, hotel is a bit out from City Centre, but having done the main sites in the included excursion we were more than happy to flop out by the hotel pool and just enjoy the sun. The age group on this cruise was predominantly retirees, although there was the occasional younger person (am including ourselves in that even though we are sixties children). The representatives acting for the cruise line in Athens were perhaps a bit too how shall I put it? "mothering" for our tastes, but I suppose they have got rather accustomed to behaving like that, although younger passengers may find this rather irritating. The thing I really noticed about Athens was how much graffiti there was, the greeks like scrawling on anything and everything apparently. The transfer and embarkation in Piraeus was very swift and we were soon in our cabin. We had asked for a Double bedded cabin and the G grade cabins were supposed to have convertible beds, however the one were were allocated didn't and as the twin beds were fixed, we had to change cabin. The ship wasn't full so we were able to secure a balcony cabin instead. Size wise the extra space in this type of cabin was comparable with the standard balcony cabins you get on RCI, although the balcony was more spacious and better appointed on this ship and was a great place to watch from as the ship sailed through Malta's Grand Harbour. Welcoming touches were my favourite Molten Brown toiletries, a chilled bottle of Champagne and a mini bar full of complimentary soft drink cans. The wallhung LCD tv was very tiny but we adjusted to it's smallness. We loved eating breakfast and lunch al fresco out on deck in the Terrace Restaurant and there was always a good choice. For dinner we always ate in the Marco Polo Restaurant purely as we enjoy being waited on for this meal and the chance to share a table with other passengers. What a welcome surprise that was too,not sure what we were expecting but we met some extremely interesting people and some real characteurs, it was genuinely a pleasure to cruise with. The food was enjoyable,they even had Brussel Sprouts in August! Entertainment wise this was very, very low key,the trio were very accomplished musicians and were very well received everytime they played. Not too keen on the duo, the vocals weren't too good. A Michael Bubble CD went down far better. Can't say too much about the evening lectures, we did the first one then snook off to the bar instead on other evenings, but we were told afterwards that people did drop off in them. There really is a lot of walking on these itineries, so if you are less able in getting around, it's not perhaps best suited for you and you might be better on a bigger ship that offers more "scenic driven" excursions and less tendering. This was quite an experience when the sea swell got a bit choppy. One of my favourite ports was Taormina, loved the Greek Theatre and its views of Etna. The lemon ice cream here is to die for, do try some. Great also for shopping, would have liked 2 days here, to have had the time to go further up Etna by cable car/4x4 as we didn't feel the optional excursion we took went sufficiently high enough for us. Mycenae and it's ancient beehive tombs was interesting, Nauplia good for buying cheap italian leather shoes. Syracuse has a great market to walk round, only on in the morning so skip the morning excursion if you want to do this. The excursion tour guides were good, very knowledgeable and easy to understand. Red group are always the first group on excursions, the other 5 groups take it in turns to go with them. Also was surprised that contary to what I had antisipated,I actually prefered Sicily over Greece and will definately revisit Taormina one day. We found the staff exceptional,always smiling and so willing to help you. Special mentions to Sidi our cabin boy,Edgar and Victoria in the bar, Vanessa and Lesley on reception and Matthew the Hotel Manager onboard. Would we cruise with VTA again? Most definately, the new Indian and Asian intineries for 2012 soun very promising. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2011
I was a little hesitant to book this cruise since there had been no Cruise Critic reviews on the ship since November 2010 and they weren't all that positive. However, since Sicily is one of my favorite places in all of the world (and ... Read More
I was a little hesitant to book this cruise since there had been no Cruise Critic reviews on the ship since November 2010 and they weren't all that positive. However, since Sicily is one of my favorite places in all of the world (and I have seen a good part of it!) and the ship spent almost a week in Sicily in the various ports, I decided to throw caution to the wind and book it anyway. Am I glad that I did!! I flew into Athens and spent my pre-cruise night at an inexpensive hotel in Piraeus. The only good thing that I can say about the hotel that I booked was that it offered a free shuttle service to the port. Hotel check-out time was 12 noon so I got to the cruise ship pier about 1215PM. The information that I had gotten from Voyages to Antiquity said that embarkation did not begin until 2PM and boy, were they spot on. Most cruise lines say embarkation begins at a certain time but they always let people on early. Not this ship! At exactly 2PM they opened the check-in desks and there was no line so I was checked-in and on the ship in about 5 minutes. I was handed a red rose (for which there was a bud vase in my cabin), escorted to my obstructed view cabin by a smiling Filipino steward and my luggage arrived shortly after that. I headed down to the Terrace Cafe for a buffet lunch and then explored the ship. The Aegean Odyssey is a very small (11,563 tons) "boutique style" 40-year old ship. If the ship is full it holds 350 people. There were only about 200 passengers on our sailing so there were never any lines and the service was top drawer. It has 6 passenger decks and 2 dining venues - the main dining room called the Marco Polo Restaurant, down in the bowels of the ship on the lowest passenger desk as is the norm with many older ships, and the Terrace Cafe, a delightful buffet restaurant on the Promenade Deck where I took most of my meals. Breakfast is always a buffet served at the Terrace Cafe. Generally one can have lunch and dinner served in the Marco Polo Restaurant or at the buffet at the Terrace Cafe. There were a few times when the Marco Polo was closed for lunch and a buffet lunch was the only option. There is no room service. There are no set dinner times at the Marco Polo and there never seemed to be a wait for a table when one wanted to eat dinner there. The food was excellent. Very fresh and well made with, for such a small ship, plenty of options. Fresh food (such as tangerines, swordfish and yellow fin tuna) was brought on at Palermo and they never seemed to run out of anything. The service in the Marco Polo was generally pretty good and it was absolutely excellent in the Terrace Cafe. Your tray was