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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Two days delay at the departure , 4 days "lost" because have to go 36 hours in Murmansk for Russian territory check-out (at least what have been said to pax ) Quark staff does best as he can do onboard - Many intesrestind ... Read More
Two days delay at the departure , 4 days "lost" because have to go 36 hours in Murmansk for Russian territory check-out (at least what have been said to pax ) Quark staff does best as he can do onboard - Many intesrestind landings on shore by zodiacs or even twice by helicopter -Russian Mi6) Some good and even excellent -2or3-expedition staff -with very professional lectures during sea days - Have really two days of icebreaking thick ice on Laptev sea , and 2 nice days with interesting landings and hélico flight at Franz-Josef land . Restaurant staff was extremely kind and helpful with good service - Food & dining very correct , little bit basic but allways tasty - (Austrian catering company) As 92 pax onboard , nobody is doing such a kind of "expedition" for food, beverage, or night entertainments and dances - Really great experiences with polar bears sightseeing , with walruses on few of the most remote and limited access - and controlled - islands in the world (i.a: Russian arctics islands : Vilkitsky, Bolshevik, Belkovsky,Wrangel ,Novaya Zemlya, Franz-Josef land ) with landings and hélicopters flights - Only an icebreaker can bring us to these parts of the world (Russian North East passage/route on half world circumnavigation -) This was a unique "Icebreaker-expedition" voyage in Russain arctic , permitted only this year , and with no other expecting for next years ! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
The Xpedition Sales Team is grossly uninformed and a number of Xpedition Passengers concurred that the information provided prior to departure from U.S. is very sparse and this team is not incentivized to provide helpful information to the ... Read More
The Xpedition Sales Team is grossly uninformed and a number of Xpedition Passengers concurred that the information provided prior to departure from U.S. is very sparse and this team is not incentivized to provide helpful information to the booked Passengers (or even prior to booking). Two nights in Quito prior to embarking aboard the Celebrity Xpedition was a waste of time and money. The J.W. Marriott in Quito is an hour's drive from the Quito Airport and has management and maintenance problems. They seem to live off the guaranteed rooms from Celebrity each weekend and have no concern for their guests. Then you have the hour's drive back to the Quito Airport for the charter flight to Baltra. The charter flight from Quito to Baltra is nice and embarkation process is reasonable. From the Baltra Airport you board a bus to the zodiac "station" and ride to the Xpedition. Once aboard a staff member escorts you to your cabin. Ours had not been serviced properly but improved after it was reported. The Chief Purser and Head of Food Operations were especially helpful and friendly and anxious to please. Expect to hear the anchor going out and coming up from all over the ship once or twice daily - since it is such a small ship. Also because it is so small the Xpedition rocks side to side when anchored. In order to be allowed to sail in the Galapagos the Xpedition (as do National Geographic and Silver Sea) must employ all Ecuadorian staff as well as use Ecuadorian food. Do not expect meals being available throughout the day as on other cruises. The main purpose of this cruise is to see the Galapagos Islands - not to eat or have any "free/rest time". There is a short window of time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No extra places to get snacks, etc. as on other cruise ships. if you do not drink alcohol you will find this cruise over-priced because you are subsidizing the "unlimited" alcohol for everyone else. It would be nice if Celebrity would have a price option for passengers who do not drink alcohol. There are two excursions daily (none on Embarkation Day nor on Disembarkation Day). There is a morning excursion and another in the afternoon. Each evening prior to dinner there is a "lecture" to provide information to allow you to choose your excursion choices for the next day. The sales pitch by the Cruise Director to pressure Passengers to make $$ contributions to the Galapagos Fund - as well as pressure to plant trees is inappropriate and insulting in my opinion. A Naturalist accompanies each group on each excursion and they are the best asset Celebrity has for this cruise. Observing the mating rituals of Albatross, juvenile Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, Land Iguanas, Penguins, Giant Land Tortoises- as well as the snorkeling are fantastic. The animal encounters are the absolute best part. The Machu Picchu extension (after the cruise) was "OK". First of all, Celebrity chooses flights which make you arrive into Lima late on Disembarkation Day and then you have about an hour's drive to your Hotel. Then after arriving late at the Country Club Hotel in Lima, you must get up very early for an early departure right back to the Lima Airport to fly to Cusco the following morning. Once in Cusco, the 11,500 foot altitude is very apparent so you must take things slowly to avoid altitude sickness. Several people in our group required oxygen and most had headaches from the altitude. Drink lots of water which helps. The unfortunate thing is that Celebrity subs to an Agency in Lima to handle the Passengers - and they do not require the hotels to have our rooms ready upon arrival. The disorganization of the Lima Agency was apparent throughout the Machu Picchu excursion. Flights were changed to earlier than planned so you have little sleep. The restaurant for Dinner in Cusco was a big disappointment - service was awful and food similar. The Hotel Monasterio in Cusco is a 5 Star and the lunch and dinner there were good. However, the housekeeping is no where near what a 5 Star should be. The Hiram Bingham Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu was very nice - one of the highlights of the entire trip. Take in all the scenery on the morning trip to Machu Picchu because it will be dark almost all the way of the return. Machu Picchu did not disappoint. Be prepared for a lot of climbing - no bathrooms once you leave the train station. Only go on this if you want constant exercise and no "free time" and if you REALLY want to see the animals and Machu Picchu. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
Embarkation went smoothly except for treacherous outside steps up to deck 4, even for the fit and able, with little evidence of staff to assist those with a mobility problem. The cabin was very clean and one of the best suites,as far as ... Read More
Embarkation went smoothly except for treacherous outside steps up to deck 4, even for the fit and able, with little evidence of staff to assist those with a mobility problem. The cabin was very clean and one of the best suites,as far as lay out is concerned, that we have had on any other cruise ship we have been on. Unfortunately , because the ship is old there were a lot of banging and creaking noises within the cabin in rough seas we had 4 nights of little sleep.All other areas on the ship were clean and well looked after and it was easy to find your way around. The ships daily programmes were adequate but the resident show performers were very good indeed. The swimming pool on the other hand was "out of action" for the duration of the cruise. Having had one lunch in the cafeteria where the "hot" food was just warm and the queues long, we ate in the restaurant for lunch and dinner for the remainder of the cruise. The food was varied and plentiful. We had breakfast in our cabin which was good. All cabin, restaurant and bar staff were very good and only too ready to please. We bought a drinks package which was good value for money but it would have been nice to have more than one choice of house wine. Coffee and water was excluded from the package. Just prior to sailing the advertised itinerary times in Orkney (8am-5pm) had been changed to 8am -2pm and Honfleur had been changed from 8am -8pm to 1pm -10pm without any apologies or explanation. The first port of call was Mull where I had arranged for Alan Robson www.mulltaxi.co.uk to provide a private tour tailored to suit our needs.This was to include a visit to the distillery.The weather was overcast and the sea slightly choppy so we were anchored way off Tobermory to be told that the captain was waiting for the weather to improve and an announcement would be made in an hour to let us know what was happening before making a decision. This did not happen and I was kept up to date by our taxi firm who told me that the harbour master had been told that the ship had decided not to tender passengers off to the harbour! Alan also cancelled our distillery tour for us.Two hours later an announcement was made informing us all that not only Mull was being cancelled but also Stornoway. We were sailing straight to Orkney and would arriving there a day earlier than planned. As I had arranged for www.hebrideanexcursions.co.uk to provide another tailored tour of Harris and Lewis for us and Orkney Taxis to meet us (now a day earlier) at the pier in Orkney I was now left to sort this out without a mobile 'phone signal. Clare the receptionist suggested that it must be my network provider at fault and that I should go as high as I could on deck to try and get a signal.It was now raining and blustery on deck. I know from past holidays in the Western Isles that mobile 'phone reception is very poor. I eventually asked if I could use the land line and was given the codes on how to get an outside line and was told that the first minute was free and after that it was £4 a minute.The land line did not work and after a long discussion and a flat refusal from Clare to do anything personaly to help, the ships communication officer, who had been asked to sort out our 'phone, contacted TG the guest relations officer who eventually agreed to send an email to Orkney taxis for me. As a seasoned cruiser I had never come across such an unhelpful attitude from those who were supposed to be there to help the guests, especially when none of the changes were of our own doing. My previous experiences with other cruise lines have always been very positive with staff who have a "can do" approach to their guests. Donald and Gail of Orkney Taxis met us at the pier and we had a wonderful day being shown around the Island by a local guide with so much knowledge of the Island. Nothing was too much trouble and we were able to stop whenever we wanted to.The time ashore was now 8am to 10pm. I managed to eventually get a signal and let John ,Hebridean Excursions know what was NOT happening. See Tripadvisor reviews of this company. A half day( 8am -2pm) in Invergordon was substituted at late notice for the loss of the other two ports of call. This is a repair port for the oil rigs and has little to offer. Two, expensive,organised tours were offered and no information was available for independent travellers as to how they could get around the area. We arrived in Honfleur at 12pm, (46 hours later) and had to wait until 2pm before we could get off the boat to get a shuttle bus into the town.We were "allowed" to get off earlier but would have to walk for at least 20 minutes before we were near to the town. I had a local taxi firm number obtained in the UK but the codes were confusing, again Clare refused to even try and find out for me what the codes were and suggested I walk to the harbour ofice to get a taxi. Again Independent passengers were kept waiting until the organised tours were all off the ship. There was also a problem at St. Mary's in as much that the ship was anchored a good 30 minute tender journey each way thus delaying and prolonging the time getting us off board, again priority was given to the organised tours. As the sea was choppy when we arrived I was waiting for an announcement that we would not be going ashore . However the boatmen of the Scilly Isles tender passengers on and off all the ships and know all the tides etc. They could not understand why we were so far off shore. DJ Cabs St. Mary's met us at the pier and we had an excellent tour of the island, stopping off whenever we wanted and had first hand knowledge of the Islands history, flora and fauna. The excursions are expensive and I would recommend the above mentioned private taxi firms to anyone, all were good value for money and even those that we did not meet up with have been in contact with me hoping that everything had gone alright for us and that we had enjoyed our cruise. Disembarkation went smoothly but again the steps were appalling with no help from the crew.The port staff were very helpful. This cruise was not cheap and unless the attitudes of some key customer services / guest relations personel change we will not use this cruise line again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Sooooooooo disappointing after booking this cruise 13 months in advance. We departed on December 25 -- yes Christmas Day. We had booked ALL through Celebrity including airfare, transfers, etc. We felt secure knowing that with Celebrity ... Read More
