1. Home
  2. Cruise Styles
  3. Expedition Cruises
  4. Expedition Cruises Cruise Reviews
Cruise Ratings
See Reviews For
Sail Date: May 2013
Husband and I planned this trip for about 9 months to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We had always wanted to visit Hawaii and felt like doing a cruise and visiting several islands was the best experience for us. I read every review on ... Read More
Husband and I planned this trip for about 9 months to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We had always wanted to visit Hawaii and felt like doing a cruise and visiting several islands was the best experience for us. I read every review on Cruise Critic and Trip Adviser for months! My sister says I could be the tour guide as I had learned so much. But that is the key to a good trip, learn as much as you can about the places you plan to visit so you will know what to expect and understand. We arrived in Honolulu on Thursday, May 2, 2013 from Dallas, Texas. There is a 5 hour time difference so we were plenty tired. We stayed two nights in the Wyndham Royal Garden. We are Wyndham owners so I used some points to book the hotel. It was very nice; about 2 blocks from the beach. We rented a convertible for our stay in Honolulu. Loved driving the island with the top down. Honolulu was our least favorite of all the places we visited because it was so commercialized. We walked Waikiki beach Thursday evening and it was beautiful. Friday we ate at IHOP (eating at fine restaurants is not a priority with us) then drove to the Dole Plantation; took the train ride; very enjoyable. We drove around to the North Shore, stopping at a fruit stand and buying fresh mango!! The we drove to the Polynesian Culture Center and visited for the afternoon. This was so enlightening of the many cultures of the islands. We drove on back to the hotel Saturday, we drove to Diamond Head and parked at the base. We walked through the tunnel and made some nice pictures. We then went to Bishops Museum; it was ok. We drove the car back to the airport off-site location and they shuttled us to the pier. That was a big plus!!! Embarkation went very smoothly. You could feel the excitement in the air. All the cruise staff were out to meet and greet you and make you feel special. Our cabin was on the 4th floor. I was very apprehensive at first and tried to change the room prior to sailing, but no rooms were available. The room was great. Some of the restaurants and Hollywood Theater are on the 5th floor, so we could walk to them. But we were low enough that we did not hear any noise either. So it was great. Karl, our room steward was so friendly and kept our room in top shape. We ate at the Liberty, the Skyline and the Aloha Buffet mostly. We ate at the the Cadillac Diner for their desserts:) Food was fabulous everywhere and service was very good with the exception of Thursday night in the Liberty. It was just a little slow that night, but nothing to gripe about. Shows: Oh What A Night was so entertaining. I have seen the musical 'The Jersey Boys' and realize this group is not quite that caliber, but these guys are not far from it. Do not miss this show. We Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
Just briefly, this is a hard working vacation to get to see as much as one can when leaving the ship. We used several private tours companies which gave us the advantage of having a smaller van, our own group, guide, driver but at half ... Read More
Just briefly, this is a hard working vacation to get to see as much as one can when leaving the ship. We used several private tours companies which gave us the advantage of having a smaller van, our own group, guide, driver but at half the cost. For Beijing and Shanghai we used Beijing Tours, S. Korea Novaland and Taiwan, Have Fun Travel. All were waiting for us when we got off the ship and came back when we wanted to. The Asian style lunches were fit for emperors although some of our taste buds did not appreciate all choices. It was exciting and an adventure. We were surprised at how much we all said we would revisit S. Korea. The people are great and there is so much to see. As for the Millenium,it is a tired ship, but fine. It's missing the glitz and glamor of the other ships. But something is right on board. First, embarkation in Hong Kong was a nightmare. We were all lined up for 3 hours without a drink, cookie or kind words. This did not put us in a good mood. Next, the waiters did not give us their pampering, like other ships until I complained to the front desk. No one noticed that meals were uneaten or seemed to care if we liked it. At the end, they plates were then carried away. I wonder if by prepaying tips, they know they don't have to try. Anyway, it was a wonderful time with great friends and good memories. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We booked our recent cruise on the Xpedition in May 2012 and with much anticipation finally departed the US midwest at the end of January 2013. Since we always do our own air we decided to go to Quito a few days early to both escape the ... Read More
