23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I'm fed-up with moaning minnies who comment unfavourably on this 70-year old 'real ship' because it doesn't seem to match up to the vast majority of the bland 'floating blocks of flats' (i.e. most other cruise ... Read More
I'm fed-up with moaning minnies who comment unfavourably on this 70-year old 'real ship' because it doesn't seem to match up to the vast majority of the bland 'floating blocks of flats' (i.e. most other cruise ships). Of course it doesn't! Anybody who does the most basic of research should KNOW what they can expect of the Astoria. This is a 'travel experience' and all the better for i! Consider these facts; (1) Pretty straightforward arrival/departure arrangements at smaller ports (Poole in this instance); (2) Great destinations (because she's a small ship and can get into places that the leviathans can't); (3) ALL cabins have bath, bidet and shower (OK, possibly slightly tired - but more or less unheard of on newer ships); (4) Other reviewers' adverse comments made about the food are frankly PATHETIC (see later); (5) Friendly crew who appear to go out of their way to be helpful; (6) Sensibly-priced on-board drinks (billed in sterling) with a good selection; (7) Very acceptable leisure-facilities given her small size; (8) Unbeatable value for money as long as you are not expecting The Ritz. We paid just £492 each and achieved a 'one grade' upgrade to an outside cabin, which was a bonus - but the review wouldn't have changed even if we had been in the inside cabin that we had expected. Bear in mind that the basic 'real cost' will actually always be £7 per day each higher because of the addition of the 'automatic gratuity' - so in our case that made it £562 each. Allowing for our travel costs, car-parking (£100 in this case), four port-excursions and a drink or two each day, our holiday-cost increased to just a smidge under £1000 each. Where else can you get full-board accommodation and be transported around the country with organised excursions for just £100 per day? The food in Astoria's restaurant is EXCELLENT (and not at all bad in the buffet). I've not had better Beef Wellington or Fillet Mignon for example. We always push the boat out and have all five courses at dinner (OK, so the 'sophisticated' might say that this is not good form - but I don't care!) and the quantities are entirely adequate. I suppose that anybody paying the top-prices (we heard of some passengers who had paid a basic price of aproaching £1800 each) might feel perturbed that they had to 'endure' the riff-raff (not that there was anybody actually like that on our cruise - just 'normal' folk', expectedly all of age 65+) since there is absolutely no segregation (everybody eating the same food in the same restaurants, using the same bars, seeing the same entertainment and using the same ship's-tenders when transferring ashore from anchor-ports) - which is why the canny traveller will opt for the lower-priced deals. The entertainment-team work hard and their 'Round The World' show in particular was simply fun to see after our second-sitting dinner (a really nice table of 8 incidentally, with an excellent steward). The two guest-comedians (two shows each) generated a good number of laughs at each performance. There were a couple of intersting talks by a guest-lecturer in the room which doubles as a cinema (some good films were shown, but the time of showing did not suit second-sitting diners), - but again, don't expect an I-Max style experience. I genuinely believe that people of 'normal expectation' can have little grounds to fault this splendid old ship. My advice is to travel on her whilst you still can, with just the one caveat that those of impaired mobility might be better-advised to look elsewhere (getting on and off the ship itself - and especially on and off the tenders at anchor-ports - calls for a modest degree of agility). Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted a taste of river cruising so this seemed ideal. Embarkation at Poole was quick however a little back to front, you picked up your cruise card at the port, then got on the ship to "check in", have passports checked etc, ... Read More
We wanted a taste of river cruising so this seemed ideal. Embarkation at Poole was quick however a little back to front, you picked up your cruise card at the port, then got on the ship to "check in", have passports checked etc, then were taken to your cabin where your room keys were waiting for you. We booked last minute so the only available cabin was "Inside Guarantee" which was surprisingly larger than expected although really disappointed that the beds could not be put together to form a double. No kettle/tea/coffee making facilities. Bath in bathroom was a bonus. Entertainment was pretty basic, don't get me wrong, the all worked really, really hard but don't expect any Broadway type shows! We found the menu in the Restaurant quite limited and basic, and the portions fairly small. Staff were really helpful and friendly, no long waits at either bar or restaurants. Cocktail of the Day was a nice touch. No "snacks" available late night or if you miss breakfast (which ends at 930am) Due to bad weather most out door areas were mostly closed and the crossing both there and back was the worst I've ever experienced, sick bags and sickness pills were in plentiful supply! Both stops (Honfleur and Rouen) were really pretty, we did not book excursions but visited the areas where the shuttle bus dropped you. Casino was a bit of a waste really, only 1 member of staff to run a Blackjack Table or Roulette Table alternatively between giving out tokens for the slots. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Booked this cruise European Canals, Rivers and Cities, then looked at reviews just prior to sailing and found the Astoria was the oldest cruise ship in the world, plus some reviews were a bit worrying, especially about the cabins and ... Read More
Booked this cruise European Canals, Rivers and Cities, then looked at reviews just prior to sailing and found the Astoria was the oldest cruise ship in the world, plus some reviews were a bit worrying, especially about the cabins and crew. Ok will deal with cabin 464 later. The food throughout was excellent both in the Restaurant and in the Bistso, the quality quantity and service was very good. Our waiter in the Restaurant was superb in sorting out my wife's dietary requirements. Asked for first sitting, got second, so didn't use Restaurant as much as usual. One point on catering, The toaster in the Bistro (and I use the word advisedly) was as much use as a chocolate fire guard, . I put my toast through upto 5 times and it never browned, the queue was miles long. It should be dropped overboard at the earliest possible moment, and in a deep a water as possible. All the crew were smart, polite efficient and helpful at all times and they all seemed to get along well with each other. The ship considering her age was extremely smart, and very clean, no tired looking furniture, carpets etc., Entertainment in the Show Lounge considering the size of the stage was excellent. A really lively group. The ships band was really professional We have cruised with CMV since 2010 (our first cruise). Since then Marco Polo (5), Magellen (1) Colombus (1) and enjoyed everyone. The Captain seemed a bit anonmous, I don't doubt this competence , but I missed the morning briefing as with the Colombus last year when the Captain gave an update on speed, weather , distance etc and the time from his (Very expensive watch!!!), plus he walked the deck and said" Hello" to whoever he saw. Embarkation and dis embarkation were faultless, really speedy. Looking forward to our next Astoria cruise. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Astoria is a ship rich in history and quite a venerable old lady of the seas. We had cruised on her before, in 2012 when she was operated by CIC and named Athena. It was fascinating to see that little had changed in the public spaces, ... Read More
