28 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
11 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
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
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
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
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Just returned from 8 night cruise from Hull. Embarkation was so easy no delays at all. Our cabin on Atlantic deck was very comfortable, with plenty of wardrobe space. Bathroom with bath and shower . I cannot understand all the negative ... Read More
Just returned from 8 night cruise from Hull. Embarkation was so easy no delays at all. Our cabin on Atlantic deck was very comfortable, with plenty of wardrobe space. Bathroom with bath and shower . I cannot understand all the negative reviews of this ship, I cannot fault anything about it. The food was fabulous and plentyful and service first class. Entertainment was great , the entertainment team worked really hard and put on some first class shows. The guest entertainer was a comedian and magician called Andy Leach. Very funny and clever. We didn't go on any excursions preferring to do our own thing. On arrival back in Hull disembarkation was very good again and we were home again an hour after getting off the ship. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
What a wonderful holiday we had aboard this lovely old ship. Firstly, we received a free upgrade, which of cause was very nice. We were upgraded to a twin bedded cabin with two port holes up on deck six. Our cabin was well appointed ... Read More
What a wonderful holiday we had aboard this lovely old ship. Firstly, we received a free upgrade, which of cause was very nice. We were upgraded to a twin bedded cabin with two port holes up on deck six. Our cabin was well appointed with plenty of storage space and our bathroom had a bath! The hot water was always piping hot and we were supplied with complimentary shower gel and shampoo. Our cabin was kept nice and clean by Edwin. The cabin did get very warm at night though even with the air conditioning turned up. There is a background noise/vibration at all times aboard but this actually helps me with my sea sickness problems. It stops me from feeling every slight swell of the ocean. So, please don’t be put off by this. The ship is beautifully maintained. All the public rooms are very nice. The crew are all very dedicated and helpful. It would be wrong to single anyone out in particular. The entertainment was good and the entertainers are a happy bunch of young people who help out around the ship as well as entertain you of an evening with their shows. The shore excursions are well run. There is some inevitable waiting around to disembark on the tender ones but this is done as efficiently as possible. The excursions are expensive but I find that the case on most cruises. One word of warning though, we booked on the Flam railway excursion and we very pleased we did as we knew of people who had planned on doing it themselves but as two cruise ships were in port that day, they found themselves unable to book a seat on it. I would have been very upset not to have gone on it as it was one of the things I particularly wanted to do. There is a bit of a wait for the return train. As it’s a scheduled service, nothing can be done about it. You are given tea/coffee and waffles in the hotel whilst you wait, which is included in the excursion. At Olden and Bergen, it is quite easy to go ashore and book your own trips or just go for a wander around. In Olden there is a little train that takes you on a trip around Olden Lake. The commentary is in English and the driver/guide is very happy to chat to you and answer any questions. It waits right alongside the quay side. You pay the attendant and off you go when the train is full. It cost 150 Krona each when we went. Try and sit on the right hand side as you look at the front as most of the views are on that side. In Bergen it is easy to walk to the funicular railway and buy your ticket for a ride up to the top and back. A tip here is to take the short cut through the park to the town. It cut the corner off and saves time. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Cruise and Maritime “Fjordland Splendour” 9 day cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, aboard the MV Azores. Excellent cruise totally exceeded my expectations. The MV Azores is small, 16,144 tons, 7 decks, 550 passengers but it has all ... Read More
Cruise and Maritime “Fjordland Splendour” 9 day cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, aboard the MV Azores. Excellent cruise totally exceeded my expectations. The MV Azores is small, 16,144 tons, 7 decks, 550 passengers but it has all of the facilities that you need. I won’t go into the ship’s specifications as they can be found on the company website ,suffice to say that cabins, food, bars, entertainment, lectures and service are all of a very high standard. We booked in September 2014 so we had time to research the ship and the itinerary. We originally booked a basic inner cabin on the lowest deck. Without asking, we got upgraded 11 cabin levels to a Premium Twin Ocean View on deck 6 with 2 full windows (thankyou Cruise and Maritime) which worked out well as the stunning fjord views could be enjoyed from inside our cabin as well as from the public rooms and decks. We also took advantage of the all-inclusive drinks package which was good value and £17 per person per day. The ship is 67 years old but has been superbly re-fitted with all public areas pristine and there are no parts of the ship that look “tired” or are in any need of a face lift (as has been the case with some of the other ships we have been on). There are many smaller rooms you can use as well as the larger bars and lounges, again, all offering comfortable and well upholstered seating, tables, plush carpets and a good standard of decoration. Three bars, serving