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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Unfortunately our cruise on the River Douro got off to a bad start as a radar fault at Porto airport meant that our TAP Portugal plane was prevented from leaving Gatwick for 24 hours. On our delayed arrival in Porto we were taken by coach ... Read More
Unfortunately our cruise on the River Douro got off to a bad start as a radar fault at Porto airport meant that our TAP Portugal plane was prevented from leaving Gatwick for 24 hours. On our delayed arrival in Porto we were taken by coach to a quay further up river to join Douro Elegance. The ship has defined booking times at the five locks on this river so she had to move. On boarding ship the excursion staff led by Cruise Director Carmem Maria Do Carmo was at considerable pains to point out at every turn that our issues were not their fault. Whilst we knew this, their implacable stance did not go down too well with the fifty plus guests affected. In fairness that aside, every effort was made to make up for what we had lost, including arranging for us to have a tour of Porto on the last afternoon. The ship is modern and very smart though the cabins are a little tight for space, slightly smaller furniture would make all the difference. The bathrooms are well equipped with a good shower. Our one issue in Cabin 216 was the wind whistling through the window when it was closed.The only way to stop the extremely irritating sound was to open the window which was not always practical or acceptable. The ship’s crew were pleasant and helpful and the food pretty good though limited in choice. We paid for the drinks package which for us was wine at lunch and dinner. Some waiters were a little reluctant to refill glasses though this did seem to become less of a problem as the cruise progressed. The excursions were well organised on modern smart coaches which accompany the ship along the river. The long haul to Salamanca was worth it (no comfort stops en route), the city has many interesting buildings and the included lunch at the hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban was extremely good. There were also flamenco dancers and a splendid singer as entertainment. The dinner, one evening at the Quinta Da Pacheda was by contrast disappointing. The main course was veal which is not something we would eat and there was a two piece string ensemble which played, too loudly, the most depressing music. The venue was billed as overlooking the River Douro which it did not. So, for us, a mixed trip, enjoyed at the correct pace I am sure that it would have been more relaxing, but these things happen when you travel. Fortunately the weather was good throughout. Despite giving no indication regarding compensation during the cruise, Riviera Travel promptly refunded an amount to cover the lost portion of our holiday, by the time we arrived home ~ very impressive. We have already booked another river cruise with them. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Having read varied reviews we went on MSC with low expectations but hopeful, as my husband understands Italian we may find experience better than others who have reviewed it. In fact the announcements on this trip started in English ... Read More
Having read varied reviews we went on MSC with low expectations but hopeful, as my husband understands Italian we may find experience better than others who have reviewed it. In fact the announcements on this trip started in English followed by German, Italian & more! I guess it depends on which nationalities make up the passenger list. Boarding-Very swift. We waited for 15 mins seated and then queued for 3 mins and then straight on and cabin ready for us. Cabin-14235 large with enough storage. Kept clean by attendant. Good balcony size - great to have breakfast on! Some engine vibration from engine when docking or turning and one night felt movement across English channel but ok. Tip: Take fridge magnets to hold back material shower curtain and put up notices/tickets in your room! Food- all good. I actually preferred the buffet where you could pick what you wanted and in the desired quantity. There was pizza slices there daily and a good fresh fruit & salad choice. Also quite a bit of vegetarian choices. We did go to dining room on a couple of occasions and it was fine but a little chaotic with a mix up of food and drinks orders but acceptable and understandable. We had breakfast in room each morning at no extra charge. This made it pleasant to ease into the day before the time off the ship. It always seemed to arrive early and staff were very good. Ice cream just wonderful at plaza and included in package. Staff- were great. Friendly and eager to serve drinks in all bars regardless whether we had package- which we did. Customer service desk always helpful too. Entertainment- not the best but acceptable. (Similar rating as Thomson but not RC or NCL Epic!) Flamenco was on twice in a week and while I enjoy it didn't want to see it twice! The Saturday show with contortionists and acrobatics was great. Someone told me the guys from 'cirque du soleil' have been training them- it showed! It was brilliant. Music in bars was varied. The best was the classical music but there were never seats so get there early if you like this kind of entertainment. Other singers were just not that great. I couldn't get English Chanel on TV other than news and really missed having music to listen to in the room. It is a shame they don't put on movies in the theatre. Excursions- we did our own thing and having researched well we found some amazing places and all at a fraction of the cost of the ships trips by using public transport. We enjoyed all the ports we visited thanks to my research beforehand. Disembarkation- at Southampton-U.K. Customs insisted on a face to face with all on the ship when we left (even those staying on ship!) This meant we queued for an hour to get off but this was not MSC's doing just UK being cautious I guess. Would I travel on a MSC again? Absolutely! The ship was impressive and food excellent so great value for money and good selection of ports. Next time I will make sure I bring my own music to listen to and perhaps a film or two on my iPad to watch. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This was our second cruise with Silversea and we wouldn't have thought they could improve on perfection but they did! Being onboard was like being in a cocoon where our every need was catered to. It was almost as though our butler ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Silversea and we wouldn't have thought they could improve on perfection but they did! Being onboard was like being in a cocoon where our every need was catered to. It was almost as though our butler and the food and beverage staff anticipated our wish and had it taken care of before we could even ask. As we walked down the hall into the bar, Oliver the bartender would have our drinks waiting for us. The shore excursions were fantastic with small groups and knowledgeable guides. We were impressed with the quality of the nightly entertainment. The singers were exceptional and entertained us with opera, broadway and oldies. Vicki, our cruise director, with her dry sense of humor and buoyant personality keep us in stitches the entire time. Our suite was spacious and the twice daily service was meticulous. The variety of dining options and the caliber of the food made each dinner a special occasion. Our only disappointment is we could never get into the Le Champagne, the Relais & Chateaux speciality restaurant. I recommend guests book this restaurant in advance of embarking. My husband and I were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary and this cruise far exceeded our expectations. The small size of the ship and the friendliness of the other guests and staff made it a trip of a lifetime! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2016
This was my first cruise, but even the experienced cruisers praised Viking Star as their best cruise. The ship is new, modern and high class. The tours were also high quality in addition to the food and staff. It was mainly 65+ guests, ... Read More
This was my first cruise, but even the experienced cruisers praised Viking Star as their best cruise. The ship is new, modern and high class. The tours were also high quality in addition to the food and staff. It was mainly 65+ guests, with no children on board. So if you are younger it requires some patience and adjusting assumptions. But there were a few "younger" people traveling with parents and there are always a few 65+ people who like late night entertainment and drinks. We sailed around the Nordic sea, Bergen (three stops in Norway), Denmark, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Russia, Finland and ending in Sweden. The dining options were a good variety. We were on the third floor and had only two nights of special dining, but those were excellent. The restaurant and buffet area offer a wide range of options and we did not tired of those options either. I loved the accommodations and the staff was fabulously consistently kind and generous. I would go back in an instant and dream of retiring on a Viking ship. Thank you Viking! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This was our third cruise on Celebrity. I fell in love with the line on our first cruise, did a second one 2 years ago that wasn't to the first one's standard and now we were back to try again. Silhouette wins the prize for an ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Celebrity. I fell in love with the line on our first cruise, did a second one 2 years ago that wasn't to the first one's standard and now we were back to try again. Silhouette wins the prize for an amazing crew. Everyone was very friendly without being pushy. We had the basic alcohol package for the first time. While our server tried to up sell us to the premium package the first day, when we declined, he was very nice about it and went out of his way to get our non-premium drinks. Even more amazing, he remembered us on following nights and was quick to find us seats in the bar, remembered our drink preferences and called us by name. Coffee service in the Cafe al Bacio was just as outstanding with several servers that went out of their way to chat, bring extras and just make the day memorable. We were anytime dining and discovered in chatting with our waiter the first night that we could request to be seated in his section again when we made a time reservation on subsequent days. His name is Alit, and his section is back in the corner, which is quieter than the main part. His serving team is the best and I recommend asking for a table in his section. Loved the small group entertainment and the main shows we watched were good - although we were having so much fun at dinner (the food was amazing in the main dining room!) we missed multiple shows. If I could change anything, I would ask for more musical entertainment and things to do mid-afternoon. If you are not into Bingo and Trivia, ALL ships seem short on activities mid-day. Some of us like to stay up and dance til 1 AM, and consequently miss morning exercise classes! The house band was quite good and had a pretty extensive playlist. We did one Celebrity shore excursion in Stockholm - it was pretty typical for the cruise line and sort of a cattle call. Nice leader who tried to impart some knowledge while herding cats! Nice selection of ports and management handled the weather related loss of a day in St. Petersburg very well, adding time to our stay day two to make it better. Not super impressed with the beyond the podium speakers - did not seem particularly knowledgeable on their topics beyond the prepared remarks. Ship's 2nd officer did a Great talk on navigation and internal systems management. Loved this cruise - love Celebrity - we will be back! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Chose this cruise for the ports we were going to visit. Upon embarkation we were informed that two of the ports had been cancelled (egypt)-not happy! Then, the ship lost my passport! The most interesting thing is that when the ceo was ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the ports we were going to visit. Upon embarkation we were informed that two of the ports had been cancelled (egypt)-not happy! Then, the ship lost my passport! The most interesting thing is that when the ceo was contacted about our poor experince, his response was to send our email to a subordinate to respond. Her response was that the contract allowed them to change ports! The staff are phenomenal, cabin was ok and food was great. The cruise entertainment director made himself available to everyone and had well planned activities. Shore excursions were plentiful and informative. The only negative was that when shopping was allowed every shore excyrsion had a defined shopping experience- kind of felt like tge guide was getting a kickback! They may have been protecting us but nit sure about that! This was our second oceania cruise and based on this experience, our last! Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Drawn to this Holland America 21 day Norway, Baltic Treasures Koningsdam cruise by the great itinary, previous excellent experience with HAL service, on Nieuw Amsterdam, we are independent travellers who enjoy the ease of relaxing ... Read More