Sooooooooo disappointing after booking this cruise 13 months in advance. We departed on December 25 -- yes Christmas Day. We had booked ALL through Celebrity including airfare, transfers, etc. We felt secure knowing that with Celebrity taking care of all details, everything would go well. NOT. We arrived at 11.35 pm on December 25 (we flew out of Newark, NJ) only to discover that "Celebrity comes in on Friday nights to pick up." Which meant that there was no one there to meet us. We checked our multi-paged itinerary and noted yes they had the flight right; yes it said the time. Yes the check in at JWMARRIOTT is December 26 -- and in 15 more minutes it IS December 26 -- so what happened??? No one knew. A greeter from Azmara got us a cab -- we spoke no Spanish and they didn't speak English -- and suggested we get a receipt. It was $25 and we tipped $2 -- and asked for a receipt. Neither the driver nor the bellman at JWMarriott understood and so we got our bags and went to check in minus the receipt. It's 1:30 a.m. We are told "you are not supposed to check in until 3:00 p.m." and I said, 'Where do you want me to sleep tonight" and the deskclerk insisted i leave my credit card. Done. The next morning we began a horrible, irritating and unnecessarily bureaucratic discussion with ANYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN that we had nothing to do that day, no one picked us up and can ANYONE HELP US get situated.???? No. I called the Royal Caribbean executive offices -- it was a holiday so no one was there. I gave up Christmas Day on the advice of the booking agent that "Quito for two days is a must!!" before we cruised. I called the Emergency line and the only advice they gave me was "too bad you didn't have a receipt for the cab because without it, you won't get reimbursed. Which of course they explained they would Have done! At 7 p.m. on Friday night, the Celebrity supervisor finally talked to us and said they would cover the hotel room the night before; but because we DID NOT MIND THE ACTUAL TIME OF CHECK - IN (3 p.m. on December 26) we were BOTH AT FAULT. So no meals and without the cab receipt? No refund. I was actually so tired and disheartened that I had already given this cruiseline more than $28,000 for the two of us what the hell. They could take their $27 and you know what. We had a good day in Quito. The tour is lovely and the guides are great. We then traveled most of Sunday to get to Baltra to board the ship. NOTE: THIS IS A VERY SMALL SHIP AND IS NOT IN THE LUXURY CLASS OF SHIPS AT ALL. I have cruised almost every line -- and believe me, this was basically a nice small ship that served some good lobster. It was the Holidays but on New Year's Eve they had no party planning at all. All 98 passengers milled around after dinner on the 4th deck -- which was awful -- and had to ask for Champagne at midnight. This was a very mixed crowd. Lots of families -- great -- and all ages. It could have been an amazing trip if the cruise director had planned for it. Monica, the cruise director, listened to no one. Example: I asked her why there were no hats, noisemakers, confetti -- anything -- to celebrate at midnight and she said, "oh your expectations are too high You're thinking we are a Celebrity cruise -- and we are not!" EXACTLY. The excursions are varied for different levels of physicality -- but again, Monica did not describe them well at all. All she needed to do was show photos of the terrain so that we could understand the difference between difficult and easier. When you are not on an excursion, there is nothing to do. Staterooms are very very small -- all on 4th deck were like inside cabins but with a porthole. The suites are better -- 5th and 6th deck -- but with so few, you need to book two years in advance. I wish I had. You feel the ship swaying all the time and had to hang on to the railings to walk safely. Food was good to just OK except for the fresh lobster -- which is amazing. The Naturalists are terrific but you never interact with them except on your excursion. How about our Captain and his executive crew! We never saw him, he never talked to anyone (and I did talk to many passengers about this) at all. We "saw" him at the wrap up "celebration" the night before we disembarked. He and his team were absent and it was so strange that they didn't circulate at all. HERE'S SOMETHING TO NOTE AND BE PREPARED -- We had to be out of our cabins at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 4 but sat in that ship until 10:30 and then went to the airport where we sat until 6 or 7 p.m. while we waited for the charted plane bringing the new GALAPAGOS passengers to Baltra. The plane was very late; we were all very tired and cranky and those of us who were going to Lima did not get to our hotel until 10:30 p.m. An entire day was wasted traveling. They need two chartered planes -- and at the cost per person for this cruise they need to fix that. Now for the good part -- definitely do the MACHU PICCHU extension option as it was the best part of our trip. The hotels were magnificent -- The Country Club Hotel in Lima; the Monasterio in Coscuo, and the Santuary in Machu Picchu were just to die for. Food? the Best in the world! We loved every minute. The HIRAM BINGHAM (Orient Express) train to Machu Picchu is an experience not to miss. First class and luxury all the way. The guides were terrific and worked with us to make sure everyone was ok and able to continue climbing. We were not troubled by altitude sickness but if you are worried, just keep drinking bottled water and the cocao tea. This is the part of the journey that made up for the disappointing cruise experience. Without Machu Picchu, I would have graded the entire experience a "5 out of 10".   Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
We sailed out of Baltra on the Silver Galapagos for the 7 night Western Itinerary on May 31 to June 7. Our hotel stay at the Marriott prior to the cruise was great, transfers and flights from Quito went smoothly. Silverseas staff was ... Read More
We sailed out of Baltra on the Silver Galapagos for the 7 night Western Itinerary on May 31 to June 7. Our hotel stay at the Marriott prior to the cruise was great, transfers and flights from Quito went smoothly. Silverseas staff was gracious and efficient in handling our luggage and getting us where we needed to be. The Silver Galapagos is an older ship that has been partially updated by Silverseas. There are parts of the ship that retain some of the charm of older boats ( glossy wood paneling, varnished decks and mirrored dressing tables) and other areas that have been refurbished (bathrooms, dining area, jacuzzi and spa) but the pipes are old (hence the banging and clanging behind our walls when the jacuzzi on the deck above was heating up) and the shower took half an hour to drain after use. Bed was very comfortable, with lovely high quality linens, and there is plenty of storage in the cabin. Our cabin, #506, was just inside from a large deck with sofas at the bow of the boat, and surprisingly no one else used it but us and our friends. One night we sat out there and watched the most spectacular display of stars that we had ever seen. The butler service that Silversea promises was spotty and unreliable in our cabin. We hardly saw the room staff, and they did not respond to phone calls when we wanted to order some drinks or food. It seemed that they had lots of other duties on board, as we would see them around the ship and dining area. Our cabin was cleaned twice a day and fresh towels were abundant, but we rarely saw them in person. Our friends on deck 4 had a better experience, and when one of them was sick for a couple of days ( not sure what he ate) the butler was solicitous and brought the patient tea and toast. Food in the dining room was quite good, nicely presented and with great variety at lunch and dinner. Breakfast was buffet style, plentiful, fresh, and pretty much the same every day. The evening dining service was unreliable, with language issues being part of the problem, and obvious inexperience on the part of the wait staff. That said, the staff was always friendly and welcoming, and were clearly working very hard. We felt that they just hadn't been doing this very long and needed more training around anticipating the needs of the diners and knowing how to provide good service. The South American wines that were served each night were quite good, and we never felt the need to ask for a full wine list. Cocktails could also be ordered at dinner. We were disappointed that there was no ice cream for the entire cruise. Not sure what happened but it seemed that there was a delivery problem. Loved the Galapagos lobster! In general the hotel aspects of the cruise were fair to good, but inconsistent. We felt that better supervision was needed in both the cabins and the dining room. This was our first Silversea cruise, so we have nothing to compare it to but other cruise lines, but we understand that they take pride in their service. I don't think this was up to par. That said, we were very pleased with the Naturalist guides, boat staff and all the excursions out to the islands. The guides were all incredibly knowledgeable, many of them with advanced degrees in marine biology and environmental studies, and on top of that they were personable, warm and engaging. We went in small groups, and never felt crowded on our walks about the area. In fact we rarely saw people from other boats, which led us to believe that the itinerary is carefully planned for providing the guests with the best possible experience. Snorkeling trips were fantastic, but not enough of them. Deep water snorkeling was challenging, as the waters are rough, but for us it was some of the best ever. Seeing a 15 foot whale shark emerge just below us was a thrill of a lifetime. Disembarkation was unremarkable. It's never fun to leave a ship after a great week of vacation with friends. There's always a lot of waiting around, and you could tell that the staff was focused on getting ready for the new guests, but that's always the way on a cruise ship. Transfers to the airport were smooth, and Silversea staff was there to assist us right up to departure back to the mainland. The love and respect that the local guides have for the islands is obvious, and one could not help but feel the same way after seeing the amazing wildlife, plants and sea creatures that are living in peace and harmony on the islands. This is a place in the world that everyone should see! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
Overall, our Galapagos vacation was unforgettable - definitely a "MUST DO" experience. My review focuses on Silversea's claim to offer an ultra-luxury version of the Galapagos on its "new" ship, the Silver. The ... Read More