a variety of drinks, including many cocktails, the majority of which were included in the drinks package. The house wine was good and there were other, premium varieties on offer which attracted an extra charge. Two restaurants, the Lotus buffet and the Olissipo restaurant, both having broadly the same menu for breakfast and lunch, varying a bit more for dinner. Open seating apart from dinner in the Olissipo restaurant which was held in two sittings at specific tables. We dined in the buffet for breakfast and lunch, then in the restaurant for dinner. All of the food was very good, but I would describe the restaurant dinner as being superb, 5 courses, varied menu, something for everyone and beautifully prepared and presented. I did like the service in the buffet as well, which was self service but with a waiter/waitress serving you from behind the counter. You could ask for as much as you wanted and you could return for more if necessary but I think this method did cut down on the disgraceful amount of waste that occurs when greed takes over from common sense and fully loaded plates end up with half eaten food on them. Also in the buffet, there is unlimited tea and coffee from 06:00 to midnight. Entertainment was good, aimed at the older, all adult clientele, based mainly in the Calypso show lounge. Abba and Queen plus 60’s rock and roll for example. The comedian, Andy Leach went down well, a combination of comedy, magic and Derrick the exploding ferret (he’s only a puppet). There was live music in the bar and the shows were supported by a 5 piece live band. I also attended the lectures in the auditorium, presented by Geoffrey Farrell, history of the Vikings, nature of Norway, early shipbuilding, the Hanseatic League and the northern sky, all of which were interesting and informative. The auditorium was also used as a cinema a certain times of the day. Also on the entertainment front, every room had a flat screen TV with channels that varied dependant on the reception but with a forward looking camera on the bridge, a GPS based map, film channels and a preview of the DVD that was being filmed as the cruise went on. Although we would not normally buy a DVD such as this, the fjords were so stunning that we thought still pictures may not do justice to the holiday, so we bought the DVD on this occasion, finding the standard of production to be exceptionally good, with narration and other information added regarding the places visited. At £24.99, again, good value. Excursions could be pre-booked and I would recommend this when wishing to visit popular places such as the Flam railway, as I was later aware that some independent travellers failed to get on the train as it was full. Excursion prices were a bit expensive, but, Norway is an expensive country so it’s difficult to judge. As Norway uses the Krone, the ships reception was able to change small amounts of Sterling for passengers (cash to cash, not using the on-board spend system) and we found this to be at a slightly better rate than the Norwegian Tourist Information offices, where Krone can also be obtained. We did find that, contrary to information we got from the Internet, some popular places will take Euro’s (and even Sterling) but this cannot be guaranteed and certainly the attractions such as the Bergen funicular railway was Krone only. You can use your debit card of course but it’s worth having a small amount of local currency. As mentioned, our cabin was on deck 6 (cabin 643), well appointed with twin beds, plenty of storage space, bathroom with bath, shower, WC, bidet, shaver socket and hair dryer, electronic safe, all nicely decorated and with two large windows, offering great views of the fjord waterfalls and scenery. The cabin steward was never far away and made sure it was clean, tidy and well stocked on a regular basis. There were other facilities we didn’t try, the spa, deck games, quizzes for example and the pool was closed, due to the Norwegian temperatures. There was also a night club. I did pay a short visit to the gym which was small but adequate, which also offered free classes for work outs to repair the damage to the various parts of the body that the restaurants had inflicted!! I haven’t said too much about the itinerary as the Norwegian fjords speak for themselves. Huge snow covered mountains, massive waterfalls, stunning scenery and you do spend a fair bit of time cruising through the fjords during the daylight hours which is both pleasant and relaxing. We were slightly fortunate as the snow had not yet melted on the mountain tops so the waterfalls were in full flow. Also, at the time of year we went it was light for about 22 hours of the day. I should mention that, throughout the whole 9 days, I, personally, didn’t hear one person moaning about anything, and with 550 Brits aboard, that’s quite an achievement. I did hear (second hand) that there were a couple of moans somewhere but I suppose there will always be those who refuse to make happiness last a whole week. Just a few tips: Buy the drinks package. Pre-book excursions that you really want to do. Take a small amount of local currency. Make use of the events, demonstrations and lectures that are offered, particularly during the days at sea. In summary, although Cruise and Maritime are a relatively new company, I was very very impressed. They nailed it for me. The cruise ship, crew services and itinerary all exceeded my expectations by a considerable margin and would wholeheartedly recommend this Cruise and Maritime Voyages to any potential cruiser. Cruise and Maritime - Take a bow!! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Our choice of cruise on this endearing ship with fascinating history was based on the itinerary. It didn't disappoint, despite the fact you only get a little taster at each port. It rained a bit at Torshavn (Faroes), but it ... Read More