always carried from the buffet to your table of choice and you could eat inside or outside. The servers and stewards in the Terrace Cafe were SO fun and friendly and learned many of the passengers' names within a couple of days. There was always a chef cooking something on the indoor grill (such as bacon, fish, hamburgers, hot dogs or steak) and a separate table with tasty desserts. The Aegean Odyssey has the most amazing ice cream. It tasted like it was just made on the ship but it actually comes from Italy and they have 14 rotating flavors. There was plenty of salads and fresh sliced, cut up and whole fruit. You won't go hungry! English tea time was daily at 4PM and VERY well attended. The ship is all non-smoking except for an outside area on Deck 5 aft. On our sailing the passenger mix was about half Americans, a lot of British and some Australians and other English-speaking nationalities. Everybody was very congenial and friendly. Some of the passengers had sailed on Aegean Odyssey previously and said the food and service had improved since last season. I would guess that the average age was 65. My cabin was very comfortable (except for the horrible foam rubber pillows). Plenty of hangers and a good size bureau, as well as more drawers and a nice-size safe in the closet. My cabin steward was excellent and took wonderful care of me. I had 2 windows with life boats in front of both of them. Not a problem. At least I could see if it was sunny or not outside! I had one of the 16 single cabins with a bed big enough for me (somewhere between a normal single and double bed mattress). The Standard and Premium cabins all seem to have 2 tiny twin beds (smaller than normal size twin beds) that do not go together. There were some large people on the ship and I don't know how they were able to sleep in those small beds without falling out! Some of the Deluxe cabins have very nice queen beds. The Standard and Premium cabins have no-name toiletries and the Deluxe cabins have Moulton Brown toiletries. Being an old ship, the air conditioning in the cabins is rather unusual and tempremental. There is no thermostat on the wall. There is a dial on the vent on the cabin ceiling that you turn to supposedly open or close the damper to change the room temperature. Well, sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn't. The air conditioning vent could also be very noisy. I was told by a couple who were in a cabin on the top passenger deck (Lido Deck) who sailed on the ship last year that the air conditioning did not work hardly at all and the staff brought them a fan to try to cool the room down. My cabin shower was small but larger than some other ships (such as the old Renaissance Cruise Line ships that now sail for Azamara, Princess and Oceania). The Deluxe cabins have larger showers or tub/shower combos. There was an occasional lack of really hot water when many people were showering at the same time but I did not find that to be a problem. Entertainment on the Aegean Odyssey was very limited. There was a fantastic piano player (Stacy) and a classical trio (the Cafe Concerto trio) that alternated musical sets in one of the lounges. There were lectures most days or evenings from the historians/lecturers onboard and one game of "Name that Tune". There was no trivia, dance classes, art auctions or any of the usual shipboard activities. We were so busy with the shore excursions on this port-intensive itinerary cruise that there really wasn't too much time for any activities anyway. There was a well stocked library onboard and I read a number of books. With this older passenger group I think that most people went to bed quite early. I know I did! The shore excursions were mostly included and amazing!!!! I never walked so much in my life nor saw so many temple ruins or cathedrals. Thank goodness the weather was in the 70s most of the trip! If it was any hotter it could have been a problem (at least for me) since much of what we saw was outside with little or no shade and few places to sit down. The passengers were all divided into colored groups (red, yellow, green, blue, orange and purple) and these were the groups that we toured with the entire time. The colors were also rotated so that each color group got to go on a tour first at least once. The big tour buses were all very comfortable and air conditioned and held maybe 30 or so people. We had a shore excursions staff member with us on almost all of the tours and those kids were wonderful. Knowledgeable, friendly, personable, fit and helpful. They kept track of the group and would help the slower members of the tour group (the people with canes or walking difficulties of which there seemed to be quiet a few) keep up. They also carried a huge tote bag with filled with first aid kit, bottles of water, extra Quietvoxes (the amazing listening devices that allowed us to hear our guide even when we were wandering off taking photos or whatnot) and who knows what else in their magic tote bags.I was very fortunate that all of my tour guides were excellent. I heard a couple of comments from other passengers who were in different tour groups that their guides in Palermo were not the best, but that was very unusual. Just about everybody seemed to be very happy with all of their tour guides. There was a LOT of walking on all of the tours. Truthfully I don't know how some of the passengers did it. Much walking on cobblestones and other uneven surfaces, stairs (oh, MANY stairs!) and hills. I never walked so much in my life! But I was very proud of myself (I am not in the best physical shape and would be the first to admit it!) that I was able to do all of the tours and keep up. Be warned - you will get A LOT of exercise on this cruise!! We had to tender in 4 of the smaller ports which held things up a bit, but with only 200 passengers tendering generally was quick and efficient. In closing, this was one of the best cruises I have ever taken. It was certainly a completely different experience than most cruise lines offer. The ports of call, shore excursions, passengers, crew, staff and food were excelllent and I would definitely recommend it to anybody who is interested in the history and culture of the classical world. Certainly the price is higher than many other cruises, but the value received (including selected shore excursions, in-depth lecture program, nice small ship with no lines, wine with dinner, gratuities and bottled water) makes it well worth the money. I am looking forward to my next cruise on the Aegean Odyssey. Hope to see you there! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2011
My husband and i traveled with a friend and her sister on the May 7 2011 cruise to Greece and turkey. We had cruised once previously to Alaska on a large Princess ship. Although we enjoyed Alaska, we were not fans of the huge glitzy cruise ... Read More