Drawn to this Holland America 21 day Norway, Baltic Treasures Koningsdam cruise by the great itinary, previous excellent experience with HAL service, on Nieuw Amsterdam, we are independent travellers who enjoy the ease of relaxing time efficient travel to multiple destinations, the convenience of many choices in dining and entertainment, and the social interaction, offered by cruising. Koningsdam is lighter, brighter, occasionally glitzier, with pleasant furnishings, colours and fittings. Interesting art,paintings , sculpture and light fittings catch the eye in public spaces, while cabins are comfortable with a welcome glass doored shower, excellent aircon, great beds and larger TV. Cabin Staff are as efficient, unobtrusive and friendly as always. Food is fresh ,varied and generous , high quality meats ,fish fruit and vegetables, both in MDR and Lido and throughout the ship, attractively presented with appetisingly small potion sizes. However, whether it be a design issue, management strategy, system breakdown or staff issue ,dining and dining service delivery, formerly Hal's forte became its' abject failure throughout our cruise. Despite empty tables, (which often remained empty !) Open Seating diners were sent with Beepers to the in range Ocean Bar to wait sometimes 45 minutes before being seated ,or joining a table of other guests .Attempts to book days ahead to avoid this irritating daily debacle , either failed completely , or the available times were at 5.15 or after 9pm. I did observe guests with fixed seating who waited up to 40 minutes after their seating times to be seated, but don't know how widespread the issue was in this dining category Using the redesigned Market Station Lido during the main dining periods was a frustrating and at times difficult experience. Firstly , the new 12 second Handwash (Do the maths x passenger numbers ,and you 'll get the idea )stations , impractical, too few, ignored by staff and guests .Pueril Gel stations were made available but no emphasis on their use before entry. A hygiene breakdown waiting to happen. Perhaps this concern is behind the new Lido design, where even a glass of juice must be handed to you by a staff member, as self service has disappeared. A wonderful concept, unfortunately a disasterous implementation, as it results in queues for every item of your meal, sorties to different stations ,cold food,and excessive time wasted assembling the simplest meal. The stations are understaffed , and stations frequently closed . On the floor,tables are covered with dirty dishes which overwhelmed staff have not cleared,so it is not clear if diners have merely returned to the stations to complete their meal , or that a space is actually available for newcomers. Fewer staff means water, drinks are much slower to appear. The Lido is a casual eatery, supposedly offering a faster dining option, and pleasant social contact in less formal settings,but it has deteriorated to a poorly run cafeteria despite the good food quality offered, and a place to be avoided particularly at Breakfast times. The Dutch Café another good concept ,poorly designed , offered good food, reasonable coffee, long queues (one coffee station) too few tables ,and dirty dishes uncleared for excessive periods. Explorations Café12Dive In 9 , Gelato Bar offered coffee cakes , hamburgers , sandwiches pizza , and provided good service and quick meals . The Tamarind Restaurant has excellent food, staff and service. All drink orders are now computer generated, but this has resulted in very long delays as waiters in public areas fill orders and return only when trays are full with several orders combined, a time consuming strategy in reality. The World Stage in the round is a technically excellent facility, with great sound, lighting and screens. Why is it not used more effectively? Hal repeated World Stage Shows 3 times during our 21 day cruise which is just cheap and not acceptable. Quality of entertainment varied from excellent Frozen Planet, the HAL singers, dancers and orchestra to tired magician comedian acts who should be superannuated. The Lincoln Centre, Two Pianos and BB King provided shows attended and enjoyed by many, but were rather repetitive in nature. The Cruise Director Role has been redesigned to that of Dutch translator for the Captain, and the focus on hosting has almost completely disappeared both around the ship and in the entertainment venues, leaving an impersonal void and lack of ambience or heart around the vessel. The Port Advisor gave very basic overviews which were .of little value, but the Library has disappeared and was replaced with some small shelves of new travel Books which could be used in Deck 12 Crows Nest We travel independently in ports , considering HAL Ecursions overpriced, overcrowded and poor use of valuable port time, a perception continually reinforced by our observation of them in cruise port hot spots. Yes we enjoyed our cruise, but it was only a good cruise for the above reasons , when it should have been a great cruise.Design flaws, new cost cutting Carnival management strategies, HAL you are seriously destroying your brand and formerly excellent reputation.Would we sail on Koningsdam again ?. No, not unless reviews show these serious issues are remedied . Would we recommend her to others.. NO Will we sail with HAL again.? Unlikely Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
In spite of all our preplanning always expect the unexpectable. Airline booked - check Small tours booked and paid - Berlin and St Petersburg through SPB Tours - check Planned Hop on Hop off buses for self tours in ... Read More
In spite of all our preplanning always expect the unexpectable. Airline booked - check Small tours booked and paid - Berlin and St Petersburg through SPB Tours - check Planned Hop on Hop off buses for self tours in Tallinn, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Stockholm - check Tickets pre purchased for Anne Frank Haus and Keukenhof Garden Tour - check Transfers pre paid from airport to Hotel and from Cruise port to airport – check The day finally came for our 12 day Celebrity Baltic Cruise vacation to begin. We had relatives take us to Miami Airport to board our British Air flight to Heathrow and connecting flight to Amsterdam. I booked the airfare months earlier when they were running a great sale on Business class fares that were less than economy class. I subscribe to an online news letter called First class flyer and get these great deals on Business and First class fares and strategies. We went early to the airport due to the stories of long TSA lines and then off to the lounge. Check in went quick and the lines were not bad. Off to the lounge. We were then informed that the flight was running 2 hours late. With only a layover at Heathrow of 2 hours that was going to cause us to miss our connecting flight. Now our prepaid transfers were lost since there was a 24 hour cancellation policy. We were supposed to arrive in Amsterdam at 10:45 am and then we had tickets to tour the Keukenhof Gardens at 2:45pm. We were not going to make that either. Totally out of our control. At least we had the lounge access. We finally arrived in Heathrow at 9am, our connecting flight left at 8:45. To the lounge again to see when we could get on another flight. We were originally rebooked on a flight at 2:40 that would arrive at 5pm but got on an earlier flight at 1 that arrived at 3:30p. The Concierge at British Air called our transfer company for us but they would not change the pickup time. Oh well that should be the worse thing that happens this trip. When we arrived in Amsterdam we decided to take a taxi. Hoping my trip insurance will cover this and the tour tickets. Many used the train to get into Amsterdam from the airport. We were not dragging 2 suitcases up and down the escalators. We got to the Doubletree Amsterdam Centraal Station and checked right in. After dropping off our stuff in the room we decided to take a walk through town. I had a self walking tour of the red light district that we did and visited the sex and Hemp museums. Hotel location was great and we used Hilton our points. We had tickets for the next morning at 9 am to the Anne Frank Huis so after dinner went back for the night. After breakfast we took a taxi to make it by our 9am ticket time. We spent 2 hours going through there. We then decided to do the Hop on Hop off bus and 2 boats that we bought tickets for. For anyone doing it with the wait time for the transfers we spent the rest of the day and finished at 5 pm. Saturday we started the day with rain and cooler weather. We still had access to the HOHO bus so went to the outdoor market in the morning. Then back to the hotel and a 10 euro taxi ride to the cruise ship. Cruise ship check in at 2 was quick and we were able to get right into our stateroom and had lunch. After the muster drill up to the sail away cruise critic gathering. How nice to after months of interacting with so many meet in person the people that contributed to the board. The next day was a sea day and we had our Cruise critic connection gathering. We met all the officers and they had coffee and Danishes. The Capt and officers introduced themselves to us and made themselves available for any questions we had on the ship and cruise. The next day we went to Berlin. We had a great tour booked through SPB Tours. We did take the bus and did have traffic going into the city as others have mentioned. Our bus was ½ empty so there was plenty of room to be comfortable. We did though see everything that was on our itinerary. Some were drive by but many other we got off the bus and walked around and had time for photos. I knew ahead of time that it was not an in-depth tour. We then got back to the ship no traffic within 2 ½ hours. We had met other that took the train tour from the ship and they did not see anything more than we did but they said the train ride was nice. The next day was a sea day. In our rooms shore excursions left us a paper to pay ahead of time for shuttles to get from the ship port to town. They said the distance was 20 to 30 min walk. The ports were Tallinn, Helsinki, and Copenhagen. We decided to use OBC to get it. It was not needed. First of all, all the HOHO buses come right to the port on cruise days. So did the HOHO boat in Copenhagen. There were 2 HOHO bus companies. One was Redbuses and the other citysightseeing. Our choice was city sightseeing. BIG MISTAKE. They did not run as many buses as the other company. We should have asked how many buses were running that day. Then again we would assume the person selling the tickets really knew. That meant more waiting time at bus stops when you only have a few hours at any given port. They told us 30 min between buses. We waited over 45 min at some stops. More about that later. So if you plan to self tour and use HOHO you do not need to pay for the shuttle. Tallinn was truly a hidden Jewel. It was a perfect place to do our own tour. BTW we did have with us the Rick Steves Northern Europe cruise tour book to help with the walking tours. If you should go out on your own take the HOHO to the top of the town and walk down hill back to the port . Some people took walking tours and said they could have done it on their own. It was a nice port to see. NO matter how you see it have comfortable shoes! You are walking on cobblestone roads which was difficult for many people. The next day we arrived in St Petersburg. We arrived at 7am but did not clear customs to begin getting off the ship until 8. We had book a private 12 person tour with SPB Tours for the 2 days there. Getting off the ship was a feat in itself. First EVERYONE lined up to get off the ship at the same time. We were not even cleared from customs yet. Some lined up before 6:30. We did meet everyone in our group at the lounge so we did all get off together. Next you have to go through immigration. No lie 10 – 15 min per person!!! They actually check a computer to make sure that you are on a list given to them from the tour companies that you may have booked with. If you are not on an organized tour you need to get your own VISA. Since we booked with SPB Tours they took care of everything for us. After clearing customs that first time the other times took moments to get through. SPB Tours took our tour to another level. Our tour guide was the informative spoke perfect English and took care