Overall, our Galapagos vacation was unforgettable - definitely a "MUST DO" experience. My review focuses on Silversea's claim to offer an ultra-luxury version of the Galapagos on its "new" ship, the Silver. The Silver welcomes you to your cabin with an apology letter. This emphasizes that Silversea usually employs Filipinos, but is required by the Galapagos National Park to hire only Ecuadorians. Does Silversea believe Ecuadoreans are inferior to Filipinos? In order to provide its expected level of service, couldn't Silversea pay higher wages for an Ecuadorean crew that's better experienced and fluent in English? The Silver’s service staff was friendly and tried very hard, but only a few were capable of delivering the promised excellence. The letter also explained that they're prohibited from importing certain fruits and meats into the Galapagos. Fine, but that's not an excuse for the mediocre quality fruit, nor the (sometimes) frozen seafood we were served. Otherwise, the food was very good, and we enjoyed having a choice between the lively outdoor grill and the calm, cool restaurant. I don't usually don't like buffets, but the restaurant lunches were excellent. The ship itself has been very well re-designed. Common areas are comfortable and inviting. Cabins are spacious (but only by Galapagos standards), although the A/C was sometimes insufficient, and suites are poorly configured for an expedition cruise (lots of closet space, but not enough shelves). Our itinerary was extremely well planned: excursions early in the morning and later in the afternoon, with free time in between. Naturalist guides are trained by the Galapagos National park, so they’re excellent whether your cruise is luxurious or basic. They’re also limited by law to 16 guests per guide, so Silversea doesn’t offer anything special when it comes to staffing excursions. As I stated in the beginning, we loved our trip to the Galapagos. I believe my review of Silversea might have been more positive, except for our disappointing last experience. Silversea did a flawless job at arrival, with transfers, hotels, tricky Galapagos customs and baggage. But on disembarkation, they completely dropped the ball. We were evicted from our staterooms at 7:30 am to prepare for incoming passengers. Silversea’s original itinerary promised a morning departure for the mainland, but instead we had to wait in the sweltering Baltra airport for a 1 pm flight. Then Siversea charged us for transfers and a day hotel room in Guayaqil, where we ended up having less down-time than in Baltra. Where was the attention to detail that had enticed me to book this (my first) Silversea cruise? While I will always treasure this Galapagos experience, I'm not sure that I can recommend paying a premium for the somewhat flawed luxury of Silversea. To Silversea: please stop apologizing, and fix the bugs. If you can’t deliver on your promised level of quality here, why should passengers trust you on trips elsewhere?   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Our 6th journey on Silversea and although we expected an 'expedition' type vacation, we were disappointed with the quality of the ship and the service. We did expect more from this stellar company. The 25 year old vessel badly ... Read More
Our 6th journey on Silversea and although we expected an 'expedition' type vacation, we were disappointed with the quality of the ship and the service. We did expect more from this stellar company. The 25 year old vessel badly needs to go into dry dock for a good overhaul. Throughout the voyage washrooms were unavailable and locked in public areas, with a smell emanating from them, air conditioning was almost non-existent, particularly in the restaurant, and the furnishings were worn and tired and in disrepair. Our cabin, a veranda suite was comfortable, although there was no space provided for our bags. I traveled with my husband and we only brought one suitcase each, but no room for them under the bed. It took 6 days to get a light bulb replaced and the emergency light did not go on when there was a brief power failure. The food was very poor. We understand that getting fresh food in Ecuador is difficult, although bananas, a staple there, were also very tired. I can find fresher at home. The restaurant where we were advised to wear 5 star resort clothing, no jeans, was hot and uncomfortable, and the food often inedible and certainly uninspired. The other eating venue outside had to be booked by reservation, although Silversea stresses that their ships are open seating. There were unused tables, but I believe there just wasn't enough staff to service this area, nor the 'hot rock' grills to go around. The reason we went on this cruse was to visit the Galapagos in comfort. The expedition staff led by Danny was first rate. The various trips we took were excellent and enjoyable. The enthusiastic guides like Xavier and Tommy were a delight. The wildlife and scenery incredible. We met many wonderful passengers who also were disappointed in the ship, service, and food and they expressed that this was their first and last Silversea voyage. We have trusted the brand over the many years we have been traveling with them, but no longer. We paid top dollar for what we had expected to be at the very least an excellent, well run ship in good repair with delicious food. We did not get this. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call and wanted to try our luck with Celebrity. Plus we liked that the ship stayed in ports for multiple days. This was our 7th cruise (first with Celebrity) and we have traveled extensively. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call and wanted to try our luck with Celebrity. Plus we liked that the ship stayed in ports for multiple days. This was our 7th cruise (first with Celebrity) and we have traveled extensively. Staff on the ship was friendly, courteous and very attentive! Our state room attendant Schubert and his assistant were excellent and seemed like genuinely good guys! Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. This was a Christmas cruise and the ship did a very good job providing for the kids. Both our Kids 5 and 9 years old had a fun vacation. Ship layout was easy to navigate and possessed the usual cruise ship flair. The ship is bit old and shows its age. Our room was 9156, a family veranda with an extended balcony. It was spacious with a separate sleeping area for our 2 children which included an extra television. We would have been quite happy. However, the room was infested with bed bugs. Many of them were mature and we were all badly bitten. We were immediately removed from the room. All of our luggage and clothing was put in plastic and taken away to be cleaned. We were moved to a much smaller room. We were told our original room would be ready in a few hours. A day later, our clothes were delivered to the smaller room without an explanation. After several calls to guest services, we were informed our room would not be ready. Then only after complaining, we were offered 2 rooms side by side but not connecting. I would have preferred that our family be together in the same room but at least we were comfortable. The new rooms were clean and serviceable. Our new rooms were 6027 & 6029. 9156 was offered back to us after a few days but we elected to stay as packing up again didn't appeal to us. We essentially missed a day and a half. The ports of call were amazing cities! We had prepared for the long distance 2 - 3 hours bus or car rides each way but many were complaining. More time to compensate could have solved the problem. The ship was in port overnight on many of these occasions. We spent 2 nights in a private hotel in Bangkok. We wished we had done the same thing in Saigon. Hanoi needs an extra day. We missed the port at Da Nang because of inclement weather. The food at the restaurant was generally OK. There were some disappointments. The food at the buffet was not good. Snack food was terrible. Everyone at our dinner table liked our head waiter Alberto. His assistant Nadan was also extremely nice and should be recognized for giving outstanding service! We didn't eat at any of the specialty restaurants. The shows and entertainment are exactly what you should expect on a cruise ship. The lounge acts were marginal at best with the exception of the one man guitarist/singer who plays in the main foyer. He was exceptional! We had our issues. None which we didn't overcome. We met some very nice people and had a nice time. Somehow we expected more...   Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2013
If you are an independent traveler who likes to have some control of events, this is not the cruise for you. Unfortunately it is the only way to visit the Galapagos Islands and visit a substantial number of visitor sites. The Endeavour is ... Read More
If you are an independent traveler who likes to have some control of events, this is not the cruise for you. Unfortunately it is the only way to visit the Galapagos Islands and visit a substantial number of visitor sites. The Endeavour is an Ecuadorean flagged, German built fishing boat equipped for Antarctic conditions that carries 96 of your new best friends each week and a crew of 70 crammed into its hull. It is a slickly organized mass tourist market soft adventure cruise where you can do three or four activities: you can hike only with a naturalist in a group on either a designated “long” or “short” hike, you can snorkel with the group in a designated and patrolled area or you can kayak (three times per voyage and only with advance sign up for a spot on one of 7 kayaks) or you can, again with advance sign up, take a glass bottom boat ride. That is it. You cannot swim from ship to shore or around the ship or outside designated limits. You cannot up and go for a walk. Excersize will be in the small gym as the hikes tend to be short strolls with a lot of standing around rather than hikes. There are long lines in narrow corridors to board the Zodiacs for disembarkation and a plethora of rules to obey. To go ashore requires you to know first whether or not it is a wet (on the beach) or dry (on a jetty) landing, then to remember, amongst the usual backpack items (insect repellent, sunscreen, water bottles) to put on your life vest, slide a magnet to indicate that you are going ashore so that they have a passenger count, stretch out both arms to be helped on board the Zodiac and then cram one against the other for the journey ashore. The Zodiacs are loaded to the point of discomfort for all, up to 8 per side. That leaves passengers wedged close together and is uncomfortable. The trick is to await the final Zodiac which may have fewer people on board. I found these Zodiac rides dangerous as well as uncomfortable; I have been whacked in the eye by a metal buckle as one of the ubiquitous photographers swings his camera around to catch a shot, poked in the side and sat on by a large off balance individual. Once ashore, one discards life vests in the Zodiac and then the naturalist accompanying the Zodiac takes over, corralling her (or his) group of 16 close together for the hike. You cannot remain on the beach or stray from the group. The naturalists are all knowledgeable, some more so than others, and they lecture during the brief Zodiac ride ashore, going over the rules once again and then once on shore, the lectures do not stop; this is not a silent observation hike, nor a walk where one chooses one’s own speed. It is a forced march at the pace of the naturalist guide who will decide when and where to stop. People are herded like sheep and there is little space to enjoy a solitary moment of contemplation. Cabins are very adequate with comfortable bunks (the mattresses could use updating) and good bedding and bathrooms are spotless with all the necessities provided including shampoos and soaps that are biodegradable. Meals are ample, many served buffet style with 96 people once more dutifully standing in a long line but quality is only mediocre. The offerings are typically bland to fit the American palate: bacon and eggs, sweetened fruit yogurts, sweetened breads and cakes and the usual chicken or meat or a vegetarian offerings at lunch and dinner. For those who enjoy American coffee, there is plenty but those who prefer a European coffee will need to ask for expresso. Beers and wines are local. The bar seems to offer everything one would need but I am no expert so will leave that commentary to those better qualified to comment. The lounge is the place where everything occurs and if it is briefings (never brief) more lectures or National Geographic films that one wishes to see, you will be pleasantly surprised as there are 2 – 4 briefings per day. It is in this aspect that the crew is least skilled with little training in public speaking, thus lecturing rather than speaking without humour on their topics. Perhaps Lindblad might consider information given on ipads or similar placed in cabins. This would eliminate the vast quantities of paper wastage. The cruise line is environmentally conscious in every other aspect (biodegradable soaps, conservation of linens etc) but fails on the paper front. The daily bulletin is placed in cabins at night. The NYT bulletin in printed off and posted daily in the lounge and I would think that a system of people management whereby one signed up for a specific Zodiac in the cabin on the ipad or device for a specific boarding time, would be more effective and better save on paper waste. Much could be done to avoid the lengthy, repetitive and often boring lectures and briefings and the long lines in narrow corridors. One cannot beat the bird and animal sightings and the knowledge of the naturalists on board. Neither can one match the range of sites visited. In this the Endeavour succeeds beyond imagination. And it is for the bird and animal sightings that one visits the islands. However, the long lensed enthusiastic photographers can be irritating as they thoughtlessly insert themselves to get the best shots. Again a better system of organization of boarding might better separate the serious amateur photographers with their lenses and equipment from those who prefer peace and quiet. National Geographic / Lindblad cruises is probably the master of soft adventure mass tourist movers. Provided you do as you are told and show up on time for all activities to stand in line and wait and do not vary from the plan, you will have a wonderful time. Independent travelers, this cruise is not for you!   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2013