Astoria is a ship rich in history and quite a venerable old lady of the seas. We had cruised on her before, in 2012 when she was operated by CIC and named Athena. It was fascinating to see that little had changed in the public spaces, 6 years and 2 owners later, but the cabins have had some upgrading and the ship now has different external colours. I was amused to note that one of the bathroom towels in our cabin had the CIC logo embossed on it - they went out of business in the autumn of 2012. Embarkation at Portsmouth was the smoothest and quickest that we had ever experienced. We arrived at the port slightly in advance of our allocated embarkation time, but were given our cruise-cards and were on board the ship within minutes. CMV use a different system at Portsmouth on Astoria than they do at Tilbury, as the main processing is done on board the ship rather than in the terminal. Even so, this further processing also only took a matter of minutes and we received our cabin keys very swiftly. Astoria uses the rather dated punch-card type cabin keys, and they have the cabin number on the back of them, so you have to be very careful not to misplace one on board. We used the gym facilities which are very minimal, just 4 machines, but there were few other users even though the ship was sailing at full capacity. The Spa on Astoria has two treatment rooms plus a hairdressing salon. We each bought a treatment, taking advantage of a 10% discount offer for bookings made on the first day of the cruise. The treatments were very average, and we probably would not bother again if we cruise on Astoria in the future. The small entertainment staff worked very hard throughout our cruise to make the evenings enjoyable, and I personally was very impressed with the amount of multi-skilling that they employed to keep the show schedule running. The 'Mr & Mrs' quiz in particular was very funny and gave the audience a lot of laughs. Astoria also has a separate auditorium which is used for lectures and the showing of feature films; both of us felt that this excellent resource was rather under-utilised and many more films could have been shown than actually were. We dined mainly in the Olissippo Restaurant and had superb meals throughout our cruise. Astoria operates fixed-dining with 2 sittings; the Lotus Grill self-service buffet also has a selection of the same menu items on offer for those who need or prefer to use it. We avoided this buffet area at breakfast times as it seemed to be rather a bun-fight, also suffering with constant shortages of mugs for the tea & coffee service station at busy periods. I was very pleased to see that CMV still use 'Eilles' tea; their excellent 'Vanilla Rooibos' is almost worth doing a cruise for on its own! 'Afternoon Tea' is offered only in the Lotus Grill. The ship's crew - in general - were very helpful and friendly, especially the Lotus Grill serving staff who always seemed to have a smile ready. None of our ports of call involved tendering, so I cannot comment on the efficiency or otherwise of this process on board Astoria. The CMV staff were very good at making prompt announcements upon arrival at each port, informing the passengers as soon as possible that they were free to go ashore. Disembarkation was equally smooth and took around 90 minutes for us, but once we got into the terminal the collection of luggage was easy and quick. CMV use 'CPS' for parking at Portsmouth; they are efficient and the process of leaving & collecting our car was completely painless. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
ASTORIA, THE SHIP: Astoria is the world's oldest active oceangoing passenger ship and was originally built and launched as MS Stockholm in 1948. Her capacity is around 540 passengers making her quite an intimate vessel. THE ... Read More
ASTORIA, THE SHIP: Astoria is the world's oldest active oceangoing passenger ship and was originally built and launched as MS Stockholm in 1948. Her capacity is around 540 passengers making her quite an intimate vessel. THE FACILITIES: SIRENES BAR is the “meeting place” on the ship. It’s a small area above the reception desk, holding around 150 guests. The drinks are reasonably priced (see menu shots), and you can purchase additional packages, depending on your circumstances. We picked all-inclusive (CMV Premium) and I think we were better off. In this bar it’s sometimes difficult to attract waiters, and it can take 10 minutes or so to get your drink. I think the fact that the bartender makes and pours all drinks means that the waiters can be waiting to serve their guests. The bar is cosy, but could need a little attention to the chairs upholstery,. LOTUS POOL BAR is the outside bar serving the pool and rear deck. In September this wasn’t open at night. CYCLOPES AUDITORIUM is the cinema and presentation theatre. There are 2 films a day in here, and presentations on various topics. CALYPSO SHOW LOUNGE is the main theatre, holding around 500 guests. Again, drinks are waiter service. The shows, for such a small ship, are very entertaining, being performed by the ship’s hard working “repertory” cast. ENTERTAINMENT as above, is first class from the small team of 4 singers and 4 dancers. They put on some very entertaining shows, ranging from Les Miserables, to Rock and Roll and Wartime Favourites. Special mention to the cruise director, Jon Dulson, who makes sure all entertainment in all bars is top notch. A special mention is also due to the resident band. They are a group of really talented players, some of whom are classically trained and they provided outstanding live music (Unlike some bigger cruise ships where the entertainment is driven by LED displays and recorded soundtracks). THERE ARE MANY OTHER nooks and crannies, such as the library, card room, cigar lounge etc, and of course there is a small gym and spa centre. There’s also a small casino, chapel and medical centre. SHOPPING – you probably aren’t going on a ship like this for the shopping experience, but there are small shops, a jeweller and the obligatory photo shop (although now with a touch screen instead of row upon row of photos on shelves) THE STAFF were always friendly and very helpful. CRUISE SPECIFIC – ours was the Fjords cruise in mid September. Unfortunately we had storms Ali and Bronah to contend with and 2 fjord stops were cancelled due to adverse open sea conditions, prior to getting there, and we were give £50 per cabin compensation for this. The size of Astoria really does mean, in our opinion, that the 7 metre waves we battled against meant a couple of nights very unpleasant sailing, with sick bags in the corridors and advice to the ladies not to wear high heels in the swaying conditions. Also, the presentations on the ship’s trips were very specific in mentioning, for example, the 3 steps onto the Flam railway train, but didn’t mention the very steep gangway needed at some stops, to get onto the jetties. These steps were problematical for some of the elderly passengers. Read Less
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
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
I thought it would be a wonderful way to visit so many far away and interesting places. Indeed overall the cruise delivered its promise and we did enjoy the wonderful places we visited. In general the staff were great and did a ... Read More
I thought it would be a wonderful way to visit so many far away and interesting places. Indeed overall the cruise delivered its promise and we did enjoy the wonderful places we visited. In general the staff were great and did a fantastic job. The entertainment was great at times and OK at others. The drinks plus package we paid almost £30.00 a head for was a rip off. They did not have 3 of the 6 wines advertised and although I complained on the very first day and was told this would be dealt with, it never was. I assumed I would be contacted and compensated but this did not happen and I sent an email to Cruise and Maritime and their final response, after much excusing and explanation, was, "Whilst we apologise for the dissatisfaction caused, unfortunately there is nothing further we can add at this stage". We also had to move cabin twice, I was worried by their comments on the safety issue I raised in that although we were forced to move cabin twice - (once because of smoke issues and the next because of flooding. No compensation for this either) - no-one took us through the safety drill or showed us where our new muster stations were. They showed no concern and did not seem to think this an issue. Very disappointed and quite hurt by the arrogance of theirCustomer Relations Executive. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Have just returned from the Scotland and Faro Island cruise on board the Astoria, first of the itinerary, it included the Orkney's, the Shetlands the Faro Islands and mainland Scotland, for me the highs were the trip to Scapa Flow, ... Read More
Have just returned from the Scotland and Faro Island cruise on board the Astoria, first of the itinerary, it included the Orkney's, the Shetlands the Faro Islands and mainland Scotland, for me the highs were the trip to Scapa Flow, the Loch Ness trip and the stunning scenery, these are places that I have not really thought about going but it is well worth the trip. now about the rest, the ship is old, it can be a bit noisy, it is also very small so some things you take for granted on a cruise were not there, prime example no dressing table in the cabin, all these things you get used to, the cabins are not a bad size and most have manged to fit a bath and bidet in the en-suite, the beds are 2 singles pushed together but we did discover there is a slight list on the ship so my mattress tended to slip, but again I got used to that, the food was good in both the restaurant and buffet, the drinks were a very reasonable price as were the cocktails. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful, they did not constantly push you to buy drinks ect as on most other ships, the photographer always asked if you wanted a picture taken and if you said no that was fine. The ship is charming and this seemed to put people very at ease, the passengers were all very friendly as well which on some cruises never happens! We had the backed Alaska dance by the waiters, something I have not seen for quite a while, but I have to say a big well done to the cruise director and his team, they were amazing, the shows quizzes and extras they did were fantastic. We did have a few rough days, but they offered free travel sickness pill to anyone in need, this ship takes you back in time, if you want bells and whistles this is not the ship for you, if you want traditional friendly and very relaxing I highly recommend. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