of all our needs. Originally we were supposed to do a night Ballet but decided to change it to “Go Out Like a Local” It included a vodka sampling . The next day we toured again and made it back to the ship in plenty of time. I would not hesitate to use SPB Tours again. Helsinki was our next port of call. It was a very easy touring port. HOHO buses but again 45 min wait times between stops. Wasting that time when there for only a few hours……. Next port of call for us was Stockholm. We opted for the HOHO boat here. Many had said that the buses get caught in traffic jams so it would be easier. Our first stop was the Vasa Museum. If you plan to go you should go there first as well. Make sure when arriving by boat you go to the lines that are not for the group tours. We got in within 10 min. It was fascinating. After that we went to go to the Skansen. We felt if we did we would not have time to go to anything else so passed on it. The ship was leaving pot at 3 PM. Boy did we luck out with fabulous weather. We took the HOHO boat to the old town. It was magnificent. Again a 35 min wait . We went by the palace where the royal military band was playing. Then off to city center. Walked around a bit and then back to the ship. Make sure you are on deck as the ship leaves Stockholm. It was amazing to see and pass by all the little islands. The scenery was beyond words. Good thing we left when we did otherwise we would have gotten stuck in low tide. We sat on our balcony for over 3 hours before getting ready for dinner. Next day was a sea day. Good thing since we needed to recharge after 5 days of straight touring. Copenhagen was our final port of call. What a mess. There is only a 2 lane road to get off the port in and out. With all the tour buses waiting it became a single lane for in and out. We were stuck for almost an hour on the HOHO in front of the ship. What a traffic jam it was!!!! Considering we were only in port from 10 – 5 time is pretty precious. Again we used citysightseeing bus company. First stop for us was the old city area. We went by the round tower and walked around the old city. Very nice. Walked to the Rosenbourgh Castle and had lunch we brought in the gardens. Went back on the HOHO bus. Only 15 min wait time so not too bad. Went around the entire loop to see the whole city. We then got off across from Tivoli park. We wanted to go in but the lines were too long. It was now 3 pm. We decided to get back on the bus to head back to the ship wanting to get off at two fountains to take pictures. Little Mermaid being one of them. What a joke. It took 2 ½ hours to get back to the ship when it should have taken 30 min. Driver had us switch buses and that bus did not move for 45 min. Driver said I am just the driver go complain to the company. Then EVERY stop the driver gets off to have a cigarette. 10 min each time. Worse experience ever. What a waste of 50 Euro for the 2 of us. I mention the price for others to consider is it worth the HOHO or just pay for tour from a company and focus on a couple of sites at a port. I know SPB Tours had a Baltic package with tours in each port we went to . We thought we would do better on our own. In actuality you are doing a panoramic tour of the city. Now taking in consideration the wait times between buses and boats we probably would have done better with the tours. No wait time, bus was there waiting to take you to the next location etc. If you are traveling and staying in a city for a couple of days then the HOHO would be a better option for an overview of the city and then you still have another day or 2 to see specific sites. If I would have known this before again I would have let SPB Tours take care of all my logistics. Others that used them loved all the tours. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2016
We had never been to Eastern Europe so chose this cruise as a new and exciting destination. It was a huge success: 1) wonderfully attentive ship manager and maitre d', 2) excellent food and very plentiful, 3) outstanding daily ... Read More
We had never been to Eastern Europe so chose this cruise as a new and exciting destination. It was a huge success: 1) wonderfully attentive ship manager and maitre d', 2) excellent food and very plentiful, 3) outstanding daily excursions, most of which were thankfully included in the overall price, 4) very attentive and friendly waiters and service personnel, 5) excellent guides on the daily excursions who answered any questions we had, 6) a real cultural experience for the three of us and introduction to the history of the five Eastern European countries. Each evening there was dancing to a pianist and three folk dancing presentations, which were lively and engaging. During the excursions there were also a few folk dancing presentations and good meals. We also enjoyed the conversations with fellow travelers, most of whom had been on other Viking cruises. We were thrilled with this first Viking cruise and will be going on our second in 2017. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
While we have sailed on various Holland America ships, this was our first on the Prinsendam. In reading other reviews before departure, I was somewhat nervous about what the condition of the ship would be. I don't know if the ship ... Read More
While we have sailed on various Holland America ships, this was our first on the Prinsendam. In reading other reviews before departure, I was somewhat nervous about what the condition of the ship would be. I don't know if the ship has recently had some refurbishments or not, but I found most of the criticisms I had read to be unfounded. Keep in mind, this vessel is 27 years old. I have been on ships that were only 5 years old that were more tired looking than this one. Our cabin on Deck 10 was in pristine condition. The carpet looked new and the furniture had no signs of wear. Everything worked as it should, with the exception of the hot water, and this problem was largely remedied as soon as I reported it, although for some reason the water at the sinks never got as hot as the tub/shower. The outside of the vessel was sparkling and all the public rooms were in great shape. Someone might nitpick that the furniture in the main dining room was a bit beat up, but you really had to be looking for this to notice. The only signs I saw that indicated the ship was old was the molding around the dining room windows was not in great shape, and the caulking around the outside of our verandah door had been patched over rather poorly. The ship was under the command of Capt. Tim Roberts, an affable, laid back Englishman. His personality seemed perfect for this small vessel. The cruise director was Bruce Scudder, who also seemed comfortable on this size of ship. I never heard him say if he works on larger Holland America vessels, but I assume he does. One of the guest entertainers remarked that this was a "happy ship". I would have to agree based on the interaction with various crew members. I have never encountered better or friendlier service, and the staff of the Front Desk were perhaps the epitome of that. Our Room Steward, Gede, was unfailing helpful and efficient, assisted by Hendra. They were constantly inquiring if everything was satisfactory in our cabin. The Dining Room stewards were also very friendly, but clearly overworked and it was hard to develop a personal relationship with them as they were too busy to talk. We were very pleased with the quality, and particularly the taste, of food, both in the main Dining Room and in the Lido. I felt the food had improved substantially since our last HAL cruise on the Ryndam in 2013. Whether it was because this ship gets special attention because it has the highest ratio of return guests of any HAL ship, or just because it is easier to do a higher quality job on a small ship, I don't know, but the food was almost always excellent, particularly the taste and most notably the desserts. I learned to trust my DR Steward's recommendations at dinner time. I noticed how perfect the temperature of the soups were, on a consistent basis. Our only disappointment was that we had to eat in the LIdo more than we would have liked. The food there was excellent as well, but we prefer to eat in the MDR for breakfast and lunch as much as possible. Service was just too slow at breakfast for us to eat there except on sea days, and it was usually closed for lunch on port days. We had one meal each in the Pinnacle Grill and the Cannaleto, and they were both excellent. The entertainment was not spectacular, but probably the most you could expect on a ship of this size. They had a troupe of 4 singers and 4 dancers who put on several shows. Unfortunately, one of the singers was taken ill in Sochi and had to be left behind, and they carried on as best they could. Several nights there were no entertainers in the Showroom. The ill crew member did return for the final night. They had an excellent comedian, a guitar player, and singer come on board and they all did individual shows and then all together for another show. Also, the "Station Band" that played in the Ocean Bar was excellent and could do just about anything, and we often enjoyed listening to them after dinner and before the show at 8 pm. We chose this cruise mostly for the itinerary. We had never been to the Black Sea before. I really enjoyed the scenic cruising in the Dardenelles and the Bosporus Strait. I understand this itinerary used to include a couple of stops in the Ukraine, before the hostilities with Russia broke out, and they were replaced with additional stops in Turkey at Sinop and Trabzon. Both were very disappointing. We also were very disappointed with our excursions in Sochi and Istanbul. But our overall enjoyment of the cruise made these disappointments seem trivial. Both embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly and we had very good ship transfers from Athens airport to Pireaus and return. We will be looking for another opportunity to cruise on the Prinsendam before she is retired, which seems certain in the next two to three years. The Captain said he didn't know the specific plans for the ship, but said one thing is clear - HAL would never build a new ship of this small size, as the economics just don't work. Hopefully they will find a newer small vessel on the used market that could be a replacement. Ships the size of Oceania's Riviera and Marina would be perfect. We have sailed on Riviera twice and loved that ship as well. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
I loved this cruise!! The highlight to me was being up on deck with a gin and tonic when the ship left port!! The Aquavit outdoor dining experience was incredible, with the outdoor cooking and the incredible bartenders... Marvin and ... Read More
I loved this cruise!! The highlight to me was being up on deck with a gin and tonic when the ship left port!! The Aquavit outdoor dining experience was incredible, with the outdoor cooking and the incredible bartenders... Marvin and Frederico!!! The fresh fish which was cooked by Dennis one night was divine! Overall service was excellent. The only aspect which was less than perfect was the Tours. The Opera Tour in Venice was ridiculously described. As a dr. I was exceedingly worried about some infirm people who came and were horrified by the difficulty of the walk. It was very dangerous for them. The Santorini included trip was poor, we spent so much time in the more boring and less attractive parts of the island. But overall the ship was beautiful... I loved the understated décor. The restaurants were wonderful, each and every one of them. It was hard for us to tear ourselves off the Aquavit deck but we did go to Manfredi's twice and were very impressed by the food and wine list. In fact, I thought the included wines were excellent!! Also, the cabin size and décor plus balcony for those great arrivals.... all great. Thank you so much!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
Great time. This cruise was very port intensive...29 days and 20 post of call. Had to miss one port due to a storm but because of this we had to stay two days in Rome...no problem with that!! Over all cruise was great with no major ... Read More
Great time. This cruise was very port intensive...29 days and 20 post of call. Had to miss one port due to a storm but because of this we had to stay two days in Rome...no problem with that!! Over all cruise was great with no major problems. The staff is always wonderful. No problems with the staff in the dinning room and the food was always good. I do wish the entertainment was better but, it is a small ship with little room for big shows. This was our 4th time on the Prinsendam and will sail on her again. Love this ship, although, she does need a good deal of upgrading. Cabin and main areas need a lot of updating. This is an old ship and is really showing her age. Heard several guests had some major pluming problems. Although, we have never had any problems, we have heard that others have had the same pluming problems on every cruise. We have sailed with Holland America 10+ times. We have never had a problem that could not be fixed. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Queen Victoria. Venice to Istanbul Sept/October 2015 Specifications Launched: 2007 Dec Refurbished: 2011, 2015 GRT: 90,000 Length: 964 ft. Draft: 26 ft. Speed: 24 Knots Passengers: 1,990 Berlitz Cruising and ... Read More