My husband and i traveled with a friend and her sister on the May 7 2011 cruise to Greece and turkey. We had cruised once previously to Alaska on a large Princess ship. Although we enjoyed Alaska, we were not fans of the huge glitzy cruise ship with the lines and waiting. I discovered Voyages to Antiquity searching the internet and noted there were some uneven evaluations. But the concept of the small cruise ship fascinated us and, although our professions are in mechanical engineering and nursing, my husband and I are both amateur historians. May is a fabulous time to cruise the Mediterranean! It was warm yet not hot and the wild flowers were in bloom. It was not yet peak season, although the shore excursion sites were already busy. Our cruise started with two nights in a hotel in Athens. There are two hotels used. We booked an inexpensive inside room on the ship and were placed in the less expensive hotel-I believe the name was the "Intercontinental Hotel." Persons booked in the suites on board ship stay at a more expensive hotel. We were pleasantly surprised by how nice the hotel was. We had a large room with a king sized bed and a sitting area with a sofa and chair. It was very clean and had a fabulous morning breakfast buffet included. Voyages to Antiquity staffed a desk in the lobby for 12 hours a day where very pleasant staff offered maps and advice on how to plan for meals and excursions on our own. They sent us to a delightful and inexpensive taverna just a short walk from the hotel. (The hotel meals were very expensive.) Included was a tour to the Acropolis and the forum. Try to visit some of the smaller museums in Athens on your own-they were fabulous. Boarding the ship was efficient and well organized-like all of our experiences with this cruise line! We had booked a less expensive inside cabin which we were thoroughly satisfied with. The beds cannot be pushed together to form one large bed and they are smaller than a twin. But they were comfortable. There was air conditioning in the ceiling which I ran because I am hot all the time. It worked well but it was May and not that hot out anyway. The bathroom was adequately sized and clean. The pleasant cabin steward was always available and made sure we had everything we needed. Laudry service was available and a bit expensive. For example a shirt was $3 and slacks $4 each. We had brought soap and did undies and t shirts in the bathroom sink. The food was great-fresh and well prepared. Much better than what we had on our Princess ship. The Marco Polo dining room was more formal and required a jacket for men (although I noted the dress code became less formal as the cruise went on.) We had most meals in the Terrace buffet which had inside and outdoor seating and was informal. Most meals had three main choices to choose from. there was lots of well prepared and fresh fish. Every meal also had a pasta dish and delicious pizzas. There were piles of fruit and salads. All of us were very pleased with the food. Wine and beer are included (free) at dinner. My husband's only suggestion was that they should increase their choice of beers-all they had was Becks, Corona and Bud Light. (Be sure and try the Mythos beer in Greece!) Shore excursions were spectacular! Voyages to Antiquity contracts with excursion providers in each port. When the call was made to depart for the days excursions, the buses would be lined up and waiting for us. Each group had a tour leader/guide. In general they were good except I had difficulty understanding many of the Greek guides because of their accents and the fact they tend to talk fast The ship gives you an audiovox system to hear the guides with and it was helpful but not perfect. Our particular tour visited fascinating and beautiful destinations. Monemvasia in Greece was beautiful as was our optional trip to the medieval Byzantine town of Mystas. The island of Delos was fascinating with the May flowers blooming amidst the Greek and Roman ruins of the city. The medieval town area in Rhodes was great also. In Turkey we visited Ephesus and Aprodisias. walking the streets of a these Greek/Roman cities was an unforgettable experience. And to our surprise we loved Istanbul! We are not usually "city people" but this was a fascinating and truly exotic place. We thought this trip was an excellent value. When you first look at the price it seems high-but when you factor in the comfort of small ship cruising, the excellent service, the organization (no lines!), outstanding food and the fact that almost all the shore excursions were included in the price, and the high quality pre-cruise hotel you realize it really is a great value. There are a few things I would like to see improved. As mentioned, my husband thought the beer selection was fair at best. Also, many excursions were too short-we would be brought to a fascinating place and would be back on the bus in 2-3 hours. I would rather have spent more time in every place we visited. But the cruise line seems to book 1/2 day shore excursions and bus travel time eats into what is available. Also, there is no time to shop. Please note I am NOT a big shopper-but everyone needs to pick up T shirts foe the kids etc. There was very little time allowed. We would be hurried past vendors to get to the buses while I would have loved 20 minutes to peruse their wares. We asked to be brought to the famous Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. The bus dropped us off and we were told 30 minutes! Hardly time to experience what it is like. One other issue we noted is that the service in the Terrace Grill buffet dining area could be uneven. Sometimes you would be approached quickly and offered beer or wine and others times you would not be noticed very quickly. Some times they would bring around pizza slices to offer and other days they never reached you. The wait staff was pleasant but service was just a bit uneven. One thing to keep in mind is that this cruise line attracts an older clientele. My husband and I are in our late 50s. I would guess the average age is between 65 and 70. There were a few young couples and a smattering of teens and 20 somethings that were cruising in a family group. But this is an older and sedate crowd. If you like to spend evenings reading, listening to 45 minute lectures on history presented by college professors, chatting with new friends, listening to a string trio playing in the lounge or a pianist crooning out the top sounds of the 1950s and show tunes etc, you will love this ship. If you want to drink hard and party at the disco-this cruise line is not for you! But, we absolutely loved our cruise. We have already ordered the 2012 brochure and are picking out a cruise for next year. I think that is the best indicator of how much we enjoyed this cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2010
We had great hopes of this cruise in spite of some of the reviews of the ship. And in fact the ship was fine. Our cabin was comfortable, with a small but just adequate balcony, and there was ample room for clothes and general clutter. The ... Read More
