2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Subject: SilverSea Cruise , Lisbon to Barcelona Unfortunately the little details were a negative. TV with a remote that has to be changed 1 channel at a time is prehistoric. 10 years past its time. also not a good list of channel ... Read More
Subject: SilverSea Cruise , Lisbon to Barcelona Unfortunately the little details were a negative. TV with a remote that has to be changed 1 channel at a time is prehistoric. 10 years past its time. also not a good list of channel offerings. 2 of 3 movie channels worked . channels 1-5 all about Silver sea. Yes they acknowledge it’s a problem. WI Fi also dated. i paid the extra $200. for premium and extra 50.00 to add 3 users. still very slow. not 21 st century. cruise advertises premium alcohol yet when we go to dinner and ask for a better wine than what is served it is an extra charge. Food was average at best. Also sorry that local fare foods were not offered. Closing invoice added $18.00 for a silver sea chosen donation. It’s not the money, It’s the fact that you added it without authorization. My first cruise and I was expecting 5 star everything. Unfortunately 3 star rating at best. The ship overall is a bit dated. Staff was hit and miss. some great, some not so accommodating. The web site pre boarding was great once logged in you could book dinners, spas, shore excursions. All this was great and easy to look at overall trip on any given day and get info and update, Problem is once you boarded this site was no longer available. said you can’t book once on board. OK but now overall schedule is gone with info. told me they know it’s a problem . Sorry. Now you must ask dress code for each day and it not only changes daily it also applies differently to each restaurant. Concierge service lacks any info for ports we stopped at. Also they were only open 2-3 hours in the am and 2-3 hours in the pm. Also not very accommodating. Overall a real disappointment for the money we paid. I in good faith could not recommend this cruise line. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & ... Read More
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & Oceana and were not overly fond of the first two and felt that Oceana was an upgrade, but with something still missing. Based on the requirements (premium dining, polished service, big ship amenities, refined decor, uncrowded hushed public areas) that we provided to our travel agent, she highly recommended the Crystal Serenity and she was spot on. Our only concern was that we had read that the fellow passengers skew older (our party was mid- 40s to 60s) and be very clubby. We never once encountered this experience and found the fellow passengers to be very well mannered and inviting. While the dining, overall ship appointments and atmosphere are akin to high end resort experience, what truly sets this cruise line apart is the entire crew's kindness and keen attention to detail. The little things that sometimes go missed (food trays in hallways, incomplete orders....) do not happen on Crystal. It's back to the gym and making our own beds until..... Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a ... Read More
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a little less than fantastic The spa deck was very small and hard to find a seat on some days. So, the concierge upgrade was not really worth the money. The bathrooms were very tiny and, we knew going in it was a smaller ship but, if you are on the toilet with the door closed it was sideways sitting. The room stewards were not as intuitive as to what we needed. For example- on day one we had champagne in a bucket that we didn’t drink on boarding as in it was more fun after sail away. When we came back to the room to drink- the bucket was gone and the champagne on the counter. We had to call to get the bucket back. The buffet restaurant was not quick with water, tea or coffee. Most breakfasts we had to flag someone down to get us more. There was link flexibility in changing restaurant dinner times even with empty tables. The good- heck it is still a fantastic line! The food is fantastic and who doesn’t like grilled lobsters. Honestly, the best food you can have at sea. The main dining room and speciality restaurants had great service. The ship is very clean. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise for a few reasons. We had previously sailed Seaborn Encore in the Mediterranean and thoroughly enjoyed the ship, food and service that Seabourn provided, therefore, Ovation, which is the same class ship as Encore, was ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a few reasons. We had previously sailed Seaborn Encore in the Mediterranean and thoroughly enjoyed the ship, food and service that Seabourn provided, therefore, Ovation, which is the same class ship as Encore, was an easy sell for us. Ovation was just beautiful.....almost identical to Encore. We love the size....large enough, light filled with beautiful yachtlike decor but small enough to give us the feeling of being on a private ship. Our suite on the deck above the pool, was well appointed (hello 3 sinks!) and our needs were more than meet by our stewardess who always had a smile & pleasantry to share. We felt the service and the entertainment were a cut above our previous cruise....this being only our second cruise ever. We were addressed by our names each & every day. Our Captian was very visible and engaging as was CD Handre. Both were class acts. Servers in all resturants were pleasant, engaging and good at their jobs. We wanted a late May cruise and this itinerary seemed interesting. We had been to Lisbon but not Northern Spain or Western France or Southern England. We have been to Normandy, Brugge, Amsterdam etc. but were very happy to return. I was a bit apprehensive since I had heard that the Bay of Biscay is notorious for rough seas. Well, she was a gentle giant. Lisbon was faboulous with warm temps and sunny skies. Northern Spain was just beautiful, with a bit a rain here and there, but nothing to dampen the beauty of the coastal towns of Gijon and San Sebasion, Biblao etc. and the wonderful sights & food. We did miss one port, Biarritz, France due to the port closing. The sun & moderate temps made a welcome return in Bordeaux......this was one of the highlights of the cruise. We came up the Gironde River and docked right smack dab in the middle of the city. We were the only ship in town and the locals came by in droves to relax and picnic in our shadow. A lovely French lady approached us on our return to ship just to chat about our cruise and our reflections of her city. The Bordeaux wine region is spectacular.....St Emillion is not to be missed. Southern England, port of Torquay was a pleasant surprise....warm temps and sunny skies, contrary to the Agatha Christie image that I expected. We visited the sea town of Dartmouth with its' interesting seafaring history. As an American, the beaches of Normandy hold a special place in our hearts and it was good to return. We arranged for a private tour & spent the day with a lovely local French lady, three generations removed from the events of WW2 but whose grandfather was head of the resistance movement at the time......her reverence for those who helped liberate her homeland was palpable....not to mention her expertise in the places and events of the Allied invasion. Wow....just Wow! We sailed up the Thames to the Greenwich neighborhood of London. Spent two wonderful days....Windsor, the Cotswolds etc. Then is was across the Channel again.....may I add that the seas in all our Channel crossings were calm and I mean, calm....to Zeebrugge, where we chose to visit Ypres and Flanders Field (of WW1 fame) as we had been to Brugge & Brussels in the past. Beyond moving! Amazing how a city and region so devastated by that horrible war has risen from the ashes to present a gorgeous city and countryside. We ended in the city of Amsterdam with all its charms etc. The Anne Frank House is a must do along with a private canal cruise. This cruise seemed to us to hit a very historic note. We enjoyed it very much as we had a sample of Western Coastal Europe with its' amazing role in the history of two world wars. From the German UBoat stalls in Bordeaux, to the beaches of Normandy to the Fields of Poppies in Flanders to the London Underground bunkers.....We were impressed with the spirit of the European people who endured so much during those dark times. Cruise & Ovation both get an APlus from us. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
My husband and I just came home from the Lisbon to Barcelona cruise in April. It is our third cruise with Windstar. Pros: The staff is wonderful. They know your name by the second day. The food is good particularly the barbeque ... Read More