Queen Victoria. Venice to Istanbul Sept/October 2015 Specifications Launched: 2007 Dec Refurbished: 2011, 2015 GRT: 90,000 Length: 964 ft. Draft: 26 ft. Speed: 24 Knots Passengers: 1,990 Berlitz Cruising and Cruise ship Guide 2015, rates Queen Victoria No 5 Harvey World Travel-Bruce Blacklock, Wellington helped/arranged much of the travel plan. Hi. I am a regular cruiser, principally on Princess and Celebrity Lines, but on this occasion tried Cunard, Queen Victoria, Venice to Istanbul, 14 nights. We flew Emirates economy to Dubai via Sydney (19 hours and a 2 night stopover IBIS Mall of the Emirates -pleasant), Dubai to Venice (5 hours). Water Taxi to the lovely Hilton Molino Stucky Hotel, Venice (Highly recommended 3 nights) and then the cruise, flying home to Auckland from Istanbul via Dubai again. We are “short dosage cruisers”, primarily go for the ship and enjoy sea days, and ports of call, the odd bus tour etc., and also walks around the port/town e.g. Rhodes, Mykonos SUMMARY Queen Victoria a superb ship, overall the best we have experienced, Celebrity Solstice goes close but different styles. The formal approach adopted re dress standards after 6pm every evening, is not us, but it appears to have assisted maintaining elegance and standards. The Britannia dining room was elegant with superb service, the 12 Royal Cunard and dancers and 4 singers produced Cabaret style shows with a difference, and entertainment from evening. Piano or String quartets, to formal dance lessons were all done with a touch of class. Quality experience and while the ship was full, queues were never an issue; the ship appeared to have so much space, the library and many lounges all conducive to relaxed elegance, dining facilities and options always available with virtually no wait. A highlight was observing from 500 meters offshore-Gallipoli, the three large monuments and the cliff scale was awesome.   JOINING THE QUEEN VICTORIA We took a water taxi from our Hotel to the docks. There was a 500 metre walk or shuttle bus option to the Queen Victoria. Our ticket said board at 3pm, but we got there at 12.30 and no problem getting on. Queue was light. Straightforward entry. One enters straight into the Grand Lobby. This is a spectacular central area, extending over 3 decks, and reminiscent of a film set of the impressive staircases of the old Ocean Liners. Our room was on Floor 1, Cabin 1088 a deluxe standard interior, loved the location. Queen Victoria is simple to find ones way around, she has just three sets of lifts and stairs, labelled A, B and C. The rooms are numbered as if in a traditional hotel, with cabins on Decks 1, 4,5,6,7, and 8. Deck A, with the medical centre, is below Deck 1, and then the decks continue upwards until the highest cabins on Deck 8 and the public areas on Decks 1, 2, 3, 9, 10 and 11. Main Dining room Floor 2/3, Buffet Level 9, Gym etc. on 9 also CABIN STATEROOM Our Cabin 1088 was one of the cheaper cabin options, but we loved the location and the roominess. Being a Deluxe inside cabin, a settee is included, a great addition to the normal 156 sq. feet of a standard interior cabin., and comprises twin beds which are convertible to a king size, two bedside drawers, desk and chair with fridge and drawer, small table and the settee. There is a nice fridge, safe and we fund ample wardroom space and place to put our luggage. Flat screen TV. The bathroom was small but functional and the shower pressure excellent. We found the quality of air conditioning excellent, but you could not turn it off, only adjust temperature. Normally we find the air conditioning is marginal, but not on the Queen Victoria RESTAURANTS BRITANNIA RESTAURANT: We were allocated Table 700, a table for 2 on the second level, the first time in over 20 cruises that our pre cruise request was accepted, and we did not have to hassle the Maître a de, re table allocation. We prefer dining alone in the evening, and those tables for 2 are hard to obtain. I understand Cunard adopts the practice of allocating table requests based on booking date, and that seems fair. Many of course like sharing a table with 4/6/10 persons, but we prefer evening dining on our own. The main Dining Room, the Britannia Restaurant, seating 878 guests is one of the most remarkable rooms at sea, spanning two desks at the stern on Decks 2 and 3 at Stairway C. It evokes memories of classic ocean liner restaurants with sweeping staircases and art deco pillars and arches. The design was inspired by the dining car of the Golden Arrow train that linked London to Paris. The restaurant's Art Deco design is captured in its original artwork, wall scenes, and a combination of authentic finishes including polished wood, bronze, mirror and gold leaf. The room's focal point, an illuminated world globe 10 feet tall, is a sizeable yet elegant reference to Cunard's rich history plying the world's oceans. The service was impeccable and the quality of food excellent. I took a top NZ Pinot to try; this approach copped a US$20 corkage charge-standard across most cruise lines. The wine list available was excellent. VERANDAH FRENCH RESTAURANT: This alternative Restaurant has a French flair, and looked enticing. Surcharge was $15USApp at lunch and $25 pp at night. We did not utilise on this trip, but comments from other passengers were favorable. THE LIDO is an airy self-service buffet restaurant which extends between Staircases B and C across Deck 9. It is open 24 hours, serving breakfast from 0400, followed by lunch from 1130, then afternoon snacks, dinner from 1800 until 2300 and finally evening snacks until breakfast begins. At breakfast there is the usual cereals, fruit including an endless supply of strawberries and fresh pineapple, cold meats and cheese and traditional cooked breakfast with omelettes cooked to order. Overall the Lido is very good and we often choose to eat lunch there; the variety is good and being self-service it is quick on the days in port. It was always possible to find a seat. THE GOLDEN LION PUB on Deck 2 also does food. It is styled as a typical British pub with classic pub grub: fish and chips, chicken korma, steak and ale pie etc. Also shows live sport. Thoroughly enjoyed the fish and chips ROYAL COURT THEATRE The theatre is where all the lectures, films and many of the demonstrations take place as well as the shows in the evening. It is very large, with capacity for over 800 people. The gallery and the two rows of private boxes on each side, 16 in all, give the impression of a nice traditional theatre on shore. Most of the private boxes are for two although there are some for four. Imposing THE PRODUCTION SHOWS AND THE PRIVATE THEATRE BOXES The Royal Cunard Singers (4) and Dancers (12) were by a clear margin the best we have ever experienced. The shows were different to the standard Dance and Cabaret style of other cruises, and Queen Victoria has moved production shows to a new level. I went to everyone offered, both early and late a total of 8 shows. Great!!!! Along with this a range of performers highlighted the evening entertainment, all of excellent standard. A male quartet (Troubadours) a solo flute player of European repute, and the usual array of singer/dancers/comedians were each of the highest quality COOKERY DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE ROYAL COURT THEATRE Cookery demonstrations, lectures by reputable academics have always been a popular feature of Cunard cruises and Queen Victoria was no exception, the lobby area on ground floor also utilised for this. THE QUEEN'S ROOM Afternoon tea is served in the Queen's Room, and this is the typical Cunard White Star and white gloved service. During the day the room is used for a variety of activities. On our cruise there were fencing classes, lunchtime concerts, dancing classes and Bingo. In the evening there is an orchestra for dancing, and it is lively and busy on the special themed evenings. THE WINTER GARDEN AND LIDO AREA The Winter Garden is between the Lido restaurant and the Deck 9 pool area and has a roof which can be opened in good weather and has a lot of very comfortable seats and tinted picture windows the whole length on both sides. This is an impressive area, a very interesting feature of the Queen Victoria POOLS/SPA There are two outdoor pools and the other is aft of the Lido restaurant, also on 9 Deck. Ample deck space for sunbathing and sitting. CLASSICAL CONCERTS AND RECITALS There are a number of locations round the Queen Victoria where there is classical and light entertainment, often in the background. Queen Victoria has at least 3 grand pianos and lots of musicians. Grab a book and listen to music is very relaxing. LIBRARY I always read a couple of books on a voyage. On Queen Victoria the library is complemented by a bookshop. The library is a pretty two storey copy of a private library from Victorian days, with a spiral internal staircase both the bookshop and the library are organised by Ocean Books, who also set up the QE2. INTERNET AND WIFI Internet access is very good on the Queen Victoria, simple to set up, fast and reliable in the areas of the world we reached on this trip. There are twenty computers available in the Internet Centre and there is also Wi-Fi available over most of the ship. Personally we go on vacation to get away from the routines of home, and avoid e-mail and phone communications unless an emergency but observation would suggest we are a dwindling minority. Package costs for internet use are available and reduce costs GYM We are Gym users on a regular daily basis. The Queen Victoria Gym was well equipped, functional and pleasant to use. The incessant volume of noise we experienced on a recent Celebrity Solstice voyage did not occur. What a relief, music was principally background and a wide range It is right at the front of the ship and there is a special magic in watch dolphins playing, the sun rising or a port approach as you are working on the cross trainer or treadmills before breakfast of fresh fruit in the Lido. LAUNDRY From the sublime to the essential. There are five self-service passenger laundry rooms, near cabins 4068, 5070, 6068, 7042 and 8060. Between them there are 14 standard Maytag machines and tumble driers, and each has one iron and ironing board. The laundries are open from 0730 to 2100. Laundries can be noisy, so it is best not to have a cabin opposite. Much to our surprise and pleasure use is free, and detergent powder is provided. ITINERARY • Sat 26 Sep, Board Queen Victoria • Sun 27 Sep, Zadar, Croatia • Mon 28 Sep, Dubrovnik, Croatia • Tue 29 Sep, At Sea • Wed 30 Sep, Mykonos, Greece • Thu 01 Oct, Rhodes, Greece • Fri 02 Oct, Izmir, Turkey • Sat 03 Oct, Istanbul, Turkey (Overnight) • Sun 04 Oct, Istanbul, Turkey • Mon 05 Oct, At Sea • Tues 06 Oct, Marmaris, Turkey • Wed 07 Oct, Heraklion, Greece • Thu 08 Oct, Athens (Piraeus), Greece • Friday 09 Oct, Cruise the Dardanelle’s-see Gallipoli • Saturday 10 Oct, Istanbul Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
MSC Opera. Experienced cruiser and this was the worst. Service Mgr said that cruise caters to Europeans and not to American standards...what? Expecting decent food, timely beverage and meal service is too much to expect? Lousy ... Read More
MSC Opera. Experienced cruiser and this was the worst. Service Mgr said that cruise caters to Europeans and not to American standards...what? Expecting decent food, timely beverage and meal service is too much to expect? Lousy entertainment is acceptable? Never again. I will stick to Holland, Carnival and Royal Caribbean for top notch food, service and entertainment. Do your own research on port activities, sights and shopping as this ship offers slim & shady for port excursions. Charging 12EU for a 600m bus to town center. Luckily I had already done all t he research so ports were on our own and fabulous, with outstanding meals...what a difference from shipboard. Embarkment and disembarkation was quick and easy. Not many ship workers spoke understandable English so communication was difficult to understand Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
I would like to make a complaint of my last cruise with MSC. In October 2013, I made a cruise in the Mediterranean in the ship Lirica. I reserved a balcony and this trip was great. I had a beautiful view from my balcony. I was so ... Read More