Shipboard package (food, cabin, service, staff, entertainment, etc) up to usual Seabourn standard - with two exceptions; - strike in Buenos Aires meant ship was not able to re-provision and many items were in short supply or simply ... Read More
Shipboard package (food, cabin, service, staff, entertainment, etc) up to usual Seabourn standard - with two exceptions; - strike in Buenos Aires meant ship was not able to re-provision and many items were in short supply or simply unavailable - Quest is designed for warm weather cruising and when outside space is not available, some facilities, such as the Colonnade, are unpleasantly over-crowded. Worth adding that Quest rode well in heavy seas in Drake Passage. However whatever the description, this was not, nor could it ever be, an expedition cruise. At 450 passengers (some people onboard were sold the cruise on the basis of maximum 300) Quest cannot; - logistically manage more than one landing per day. It takes approximately 6 house for Quest to complete a landing cycle - expedition ships with less than 200 passengers aboard make up to three per day sometimes starting at 5am - use the majority of the landing sites due to the number of passengers onboard - which is further restricted by the vessel's poor ice rating - respond flexibly to the inevitable changeable weather because alternative sites are limited by the above. The dead hand of corporate management (some of whom were said to be onboard but not at all in evidence) appears to be in conflict with the expedition team who would like to have delivered more. Of a twenty-one day cruise, only two days had Antarctic landings (one other a short zodiac trip), six days (or part) in port and the remaining thirteen days at sea. Which brings me to the nub of the question - if you want to do a 'fly by' to Antarctica to see and photograph icebergs, some wild life, etc you can do so in nearly as much comfort at a much lower cost. Seabourn charges mightily for the privilege of expedition landings but does not and cannot deliver. This is not a soft expedition, it is a non-expedition and should be priced and marketed accordingly. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
Having travelled on "Discovery" several times before under the prvious management - Voyages of Discovery, we decided the itinerary to the Black sea was for us.However now the vessel is Chartered to CMV standards have dropped, it ... Read More
Having travelled on "Discovery" several times before under the prvious management - Voyages of Discovery, we decided the itinerary to the Black sea was for us.However now the vessel is Chartered to CMV standards have dropped, it is no longer the same happy crew or ship as previously. It started with our flight being put back by 12 hours, meaning we arrived on board in the early hours of the following morning,and therefore missed trips to Corinth/Athens, a lost day spent sitting in Piraeus.Likewise our return flight from Istanbul was put back 3 hours and notified to us by note under door, although some passengers had written notice prior to leaving Uk, consequently missed a dinner engagement and had to re arrange transport at short notice,In the main CMV personnel had very little idea of what was going on, and their reception staff were particularly unhelpful, and at times quite rude. Ships officers kept low profile, hardly saw Captain,none of the officers appeared in the Dining room, ships windows were filthy.Toilets out of action one morning due to ship running aground, no explanation or apology from ships personnel. Trips generally good with the exception of the panoramic tour of Istanbul, which consisted of sitting in traffic jams, bazaar closed, ended up in a water front hotel for tea which cost us £64.CMV must have known of the 4 day public holiday, and should have rearranged the stop over on our inward passage, consider taken for a ride quite literally! All in all would never take another trip on "Discovery" or deal with CMV again, as stated by many other passengers, it is sad that such a lovely ship should end its days this way. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
The Galapagos Islands are a special place. Located about 600 miles east of continental Ecuador, they contain many species and varieties of species of flora and fauna. The National Geographic/Linblad Expeditions (NG/Linblad) expedition ... Read More
The Galapagos Islands are a special place. Located about 600 miles east of continental Ecuador, they contain many species and varieties of species of flora and fauna. The National Geographic/Linblad Expeditions (NG/Linblad) expedition gives you the chance to visit several of the places that Charles Darwin visited on the (second) voyage of the HMS Beagle. The pluses: unique wildlife (blue-footed booby, magnificent frigatebird, giant tortoises) knowledgeable naturalist guides, Zodiac boats to land you on the shore, snorkeling in different marine environments, programs for kids, friendly staff, tasty food, excellent service in the handling of the delay departing Galapagos Islands, pre- and post-departure hotel in Guayaquil. The minuses: no advance warning about fumigation on one flight, incorrect checked and carry-on baggage allowance information, and inadequate wetsuits for dry season (my trip was in July). This trip has been at the top of my wife's bucket list for many years. Seeing the island by ship was an excellent way to visit the islands and experience the diversity of wildlife and marine life. She selected National Geographic (NG) based on the itinerary, relatively small passenger size (96), and recommendations from her sister (on other NG trips). For me, it was an OK selection; it fell short of my high expectations due to the minuses identified in this write-up. My family arrived one day early so that we could recover from jet lag and be rested for the start of the cruise. One night at the hotel (pre- and post-cruise) was already included in the price of the cruise. The pre-departure (and post-departure) hotel was the Hilton Colon Guayaquil (recommended). It is only a few miles from the airport, has a nice atmosphere, inexpensive spa treatments, and can arrange safe, inexpensive cab rides for visiting the city--which we did prior to the cruise ($10 US per hour). Go see the Iguana Park, the Boardwalk (Malecon) and walk up from the Boardwalk through the Barrio Las Peas to the lighthouse (faro) for a view of the city. If time permits, stop at the General Cemetery to see the above ground crypts (they are like those in New Orleans, USA). There are some emotionally moving sculptures on several of the crypts. At the hotel, we had a minor snafu with the number of breakfast vouchers and free drink coupons for our arrival, as well as with one charge in the Atrium Bar and lounge (the credit card info for our first night stay was not automatically carried over to the second night stay). Those problems were quickly fixed. All transfers were handled smoothly and efficiently between the hotel and airport in Guayaquil, between the airports in the Galapagos Islands and the marinas, and between the marinas and the ship--the NG Endeavour. Embarkation and debarkation was done by Zodiac boats. Most people from the USA flew American Airlines through Miami to Guayaquil. From Guayaquil, we flew AeroGal (Aerolneas Galapagos) to and from the Galapagos Islands. We flew into the airport at Baltra Island, and left by the airport on San Cristobal Island. Our luggage was delivered to our cabin in a timely manner. The Expedition Guide provided online, as well as the final itinerary provided by NG/Linblad with the travel documents before we left the USA, stated that checked luggage could not exceed 40 pounds per person and that carry-on luggage could not exceed 12 pounds. We should have been suspicious, because many international flights use a limit of 20 kilograms for checked luggage, which is 44 pounds, and 10 kilograms (22 pounds) for carry-on luggage. Believing the Expedition Guide, we removed clothing and other items from our suitcases before leaving home to meet the 40-pound limit. I was very disappointed when I learned that I could have brought 4 more pounds in each of our suitcases. It was helpful that the ship offers laundry service. So fewer clothes are needed. One unpleasant surprise occurred on our inbound flight to the Galapagos Islands. About 15 minutes before landing, the flight attendants opened all the overhead bins and started spraying cans of fumigation chemicals into the bins. My wife is very sensitive to chemicals, and I'm just thankful she didn't have a reaction to the fumes. It was a major, regrettable oversight for NG/Linblad not to have given us advance notice about this. Curiously, none of the backpacks, etc. stored under the seats in front of passengers were sprayed, so the attempts to kill any insects in carry-on luggage would not have been totally successful. You don't know your exact itinerary until you get the final travel documents about 30 days before the cruise begins. Ecuador controls which ships and tours visit where in the Galapagos Islands to minimize crowding and impacts to the native ecology. We visited the following islands and areas: Baltra Island, Las Bachas (Santa Cruz Island), North Seymour Island, Rabida Island, Fernandina Island, Isabela Island, Santiago Island, Santa Cruz Island (including the must-see fish market with pelicans and sea lions, and Charles Darwin Research Station), and Punta Pitt and "Kicker Rock" (San Cristobal Island). NG/Linblad wasted a valuable resource for the cruise. I was happy to see a webcast before the trip with tips for taking photographs on the island. The advance information on the expedition team noted that several were NG-certified photo instructors. While the photo instructors were around, not much was done to maximize their potential. There was only one scheduled photo session onboard the ship to learn how to use your camera. There were two photo themed hikes, but they did not occur until later in the cruise. I would recommend that there be scheduled sessions on typical photo challenges freezing wildlife in motion, using ISO to compensate for lighting, and using exposure compensation to compensate for backgrounds (wildlife on white sandy beaches, wildlife on gray volcanic rock, etc.). I brought my computer along on the cruise, so that I could download pictures to the computer and free up memory on my camera's memory cards. I noticed that many of my photos looked "blah", with either poor lighting or bland backgrounds. I looked for the photo instructors in the afternoon on the ship to ask about this, but they were difficult to find. So, on the excursions, I started asking the naturalist guides how to take better pictures and compensate for some of the environmental factors. That helped me to improve the quality of my pictures (though late in the cruise). I'm sure they are others who could also benefit from such information. We saw a variety of wildlife: blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies (supposedly rarer than their blue-footed cousins), magnificent and great frigatebirds, flamingos, pelicans, Sally Lightfoot crabs, a few finches, land and marine iguanas, giant tortoises, hawks, manta rays, sharks, sea turtles, Galapagos penguins, sea lions, a few fur seals, and a few whales. One of the highlights of the trip was the chance to go snorkeling on most days. It was a very cold experience for many. We traveled in July when the water temperatures can be 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (the actual temperatures