My husband and I just came home from the Lisbon to Barcelona cruise in April. It is our third cruise with Windstar. Pros: The staff is wonderful. They know your name by the second day. The food is good particularly the barbeque on the deck. There is a nice variety of food to please everyone. The suites are spacious. King size beds, a sitting area, a double variety bathroom, and a walk-in closet. The ship is very clean. The security on and off the ship is good. The shore excursions to Gibraltar, Alhambra and Seville were very good. The daily programs and nightly talks are very helpful for background information. Embarkment and disembarkment are quick and efficient. We extended our stay at the end of the trip to Barcelona. It was wonderful! Cons: The shore excursions are expensive. WiFi is not included and should be. Wine and beer should be included not an additional charge. A lovely vacation! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Overall excellent service. Boarding was very smooth. we were the first to board. Rooms were smaller than other Uniworld boats. We were on the lower level. this boat had a wider wall than other boats. The boat did have a problem with ... Read More
Overall excellent service. Boarding was very smooth. we were the first to board. Rooms were smaller than other Uniworld boats. We were on the lower level. this boat had a wider wall than other boats. The boat did have a problem with a lack of hot water. cold showers were not pleasant. The water problem did seem to get better later in the cruise, but only for short showers. Food service started a little rough. I was served raw salmon, and my wife was served raw chicken. I think it took a little while for the cooks to get used to the ovens. The food overall was very good. The lunches were outstanding. Uniworld offers local foods, and the chef did a great job with them. The only other misstep was during a flaming salmon presentation. The fire unexpectedly jumped and caught two passengers on fire. one was singed, the other had the presence of mind to roll on the ground and escaped with minor injuries. The restaurant staff was fantastic. the really anticipated your needs. Service was always prompt and with a smile. Problems were handled very well. Bar staff was also very good. they remembered what you liked. The only drawback was Uniworld did not include the same high quality drinks as part of the all inclusive. Many other passengers and myself were surprised to find a 9 euro fee for Makers Mark. The wines and port served at dinner and in the bar were surprisingly good. Excursions were changed because of maintenance on a river lock. This changed our itinerary. Overall I thought Uniworld did a good job redoing our ports. Our favorite excursion was dinner at a winery. the owner was a real character. The Sandman port tour would have been better if more time was added to enjoy the grounds. Front desk staff were mostly outstanding. One new person was not up to speed yet, but was very friendly. Lounge entertainer was better than other Uniworld boats. the additional entertainers were ok. My favorite part was cruising by the vinyards. The landscape was beautiful.This is not a high activity cruise. It is a great cruse for someone who wants to relax and enjoy some nice wines Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this as we wanted to try Viking Ocean and like the shorter length from Lisbon. We also never had done a holiday cruise and Viking did it right. The food, entertainment, bars and lectures were top notch. We have been on many ... Read More
We chose this as we wanted to try Viking Ocean and like the shorter length from Lisbon. We also never had done a holiday cruise and Viking did it right. The food, entertainment, bars and lectures were top notch. We have been on many cruises and this was probably the most well designed cruise-ship we have been on to date. We booked again for a colder weather cruise in New England in 2020 and are thinking of the winter Norway cruise in 2022. The food was excellent and the specialty venues were also great. We had the SS package and are wine lovers and had a wide choice of wines by the glass to order. We also got a discount on bottle purchases and enjoyed our French Champagne by the Bottle. If you are interested in cooking classes, sign up right away when you get on board as they do not advertise them in advance. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We love the size of the Viking Sun class ships and find the Viking staff very helpful welcoming.The Sun is a 2 yr old ships, which like others (e.g Viking Star) is extremely comfortable. This reposition cruise was a last minute ... Read More
We love the size of the Viking Sun class ships and find the Viking staff very helpful welcoming.The Sun is a 2 yr old ships, which like others (e.g Viking Star) is extremely comfortable. This reposition cruise was a last minute decision to primarily to celebrate my spouse's recent retirement. Viking repositions this ship from Europe to MIA where Vikings starts its World cruise offering. Therefore, the crossing offers only two ports of call (Azores and Bermuda). While most people on board were seasoned travelers, a few people were surprised that even with all the greatest technical advances this ship could rock. While we had a variety of weather, the Atlantic is not a small pond and it can be quite rough. Although I heard some complaints, I was surprised about some very unrealistic expectations. Since, we actually treated the trip as an adventure we loved it and rod ecommend that you take some Dramamine with you on any cruise . We did not need ours and the medical center could provide some, if you got seasick. Based on our sailing history, we would not rate this past cruise as extremely rough. The cabins on board the Viking Ocean are very comfortable, clean and well layout. Plenty of space to move around in with many public nooks suitable for curling up with a good book! The Viking Staff is selected for their "yes, we can" attitude. Although each one us are very unique individuals, the Viking crew is overall very happy and proud to be working for a rapidly growing company which the staff likes with a 90% retention rate over any 10 yr period. Food as expected on a cruise, is abundant, diverse and always delicious. On Christmas Eve the SUN served large steamed lobsters and perfectly executed Osso Bucco in their regular dining room. There were a few caviar offerings at the bars with all daily events and menus for all meals posted on in-room tv monitors. A few times we needed to use room service and while it too was very tasty, it could have been delivered a bit hotter. Although this cruise had only two ports of call there was plenty of entrainment. We do like the fact that Viking does not have a casino onboard. There were some small poker games and Chinese Mahjong available for those so inclined. There are also video tables where you can enjoy playing a computer black jack dealer. In addition to excellent port of call talks, Viking has a number historians, technical experts (e.g driverless car engineering), and musicians discussing their expertise in very simple and interesting presentations. Viking requires that passengers be at 16 years or old, which we found the adults to be quite friendly and open to making new acquaintances. For us, most part we found tables for two available. Since our last cruise, the bars have a greatly expanded selection of quality brands. Since I favor Tanquary Ten, I was pleased that it was available at every bar. and covered by our drink package. There is a night club for dancing and a night cap, but we did not visit it this trip.The cruise director conducted a caroling sing along in the atrium on Christmas Eve, utilizing the classical pianists, the Viking band and even the on board acoustic guitarist. Unfortunately, I did scrap up my leg at the Lisbon Airport and I needed to used the medical staff to heal it. This inconvenience limited my ability to use the abundant spa fitness services on board. The Viking Norwegian spirt shines with very unique spa treatments and many pools located in the spa, in addition to the lap pools and hot tubs found on deck. On the SUN you can elect to start in a hot sauna and then cool down in an ice room with snow. If it is your thing, there are great gym machines exist and in the morning you are invited to yoga/pilates classes. Otherwise, weather permitting, you can take to the promenade and get your exercise by running or walking around the ship with instructions on how many laps constituted a mile. All in all we enjoyed ourselves and would consider going again. We find sailings of this duration suit our life styles very well and while we liked this crossing, there are so many other offers that we have not tried. For example we doing a Panama crossing this month. Happy Cruising! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Service is exceptionally excellent by all staff allways. Food is not up to expectations: very refined on the printed menus but too many different ingredients result sometimes in lack of genuine taste. Thomas Keller Grill is just ... Read More
Service is exceptionally excellent by all staff allways. Food is not up to expectations: very refined on the printed menus but too many different ingredients result sometimes in lack of genuine taste. Thomas Keller Grill is just o.k., nothing exceptionnal. For lunch at the Collonade, there is not much variety for the cold dishes and salads: allways the shame shrimps and salmon and salads. The breakfast on the terrace outside the Collonade is a magic moment and very well served. The tea time at the Observaton Bar is also a delicious experience. And after dinner, the same observation bar is a cozy place to enjoy a night cap with Jacqui's singing at the piano. We did not like the noisy entertainment games at the pool deck (Costa style), but they took place just 2 or 3 times. Entertainment and activities were not very interesting, we expected more lectures and classical music performances (piano 1 time, violin 1 time). But all by all, it was a marvelous experience, the weather in november on the south atlantic was sunny and warm, but above all, the way the staff makes you feel as a king all the time is the best reason to come back! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s ... Read More
