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Sail Date: April 2019
Buyers beware. Confusing, misleading, or blatantly untrue statements when promoting a product... They advertise as Deluxe Travel. Not even close. There is really no way of knowing anything about the ship until you get there. - ... Read More
Buyers beware. Confusing, misleading, or blatantly untrue statements when promoting a product... They advertise as Deluxe Travel. Not even close. There is really no way of knowing anything about the ship until you get there. - This one is pretty bad ... Temperature in the room can not be controlled - it is ether cold or hot. Temperature control in the room does not work. Really were never comfortable. - Room was tiny. - Door to the bathroom did not close. - Shower tray over-floods and did not drain properly and water was on the floor. - No TV at all. - Internet service sporadic and only in some places of the ship. - The closet door was not working properly fell on my wife once. Islands in the Baltic Sea - Bornholm and Gotland are not particularly interesting - should have spent more time in Riga, Tallinn, and Helsinki. Crew was trying to do their best to serve the guests. The cruise director was actually pretty good. Vantage should try and contract with another ship. Tanya and Sergei Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My EXCELLENT rating of this adventure is not indicative of luxury, rather a unique opportunity to experience Cuba and to do so aboard a mega-yacht. This was our third Cuban trip in six years. Booking this ship/itinerary allowed us to visit ... Read More
My EXCELLENT rating of this adventure is not indicative of luxury, rather a unique opportunity to experience Cuba and to do so aboard a mega-yacht. This was our third Cuban trip in six years. Booking this ship/itinerary allowed us to visit locations we had not seen previously and would have had difficulty getting to on our own. The Variety Voyager could be classified as an expedition-style ship (Galapagos, Arctic, Antarctic) in some ways, but I suggest it's contemporary, sleek flair places it in its own category. This was our first time aboard a large scale yacht although we have cruised more than 45 times aboard ships of all sizes and in all parts of the world. The booking experience was simple; we received all information promptly. Our flight to, and pickup at, Havana airport was efficient, as was embarkation (and seven days later) disembarkation. Service on board was without fault. All staff and crew were helpful and friendly. Buffet breakfast/lunch had enough choices to keep it from being repetitive. Dinners were from a menu with several courses and choices. Passengers wore comfortable warm-weather clothing throughout the day and evening. Some wore a nicer shirt, top, dress for dinner but it isn't required or necessary. We chose to pack light and never felt underdressed. Captain Constantine, Hotel Manager Stefanos, George, Marina, Christian, Vick, Vilim and their fellow staff/crew were attentive, pleasant and helped us to enjoy our adventure. It would not have been the same without them! Please see cabin comments below. This mega-yacht is a UNIQUE way to travel. It is not meant to be a cruise ship experience. In fact several passengers had never cruised. It is a relaxed atmosphere onboard with enough space to spread out if necessary. The décor is clean, contemporary and attractive. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We paid for a cruise on Vantage, a line we have had good experiences on previously. Instead of the Vantage ship we expected, we were greeted with the Variety Voyager on arrival in Poole, our departure point. The ship appeared to be older ... Read More
We paid for a cruise on Vantage, a line we have had good experiences on previously. Instead of the Vantage ship we expected, we were greeted with the Variety Voyager on arrival in Poole, our departure point. The ship appeared to be older and was in need of some repairs, some of which were obvious to passengers. The reservation agent offered a cabin on the port side so we would have a good view of the landscape as we cruised. We later learned learned that international shipping law requires vessels to sail 15 miles from the coastline. Within a couple days of sailing, some passengers reported they had brown water in their sinks, toilets and showers. As time on the ship continued, the condition reached most, if not all the cabins. This condition was never fixed in spite of the ship being docked in Ferrol for 3 full days after only 2 days at sea. Passengers were bused to and from destinations that were not included in the itinerary, destinations we specifically wanted to see. Instead we spent about 7 of the 13 days on the bus with nights spent in some very nice hotels. We did get to see some of the scheduled sights but the tour directors had to scramble to find activities for the passengers since we were not in the designated ports of call. Because the bus time was so lengthy we were deprived of the pleasure of the company of fellow passengers stuck in our bus seats. We often arrived at a hotel very close to dinner time (in one case dinner at 8:30) so by the time we finished our meal, it was very close to bedtime. Once again, no time to mingle. While the food on the ship was generally good, breakfast left a great deal to be desired. Lunches were buffet style and offered several options that were acceptable. Entertainment was a disappointment. One song group came in but were busy pedaling (selling) their CDs to the passengers. We found that offensive. The other two nights with entertainment were somewhat enjoyable.. Most land tours were well done but again, with the exception of two days, there was no time to explore on our own. The cabin was comfortable but had limited storage space but had much wasted space with what passed for a desk area. Staff was courteous and willing to help when called on. As time went on, tour directors, having had to struggle to find substitute venues, became a bit short with passenger inquiries. Somehow this was almost acceptable as they had to scramble for alternates due to the bus ride. Yes, there were weather conditions out to sea but not for 5-6 days off and on. We were told the ship would be sailing in an effort to keep up with the bus but that did not seem to happen. Apparently this was a repositioning cruise which are somewhat less expensive but we were never advised of this. All in all, the cruise was largely a bus ride. Had we wanted a bus tour, probably at about half the price, we would have bought that. Again, had there been any indication much of it would be a bus tour, we never would have signed on. We expect some sort of remuneration by Vantage, the cruise company with which we contracted. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We choose this cruise, Vantage Cruise Line's "The Hidden Gems of the British Isles and Ireland" ,because it went to the islands north of Scotland- the Isle of Skye, the Outer Hebrides, and the Orkney Islands- to see sites ... Read More