were in the middle 60s). That is cold! The Expedition Guide noted that NG/Linblad provides 3-mm shorty wetsuits. I considered that inadequate, at least for me. I stopped by a local dive shop before the cruise, to see about getting a hood to keep my head from getting so cold. I was told that 60-degree water is cold, and that I should bring a full wetsuit (I have a 3-mm one), and wear booties, gloves and a hood. I purchased a 3-mm wetsuit vest and hood. That gave me 6 mm of insulation for my torso. Of course, this added weight to my suitcase, but it was a very smart decision. Onboard the NG Endeavour, I asked the staff member assisting people with the shorty wetsuits about why full wetsuits were not provided by NG/Linblad. He said he didn't know. Later, during an orientation session, the Expedition Leader brought up this issue, and said that full wetsuits are not provided, because guests do not ask for them. I was very surprised (and shocked) by that comment. I continually heard people complaining about how cold they were while snorkeling. Even my wife complained about her hands (she did bring booties). All my gear allowed me to be the last one back to the Zodiac whenever we went snorkeling. I was still a little chilled, but could easily stay in the water for 30-45 minutes. My wife and I mentioned to Sebastian, the Hotel Manager on the ship, that the onboard shop could make a nice profit if it sold snorkeling gloves and booties. In the long run, NG/Linblad should suggest that passengers bring gloves, booties, and hoods for snorkeling when the water temperature is in the 60s, and NG/Linblad should provide full wetsuits. Several passengers did bring full wetsuits and booties. The staff graciously allowed passengers to hang their gear on the upper deck so that it could dry out between trips. You could not use the bathroom in the cabin to dry out anything. Wet items never dry out in the bathroom. On the first day of snorkeling, I saw a manta ray with a wing span of more than 20 feet. I was in awe as I watched it move gracefully along the face of the cliff. On most days, I saw lots of colorful, tropical fish. Some areas had fire coral. I also saw sea turtles, sea lions, black-tipped reef sharks, and Galapagos sharks (no worries, they did not bother the snorkelers). My wife hoped we would be able to snorkel with penguins, but no such luck (we only saw them during Zodiac cruises). Snorkeling was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. The onboard store, the Global Gallery/Market, was open several times each day. My wife and I bought some t-shirts made in Ecuador that featured a blue-footed booby. She also loved the quality of the Alpaca blankets and bought several as gifts for family and friends. One night after dinner we were looking into the store. The Hotel Manager Sebastian came by and graciously offered to open the store up for us. He did, and my wife and I bought several items. The Shop Manager Jessica came by and helped me find a polo shirt in my size. Other passengers stopped by, and Jessica kept the store open. This is the kind of customer service that makes me happy and willing to recommend the NG/Linblad cruise to others. My family had cabin 300 on the lowest desk of the ship. The cabin had 2 rooms and a bathroom. I think all bathrooms are small, and the shower is particularly small. There were two beds in one room and a pullout sofa in the other (for my family of three). The portholes in each room were a couple of feet above the sea surface. The rooms were smaller than some cruise ships we have been on, but we knew we were on an expedition and would have different, but suitable accommodations. We were missing a few things in the room when we arrived, but that was easily fixed. The beds were comfortable. They were two pillows per bed. There was adequate storage space in the closet (one per passenger in the rooms with beds). Suitcases easily fit under the bed. There is no safe for valuables. There is a small drawer in the desk that you can lock for a few valuables. We locked stuff in our suitcases under the beds. Note that passengers are NOT given keys for the cabins. You can lock the door from the inside, but not from the outside. Passengers are informed about this, prior to the expedition, in the Expedition Guide, and during the Orientation Session onboard the ship the first day. Not having a key for the cabin was not a problem. We enjoyed the afternoon "debrief" in the lounge by the expedition staff. We could enjoy beer, wine, cocktails, tea, and soft drinks while we socialized with other passengers, shared our adventures during the daily excursions, and showed photos we took during the day. Typically one of the expedition staff would give a short presentation on some topic of interest. Then the Expedition Leader would tell us about activities for the coming day, before we headed for dinner. All meals were served buffet style in the dining room, except that soups were delivered to your table. The soups were excellent. Overall, there were many positives about the trip, and a few negatives. It was exciting to follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and wonder about the nature paradise that he experienced back in 1835 that led to his historic insight into the origin of species and natural selection. The Galapagos Islands are truly a special place.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
Cruised to Northern Cape and Sptizbergen which was our forth cruise aboard Marco Polo having already done Norway, Iceland and Amazon/Caribbean. We knew what to expect - excellent food, reasonable accommodation, acceptable entertainment.and ... Read More
Cruised to Northern Cape and Sptizbergen which was our forth cruise aboard Marco Polo having already done Norway, Iceland and Amazon/Caribbean. We knew what to expect - excellent food, reasonable accommodation, acceptable entertainment.and expensive trips. Food was good, (no problem there) cabin was OK (same one as previous cruise) but was located near the access door to the crews quarters and some staff were downright rude by being noisy outside our cabin at all hours of the night - no consideration for sleeping passengers. Announcements from Cruise Director were pointless - why tell is GPS references - what we wanted was "what's that island over there" or "there are six whales half a mile off our stern" tell us something useful ! Staff attitude was poor ( downright rude) from the top to the bottom. We handed a nearly new holdall to CMV staff on arrival and between the quayside and the cabin our luggage was damaged making it unusable again. Having complained to the service desk was abruptly told to fill out a form. Having done so, was told to claim on my insurance. In other words, CMV don't care and having to pay an excess I pick up the cost of their carelessness. Two letters to Customer Relations did not resolve my dispute so wrote a third letter to CMV's Managing Director. he never replied so guess what, have cancelled my next booking, yes have lost £350 deposit, but won't be travelling with CMV ever again. Real pitty as we like the Marco Polo - just can't stand CMV and their attitude to teh customers who pay their salaries! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
This was my third cruise on Celebrity. I chose Aqua Class because my traveling companions were booked on that level and they told me that their restaurant, "Blu", was phenomenal, both for its food and service. (More on Blu ... Read More
This was my third cruise on Celebrity. I chose Aqua Class because my traveling companions were booked on that level and they told me that their restaurant, "Blu", was phenomenal, both for its food and service. (More on Blu later.) We were informed before the cruise that that there was a norovirus outbreak on the prior cruise from Sydney, so our embarkation would be delayed. That's fine...let's keep as many people safe as possible. The line getting to the check in area was crazy long, and the bag drop off was hectic (at 3:30pm). Once inside the un-air conditioned terminal, we finally found our check-in point and were given a number that would be called when the ship was ready to receive us. We moved to a part of the terminal that was suppose to have provided us with water and something to eat, but all we found were two empty tables with crew members breaking down boxes that once held cookies. So, we received nothing to quench our thirst as we waited 10 minutes for our number (14) to be called. Once called, we waited on line 30 minutes until we could go up the escalator to join other passengers before we could get on the ship. That line was another 25 minute wait. We situated ourselves in the Cafe on deck 14, and sat to listen to numerous announcements saying that our crew was working hard to disinfect the ship BUT OUR ROOMS ARE NOT YET READY. OK...we are expecting a 5:30pm "all clear" based on Celebrity's earlier pre-cruise communication, so we continue to wait...have a little bite...a beverage... At this point, the every-15 minutes communication on the loud-speaker is getting annoying, because there is nothing encouraging about them. FINALLY, at 6:15pm, we get the all clear. I'd like to suggest to Celebrity that if you are going to be so bold as to put a time down that guests can expect to get into their cabins (in our case, 5:30pm) that you stick to that OR you do something to make the who-knows-when-this-is going-to-end waiting period tolerable by bringing around trays of wine and beer, at your expense. That gesture would have brought you some goodwill and probably lightened the mood for most travelers on this cruise who had already been traveling 12 hours or more that same day, to get to Honolulu on time. So, finally in our rooms...let the cruise begin. Blu: I went to Blu Friday morning, solo, and the service was terrible. My understanding was that Blu is assigned seasoned servers, but you would never know this by my experience. The greeter, Anita, was great and personable, but the servers were bumbling for the most part. I get that we were still on "anti-noro" alert - I've been on other cruise lines that have had to deal with this issue - but this group had no clue what they were doing. My first morning took FOUR servers to get cream to me for my coffee (which was cold by the time they arrived.) I asked the coffee server, who had only coffee and milk....he said he would get the cream. I waited 5 minutes then asked a server who had bowls of sugar if they could find some cream...he left and so another 5 minutes goes by. (FYI - no one has asked me what I want to eat for breakfast yet, and only 15 other patrons were in the dining room at the time.) My next request was made to the (I assumed from his uniform) dining room captain, who looked to his left, then his right and then walked away to find someone. ANOTHER 5 minutes, and then some poor soul comes with a pitcher of skim milk and I was like, FINE, I'll take it. Ridiculous. For the next several mornings, the service was pretty much the same, but I was "armed" with more info based on morning one's experience. So, when I found the sugar person, I knew to ask for salt and pepper too. (Somewhere in their training, these servers were never taught to ask if you would like sugar, cream, milk with your coffee...butter and jam with your toast...salt and pepper with your eggs. They were all 'thrown' by the extra measures taken to avoid our contact while they tried to ensure the noro wouldn't spread to our cruise...these servers had no clue to ask if they could get us the basics you would expect for breakfast in a lovely dining room experience.) This experience was repeated every morning until I couldn't take it anymore and wrote to the hotel director. My comments were dealt with immediately and the service improved...for me. But, I wonder about those that didn't speak up? Many other cruisers spoke of the pitiful service in Blu when I was on different excursions in ports in Hawaii. I knew my experience wasn't unique based on these several conversations, but I kept my critical comments to my own specific experiences when I complained. (and, if you are wondering, dinner service in Blu was hectic and uncomfortable for at least one week. I don't know what was going on with this group of servers. Was it the Maitre d'hÃ'tel? Was it the training? All in all, it took at least a week before service seemed to be of the caliber I was expecting from Blu.) On the other hand, I had dinner one night in Murano, and it did not disappoint! (I've had dinner in Murano on other Celebrity cruises and it was also a