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48 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
I chose this cruise for it's itinerary, timing and value for money. It was also a way to get from Melbourne to London without jet lag and swollen ankles. It is an old ship and fairly small but I prefer the small ship atmosphere and ... Read More
I chose this cruise for it's itinerary, timing and value for money. It was also a way to get from Melbourne to London without jet lag and swollen ankles. It is an old ship and fairly small but I prefer the small ship atmosphere and friendliness. Overall the ship exceeded my expectations with a super friendly crew who went out of their way to make it an enjoyable voyage. Being small it moves around a bit in a swell and the stabilisers do not seem very effective but if you want a smoother ride you should stick to floating apartment blocks. The cabin was good for its type with the most comfortable beds I have had on my many cruises with various cruise lines. The in cabin entertainment was lacking with few movies that were repeated on a loop throughout each day. The show lounge entertainment was excellent with no shows repeated in the 6 weeks aboard. The dancers were great but the singers ranged from exceptional (Angelina) through to good with one who shall remain nameless who was painful. Pre dinner entertainment in the Captains Club was very good with a pianist and either a singer or violinist accompanying her. A nice way to start the evening. The cruise director Tony and assistant cruise director Katy ensured the entertainment flowed freely with a performance in the show lounge twice nightly and various sail away parties on the outside decks as we left ports. The second show was always less crowded and it was easy to find a good seat. The daytime entertainment was sparse but included 2 lectures each sea day which I found to be very interesting. The food was adequate but not great. Too much fish and chicken for my taste but the head waiter Tojo was fantastic in trying to accommodate me and would arrange extra steamed vegies or grilled meat and chips if all else failed. The bread rolls were excellent but the afternoon teas were not good as the cakes were dry, the scones like hard biscuits and the sandwiches boring ham and cheese every day. One big disappointment was the breakfast eggs. It is against Astor's policy to serve eggs either fried, poached or boiled, with a runny yolk. Every egg was hard in the centre. Health and safety was the excuse but I haven't seen this on other cruise ships and six weeks of overcooked eggs was an irritation to most passengers I spoke to. They need to consider passenger tastes rather than covering their own backs. Liz, the shore excursion organiser was very good. She went out of her way to help even if you were enquiring about a non ship tour. We had major health concerns on board culminating in a shoreside hospital visit in Capetown and 2 subsequent ships hospital visits. The ships doctor (Dmitri) and his staff gave us confidence to continue our voyage and ensured we had the appropriate care till we arrived in London to the point of offering to arrange specialist care on shore when we docked. Ships medical assistance is not cheap so good travel insurance is vital. The internet costs were very cheap ($5 Australian per hour) but totally unreliable. On the occasions where I had to seek help from the reception staff for internet and other problems they were great. Service with a smile always. The ship displayed some meanness in small ways. Like no shampoo and conditioner in the cabin, just a body wash in the shower which could have been dishwashing liquid. They gave us a lovely tray of chocolate goodies for Easter but we only received a chocolate on the pillow on the formal nights. Room service was limited and not complimentary. Other reviewers have said the crew are surly but we found everyone from the Captain down to be cheerful and friendly. The one exception was our cabin steward. She was a miserable soul who obviously didn't like her job. She kept the cabin clean but whether it was a language problem or a personality trait, her face could not form a smile. Would I travel on Astor again, yes I would, the good far outweighed the bad, a sentiment widely felt by fellow passengers, many of which had cruised with her multiple times. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Couple of hours delay in boarding ship in Melb which was closed down on arrival from NZ for cleaning due to expected virus on board. This was ok. Was hoping to catch up with friends leaving ship in Melb but they were put straight onto ... Read More
Couple of hours delay in boarding ship in Melb which was closed down on arrival from NZ for cleaning due to expected virus on board. This was ok. Was hoping to catch up with friends leaving ship in Melb but they were put straight onto bus from gangplank to be driven to airport, so no contact made. Once ship cleared no problems with embarkation. Next, when booking cruise we were advised ship charges were being changed to US$ [they were AU$ on NZ leg. Costs onboard eg drinks, retail shopping & speciality dining were still showing same prices but charged at US$ not AU$ therefore we were paying more]. Seeing as we were travelling for 11 nights in Aus waters why wasn't this at least left until after we left Darwin to make price changes. Children's/Teenager's Areas: These were ALL closed down in Melbourne for renovations and still not opened by time of arrival in HK. Many unhappy parents. Not acceptable. Cruisers in cabins nearby were disturbed by noise. Retail store was also closed down in Melbourne and reopened by Bris, stock was upmarket, Name Brands and expensive. [Travellers doing trip Melb to Syd or Bris for repositioning were unable to do any shopping.] This was covered by discounted weekly clothing sales in dining room on occasional days. A small booth was set up in a doorway if you wanted small items, such as gum, toiletries, confectionary etc. Many of the crew left at ports in transit and replaced by Asian staff, we found a lot of them did not speak very much English. [Apparently when we arrived in HK the ship was being leased out to China for 6 months for cruising is Asian waters], The crew that we encountered from Melbourne were very friendly, helpful and cheerful. Entertainment excellent, especially Patricio Rodriguez who unfortunately had his program cut down so we did not get to enjoy as much of his singing as we would have liked. Food in dining room good, no problems with Horizon Court, small selection but ok. Spent lot of time in pool, this area protected by Life Guards, outside areas well attended by crew. On deck musical entertainment during day excellent, enjoyed the deck parties at night. Most of day activities on deck cancelled due to lack of participants. Cruise Director and staff very pleasant and cheerful, a BIG HUG for Ass. C.D Callie Smit with whom I had sailed with 12 months previously, he even remembered my name. Always ready with a smile and a hug. Did two excursions, to Tiger Zoo in Bangkok, beach visit in Thailand and in other ports did my own thing. Stayed on board in Bali [not interested in going ashore - been there, done that.] Good thing was I had pool & deck almost to myself for day and watched AFL football games from pool. I don't join in with the many activities organised onboard, prefer to relax, read and swim, although Happy Hour with friends was a must. A daily get together with other Cruise Critic members was also arranged, and many friends made. Cabin ok even if shower was a bit small. Had a problem one night with toilet not flushing, they were out within a couple of hours to fix it, even if it was 2am. Spent a lot of time on balcony reading, enjoying sea air, ocean waves, distant storms and sailing in and out of ports. Cabin attendant Romeo was very helpful, always ready to get us anything we needed and had a lovely smile. Disembarkation in Honk Kong very smooth, very long wait in heat for taxi to hotel, had a nice taxi driver who gave us a few hints for our 3 days stay. I have sailed with several other companies, their ships are nicer, cabins better, and more speciality dining rooms but for some strange reason I prefer Princess. It's like coming home, a bit worn but comfortable. Will I continue sailing with Princess, you betcha. Always come home with new friends and wondering "Where to next" Read Less

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