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
8 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
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
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
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
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
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
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Ship recently refurbished to a high standard. Good size standard cabins. Very good food with an ambitious menu. Good entertainment every night and films showing every night.a programme throughout the day with some very interesting ... Read More
Ship recently refurbished to a high standard. Good size standard cabins. Very good food with an ambitious menu. Good entertainment every night and films showing every night.a programme throughout the day with some very interesting lectures. Pleasant , attentive staff. Only one complaint about the ship and that is the very steep gangway steps which made it difficult for anybody with mobility problems Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We chose this cruise because it was reasonable in price, and we wanted a smaller, more intimate ship. We were not disappointed. It was all great fun. OK, so Azores is not a glitzy ship - there are limited things to do, and it was a bit ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was reasonable in price, and we wanted a smaller, more intimate ship. We were not disappointed. It was all great fun. OK, so Azores is not a glitzy ship - there are limited things to do, and it was a bit tired looking. But the crew were wonderful, helpful and looked after us very well. If you want a smallish ship then try this one. And the price was very reasonable. We had an upgrade cabin to a junior suite, and started the trip really well with a free bottle of champagne and canapes in our suite - off to a good start! Food was good - wine was limited, but the alcohol package, although expensive, gave us the choice of a huge bar menu. House wine was dull. Excursions were well organised and interesting, and most of the lecturers were really good. Embarkation was swift and efficient, but disembarkation was tiring and slow. The swimming pool was tiny and really not used. But then the ship is not very big. The floor shows were fun, and enormous energy was expended by the dancers and band. If you want a cheap, fun holiday in a small ship, this is the one to try - but don't expect glitz or glitter. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Just returned from a fantastic trip around the British Isles on the Azores, yes shes an old ship but don't be put off. First time cruising and were pleasantly surprised by this ship ( don't take any notice of any negative ... Read More
Just returned from a fantastic trip around the British Isles on the Azores, yes shes an old ship but don't be put off. First time cruising and were pleasantly surprised by this ship ( don't take any notice of any negative comments on previous reviews) Embarkation at Liverpool was well organised, taxi dropped us off, porters there to take luggage straight away, checking in 10 mins then straight onto ship, met off gangway and shown to cabin, although small ( cabin 317 ) it was well thought out and bathroom much bigger than expected, shower always hot water and plenty of pressure. Went for drink at the outside bar, went back to cabin and luggage there already, very impressed. Meals on board were great we ate both at the buffet and the waiter service restaurant, serving staff excellent, always plenty of choice, only small niggle was felt bit rushed in the restaurant. One night paid supplement for the steak house ( well worth the £15 extra ) best steak I've had cooked to perfection. We did wonder if tender off the ship at certain ports of call would be a problem as we hadn't booked their trips, as they get priority, but not a problem at all, never felt we were waiting long ( Heard on bigger ships this can be a nightmare) Drinks package £17 each per day well worth it for us Overall if you like the idea of a small ship with traditional cruise feel, this is the one for you Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
This ship is an old lady (1948) and it shows on the outside. The interior could do with a spruce up, but the staff did their best to keep everything shipshape. We were pleasantly surprised when we had a complimentary upgrade to a Junior ... Read More
This ship is an old lady (1948) and it shows on the outside. The interior could do with a spruce up, but the staff did their best to keep everything shipshape. We were pleasantly surprised when we had a complimentary upgrade to a Junior Suite (Deck2), but if you are a light sleeper then beware. Being so low down on the ship, the engine noise and vibrations are rather loud and we had to ask for earplugs to help us get off to sleep. Apart from that the cabin is quite spacious with plenty of hanging space and there was also always a good supply of hot running water. We traveled as a group of 4 and we all thought that the food was excellent and plentiful. The entertainment is a bit limited owing to the size of the ship but the entertainment staff were in our opinion extremely good. If you are on second sitting for dinner the timing of some of the entertainment need reviewing as we missed several of the pre main show options i.e. Mr & Mrs, owing to not having finished dinner in time. The daytime activities are a bit poor, bean bag throwing etc, but again size of the ship dictates what's on offer. The ports of call on offer were all very interesting, but could have done with more time to visit. Overall, a very enjoyable trip, but be warned, if you have been on the bigger ships and expecting wall to wall entertainment, you ain't going to get it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Have sailed on a number of cruises including some very big names. pros good food all week, main restaurant excellent and suprisingly the buffet not bad (has worse on RCI and P and O ) Cabins spacious with a bath at all levels ... Read More