We had great hopes of this cruise in spite of some of the reviews of the ship. And in fact the ship was fine. Our cabin was comfortable, with a small but just adequate balcony, and there was ample room for clothes and general clutter. The whole ship was clean and visually well maintained. And the cabin and restaurant staff were outstandingly good. There were a number of minor irritations - the lift was frequently not working or not working properly, there was one day when none of the toilets flushed all day and another when they did not stop, the Marco Polo was frequently full and one had to come back later - but there were 3 real areas of weakness which would stop us returning. First was the quality of the lectures. I gather from people who had been on other cruises with the same ship that their lecturers were fine, but I certainly could not recommend the ones on our trip. Not only were they mostly (we found) crushingly boring and not really aimed at an intelligent but not expert audience, but they were technically badly presented. Many of the seats were in positions where it was impossible to see any illustrations, there were no handouts, and there was no facility to see them on the TV in the cabin or on DVD afterwards. Initially the lectures were full: later they were poorly attended. That speaks for itself. Secondly the food was poor and tedious. The menus read well, but the food was bland and unappetising, like superior motorway food. The plates were always cold, the puddings were usually accompanied by vile coloured artificial sauces, the soft cheeses were put out straight from refrigeration - nothing seemed to be simple and fresh. There was no sparkling water after day 3. Thirdly, the administration was frequently amateur verging on shambolic. Although the Whispervox system was excellent, there were rarely back markers in any group, and those who moved slowly got left behind. The staff told us that no-one had ever taken any of the tours before, but had relied on organising them through the internet, so that they had no idea what route the guides would take round sites. That meant that those whose walking was more limited could not take short cuts, missing out parts of the site and catching up later, or rest in one place knowing that the tour would be coming back the same way. Personal safety did not seem to be a priority. One person cut himself and bled badly, and was told that there were only 3 first aid kits and that his group did not have one. We were told they were learning on the job. And the last night in Cairo was chaos. One of our cases was not delivered to our room, and phoning down achieved nothing. I eventually found it, with dozens of others, still outside the hotel hours later. The woman on the group hospitality desk said that everyone would have a 4am wake up call, and those who believed her and did not return to the desk that night did not see that that had been changed, and everyone had to arrange their own wake-up call. At least one person to whom I spoke later had missed the coach. Everyone was told to make sure that they got on the same coach as their luggage. That proved impossible for most. There was an appalling crush trying to identify luggage and then personally carry each case by hand to the coaches, some of which were parked by a narrow pavement where 2 people could not pass each other. We found our luggage eventually abandoned in the airport, with no-one guarding it or indicating where it might be. The ship also had problems getting into Leptis Magna. The Libyan authorities would not allow it in on the day we were supposed to visit, so that we had to stay an extra day and missed Benghazi. It was unclear what had happened, but it is indicative of the widespread cynicism about the organisation that we heard numerous rumours to the effect that the ship's agent had been at fault. So - some good points, but we were overall very disappointed. There are better cruise lines and we intend to go with them in future. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2010
It was not without some trepidation that we went ahead with this cruise, after reading some of the earlier reviews on Cruise Critic. In fact we came very close to cancelling our booking at one point as the barrage of bad news regarding ... Read More
It was not without some trepidation that we went ahead with this cruise, after reading some of the earlier reviews on Cruise Critic. In fact we came very close to cancelling our booking at one point as the barrage of bad news regarding earlier cruises piled up. I am so glad we did decide to go ahead. Voyages to Antiquity delivered a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable adventure that will live with us forever. We have hundreds of photos, some wonderful memories and a host of new friends as a result. This is a small ship adventure to ports less visited and, though not without some issues to be addressed, represents excellent value for the intrepid traveller. The Ship The ship has only recently been fitted out, so its decor is clean and fresh, there is plenty of light in internal areas and it has the feel of a new ship. Aegean Odyssey is a smaller ship than we were used to. Our only earlier experience of a cruise ship was HAL's Zuiderdam in 2008, which is a magnificent and exceptionally comfortable ship. The Aegean Odyssey is a much smaller vessel. This smallness in size has some positives and negatives. One negative is that it seemed sensitive to ocean swells. The sensation of rocking about was quite marked in relatively minor seas (sea sick pills are available free at reception!). There is less choice of open space. The swimming pool is small and the water sloshed about, sometimes with such energy, that it was usually not possible to swim on our voyage. The positives far outweighed the negatives in my mind. We got to know other passengers fairly quickly; we soon had our favourite spots on board. The ship is able to visit and dock at ports which are just not accessible to larger vessels. (Zuiderdam would not have been able to get anywhere near the dock area at Darnah - for Cyrene). Importantly there were only 260 passengers aboard. When visiting the historic sites on shore it was much more enjoyable to do so in relatively small groups. And in addition, we all got to know each other, passengers and crew, and I enjoyed that aspect very much. The Cabins We had booked a Concierge Class cabin on Belvedere Deck, Cabin 549. The cabin was small, but clean and tidy with a very large "porthole" which provided a clear view. A fridge was installed and soft drink and water were free. We had a flat screen TV which showed CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera, with a number of non-English channels, plus a number of channels showing movies. I watched "Gladiator" and "Cleopatra" through new eyes! However this cabin turned out to be very noisy - it was next to the funnel and therefore close to the engine. There was a constant knocking noise like the sound of the engine of "The