We choose this cruise, Vantage Cruise Line's "The Hidden Gems of the British Isles and Ireland" ,because it went to the islands north of Scotland- the Isle of Skye, the Outer Hebrides, and the Orkney Islands- to see sites like the prehistoric Callanish Stones and 3,000 year old Skara Brae. We started the cruise in Poole, England, visited Tresco on the Isles of Scilly and two ports in Wales, and then got to Dublin- where the ship stayed for the remainder of the trip. As a matter of fact, it is still there 3 weeks later, detained by the Port Authority for having 'unsafe life boats and a crew untrained in safety proceedures', according to numerous reports available for viewing by googling 'Problems with Variety Voyager Cruise Ship'! After our day in Dublin, this became a bus trip of Ireland. They carted us around in whatever buses they could find on short notice- old ones with broken seats and seatbelts and no legroom at all. After a couple of days we moved to a hotel in Belfast where we continued our bus tour. Any sites we visited left a lot to be desired and we were never given enough time to see an entire exhibit because we had to leave to get to some little town for shopping time! Vantage says they provided us with comparable tours- really? Do you really think a bus trip to Kilkenny is equivalent to seeing Skara Brae or the Callanish stones??? This is not what any of us paid for! Now Vantage travel says that they are not responsible because it was a third party ship! As for the Variety Voyage itself, the ship was not what we expected- absolutely nothing like the pictures in the catalog or on the internet. The food was terrible- always over cooked and over salted. Meals were very plain and choices were minimal- meat or fish, potatoes, and a semi-cooked vegetable. Breakfast was the same everyday. There was always a tray of croissants and pastries baked until they were dark brown, dry, and crunchy. It was the same with all the breads, rolls, and bagels. You would think they would get the hint something wasn't right when nobody ate any of them. The high point of this cruise was probably moving into the hotels- the rooms and food was definitely better! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
The ship was exclusively chartered by Vantage World Travel for a cruise around the British Isles. After an overnight in the beautiful Hotel Principal in Edinburgh, we were driven by motorcoach to Inverness, where we embarked on the ... Read More
The ship was exclusively chartered by Vantage World Travel for a cruise around the British Isles. After an overnight in the beautiful Hotel Principal in Edinburgh, we were driven by motorcoach to Inverness, where we embarked on the Voyager. We had a total of 61 passengers, and about 30 crew. This was our tenth trip with Vantage. The ship is well-decorated; we had cabin 330, the largest category except for the owner's suite. There are five decks including the sun deck. There is no lift/elevator, so there are lots of stairs, and they are steep. The dining room was on the same deck with our cabin, and the lounge was one deck below that, so most of our stair-climbing was between those two decks. The next deck down contains a small spa and library and a rear deck from which, in warmer weather ports, one can swim. The wi-fi is available for a charge, and unlike other ships I've been on, it is very slow and is suitable only for email. The food on board is fair-to-good. Dinner rolls were always stale, coffee was always weak, and main courses at dinner were always drowned in sauces. The breakfast and lunch buffets were good, never great. Dinners were not well-thought-out. One night we had lamb shanks, the next night osso bucco (veal shank!) Desserts were only fair. The ship is small, and in rough seas it can really be rough. We had two nights when it was difficult to get into bed because of the ship's movement. Now the good news: The crew was sensational. Most of the executives were Greek, and the servers from Mauritius or Ukraine. The excursions were excellent. And James, our Vantage program manger, was fantastic. He knew every passenger by name, and took care of all of us. We stopped in the Isle of Skye, Orkney. Oban, Belfast, Dublin, two places in Wales, Stonehenge, and finally overnight in London. There was regional entertainment on board, and all of it was worthwhile. Overall a very good cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Our first time on a ship with only about 70 passengers, but we were still very satisfied with the excellent food, terrific personalized service from the crew and staff, the quality of the ship, the intriguing ports of call, and the ... Read More
Our first time on a ship with only about 70 passengers, but we were still very satisfied with the excellent food, terrific personalized service from the crew and staff, the quality of the ship, the intriguing ports of call, and the well-organized tours. And we even had several nights of local entertainment. I highly recommend this ship and cruise. You will feel more movement on a smaller ship, but we actually like that, reminding us that we were on the ocean. The breakfasts were served buffet-style, with a wide variety of choices. The dinners were waiter-served, with menu choices. Many of the lunches were in the local pubs, with the ship either paying directly for the group or giving you money to make your own pub choice. You will see lots of local color and historical sites in England, Wales, N. Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. All beautiful areas. We also very much enjoyed the Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whiskey distillery tours (and tasting). Vantage Travel did an excellent job of arranging and leading the whole tour experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this ship after very good experiences on Vantage Travel Cruises. The ship was represented as launched in 2012 with Marble bathrooms, minibars, individual thermostats, five star dining and the like. We chose it for its Baltic ... Read More
We chose this ship after very good experiences on Vantage Travel Cruises. The ship was represented as launched in 2012 with Marble bathrooms, minibars, individual thermostats, five star dining and the like. We chose it for its Baltic Destinations. From the start, the ship failed to meet pur experience tations. The cabin was in its original 1992 state, it’s actual launch date, all steel floors and walls in the bath with no marble in sight. No minibar, the individual thermostats did not work, leaving us overheated as a de ision was made to address those who were cold at our expense. The dining room and hotel staff were engaging young people with whom we enjoyed a gtpreat relationship. The daily tours were solid and led by competent guides, The food, billed as five star, was mediocre, heavy on lamb and eggplant. It was generally served both overlooked and I e cold. Leftovers from prior meals came to be featured components of meals and, despite the high cost of the trip, an all too often occurrence on this cruise. This was a unique cruise. The staff, cruise director and destinations great, the food and physical plant seriously lacking. I truly loved destinations including Rige, Talinn, St. Petersburg and Stockholm. Unfortunately, the aging physical plant and mediocre food made the cost of this trip excessive. After eight Vantage trips in just over four years, we are beginning the process of looking elsewhere. Not a bad cruise, just much less than was promised for the price. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