Our choice of cruise on this endearing ship with fascinating history was based on the itinerary. It didn't disappoint, despite the fact you only get a little taster at each port. It rained a bit at Torshavn (Faroes), but it didn't matter. We could happily live there. It had been a late Spring in Iceland, so there was still snow on the mountains. Spring and summer flowers were in abundance. We joined in Women's Vote Centenary celebrations in Akureyri, witnessed the midnight sun as the boat touched the Arctic Circle. Sailed into Reykjavik bathed in early morning sun. Stood in Europe and America at the same time, jumped when the geyser erupted, and were overawed by a majestic waterfall. The boat was small enough to negotiate the narrow channel into Heiymay harbour, from where we walked up a lava mountain. Shetland and Orkney were added bonuses (Kirwall Cathedral is amazing). The staff on board were all very welcoming and friendly. There are plenty of choices on board, be it, food or entertainment. The entertainment side of things is not important to us, but particular thanks must go to the astonishing group of Russian dancers. The wildlife lecturer was very helpful. We only did a couple of shore excursions preferring to explore on our own if possible. The Azores has since been refitted and renamed the Astoria. We didn't want luxury, but were careful in choosing the location of the cabin. All in all excellent value for money. We booked online direct ourselves, which I think gives you more control. It's over six months since the holiday - the happy memories have not faded. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
My wife and I boarded at Bristol for 12 nights around Iceland and home via Dublin. Bristol was perfect for us as we visited Bath and Wells and spent 3 nights in Bristol. We truly found everything and everyone on board delightful. The ... Read More
My wife and I boarded at Bristol for 12 nights around Iceland and home via Dublin. Bristol was perfect for us as we visited Bath and Wells and spent 3 nights in Bristol. We truly found everything and everyone on board delightful. The service was great and we enjoyed the meals. The ship herself was comfortable albeit a trifle quaint; our cabin was spotless (thank you Irina). The bar drinks were indeed reasonable and the choices excellent. Our visits in ports all ran smoothly and the skies were mostly blue ! It did help that all passengers were of a similar adventurous mind going to Iceland in the spring. We made long term friends. We would genuinely both like to thank the crew for making our second honeymoon a wonderful and happy occasion... My wife said she would love to go on another cruise with the same ship and crew. As would I Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Just back from a cruise from Bristol (Avonmouth) to Scottish Islands and Faroes. Living in the SW it is really good to have a port of embarkation that is not a long drive away. Can't fault anything about the trip (perhaps the rough ... Read More
Just back from a cruise from Bristol (Avonmouth) to Scottish Islands and Faroes. Living in the SW it is really good to have a port of embarkation that is not a long drive away. Can't fault anything about the trip (perhaps the rough seas on occasion)! Great ship 67 years old but looking very good. Getting on board was very well organised; cabin good with lots of storage; friendly staff who seemed genuinely happy - mostly from Ukraine but many nationalities represented. Excellent tendering from ship to Scottish islands when weather permitted it; good food and so much of it; the entertainment that we saw was very good especially the 4 singers - Jordan etc. Only complaint that we all had to be up and out of our cabins by 6.30 am on the last morning. This created chaos in the restaurants and the public area toilets. Some staggering needed there especially as once up we had to wait 2 + hours before disembarking. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
We sailed from Bristol for our round Britain cruise on mv Azores (Cruise & Maritime). She used to be called mv Athena. An elderly ship but traditionally refitted. The decor was attractive everywhere. Because there were only 550 ... Read More
We sailed from Bristol for our round Britain cruise on mv Azores (Cruise & Maritime). She used to be called mv Athena. An elderly ship but traditionally refitted. The decor was attractive everywhere. Because there were only 550 passengers there were no queues for anything and we found everyone very friendly because you saw the same people several times! Food in the traditional dining room was wonderful - very high standard. The waiters all seemed to love their job and joined in the fun dressing up as pirates one day! We loved the promenade deck and there were plenty of tables and chairs and loungers round the small pool. The bar was comfortable and where the quizzes and classical music took place. The cruise director seemed to be everywhere! Very efficient and friendly and knew exactly what was going on. Our cabin (Superior Twin) was roomy and comfortable, the steward efficient and quite shy. It was lovely to be able to walk back to your cabin without having to walk for miles and miles. Because of rough seas we were unable to use the tender to get into Tobermory or Stornoway which was disapointing but understandable. So quickly the company arranged for us to move on to Kirkwall then an extra stop at Invergordon. Kirkwall was great as we visited the 5,000 year old village that had been uncovered by a storm, Skara Brae and the standing stones at Brogeda. Invergordon was a bit of a disappointment, not much to do there but the company laid on a fabulous Scottish folk song and dance group and a piper for an afternoon shindig on board. Great fun. They had organised a trip to Loch Ness which we did not go on. My one niggle was as the ship is quite old, being built in 1948 the engine noise was apparent at bed time...good job we took our ear plugs. We'd definitely go with Cruise & Maritime again, a great British cruising company. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