African Queen", rather like being camped next to an idling diesel truck. We spoke with the staff at Reception, who conversed with the Purser, and they were able to upgrade us to a cabin on Bridge Deck. We agreed to pay a little extra for this, which in the end turned out to be a very wise investment. The cabin we took on Bridge Deck was also close to the funnel, but much quieter, much larger - with four large portholes offering wonderful views and a great sense of spaciousness. And that bath came in handy after we got caught in the cold and the rain at Cyrene!. Some on-board friends had a "B" class cabin, a Junior Suite with a balcony, at the rear of Bridge Deck and they are very nice indeed, if a bit expensive. Some other friends had cabins on Belvedere Deck, but away from the funnel, and they reported that they were very happy with their cabin, comfortable and cosy with no noise problem. So it seems you may be ok if you stay away from the funnel. The Public Spaces and Facilities The pool area was popular but the pool was difficult or impossible to use at times due to the rocking of the ship. The lounges at the rear of the Lido Deck were pleasant if the wind was in the right direction, but the engine roar emanating from the funnel area in conjunction with sometimes heavy smoke exhaust meant this was not always pleasant. We found a nice quiet spot at the rear of the Bridge Deck which was sheltered from the wind and offered pleasant views of the wake and we were often here on the "At Sea" days, reading our guide book (or more often snoozing). I liked the eating area at the rear of the Promenade Deck, "Tapas on the Terrace", where we always ate breakfast, usually ate dinner and sometimes indulged in the afternoon tea. On the At Sea days we often got this area to ourselves outside meal times, and we enjoyed some great times out there, catching up on the diary or having a chat over coffee. The Charleston Lounge was very pleasant for pre and post dinner drinks and afternoon liaisons. The Ambassador Lounge forward on the Promenade Deck is a large cabaret style auditorium but underutilised and inclined to be stuffy. This made paying attention at the lectures, held in this room, a challenge at times. The Observation Lounge at the bow on the top deck has some of the best views on the ship, but it was often deserted. It needs a cafe, reading area or something to give it some life as this area was very underutilised. Nice place from which to watch the approach to a new port away from the wind however. The library is comfortable, cosy and with some interesting and useful books, but get in early if you want to borrow a guide book. The ship's shop is small, but has a range of very handy items, which are reasonably priced. The main dining area is the Marco Polo Restaurant in the bowels of the ship. Nicely decorated with comfortable seating, the lack of windows meant that we preferred to eat there in the evening and did not use it often for lunch. The Crew The crew are outstanding. I found their attention to passenger requests first rate. They really seemed to care that we were enjoying our experience. The attentiveness of the staff was an outstanding feature of our cruise. I'm an Australian and apparently we have a well deserved reputation for not tipping unless we receive very good service. I did tip, and I tipped quite a number of crew members on this cruise. I also intend to write to Voyages to Antiquity to let them know how much we appreciated this aspect of our experience. Outstanding! There, I've said it again. Well done V2A. The Itinerary It was the itinerary which attracted us to this cruise and it did not disappoint. The highlights for me were Syracuse, the Port of Valetta, the excitement of the first view of the North African coast, the visit to El Jem and, without a doubt, the visit to Leptis Magna. Now that made the whole trip absolutely worthwhile. The Tours and Tour Guides The tours were included in the fare, and all took in just exactly the sites we wanted to see. There were a couple of optional tours which we did not do, but they were relatively inexpensive and judging by reports from fellow passengers, equally enjoyable and stimulating. The "whisper" devices are excellent in the hands of a competent guide, especially for someone like me who tends to lag behind the group taking photos and enjoying the scene alone. The quality of the guides, however, was variable. In Libya particularly one or two were very poor. Some had poor English, or very heavy accents which made them difficult to understand. On occasion I wasn't sure whether the historical narrative being provided was truth or apocryphal. I suspected the latter. Greater attention needs to be given to better vetting the guides to ensure they are up to scratch. However, in those countries much better versed in supporting tourism, the guides were excellent, notably Sicily, Malta and most impressively for our group, Egypt. We found the lectures that we attended interesting and on each occasion came away with a new perspective on the history surrounding the sites we were visiting. I must admit that we missed a few - on occasion we were enjoying the conversation at the dinner table too much, or given the high level of activity on some days, just too tired. One lecture stood out as poor however, and that was one we attended given by a Professor from the university in Tripoli. I am sure he is a learned man well qualified in his area of expertise but really, I had no idea what he was talking about. Someone should have interviewed him first, or maybe he is Colonel Gaddafi's cousin? The other lecturers however were informative and enjoyable. I particularly liked the comparison of the Athenian expedition to Syracuse with the abortive Gallipoli campaign in WW1. Fellow Passengers We met and enjoyed the company of some very interesting, stimulating and on occasion, hysterically amusing passengers. There was definitely a bias towards the late 60's to early 80's age group, which meant the dance floor was usually available in the evenings. However on the whole they were an open minded, easy going, adventure loving, interested and interesting group of people. The Food Of variable quality and average overall. I didn't join the cruise for the culinary experience, but V2A could do more to include regional dishes for the areas visited. My favourite meal was breakfast. The omelettes were great although the cereal did taste like someone had just shredded the box. I think the food at the Tapas Cafe was better than that provided at The Marco Polo Restaurant, but we did go to the Marco Polo a few times. It was easier to meet people there and, on occasion, on board ship, I do like to dress for dinner. One or two dishes stood out as tasty, but I must say not a patch on my only other cruise experience, Holland America. Edible certainly. Imaginative? No. The food experience at the Marco Polo is a major improvement opportunity. The Entertainment There was not much in the way of