I'm not sure what drew us to the cruise the most, the ship or the itinerary. Both were really interesting and so different to anything we’d done before. A ship of just 550 passengers ensured that queues were just about non-existent ... Read More
I'm not sure what drew us to the cruise the most, the ship or the itinerary. Both were really interesting and so different to anything we’d done before. A ship of just 550 passengers ensured that queues were just about non-existent and the people we met were some of the friendliest we’d ever encountered on any cruise. Most were very well travelled and very few had a “whine list”, understanding that a small ship sailing to the Faroes in April might well be rather less stable than an August Mediterranean cruise. Sea sickness did take its toll, however, on many passengers. Due to an adverse weather forecast, we decided to have a couple of days in a hotel beforehand and found the Stifford Hall Hotel very pleasant and reasonable. Had we known, we may well have parked our car here rather than at Tilbury, they do special rates (either stay and park or a fiver a day) and a taxi is around £15 each way. Our scheduled departure was 2pm, however, this was delayed by a bout of norovirus, so we sat chatting to other passengers in the terminal (being offered tea, coffee and fizz!) until the ship had been deep cleaned. We were kept well informed - our scheduled boarding was 11.20am, but we boarded at about 1pm and were delighted to find that the main restaurant was open for lunch – something lacking from other cruise lines. Our previous cruise was on the Celebrity Millennium and we both thought the food onboard the Astoria was much better, as, by and large, was the service. Perhaps a smaller budget means that the chef had to be more creative, or perhaps it was more geared to a UK palate. We both thought it nice that the portions weren’t huge and there were a few gaps in the dining timetable (although if you wanted to eat 24 hours a day, it was possible with paid for room service) – and of course, you could have more than one course – and visit the buffet as much as you wanted! It’s a lovely touch that at dinner you can see what the courses look like, they were displayed in the breakfast buffet area. Our waiters, Yakesh and Milan were brilliant and our dietary requirements were dealt with superbly at dinner. There is a small extra fee restaurant, and people who used it were very complimentary. Although we’d asked for a large table, we were sat on a table for four, and luckily got on exceptionally well with our dinner partners who enjoyed the cruise as much as we did. Entertainment onboard was also unexpectedly better than we’d imagined for such a small ship– and with just two sea days, it meant that most days were spent exploring some very interesting places. The ship’s excursions were all well organised and interesting, although it would have been nice to have had earphones, now a common thing on some ships, especially smaller river cruises – the Astoria has much more the feel of an intimate river cruise than even a small liner. We’d booked the ship’s excursions in most places, but were pleased to see that free shuttles existed in most ports. It is, however, worth considering that people with mobility issues might find it quite difficult getting on and off the ship in some ports as the ladder is quite rickety and the stairs rather steeep. For such a small ship, we were surprised how good the evening entertainment was, although it’s a shame that the “Around The World” evening still ends with White Cliffs of Dover and There’ll Always Be An England. For a nation that gave the world so much music, why we have to hark back to the days of War and Empire. What a shame we couldn’t have John Lennon’s Imagine, perhaps, or even celebrate one or more of our Eurovision wins. We booked an inside cabin and on boarding, were escorted to 422 – one of the largest cabins we’ve ever had onboard, including a bath and bidet, but unfortunately no tea making facilities. The cabin was very comfortable, however, there was an intermittent clanking noise every minute or so, which our earplugs (or the rehearsals from the show lounge above!) didn’t muffle sufficiently. After a couple of days trying to work out what was causing the noise, the people on the desk couldn’t have been more helpful and moved us to a smaller cabin, but with a porthole (252) – when the boat rolled, it also had quite a noise as if something moved over the ceiling, but this was masked enough by our earplugs, although there was significant noise when docking or leaving a port which lasted around 45 minutes. Again, the cabin had both a bath and a bidet. For no real reason, we booked the VIP package which confused some of the waiting staff, more used to the premium package. The house wine perfectly acceptable, and to be honest, with so few sea days, we didn’t really get our money’s worth, but it was nice to be able to order a cuppa in the bar, although the buffet was just next door, with tea/coffee freely available. Unfortunately, personal commitments prevented us from staying on the ship for their next adventure. It’s the first time I can remember that my husband wasn’t ready to come home and would have happily stayed onboard. We both hope that we will have the pleasure of sailing on the Astoria at least one more time before she is finally decommissioned, which will be a huge loss to the world of cruising. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
The good: really interesting destinations; unbeatable value. The not so good: the ship is chartered and shows some upkeep-issues; a small number of the very attentive crew let themselves down by being offensive to the nose! This ... Read More
The good: really interesting destinations; unbeatable value. The not so good: the ship is chartered and shows some upkeep-issues; a small number of the very attentive crew let themselves down by being offensive to the nose! This slightly-tired cruise-liner should be seen as a floating-base from which passengers can access little-visited ports. We thought the Faroe Islands to be one of our best-ever cruise-destinations. We took three shipboard excursions (all very good) and enjoyed a drink with our (excellent) dinner each evening - and the total cost (including car-parking) still worked out at only just over £90 each per night. That's pretty amazing value - especially when one considers that we benefitted from an upgrade to a more comfortable and spacious category of outside cabin. I'm not quite sure how the arrangement works, but CMV charters its ships from Global Cruise Line. Over the summer months, the Astoria (probably with a different name) operates out of France via a different chartering company. Who therefore is actually responsible for keeping the ship fully up together? Small things like broken/unlit glass-globes on the rear open-deck (these are a very nice 'period' feature of the 'Astoria' with the pole-mounted globes clustered in groups of three) do not convey 'care and attention', Cunard, P&O etc. would not let this happen on their ships (which they own). The featured facility of the outdoor swimming pool was never available (but in fairness the weather was mostly chilly anyhow), the equipment in the (small) gym was not all working and every day the library was closed according to the daily programme - although actualy it seemed to be open, but with almost zero books on the shelves (maybe they had been removed - for disinfecting - because of norovirus issues on the immediately-previous cruise??). Note for CMV Officers with responsibility for the stewards and waiting staff in the restaurants: PLEASE reinforce with your crew the need for impeccable personal hygiene. I know that the crew work really hard, but a small minority need to either change their shirts more frequently or use much better soap and deoderant. It is EXTREMELY unpleasant to be greeted by wafts of body odour as one is served dinner - or just as they pass by whilst eating. Don't expect an all-singing, all-dancing cruise-experience on the Astoria - but if you value the opportunity to visit great places, enjoy excellent food (in the restaurant at least) and don't want to pay the earth, then this ship is firmly recommended. Propsective travellers with impaired mobility should be aware that the steep gangway makes access to/from the ship something of a trial. The ship's smaller size also means that rougher sea conditions are more noticeable (we had two days of quite 'lumpy' seas with expected rocking and rolling). Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Myself and my wife are first time cruisers (is that the right terminology???) and chose the CMV trip to the Shetlands, Faroes, and Orkney islands in April this year. The ship itself is both incredibly old, and incredibly small. I know a ... Read More