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s tiny ocean fleet. Each carries around 900 passengers. The two ships are pretty much a matched set that rotates crew, routes, and entertainment. ROUTE: This type of cruise is for those who enjoy the boat ride itself. It started in Lisbon and ended in Fort Lauderdale. The only enroute stop was at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, which placed us back in the U.S. It was Sunday, and the onboard border clearance was quick and painless -- took only five minutes from leaving our room to returning. OVERALL RATING (5 OUT OF 5): I rate this cruise as excellent (an overall “5” on a scale of 5). My score is based on the high quality of (1) live music in the small venues, (2) food offerings (truly perfect), and (3) service in the food and entertainment areas (still the most attentive service anywhere on land or sea). However, we’ve never found the Serenity to be perfect “ultra luxury” in every way. We keep coming back year after year because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where the predictable pleasures outweigh the problems of an aging ship. In fact, the cruise’s most memorable lecturer was a writer for the old “Cheers” television comedy (Cheri Steinkellner). She gave you the juicy backstory of that neighborhood bar where “the troubles are all the same” and “everyone knows your name.” If you’re looking for a low-key, relaxing, good old-fashioned voyage across the Atlantic, this is your ship. Luxury measured by what’s not there. No stateroom announcements. No pressure to buy anything or do anything. No gaming to get your keycard for just one more charge (Crystal’s price is all inclusive). For cruisers who’ve tired of harried herding on the mass-market lines, the absence of certain nuisances on Crystal may be worth an overall “5” in itself. ENTERTAINMENT: When it comes to entertainment, what get’s the perfect “5” from me is the live jazz and show tunes performed in the ship’s small venues (the “Great American Songbook” from the 1940s and 50s). Crystal calls this its “supper club” and “cabaret” entertainment. I found these talented performances every bit as enjoyable as a night clubbing in Seattle or New Orleans. But no cover charges, taxi fares, exorbitant parking, or pestering to buy another drink. Crystal’s musical offerings continued right up to the end, with five shows on the final night of the cruise. The last of these shows ended at 11 pm, just as luggage was due outside the staterooms. Pretty impressive for a cruise with less than 900 passengers. There are lots of amazing musicians out there who never do albums or arenas. Crystal finds them; some stay for a cruise, others stay for years. But if live music isn’t your niche, think of the Serenity as your floating senior center. One with lots of pampering (they even have a “valet service” that parks the scooters and wheelchairs to keep the halls clear after bedtime). And the ship’s veteran waiters are saints of the sea when it comes to their patience and respect toward the older crowd that frequents Crystal. Yup, you’ll find all the day-to-day activities that you’d expect in a well-appointed senior center: bingo, bridge, needlepoint, knitting, shuffleboard, slots, puzzles, trivia, liars club, name-that-tune, karaoke, parlor magic, tribute shows, afternoon tea, and dance hosts for the ladies. (About a fourth of the passengers on this cruise were involved in a bridge tournament.) Music and comedy shows are focused on the tastes and memories of the “extra generation” of seniors blessed with extended retirements. There was even the screening of a new film about finding late-life romance in a nursing home (yes, including sex). The filmmaker (Neil Leifer) was onboard and understandably pegged the Crystal crowd as a sympathetic test audience. But I’ll say it again: travel agents should use caution in sending children under age 50 on this ship. Though Crystal’s current president came over from Disney, absolutely none of the following “advancements” in onboard entertainment are found on this ship (thankfully): water slide; climbing wall; zipline; go-carts; carousel; laser tag; bungee trampoline; bumper cars; surfing simulator; trapeze training; skydiving wind tunnel. After all, this ship is called the Serenity -- a synonym for quiet peacefulness. There is, however, a golf net, a little swimming pool, and a “shopping mall” of three stores (including one that sells the Chico’s line). While there are no midnight buffets, there is 24-hour room service for those who can’t wait until the next meal at 6 am. Not surprisingly, the youngest on board are usually the employees. No teen gangs here. And nature seems to impose its own curfew, with the halls largely empty after midnight. DINING: We dined in all of the ship’s venues with the exception of its Italian restaurant (Prego). When it comes to dining, I give this cruise a perfect “5” simply because I found it perfect in every respect. Taste, variety, presentation, novelty, service, and overall enjoyability were all consistent with luxury cruising. It’s not just about the food, though. You get to leisurely visit with some of the world’s most interesting people. Table topics go far beyond the common senior focus on kids’ foibles, grandkids’ achievements, and perpetual medical procedures. While this is indeed God’s waiting room, people here aren’t in a hurry to keep their appointment with Him. In fact, the more they cruise, the less they rush to get to the next onboard activity. Crystal has definitely reinvented the experience of its main dining room. We much appreciated Crystal’s new walk-in flexibility (open dining) for time, table location, and the number of diners joining us. With little fanfare, you can now bring along your onboard friends, old and new. Or dine in a quiet secluded corner and share secrets. Gone are those days when disappointed cruisers went up to a hearing room for an audience before the maitre d’. There you lined up and pled your case for the dining dispensation of a better table or feeding time. Never quite seemed consistent with Berlitz’s definition of luxury cruising as “the kind of stylish ships aboard which the word ‘no’ is virtually unheard.” STATEROOM: We stay in ordinary staterooms on Crystal (no opulent party suites for us). Though Crystal had just remodeled this ship’s “penthouse” class of rooms, the only change we found in the standard stateroom was a bigger TV screen. But we frankly don’t come here for the rooms. We keep returning to this ship because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where seasoned employees year after year provide the most attentive service anywhere. And an expected part of a comfortable old hotel (ship) is old rooms with problems that we just get fixed as they arise. This time it was slow drains, faucets without cold water, no clock, no shower curtain, and a stuck sliding door that kept us from using the veranda. All eventually fixed after a little intervention from an officer. Onboard television was limited to a few generic international channels. Those who live for American reality shows or Monday night football may need to schedule their cruise during the annual rerun doldrums. On the other hand, the Lido Deck’s sound system was unintelligible, and a channel on our television was a good alternative for hearing the captain’s daily announcement on weather conditions and routing adjustments. Travel agents should alert customers that, even on a cruise billed as ultra luxury, an aging ship’s staterooms may be in less than perfect condition. INTERNET ACCESS: You really don’t come here for the Internet. A few months before our trip, Cruise Critic published its article, “6 Cruise Lines With Great WiFi.” Crystal didn’t make the list. Those tethered to the rituals of social media may consider it more of a forced silent retreat than a vacation. Internet connectivity varied greatly throughout the cruise, with regular display of the dreaded message, “Internet access is currently not available” (even when approaching Florida). Passengers grabbed it while they could. And ocean crossings like this one obviously lack port stops where an Internet cafe could come to the rescue. For some primitive, less-connected retirees like ourselves, a vacation with sporadic Internet is no deal-breaker. And there’s something to be said for the attitude of a past Crystal president that cruisers should “turn off the Internet and just enjoy the moment.” (Virtuoso Life, May-June 2015, p. 99) However, travel agents should caution their customers that this ship may not be a good fit if they must stay in uninterrupted email contact with a business or relative back home. Nor should passengers count on Internet availability to make enroute arrangements for port stops or post-cruise travel. Or for online bill paying or holiday shopping at the