I would like to make a complaint of my last cruise with MSC. In October 2013, I made a cruise in the Mediterranean in the ship Lirica. I reserved a balcony and this trip was great. I had a beautiful view from my balcony. I was so pleased with MSC that I decided to make another cruise with the same company. So I reserved the cruise from Hamburg in the ship called Splendida. And I made this trip this September. This time I also reserved a cabin with balcony, but unfortunately they gave me a balcony that had in front a life boat and the mechanism they use to unboard passengers at the ports. The result was that I couldn't see anything at all. I didn't have the beautiful views of the other trip in Lirica. I went immediately to the bureau of Customer Service of the ship and they told me that they were very sorry but that the ship was full and that they couldn't change me to other cabin. So I had to stay the 11 days of the cruise the same way as if I had been in a cabin without balcony. I think that in cases like this you have to compensate the passenger in a cabin with that limitation and not charge the same price as the balconies with a normal view. As i am retired and I am not rich, and you know very well that cruises are expensive, (and cabin with balconies more), I have to save money to afford this cruise. After my first trip I was a great fan of MSC and recommended it, but now I feel betrayed and deceived. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. We boarded in Instabul and visited Romania, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine. A bit of the ship was outdated and needed some maintenance, but we thoroughly loved the size of our room and the crew itself. The ... Read More
Thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. We boarded in Instabul and visited Romania, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine. A bit of the ship was outdated and needed some maintenance, but we thoroughly loved the size of our room and the crew itself. The meals were very good in the dining room and the dinner in Candles (everyone is entitled to 1 meal) was excellent. It was great not to be nickeled and dimed for things. All non-alcoholic drinks were included, including water. The small ship size allowed you into ports that other ships just cannot access. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. We were unsure if we would enjoy a small ship (we are using to ships from 1200-2800 passengers) but found that this was much more to our liking. The crew is excellent and goes out of their way to make sure everyone enjoys. This might have been our first Windstar cruise, but it won't be our last! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
I just completed two back to back cruises, 9/5-9/12 Piraeus-Istanbul (Greek Isles) and 9/12-9/19 Istanbul-Istanbul (Black Sea Odyssey) This was my first SB trip. For comparison, I have done 8 prior cruises, most of them on luxury ... Read More
I just completed two back to back cruises, 9/5-9/12 Piraeus-Istanbul (Greek Isles) and 9/12-9/19 Istanbul-Istanbul (Black Sea Odyssey) This was my first SB trip. For comparison, I have done 8 prior cruises, most of them on luxury competitor lines. EMBARKATION was pleasant and efficient, took less than a half hour. We got on board on a very hot day around 12:30 for a 4 PM departure, then went to the nicely air-conditioned Colonnade indoor/outdoor venue for a sumptuous buffet lunch while the rooms were readied. Around 2PM we were notified our room was ready. My suitcase was there waiting for me from Luggage Forward, a company sponsored by SB, shipped from the US in advance, right on time. ATMOSPHERE Contemporary, well-kept ship, very clean, with obviously well-off passengers averaging 55-65. Overall, pax were younger than on Silver Sea cruises I have done, by about 10 years, though this may have been due to the itinerary. Passengers were mostly well-behaved, healthy-appearing couples with varying marital status, including a few gay couples, and a handful of singles (there seemed to be less of them here than on SS). Though there were a few people who appeared unhappy and were having problems they unrealistically hoped a cruise would solve, generally people seemed to be polite, well-traveled, reserved, and content to enjoy their trips and the company of their traveling companions without inserting themselves into conversations with strangers. At least a third seemed to be from non-English speaking countries (I heard at least Italian, German, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch, Flemish, and Portuguese). The rest were English-speaking Americans (some originally from other countries), Brits, Canadians, Aussies. Most of the port excursions on these cruises required a pretty good fitness level (cobblestones, hills, and/or walking and standing around in the heat for the majority of offered excursions), so not surprisingly I did not see any wheelchairs (though some pax had canes and were mobility impaired), or many pax who were young children. However, I heard from a crew member that a couple months before here had been an unusual group of pax on board with 50 children, so absence of children is not guaranteed on this line. Note for smoking phobics: there were a few small outdoor smoking venues which did not bother me at all but might bother some. Even though I am a non-smoker, I am not worried I will die from a few outdoor sniffs of smoke here and there, though I know some people are, and some perceive reactions to even small amounts. Smoking venues were on the starboard side of the 9th floor outside above the pool deck (five tables), and starboard side of SB Square veranda (a couple sofas and tables), plus smoking is allowed on verandas, but overall, VERY few people smoked, or even vaped. FACILITIES were overall very nice, though the contemporary style modern furniture in most public areas was often uncomfortable for me (I have musculoskeletal problems) so I set up coping strategies (see below). The ship had immaculate maintenance, tasteful art displays, a very uncrowded environment, and even at the pools on hot days it was tolerable and you could swim laps (there is also a smaller pool lower and aft). I could always find a place to sit in the public areas, including the wonderful Seabourn Square center aft where there are computers, printed newspapers, acceptable Internet, iPADs, easily available front desk personnel, coffees with snacks, ice creams, adjustable recliners, sofas, library books and games. Chairs and sofas in public areas were modern in appearance, some more comfortable than others. Poolside lounge chairs were uncomfortable for me without cushions. Chairs in the Colonnade were very nicely angled, padded, and comfortable, and this was my favorite dining venue (I love eating outside on a nice day). There were two modern styles of chairs in the main dining room: one style (rounded, yellow) was oddly shaped, such that I felt like I would slide off, whereas the others (white, more squared) were ok, though shorter than ideal on the backrest and with hard armrests, and thus not as cushy and plush as the main dining room chairs on competitor lines Regent or Silver Sea. I was a bit disappointed in the overall seating on this line (many hard seats and low backrests), but not enough to dissuade me from coming to SB again, as I can structure ways to get around these issues (e.g., target the venues or chairs that I like, and/or carry portable seating pads). Nothing looked worn out or tired. SPA: Beautiful spa with views of the ocean as you get serviced, with pleasant staff, (Tijan the manicurist from Serbia is a delight to talk to) and a special serene sitting area where you can lie on hard warm rocks if you choose (I did not, too hard), or wade through a serene area pool. You can also rent by the day or by cruise regular access to the serene area. Though I did not use the gym, it looked uncrowded and had a variety of equipment options, also with ocean views, and a trainer was available. ENTERTAINMENT: I went to several shows, which with the exception of a lovely and talented outstanding young classical pianist (Naomi Edemarian, whom I could listen to all day if offered), were nothing special, but I would never pick a cruise line for its shows. There were some competent Broadway-style singers and dancers, there was a magician, a talented and humorous female fiddle player, but unfortunately also a British comedian who was not too funny and a bit crude. Grand Salon is the main basic entertainment, gathering, and lecture venue, where attentive staff will bring drinks to your seats before and during the events if you want them. Chairs are a little stiff though padded, upright, not comfortable enough for me to want to lounge the evening away in them. There are also many on demand movies you could watch in your suite, almost all only in English, as well as the usual array of varying and mostly sparsely attended on-board activities common to other cruise lines (cards, dance lessons, trivia, casino, etc). TV showed BBC news, Sky news, FOX news, CNBC, MSNBC, Sky Sports, some TV shows, a view from the bridge, and had an interactive channel where you could book excursions and spa appointments (there were a few problems). There was also a cruise director who was a beautiful young American woman who looked terrific in a tight evening dress and very high heels, and tried very hard to be pleasant and amusing, but who seemed to have a somewhat false manner about her and periodically made jokes that I did not consider to be funny (e.g., about a particular classical music piano piece reminding her of Bugs Bunny themes). But to me, cruise directors (or event entertainment offerings) do not make or break a cruise, so she was mostly irrelevant to my overall rating of this trip as 5/5. ENRICHMENT lectures: not a strength of SB this journey; lectures were few and far between, weak and disorganized, with some misinformation provided on some topics (one British male speaker was particularly annoying in this regard, not sure if he is paid for his efforts). I would have been better off just reading about the referenced places and history on the internet or in books about the area I had brought on my iPAD, and watching online videos, rather than listening to the speakers with their poorly structured and barely legible slide presentations. But lecture availability does not determine my cruising choice or overall rating (here, 5/5). FOOD and WINE: Very good to outstanding, all venues, all meals. This is very important to me on cruises. There was a wide variety of competently cuisine, and portions were sensible so you could try more things (considering the constant ongoing feeding), with daily special themes. Also, personnel brought daily fresh fruit specials to the suite daily. I did not have a bad or mediocre meal the entire cruise though some courses were better than others. My biggest ‘complaint’ was that the delicate pheasant one night had a little too much rosemary on it, and the borscht on the Russian food night in the Colonnadede did not taste very Russian. Though I had some mediocre coffee here and there, it was usually good, and always served hot and well-caffeinated, even at room service. Seabourn Square personnel will make you espresso, latte, etc starting 6:15 AM, till 6:00 PM, no closures, and again 9-11PM, where you can also get little cakes, muffins, tiny sandwiches at will. Room service for breakfast was quick, (often arrived earlier than ordered) and except for one of the times I used it, the tray always had what I had ordered (the other time they had just forgotten to pick up the breakfast order from outside the door the night before). The included Nicholas Feuillatte champagne and international red wine offerings were decent to good, and though some of the included whites were not to my taste, personnel would bring me something different if I asked, also included in the basic fare (such as Stag’s Leap Chardonnay which drinks quite nicely with the wonderful assorted lovely fish dishes SB frequently offered). I did not feel compelled to constantly buy wine off the wine list in order to find something drinkable, like I did recently on SS. It was also not at all difficult to attract a waiter’s attention and the dining rooms appeared well-organized in true team efforts. Though food in all venues was very good, my favorite was the popular Restaurant 2 (multiple small gourmet portions served in a small quiet room, reservations are required there but there is no extra fee). Restaurant 2 also offered wine/food pairings on one of my two trips there, which were outstanding. Though I am not a vegetarian, I noted on SB there were always vegetarian options, quite tasty, and gluten-free choices were also marked. The main dining room and Restaurant 2 were not open for breakfast or lunch, which some people did not like but I did not care as I knew how and where to eat to get enough tasty food 24/7. For breakfast, most people either used pre-ordered room