fabulous experience.) To make a final food footnote here, the Oceanside Cafe on 14 was terrific. Very good food considering they are cooking for the masses and the bar service and busing service were very strong. My cabin (1525) was wonderful and I had terrific attendants who did a great job of incorporating items back into the room as the virus concern lifted. I had a manicure our first day at sea and I would say to you "save your money". Not worth it. The actual manicure (polish and top coat application) itself was botched and I had to go back for touchups...and for $60, I was not happy. It still looked pretty bad after that, but I wasn't going to waste any more time in the Spa on a manicure. All the bars were great and efficient with the bartenders at the Martini Bar being as entertaining as I've come to expect. The ship was very, very clean throughout and overall I would rate this a good experience...until we get to the disembarkation in Ensenada, Mexico. Ensenada: If Celebrity keeps the same itinerary as we had (Honolulu to Ensenada), I would say to you to be VERY careful about your flight plans from San Diego. Let me explain: You get on a bus in Ensenada, are driven at least 1.5 hours to Border Control in Tijuana by someone who does not really speak english and there is no Celebrity representative with you, go through Customs (thankfully for us, ON THE BUS) for 30 minutes, then another minimal 45 minutes to San Diego airport and/or nearby hotels. We were to be in Solstice theater at 8:30am for departure...and we were...and our bus was called at 11:00am! We pulled out of Ensenada port at 11:15am and arrived at our hotel (five minutes from the airport) at 2:30pm. Thankfully, I had a 'red-eye' and my traveling companions were staying overnight and flying out the next morning, so we had no schedule worries, just general aggravation. However, there was one woman put on our bus (#65 - the last bus) at the last minute who's luggage was on bus #59 and her handicapped husband on an entirely other bus. Our driver went to San Diego airport first...I saw bus #59 go by and stop about four buses ahead of us, and so this woman jumped off to at least get their luggage and then figure out how/when she was going to locate her husband. (I can only imagine the letter she is going to write to Celebrity!) ...and to say nothing about the fact that she left her passports, credit cards and other travel docs on our bus -someone found them on her vacated seat while we were stuck in airport traffic, handed them to me and so I raced off our bus to find her to return them to her. INSANE! I would definitely take a cruise with Celebrity again, (my other two cruises with them were superior to this one) but this itinerary was ridiculous. The funny thing is, our ship was in San Diego the day after we disembarked in Mexico. So, I don't understand, why we could not have disembarked there instead...why did we have to go through all that craziness in Ensenada? Celebrity never clued us in on what to expect at disembarkation. They left all of us stranded in the theatre for hour upon hour with no water, juice, Danish set-up. Everything was closed at 8:00am so we couldn't get coffee, sodas, etc even if we wanted to pay for it. (Although at one point it was announced that the Cafe would be open until 11:30am that, in fact, was not true.) The weather - rain - had been forecast and we were told that the disembarkation process was halted after the first five or so buses left at 6:00am because of the rain - they didn't want us to get wet waiting outside. What? So, grab the porters, all the large umbrellas in the state rooms and let's get going! They had no contingency plan for rain? Really? Celebrity left us in the hands of a lovely guy from Spain named Andres, who did whatever he could to keep us occupied during our long, long wait. He was fantastica and should get a raise and promotion plus additional port time for his efforts in keeping us engaged and not enraged. (Note: Not an officer in sight either during embarkation delay nor disembarkation craziness.) Oh...Celebrity...you let us down this time... I'll still love you, but I'll give you only one more time to redeem yourself. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
After our comfortable flight with Emirates to Osaka we had a night to relax in our hotel.transfer to the port of Kobe seemed to be well organised but on arrival at the embarkation it was absolute chaos.It took nearly 90minutes to board ... Read More
After our comfortable flight with Emirates to Osaka we had a night to relax in our hotel.transfer to the port of Kobe seemed to be well organised but on arrival at the embarkation it was absolute chaos.It took nearly 90minutes to board .endless queuing despite documents being in order.Not a good start to a 5 Star Cruise! Our stateroom on the Verandah deck was as expected.our stewards were extremely helpful. No complaints. However the food in the Rotterdam and the Lido were not of the same quality we had on previous cruises.we had fixed dining in the Rotterdam every night and soon discovered that the food was not served hot . We complained to the maitre d and had a very indifferent reply .(how dare you !) The stewards were very efficient being let down by the kitchen. Entertainment was ok nothing outstanding .daily activities were adequate . Travel guide information was good but information for the independent traveller was not very forthcoming .many of our fellow passengers did not like to be herded in large groups on shore excursions .The prices were so inflated too. Nagasaki was ideal to explore on your own using public transport.the ship docked conveniently within walking distance. Shanghai was the best port of call.We docked opposite the Pearl Tower. A fantastic view from our stateroom. We choose HAL because the smaller ships can dock in places not suitable for larger vessels. However Hong Kong was The Great Anti climax.instead of the Ocean Terminal we docked at a container port without any facilities. Not only were we robbed of the spectacular entry into Hong Kong Harbour but wevended up in a backyard! The cruise information on your webside tells you that ships are docking at the Ocean Terminal,Downtown. As a result disembarkation was a debacle. No taxis were available and your choice was you and your luggage were transferred to the Ocean Terminal.What a joke! The second choice an overpriced bus transfer to your hotel ($34 per head !) costcutting by HAL and a further opportunity of taking money of its passengers Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
The MSC Divina is a beautiful, new cruise ship. Our balcony cabin was very well appointed and appeared spacious, the best of our 8 cruises. The wait, room & reception staffs were courteous and knowledgeable. All the entertainment/shows ... Read More
The MSC Divina is a beautiful, new cruise ship. Our balcony cabin was very well appointed and appeared spacious, the best of our 8 cruises. The wait, room & reception staffs were courteous and knowledgeable. All the entertainment/shows on the ship were top shelf, many with a classical slant. The excursions were well done, without exception, and included Casablanca, Morocco; Tenerife, Canary Islands (our favorite); Funchal, Portugal; Malaga, Spain; Rome and Genoa, Italy. There were reasons this cruise was less inexpensive than Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian cruise lines. 1. The food at lunch and dinner in the dining room was, at best, mediocre. 2. The cafeteria breakfast was crowded; had a shortages of plates, silverware or napkins; and juices offered only one morning. 3. Drinks of any sort, aside from coffee and tea at breakfast, were at additional cost, that incudes water. 4. We like coffee after our evening meal. It isn't served and was ordered from a bar/cafe arriving, inevitably, lukewarm. 4. The ship boards at every port. Over 800 boarded at Barcelona, about the same number at Genoa and hundreds at Rome. After every port departure the newbies toured the ship and swamped the common areas. 5. Reception told us there were about 200 passengers with English as their 1st language. If not with a group this can be a lonely journey. If you are from North America we would suggest Royal Caribbean or Norwegian. Well worth the added cost. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
We are on the Richard With now and we are stopped in Bodon for 24 hours. This stop is for Christmas but it is a bit boring. There are some good points and bad points about this cruise. We have cruised a lot and this ship is quite a ... Read More
We are on the Richard With now and we are stopped in Bodon for 24 hours. This stop is for Christmas but it is a bit boring. There are some good points and bad points about this cruise. We have cruised a lot and this ship is quite a bit different but from my research I knew what to expect. Overall it exceeded my expectations (which were low). The cabin is adequate with a heated bathroom floor.Eating is a bit different both due to the type of food and service. Much of the food is not labelled )salads etc) so you have to guess. Breakfast and Lunch are buffets which is good but dinner is a fixed menu, for example tonite we are having reindeer stew which I am not crazy about. The wifi does not work but they do have 4 desktops which work. There is a small coffee bar where you can buy food if you want extra...that is mainly for peopkle who are just using this ship to go from port to port. The dining room is quite nice. If this does get posted, I will return with more info. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
Just returned from a weeks cruise on the msc fantasia, where to start after reading so many poor reviews I thought I should try and help others who are going to cruise with msc or is just about to book. Firstly the ship is absolutely ... Read More
Just returned from a weeks cruise on the msc fantasia, where to start after reading so many poor reviews I thought I should try and help others who are going to cruise with msc or is just about to book. Firstly the ship is absolutely brilliant , spotless beautiful and well kept .The staff in general are really nice but you do come across the odd moody one mostly the Romanians for some reason, after numerous conversations with waiters I found out that they do not have any days off and work for a 9 month period ( shame on you MSC no wonder they walk around like zombies, you try working an 11 hour shift every day for 9months). FOOD Overall no great shakes the main two dinning rooms are the worst they have no idea of fine dinning and the waiter runs around trying to get everything done. The food is hitty missy some is good some is dreadful , it is never consistent. I was with Royal Caribbean and they are hands down the best I have had.Next if you are on the first sitting which is 7.00 pm then they usher you out at about 9.00pm for the next sitting which starts about 9.00pm, the first sitting should be earlier to allow the staff more time.. The buffet at dinner time is reasonable and you can usually find something to eat look out for the ethnic area you often get the best food their. It is really busy and the Italians pile theie plates high ( worse than the brits LOL ) . In the evening there is no ethnic area food so the choice isnt as good but still okay. For some reason the food is at its best just over warm neve red hot. Breakfast is reasonable plenty of choice but sadly no fresh cooking like on Royal Carribean their omlettes were to die for.Do's and Dont's First day on board go to the meeting you will get the offer of three excursions which are good value three for £90.00 . Its hard to beat this price even doing it yourself and they were good we did the Aix En Provence, Genoa and Tunisia shopping and history. DRINK For some reason the Brits and Irish can book an all inclusive drinks package before you go ,there is two called the Algrisimo one is £150.00 pp and the other is £250.00pp No kidding we had the £250.00 pp which allows you to use your mini fridge we emptied it daily LOL , also you can drink all the top Brandy's and whiskies plus the cocktails and you can have tea and coffee from the bars free as well. The Piazza ice creams and cakes are free with that one too. At the end of the holiday we had spent over a thousand euros so the £500.00 we paid was well worth it. You get the water free and bottles of wine in the main two restaurants and by the glass everywhere else.Yes beware the bottled water will cost you a small fortune. Overall the ship is great the food is poor the staff are great ,the passengers okay apart from the Rusians ,the Germans dont know how to queue. I would go again for the price Id paid. Oh and the balcony cabin I was upgraded to was fab. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We had previously done river Cruises with Viking on the Rhine and the Seine. Having had very good experiences in the past we were really looking forward to our cruise through the Netherlands on a new ship the Viking Njord. Upon boarding ... Read More