last minute. SHIP’S MUSEUM: The lore of cruising traditionally has the rich & famous dining at the captain’s table. But Crystal has something just as good for the rest of us. Captain Vorland periodically opens up the ship’s museum and serves as its docent and resident storyteller -- sort of a Norwegian cross between Sully Sullenberger, Garrison Keillor, and your favorite humanities professor. This guy really has been everywhere, man (he even took a break as a Crystal vice president). The museum, in a restricted area, has a couple hundred commemorative plaques. They reflect the Serenity’s visits to the world’s ports, both famous and obscure. While some of the plaques are simple pieces of wood, the more elaborate ones feature local art, crafts, and materials. Tell the cruise director or Crystal Society host if you’d like to be included when a group does this. Like the free kitchen tours, backstage tours, magic shows, and guided stargazing, Crystal doesn’t charge for this onboard activity. I’ve always been impressed by Captain Vorland’s daily explanation of the sea conditions and resulting navigation adjustments. Reminds me of the aviation saying that “a superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill.” Or success is measured by all the potentially bad days that cruisers never know they have been spared. Captain Vorland may in fact be eligible for the honor of the Explorers Club, given his work in advancing passenger cruising through the Northwest Passage (like another Norwegian who pioneered polar air routes back in the 1950s). Crystal recorded the many lectures that experts gave during the Serenity’s treks through the Northwest Passage. I’ve watched around 40 of these videos, and the collection should be sent to the Vancouver Maritime Museum (rather than just forgotten, lost, or erased). FEDERAL INSPECTION SCORES: Federal agencies in both the United States and Canada conduct health inspections of cruise ships. The inspection scores are posted on the agencies’ public websites. See www.cdc.gov and www.canada.ca. For the U.S. inspections (CDC), cruisers can read the full reports online in all their technical detail (as well as Crystal’s side of the story). For the Canadian inspections, you’d need to email a request to see the report behind a score. Unlike your grades back in school, a passing score (both countries) is set a bit higher at 86 out of 100. And a score of 100 means no significant deficiencies, not perfection. The Serenity’s most recent U.S. inspection occurred in December 2018 (about three weeks after the end of our cruise). Score was 95. The inspection report listed 43 violations around the ship, none of which would deter me from booking the ship again. (Gluttony at that Churrascaria dessert bar was a health risk for me, though.) A few months passed before CDC published the results of this inspection. Perhaps due to the famous shutdown of some federal agencies for about a month. The Serenity’s most recent Canadian inspection was in June 2017. Score was 99. However, even well-inspected luxury liners can face that noro nastiness (vomiting, diarrhea). There’s a limit to what cruise lines and governments can do to protect passengers from their own health habits. While we were crossing the ocean, Crystal’s other ship (the Symphony) had a norovirus outbreak on the Amazon. No secret, though. It was publicly reported on CDC’s home page, in Cruise Critic’s passenger chat room, and in USA Today. The Symphony’s doctor made daily reports to CDC, sought CDC’s assistance, and was able to contain the illness (less than 5 percent of the passengers reported symptoms). While passengers in a Cruise Critic chat room are not a statistical sampling, their online thread on the Symphony didn’t signal any cruise-spoiling panic. They made passing references to onboard norovirus in the midst of much more vigorous exchanges over the ethics of petting sloths and the merits of selling the Chico’s brand in the ship’s clothing store (true story). Per these stats and chats, it’s not inevitable that most people on board will get sick if there’s a norovirus outbreak (defined by CDC as 3% of passengers). A clinic that specializes in travel medicine can give you a thorough briefing on how to handle this contingency, including what remedies to take along. Here are two lists of doctors with this type of practice: (1) the International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org) and (2) the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (www.astmh.org). Measles has made quite the comeback across the U.S., and is highly contagious. CDC presumes that travelers born in the U.S. before 1957 have childhood immunity. If you were born later and have had the shots, you may want to take along proof in case there’s a quarantine in your travels. (See www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html) EVOLVING AMBIENCE: Crystal’s customer core is retired “comfortable couples” from the American mainstream. Some have been retired for decades -- now in their eighties and beyond. Crystal continues to preserve traditions from a prior era of travel. There are still formal nights (“black tie optional” and some tuxedos), daily afternoon tea, a dress code after 6 pm, and an ornate hideaway for smoking cigars. We continue to feel safe from onboard crime. Guests occasionally die from getting old, but not from assaults, drunken parties, or jumping overboard. You’ll have to cruise elsewhere for those experiences. But Crystal is not an isolation ward, and travel agents may need to prepare some customers to expect subtle changes in the ship’s atmosphere. For instance, the music. The Russian string quartet has been replaced by a solo performer with an electronic violin. Crystal has invested heavily in computerized neon costumes for performers to dance in the dark. The young jazz crooner that faithfully replicates the 1940s may wear his hair in a modern man bun. (But just be glad that yet another generation is striving to perpetuate the old favorites from before it was born.) The crew members who give you super service may sport a few tattoos. (We’re talking pretty young ladies here, not muscled male deckhands.) And you’ll see cruisers who whip out their smartphones whenever there’s a lull in table talk. (We’re talking seniors here, not millennials.) And you might even see a dog on board these days. Folks on this cruise reported dog sightings at the buffet line, ice cream bar, clothing store, Lido Deck dining, Japanese restaurant, and ledge around the hot tub. The tiny hound that I saw didn’t make a sound, didn’t bother anyone, and was even wearing a dress at one point. And the affection from crew members suggested that they might be missing their pets back home. Or perhaps their parents just raised them to be kind to animals (and seniors). Social media polarizes this sort of thing in a rhetoric of rights. But it’s not really a legal matter until a foreign ship (here the Serenity) departing from a foreign port (here Lisbon) finally reaches an American port (here the Virgin Islands). (49 CFR 39.5(b)) Until we reached the Virgin Islands, it was just a customer relations call as to which species Crystal wished to accommodate in the price of a ticket. Regardless of a dog’s purpose, the practical problems for “pet parents” make it unlikely that cruises will ever really go to the dogs (become truly “pet friendly”). There are issues like dog-sitting during port stops, local health regs, security screenings, and distinctive nasties from nature. Things like fleas with plague, cute little snakes, and big birds that really do eat small mammals. Nature is indifferent to the rhetoric of rights. In the event of a canine unthinkable, it can be a long wait until the next port stop with a veterinarian. And I have no idea whether Crystal’s onboard physician would agree to treat a suffering non-human. If you insist on bringing Fido or Fifi, a competitor’s megaship will be more likely than tiny Crystal to include a vacationing veterinarian among its passengers. Of course, you never know what travel entrepreneurs will develop for an unmet need. While we were docked in the Virgin Islands, the humane society was having a dog-washing fundraiser at the yacht marina. Proceeds of $10 a dog went to “fly homeless pets to stateside rescues and better lives.” Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We were traveling with a group of friends on a trip organized by a local vineyard wine club, of which we are members. This was our first European adventure and our first riverboat cruise, so we were very excited. Flying into Lisbon and ... Read More