organised entertainment, which largely centred on the lectures and activities at the spa and gym (the latter is very small and hardly worth the bother). There was however a very good string and piano quartet who played most evenings in the Charleston Lounge and gave a very fine farewell concert in the Ambassador Lounge. The lack of organised entertainment was not a problem however. We spent many enjoyable hours in the company of some very entertaining fellow passengers, or an occasional good book. The Problems There are still some problems with the ship which we believe are being addressed. They need to be addressed if the ship is to succeed. There was one day when the toilets did not flush for most of the day. When they did flush they seemed to flush for a long time. In fact at our first experience we thought the flusher had become stuck. The air conditioning appeared to be patchy. I wondered whether they were rationing or cycling access through the ship, as sometimes it was fine and sometimes it was very stuffy indeed. The weather was quite mild for our trip, but I would think that in the heat of summer the lack of air conditioning would be quite a problem. For us the biggest issue was the black smoke frequently belching from the funnel. This was particularly embarrassing during the departure from the beautiful port of Valletta in Malta. As we were leaving that picturesque and historical city our ship virtually blanketed the town with thick black smoke. It felt like being invited into someone's home and then walking your dirty muddy boots all over their beautiful new carpet. I did not like the black smoke belching from the funnel - it is not acceptable in these days of greater awareness of the environment. I was told that the ship is going into dock early in 2011 to address some remaining "technical issues". I hope this smoke issue is one of them. Post cruise accommodation Voyages to Antiquity arranged post cruise accommodation for all passengers at The Fairmont Nile City in Cairo. On our first day in Cairo they arranged lunch for us all at the Mena House Oberoi, maybe the top hotel in Cairo. The Fairmont Nile City was an outstandingly comfortable hotel, in fact the best accommodation we had on our extended trip abroad. V2A appeared to spare no expense to ensure our comfort and for that we are very grateful. Once again, this was evidence that they are more focused on the quality of the experience than saving the pennies, which is unusual in this age of economic rationalism and parsimonious tight-fisted business practices. Very much appreciated. The Little Extras A rose for my wife when we boarded, a free bottle of very nice Champagne, free water throughout the cruise, free soft drinks from the hospitality fridge in the cabin, all tours included in the fare, attentive, courteous and conscientious crew, chocolates on the pillow at night, free and freely flowing good quality wine with dinner and a very pleasant ambience aboard ship. Well done V2A Tipping Tipping is included with the fare, apparently, but service was so good that I did want to give a little extra to some individuals who helped make our holiday experience so enjoyable. There was no guidance on how much is appropriate, so I hope I wasn't too stingy. I left our cabin steward an extra 20 Euros for always having our cabin fresh and tidy when we returned from the day's adventures. I gave two waiters at the Tapas on the Terrace 10 Euros each for being good company and for filling my coffee cup at breakfast just exactly when it needed to be filled. I pressed the palm of one of the attendants at the servery with a 5 Euro note for making my wife laugh every evening, and I gave one of the waitresses at the Charleston Lounge 5 Euros for always having a welcoming smile, no matter what. Hope that was enough. I felt awkward offering any money to officers or hotel management staff, but I will write to V2A to thank them directly. The Value for Money This shipping line includes in the fare so much which is extra on other cruise lines. Free bottled water in the cabin and on tour, and free soft drink from the cabin fridge. Free white or red wine with dinner. Tours are included in the fare, as well as the cost of guides and lectures. Accommodation subsequent to the cruise included. Relatively cheap internet access, which was fast too I hasten to add. All this in addition to a newly decorated ship, attentive staff, acceptable food, access to the ports less travelled and an experience never to be forgotten. This trip represented real value for money and I would very much like to travel with this shipping line again. Well done and thank you "Aegean Odyssey". Ps. Clean up the funnel! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
This was our first cruise of this duration, and our first visit to the Eastern Mediterranean area. We were very pleased with all aspects of the cruise - the ship was as nice as it looked online, the food and service were excellent, and the ... Read More
This was our first cruise of this duration, and our first visit to the Eastern Mediterranean area. We were very pleased with all aspects of the cruise - the ship was as nice as it looked online, the food and service were excellent, and the itinerary was extremely interesting and enjoyable. Our package included flights from the US, and it would have been nice to not have had to make a connection, but we were not able to obtain direct flights, even though they were available from and to our home airport. Our transfer from the Athens airport to the ship was smooth, and we were taken to a hospitality room at a hotel until we could board the ship. Luggage handling was very good, and our luggage was delivered to our cabin promptly. Our cabin was Standard Outside, with only a porthole, located quite forward in the ship. It was not very large, but it was comfortable. We were on the Columbus deck (4), and could hear the sound of the water quite a bit. If we were to travel on the Aegean Odyssey again, we would probably prefer a cabin on a higher deck. Our steward service was excellent, and the service in the two restaurants was always friendly and prompt. We preferred the Marco Polo restaurant on deck 3 for dinner, and thought that the food was very good. We also used the Fitness Center, and found it to be nicely equipped. All of the public areas of the ship are attractive. The internet service was reliable and reasonable in cost, and the internet room included 6 computers available 24 hours/day. Our cruise included a series of lectures concerning the history, geology, and culture of the areas which we were visiting, and all of the lecturers were very good. There was also a music program which included concerts, dance music, and cocktail music, and the musicians were all of excellent quality. The shore excursions were all very good, and kept us very busy throughout the course of the cruise. The local guides were all very informative and spoke excellent English. The excursion experience was enhanced by the use of QuietVox transmitters and receivers which enabled us to hear the guides in the course of the tour through earpieces. The boxes worked well and were a big improvement over having to keep so close to the guide or asking him or her to speak louder. All of the excursions had ratings indicating the difficulty or amount of walking, and the ratings were reasonable. Some of the tours involved a considerable amount of walking, but anyone wishing not to do so was always able to sit and wait in an area for the group to return. Disembarkation went very smoothly, although our ride from Piraeus to the airport took quite a while, perhaps due to detours caused by concern over truck demonstrations. I would recommend this ship and the Light of Greece itinerary to anyone who is interested in seeing some beautiful and historic sights in Greece and Turkey. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Ports which we visited for excursions which do not appear on the list below included the following. Nauplia - we went to the Tomb of Atreus and the Citadel of Mycenae in the morning, and then went to the Sanctuary of Aesclepius at Epidaurus. The latter included a 15000-seat theater. All of the sights were excellent. Monemvasia - this is a delightful walled city, with narrow winding streets, nice shops and restaurants, and beautiful views of the sea and the surrounding cliffs. We enjoyed the visit there very much. Samos - we visited the Archaeological Museum, a winery, and the ruins of the Temple of Thera. The views of the island were very pretty to and from these sights. Kusadasi - we had a half-day excursion to Ephesus and a full-day excursion to Aphrodisias. Both of these were spectacular, especially the ruins of the Roman condominium at Ephesus. The scenery en route and returning from Aphrodisias was very interesting - mountains and fields of citrus, cotton, olive groves, and other crops. Turkey looked very nice. Cannakale - we had excursions to Troy and to Gallipoli, and both were very good. The ferry ride over to the Gallipoli peninsula was an interesting experience - avoid using the WC under any circumstance, if at all possible! It was awful! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2010
Flights and Embarkation: We were pleased with our requested Lufthansa flights, timely transfers and speedy delivery of bags. Cabin: We were in the smallest class which was adequate for two. The bathroom was spacious with the shelf below. ... Read More
Flights and Embarkation: We were pleased with our requested Lufthansa flights, timely transfers and speedy delivery of bags. Cabin: We were in the smallest class which was adequate for two. The bathroom was spacious with the shelf below. Recommend you bring some washing soap and clothespins as I think everyone did some hand washing. Cabins were very quiet and stable. We were on the gangway deck #4, but didn't notice any problem with offloading noise. If you are on deck #5 you might not want to be near the internet room which is open 24hrs.Room Steward was great. Telephone directories were being redesigned so we never got one. Dining Rooms: We found the Marco Polo had more gourmet food, but we preferred the views and atmosphere of the open deck of the Terrace Buffet. The sunsets were incredible and our new friends all ate there. Our waiters, Henry and Harun were anticipating our preferences by the third night. Food was mostly good, slightly repetitive by second week. Liked wines. Excursions: Well organized, good local guides, wish we could have had some more time. Some were abbreviated because of delayed arrival in port. Delos missed because of rough seas. Only took included tours as we wanted time for local atmosphere and the Beach! Managed to get to Pireaus beach near harbor. Monemvasia beach across from harbor. Rhodes Elli Beach. Agia Nicolias, Crete along Promenade. Kusadasi Ladies Beach and Skithios on edge of harbor. Must admit I skipped one whole day trip in Kusadasi. Ship Amenities: Found the ship spotless and easy to navigate. Plenty of room to be with friends or find quiet area. Library was well stocked. We enjoyed band and concerts. Spa and gym popular. Internet rates very reasonable, sometimes a wait for terminal. Office staff helpful and especially liked exchanging money on board. Lecturers were outstanding and mixed easily with passengers. Passengers were all interested in history, literature and archaeology of area. Summary: I would recommend "Voyages to Antiquity" to any lover of history and literature. The itineraries are well planned and we wish them success in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
We had taken a previous "Voyage to Antiquity" in June when the ship and itinerary were still quite new. There were several complaints from passengers on that cruise. Since then, however, the quality of the food,logistics in ... Read More
We had taken a previous "Voyage to Antiquity" in June when the ship and itinerary were still quite new. There were several complaints from passengers on that cruise. Since then, however, the quality of the food,logistics in getting on and off the boat, power problems, plumbing and air conditioning all seem to have improved a great deal. Embarkation was quick and easy with the luggage arriving promptly. The ship was very clean with no musty odors as had occurred in June. The ship's dining facilities were adequately staffed with extremely friendly waitstaff who kept our wine glasses full during dinner with very good quality wines (included in the price of the voyage). We preferred the casual Terrace Cafe to the Marco Polo dining room and ate all but 2 of our meals there. The weather was absolutely beautiful the whole time (until the last day when it rained), so we preferred to eat outside on the Terrace Cafe deck. The food, while better than last trip, was still inconsistent in quality. We had several soups and fish dishes that were excellent, however. The Marco Polo dining room is on the lower deck and has no windows, so seems dark and closed in to me. Plus, I didn't feel the quality of the food was any better than the Terrace Cafe the few times we ate there. The ship's library is outstanding with great selection of books appropriate to the theme of the voyage...history and archaeology of classical civilizations. There were several lectures geared to the sites we were visiting as well as general history and geography of the area. Most of the lectures were quite informative and interesting. The shore excursions (also included in the price), included (mostly) excellent local English-speaking guides. A couple included lunch at local restaurants, which were very nice. Our accommodations were spacious and included a balcony, great for viewing a smoking volcano (Stromboli) as we sailed on our way to the Amalfi Coast from Sicily. A mini fridge included water and soft drinks, plus a bottle of Epernay champagne (very good!). There is no clock in the staterooms, so be sure to bring your own or turn on the TV where the ship's channel has the time. In the bathroom, the shower seemed to leak as puddles of water soaked the bath mat just about every time a shower was taken. High quality, but not a luxury ship, we felt overall, this is great value for the experience gained. Though it does not have big show-style entertainment, casinos,children's facilities or big spa/gym facilities that other larger cruise lines have, it is a great trip for those who appreciate what it does offer: a caring crew, clean facilities and accommodations, and really great educational, interesting itineraries with lectures and shore excursions to match. We would definitely consider another "Voyage to Antiquity". Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2010