The staff and our Itinerary made by our Travel host ( Expo Cruise)were outstanding. Rooms were clean, service was outstanding. Food was great. Everything was handled with great efficiently. I think it helped that the majority ... Read More
The staff and our Itinerary made by our Travel host ( Expo Cruise)were outstanding. Rooms were clean, service was outstanding. Food was great. Everything was handled with great efficiently. I think it helped that the majority of our fellow passengers were a happy, well travelled group. Entertainment on board is fine, but with our travel group we were able to dial it up. The Crew read the group well and adjusted to making fun loving , action pack trip . The food was fresh and good. I would not say a gourmet , but well presented. If you had a special request they did there best to accommodate. We found the all the staff eager to help and learned individual request quickly. The Captain was engaging and available at any time. You could see he was well respected, and his leadership skills were evident thru out. Would most definitely cruise with them again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We travelled with a group that filled the ship. The crew was terrific - every single one - with the most chatty captain we've ever had. Food was very good. The room was fine but the walls were a bit thin. The neighbour's ... Read More
We travelled with a group that filled the ship. The crew was terrific - every single one - with the most chatty captain we've ever had. Food was very good. The room was fine but the walls were a bit thin. The neighbour's TV sound came through loud and clear. When the sea is rough you really feel it...it's a small ship. We anchored more than I thought we would. No lectures. A real problem is the sound in the dining room when it's full. It becomes uncomfortably loud. One problem is that our expectations were perhaps higher than they should have been. If the itinerary suits you remember that you're on a small ship with limitations that come with a smaller ship. The shore excursions were very good to excellent. The itinerary was very jam packed and sometimes we just needed a rest. But that was our choice too. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
I wanted to return to Sicily. I have enjoyed cruising in the last several years. I had a wonderful experience on a yacht style ship earlier nether year and wanted to see how Variety Voyage stacked up. Also, the trip was sponsored by ... Read More
I wanted to return to Sicily. I have enjoyed cruising in the last several years. I had a wonderful experience on a yacht style ship earlier nether year and wanted to see how Variety Voyage stacked up. Also, the trip was sponsored by Smithsonian which usually uses class accommodations. This time they missed the boat. The officers on the ship were friendly and accommodating. The rest of the staff was invisible. The room was serviced but that was it. There was no service offered. One particularly annoying thing was that drinks were not included except at meal times. Even soft drinks were charged extra. For a ship with this price that seems unheard of (compared to Crystal, Seabourne, Regent, in hat price range). The room I was in, a category B, was okay for one person. I was traveling by myself and there was barely sufficient storage space in room proper and bathroom. If my husband had been traveling with me, w would have had a problem. The bed was okay but very, very hard. The food was okay but that's the best I can say for it. Some meals were quite bad. Breakfast buffet was identical every day and adequate before t boring after seven days. The couple times we had lunch on the boat was pretty good with a good selection on the buffet. In sum, I would say that Variety Voyage is certainly not worth the price. I expect better service and food for the cost, not to mention a more comfortable room. There were no amenities usually found even on a yacht style ship; no hot tub, no entertainment, outside bar not available. I heard there was a small gym but I never saw it. I would not recommend this ship at all. Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We choose this cruise as there was an interesting itinerary and good guest speakers on subjects that appealed. Things started to go wrong as soon as we got on board when the wardrobe door fell off and the problem was treated with ... Read More
We choose this cruise as there was an interesting itinerary and good guest speakers on subjects that appealed. Things started to go wrong as soon as we got on board when the wardrobe door fell off and the problem was treated with indifference by the person that attended to sort it out. The cabin was noisy and the beds very uncomfortable. Cabin towels were clearly very old and worn. The shampoo was obviously of poor quality. The food was terrible for a cruise of this expense with the meat virtually inedible. The salads every day came with the same processed meat. The sweets were unappetising and sickly sweet. The best feature was the bread and soup! There was no choice of wine and it was of poor quality. No maps were provided for the ports we visited as is usual with other cruise ships and boats. Altogether, this was a very bad experience. The ship is clearly run on the cheap giving a visual impression of opulence. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We were lucky; we got a substantial discount, including all shore excursions free, our boat was only half capacity, and the folks we did sail with were some of the most congenial we've ever met. If not for all this, I fear we may ... Read More
We were lucky; we got a substantial discount, including all shore excursions free, our boat was only half capacity, and the folks we did sail with were some of the most congenial we've ever met. If not for all this, I fear we may have been disappointed. The Voyager is a very attractive boat, the crew uniformly friendly, helpful, and cheerful. (I suspect that was mainly due to we being such an easy crowd to deal with). Our cabin, 214, was small as expected, but there were plenty of places to stow our gear and we never felt jammed in. The bathroom was surprisingly large. Our two portholes were too high up to look out without a stretch, but we spent as little time in our cabin as necessary anyway. Do be aware that all forward cabins get the noise from the bow thrusters and anchor chains, which can be quite loud. I can only recall one time they were used during sleeping hours, though, and my partner slept right through the noise. The food was good to very good, but never what I would call gourmet. Service in the dining room was excellent. All alcohol is extra, but prices were not unreasonable. The theme of this trip is the natural life of Costa Rica, but, as the excursion descriptions note, sightings cannot be guaranteed. Our first stop, Curu Reserve, had a very intimate feel. Our guide had grown up there and his affection for the place was evident. It was a very easy landing and walk that gave us close up views of many iguanas and monkeys. This was probably the best of the wildlife walks. After our morning visit, there