We were traveling with a group of friends on a trip organized by a local vineyard wine club, of which we are members. This was our first European adventure and our first riverboat cruise, so we were very excited. Flying into Lisbon and having 3 days to explore the Portuguese capital city and acclimate to the time change was very well-planned. The Corinthia Hotel was outstanding and their included breakfast buffet was simply amazing. Our Uniworld hosts and tour guides were very impressive, experienced, friendly and helpful at every opportunity. Once we were transferred to Porto to board the Queen Isabel and embark on our tour of the Douro River Valley, we were once again very impressed with the ship and especially the staff members. Without exception, everyone we interacted with were overwhelmingly helpful and focused on quality guest service. Being on a small boutique cruise ship offered the opportunity to meet and interact with everyone onboard. We appreciated the personal interaction and familiarity we developed with the crew members. By the second day onboard, many were already greeting us by name! Simply amazing. Each day offered us different engaging adventures that were well-planned and enjoyable at every port of call. The onboard dining was simply outstanding and the entire dining room staff was always focused on providing great service to all guests. We also were amazed at the lounge staff, especially our favorite bartender, Alexandra. She was wonderful and by the end of the cruise, we felt as if we'd made a new friend! Ours was the final cruise of the 2018 season and we were consistently impressed with the pleasant interactions we experienced with everyone onboard and the friendly service we received, usually accompanied by a bright smile. Thanks to the entire staff and crew of the Queen Isabel for a relaxing and memorable vacation! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Another repeat cruise experience- excellent in 'almost' every way. Capt Johannes Thysse must be the most visible and approachable Capt afloat, as are his main officers. He is a consummate maritime expert and really enjoys his ... Read More
Another repeat cruise experience- excellent in 'almost' every way. Capt Johannes Thysse must be the most visible and approachable Capt afloat, as are his main officers. He is a consummate maritime expert and really enjoys his vocation. Entertainment was less than spectacular due to a change in dancers, which were absent. Nonetheless Eric de Gray is a true star and directing the musicians and singers did a great job and no one complained. Food . A veritable flow of excellent offerings at all times to suit every palate, To avoid repetition, some new dishes should be introduced for longer voyages as this Transatlantic 2 week. Wines included are adequate, unless one is a wine connoisseur. An additional wine list is available, but at ship prices which don't offer good value. Bar alcohol is more than adequate and only top liqueurs Cognacs and Whiskies etc are charged. Cabin Butler service was impeccable. Room service was rapid and perfect. The Hotel Manageress Heike, watching with an Eagle eye ensures the ship is immaculate, and staff care for pax . Indeed all is faultless. Upon boarding Lisbon some new crew joined. Deck restaurant service was at times chaotic for the first few days. Completing a questionnaire to highlight such matters, was responded to within hours by many staff members and of course Heike who ensured more management attention rectified the complaint/observations soon thereafter. They followed up too! NOW A WARNING** Be aware this ship changes dates, port itinerary and times, seven times ..... following booking. So do other Azamara ships. In the event of a complaint to head shore office in Miami, I'm told by other pax that they are always disinterested. A Larry Pimentel problem, common under his management of other ships too. The Azamara company under the management of CEO Pimentel an American, decided; as he did with previous ships he managed, to lower the dress standard. There are NO formal nights, so dont take fancy long dresses nor tuxedos. Dress code is now 'No Jacket Required' which sadly translates into 'American slop scruff order' . Basically whatever you have in a plastic bag will do. No kidding, I noted some pax wore the same few clothes throughout. Many travelling with a carry -on. Few gents wore jackets, and only one a tie. I saw shorts T shirt and flip flops in the dining room, but only once, so guess that was called to order. This critical observation may transmit a scene of ragged vagabonds. You are assured its far from that. Not being snobbish, but perhaps 50% dress shabbily and carelessly. Everyone is extremely pleasant, happy and well behaved. The atmosphere is excellent. It has no style, but as its a small ship, is far far removed from the Carnival ships and other cheap offering,s where heaped plates of some sort of food is virtually thrown on long tables where Tank tops, torn shorts even barefoot is prevalent, so Ive seen on videos. IMPORTANT PLEASE TAKE NOTE ! Cruise lines have added Cuba to their itineraries. Not necessarily because its a wonderful destination, but for its novelty factor. Mainly because they can use this as a major pax rip-off. They conveniently don't advise pre cruise that a VISA is essential, but advise on board a few days prior to arrival Cuba. There is a compulsory charge of $75 per visa PER PORT see below* Additionally to be allowed ashore they insist on buying a tour see below*, minimum $89 claiming this is a US law compliance. see below* * According to the Cuban immigration inspectors, a Cuban Visa is compulsory and pax must be in possession at arrival. Cost is $25 and cannot be purchased in Cuba. One can be purchased at varying prices previous to arrival from a Cuban Embassy $25, Online agents, travel agents and airlines at varying prices. UK online cost is GBP24. American airlines like their cruise counterparts charge an excessive $75; a big money making scheme. Solution is Buy before you go. Visas last 30 days for multiple entries. Compulsory tours. A bigger money spiinning scheme. They are Massively overpriced and I heard almost everyone who was forced to buy one on board expressing extreme discontent both at the excessive price and quality. The same tour guides are available on shore for a few $ (CUC the local currency) . e.g. The daily rate for a driver and car is CUC25 Incl gasoline ! US law prohibits travel to Cuba but permits tourist visits for one of 10 reasons mainly culturally based. This ruling DOES NOT apply to non Americans who can enter freely (with a VISA) . The cruise ships conveniently and wrongly interpret this to mean ALL pax, so beware. Fact is, a non American citizen does NOT need an official Cuban tour to go ashore! If you find the ship prohibits disembarkation; although I would question the legality of such an action. Buying the cheapest tour to use as a sort of pass to get off the ship, then doing your own thing is perhaps the way to play that game. ...... Cuba is a poverty stricken country where wages are minimal. $20 a MONTH is a good salary, thats a few cents an hour. However they survive very wel and happily off that amount, for everything else is state subsidised. Food is free on coupons. Free health care. Electricity gas etc amounts to less than $2 a month. Havana is changing and improving. They have some paint now, and are able to decorate in small ways. There are serious 5 star hotels in Havana. Beautiful buildings re created from the old special architectural buildings. Kempinsky have re furbished an entire block. Must have cost a hundred million or more. A roof terrace affords fabulous views over old Havana. A Mojito is only 5 CUC. In a back street its 2 CUC. However the room rate is $400+ a night. Spanish hotel chains have also built luxury hotels . Iberostar - Melia- H10 Tourists especially Americans throwing handfuls of $ in tips are poorly viewed. A small tip like $2 is gratefully accepted, a large tip like the ridiculous 20% expected in the US, is viewed with disdain and almost as an insult. I gleaned this from many deep conversations in Spanish I enjoyed with locals. I recommend you book with Azamara you cannot be disappointed, but beware of itinerary changes and especially Cuban schemes. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We were part of a Tauck group that began with a 2 night stay in Lisbon and ended with a 2 night stay in Barcelona. This was our first Windstar cruise, but we've been on quite a few other cruises. Our cabin was the largest cabin ... Read More
We were part of a Tauck group that began with a 2 night stay in Lisbon and ended with a 2 night stay in Barcelona. This was our first Windstar cruise, but we've been on quite a few other cruises. Our cabin was the largest cabin we've ever stayed in! It's was great: had a doorbell, a walk-in closet, a full bathtub, and double sinks in the bathroom! Yes, it was older, but it was very comfortable. We had ample storage space! The ship is a little "dated," but otherwise very nice. The food was outstanding! This was the best cruise line food we've ever had. Service from the crew was friendly and many of them learned our names quickly. We really liked the itinerary. We were very anxious to see Gibraltar and it did not disappoint! We also really liked Seville, Malaga, and Mallorca. We would have liked an overnight in one of these cities, so we could explore more. We were blessed with beautiful weather and that enhanced our experience. Except for our two days in Barcelona, it was warm and sunny (with no humidity). Barcelona turned chilly and rainy and we hadn't packed appropriately for the sudden change in weather. Since we were with a Tauck group, all our excursions were separate from the ones offered by the ship (although very similar in most cases). Tauck kept us busy; we either had 2 excursions each day, or one very long one. Consequently, we were away from the ship most of the day and didn't get to do much on the ship. And, we were not encouraged by our Tauck Tour Director to participate in Windstar activities (or mingle with the non-Tauck guests). We had daily meetings in the Compass Rose lounge, and that was where we returned (on our own) at other times. To me, the Star Breeze is like a "shrunken down" cruise ship. It has some of the same amenities as a bigger ship, but on a much smaller scale. There is no specialty restaurant; at night, the breakfast/lunch buffet becomes "Candles" for a small number of passengers, and if the weather cooperates, passengers have the option of dining outside. There wasn't much entertainment offered (there was a good duo in the Compass Rose lounge). There was a very small "casino" but I didn't see anyone in it. We did not use the spa or the fitness room (we had only one sea day and the remaining days, we were on excursions). We discovered the lovely Yacht Club lounge late in the cruise. We probably should have done some exploring on our own early in the cruise! In summary, this was a very nice cruise! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Celebrating a birthday and an anniversary. We knew that Silversea would enable a trouble free voyage. Our Butler and Maid decorated our suite for the birthday/anniversary celbration with clever towel art and balloons. Our fridge was ... Read More