Have sailed on a number of cruises including some very big names. pros good food all week, main restaurant excellent and suprisingly the buffet not bad (has worse on RCI and P and O ) Cabins spacious with a bath at all levels kept very clean staff in the main very good getting on and off the ship very smooth cons small ship so rough in bad weather Drink prices 8 pound for a double rum and coke?? Entertainment limited quizzes at odd times little to do on any sea days again due to size Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Sailed from Bristol on Medieval cities and gardens cruise. Visiting Scilly Isles, Guernsey, Rouan, Honfleur and Amsterdam. Weather was to bad to visit Guernsey but went to Cherbourg instead. First impression of ship when boarding was ... Read More
Sailed from Bristol on Medieval cities and gardens cruise. Visiting Scilly Isles, Guernsey, Rouan, Honfleur and Amsterdam. Weather was to bad to visit Guernsey but went to Cherbourg instead. First impression of ship when boarding was she was obviously an old girl. Once on board reservations were dispelled as she is well fitted out. This is a small ship with a quite different experience from larger ships, which we found to our liking. I cannot understand some of the previous reviews as we found food and service very good and entertainment good but limited due to ship size. As ship is smaller it has a more friendly atmosphere where you will meet more people than you would on a bigger ship. Many people we met on board had sailed with this company on various ships many times which proves that CMV are doing something right. If you want a big ship experience with everything brand new and sparkly with a sail away every day then this ship is not for you. If you want an experience where you have good service good food and good company then Azores is for you. Drinks package at £17 a day is excellent value. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
In the early stages of our cruise, we had a significant change of port time ashore in both Stornoway and Torshavn. The full day in each of Stornoway and Torshavn was reduced to just half a day and that was done without any on-board ... Read More
In the early stages of our cruise, we had a significant change of port time ashore in both Stornoway and Torshavn. The full day in each of Stornoway and Torshavn was reduced to just half a day and that was done without any on-board communication or more importantly, any explanation being offered. Whilst we understand that CMV need to get paying tour guests ashore quickly when at anchor (Stornoway), we think that the maximum number of tenders should be deployed in the early stages, until all passengers who want to go ashore are landed - then the number of tenders can be dropped back later on. We lost over an hour of our reduced time in Stornoway (seeing only 2 of 4 tenders in operation and that from a distant anchorage) and then we were asked back early too, which frankly rankled and made us feel "2nd Class". The lack of awareness and communication on-board by the cruise management team exacerbated the frustration felt widely on board. On a bridge visit, the Captain confirmed that he had not altered the port times in both Stornoway and Torshavn for any on-board operational or weather reasons. We lost confidence and our sense of relaxation early in the cruise about the rest of the itinerary being the one that was sold to us. It took time before that sense of being on a carefree holiday returned. Fantastic front line staff; excellent, courteous and friendly service. We liked the smaller ship and the friendly atmosphere on board and the itinerary proposed and sold to us. Conditions allowing MV Azores to get into Heimaey in the Westman Islands and docking in the tiny port, was the highlight of the cruise for us and an impressive bit of pilotage and ship handling, to squeeze in and come out again (unusually stern first all the way). I have posted a link below to the photos for the day at Heimaey: https://plus.google.com/photos/109375469948758953851/albums/6159112519882751617 The "middle management" on board was, regrettably, not of the standard set by the front line staff. We had to enquire and chase up several times, the Arctic Circle "crossing the line" certificates. In the end, we had to take a certificate out of a cardboard box and fill it in ourselves on the last day of the cruise! The Arctic Circle crossing was never announced or made anything of - a missed opportunity. The food standard was generally very high and we certainly ate our fill! A small matter of running out of butter and orange juice before the cruise ended, but we survived! The organisation of the hot and cold drinks together in the Lotus Grill needs re-engineering, as the existing poor layout caused constant "traffic jams", especially at breakfast on arrival days. We found 7 days of port arrivals in a row, pretty tiring. We would have paid more for a cruise where the ship stayed two days at both Akureyri (Capital of the North of Iceland) and Reykjavik (the actual capital). There is so much to do in both places, that one day wasn't enough and it would have been nice to have two days where a return to the ship had no pressure of missing a sailing time! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