was a short trip to another island for the first of two beach barbecues, easily the best meals of the week, then plenty of time for swimming. The next stop, Manuel Antonio Park is described as a guided walk on small trails through dense rain forest. Actually, you are walking along a very crowded road, the only way through the park as far as I know, and crowding around the guide's telescope hoping for a sight of something. Entry to the park is supposedly controlled; we were kept waiting at the gate for about 45 minutes, then the waiting crowd, probably about 200 strong, was let in all at once. The description also says the tour ends with time at the beach. The beach is indeed beautiful, but those choosing to stay and swim must make their own way back to the ship. The time and distance involved make that impractical. The next stop, Quepos, is made mainly for those wanting to try zip lining. The town itself has little to offer, and the beach is not recommended. We did try the zip lining, had a great time, but don't feel the need to try it again. The Osa Peninsula walk was disappointing - the wildlife just wasn't cooperatin - and the walk was a bit trickier than described; indeed, in wet weather, it must be almost impassible. The description mentions a visit to a turtle hatchery, but it didn't happen and was never mentioned. Casa Orquedas is a private tropical plant preserve, and is indeed a little Garden of Eden. The landing was tricky, on a beach of slippery stones, but the walk very easy. We had the chance to smell and taste many tropical plants and fruits. This was the best excursion for plant life. The next day may have been the best. The morning was spent on Granita del Oro, a speck of sand and palm trees that offered perfect snorkeling conditions, even for us beginners. We really felt like castaways. In the afternoon we sailed a short distance to Coiba for another great beach barbecue. Two nature walks were offered, neither of which anyone felt was worth the effort. There was plenty of beach time here, as well. The last excursion was to the town of La Palma, a small town of mostly African descendants that is trying to build a tourist trade. I did not go on this trip; those who did had mixed opinions. Some felt awkward, others that it was important and worthwhile. Finally, we reached Panama City. We started with a trip to the wonderful Miraflores Locks overlook and canal museum. We then drove to the Old Quarter, which will probably be a great place to visit in another five years or so. Right now, most of it seems to be a construction zone. Our stop here seemed a bit of a waste. The Canal transit is done at night (the cruise line has little say in this) and was quite a thrill. We officially disembarked at Shelter Bay, an attractive little marina, but a few folks got off at Colon when we made a refueling stop. Allow at least two hours for transfer from Shelter Bay to Panama City. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves very much, but I think that if we had paid full fare and for each excursion, we would have felt letdown. I do feel some of the excursions were a bit overhyped. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We travelled on this ship in Oct from Istanbul to Athens. Embarkation was a disaster with no one to meet us, no information about Port process and how to get on the ship and a walk of 500 metres with our luggage. The boat is not the ... Read More
We travelled on this ship in Oct from Istanbul to Athens. Embarkation was a disaster with no one to meet us, no information about Port process and how to get on the ship and a walk of 500 metres with our luggage. The boat is not the disappointing part- it is well laid out and the meals are above average. The cabins are fine though not all facilities were operating (safe) and some doors were difficult to close/open. I agree with previous commentators- virtually alcohol free cocktails/appalling wine upon arrival as a welcome aboard drink was an insult. The trip was disappointing because some of the advertised destinations were not reached due to weather and mooring difficulties- not the operators fault-but some people chose the cruise specifically for those ports/sights. It seemed too rushed with the organised tours very expensive and sometimes not seeing the best attributes of the sites visited anyway. A number of passengers complained about being pestered by hawkers/taken to carpet sellers enroute to the tours. In short I don't think they catered for the background of their clientele. This trip was expensive -over $1500(AUD) per day plus excursion costs. The passengers are largely successful professionals who are prepared to spend, expect value and don't like being shortchanged. The ship sails at night whereas other small ships stay in port at night (this is better) Part of the reason I am harsh here is I don't think this was the trip for us. This is trip for those that are not very active, want to be organised for most of the day. We didn't get to swim enough and some of the moorings in the day were adjacent to industrial wasteland so either go on an organised tour,spend the day in your cabin or somehow manage to get to the closest town. The advantage of a small boat was lost sometimes Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
We previously sailed with Variety Galileo in Greece, had such a good time we repeated for Panama and Costa Rica. To start at the beginning, they used to embark at Shelter Island, a somewhat picturesque location but now its Colon which is ... Read More
We previously sailed with Variety Galileo in Greece, had such a good time we repeated for Panama and Costa Rica. To start at the beginning, they used to embark at Shelter Island, a somewhat picturesque location but now its Colon which is industrial and nothing to look at. Orientation and life boat drill took three hours which was a little tiring after traveling. Half the reason we took this trip was to see the San Blas Islands, with a beach barbecue and swimming. It was disappointing to learn that part of the trip would be cancelled due to high winds. Of course, safety of the passengers and ship is foremost but it should be considered, because this is a small ship, you may not be going where you think you will. Instead we went to Portobello for two nights instead of one. It was a ten mile trip instead of 64 miles but its safe to say not many had the ability to sleep and some were sea sick due to the rolling of the ship. This ship will roll considerably even at anchor. After the rough ride we had to listen to the anchor chain scraping on the deck above our heads all night due to the wind. Avoid a forward cabin at all costs. Portobello is a small town with history but can be done in a few hours. To compensate we were taken to an indigenous native village, the Embarra people, after a 1 1/2 hour bus ride and up a river and dugout canoes. It was very interesting but we felt that since the ship travelled 20 miles instead of 168 miles Variety could have done something extra for the passengers considering what they saved in fuel, but everything was priced the same. The first dinner I had something of an altercation with the dining room manager over seating, concerning a tour group. Usually on a small ship like this