Celebrating a birthday and an anniversary. We knew that Silversea would enable a trouble free voyage. Our Butler and Maid decorated our suite for the birthday/anniversary celbration with clever towel art and balloons. Our fridge was constantly restocked with our favorite beverages. Our every need was cared for (including some seasickness tablets on the occasion that they were needed. The food was simply amazing with the specialty restaurant La Dame serving on eof the best meals we have ever enjoyed. While we did not take part in the entertainment at night (being early to bed folks) we did enjoy the lectures. And the Bingo. And the Trivia contests. The dining options enabled us to enjoy what we wanted when we wanted it. And when the (free) WiFi went out on deck 4 and 5 we were presented with a $300 credit. A really fine gesture for a porblem that was not foreseeable. What can I say? It is Silversea.. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We prefer to cruise back from Europe rather than flying. We have been on Silversea for only four years, but it is our "go-to" cruise line. This trip fit in with our earlier plans: started with a week in Madrid in a rented ... Read More
We prefer to cruise back from Europe rather than flying. We have been on Silversea for only four years, but it is our "go-to" cruise line. This trip fit in with our earlier plans: started with a week in Madrid in a rented apartment; then fly to Porto for an Ama Waterways cruise up and down the Douro River; then the high-speed train to Lisbon for a few days waiting to board the Whisper fro the crossing. As usual, the ship met or exceeded our expectations. The staff is wonderful and as repeat cruisers, we re-acquainted ourselves with many of them. It is such fun to walk into a bar on board and not have to order a drink. It just appears before you! The crew and the wait staff were also a welcoming sight. We have recommended Silversea to many of our friends and the feedback we get is always positive. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose the Ovation for the itinerary. Leaving from Lisbon and on to Portomao, Huelva (Seville), Malaga (the Alhambra), Cartagena, Monte Carlo, Cinque Terra, Toulon (Provence), Mahon (Minorca) and disembarking in Barcelona. All in all, ... Read More
We chose the Ovation for the itinerary. Leaving from Lisbon and on to Portomao, Huelva (Seville), Malaga (the Alhambra), Cartagena, Monte Carlo, Cinque Terra, Toulon (Provence), Mahon (Minorca) and disembarking in Barcelona. All in all, the itinerary lived up to its expectations, although we had to miss Portomao because of Tropical Storm Leslie so we remained in Lisbon for the second day. The only hitch we had for our own itinerary ashore as with the Alhambra. We had been wait-listed for a ticket package that included the Nesrud Palaces, a highlight of the Alhambra and, according to those who have been there, not to be missed. When it become apparent that we would not be getting tickets through Seaborn (they are extremely difficult to come by), even though we had been on the wait list over four months prior to leaving. A few people were lucky enough to get the Seabourn tickets, but more on that later. We told the guest services agent on board that we planned on using the ship's tour bus to the Alhambra (which did not include the Nesrud Palaces), as we had purchased our own tickets and would join up with the bus prior to the group leaving the Alhambra. Our tickets were from 11am to 2pm, meeting at 10:45pm exactly where the tour bus would be pulling into the bus parking lot. We informed the Seabourn rep of our plan prior to boarding the bus and she cleared it with the tour guide. We arranged with him to meet up with the group at a restaurant should we not be ready to rejoin the bus when the Seabourn group was ready to leave. All was going smoothly as we left the port around 8:35am. Unfortunately, the guide decided to announce that we would be pulling into a rest stop for bathroom use and also for buying merchandise. Had the stop been for ten minutes all would still have been fine, but it was closer to 25 minutes and we then had no chance to make our tour. The Alhambra was outstanding, but we will now never have the opportunity to see the Nesrud Palaces. Those who were able to secure tickets for the Alhambra and the palaces thought they were all set. Unfortunately, for some of them, since showing your passport is required at different checkpoints randomly and then, for the palaces, for everyone, when the group was asked to present their passports the list of passengers did not match the names on the passports. Some names were of people not taking the tour. The mix up caused some passengers to have to miss the Alhambra and the palaces. We had read on Cruise Critic that Seabourn's shore excursions are below average and had not encountered that when on a Quest voyage. This particular trip was excellent once in the Alhambra as the guide was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the buildings and the area. The guide on the bus, however, was constantly talking, was very redundant and seemed to be along for the ride. All of the other tours was above average, although the timing for a tour of Eze and the Rothschild Mansion in Cap Ferat gave too much time to the later and not nearly enough time to Eze. Also, this trip was extremely tiring because all tours, half day or full day, started early in the morning so you began to feel sleep deprived early into the trip. I think they should offer afternoon half day excursions to alleviate the fatigue factor when you are on a 10-day cruise with only one at-sea day. Others felt the same way. The cabins on the ship are up to Seabourn's standards. They are among the most spacious in the industry and our ship stewardess was outstanding. The room is well-equipped and pretty much anything can be delivered to your room upon request, including unlimited amounts of champagne. The food on the ship was excellent. No complaints at all. The service was another matter. The worst was the Observation Bar between 6 and 7:30pm. You had a tough time flagging down a waiter as there were often only one or two of them. Going to the bar yourself and carrying the drinks to the table was impossible on rough sea evenings. This problem with service in the Observation Bar continued throughout the cruise. Towards the end of the voyage, we went down to Bruno's lounge in the Thomas Keller grill and after a ten-minute wait, went up to the bar for a drink. For afternoon tea in the Observation Bar, tea was offered, but they didn't mention that scones, sandwiches and cakes were available at the self-serve area where tapas are available every evening. On the Quest a waiter brought these items around which is the way afternoon tea should be presented. Service in the Restaurant was fine, but not if you wanted to get to the 8:45pm show. Fortunately, my husband and I did not have that problem because we had caught two shows and didn't think they were very good so skipped them from that point on. The service in the Colanade was excellent except for the final morning which was an absolute zoo. It was so bad that we ended up getting a bite to eat at Seabourn Square. We were heading for the Restaurant for a nice relaxing breakfast before disembarking because we had to be out of our room at 8pm, but could stay on board until 10pm. The Restaurant was closed, however, although we had no clue that it would be. On the Quest the Restaurant is open for the final breakfast before disembarking. The Patio's food was excellent as well as the service, and there were an adequate number of waiters should you need a drink while relaxing by the pool. Thomas Keller Grill was an interesting evening. We were told by the waiter to look forward to enjoying a romantic meal. To me, that's leisurely, but he did not seem to understand that. After ordering our drinks, he immediately asked if we were ready to order. We said that we needed some time. He came back in five minutes and asked again and we told him we weren't ready as we wanted to enjoy our drinks. After a few minutes, the supervisor went up to our waiter and talked to him. I assume it was about their need to get our order in. The supervisor then came up to our table and asked if we had any questions and we told him we didn't, we just wanted to slow the process down. The meal was very good, though, and there was a good vibe. The best experience for us was Sushi. The food was excellent, there were nice tables for two and the service was what you expect from Japanese staff - respectful, courteous and timely. All in all the management of the Ovation has a way to go to beat the service on the Quest. I think they need some time to work out the glitches as the ship only had its maiden voyage in May. Hopefully, things will improve soon. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This was our first cruise with Ponant and we were not disappointed. It was 5 star all the way. The food was magnificent and delicious for every meal. Our cabin with veranda was completely adequate for our needs as we do not spend much ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Ponant and we were not disappointed. It was 5 star all the way. The food was magnificent and delicious for every meal. Our cabin with veranda was completely adequate for our needs as we do not spend much time in there. The toilet was separate to the bathroom which was unusual and very pleasing. The bed was comfortable and there was plenty of storage. My only criticism is that the balustrade for the balcony is steel so if sitting on the veranda, one cannot see much at all. A perspex or some other transparent material would be better. Maybe becaue it is an icebreaker - I don't know? Rhis is also our first cruise on a small ship and we were dispoointed some times in the lack of activities in the afternoon. Is this because the passengers are having nana naps?! Staff were excellent and catered to our every request. Shore excursions - we only did one in Tangier which was really good and the other in Casablanca which was only satisfactory because we were put on a bus with French speakers and their French guide who dominated our English speaking guide and monopolised the microphone on the bus. There is not a lot to see in Casablanca and I felt that the tour was "padded out" with useless information to fill in time. One could easily walk from the port to the mosque and that's all you really need ro see. While we loved the cruise, I am not sure that I would do a small ship cruise again as we had some not rough seas, but serious swells that made quite a few people sea sick. I have been on big ships with rough seas and never felt sick like I did on this one. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
In August, 2018, we first cruised along the coast of Croatia on Le Lyrial. It was fabulous-great weather, beautiful scenery with clear bright skies and turquoise waters. Our choice to do the Laperouse cruise was in part due to coordinating ... Read More
In August, 2018, we first cruised along the coast of Croatia on Le Lyrial. It was fabulous-great weather, beautiful scenery with clear bright skies and turquoise waters. Our choice to do the Laperouse cruise was in part due to coordinating it with the end of the Croatian cruise on Le Lyrial. We had a wonderful week in between the two cruises in Portugal before embarking on Le Laperouse. The interesting feature of Le Laperouse was its attention to live Jazz during the cruise, the intimate size of the ship and the service we received. On both ships we were treated with a great deal of personal care. Our cabin stewards were attentive and thorough. The dining choices were quite varied and the menus were delicious. Our wine stewards were quite helpful with pairing delicious tastes to complement our meals. We very much enjoy meeting with other English speaking guests and having lively discussions with them. The Captain and the cruise directors are very good at organizing get together sessions-both formal and informal. We had a very informative group discussion with the French guest journalist on Le Laprouse, Ms. Christian Makarian. It was a much appreciated chance to listen to viewpoints from all over the world concerning global affairs. We only wish it could have been longer! Our dinners at the Captain's table are always the highlight of our cruises. Thank you for allowing us the priviilege to dine with them. It is wonderful to share conversation about informative and cultural experiences with the Captains and his guests. It is the best! We also enjoy the time the Captain's Bridge is available for touring. We are big fans of seeing the intricacies that it takes to operate your ships. In closing we would like to express our appreciation to all the ship's staff that complete the making of our trips with Ponant so enlightening. We look forward to many more to come. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
My Wife and I and two friends chose this cruise because of the destinations. Leaving Lisbon, Oporto La Coruna, Bilbao, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Belle Isle, St Malo and Honfleur. All the Cities and villages we ever wanted to visit. ... Read More
My Wife and I and two friends chose this cruise because of the destinations. Leaving Lisbon, Oporto La Coruna, Bilbao, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Belle Isle, St Malo and Honfleur. All the Cities and villages we ever wanted to visit. For our Anniversary I had upgraded to a larger suite (601) which was at the front of the ship. My wife was delighted and the suite was OK except the Bathroom was a little Archaic with the hose hanging over the Bath, and no shower curtain, so the water went onto the slatted wooden floor. The Ship looks badly in need of a refit and the Staff said one was due in 2020 (not before time). Whilst all the Staff were superb, the facilities on board were old - the Table Tennis was rammed up against the inside bulkhead, and the shuffleboard deck was so old that it had almost faded away. The food was very good on the whole but in the Italian Restaurant there was very few changes each day so its almost Deja Vue each day. The Excursions which some Cruise Liners supply free of charge, were very expensive,and it depended on the quality of the Guide to make or break the visit. Loved the Venues but not on this Ship - not for me another Silversea Cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
1. The food was generally not of the quality expected. Bread was consistently poor quality and at times was stale. We would actually buy our own bread at bakeries at the ports of call and bring it for breakfast. The selections of wines at ... Read More
1. The food was generally not of the quality expected. Bread was consistently poor quality and at times was stale. We would actually buy our own bread at bakeries at the ports of call and bring it for breakfast. The selections of wines at dinner was generally mediocre. It seems that considering the quality of food available at the various ports of call that the food and wine could have more closely resembled what was available on shore. 2. Schedule of surface transport including shuttles and tenders was generally inconvenient and showed little consideration for the passengers. For instance in Honfleur although the ship disembarked at 10 PM, the shuttle stopped at 5 PM. It was extremely difficult to obtain a taxi at this port and there was no effort by the ship's staff to help with arranging transport back to the ship after the last shuttle. This was a similar problem in Bordeaux on the evening of disembarkation; and in Saint-Malo and in La Rochelle. 3. Laundry facilities were inadequate for the number passengers. In addition locking the laundry room at 10 PM and not opening it until 8 AM was extremely inconvenient. 4. The wireless quality was poor and intermittent. Purchasing the premium Wi-Fi was no better than standard. 5. This service provided by the shore concierge for independent activities was not very helpful. We expected that this service would be equivalent to that provided at a five-star hotel. 6. The excursion for dinner at Château Smith Haut Lafitte was disappointing. The food was not good. Neither of us could take more than a few bites of the veal. It was dry and tough to chew. For such an expensive outing we had expected an excellent meal and a better experience. 7. Extreme temperature fluctuations in our shower were uncomfortable and potentially dangerous with surges of hot water. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Everything from start to finish was a wonderful experience. This 12 day cruise from Lisbon to Greenwich terrific. The ship was small and Intimate just over 600 passengers and elegantly decorated. Just the perfect size so that we felt ... Read More
Everything from start to finish was a wonderful experience. This 12 day cruise from Lisbon to Greenwich terrific. The ship was small and Intimate just over 600 passengers and elegantly decorated. Just the perfect size so that we felt pampered. The ship size allowed it to cruise down the Gironde right into Bordeaux and down the Thames into Greenwich. The Classic Veranda Suite was large and had a living/sitting area with a veranda deck. The bathroom had a separate stall shower and a separate tub. There was a spacious walk in closet with a dresser as well as drawers in the living area. The service from our attentive butler,housekeeper,reception desk,waiters and customer service rep was impeccable. The excursion guides were certified, knowledgeable and sometimes historians. They were always good humored and extremely personable. Restaurant food was very good and service was excellent. However, the menus could have been changed for a bit of variation during the cruise. This cruise line did a fantastic job. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