service for breakfast or ate at the Colonnade (7:30-10). Lunchtime people either ate at the pool (1-4), the Colonnade (12-2), or were on excursions. An improvement would be if advance dining reservations, e.g., for R2, could be made on the internet before the cruise, as on SS or some other lines, to avoid rushing around the first day trying to get a reservation in R2 (they booked out). SERVICE: Exceptional, and this is an important and distinguishing SB feature. Excellent, friendly and helpful staff everywhere I turned, and personnel did not seem exhausted or act overworked and annoyed with you: very good waiters and service in dining rooms, very good room stewardess (ours was the excellent Monica, from Slovakia). There were also helpful and readily available SB Square destinations and front desk service personnel, and computer tech support (e.g., Adrian — quietly competent and thorough). Personnel who interacted with pax front-line were from English-speaking countries of origin from all over the world, or from countries where almost all young people are required to learn English. I never had trouble getting front line personnel to understand what I was saying, and many were multilingual and picked up on pax language preferences if they were not English. Personnel were readily responsive to the few problems I had: e.g., I have a musculoskeletal condition which makes hard (i.e., new) mattresses difficult for me to tolerate, and my stewardess did not rest until she found a solution to my mattress and sleeping problem (an egg crate topper). Adrian the computer guy also came personally to my suite to help me with my internet and email issues (he resolved a very complex problem I had). I had a sense of “can do, no matter what” from the staff, as opposed to “not my problem." INTERNET: not as good as I’d like (especially in my suite location), but it was reasonably priced for unlimited service and one way or the other, I was able to get on and stay on to get done what needed to be done. This is not a problem unique to SB. SUITE review: I had a very forward PH Suite on the 9th floor, right behind the bridge. Surprisingly, I heard no bridge noise. There was a huge amount of storage space, and a luxury bathroom with a side-by-side modern shower and a whirlpool tub. Nothing was broken, but a minor flaw was that the bathtub had no rinse-off hose. There were deep double sinks, plus another sink in the separate toilet area which could be accessed either from the hall or from the bathroom. Though the stewardess was great, the suite overall turned out not to suit my needs: as noted, the bed with its new mattresses was, to me, too hard, and the very narrow living room sofa/chaise was even harder and I thought more appropriate for a dentist’s waiting room than a luxury cruise line. The Istanbul airport had seats more comfortable than this sofa. The sofa was too narrow to stretch out on (it was not wide, like in the picture I saw of the PH on the internet) and as there was also no comfortable recliner in the living room either, just a couple stiff chairs at the dining table, I did not want to sit in the living room/dining area at all. Also, the suite had poor to non-existent wifi much of the time, though it improved after the internet team performed some upgrades later in the cruise (this was apparently just a bad location for wifi I did not know about in advance). So I had to go to SB Square or closer towards the other side of the ship to use my reasonably priced unlimited internet service plan. The deck in the suite was spacious, and the outdoor chaise lounge chairs partially reclined, but had no pads and were thus hard to sit on for more than a few minutes (I put pillows on them when I wanted to sit outside). The stiff chairs at the eating table on the suite's deck (identical to the pool area dining chairs) did have some pads but were upright and uncomfortable. Lighting functions were confusing, i.e., the switches let the living room and bathroom be either totally bright or totally dark, no “mood” setting option except in the bedroom. In sum, in hindsight, the extra price paid to have a PH suite was not worth it to me as I could not comfortably use most of the space to lounge in the room that had the view. I typically wanted to leave the suite as much as possible to go sit somewhere more comfortable. I would have been better off with a simple veranda suite prepared in advance with just a bed with an egg crate mattress topper, which is what I have reserved for my next SB cruise to Norway in 2016, where I will be able to ignore the hard sofa but still see the ocean while lounging on the bed. EXCURSIONS AND PORTS: SANTORINI: a lovely, must-see, though very crowded, picture postcard island, tender required. We did the SB excursion to Mt Profitis Ilias and Oia Village, ending in Thira. It was a good overview of the area, though the trip up to Mt. Profitis, which was just a ride up a mountain and back yielded nothing to do at the top except look down at the rest of the island (there was some trash lying around, and a monastery you could not enter, no inn or place to sit or relax and enjoy the view). So next time we would probably skip this in favor of more independent time in Oia and Thira for browsing the interesting little streets and shops and enjoying some refreshments. RHODES — a worthwhile port. We just wondered around on our own here rather than taking a tour (ship was docked right at the key tourist areas, hard to get lost, just follow the old city walls ), and we also toured the extensive Archeological Museum, definitely worth a long stop, it also has shaded gardens. PATMOS — Nice. We did the "Patmos Highlights” excursion on a hot day, including the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse. This is an impressive very old religious site, and there was an active Greek Orthodox service ongoing. The tour included the 300-yr-old Simandris House, with the 90 plus aged female owner sitting there hosting as we toured, interesting, and then we went for a delicious plate of mezes, decent wine and Greek dancing at a local inn. A good tour, though quite strenuous going up the hills, especially if weather is hot, not for people who have trouble going up and down in the heat. KUSADASI — definitely do the Ephesus Evening Reception complimentary classical music concert, quite beautiful (though the acoustics at the site did not do the musicians justice, i.e., their music got partially drowned out, but this is a visually special event not to be missed. We did a separate Virtuoso tour of amazing Ephesus on the second leg of the cruise out of Izmir so I cannot comment on the quality of the actual SB sponsored Ephesus excursions out of Kusadasi. MYKONOS — I do not recommend the “Stroll through Mykonos.” The guide was boring, hard to understand, and we stood around in a poorly ventilated hot museum with no chairs to rest on, which had some interesting pieces but also a lot of echo. There was not enough strolling and too much standing. The ship is docked here, no tender, so you could do this high end town on your own. We bailed after the first 45 minutes and just wandered around independently, then ate at a local overpriced but pleasant inn on the water with a view of the interesting windmills. LIMNOS— did the Highlights tour, which was an ok tour of this more primitive island, which has quite a bit of military installations, rough vineyards, poorer people. Definitely not Napa valley style wineries. They do not get many visitors. We toured the beautifully situated Poliochnis ruins from 4000 BC as well as the British Cemetery and World War I Memorial, both are worth a look, though a private tour might provide more timing flexibility to explore the island ISTANBUL— we did the “Best of Istanbul” tour as this was our first time here and we were not sure what to expect. We would likely have done a private tour if it weren’t for the recent political unrest in the area. VERY CROWDED city overall, and this tour is not for the easily stressed or fatigued. The bus had stiff, closely spaced uncomfortable seats that did not recline. The palaces were packed, (though fascinating to view) as was the Hagia Sophia museum, (equally fascinating) and the lines were incredibly long at the Blue Mosque even for pre-booked big groups. The tour (at least on a hot day) was too tiring, with no significant rest or food breaks until close to 1:30 when we had an outstanding late Turkish lunch at a lovely air-conditioned upscale restaurant, Nar Lokanta. You may wish to skip the extra morning coffee that day if you are female, as the toilets offered in the area of the tour (other than later at the immaculate restaurant in the afternoon) were less than lovely, often the squat type (though western style at the Museum), with LONG lines as well, and at the Blue Mosque toilets some Muslim women were ritualistically washing their feet and bodies in the washroom sinks though posted signs said they should not do this there (there are other designated locations for this). NESSEBUR: we did the pleasant Bulgarian cooking demonstration. Seas were too rough to tender off this ancient town, so we docked 16 km nearby at the modern port terminal in Burgas and were then bussed to the colorful UNESCO heritage site of Nessebur where we did a walking tour, then had a wonderful 5-course Bulgarian feast at a local restaurant (Gloria Mar) with a cooking demo before, and recipes provided to take home. Unfortunately the lunch was quite late (close to 2PM before we actually ate) and we were tortured with the preceding cooking demonstrations and aromas around us without having even a morsel of food on the tables for the hungry pax who had not had anything since breakfast to munch on. So, some pax were quite cranky and expressed themselves accordingly. I should have brought some snacks with me to eat late morning in the bus, or perhaps to improve the experience the restaurant could have served the first course salad while demonstrating the rest of the food preparations. If you do this excursion, it might be good to plan on either eating a big breakfast or bringing snacks for late morning, and/or planning skipping a big dinner that night as you will be very full from the lunch feast. As it was, we had to rush through 5 courses, and the last course (a plate of ripe fruit) was mostly uneaten. VARNA, Bulgaria: a fairly large industrial port, not much to see in town other than a museum. We did the “Treasures of Varna” excursion, on which we saw some notable archeological treasures, also walked in soft sand through a petrified forest near the sea (interesting photo ops), then drove to a forest where we were saw some Bulgarian folk dancers perform (under a sign in German for some reason that said “Waldfest” , which means forest festival). Bulgarian music is not to my taste, too droningly repetitive, but the costumes were colorful and there was an audience participation option which some frisky pax took advantage of. We were offered a snack of lunchmeat and unremarkable cheese, one roll per person, and bad Bulgarian wine, while sitting on hard benches. The excellent, witty guide Elke (who speaks 8 languages) saved the day, though I would probably not do this organized excursion again. CONSTANZA, Rumania: “Constanza Highlights” excursion — unfortunately, there was not much to “highlight” here. This is an industrial port, a rundown town in a poor country, that shows significant evidence of the damage that communism did over the years. The archeological museum had some interesting treasures and there were a few other historical ruins, ancient and communist, to see. The bus then took us to the “Rumanian Riviera” beach town of Mamaia, which was mostly deserted as the season had ended. We took a gondola across town with a coastline view of the mostly shabby hotels lining a wide, sandy beach. We then were given too much time to kill in an uninteresting location with a few tacky shops and unfriendly locals, and there was surprisingly quite a bit of trash on the streets. I would not do this excursion again. IZMIR: we did a private group excursion to Ephesus. Ephesus is not to be missed, either from this end (longer drive) or from the Kusadasi access. The Terrace Houses were particularly interesting, fascinating history. Must be fit and able to go up/down uneven areas, best done when the day is not too hot (it was VERY hot, so I struggled). The additional Virgin Mary crowded site was not worth the trip to me but might be if you are a Christian following a pilgrimage route and must see this location. DISEMBARKATION in Istanbul did not go as smoothly as I expected, likely due to local port issues rather than SB fault. We ordered an early private car through SB to pick us up at 8AM and take us to the airport and were told to wait to be called to disembark at 8. We were given early disembarkation luggage tags. However, the way things evolved, in the AM we did not see any groups gathering waiting to be called, and it was close to car pick-up time, so we left the ship at 7:45 to make sure we did not miss our 8AM pickup outside the port. We and another couple with a 7:45 pickup got stuck in a huge passport and customs line of thousands of disembarking Celebrity pax, with no priority line for us with our early cars, and our luggage was not prioritized (it seemed to emerge randomly), so it was not until 8:45 that we had our delayed luggage and were finally in the car on the way to the airport, when it should have been at 8. We did not miss our flight, not even close, but some anxiety was created. CONCLUSION/SUMMARY: Despite a few minor glitches (I always expect something to go wrong when I travel) I had a very positive overall experience with Seabourn. My problems with hard mattresses and sofas are likely unique to me or a small minority of people. Food, wine, service, ambience, and a “can do” sense that everything is being taken care of in a professional manner, were and are the main features that I value (plus, of course, the itinerary). I had previously pre-booked a journey on SB with my husband on the Quest to Norway July 2015 (Copenhagen-Dover), and my current experience has reinforced my desire to retain that reservation (but with an eggcrate mattress pre-arranged with the future cruise services desk :). I definitely look forward to more SB excellence in the areas where it counts — cuisine, service, responsiveness, and class. I will also compare it with Hapag Lloyd’s equally highly rated but somewhat different style ultra luxury Europa 2 ship in December where I am booked with my husband as a new customer. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