open seating is the rule, but he was insistent on grouping them together which was annoying because we were happily mixing at that point. When I mentioned it should be open seating he angrily threw up his hands and said"What can I do?" Later, even the tour group told him they were adults and were perfectly capable deciding where to sit. The food is good but nothing memorable. The dining room service was excellent. Twice complimentary drinks were served but contained so little alcohol you could have had them for breakfast. . We really enjoyed the swimming off the boat in Greece but only one opportunity on this cruise and all the stops involved donning life jackets and using Zodiacs, where in Greece the boat always docked. You could walk on and off at will and slept well. It has to be mentioned that when you don't sleep well the next day you are not up to par. We had one snorkeling opportunity at a small island also.The Panama canal was very interesting but traverse mainly at night, so you can see the locks which are lighted but none of the surrounding country. Bow thruster noise sounded like it was next to your head here. Another night of little sleep. Why the thruster was necessary I can't figure out since four locomotives kept the ship centered in the canal. The Osa peninsula trip is described as incredible and spectacular wildlife, but all we saw was some monkeys and large numbers of ants. We did the zip line in Quepos and found it adventurous but challenging remembering the rules and staying safe. The descriptions of the excursions are really florid and overboard. Manuel Antonio was better for wildlife. Orientations and instruction take up a lot of time and some days you have to rise pretty early to eat breakfast, get orientated and zodiaced. Passengers were generally between 60 and 70 years of age and sociable. Service personnel from the captain on down to the maids did everything they could to be friendly and helpful, except for the mentioned dining room manager. I was interested in taking the Seychelles trip with Variety but won't now because i don't want to travel halfway around the world to find out we may be going to some african village instead because of the weather. That's the name of the game with small ships, Variety cannot control the weather, I know, but choices have to be made for value. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
There were two of us on this cruise: my father, who is 85 and retired, and myself, a 53-year old educator. My father has gone on many cruises; I have just been on four. The Cabin As one would expect on a "mega yacht," the cabin ... Read More
There were two of us on this cruise: my father, who is 85 and retired, and myself, a 53-year old educator. My father has gone on many cruises; I have just been on four. The Cabin As one would expect on a "mega yacht," the cabin was quite small. Nonetheless, it was quite pleasant and I never felt crowded or claustrophobic. There were two single beds (comfortable), as well as a small desk and ottoman chair, a two-seat sofa, a night stand, a shelf, and a closet. In addition to the portholes and the overhead lights, there were small halogen reading lights over the beds. The bathroom was surprisingly spacious (almost a quarter of the overall space in the cabin), and included not only a large shower, toilet and sink, but also side shelves and a retractable laundry string. Issues: The door to the bathroom is translucent glass. That means while it maintains privacy, when you turn on the bathroom light, it illuminates a portion of the room. That never bothered my father, but it might bother someone sensitive to night light. Other people on the cruise reported occasional problems getting hot water in the shower, but we always had plenty. The one serious issue was the water color. We were advised at the beginning that there may be some discoloration in the water early in the trip, but that this would quickly pass. It didn't. By the third day of the trip, I was still showering in orange-colored water. One guest was quite upset; not only did this mean that she couldn't wash her white clothing, but she was concerned about the iron in the water dying her grey hair. We spoke to the hotel manager and he assured us he would fix the problem. Afterwards, if I let the water run for about 10 seconds, it cleared up. The other guest, however, still had to let her water run for 10 minutes. An odd situation given that the ship is only two years old. Ship Facilities Overall, I found the ship facilities quite good, given the limitations of size. The Horizons Dining Room was very comfortable and since the ship was only at 2/3rds capacity, there was always plenty of room. Similarly, there was always plenty of space in the Riviera Lounge and the seats were comfortable. I didn't use the spa facilities, but I saw several other guests using them and they enjoyed them. They have a treadmill, a bicycle, some weights, etc. Issues: The Riviera Lounge has long sofas and low coffee tables. I would have like there to be a few regular tables, where one could play cards or do a crossword puzzle. They did have such tables outside on the deck behind the Horizons Dining Room, but given the high heat and humidity, I wasn't comfortable using them. Ship Crew The bridge officers, the waiters, the cabin staff, and bartenders, the cruise director, the naturalist, and musician were all good. One morning, my father had breakfast with the captain and very much enjoyed his conversation. Like many other passengers, I went up to the bridge and chatted with the captain and first officer. All the staff worked to address any issues that arose with passengers. The Food In my experience, Celebrity Xpedition (in the Galapagos) set the bar for small-ship cruising, and Variety Voyager did not come close to that level of quality. Nonetheless, the food was fine, if not particularly exciting or inspiring. Breakfast was a buffet, with hot items, such as grilled tomatoes, potatoes, crispy bacon, omelets, etc., as well as someone making omelets or pancakes to order. There were also cold items, such as greek yogurt, fruit compote, cold fish, fresh fruit, cheese and cold cuts. There was toast, cereal, milk, jam, juices, and danish. Lunch varied. If we ate on the ship, then it was also a buffet, with assorted hot items such as quiche, various greek dishes, some salads, and some roast animal at the carving station. They also had a dessert table with slices of cake and fresh fruit. The best meals (of the whole trip), however, were the two occasions we had BBQ on shore. On both occasions, the menu was Greek-inspired with some pita, mediterranean salads, and various grilled items: mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, lamb chops, sausage, tiger prawns, meat balls, and fish. I thought the lamb chops were excellent. They also had some nice Greek desserts, particularly the kadayif. Dinner was almost always a sit-down affair with a menu (the one exception was the evening we crossed the Canal). There was some kind of appetizer and soup, followed by a main course and dessert. The soups were generally very good. There were three options for the main course: 1) a meat dish of some kind – pork, veal, beef, or turkey; 2) a fish dish of some kind – sole, grouper, salmon; 3) a vegetarian option. Desserts varied and included crème brulee, profiteroles, or cake. For Christmas Eve they served a pudding of some kind, but there were large swells and I felt slightly nauseous and went back to my cabin to lay down. The last night they went all out, but I felt their ambition exceeded their grasp. While the lobster bisque was very good, the scallop salad (a few dingy and tasteless things on top of tired spinach dressed in mustard) was almost inedible. We all ordered the chateaubriand, but only the woman who asked for it rare got it anything but well done (hers was medium rare). When we came back from various excursions they offered us a warmish ice tea, and there were macaroons and slices of somewhat dry cake by the coffee station in the Riviera Lounge. I ordered several of the daily cocktail specials and they were quite good, as was the cappuccino (the later was complimentary). Excursions On the whole, I would say (with the exception of Logistics, below), this was the weakest part of the trip experience. Some of the problems are inherent; others could be mitigated. Before I get into that I should mention that we shared the ship with a group. They made up about a third of the 48 passengers and had a separate naturalist, went on the same excursions but separately from us, and ate dinner at their own tables. This created an odd dynamic; it wasn't annoying or off putting, but it was just a little strange. In the Galapagos, each excursion group was limited to the size of the Zodiac. This was critical so we could interact with our naturalist as he or she pointed out various aspects of life or geology or history on the islands we visited. In Cambodia and Vietnam, the groups were somewhat bigger, about 25 people, but there, most of the information from the guide came when we were en route or on ship, with less when we were on the ground walking around. In both cases, the items we were seeing required no special tools. Costa Rica and Panama are different. The highlight of most excursions was seeing the wildlife, but these creatures were mostly small and camouflaged or high up in the trees. The guides were quite efficient at using their view finders to help us see the various items (e.g., tree sloths), but that meant waiting in line for quick glimpses through the view finder. If it was a large group (25 people), and they were noisy (as they often were), the bird might fly away before the people at the end ever had a chance to see it. While this cruise did include some younger, more active passengers, as would be expected, most passengers were retired. I would suggest that the company consider arranging a less-strenuous excursion option for those days with highly strenuous trips. I took all the excursions offered on the cruise, so here's my evaluation of them all: Day 2, morning: Curu Nature Preserve - Extra This involved a wet landing on a somewhat muddy beach. Highlight: seeing the white-faced capuchin monkeys, the howler monkeys, and the spider monkeys close up. While the description said there would be time for swimming, that was not the case. Day 2, afternoon: Isla Tortuga – Included Here we had a very nice BBQ lunch on the beach. The wet landing in the surf, however, was a daunting prospect for those who had mobility issues. A lunch was provided on the ship for them, but since that option wasn't announced, my father didn't know about it. The water was too murky for any snorkeling, but the water was nice for swimming and they provided kayaks and paddle boards for anyone who wanted to use them. Day 3 morning: Manuel Antonio Reserve – Extra This is a small, but very popular reserve. It was extremely crowded with groups of a dozen or more tourists clustered around each naturalist and his view finder. The highlight: seeing the two-toed and three-toed sloths. While the brochure and cruise director praised the wonderful swimming in the park, we only had 25 minutes at the beach. As it was, I was the last to rejoin the group as I needed to change back into my normal clothing for the walk back. Day 3 afternoon: Zip Lining – Extra. I had never zip lined before, so part of my issues here involve my own misconceptions. But here's how the cruise described the excursion: "During your journey you'll stop and rest at 16 strategically located platforms and 12 cables where you are most likely see the surrounding wildlife. Many of these platforms are almost 100 feet high, nestled in the trunks and branches of trees that are centuries old. Our staff of professionally trained guides shows guests the abundant wildlife along the way; including Titi monkeys, two and three toed sloths, poison dart frogs, iguanas and toucans." In fact, there was no looking at any native wildlife, nor did we rest on the strategically located platforms. We simply zipped from one to the other and then quickly on to the next one. The only time we paused was to allow the tour operators to reposition. In addition, my own fears (and my tendency to lose control and have my helmet rubbing against the cord at high speeds) meant that I really couldn't focus on the natural beauty. It got better after they added another harness to stabilize me. Day 4 morning: Osa Peninsula – Extra This was one of the best excursions but it was also one of the most mismanaged. Simply put, the description provided by the cruise in no way matched what we actually did. First, here's the official description of the excursion: "Start the day off at Piro Research Center and hike through our extensive, easy-access & safe trail system to see the incredible array of Osa’s wildlife and do some spectacular bird watching. Look up to catch a glimpse of some of Osa’s 400+ bird species, including toucans, red-plumed scarlet macaws, and stunningly beautiful turquoise cotingas. All 4 species of monkeys and the wide array of forest mammals can be spotted in these lush forests. Later we take a short trip on foot through the rainforest to the beach, where you can spot tracks of mother sea turtles who have come out of the water to lay their eggs in the sand the night before. From there, take a walk to the turtle hatchery, where you’ll get an introduction to sea turtle conservation by our trained staff and watch our volunteers care for the newly hatched turtles until they are released back into the sea. After these unforgettable and easy hikes in the cathedral-like forests, head back to Piro Research Center and we return to Puerto Jimenez." Now, here's what we actually did: we drove about twenty minutes outside of Puerto Jimenez to something called "el bosque encantado" (the enchanted forest). This is an old-growth jungle on the Osa Peninsula. There were some walking sticks available at the beginning, but since were told this was an easy hike, I passed on them. This turned out to be a mistake. The trail descended down an incredibly slippery muddy trail through the jungle to a stream bed and then back up the other side. Many people, including those who had walking sticks, fell or slipped in the mud. There was little opportunity to bird watch as most of the time our eyes were on the ground to keep from falling. We reemerged from the jungle where we entered and had some fresh fruit. Then it was back to the dock. No research center, no