9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Chose this cruise for a number of reasons: Firstly, this is the oldest cruise ship in the world still in full operation. Secondly, the itinerary looked great and finally because we have travelled with CMV twice before and been perfectly ... Read More
Chose this cruise for a number of reasons: Firstly, this is the oldest cruise ship in the world still in full operation. Secondly, the itinerary looked great and finally because we have travelled with CMV twice before and been perfectly satisfied. Reading many other reviews about Astoria, leaves me thinking that so many people fail to do any research before booking their cruise. Embarkation at Poole was a dream, I think the entire process took ten minutes. Apparently we were the very first cruise ship to sail from Poole this season, so if they keep this up I can see it being very popular. Certainly, this is a small ship, however, when you step on board it has a much bigger ship feel. I was given the impression that Astoria has been lovingly cared for. The furnishings in the public rooms and cabins were of a very high standard, making everything very comfortable. I was pleasantly surprised by the deck space, entertainment venues and bars on board, all of which are inviting and functional. The Olissipo main restaurant is charming and the food was totally delicious every evening. The Lotus Grill (buffet) looked a little "tired" but the food was great and it worked fine for us. Sirenes and Elpinor Bars were wonderful. The staff we encountered everywhere were polite, helpful and seemed happy. Entertainment was absolutely fine and generally speaking this was a very good value cruise which was most enjoyable. Sure the Astoria is an old ship, but for many people that is the attraction. Yes, it vibrates and rattles a bit, but don't we all at her age? Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Cruise and Maritime “Fjordland Splendour” 9 day cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, aboard the MV Azores. Excellent cruise totally exceeded my expectations. The MV Azores is small, 16,144 tons, 7 decks, 550 passengers but it has all ... Read More
Cruise and Maritime “Fjordland Splendour” 9 day cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, aboard the MV Azores. Excellent cruise totally exceeded my expectations. The MV Azores is small, 16,144 tons, 7 decks, 550 passengers but it has all of the facilities that you need. I won’t go into the ship’s specifications as they can be found on the company website ,suffice to say that cabins, food, bars, entertainment, lectures and service are all of a very high standard. We booked in September 2014 so we had time to research the ship and the itinerary. We originally booked a basic inner cabin on the lowest deck. Without asking, we got upgraded 11 cabin levels to a Premium Twin Ocean View on deck 6 with 2 full windows (thankyou Cruise and Maritime) which worked out well as the stunning fjord views could be enjoyed from inside our cabin as well as from the public rooms and decks. We also took advantage of the all-inclusive drinks package which was good value and £17 per person per day. The ship is 67 years old but has been superbly re-fitted with all public areas pristine and there are no parts of the ship that look “tired” or are in any need of a face lift (as has been the case with some of the other ships we have been on). There are many smaller rooms you can use as well as the larger bars and lounges, again, all offering comfortable and well upholstered seating, tables, plush carpets and a good standard of decoration. Three bars, serving a variety of drinks, including many cocktails, the majority of which were included in the drinks package. The house wine was good and there were other, premium varieties on offer which attracted an extra charge. Two restaurants, the Lotus buffet and the Olissipo restaurant, both having broadly the same menu for breakfast and lunch, varying a bit more for dinner. Open seating apart from dinner in the Olissipo restaurant which was held in two sittings at specific tables. We dined in the buffet for breakfast and lunch, then in the restaurant for dinner. All of the food was very good, but I would describe the restaurant dinner as being superb, 5 courses, varied menu, something for everyone and beautifully prepared and presented. I did like the service in the buffet as well, which was self service but with a waiter/waitress serving you from behind the counter. You could ask for as much as you wanted and you could return for more if necessary but I think this method did cut down on the disgraceful amount of waste that occurs when greed takes over from common sense and fully loaded plates end up with half eaten food on them. Also in the buffet, there is unlimited tea and coffee from 06:00 to midnight. Entertainment was good, aimed at the older, all adult clientele, based mainly in the Calypso show lounge. Abba and Queen plus 60’s rock and roll for example. The comedian, Andy Leach went down well, a combination of comedy, magic and Derrick the exploding ferret (he’s only a puppet). There was live music in the bar and the shows were supported by a 5 piece live band. I also attended the lectures in the auditorium, presented by Geoffrey Farrell, history of the Vikings, nature of Norway, early shipbuilding, the Hanseatic League and the northern sky, all of which were interesting and informative. The auditorium was also used as a cinema a certain times of the day. Also on the entertainment front, every room had a flat screen TV with channels that varied dependant on the reception but with a forward looking camera on the bridge, a GPS based map, film channels and a preview of the DVD that was being filmed as the cruise went on. Although we would not normally buy a DVD such as this, the fjords were so stunning that we thought still pictures may not do justice to the holiday, so we bought the DVD on this occasion, finding the standard of production to be exceptionally good, with narration and other information added regarding the places visited. At £24.99, again, good value. Excursions could be pre-booked and I would recommend this when wishing to visit popular places such as the Flam railway, as I was later aware that some independent travellers failed to get on the train as it was full. Excursion prices were a bit expensive, but, Norway is an expensive country so it’s difficult to judge. As Norway uses the Krone, the ships reception was able to change small amounts of Sterling for passengers (cash to cash, not using the on-board spend system) and we found this to be at a slightly better rate than the Norwegian Tourist Information offices, where Krone can also be obtained. We did find that, contrary to information we got from the Internet, some popular places will take Euro’s (and even Sterling) but this cannot be guaranteed