Myself and my wife are first time cruisers (is that the right terminology???) and chose the CMV trip to the Shetlands, Faroes, and Orkney islands in April this year. The ship itself is both incredibly old, and incredibly small. I know a few people have criticised this, but for us it simply added a bit of old-world charm to the cruise. And with only 550 passengers - and no screaming kids - it was quite pleasant. We never had to queue anywhere for a seat in the bar or restaurants, and the ship never felt crowded. We did hear quite a few other passengers moaning about the size of the boat, the limited entertainment, how poor it was compared to other cruises etc, but as the days at sea went on we realised these people were pretty much cruise-snobs who saw it as a competition almost comparing with each other how many cruises they'd been on, how big the ships were, blah blah blah. Boring people in other words. Let's face it....CMV give people enough information about what they are embarking on prior to travel.....so don't book it if all you are going to do is complain. Staff were superbly attentive (apart from our room attendant who rated "okay"), food was very good, and the entertainment was more cheesy than a cheese fondue - but it was fun. Don't expect big budget entertainment on a ship that is smaller than a cross-channel ferry. The stopovers were the highlight of the cruise....all three islands are absolutely stunning. My only issue is that I could have stayed a lot longer on each one - I'll go back to the Faroes independently for sure. All-in-all we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. However, there are a few things that could be improved: 1) on the Atlantic deck the air-conditioning is pumped into the cabins from what seems to be a tobacco plant. The deck stank of stale cigarette smoke, as did the cabins because of this. Not very pleasant for non-smokers, and I'm sure breaching a few health & safety regulations. 2) shop prices (including ship photo prices) are a total rip-off. Some pieces of jewellery I was looking at getting my wife were half-price in UK stores. And a bag of Skittles for over £6 ???? There really is no excuse for this unless there is a world-wide shortage of skittles that I am unaware of. 3) CMV themselves are a bit of an embarassment to deal with. I asked them a few awkward questions about their tipping practice (in their £27 drinks package it's inclusive and CANNOT be deducted from the bill). So tipping - which by definition is VOLUNTARY - is not on a CMV cruise. CMV repeated refused to answer my pre-cruise enquiries about this practice. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem tipping - so don't anyone start with your holier-than-thou tipping rage which I've seen elsewhere - BUT I will not be dictated to over something voluntary. CMV should just man-up and call it what it truly is, rather than try and send passengers on a guilt-trip to make up for CMV obviously not paying staff a fair wage. And 3) above is why I won't book with CMV again, which is a shame because we had a great time. It's a buyers market out there and there are plenty of other firms who will happily take my holiday money...... Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We had enjoyed a previous cruise on the Marco Polo, and wanted to see the areas covered by this cruise. The entertainment was an added bonus. We so enjoyed Nadia's attitude and spirit that we will be looking for whatever ship she ... Read More
We had enjoyed a previous cruise on the Marco Polo, and wanted to see the areas covered by this cruise. The entertainment was an added bonus. We so enjoyed Nadia's attitude and spirit that we will be looking for whatever ship she is on in the future when planning our next cruises. It is rare to find such a fine performer on a cruise ship. The shore excursions are well planned and organized, and the check-in process in Tilbury is much smoother and better organized than most other cruises we have taken. The ship itself is one of the smallest and oldest out there, but that gives it an ambiance that is sadly lacking in the newer ships, and makes the shipboard entertainment much more personal and enjoyable. Other cruise ships try to simulate the small-scale entertainment experience, but on the Astoria it is the real thing. We enjoying listening to the classical music in the lounge far more than a steady diet of pop music. Nadia's music reminisces of the days of Schubert and Mozart, where the music was fresh and original. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Chose this cruise, The British Isles , as the Astora was cruising to the Orkney, Shetland , Tobermory then after Ireland ,The Scilly Isles . The only place on the schedule that we managed to dock/tender was Ireland. This was extremely ... Read More
Chose this cruise, The British Isles , as the Astora was cruising to the Orkney, Shetland , Tobermory then after Ireland ,The Scilly Isles . The only place on the schedule that we managed to dock/tender was Ireland. This was extremely disappointing, after suffering bad weather at sea not able to see places we wanted. The ship was not stable enough and too old for the job. The service on board was excellent......the Captain ( Mr Invisible ) rubbish. I cannot fault the food or service of crew, but we think that the Captain must have known about the adverse weather conditions before we left Tilbury , which had we had the choice we would not have continued with the cruise. We left Cork and were told that we were not travelling to The Scilly Isles or Guernsey , went to Falmouth and Portsmouth instead. I would not choose to sail on this ship again. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This cruise offered the opportunity to visit parts of the British Isles which are normally expensive or difficult to get to and the visits ashore were the best part of the holiday. The Astoria (formerly the Azores, the Stockholm, and ... Read More
This cruise offered the opportunity to visit parts of the British Isles which are normally expensive or difficult to get to and the visits ashore were the best part of the holiday. The Astoria (formerly the Azores, the Stockholm, and other names) is an old ship which has been well maintained and rebuilt several times. The small cabins with baths and public rooms were well looked after and the ship seemed to work well apart from constant engine vibration which was commented on by several passengers. The catering and food was adequate and the meals were obviously done to a budget which could only be expected as the ticket price was lower than prices charged by other companies. The free coffee though was very poor and the tea and coffee station in the Lotus Grill was badly organised with frequent queues. The entertainment was satisfactory but there were no talks about the places to be visited. Very little information was given from the bridge about the ship's position or why delays occurred in docking or other matters of interest. This ship should be regarded as a floating overnight hotel which can visit ports of interest which larger ships cannot reach. Serious cruisers might wish to choose larger ships. However as a value for money holiday which includes a lot of shore time in interesting places the Astoria is a good bet. Read Less
34 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This review covers a 19 day B2B of Norwegian Fjords and Round Britain. It was supposed to be the final voyage of Astoria (nee Stockholm) for Cruise and Maritime Voyages(CVM). It was an opportunity to catch a piece of history before she ... Read More