Staff very nice and pleasant. Balcony cabin b222 very good position clean and tidy. Shops on board well over priced, sale day on board like a jumble sale (junk) Food OK always found something to eat. Entertainment very poor kareoke ... Read More
Staff very nice and pleasant. Balcony cabin b222 very good position clean and tidy. Shops on board well over priced, sale day on board like a jumble sale (junk) Food OK always found something to eat. Entertainment very poor kareoke not entertainment just cheap penny pinching not putting on acts. Comedian nothing to right home about and magic show seen same old card tricks several times done better. Formal night people don't bother we felt very over dressed(disappointed) shorts don't count as formal ware. Staff were pleasant especially Richard in cafe All the ship wanted to do was try to sell sell sell. Photograph poor back drops why not use the elegance of the ship instead of false back grounds. After all of the above enjoyed cruise but disappointing as being American ship thought it would be be better. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
This was the best cruise I've ever been on. I was iffy about the teen club, Entourage (was 17, turned 18), but it ended up being one of the main reasons I had such a good time. All the friends I met there were amazing and we had so ... Read More
This was the best cruise I've ever been on. I was iffy about the teen club, Entourage (was 17, turned 18), but it ended up being one of the main reasons I had such a good time. All the friends I met there were amazing and we had so much fun in the room playing fooseball, air hockey, wii, and dancing around. We also saw a show which I absolutely loved. All the entertainers were really good singers and dancers and I was never bored (which was a main concern of mine). The food isn't the greatest, but there are some really amazing dishes. The cakes and steaks are a bit dry. Actually, none of the desserts are good, but I loved all the carb based dishes like pasta, and potato soups. There's plenty to do: work out at the gym, get a massage at the spa, lounge around at the pool, watch shows, and participate in random activities around the ship that happen at all times. I loved the places we visited, but be careful of which tours you book. For example, the Best of Berlin was great, but in Russia, we visited 3 churches in a row which was boring for anyone my age. Hop on Hop off works great for small cities like Helsinki, but not for big ones like Stockholm, in which I spent an hour every time waiting for a bus to come by. Some excursions are also really fun, like the icebar. When you come back on the ship, staff offer you hot towels and cool drinks as you wait to embark. The wait isn't too long either. The staff is AMAZING. Everyone is so nice and always ready to help you. I knew some of the staff by name and they knew me. My friends and I even talked to one of the staff about drama and stuff going on around the ship. When I sprained my ankle in soccer, a staff member made sure that I was okay and could walk fine and even jokingly offered me a wheelchair. The cruise is very considerate as well. My room got flooded, so they moved us to a new one immediately (a bigger one too) and gave us apology chocolates. I even got a cupcake and note for my birthday. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
We went on the Thomson Spirit highlights of the black sea August 2015. Had a really good time. There was a wide selection of food, could either have self service with alot of variety, eat in one resturant being served, with limited choice ... Read More
We went on the Thomson Spirit highlights of the black sea August 2015. Had a really good time. There was a wide selection of food, could either have self service with alot of variety, eat in one resturant being served, with limited choice which was from the self service resturant anyway or pay a supplement to go to the 3rd resturant, we didnt go. Our room was a good size with a double wardrobe, 2 single beds, a double would of been better but we didnt pay to reserve our cabin. The decor of the ship was quite dated but still nice. The only bad thing was the size of the swimming pool as it was very small plus the price of the drinks package when some people were offered them cheaper. We didnt get the drinks package in the end and it worked out cheaper. The itinery and trips were really good. We went on a city tour of Istanbul which was well worth the money, we did the bike tour in romania which was really good and then a beach transfer in Greece. This was quiet expensive for what it was but it was still a good day. We have already booked our trip for next year as we loved it so much! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We really enjoyed this cruise. The ports were the main reason we decided to book this cruise, and we really were happy with the places we got to visit. We were in each port just long enough to decide if we wanted to return for a longer ... Read More
We really enjoyed this cruise. The ports were the main reason we decided to book this cruise, and we really were happy with the places we got to visit. We were in each port just long enough to decide if we wanted to return for a longer visit...or not. We had three rooms, and our traveling group ranged in age from 14 to 70. The cabins were nice, clean and well laid out. The TV system will eventually be fantastic for moments of downtime in the cabin. However, it still is working out some technical kinks. In each of our rooms the televisions "froze" multiple times while on board, and a technician had to come to reset them. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. Dinners were good, but a bit slow in delivery...waiters seem to have too many tables. The shows were all entertaining, and the continuous entertainment in the open lobby area was very nice. The cruise staff was somewhat limited in offerings. There weather was cool, not cold, but cool enough that they never tried to do anything on the pool deck. We used SPB in Berlin and St. Petersburg. Hop On Hop off in Oslo...be sure to go to the ski jump. We missed Helsinki because it was too windy to dock. In Stockholm we rode the train to town...follow the blue line...it couldn't be simpler! Stockholm was a great stop, as was Tallinn. In Tallinn we did a bike tour...but Tallinn is not really a biking town, so I don't recommend it. Copenhagen however was the perfect town to go an organized bike tour! We also did a Segway tour in Copenhagen...be sure to take advantage of this! Great way to see a lot of the city, in a limited amount of time. Before going to Estonia, be sure to watch "The Singing Revolution." Enjoy your cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We've been on over twenty five cruises and this one is our third with Thomson. We have been on Celebration (Spirit’s sister ship) and Spirit previously. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary; Thomson cruises tend to have ... Read More
We've been on over twenty five cruises and this one is our third with Thomson. We have been on Celebration (Spirit’s sister ship) and Spirit previously. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary; Thomson cruises tend to have very interesting itineraries due to some of their ships’ relatively small size (in comparison to the huge modern ships we usually sail on), meaning they can call at different ports. We embarked at Maramis, a pleasant port area, and it is just a short walk into the local town. We had not booked a specific inside cabin (this costs extra) so only found out what it was (cabin 518, deck 3) when we arrived at the port. We had a cabin for four as we were taking our grown up children with us. Cabin 518 is in the absolute middle of the ship and had an abundance of wardrobe and drawer space for the four of us. Our Cabin stewards, Abu and Samir, were very pleasant and were happy to comply with our various requests (including removing the soda cans and snacks from one of the table tops; these are expensive to purchase and take up space). Over the holiday they made us some fab towel animals; my favourite being the huge crocodile which took up the whole length of the bed. Due to Spirit’s small size, we were minutes away from everywhere. We had our evening meals at the Compass Rose restaurant and so enjoyed the very good service of our waiters on the first night, Adam and Ahmed, that we returned to their tables every evening. The food was usually quite plain and small portions but pleasant enough (lamb was very, very good though). The bread basket on the table had at least five different types of bread on offer, our water was refilled regularly. After dinner we usually went to the Broadway for the show, then to High Spirits for a quiz show or to hear Top Man play, an excellent band, then on to the casino, finishing with tea/coffee at the buffet at the back of the ship, sitting outside watching the wake in the early hours (a really good selection of teas on offer too). If you like star gazing and want to avoid light pollution go to deck nine and, next to cabin 005, is a slim staircase leading to an outside area at the front of the ship. It is very dark here so take care until your eyes adjust because you may find people lying on the ground looking at the stars (I recommend you take a towel). This is also a good place to sunbathe during the day. Every evening we had different 'cocktails of the day' for £3.95 rather than £4.60 (and no added service charge either). There were always three to choose from, different every day; a frozen (e.g. Strawberry Daiquiri), a martini (e.g. Misti) or standard cocktail (e.g. Bon Voyage). Very good value. We did two ships tours; first at Constanta, Romania. We chose the City tour at 3.5 hours. We visited a museum, a cathedral and the Mamaia beach resort on the Black Sea; a very busy resort with shallow water, no tide, really safe for kids and great for swimming. If we ever return to Constanta we will get a taxi straight to the beach resort and book one of the shaded sunbeds (inexpensive for the day); we really enjoyed it there. The other tour was in Istambul; A Taste of Istambul (3.5 hours); where we visited the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and the Underground Cistern. Last time we were in Istambul we were unable to enter the Blue Mosque because it closes at different times for prayers so went on the tour specifically to see the inside. Don’t worry if you are not dressed appropriately (covered knees/shoulders/hair) because there is a booth that you pass where you will be given a covering – this is for men and woman. You will be given a plastic bag to put your shoes in, if you feel uncomfortable about walking in the mosque in bare feet, take a pair of socks to wear. The Blue Mosque is very busy all day, it is truly amazing inside. At Odessa, Ukraine we could see the famous Potemkin Steps from the ship so we walked up them into town. There was a big thunderstorm so we sheltered while it poured then walked around the streets, absorbing the local vibe. Many of the buildings we saw were somewhat neglected but had obviously been previously very beautiful; “faded grandeur” sums it up. We got £10 