My partner decided to book this cruise due to excessive travel insurance costs on any cruises calling at Spanish territory or even in fact Dublin. We had travelled with Cruise & Maritime on the Marco Polo to the Western Med and also to ... Read More
My partner decided to book this cruise due to excessive travel insurance costs on any cruises calling at Spanish territory or even in fact Dublin. We had travelled with Cruise & Maritime on the Marco Polo to the Western Med and also to the Fjords and thoroughly enjoyed the service and ambience on a small and friendly, age-related ship. The Azores is a recent addition to their fleet this year and being even smaller, we felt would be to our taste. It was disappointing to receive a telephone call 2 days before departure advising of a 24 hour delay due to the ship's late arrival from Lisbon on the previous itinerary and also the cancellation of the port visit to Stornoway in order to catch up with their schedule. However, a generous compensation package was offered, 20% of cost of cruise onboard credit plus a 25% discount on future cruise booked on one of their ships. Directions to BRISTOL Avonmouth were excellent and after dropping partner and luggage and parking on dockside, embarkation was on time and efficient. Although the cruise terminal at Bristol Avonmouth does lack the style and comfort levels of Southampton or Dover, we were soon onboard and escorted immediately to our cabin where our luggage was already waiting. There was time to visit the Buffet before the obligatory Liefeboat Drill which was conducted very professionally. Our cabin was clean and spacious with a rather small TV which had some UK channels plus the route map and bridgecam and two in-house film channels which changed daily and shown on a loop. Cabin service was excellent and unobtrusive. I cannot commend the Entertainment team enough - Daniel was the Cruise Director and also one of the two male vocalists and he worked so hard. He was even in charge of cruise terminal embarkation. The band and dance troupe were very slick and professional providing excellent variety and the onboard comedian Lee Carroll did two excellent evening shows. Newly appointed Deputy Cruise Director Cerys, with a lovely voice was on her first contract, as was Jordan (second male vocalist) who was the star of the cruise for us. His youthful appearance belied his talents and he was everywhere from Daily Quizzes, Scattergories, Bean Bag Bowls and Deck Quoits and the whole team responded excellently to adding entertainment activities once it was confirmed that the port of St Mary's, Scilly Isles had to be cancelled due to bad weather. The Dining Room was very pleasant, although the closeness of tables must have made the waiters job a nightmare! Food was plentiful and of an excellent standard - with a special mention for the afternoon tea scones! The shore excursions did seem expensive, as on most cruises, but with some forward planning and use of local tourist information points, satisfactory trips could be made. Apart from Honfleur in Normandy (which was a pure delight in warm sunshine) all other ports were by tender (ship's lifeboats). I would also like to commend the crew who assisted passengers in these quick tricky manouevres in often choppy seas. Although disappointed with the cancellation of St Mary's, we were rewarded with the best weather of the trip with warm sunny skies and calm seas all afternoon round Lands End and return through the Bristol Channel. Disembarkation was calm and efficient with plenty of seats for everyone waiting to be called and luggage already waiting in designated areas in the terminal building. A thoroughly enjoyable cruise where we met many like-minded lovely fellow passengers and we hope to sail again soon on the MV Azores. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
Despite a delay with the embarkation, my husband and I really enjoyed our cruise on a lovely vintage ship. The staff were very welcoming and helpful in every way. The on board entertainment was very good, with something for everyone, from ... Read More
Despite a delay with the embarkation, my husband and I really enjoyed our cruise on a lovely vintage ship. The staff were very welcoming and helpful in every way. The on board entertainment was very good, with something for everyone, from cards, art lectures, choir, dance classes and more. The food was really good, everyone on our table enjoyed it. The only downside was that some of the passengers were real miseries, who did nothing but complain about everything, What a shame that they could not relax and go with the flow , luckily, we managed to avoid them and got on with the fun. We met many people who felt like us. The passengers are not the fault of the cruise line, so I will not complain!! Anyway, a great trip for us. And great to have an extra day in Lisbon. Read Less
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