This review covers a 19 day B2B of Norwegian Fjords and Round Britain. It was supposed to be the final voyage of Astoria (nee Stockholm) for Cruise and Maritime Voyages(CVM). It was an opportunity to catch a piece of history before she might have sailed into the sunset. Unexpectedly, CVM renewed its charter on Astoria for 2018; so not historic but still a very satisfying experience. A few words first about the ship. Astoria has had many names and modifications over the years. She is not the Stockholm but is a venerable ship. Carrying just over 500 passengers, Astoria provides a cruising experience that almost no other cruise ship can provide in terms of intimacy, convenience, absence of crowding and ease of embarkation and disembarkation, both at the beginning and end of the cruise and at the intervening ports of call. Astoria handles fairly rough seas surprisingly well for such a small ship. We had several days of gale force wind and 10 ft swells in the North Sea, Irish Sea and the Channel. The captain announced the potential for rough weather and cautioned passengers to be careful moving about the ship. We missed one scheduled port (St Peter Port) due to weather, but here it was an issue of the tender procedure from ship to shore and not the ability of the ship. Cabins are on the small side but more than adequate with the novel feature of a full sized bath tub (plus a bidet) in each bathroom. CMV has not done an outstanding job with the bedding; the mattresses are thin and the support structure is unforgiving. In response to some comments in other posts, we had a cabin on Pacific Deck (deck 2) aft, and had no issues with noise or vibration. Within the limits of the entertainment space, CMV does quite a good job of providing evening entertainment ranging from small ensemble production shows backed by a quality band to individual acts, such as comedians, magicians, and the like. Quizzes are ubiquitous aboard. A classical duo (piano and violin) was first rate and played on multiple occasions each evening. In addition to evening entertainment, our cruises included quality guest lecturers and first run films to provide diversion when on board. Dining on Astoria is a pleasure. Our dining room staff were courteous and efficient. While I would not award Michelin Stars to the kitchen, the food was easily of the quality one would expect on the larger (and significantly more expensive) cruse lines. The buffet area is not well laid out but handles the smaller passenger complement with ease. As an American, I desperately missed a cold drink option with meals (Iced Tea seems to be some form of sin for this UK line). Also, CMV would do well to do the little things that make a meal experience more enjoyable, such as salt and pepper on the tables, rather than the tiny paper packets that are inevitably not picked up requiring a trip back to the buffet. One further comment on dining, some accommodation should be made for “lite bites” during the not infrequent periods that both the dining room and the buffet are closed. CMV offers a nice selection of shore excursions at reasonable prices. We availed ourselves of several during our 19 day back to back cruise and found each of them well organized and enjoyable. Embarkation and disembarkation at Tilbury were smooth and uneventful. On returning to Tilbury at the end of the cruise,which included some non-UK ports, there were no immigration or customs formalities at Tilbury. Access to the ship at some ports is difficult, often using a mobile staircase with no ramps available. Astoria is definitely not wheelchair friendly and poses a significant problem for anyone with mobility difficulties. (To be fair, this drawback is clearly explained in CMV's literature.) Read Less
61 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
There is no other ship like this. Launched in 1947 for the Swedish American Line as their transatlantic liner for the Goteborg - New York run, the largest liner ever built in Sweden. Pivotal in one of the most dramatic sea disasters of the ... Read More
There is no other ship like this. Launched in 1947 for the Swedish American Line as their transatlantic liner for the Goteborg - New York run, the largest liner ever built in Sweden. Pivotal in one of the most dramatic sea disasters of the 20th Century. Twenty five years a holiday ship for deserving East German workers. Completely redesigned in Genoa in the 1960s as a state of the art Italian cruise ship. No other cruise ship has a history like this. No other cruise ship looks like this. Embarkation in Tilbury was flawless. Easy parking at the terminal, a scheduled building of considerable interest. A bit of a wait, with ample explanation, on board on schedule and guided to our cabin. In practical terms, what is this ship like as a cruise ship? She is among the smallest. Her decks have a marked sheer. That is the decks rise towards the bow and to the stern. There are thresholds to cross to access the decks. Some of the stairs are quite steep. To go ashore, the steps can be very steep indeed - the ship uses her own companion way and if the tide is in, the deck will be high above the quay. Not easy if you have mobility problems. The exterior reflects her age and the shape and design of the era. In her Atlantic heyday she was known as the White Yacht. Her interior dates from the 1960s and was the brainchild of Dr Quiriconi of Genoa. Despite numerous name changes, what you see today is very much as this Italian owner and his team designed her. Described then as refined and elegant. A matter of taste, but I share it. But a serious matter: engine noise. With an upgrade, we had a deluxe junior suite amidships on deck 4. A very pleasant spacious cabin, plenty of room with two big windows, and a large bathroom with working jacuzzi, bidet and marble floor. But noisy. Engine noise seemed to be transmitted up through the floor and through the pillow. Really quite noisy. Some people on this deck complained. What it was like on other decks I do not know. earplugs perhaps, if this might worrry you. Food in the restaurant - two sittings for dinner - was overall quite good. Not exceptional but then on the whole, we thought, quite fair. Many chose the £17 per person per day drinks package. You can get quite a lot for that. There was adequate comfortable public space and attentive service. We found, as with other ships of this line, service throughout to be friendly from a multi national crew. The only non committal members were the security team. They looked tough and perhaps just as well. Entertainment was limited. But this is a small ship. For a six day cruise we had one speaker, an elderly comedian, and a young and vigorous singing and dancing troupe who did their very best. A lot better than some. And the ship's band lead by their female keyboard player was competent and enthusiastic. Fine soloists. Individual or duo musicians in the bars. Plenty of quizzes and such. Basic cruise entertainment. The real gem of this ship is where she can get to. Amsterdam along the North Sea Canal is always fun, but Ghent is rare - not many cruise ships visit this splendid town. And Rouen, well up the River Seine is as magnificient as the river itself. And if you are just a little bit of a ship enthusiast - we had some on board - this small ship is not as nimble as her younger but larger sisters such as the Harmony of the Seas. She needs a bit of help when berthing. The tug handling can be a real joy to watch. Even at Honfleur she needed a tug to push her onto the quay in the very early morning. This was an experience very different from the standard cruise. This was a real adventure on a real ship. I doubt there will ever be another like the Astoria. 69 years old, even her enormously strong riveted steel hull cannot last forever with increasing regulation. Of the twelve different ships we have been on in the last two years this was the one I was looking forward to and she did not disappoint. If you like the sound of it, we were told that this was to be her last limited UK season, shortly ending. But she has been reprieved for at least one more two month UK season next year. So there is still a chance. I give this ship 5 stars for what she is: unique. Because she is worth it. A survivor. Different. A joy. Read Less
36 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We chose this cruise as we wanted to experience a real ship. Having seen some of the larger Ships, and knowing that all too soon this would be all that is left, we wanted to experience a traditional ship. We were not dissapointed. Yes the ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we wanted to experience a real ship. Having seen some of the larger Ships, and knowing that all too soon this would be all that is left, we wanted to experience a traditional ship. We were not dissapointed. Yes the ships is old, yes it moves about on the sea and yes you can hear the engines. This was never to a point that was un-comfortable and too be honest was to be expected. The ship is compact, but with plenty of space for all passengers to relax. We never had a problem getting a seat. The food in the evening was beautiful and varied. Extra special mention for the steak! The cabins are compact but well appointed.We had plenty of room to put everything away and never felt cramped. We had a large window which was nice to be able to wake and see where we were. The ladder to get off the boat was a little steep and wobbly but there was always help on hand to assist you in getting off and on. The staff on board were lovely. The bar staff remebered our drink and always had time for a little chat. All were Always eager to help and assist in any way. Even remembering my birthday. Yes things get busy and you may have to wait 5 mins for a drink. But this is not a problem. Norway was snowy and amazing , however expensive. If you are looking for a smaller less busy ship, not bothered about the glitz and glam of the larger ships , then this is definatly for you. We are already looking to book our next cruise with CMV. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We have both wanted to see the Northern Lights so when I saw this cruise listed in a brochure from Newmarket Travel we decided to book there and then. Embarkation at Tilbury was very smooth and we quickly settled in to our cabin. ... Read More