worth of local currency and found a (non-tourist) kebab shop where we had a snack, coffees, beers and free wifi for (quite!) a while. We also had to buy after-sun (due to missing a bit and getting a burnt shin the day before). It just shows that the sun cream I got from Poundland (factor 15) really works as long as you don’t miss a bit. During lunchtime we ate on the Lido and I recommend the Chef’s Corner booth; every day a different lunch option freshly made for you: Enchiladas, BBQ, Deli Sandwich, Crepes, Gyros etc. At breakfast time it was an omelette booth with a choice of cheese, ham and vegetables. In the evening the buffet tables were laid with table cloths/cutlery etc., for passengers who didn't want to dress for dinner at the Compass Rose. Chef’s Corner in the evening was freshly prepared pasta dishes or Teppanyaki. Also, every morning at breakfast on the Lido the pastry chef had prepared some sort of bread/pastry dish relevant to the port we were visiting. A waiter would bring round a tray and napkins for passengers to try. One morning I had something very odd (we were visiting Mykanos that day). It smelled a bit like PlayDoh (I love that smell) and was filo pastry with a sort of porridgy gloop inside. Well, I tried it, I finally know what PlayDoh tastes like! I mustn't forget the special carved meat in the buffet; I loved the ham on the bone, very tasty with a green salad and coleslaw. Regrettably, the evening before visiting Mykanos, a passenger was taken ill at the Compass Rose. She had a fit and possibly a stroke too (we were on the next table). We had to return to Odessa so she could get specialist medical treatment and this made us late to dock in Mykanos. It was decided we would tender instead but when we arrived at 3pm strong winds made this impossible. A tender boat was despatched to test whether it was feasible, but after an hour waiting, the decision was made to leave. There were three other ships having similar difficulties, one was Thomson Dream (I think). It was such a shame as I love Mykanos and wanted to show my kids around as they’d never been. I hope the lady has recovered and is safely home now, anyway. It is a fact of life that sometimes ports have to be missed for a variety of reasons. One of the things I really like about Thomson cruises (quite apart from the very friendly staff and relaxed vibe and NO TIPPING policy), is that on disembarkation day we don’t have to leave the ship until our flight time. This meant we could have a leisurely breakfast (at Compass Rose, if you want waiter service say so when you enter the room as there is also a buffet breakfast option here), could leave our had luggage in the supervised cinema , and wander into Maramis before returning for lunch. On disembarking the ship after lunch we walked to the covered area to retrieve our cases before boarding the coach back to Dalaman Airport. We recommended our cabin staff and waiters for their great service on the pink form the night before we disembarked, I also wrote them individually a note of thanks with a monetary gift of my own choosing, this is the way it should be. Next week we are off on another cruise on Celebrity Eclipse, another lovely ship, but a completely different experience. All ships have their own personality and it is impossible to compare one to another. All I know is that I am looking to book another Thomsons cruise, maybe Celebration next time. It all depends of the itinerary. It’s been a long review and I am certain to have forgotten lots of bits (!). Thanks for reading this far. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Before MSC Opera I was on MSC Fantasia which is a bigger (and better) ship. Overall impresion is great! Itineraries are great, time spent on shore excellent and everyone are so nice and kind. If this had been my first cruise I would ... Read More
Before MSC Opera I was on MSC Fantasia which is a bigger (and better) ship. Overall impresion is great! Itineraries are great, time spent on shore excellent and everyone are so nice and kind. If this had been my first cruise I would probably be thrilled, but since this is my third cruise I couldn't help myself but to compare it with previous one. We were the first passengers since the ship was renovated last year, and one could say that this was a test cruise. There were a lot oversights: mugs and cups in buffet restaurant were often dirty - every second cup was clean so it became tiresome to check every cup. Juices in the self serving restaurant were available only in the morning not in the evening and hot chocolate wasn't available at all although it was included in the price. Later we found out that staff don't bring out bags of hot chocolate or they rarely do and sometimes they make a hot chocolate in the thermos which is not warm and which has very little cocoa (color was dirty white, not brown!). Food for breakfast was the same every day; muesli was already prepared on the milk-it looked disgusting to me and I would prefer to prepare it by myself in yogurt. I drink a lot of tea (which was available all day) but I could find honey only in the morning and lemon is even harder to find. The food was often greasy (even fish!) and dinner in the restaurant was taking too long, every single day (from 9pm till 11pm!). Although maître d'hôtel came to us one evening asking us how is everything, are we satisfied and promised us faster service, nothing has actually changed. The midnight buffet was very poor: mostly vegetarian sandwiches and dessert from previous days. Air Conditioner made being inside the ship very uncomfortable because it was very cold in bars and lobbies. Inside temperature was around 20 C, which is low considering outside temperature is much higher. I regret not bringing more long sleeve blouses, jackets etc. I had situation by the pool when pool attendant told me I can't eat fruits by the pool (which is OK, because it said on the warning board that it is forbidden). But I was disappointed he didn't say anything to other people eating around or even worse children diving and jumping in the pool (it is clearly stated that it is forbidden to dive and jump in the pool and to run around the pool) ! When I asked him about that his answer was that they are children. I don't care if they are children or not, but because of that children I couldn't swim, or sit by the pool because they splashed water a lot and got me and my expensive camera wet even on the sunbed. Not to mention that children were diving and jumping in the whirlpools! So I didn't use those either. Deck No.11 has 2 pools deep 1.8m and one big part of the deck for children (that is new). But 30% children were in their area, and the rest of them around other 2 pools. It was very noisy on 11th deck. The best part to rest is the back of the ship. Most people have spoken english perfectly, but it happened that woman on reception (from Kyrgyzstan) didn't speak it very well (or almost at all) and we couldn't understand each other which was very frustrating. Except that situation (and situation on the deck by the pool) all stuff was very polite, friendly, helpful... I'm not complaining on staff, I am disappointed with the ship and a lot of oversights which now I can't remember all. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
What an absolutely fabulous time! River cruises are not for the folks looking for on-board entertainment! One fantastic musician/singer (Valentine!) and an evening with the crews talent show, and 1 Bulgarian folk dancers! The rest of ... Read More
What an absolutely fabulous time! River cruises are not for the folks looking for on-board entertainment! One fantastic musician/singer (Valentine!) and an evening with the crews talent show, and 1 Bulgarian folk dancers! The rest of the time was used to rest for the next day! this tour was non stop once on the boat! Every day we were in port for most of the day except the day going through the Iron gorge. If you haven't exercised in a while, make sure you start walking NOW!!! we averaged about 5 miles a day walking. At 53 I was the youngest passenger out of 81 (ship was only partially full!) - Budapest was AMAZING! We stayed at the lovely InterContinental, 9th floor overlooking Buda - the beauty of the city at night reflected over the Danube and was simply beautiful. Both Buda and Pest sides were fascinating - old in Buda, new in Pest,,,,and they did an excellent job of infusing the old and the new into a gorgeous city. The local food was delicious but be wary of restaurants that have buffets sitting out, even if it's behind a counter! We ate at a Chinese restaurant but as the food was sitting out and then reheated for eating, my companion got very ill. Luckily it passed before we boarded the ship the following day. Take the Hop on Hop Off and jump on the Funicular to head up the mountain to the Castle district. Also visit Margarita Island, but find out exactly where the Hoho boat picks you up!!! there are NO signs anywhere so get exact directions (it's the first boat launch area facing the Pest side) - other than graffiti all over the city, the place is stunning! And visit the Grand market for souveniers, especially Hungarian Paprika! great deals and everyone at home loved them!! The first day of the trip we met with the passengers and cruise director - the 2nd day we had a morning city tour and did our own thing in the afternoon. The following day we did the Hop on Hop off and in the evening boarded the ship. Boarding the ship was very easy. Everyone travelled by bus to the ship where we got on! that simple. Turned in our passports, got our room key, and it was done! Food aboard the ship was delicious - awesome steak, and soups!! terrific!! Salad dressings other than the Ceaser were mediocre, but everything else was great!!! and eating while sailing and so close to the water was a great experience! The Danube is a beautiful river that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime! Serbia city tour was very interesting, as was Vir Lipinski - an ancient civilization excavated on the banks of the Danube - during our travels through Serbia the Captain even let me steer the ship!!! :) Bulgaria - Belgradchik Rocks is a must (included tour) - and the restaurant where we ate lunch was fabulous as well. Lovely views, but again, the graffiti is overwhelming and detracts from the beauty of the city. Most of the folks on the ship gave locals any extra currency they had before leaving the country - and make sure if you like to shop, you get local currency for at least Hungary and Romania. The other countries would prefer their own money but we did use Euros - but the exchange rate isn't the greatest. Romania was very interesting, and a side trip to Transylvania was a interesting as well.. ..the castle Bram was in a lovely part of town but didn't resemble what tourists imagine it to be! well lit, light in color, and housing a bunch of modern day costumes! the views overlooking Transylvania were spectacular. We went with Avanti tours which took us to a 2nd castle which was fully designed as in the day it was used by royalty, and was the highlight of the trip! Plenty of Dracula items to purchase outside of the Castle Bram. Plan on a very busy day, unless you choose to do your own thing. Our normal day on board was wake up at 630, breakfast at 7, done by 8, on the bus at 820 and returned late afternoon, dinner at 7 with everyone, and then bed by 930. then the next day same thing!!! it rained and was chilly most of the time which was perfect for me, but remember to bring an umbrella, a rainproof poncho, and a raincoat if you get tend to get chilly!! we did not find any places to shop except H & M in Bucharest, but it was pouring and the bus stop was too far to walk over !! normally I like to buy clothing from Europe but did not have a chance this trip...just no locations that we visited were in a "city" but more of town visits. Flight home was long, 28 hours total travel time! next time I fly to the western portion of Europe, stay a day or two, and then fly directly home to the US! too many layovers makes for a very long trip!! Everything else was very smooth and well done!! the only disappointment was that I was expecting a presentation on what we would be seeing the following day, but the nightly chats were more of an itinerary for the following day- I was hoping for history lessons of what to see, look for, etc but that did not happen. The ship was small, lovely, clean, no sundry shop so make sure you have everything you need! Crew was excellent! it helps if you learn a little of the languages before you go (simple phrases, often included in the Avalon packet!) - thank you, please, hello, etc. Very much enjoyed this and would highly recommend a river cruise for people who are interested in history and education over beaches and personal activities! both are great vacations!! Read Less

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