The mid-size 550-passenger MV Aegean Odyssey's exterior is pleasingly sleek, white with a navy stripe with Neptune's trident in gold as her symbol. Completely rebuilt in Piraeus Greece she once plied the Aegean as a ferry before ... Read More
The mid-size 550-passenger MV Aegean Odyssey's exterior is pleasingly sleek, white with a navy stripe with Neptune's trident in gold as her symbol. Completely rebuilt in Piraeus Greece she once plied the Aegean as a ferry before being reinvented in 2010 as a tonic for those fascinated with the art, archeology and culture of classical civilizations. What she proves to be with her personal service and just right size is an antidote to the large ship experience with their endless queues, cafeteria type noshing, noisy children and forced onboard activities. The brain and chairman behind this exciting venture is, not surprisingly, Gerry Herrod well-loved by independent travelers for his adventurous seafaring spirit embodied in the Marco Polo, the ship that pioneered explorations in Antarctica and the Ocean Pearl, which exclusively plied the exotic Far East. He consistently brings to cruisers a valuable and novel travel experience. Registered in Valetta Malta (after some red tape with the previous Greek registration) the reinvented Aegean Odyssey sailed from Piraeus for its inaugural cruise THE LIGHT OF GREECE on May 4, 2010. Summer voyages will see the Mediterranean, Aegean and Adriatic. Beginning this autumn she sails to North Africa the Red Sea and in the Eastern Mediterranean. The ports of call chosen by Herrod and vetted by Lord Norwich are a fascination as are some of the included tours. This review is written from my experience on the SICILY IS THE KEY TO EVERYTHING itinerary, the second in a series of voyages aptly titled VOYAGES TO ANTIQUITY. Although my husband and myself are rank novices where ancient history is concerned we admire the concept and fascination that it holds and here is where the Aegean Odyssey stands tall. The Aegean Odyssey takes 'firsts' in this hallowed department with her line up of lectures by renowned archeologists, writers and professors such as the celebrated Lord John Julius Norwich. Norwich is author of the fascinating tome The Middle Sea about the Eastern and Central Mediterranean. Her library should be the envy of all ships including the luxury vessels that have more space. The Aegean Odyssey's library faultlessly imparts a compelling sense of place, an integral ingredient to the enjoyment of foreign travel. There are archaeology, history and art books galore with a raft of titles (travelogue and fiction) set in the ports of call. This includes modern detective fiction (Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbane among others) for those in a lighter frame of mind. Hard to find fiction such as the scandalous South Island by Norman Douglas first published in 1917 with an introduction by Jan Morris winks from the shelves. So do travelogues from famous names throughout the century such as Jan Morris, Norman Lewis, Evelyn Waugh and Charles Dickens. All in all the collection of books will thrill all whose eyes rove her shelves. But is a cultural cruise enough to make a memorable and stress relieving holiday? To let you know, I have been a travel writer for thirty years but took this cruise as a paying passenger as I wanted to sample the cruise as a guest. I was lured by that peripatetic occupation as a child of ten when my family sailed the Med on the MS Europa. There, swinging my feet and losing one shoe overboard, I filled my leisure time in a deck chair while chronicling my experiences in my school notebook. Since then I have professionally penned stories for books, magazines and the Internet. So, for one as spoiled for travel as I am: the answer is an emphatic No. Just culture is not quite enough. My mandate: Sleep well, eat well, be comfortable and bring home memories of experiences as unlike home as possible. The choosing of a cruise (for me) encompasses the following: A small to mid size ship with outstanding and unusual ports of call paired with onboard creature comforts. Our cruise complies. The spacious stateroom with balcony (we chose to pay the price) is quiet. We sleep like babies in our gentle sea cradle (two stabilizers) on quality Linea Strom mattress with high thread count bed linen. A bath tub in our stateroom (only with some balcony staterooms) is a definite plus. Dining and lounge chairs in public rooms with good back support ensure leisurely meals and pre and postprandial drinks. The two comfortable bars with live music are well stocked with premium liquors. To cap all this, the cuisine is excellent and like the books in that wonderful library suits the ports of call. At meals there is fresh produce and often meat and fish purveyed locally by the fussy for quality hotel manager and chef. The decks boast a decent sized outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, shady areas with comfortable loungers for quiet time and an outdoor dining area. The Aegean Odyssey has lovely wooden decking making it an aesthetically pleasing whole. Did I forget personal service? MS Aegean Odyssey doesn't. Concession Cruise Solutions provides all staff except for officers. Unusual though this may seem everything and everyman and woman is up to the mark including an Italian Master Chef whose cuisine beats five star Regent(except specialty restaurants) hands down. Italian hotel manager Maurie's deft hand runs the show. Reception takes care of guests' bidding with a smile. Her colorful brochure boasts a semi-inclusive cruise with tips, tours and wine with dinner. All good things. Regarding the total cruise experience (if you ask my opinion), I'd change the one seating dinner hour from an old persons' 6 to 8 pm to a more sophisticated 7 to 9 pm. I would have breakfast served until 10 am rather than rush to be seated with food by an early bird 8:30. I would insist on more than one choice of the inclusive red or white wine at dinner. As is any new product there are some new ship type glitches and these problems will be overcome. Tomorrow we disembark in lovely and classical Rome. And, as the old adage says "Rome wasn't built in a day." Read Less
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