beach, no turtle hatchery, etc. While I really enjoyed walking through the jungle and seeing and hearing howler monkeys, I felt unprepared for how strenuous the trail was. Had I known in advance, I would have packed hiking shoes with better traction and taken one of the walking sticks. Instead of getting my hopes up about seeing sea turtles, I would have concentrated on seeing the forest. Day 4 afternoon: Casa Orquideas – Extra This was a lovely private home with botanical gardens, many of which are orchids. We saw not only lovely flowers, but many kinds of birds, including toucans. Here, too, the brochure talks about time for swimming, but there was no swimming permitted on the beach. Instead, I joined a few others in swimming off the back of the boat, but for less time then we were told we would have. Day 5 morning: Granito de Oro Island – Included This day was slightly modified in order to arrive in Panama City in time the next morning. The Granito de Oro snorkeling was supposed to be in the afternoon, but we went in the morning instead. I saw large schools of brightly colored fish. Other snorkelers saw reef and nurse sharks, eels, and a turtle. Day 5 afternoon: Coiba Island – Excursion Cancelled In order to arrive in Panama City on time, the hike to the top of the island overlook was cancelled. Instead, we only had a very nice BBQ on the island. Day 6 morning: Panama City – Extra This excursion had two halves: one hour at the Miraflores Locks and Panama Canal Museum, followed by one hour in the Old Town Quarter. My favorite part was standing on the top of the museum where we had a great view of ships entering and exiting the Canal at the Miraflores Locks. The tour of the Old Town Quarter was mostly forgettable. Day 6 evening: Panama Canal – Included This really isn't an excursion, but it was more exciting than I expected to pass through the Panama Canal. Unlike on large cruise ships, our small size, even when in tandem with a small cargo vessel, meant we had good views of the sides of the locks and the operation of the gates. The musician had a nice mix of music playing on the aft deck and it was loud enough that it inspired some of the sailors on other cargo vessels to dance along with us. Day 7 afternoon: San Blas Islands – Extra This is the closest we came to the kinds of excursions we had in Cambodia and Vietnam: being taken to a village to see the "native" people. On those trips, I always felt a little uncomfortable with the way the tourists would treat the locals as objects. Here, at Carti Island, the situation was reversed: the locals (Guna Yana indians) charged a dollar for every photo taken of them, so they were seeking us out as sources of revenue. The dance number is rather hokey, but I did very much enjoy wandering around the village (except for all the people trying to get me to take their picture). Day 7 afternoon: Gran Perro Island – Included Because of the severe delays in getting through the Canal (more below), the BBQ lunch on the island was cancelled. In addition, choppy seas prevented us from mooring in such a way as the snorkelers could visit the sunken ship. Still, the beach and water was very nice. Some interesting corals, including brain coral, as well as some colorful fish, some starfish, and a baby eel. Some others saw a young sting ray. Logistics This is where the cruise line fell the most short. First, embarkation. Since my father and I arrived in Costa Rica a few days early, we came to the embarkation site by a transfer we booked from Monteverde. According to the information provided by Variety Cruises, we would embark at the Los Suenos Marina in Playa Herradura beginning at 3 pm. My father wanted to arrive early, as he (wrongfully) assumed that we would be able to board early and he could rest in the cabin. This was not the case. We arrived at 12:15 at the Los Suenos Marriott Hotel and they directed us to the Marina, but no one at the Marina knew anything about the Variety Voyager, least of all where we needed to go to board the ship. Our driver took us all over the Marina, and she spoke to various officials, none of them knew anything about the cruise ship or where it would be picking up passengers. They tried calling the ship, but no one answered. About an hour and a half after we arrived, we were able to hitch a lift with the ship's naturalist back to the boat. Second, the itinerary. As noted above, not all the excursions matched what was promised in the guide provided by the cruise line. Even stranger was the fact that the prices charged for each excursion didn't always match the prices listed before hand in the guide provided by the cruise line (the actual prices were higher). Third, crossing the Panama Canal. At 2 pm, we anchored near the Pilot's House to await the arrival of the Inspector, who comes on board before the Canal Pilot. Around 3 pm, I was sitting in the Riviera Lounge when a passenger came in to say there was someone wanting to board the ship. I went out and the inspector from the Panama Canal Authority wanted to come on board to start the process, but no one was there to allow him on. He asked me to get a crew member. I went in and found the musician and told him. "Impossible!" he exclaimed. No one could approach the ship without the bridge knowing. I told him the inspector asked to speak to a crewman and he was in the crew. He went out, talked to the inspector and then called the bridge. Within a minute, bridge officers came down and they helped the inspector come on board. I have no way of knowing if this was the reason our entering the Panama Canal was delayed from 6:45 pm until 9:00 pm, but we were delayed. As a result, our activities for Day 7 had to be significantly modified as we arrived four hours late. Finally, disembarkation. Our ship disembarked at a different location than we were told before hand. We were supposed to come in to the Shelter Bay Marina, across the bay from Colon, but instead we landed at the Colon 2000 Marina in Colon, about 15-20 miles away. This change was not announced. My father and I booked our transfer to Panama City airport through the cruise line, so the person meeting us at the dock knew that the place where we would be arriving was changed, but several other people had no such luck. One was able to reach her driver at the Shelter Bay Marina; the others couldn't reach their transfer company since it was a Sunday morning and they were not answering their phones. This wasn't the first change the cruise company had made. About a third of the ship had booked the cruise when it was originally arriving not in Colon, Panama, but Cartagena, Colombia. In that case, Variety did agree to cover the costs of transferring from Colon to Cartagena so they could make the flights they had booked before the itinerary was changed. For that reason, I would suggest that anyone traveling with Variety in the future anticipate that boarding and disembarking locations may change and prepare to be flexible.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
My experience was a few years ago so things may have changed since that time, but I'm a new member so thought that I would reflect back on my experience aboard the Voyager. I did a week long cruise on the Variety Voyager which ... Read More