We have both wanted to see the Northern Lights so when I saw this cruise listed in a brochure from Newmarket Travel we decided to book there and then. Embarkation at Tilbury was very smooth and we quickly settled in to our cabin. Our cabin steward was very helpful and obliging. The cabin was small but this was not a problem. We had booked several excursions at various ports - these were very well organised and most enjoyable. The only disappointment was the entertainment - the cabaret seemed rather amateurish. But the guest lecturers made up for this - one in particular was a press photographer who gave several talks on photography, her life as a press photographer and how best to take photos of the Northern Lights. The food was excellent and the catering staff (waiters, Maitre D and his 2nd in command) were first class, nothing was too much trouble. We met several passengers who had either travelled with CMV before, or who had cruised on the Astoria (Azores) before - so this was a great endorsement of both company and ship. We certainly intend to cruise with this company again, possibly on the Astoria (Azores) or maybe on one of their other ships. Read Less
36 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We chose a taster 3 night cruise on this venerable ship out of curiosity .Astoria is the oldest cruise ship, built in 1946, with quite a history to her name . ( other than the luxury yacht Sea cloud) and the chance to sail on a " ... Read More
We chose a taster 3 night cruise on this venerable ship out of curiosity .Astoria is the oldest cruise ship, built in 1946, with quite a history to her name . ( other than the luxury yacht Sea cloud) and the chance to sail on a " blast from the past was irresistible. Our cruise departed from Tilbury, and it was incredible to see this tiny ship, with her remarkable hull sheer and rows of proper portholes. Embarkation was fairly speedy, and we were shown to our deck 5 cabin by a friendly young lady. It was ,as a deluxe ocean view, fairly spacious, with a decent size bathroom equipped with a a good range of toiletries , full sized tub and remarkably, a bidet. The bed was rather too firm for our taste, but would be fine for a few days we realised! There was plenty of storage space in the drawers, and a small wardrobe, with 2 fluffy robes hanging for our use, as well as slippers. We were provided with a kettle and cups on a tray, and surprisingly, on embarkation , were given a plate of tiny canapés and a bottle of wine. All in all a very pleasant surprise , especially as it was a taster mini cruise. We strolled round the curving teak promenade deck, sloping upwards both to stern and prow, then down the steps to enjoy lunch in the open air on the teak after deck, where a buffet lunch was on offer, with nice fresh breads and remarkably low drinks prices. The house wines were decent, and were generously poured by the glass. We explored what was on offer , finding a well equipped tiny gym, a small shop, and tiny library, in addition to pleasant spots to relax . Unlike many ships the officers were visible and friendly, and there was a very relaxed pleasant feeling throughout the ship. Dining was in two sittings, and the maître d was very relaxed about changing your sitting should you choose to. Service was pleasant and quite prompt, with plenty of choice. For breakfast we chose room service from the limited menu, and it was brought promptly by cheerful servers. The itinerary included Amsterdam and Antwerp, and the ships tiny size meant that we could sail right into the heart do these delightful cities. Should the opportunity arise, we would certainly choose to cruise on this ship again, glad to have experienced her character and charm. Read Less
72 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Following booking our cruise my wife read the reviews on the Astoria which were not good. So with anticipation meet the ship at Avonmouth parking our car in a secure compound opposite the booking hall. The booking in process was very ... Read More
Following booking our cruise my wife read the reviews on the Astoria which were not good. So with anticipation meet the ship at Avonmouth parking our car in a secure compound opposite the booking hall. The booking in process was very efficient. Boarding the ship for some passengers was difficult due to the steep steps, one must remember the ship is old and retains the original features of yesteryear. On board we were greeted with friendly smiling faces. Then shown to our cabin, lunch followed which was vey good. Our cabin was well appointed with a bath which must be unique now a days. The ship had a good feel about her and you felt you were on a ship rather than in a block of flats. We sailed on time heading along the coast of Wales and then North through St Georges Channel rounding the top of Scotland towards Norway visiting Eidfjord, Flam, cruising Sognefjord, Geirangerfjord, and Bergen. We were very impressed with the level of service from the hard working crew, the food was very good hot and varied. The cleanliness of the ship was to a high level, nothing was too much trouble and service was with a smile. The shows were exceptional varied and entertaining as were the speakers giving talks during the day. It is good to see a company looking after the classic smaller ships and maintaining them to a high standard. We would sail on her again. Astoria is a grand ship long may she sail the seas. Read Less
48 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We choose this cruise for the destinations, embarkation was simple and quick in Avonmouth. The cabin was bigger than expected and kept nice and clean, by the helpful cabin steward.The entertainment was very good for the facilities at their ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the destinations, embarkation was simple and quick in Avonmouth. The cabin was bigger than expected and kept nice and clean, by the helpful cabin steward.The entertainment was very good for the facilities at their disposal, the team worked very hard. Not enough seating around the ship internally, as weather was very bad you could not go outside on deck. The food was quite nice, but nothing special, the portions were minute, and if like us you were on early sitting you had nothing to eat until breakfast. We have never been so hunger on a cruise before, no tea or coffee after midnight either. Breakfast was alright so long as you didn't want hot food, it was always Luke warm, but cold meats and cheese were fine. Excursions were very expensive, it was a fraction of the price to do the trip independently. Ship old and well worn and had loud engine noises throughout the cruise, making it difficult to sleep. This is not a cruise for anybody under 70 years old. We sailed in terribly rough conditions force 9 and 10 gales, furniture, crew and passengers were being tossed around the ship, we were like a cork in a washing machine, very dangerous, serveral passengers were seriously injured and had to be flown home. A really awful experience, were we feared for our lives. We missed out on two ports due to weather conditions, I have it all on video, please watch and see for yourselves, as Cruise and Maritime, did not take my comments seriously and trivialised our complaint. I have been as fair and accurate in this review as possible. Read Less
37 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Chose this cruise for the interesting itinerary which included several of the Scottish Islands plus Faroe Islands. Another big plus point was the embarkation port of Avonmouth Bristol. We had tried a 3 night mini cruise with CMV aboard ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the interesting itinerary which included several of the Scottish Islands plus Faroe Islands. Another big plus point was the embarkation port of Avonmouth Bristol. We had tried a 3 night mini cruise with CMV aboard Magellan departing from Tilbury but vowed not to use Tilbury again because of the difficulty of getting there from the West Country. We also found Magellan a bit too big for our liking so Astoria seemed worth a try. We were not disappointed, she is a lovely old ship, perfect size for us with everything we needed. The whole place was spotless, the cabin was well appointed with a proper full sized bath and marble surrounds to the basin. There was ample storage for our belongings and also a fridge and a safe. There was a tv with a deck cam channel so you could see what was going on outside and also a channel for tracking the progress of the ship and its location. The staff were all lovely. 19 different nationalities apparently but all were very keen to please and always acknowledged you with a smile and a hello whenever we met. There is a formal restaurant for evening dinner and you chose either early 6pm or late sitting 8.15pm and are seated at the same table each night. This venue is also available for a 'served' lunch with an arrangement whereby you sit at the next available table so get to meet other passengers, this system is also used for breakfast which is a buffet set up. There is also the 'Lotus' bar which is a self service restaurant open for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner plus afternoon teas there is also a tea and coffee station open between 6am and midnight. The food was very good and there was plenty of it. There was hot food available at lunch as well as a very good selection of salads and good bread rolls. Cooked English Breakfast was available as well as cold meats, cheeses, breads and continental pastries. Evening meals in the restaurant consisted of a choice of 3 or 4 appetisers a couple of soups a salad course a main from a choice of 3 or 4 and 2 or 3 desserts. We were on a table of 8 and no one had any complaints about any of the food for the entire cruise. It's not 'haute cuisine' but was hot, very well presented, there was a good variety of dishes, particularly lovely fish but the only criticism is that the vegetarian menu was unimaginative and a bit repetitive. The entertainment crew were fantastic, great personalities and very talented. The orchestra were amazing and the shows were well executed and varied. The stage is small and the seating all on one level so visibility is a bit restricted but this is part and parcel of an older vessel. Read Less
