This review covers a 19 day B2B of Norwegian Fjords and Round Britain. It was supposed to be the final voyage of Astoria (nee Stockholm) for Cruise and Maritime Voyages(CVM). It was an opportunity to catch a piece of history before she might have sailed into the sunset. Unexpectedly, CVM renewed its charter on Astoria for 2018; so not historic but still a very satisfying experience. A few words first about the ship. Astoria has had many names and modifications over the years. She is not the Stockholm but is a venerable ship. Carrying just over 500 passengers, Astoria provides a cruising experience that almost no other cruise ship can provide in terms of intimacy, convenience, absence of crowding and ease of embarkation and disembarkation, both at the beginning and end of the cruise and at the intervening ports of call. Astoria handles fairly rough seas surprisingly well for such a small ship. We had several days of gale force wind and 10 ft swells in the North Sea, Irish Sea and the Channel. The captain announced the potential for rough weather and cautioned passengers to be careful moving about the ship. We missed one scheduled port (St Peter Port) due to weather, but here it was an issue of the tender procedure from ship to shore and not the ability of the ship. Cabins are on the small side but more than adequate with the novel feature of a full sized bath tub (plus a bidet) in each bathroom. CMV has not done an outstanding job with the bedding; the mattresses are thin and the support structure is unforgiving. In response to some comments in other posts, we had a cabin on Pacific Deck (deck 2) aft, and had no issues with noise or vibration. Within the limits of the entertainment space, CMV does quite a good job of providing evening entertainment ranging from small ensemble production shows backed by a quality band to individual acts, such as comedians, magicians, and the like. Quizzes are ubiquitous aboard. A classical duo (piano and violin) was first rate and played on multiple occasions each evening. In addition to evening entertainment, our cruises included quality guest lecturers and first run films to provide diversion when on board. Dining on Astoria is a pleasure. Our dining room staff were courteous and efficient. While I would not award Michelin Stars to the kitchen, the food was easily of the quality one would expect on the larger (and significantly more expensive) cruse lines. The buffet area is not well laid out but handles the smaller passenger complement with ease. As an American, I desperately missed a cold drink option with meals (Iced Tea seems to be some form of sin for this UK line). Also, CMV would do well to do the little things that make a meal experience more enjoyable, such as salt and pepper on the tables, rather than the tiny paper packets that are inevitably not picked up requiring a trip back to the buffet. One further comment on dining, some accommodation should be made for “lite bites” during the not infrequent periods that both the dining room and the buffet are closed. CMV offers a nice selection of shore excursions at reasonable prices. We availed ourselves of several during our 19 day back to back cruise and found each of them well organized and enjoyable. Embarkation and disembarkation at Tilbury were smooth and uneventful. On returning to Tilbury at the end of the cruise,which included some non-UK ports, there were no immigration or customs formalities at Tilbury. Access to the ship at some ports is difficult, often using a mobile staircase with no ramps available. Astoria is definitely not wheelchair friendly and poses a significant problem for anyone with mobility difficulties. (To be fair, this drawback is clearly explained in CMV's literature.)

A venerable ship of a most enjoyable size

Astoria Cruise Review by diplomats

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Trip Details
This review covers a 19 day B2B of Norwegian Fjords and Round Britain. It was supposed to be the final voyage of Astoria (nee Stockholm) for Cruise and Maritime Voyages(CVM). It was an opportunity to catch a piece of history before she might have sailed into the sunset. Unexpectedly, CVM renewed its charter on Astoria for 2018; so not historic but still a very satisfying experience.

A few words first about the ship. Astoria has had many names and modifications over the years. She is not the Stockholm but is a venerable ship. Carrying just over 500 passengers, Astoria provides a cruising experience that almost no other cruise ship can provide in terms of intimacy, convenience, absence of crowding and ease of embarkation and disembarkation, both at the beginning and end of the cruise and at the intervening ports of call.

Astoria handles fairly rough seas surprisingly well for such a small ship. We had several days of gale force wind and 10 ft swells in the North Sea, Irish Sea and the Channel. The captain announced the potential for rough weather and cautioned passengers to be careful moving about the ship. We missed one scheduled port (St Peter Port) due to weather, but here it was an issue of the tender procedure from ship to shore and not the ability of the ship.

Cabins are on the small side but more than adequate with the novel feature of a full sized bath tub (plus a bidet) in each bathroom. CMV has not done an outstanding job with the bedding; the mattresses are thin and the support structure is unforgiving. In response to some comments in other posts, we had a cabin on Pacific Deck (deck 2) aft, and had no issues with noise or vibration.

Within the limits of the entertainment space, CMV does quite a good job of providing evening entertainment ranging from small ensemble production shows backed by a quality band to individual acts, such as comedians, magicians, and the like. Quizzes are ubiquitous aboard. A classical duo (piano and violin) was first rate and played on multiple occasions each evening. In addition to evening entertainment, our cruises included quality guest lecturers and first run films to provide diversion when on board.

Dining on Astoria is a pleasure. Our dining room staff were courteous and efficient. While I would not award Michelin Stars to the kitchen, the food was easily of the quality one would expect on the larger (and significantly more expensive) cruse lines. The buffet area is not well laid out but handles the smaller passenger complement with ease. As an American, I desperately missed a cold drink option with meals (Iced Tea seems to be some form of sin for this UK line). Also, CMV would do well to do the little things that make a meal experience more enjoyable, such as salt and pepper on the tables, rather than the tiny paper packets that are inevitably not picked up requiring a trip back to the buffet.

One further comment on dining, some accommodation should be made for “lite bites” during the not infrequent periods that both the dining room and the buffet are closed.

CMV offers a nice selection of shore excursions at reasonable prices. We availed ourselves of several during our 19 day back to back cruise and found each of them well organized and enjoyable.

Embarkation and disembarkation at Tilbury were smooth and uneventful. On returning to Tilbury at the end of the cruise,which included some non-UK ports, there were no immigration or customs formalities at Tilbury. Access to the ship at some ports is difficult, often using a mobile staircase with no ramps available. Astoria is definitely not wheelchair friendly and poses a significant problem for anyone with mobility difficulties. (To be fair, this drawback is clearly explained in CMV's literature.)
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