We had previously done river Cruises with Viking on the Rhine and the Seine. Having had very good experiences in the past we were really looking forward to our cruise through the Netherlands on a new ship the Viking Njord. Upon boarding we, got into our "new" room and found it to be clean but very tight, as it was only 139 sq.ft. The bathroom appeared to be a nice improvement over previous bathrooms as the shower was bigger. One of the features of the shower, however, was one which allowed the wall facing the bedroom to become transparent. Consequently if you hit the wrong button your shower became public. This would have been a interesting feature 40+ years ago on our honeymoon, but it clearly missed the demographic on the cruise ship. The closet was another issue as it had a bump out at the back of it that did not allow the hangars to fit so it made accommodating hanging clothes very difficult. The room had only one very small stool under the vanity with no back for support and it was virtually impossible to use anyway because the room was so compact. These, however were fairly minor issues compared to the cruise itinerary and the ship's lounge. As it turned out, due to delays, this was the ship's maiden voyage. The itinerary we received was not followed. While we understand the Cruise line reserves the right to alter the itinerary, the problem on this cruise was that no revised itinerary was every published, despite repeated requests from the passengers. We were advised the night before at the daily briefings where we would be going the next day. That presented major problems as well. Everyone was expected to attend the daily briefings, but the lounge could only accommodate about 60% of the less than 200 passengers. In our opinion this was yet another design flaw with this ship. Why book two hundred passengers and then only accommodate 60% for all of the community activities which included briefings and entertainment? If one intended to catch up on cruise pictures, the itinerary or ports of call, using the new flat screen TVs, that was impossible also. Although the TV menu listed all of these features/programs none of them ever became available during the entire cruise. Our cruise was entiled Tulips and Windmills and by and large we missed the tulip fields. Our cruise began in Amsterdam and should have begun with a tour of the Tulip Gardens. Instead it was the very last day of our cruise. Our guide for the Garden tour began by telling us that had we been there a week earlier we would have gotten to experience a lot more of the garden's beauty. The one part of cruise which was superb was the ding room team. The food was very good and our wait staff, especially Ronaldo, was an absolute pleasure to be around. They were all well trained, efficient and most accommodating. We enjoyed them immensely and credit them with making our meals most enjoyable. I should note that our cruise ship staff seemed a bit harried. Perhaps it was the fact that this was the maiden voyage and there were a lot of questions, especially about the itinerary that they were unable to answer. We had not experienced anything like that in our other two Viking cruises. We are planning a trip on the Danube and also a Russian Cruise and were certain we would continue cruising with Viking, but we are exploring other Cruise lines now. In an effort to be helpful to Viking, I wrote a 7 page critique of our experience and submitted it on the last day of the cruise. Weeks later I received a call from Viking when we were not available to answer it. In the message, I was told there was no need to return the call as they had a record of my concerns. As A loyal Viking Cruiser I had higher expectations in terms of their interst in my feedback. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
On February 24, 2012, my wife and I left on a 10-day Celebrity Equinox cruise out of Ft Lauderdale. We stayed in a balcony room overlooking one of the lifeboats. We knew about the restricted view so that wasn't really a surprise. ... Read More
On February 24, 2012, my wife and I left on a 10-day Celebrity Equinox cruise out of Ft Lauderdale. We stayed in a balcony room overlooking one of the lifeboats. We knew about the restricted view so that wasn't really a surprise. Before I go on I'd like to state that overall, the cruise to St Thomas, St Kitts, Barbados, Dominica and St Martin was mostly nice. While this was our eighth cruise, it was our first on Celebrity. With the exception of two items, one serious and the other cautionary, I'd have recommended Celebrity and the Equinox wholeheartedly. In particular, the entertainment was better than we'd experienced before on Royal Caribbean, Princess and Oceania. The food in the main dining room was as good as we've experienced on other cruises with the exception of Oceania which is a class above the other ships we've sailed. Our cabin was larger and more comfortable than we've had in the past although we've mostly opted for the cheapest cabins so we may not have a good basis for comparison. Nevertheless I feel compelled to write about a few items that should give one pause before booking on this ship. As is usually the case, we had a muster before we left port. Certainly, given the recent incident with the Costa Concordia, it would be reasonable to expect that Celebrity would want to make sure that this activity would instill confidence in the passengers. This was unfortunately not the case. We were told to gather without our life jackets in one of the common areas of the ship. As we entered, our names were checked off a list of those who sere supposed to be at that station. In our case it was "B" which we were told was shown on the back of our stateroom door. We then listened to a presentation on wide screen displays around the room. We were packed pretty close together. After the presentation, we were told to wait until told to leave. At that point, some names were called out but no one gave us any instructions on what was happening and why we were waiting. The crew didn't appear to know what it was doing nor did it have any answers to questions we had about what was going on. One can imagine how this would have played out if this was a real emergency. Finally we were dismissed. The experience was not a confidence builder. It was interesting that we were told during the muster that if there was an emergency we should take directions from the crew and not use our cell phones. As you may recall, the fact that there was something wrong with the Costa Concordia was only known on shore after someone was alerted by a passenger's cell phone call. In this day and age, for passengers to be instructed not to use their cell phones in a time of emergency is simply delusional. Shortly after the muster, my wife and I had reason to get our SeaPass reissued. It conveniently has on it your muster station. Unfortunately, when my wife's SeaPass was reprinted, it showed muster station "A" not "B". The crew member told my wife not to worry and just to go to muster station "A" instead even though she didn't know where it was. She finally got a correct card printed with muster station "B" shown. You have to wonder how serious the crew takes all of this if they are so lax about the rules to be followed in case of an emergency. So much for safety. The other caution to note about this ship has to do with food. There appear to be more options than there really are. As is usually the case, you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room and partake in a nice breakfast and lunch buffet on deck 14. While breakfast is extensive, don't expect any changes over the course of the cruise. There is a grill that serves hamburgers, hot dogs and fries at lunch but nothing else. There is a small eating area near the spa that has a few self-described healthy items for breakfast and lunch that are of some interest. There is a buffet for dinner if you don't want to eat in the dining room but don't bother. The one night we went it had little more than leftovers from lunch and not even very many of them. Mostly, the buffet area was shut down for dinner. Of course there are 3 other restaurants you can visit but each costs from $25 to $40 a meal. I suspect most of us wouldn't spend that much if we were home unless it was a special occasion. You will also find two other places to go for food where you have to pay. We have not been on a ship before in our 7 previous cruises where the venues for food that comes with the price of the cruise have been so limited. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2012
Have never before complained about a cruise, but our experience, coupled with comments by veteran HAL cruisers on this same cruise, convinced us this was a disaster experience. GENERAL APPEARANCE of Zaandam: Others commented on worn ... Read More
Have never before complained about a cruise, but our experience, coupled with comments by veteran HAL cruisers on this same cruise, convinced us this was a disaster experience. GENERAL APPEARANCE of Zaandam: Others commented on worn interiors (and even ship's exterior) so I won't repeat those criticisms. CUISINE: Expected excellent cuisine but this was not the case. Menus repeated in second 14 day segment which was was not consistent with the way the "Explorer" format was explained. Very good food and wait staff in the 2 specialty restaurants but at these prices, meals should be of higher culinary and creative quality throughout ship. Desserts in MDR and Lido looked good, hyper infused with sugar, and unexciting in taste. The six people at our table often omitted desserts or took only a few bites. COST CUTTING MEASURES: *Wait staff were so downsized, meals were sometimes served very slowly. At one to point we were rushed along to finish and leave so the next dinner seating could occur. The problem was not that we were slow eaters, but the food service was extremely slow. *Adequate planning did not occur to enable smooth customs clearances at several ports. We were held aboard while procedures were worked out. Having traveled to many of these same countries before, I don't understand the reason for such delays. *Someone made a decision to turn down the heat in dining rooms, spa, and staterooms. This cost saving strategy was reversed only when the front desk was stormed by angry, freezing passengers. A trip to the medical clinic proved interesting. Many passengers AND crew were being treated for colds and respiratory symptoms and no wonder! * Educational lectures on history, culture, politics did not occur. For us, learning new things about countries we visit is part of the cruise experience we have enjoyed most but such learning opportunities did not exist INACCESSIBILITY OF EXECUTIVE PERSONNEL: We asked to meet with the Hotel Manager at one point, and we made our request quietly and tactfully. Our request was deflected by other front office staff and ultimately we were refused. What kind of an organization is this? HAL if you think you are above meeting such requests, your business and PR will suffer greatly. On other cruises the Captain was highly visible. Such was not the case on either segment of this 28 day cruiseSHORE EXCURSIONS: Very worthwhile in every port although the majority of passengers we met arranged independent tours because, as they explained, the costs were "too dear". CABIN ATTENDANTS: Were fabulous, attentive, eager to please, and over-worked although they would never have admitted this. Our pair of attendants were assigned 29 rooms to clean daily! WILL WE GIVE HAL ANOTHER TRY? Think once was enough, too bad! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
I want to first state the expedition quality of this cruise was fantastic. The scientists onboard, lectures, zodiac tours and landings were beyond wonderful. The cabin was equal to any onboard Holland America or a Viking or Avalon river ... Read More