25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
67 years, 10 names and still going strong. A 10 day voyage to the Scottish Isles, including the Hebrides, Shetlands, Orkneys and Danish Faroe Islands on board the mv Astoria, nee Stockholm, christened in 1948; round trip from Bristol ... Read More
67 years, 10 names and still going strong. A 10 day voyage to the Scottish Isles, including the Hebrides, Shetlands, Orkneys and Danish Faroe Islands on board the mv Astoria, nee Stockholm, christened in 1948; round trip from Bristol England. The city of Bristol, our home port for this cruise, is a lively city pop ca. 400,000 about 120 miles West of London undergoing a renaissance. The local airport is compact, well connected to European cities and only a 20 minute £7 approx. $10.00 at writing bus ride to town center. The old port area has been converted to shops, restaurants and a spacious cultural area with a tourist information center. Along with many cafes, farm to table restaurants and vibrant street food stands one can have any appetite sated in Bristol. Two tourist highlights are the harbor cruise and a visit to the historic museum ship HMS Great Britain. In order to get to the ship we took the local commuter train from Bristol main station, Temple Meads to Bristol Avonmouth station, a 30 minute ride. Once at the train station we called a cab which came in a few minutes and drove us through the industrial port area to our boarding point. We were warmly greeted and quickly made to feel at home by a CMV agent who explained the boarding procedure and showed us into the passenger reception area. CMV uses the fruit and produce dockside warehouse, nonetheless it is set up just as well and just as functionally as any purpose built passenger ship terminal area. The whole boarding process took no more than 20 minutes and then it was a direct open air 15 meter walk to the gangplank. After clamoring up a steep 30 step, not handicapped friendly gangplank precariously suspended at a sharp angle on the ship’s side we entered the reception foyer. Your first impression is the warm, personal and sincere greeting you receive by a reception officer who directs a staff member to show you to your cabin. As you glide over the thick carpet, passing the wood and brass, that is real wood and solid brass furniture and trim you realize that this is a different ship. The feeling is enhanced as we continued to follow our guide and felt the deck rising to meet us, as one travels forward or aft, the decks do indeed slope upwards at a perceptible angle. No modern hotel ship this. Our cabin #485 deck 4 aft, a superior twin outside with two rectangular windows and two lower beds and two upper bunks. There is a small flat screen TV an un-stocked mini bar and enough closet space for two people and CMV’s policy is double occupancy so we were fine. The great surprise was the bathroom. There was a full size, fully functioning bathtub with a shower head, if you only cared to shower. In addition to the bathtub there was also a bidet, which gave you a complete European grand hotel bathroom experience all on a smaller, older cruise ship. The Astoria is the only cruise ship to offer a bathtub in all cabins. It became imperative to investigate the rest of the ship, what fantasy was this, sloping decks, wood, brass, bathtubs; was this the newest Disney ship? Quickly to the upper deck which was only two decks above ours and we were outside and stepped onto an aft teak deck surrounding the only pool on board (unused this cruise, too cold). From there we climbed the steep steps one deck to get to the complete walk around deck and walk around we did. Six times around equals one mile. Then we climbed two more decks to the top observation deck. In total seven decks. The next fantasy came as we prepared to leave quayside. Two tug boats made their appearance. MV Astoria has a bow thruster, but she still needs the assistance of tugs to push and pull her into exact position. In order to negotiate the narrow lock to exit the port the tugs were necessary. Once clear of the lock and under her own power one could hear and feel the engine, hear the creaking of the ship as she gently rolled even in calm seas. This was truly a non-pasteurized sailing experience un-matched by any flat bottomed, azipod equipped, modern mega ship. It was the good old days. Dinner the first night kept the traditional ideas in place. It was strictly a two sitting affair and you were assigned to a table in the one dining room. We had table 25, a table for four with a bench seat under the port holes on the dining room perimeter. How magical to gaze out through those brass eyepieces to the seas beyond as you ate dinner and conversed with your new shipboard friends. The retro experience continued after dinner with the first show in the show lounge. Yes, it is one level, with four posts and the front row seats are only inches from the entertainers. However, despite the lack of a multi-level sound stage theatre the entertainment was first rate. A five piece orchestra and four dancers and two singers with the cruise director adding another voice. Polished, professional and pleasing it was nice to be there rather than just watching it as if it were a video. Our first cruise day was a day at sea as we headed north towards our first destination. We had the opportunity to explore the ship and feel the quaint nature of an old style cruise ship. The game of rope quoits was played in the hallway in front of the shop, not high tech but good fun. The photo shop has a digital display, absolutely cutting edge technology and also environmentally friendly. Our sail away photo was only £ 5.00, a bargain. The majority of the passengers are retired and British so reading, relaxing and having a pint were fine afternoon pastimes. Nonetheless, the cinema had a different film every day and the violin and piano duo played cocktail melodies every evening. If that were not enough one could always visit the sauna, fitness room, beauty salon, our dinner table companion was very pleased with her coiffeur, library, casino or watch one of eight British television stations or two continuously running films on your flat screen TV. The evening’s highlight was a traditional captain’s dinner. We dutifully dressed in tuxedo and long gown and were presented to the captain in person. Later the captain introduced the senior officers including the Chef de Cuisine from India. It was correct that he received the greatest applause. There are four selections for appetizer, main course and dessert along with two soup and two salad selections every evening and they are all different every day. A formidable culinary achievement carried off with good to excellent results. The Isle of Skye was our first destination and we arrived on time, but to an anchorage, which meant to go ashore involved a tender trip. The instructions were clear about how to get your tickets and where to assemble prior to disembarking. The crew was very helpful in helping us aboard the tenders in bubbly seas. We had booked the excursion to the Taliskers Distillery. This tour like all the others was handled professionally. The local guide was fluent, knowledgeable and very approachable for any questions. The shore excursion manager had organized special lectures to explain the ports and excursions offered. Every detail was accurate. CMV offers a comprehensive selection of shore excursions catering to a variety of tastes from relaxed bus trips to lengthy walks for natural or cultural purposes. There was something for everyone and if not there was always the option to go ashore on your own. We were already looking forward to our next destination Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, where we arrived on time the next morning. The highlights of the tour included crossing the 60° north latitude marker on the road passing through sheep grazing in the fields and partially harvested peat fields. Further on we crossed the runway of the main island airport which is right next to the well-known ruins of Jarlshof. The history of this spot is traced back to approximately 2500 BCE and was in continuous use until the 17th century. The