After 3 consecutive cruises on Regent, I was recommended Silversea because it was good and very smoking friendly. It really is very smoking friendly. The booking was a breeze with Mr Andrew Ironstone making my life easy. Best ever. ... Read More
After 3 consecutive cruises on Regent, I was recommended Silversea because it was good and very smoking friendly. It really is very smoking friendly. The booking was a breeze with Mr Andrew Ironstone making my life easy. Best ever. The ship is OK, I especially like the architecture having all the cabins in the front and venues in the back of the ship. It is very smart and makes the cabins very quiet. It was the quietest cabin I ever had in a cruise. The cabin was OK with good size and a nice bathroom. Nothing special. The butler service was poor. The entertainment was very limited. The bar staff was great but you could not find the beverages you like in all bars. Some had a very limited selections. The thing I liked the most were the napkins. They come in a roll like toilet paper but the texture is like linen and they are indestructible, very impressing and nice. The food was disgusting, a great deception after cruising with Regent which has great food. We tried the two Asian restaurants and it was really disgusting. The main restaurant has the same menu every night and the food is average, no fixed menu on the left and new dishes on the right of the menu every night, always the same food. We talked to our new cruise friends who tried other options and they told us it was the same bad quality, not worth the effort or the money. Breakfast had a reasonable selection but the service was horrible. It was like watching the 3 stooges. Lots of waiters running in every direction but none stopping to ask me what I wanted to drink. There is an option called Arts Cafe but the ice machine was broken, or that is the excuse and to get a glass of water can take up to 15 minutes. The best thing on breakfast are hand washing machines which are really cool. Lunch is the worst ever. The restaurant closes at 13:30 and you are left with the pool bar which serves horrible food. The hot dog which I thought was a safe option, takes like 30 minutes and is terrible. You can always order pizza which is faster than the hot dog. Are we paying 2000 a night to eat junk food? The dress code is very strict. Some old people wanted to use the smoking they bought for their granddaughter wedding. They had 2 formal nights, 2 casual nights and the rest was informal which is formal without a tie. If you don't follow, "No food for you tonight". It was really disgusting seeing a handicapped man wearing a vest, being sent back to get a jacket in order to be fed. Most of the ports were excellent and we had lunch on shore which satisfied our needs and left us ready for a light fare for diner. Average great lunch on the ports of $150 / person. There were no sea days but some ports had all aboard at 11:30 am or 13:30 pm which left no time for lunch putting us to the punishment of having lunch on board. The best part about the food was that being so bad, we did not gain any weight at all. Final question: would I go back? I don't want to close the door and if they had a great itinerary like the one we cruised, maybe. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We took a our first cruise on Regent in May from Lisbon to London and we were blown away. We have taken Crystal in the past on some 15 cruises, and now we find ourselves remiss for patronizing a good cruise line (Crystal) when there was ... Read More
We took a our first cruise on Regent in May from Lisbon to London and we were blown away. We have taken Crystal in the past on some 15 cruises, and now we find ourselves remiss for patronizing a good cruise line (Crystal) when there was such a much finer cruise line (Regent) out there. Regent beats Crystal in room quality, service, staff, food, athletic facility, spa, public areas, embarkment, and in a very big way, in excursions. Crystal does have better entertainment, but overall this is a minor item to us. Further, Regent is not as pretentious as Crystal by declaring itself the "best" cruise line, and Regent does not push purchasing photos at every conceivable instance as Crystal always does. And even the passengers on Regent appear to be more polished and polite than those we have encountered on recent Crystal ships. Perhaps Crystal is yesterday's cruise line, but Regent is today's. Special compliments to the Regent's ship management. The attendants for the rooms were almost invisible, yet their job was always complete in a timely manner. Similarly, we were treated excellently by the food mangers in the various restaurants. Our favorite restaurant was Prime with the bone-in ribeye. Every excursion seemed better than the one before! Thank you Regent-job excellently done! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We have become rather unhappy with Crystal Cruises for a variety of reasons so we have been searching for their replacement. SilverSea's greatest advantage over Crystal would be in the size of their all-suite accommodations. We ... Read More
We have become rather unhappy with Crystal Cruises for a variety of reasons so we have been searching for their replacement. SilverSea's greatest advantage over Crystal would be in the size of their all-suite accommodations. We found our suite to be impeccably clean, well maintained, stylish, and equipped with a wonderfully cheerful and helpful butler. The weakest element in a comparison to Crystal is the entertainment. It is constrained by the physical size & layout of the stage. The shows were rather lackluster so we spent our free evenings enjoying the pianist (Alex) and guitarist/singer (Angela) in the Dolce Vita lounge. While food quality is generally very good to excellent, we had service issues at two venues. At the poolside Grill, it was very obvious that the staff was more concerned with closing on time than in taking care of guests, even though we were seated 45 mins ahead of closing. The main dining room, Atlantide, was our biggest disappointment for dinner. It took more than two hours for our party of four to be served, and one of the two veal entrees was undercooked. Going forward, Atlantide was relegated to breakfast or lunch only. Our favorite dining venue quickly became IndoChine once I tasted their Short Ribs. My wife loved the Pho soup so much that she had it for the three days consecutive days. I found it amusing that the Asian restaurant's Osso Buco was, IMO, superior to that of the Italian La Terrazza. We found La Terrazza best for lunch due to its large buffet offering. La Dame was simply exquisite on every level. Well worth the extra charge. The same applies equally to Seishin Restaurant, who provided a perfect Creme Brulee. The other highlight not to be missed is their Spider Crab appetizer. The greatest hidden treasure we discovered has to be the Arts Cafe. The food is art for both the eyes and the palate. Change the name to Arts & Eats!! Compared to dining on Crystal, SilverSea is close, but not the clear winner. Efficiency: SilverSea could benefit from an efficiency consultant. As an example, ship ID cards should have been designed for machine scanning/contact scanning without having to remove them from the SilverSea card case. Summary: this jury is still out on declaring the winner. We are hoping that our next SilverSea cruise (Muse Feb 2019) will settle the argument. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was out 5th cruise with Uniworld and the previous 4 were great. We were looking forward to seeing Portugal with same quality. Unfortunately, we were disapppomted. Many of the tours Included excessive free/shopping time, and the meals ... Read More
This was out 5th cruise with Uniworld and the previous 4 were great. We were looking forward to seeing Portugal with same quality. Unfortunately, we were disapppomted. Many of the tours Included excessive free/shopping time, and the meals were below the standard that we had come to expect. There was an emphasis on Portuguese food, but it was not planned with an appropriate consideration for the tastes of the non-Portuguese clientele. Hot food was often served warm or cold. There were many times where tours could have been expanded and where experts could have been brought on board during sailing times to improve the quality of the experience while providing better insight to Portuguese history, culture, and customs. Outstanding service and staff support helped to offset some of the problems. We thoroughly enjoyed our trips on the Rhine and in France and are looking forward to a trip in the fall to Italy. Overall, while I would still recommend Uniworld, I cannot recommend this particular trip. Read Less

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