My experience was a few years ago so things may have changed since that time, but I'm a new member so thought that I would reflect back on my experience aboard the Voyager. I did a week long cruise on the Variety Voyager which included St Tropez, Monaco, Corsica, Elba and the Cinque Terra. I rushed into Nice after an incredibly rushed ten days in Europe on business and it was such a relief to know that I would only be unpacking once for the week. I'm a strong believer in choosing the right style of travel for the destination. In the past few years, I have backpacked through South East Asia, taken an expedition ship across rough seas to Antarctica, and enjoyed French luxury aboard a Ponant ship . For me, I look at the destination first before the style of travel. So a 50 passenger Antarctic icebreaker expedition ship was the perfect way for me to spend a month in Antarctica, but to really relax and enjoy the Med I knew that a small luxury yacht was what I was after. It really did feel like the right way to travel as we pulled up next to gigantic super yachts, and even spotted Joan Collins partying on a yacht. Southern Europe at that time of year is bananas and it was so nice to not have to deal with any traffic and to be delivered by a short zodiac to the centre of town. Quite often I explored independently, but I also joined a couple of tours to a winery in Corsica and a museum. I liked that we would often travel at night, so we could make the most of our destination, exploring piazzas and the shoreline in the evening before returning to the yacht. For me the ship was luxurious enough but not ostentatious. The informal style suited me. I can imagine though that if you are used to larger cruise liners it may be quite a difference. My cabin was clean and well fitted out. The yacht was well equipped, the only thing that would have been great would have been a spa pool or plunge pool. We didn't swim that whole week (although there was talk of it) so that was a little disappointing in summer. The food was good, and plentiful, but I also enjoyed dining out on shore. In terms of the activities, I found them sufficient but as I said I often did my own thing. I can imagine that if you were wanting a more structured plan or more interpretation, it could have been disappointing. I would have liked to have a historian onboard, context was given by local guides, but I think it would have been fascinating to learn more about the culture and history, especially regarding Napoleon's exile in Corsica, as one example. All in all though, it was right for me and for what I was looking for. I hope that this is useful! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
This was a week-long cruise booked only three weeks ahead by someone who wasn't keen on the idea of travelling one of those vast cruise liners. And this cruise was a wonderful experience! The gorgeous, Greek-operated yacht, Variety ... Read More
This was a week-long cruise booked only three weeks ahead by someone who wasn't keen on the idea of travelling one of those vast cruise liners. And this cruise was a wonderful experience! The gorgeous, Greek-operated yacht, Variety Voyager, with a cosmopolitan, friendly and hugely competent crew, provided a sociable and attractive setting, serving up delicious food, perfect cocktails and even a beauty therapy salon. A naturalist from Costa Rica was on board to tell us about the places - and the fabulous wildlife - we were going to see, and a comprehensive list of optional excursions allowed us, for example, to visit Panama City and see from above the Canal we had just passed through. We had the opportunity to visit remote spots both in Panama and Costa Rica most easily accessible by sea and the ship's Zodiacs would take us to deserted beaches and islands, where we could swim and snorkel (all snorkelling equipment provided!). Always fresh towels available, both for the beds on the sun deck and when we set off to swim from these beautiful beaches. Wi-fi available at a cost, but a little unreliable. My cabin was on the lowest deck - a twin-berth (very comfortable bed) with two portholes, plenty of space for my suitcase and a second case, a decently-sized wardrobe, with safe and refrigerator (and plenty of bottles of water), dresser, flat-screen television set with DVD and a good bathroom. European voltage (240v), with both European and American sockets available. Good lighting (something I always notice!) and air-conditioning. Also plenty of mirrors - often in short supply in hotels. I enjoyed it so much that I am taking another cruise two months later, this time of the Greek Islands! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
I am basically a land lover but I decided to go on a charter through the Panama Canal. The group was from ivy universities and was scheduled in 2014 to celebrate 100 years since the Panama Canal was opened. The trip was magical, because of ... Read More
I am basically a land lover but I decided to go on a charter through the Panama Canal. The group was from ivy universities and was scheduled in 2014 to celebrate 100 years since the Panama Canal was opened. The trip was magical, because of this experience I have gone on the ship, not charter weeks, two more times. The second trip was through the Canal again. The first time the Canal passage was during the day, the second was at night. The two had different ports and tours. Both were in winter months and took me away from cold, nasty weather to warm and magical. The third trip was in October to Sicily and Malta. Each morning, going into another port was an experience making the trip worthwhile in itself! The ship is not large, 70 passengers, 30 crew. The ship is spotless, the food is varied and delicious. All the professional crew members, as well as the maintenance and cleaning individuals were friendly, helpful and charming. The three outstanding individuals for me were: Captain Andreas, open bridge policy, experience, and knowledge of the ship and ports; the musician/ IT man, Milos, his help to the passengers with any Internet or computer situation, but above all, his live entertainment...keyboard, singing, special requests, many passengers commented to each other and to me what a delight; Elliott, the Costa Rican Conservationist, unbelievable knowledge of plants, animals, insects...a delight to hear and watch his presentations and then to go ashore and take in the best of the country. The onshore tours were all educational, and completely worthwhile. The crew is made up of individuals from many different countries, Greece, Egypt, Serbia, Ukraine, etc...everyone I met spoke more than one language, all speak English, none have English as their first language. For me, this fact led to more charm. Reading and relaxing on deck, taking the Zodiac to shore, sometimes with a wet landing requiring extra shoes, swimming on a beach or off the ship, relaxing or learning about a new area or port during the day and dressing for a sit down dinner at night, listening to live music or disc jockey night with dancing, many choices for various tastes and desires, a world of its' own exists on this ship.   Read Less
Variety Voyager Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 N/A

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