Neolithic ruins only came to light after a massive storm in 1890 uncovered the older settlement. On and off from 1897 to 1952 archaeological work took place, clearly showing the significance of this spot over the millennia. It is amazing to think of these isolated, inhospitable spots inhabited by humans for almost five thousand years. Precisely on schedule our tour concluded and we tendered back to Astoria looking forward to dinner. So far for us the weather had been good albeit a bit cold, 7°c average with a stiff breeze, but this is normal for this region, for this time of year and was not a surprise as we had done our homework. However, unknown to us was the coming weather. The ship’s passenger manager announced that there would be heavy seas and that all caution should be exercised by passengers. On that note we retired to bed. The next morning dawned with bright blue skies and force 8 gale winds and 6 meter waves! Plates were literally flying off tables unless held with a hand or serviette. Our destination was Torshavn in the Faroe Islands, where we arrived two hours late. The captain spoke to the passengers and explained that due to the extreme weather conditions we would have to cancel our next port of call, Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, but he expected that the extra overnight in Torshavn would allow us to have better weather to our next port of call Stornoway. Again all was handled professionally. Shortly after the captain spoke notices appeared under our door outlining the new shore excursion times. We had our planned excursion in and around Torshavn and in the middle of it all there was a massive snow event. Everything went white in just a few minutes. By the time we returned to port for the walking part of the tour though old Torshavn the sun was shining brightly again and the tour guide explained that this was not unusual for Faroe weather, four seasons in one day. I must admit it was good to be tied up in a safe port and the old adage of ‘any port in a storm’ could never be truer. One benefit of the bad weather was a good opportunity for us to have an extra half day to explore Torshavn, which we did the next morning. Torshavn is small, 20,000 population capital city of a semi-autonomous country The Faroe Islands, with very strong ties to Denmark, including the Danish Kroner for currency, but the Euro is often accepted and we found a delightful café with good free Wi-Fi for a wonderful waffle and coffee. After our coffee and a brief walk about town, it was time to board and set sail for our next port Stornoway, on the Island of Lewis in the Hebrides. We would be heading south. The seas were much calmer but the winds were still quite stiff, but after 6 meter waves 2 meter waves seemed almost calm and by dinner’s end the seas were really calm. The next destination was Stornoway and we arrived on time to our anchorage and the tenders took us ashore for an excellent tour titled Hebridean Highlights, and it was. We visited three places including Calanais, the standing stones. These stones are very striking ranking right behind Stonehenge in significance and we could walk freely in and around them. It was pure Druidic magic. After the tour we stayed on in town and walked a bit getting a good view of the renowned Lewis Castle. One of the shopping highlights is Harris Tweed woven here on the island. We had a short tender ride back to the ship and sailed off into the early evening blue skies right on time at 7.00pm. The port of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull was our last port of call and Duart Castle an hour’s bus ride down the west coast of Mull on the Mull sound was our destination. Again a short tender ride delivered us to the pier where it was a short walk to the waiting coach. The weather again was to be our nemesis. The innocent grey clouds suddenly began to drop significant quantities of wet, sticky snow that covered everything and lowered visibility to a few meters. Our guide, a local resident said he had never seen so much snow on the island and never so late in the year, 28 April, but it did not stop our driver and we arrived at a Christmas scene Duart Castle. The tour began with the local hostess explaining the history of the castle and the Clan Maclean. We were then free to roam the public parts of the castle and digest the well documented displays of artifacts from the 12th century to present times. The castle is still lived in by the family, who maintain a private residential section of the castle. As we were gazing out the battlement windows to the snow shrouded landscape below imagining the wilder times of days gone by the local hostess dashed into the room and announced that we were to immediately board the coach and return to the ship. It had been decided on board that our safety was at risk and we best be onboard. Our coach set off on its return and halfway back to port we were informed that the only road back to port was blocked by a three vehicle accident and we could not proceed. Luckily for us we were just at the Salen Hotel so for the next four hours we indulged in the old Scottish pastime of putting down a pint. The guide and the ship were in constant communication and there was never a worry. Finally the road was cleared and we returned to port and to our waiting tenders. As before, in unusual circumstances, on this cruise, passenger safety came first and all measures to insure it were expertly carried out. This evening was the last of the formal dinners, so with tuxedo and gown we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and exceptional show. Another highlight of this traditional cruise experience is the captain’s table. At least once every cruise the captain hosts eight lucky guests to his table in the dining room. The invitees are treated to memorable anecdotes and a special atmosphere sitting at the head table in the dining room with the captain presiding. This is yet another example of the traditional cruise experience that no longer exists on the new mega ships. Well, sadly our last full day on board was upon us as the morning dawned bright, sunny and calm we had the a full list of activities to choose from so the day passed quickly. We did manage to pack and re-read the disembarkation instructions which were clear and simple. While we were sleeping MS Astoria glided back to her berth in Avonmouth and our disembarkation day began with a 6.30 am breakfast in the buffet restaurant and by 7.45 we were waiting for a cab back to Bristol having walked off the ship, gotten our luggage and passed customs. This was one of the most efficient disembarkations I have ever seen. On balance CMV and the Astoria provided a positive memorable experience so much so that we are looking into another cruise next April. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
What ruined this cruise for me was having a cabin directly above the show lounge. So thudding bass shaking the furniture and every song audible - rehearsal before dinner, then early show, then late show till well after 11 p.m. Forget ... Read More
What ruined this cruise for me was having a cabin directly above the show lounge. So thudding bass shaking the furniture and every song audible - rehearsal before dinner, then early show, then late show till well after 11 p.m. Forget about sleep or relaxing. Staff agreed very noisy but as fully booked no possibility of change. If I was booked into any cabin from 501 to 530 I'd cancel now. The ship also seemed very rocky in rough-ish seas. Though the lounge areas were cosy and chairs more comfortable than beds ... For some reason the tables in the buffet were Formica-topped with no raised edges, so glasses and crockery regularly slid off and smashed on the floor. For that matter, why have china instead of non-breakable alternative? Maybe why the mugs regularly ran out. The other issue was Bristol - advised to take taxi from Temple Meads 6.5 miles, cost £37 partly because the postcode on the guidance sent the satnav up the wrong side of the inlet. But coming back still charged £15 to Avonmouth, less than ten minutes. I think the port and the taxi company must have an "arrangement" which rips off passengers. And you need adaptors for plugs, which they don't tell you. Otherwise, it was cheap and that showed - high charges for water, wi-fi (which didn't work till halfway through), drinks etc etc. Food better at dinner than lunch, but wine service intermittent, and coffee mugs regularly ran out. A lift broke. The gangplank was rickety. The daily news sheets ceased partway through. I believe many of the staff were new, and think they were overloaded - relatively few compared with other companies. Excursions not great, but the weather didn't help - maybe April is a bit early for Spain, Portugal, Azores. Madeira was the only warm place. And a bit odd having a formal dinner on the last night when you have to put your suitcase out by 11 p.m. So you get what you pay for, or in this case not - personally I'd prefer to pay a bit more upfront for comfort and service. And peace and quiet. It could have been a good cruise. Read Less
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