Recently returned from our first sea cruise on Cruise and Maritime ship Azores to the Fjords. The journey to the docks in Bristol was easy with clear sign posting. Parking an embarcation was fast and efficient. Our luggage was waiting at ... Read More
Recently returned from our first sea cruise on Cruise and Maritime ship Azores to the Fjords. The journey to the docks in Bristol was easy with clear sign posting. Parking an embarcation was fast and efficient. Our luggage was waiting at our junior suite,with which we were very impressed. So glad we upgraded from standard cabin. We had tea/coffee making facilities, TV, Jacuzzi bath, very comfortable bed and sofa. Cabin service from Victoria was excellent, really looked after us. The restaurant was lovely, food excellent, waiters very professional and so friendly. Lots of choices of food at all meals. The entertainment team were very good. Band very professional, Jordan, vocalist and game show host etc was brilliant, very talented. My husband was particularly keen on the watercolour painting classes. Enjoyed Glam excursion. We did Eidfford and Bergen on our own, so easy as docks right in centre. Lovely places. Disembarcation was very quick and our luggage waiting in the terminal. We were away so quickly, what a. difference to flying! We had a brilliant time and would certainly recommend Cruise and Maritime and the "Azores" Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
We and our friends thought we would try a cruise so first time apprehension we sailed from Avonmouth Bristol to Norway on a Fjords tour first getting on board was very easy and no fuss our cabin was spotless with ample room for clothes ... Read More
We and our friends thought we would try a cruise so first time apprehension we sailed from Avonmouth Bristol to Norway on a Fjords tour first getting on board was very easy and no fuss our cabin was spotless with ample room for clothes we had a wonderful steward who looked after us so well in fact the only thing he didn't do was tuck us bed at night. the food was very very good and again we had a fantastic waiter Ravi who was very friendly and knowledgeable . in fact all the staff were brilliant The ship was small I think by todays standards us just right for us there was a mixed bag of things to do and it didn't feel overcrowded the trips were very good although everyone we talked to said better to land and visit or book trips separately when there as much cheaper (something to Remember when we do another one). the fjords were just stunning and we only had a very small amount of rain Our overall feeling was it was a brilliant time with excellent staff and food we felt that we were special and trips embarking ect was very easy the only thing was we felt we were at sea to long it took 3 days to get there So would we go on a cruise again yes did it exceed expectations yes would we possibly use the Azores again yes Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
We have just come back from a cruise on the Azores from Avonmouth to Gibraltar (April 15). We have been a few cruises with various companies and can only say that we found everything to be exceptional. The food, cleanliness, ... Read More
We have just come back from a cruise on the Azores from Avonmouth to Gibraltar (April 15). We have been a few cruises with various companies and can only say that we found everything to be exceptional. The food, cleanliness, entertainment, excursions were all excellent. The staff were very friendly, efficient and polite. It is a smaller ship which we found to be more personal. We would certainly recommend the Azores. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
Apart from the different embarkation and disembarkation ports being altered which did cause some inconvenience to quite a few people, I think on the whole It was managed as well as it could be under the difficult circumstances. Reading ... Read More
Apart from the different embarkation and disembarkation ports being altered which did cause some inconvenience to quite a few people, I think on the whole It was managed as well as it could be under the difficult circumstances. Reading some of the comments I wondered which Ship they had been on! We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Any problems we had were dealt with efficiently and promptly. Considering the size of the Ship, the facilities were very good. The entertainment was excellent. Jordan, Kerris and Margaret were very talented not only doing the shows but also running the quizes etc. Richard will be missed on the Azores as he is now on the Magellan, what a talented man. The food was good, certainly plenty of choice. The waiters were brilliant especially the one's looking after our table. Our cabin steward looked after us very well. The officers were very approachable and easy to talk to. It was our first cruise so had nothing to compare it to, but I think considering the age of the ship you can't compare her with anything, she is unique I loved her. Our cabin was comfortable, could have done with a larger wardrobe, but having said that perhaps I took too many clothes!! I agree with one of the passengers comments that there were too many moaners on the ship, we did our best to ignore them and enjoy our holiday visiting some lovely places. They were even moaning about the number of days at sea, didn't they read the itinerary! Some people need to get a life and consider themselves lucky to be able to afford to have a lovely holiday. We met some lovely people that outweighed the miserable ones. I enjoyed the days at sea joining in with the various activities. Would I do it again, yes when I have saved a few pennies! Thank you the Captain and all the crew on board the Azores.   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
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
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