and certainly the attractions such as the Bergen funicular railway was Krone only. You can use your debit card of course but it’s worth having a small amount of local currency. As mentioned, our cabin was on deck 6 (cabin 643), well appointed with twin beds, plenty of storage space, bathroom with bath, shower, WC, bidet, shaver socket and hair dryer, electronic safe, all nicely decorated and with two large windows, offering great views of the fjord waterfalls and scenery. The cabin steward was never far away and made sure it was clean, tidy and well stocked on a regular basis. There were other facilities we didn’t try, the spa, deck games, quizzes for example and the pool was closed, due to the Norwegian temperatures. There was also a night club. I did pay a short visit to the gym which was small but adequate, which also offered free classes for work outs to repair the damage to the various parts of the body that the restaurants had inflicted!! I haven’t said too much about the itinerary as the Norwegian fjords speak for themselves. Huge snow covered mountains, massive waterfalls, stunning scenery and you do spend a fair bit of time cruising through the fjords during the daylight hours which is both pleasant and relaxing. We were slightly fortunate as the snow had not yet melted on the mountain tops so the waterfalls were in full flow. Also, at the time of year we went it was light for about 22 hours of the day. I should mention that, throughout the whole 9 days, I, personally, didn’t hear one person moaning about anything, and with 550 Brits aboard, that’s quite an achievement. I did hear (second hand) that there were a couple of moans somewhere but I suppose there will always be those who refuse to make happiness last a whole week. Just a few tips: Buy the drinks package. Pre-book excursions that you really want to do. Take a small amount of local currency. Make use of the events, demonstrations and lectures that are offered, particularly during the days at sea. In summary, although Cruise and Maritime are a relatively new company, I was very very impressed. They nailed it for me. The cruise ship, crew services and itinerary all exceeded my expectations by a considerable margin and would wholeheartedly recommend this Cruise and Maritime Voyages to any potential cruiser. Cruise and Maritime - Take a bow!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
My wife and I boarded at Bristol for 12 nights around Iceland and home via Dublin. Bristol was perfect for us as we visited Bath and Wells and spent 3 nights in Bristol. We truly found everything and everyone on board delightful. The ... Read More
My wife and I boarded at Bristol for 12 nights around Iceland and home via Dublin. Bristol was perfect for us as we visited Bath and Wells and spent 3 nights in Bristol. We truly found everything and everyone on board delightful. The service was great and we enjoyed the meals. The ship herself was comfortable albeit a trifle quaint; our cabin was spotless (thank you Irina). The bar drinks were indeed reasonable and the choices excellent. Our visits in ports all ran smoothly and the skies were mostly blue ! It did help that all passengers were of a similar adventurous mind going to Iceland in the spring. We made long term friends. We would genuinely both like to thank the crew for making our second honeymoon a wonderful and happy occasion... My wife said she would love to go on another cruise with the same ship and crew. As would I Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
In the early stages of our cruise, we had a significant change of port time ashore in both Stornoway and Torshavn. The full day in each of Stornoway and Torshavn was reduced to just half a day and that was done without any on-board ... Read More
In the early stages of our cruise, we had a significant change of port time ashore in both Stornoway and Torshavn. The full day in each of Stornoway and Torshavn was reduced to just half a day and that was done without any on-board communication or more importantly, any explanation being offered. Whilst we understand that CMV need to get paying tour guests ashore quickly when at anchor (Stornoway), we think that the maximum number of tenders should be deployed in the early stages, until all passengers who want to go ashore are landed - then the number of tenders can be dropped back later on. We lost over an hour of our reduced time in Stornoway (seeing only 2 of 4 tenders in operation and that from a distant anchorage) and then we were asked back early too, which frankly rankled and made us feel "2nd Class". The lack of awareness and communication on-board by the cruise management team exacerbated the frustration felt widely on board. On a bridge visit, the Captain confirmed that he had not altered the port times in both Stornoway and Torshavn for any on-board operational or weather reasons. We lost confidence and our sense of relaxation early in the cruise about the rest of the itinerary being the one that was sold to us. It took time before that sense of being on a carefree holiday returned. Fantastic front line staff; excellent, courteous and friendly service. We liked the smaller ship and the friendly atmosphere on board and the itinerary proposed and sold to us. Conditions allowing MV Azores to get into Heimaey in the Westman Islands and docking in the tiny port, was the highlight of the cruise for us and an impressive bit of pilotage and ship handling, to squeeze in and come out again (unusually stern first all the way). I have posted a link below to the photos for the day at Heimaey: https://plus.google.com/photos/109375469948758953851/albums/6159112519882751617 The "middle management" on board was, regrettably, not of the standard set by the front line staff. We had to enquire and chase up several times, the Arctic Circle "crossing the line" certificates. In the end, we had to take a certificate out of a cardboard box and fill it in ourselves on the last day of the cruise! The Arctic Circle crossing was never announced or made anything of - a missed opportunity. The food standard was generally very high and we certainly ate our fill! A small matter of running out of butter and orange juice before the cruise ended, but we survived! The organisation of the hot and cold drinks together in the Lotus Grill needs re-engineering, as the existing poor layout caused constant "traffic jams", especially at breakfast on arrival days. We found 7 days of port arrivals in a row, pretty tiring. We would have paid more for a cruise where the ship stayed two days at both Akureyri (Capital of the North of Iceland) and Reykjavik (the actual capital). There is so much to do in both places, that one day wasn't enough and it would have been nice to have two days where a return to the ship had no pressure of missing a sailing time! Read Less
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