I want to first state the expedition quality of this cruise was fantastic. The scientists onboard, lectures, zodiac tours and landings were beyond wonderful. The cabin was equal to any onboard Holland America or a Viking or Avalon river cruise. The cabin did not compete with Celebrity suites. However, the breakfast and lunch buffet were always cold. This was true even if you went to the dinning room immediately upon opening. Room service also suffered from cold food. Eggs ordered off the menu were brought to the table over done or under cooked. Tapas served in the Observation Lounge were still frozen. I just didn't understand the lack of quality food on a cruise that was this costly. Coffee was hit or miss. Some lattes were right on and then the next might be undrinkable. Wine included with meals was pleasant. Dinner selections on the menu were difficult to interpret. Sometimes the items were lost in translation. We did find that there was a "secret" menu. If you gave 24 hours advance notice, you could get an Indian dinner or lamb chops, lobster and other entries. The risotto was poorly executed anytime it was on the menu. I also had a difficult time wrapping my head around a Silversea practice of auctioning off the chart from the cruise (signed by the staff) for thousands of dollars. When we asked where the money goes to we were told it goes towards clothing, entertainment and shore excursions for the crew. When fellow passengers asked "which" crew, the expedition leader did not give a clear answer. On our cruise, a record was set and a gentleman paid $11,500 for the chart. This guy had won the auction on the Arctic and wanted to have the Antarctic "side by side". Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2011
I cruised on this ship in November 2011 and am writing this review to give a heads up to anyone planning to use this ship. I believe this ship has Norovirus. Of approximately 70 passengers, at least 20 became ill over the course of the ... Read More
I cruised on this ship in November 2011 and am writing this review to give a heads up to anyone planning to use this ship. I believe this ship has Norovirus. Of approximately 70 passengers, at least 20 became ill over the course of the voyage with severe omiting and diarrhea. I believe 20 to be the minimum number as people were still getting sick on the trip home and some did not report to the doctor. This is my own personal opinion and not confirmed medically; what is completely certain is that approximately one third of passengers suffered violent illness over the course of the week. One young person became so ill that they had to get an IV. I am not a public health or medical person but I have many concerns about the sanitation practices on this ship. No acknowledge was made of this problem during the cruise. No instructions were given to us. No one was quarantined. Buffet serving continued with people going through the line handling serving utensils. There was hand sanitizer available at the entrance to the dining room but at only one meal at the end of the trip was someone standing by the door requesting people to use it. These are some of the things which I personally observed: 1. Passengers disembark at 8:30 am. The new passengers come on the ship at 10:30 am, same day. This is not adequate time to clean and disinfect this ship. 2. The sheets for the next passenger in my cabin were put into my cabin on a shelf over my bed the night before. This was not even a closed shelf with doors. 3. At the end of the cruise, the bar was putting out large bowls of popcorn and people were just reaching in to serve themselves with their hands. 4. There were little decorative pillows placed on the beds against the pillowcases. These were put back on the beds for the oncoming passengers without being washed, as were the gray blankets. 5. The doctor did not seem to have enough large bandages to cover up the wounds of one woman who fell down. 6. Another woman fell down and received very large scrapings on her fore arms. She left the doctors office with blood seeping through these bandages rendering them completely bloody, came to the lounge and rested her arms against the upholstered chair. 7. The serving temperature of the food seemed to me to be inadequate. Most things were served at room temperature. Hot dishes were not hot and cold dishes were not really cold. Some people suspected that food was showing up again in a different guise at a later meal. 8. There were unconfirmed rumors that one person became so ill on the previous voyage they had to be removed from the ship. I have reported this to Lindblad which has already had an incident in May of this year when they did not report an outbreak as required by CDC to CDC and this can be researched on the CDC website. These are not cheap cruises; the cheapest cabin for this cruise was over $5,000 and these are not the sanitation standards I expect when I am paying this kind of money. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Fans of Oceania Cruises won't like this review, of our first with this line after more than 30 cruises with other companies. My opinion: Oceania is for people who want to pay a significant premium for a pretty standard product in ... Read More
Fans of Oceania Cruises won't like this review, of our first with this line after more than 30 cruises with other companies. My opinion: Oceania is for people who want to pay a significant premium for a pretty standard product in exchange for the ability to say they cruised with a higher class of company. For them, it's worth it. This itinerary, close to perfect, took us to a number of places on our bucket list: Israel, Suez Canal, Upper Egypt, Jordan, Oman and Dubai. When the price was reduced from astronomical to merely very expensive, we signed up. Since we don't expect to come to these places again and wanted a quality experience, we also signed up for overnight ship's tours in Israel and Egypt and a two-night package in Dubai at an added cost of $3,994 for two. So we paid a whole lot and expected a whole lot. Some Oceania devotees we met swear up and down that they hate big-ship cruising. Well and good, but they also ruefully acknowledge that the Nautica's small size (we had 637 passengers in all) means there is much less variety of things to do and places to be than on a larger ship. Lineups aren't common but we had a number of them. Nautica has small cabins and the tiniest shower compartment I've seen on a cruise ship. Public spaces are poorly planned and even more poorly used: the pre-dinner bar has but 50 seats; the only lounge with a panoramic view is tied up daily for bingo and afternoon tea; the show lounge has terrible sight lines; there are very few good places to sit and read; as someone on CC commented, a balcony is almost a necessity on this ship. Nautica is very nicely decorated, however: it really does feel like the English country-house the line aspires to emulate. The beds were very comfortable, the bedside reading lights excellent, the in-cabin hair dryer ditto, and the presence of hand-sanitizer stations all over the ship most welcome. However, activities seemed limited in scope and badly scheduled, entertainment was summer-stock-style enthusiastic but not compelling; as we'd read here on CC, the ship pretty much goes to sleep after nine p.m., no real surprise when Happy Hour stops at 6 p.m. and video rentals are free. The crew ratio (1.7) is high; sometimes so high that they bumped into each other. Friendliest crew we've sailed with, though. Unfortunately, the service itself failed to match: we avoided the whole central section of the dining room because the service there was so slow. Our stateroom attendant was willing enough but never seemed to comprehend our daily routine; she kept interrupting us doing one thing or another. Front-desk staff were intelligent and helpful. Bar and wine service was uneven, but always provided with a smile. The food, we were told, would be outstanding. It wasn't. Overall, fairly standard. The no-extra-cost alternative restaurants were good, but not good enough to rave about them. Open-sitting dining meant a larger dining room than the ship needs plus the requirement to introduce yourself to new people meal after meal. And the prices! Bottles of wine ran about 30 per cent higher than we've paid recently on other cruise lines, laundry service was of good quality but outrageously expensive; likewise virtually everything else you could buy on board. The automatic daily gratuity was $13.50 and the bar tab added 18 per cent. Surprisingly, we met a number of people on board who either thought this kind of thing was normal or hadn't thought about it at all. Either they were rich enough not to be concerned about value or not quite as sophisticated as some might imagine. Most egregious prices of all: shore excursions. Not physically comfortable going to Petra with its miles of walking, I reserved an Aqaba city tour, thinking that at $115 for a half-day, it must be pretty special. Not so: just a standard tour available from local operators for less than $50. A ripoff, basically. The Petra-plus-Wadi Rum tour offered by the ship cost a staggering $415 per person; my wife went with a group organized on CC and paid $199, though the dinner in a Bedouin camp provided on the ship's version wasn't included. The excursion manager seemed to have a script from which she never deviated. Information about tours was sketchy and not very helpful. Warnings about uneven ground or steps were enough to scare you off but not detailed enough to give real guidance. Our overland tour in Israel, for which we paid $699 each, was outstanding -â€" great guide, nice bus, fascinating places, opportunity to gain insight -â€" until we checked in at the Crowne Plaza in Jerusalem. Our room, like those of others in the group, was a complete disaster. When I book an overland tour with a cruise line I expect to pay more than I would doing it on my own; for that I want to have a thoroughly positive experience. I expect good quality in the hotels where we stay. On this count, Oceania failed miserably; reason enough by itself to avoid trusting this company in future. My outraged letter of complaint, demanding a rebate, has so far yielded nothing beyond some pretty words from the onboard manager. I have to say, though, that our overnight tours in Egypt and Dubai were excellent, just what I expected. The itinerary attracted us and it was just great. So, overall, wonderful places but a cruise line which failed to live up to its reputation. I doubt very much we'll be back. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Just returned this afternoon from a 10 day New England/Canada cruise with MSC: The ship is beautiful & clean, the food was good. This was only our second cruise but the comparisons between Princess and MSC were glaring. #1] This ... Read More
Just returned this afternoon from a 10 day New England/Canada cruise with MSC: The ship is beautiful & clean, the food was good. This was only our second cruise but the comparisons between Princess and MSC were glaring. #1] This was a European line, each time an announcement was made it was made in 5 different languages (tedious to say the least) #2] In ten days we (party of 4) did not speak with one staff person who had English as their first language. It was almost comical in the dining room. #3] Breakfast in the dining room was awful and we ended up eating at the buffet each morning (Breakfast in the Princess dining room was luxurious). #4] Upon leaving our 3rd port (Quebec) we ran into an awful storm in the North Atlantic and our Halifax stop was cancelled. Okay you can't control the weather we understood this, though very disappointed, but there was NOT one concession made for that part of our itinerary being missed. NOTHING. How about a complimentary glass of wine that night? They had our $$$, we were very disappointed. Due to this storm we sailed from Monday night to Friday morning with no stops and no extra activities were offered. Really?. Tedious. #5] Cabins were nice, smaller than Princess, the pillows were awful I have stayed in Motel 8's where I've had better pillows. They were made from chunks of foam rubber stuck in a case. #6] Embarkation for excursions were so disorganized it was a wonder anyone got to where they wanted. Poor communication. Hurry up and wait. #7] Our cabin was kept spotless. Kudo's to the room stewards. #8] Guides on our port excursions were wonderful. #9] Final embarkation in NYC was so disorganized and folks so on edge we saw two fights!!! We picked this cruise because it went round trip started in NYC ended in NYC and this meant we didn't have to fly. Sorry MSC probably will not be cruising with you again. Read Less

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