We booked our recent cruise on the Xpedition in May 2012 and with much anticipation finally departed the US midwest at the end of January 2013. Since we always do our own air we decided to go to Quito a few days early to both escape the cold weather and to see the sights. Quito was easy to get to; a three hour flight to Miami and then four hours to Quito arriving early evening. We booked our room at the Marriott which is the same place Celebrity books people so there was no problem with accommodations. We had our own guides for the first two days and visited the Cocopaxi National Park and visited the highest volcano in the world and afterwards had lunch at a small nearby hacienda. A gourmet dinner at the Theatrum in Quito topped that day. The next day we drove with a different guide to Otavalo and Cotacachi for some shopping and sightseeing. This guide was Christian Valencia who was one of the best guides we haver ever had. The next day we joined the main group from Xpedition for tours of Quito and then the next day flew to Baltra on a charter flight. This is where the actual cruise began. The ship was perfect for this type of trip. In our case very friendly like minded North Americans, Brits and some Aussies. About 96 pax. People were interested in the Galapagos and generally more highly educated and knowledgeable. Zodiacs were the prime form of transportation to and from the ship. At least twice a day we left the ship to go ashore or snorkeling, morning and afternoon. Generally off the ship by 8 AM and back for lunch. Then back on the Zodiac mid afternoon to see more. They avoided the heat of the day and besides there was lunch to consider. Each Zodiac had a driver and a naturalist. The naturalists could not have been better! All locals with a great command of English, a good sense of humor, delight in their work, very knowledgable and especially safety conscious. We saw an exceptional amount of wildlife: land iguanas, sea iguanas, blue footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions, crabs, sharks, rays, star fish, sea turtles, tortoises, pelicans and untold numbers of other birds. We missed whales and albatross as they were somewhere else. Breakfast and lunch were buffet with open seating and dinner was open seating with wait staff and a menu. Staff was excellent. All drinks were included but really the ship was quiet by around 10-11 PM as morning came early. This was a great trip for nature. Some agility needed but not a big deal as most hikes were easy. Snorkeling was safe and water warm. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
This was a 24 night cruise - Roundtrip down the Amazon River to Manaus with return to Ft. Lauderdale. Ports of call were: St. Lucia, Devils Island, French Guiana; Amazon River ports: Macapa, Boca da Valeria, Manaus, Parintins, Alter da ... Read More
This was a 24 night cruise - Roundtrip down the Amazon River to Manaus with return to Ft. Lauderdale. Ports of call were: St. Lucia, Devils Island, French Guiana; Amazon River ports: Macapa, Boca da Valeria, Manaus, Parintins, Alter da Chao, Santarem; after exiting the Amazon ports were Barbados and Aruba. Let me preface this review by stating that I loved this cruise. It was an exceptional experience to witness life on the Amazon River and visit the ports of call. I hadn't done any recent research on the Amazon River (shame on me) so proceeded with the impression that I would experience jungle views from the ship and see lots of jungle wildlife during the cruise. Much land along the banks of the Amazon River has been deforested. There are urban areas surrounding many of the ports of call. The urban area of Manaus is home to close to 3 million people. To experience what I had anticipated, one would need to travel inland. That stated continue I will continue with review of cruise. I traveled solo and met some folks I'd love to travel with again. The Prisendam was touted as the "best" of the Holland America ships. This is not true. The Prisendam is starting to show her age and members of the staff were not all veterans -- some were spanking new employees of Holland America. The cabins are spacious. I had an ocean view category E which included a walk-in closet and a bath tub. Furniture throughout the ship could use new upholstery. . There were issues with air conditioning during this cruise. Some cabins had no air conditioning for the first 11 days, and because the ship was pretty much sold out passengers without air conditioning were offered fans (which from complaints I heard just didn't relieve the heat of the cabin). My cabin had some strange water leak from behind the toilet -- it was fixed twice before it stopped leaking. (Later during the cruise the carpeting outside of the bathroom door was always wet. I reported this to my cabin steward and for the remainder of the cruise I put a towel from the pool on it. The room steward removed it daily and I replaced dry towels daily.) The limited Spa offers sauna and steam baths without the purchase of a spa pass, and there is a gym with exercise equipment. It's an old ship and is showing its' age. Embarkation: Was extremely slow. Verification of Yellow Fever vaccinations and Brazilian visas slowed the process to a crawl. Apparently, some passengers were clueless that these were requirements. Classes were offered of Word 7, related photo microsoft software and using all the features on cameras. Classes were well attended and had great content! Lectures on ports were offered. Some misinformation and helpful information was provided during these lectures. There were also a few lectures on topics unrelated to the cruise itinerary. They were ok. Culinary classes were offered and were well attended. Sea days tours of the ship were provided and well attended. Please be advised that "Anytime Dining" on this ship requires a reservation. This caused major unpleasant issues for a number of hungry passengers during the first week of the cruise. The maitre de was rude (I am being kind; I assume he was new and will be replaced after the dry-docking of the ship.) The first two days of the cruise "Code Red" was implemented as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of illnesses during the cruise. The Lido buffet isn't really spacious enough to accommodate roped off sections of the space generally used for traversing the buffet sections. This was an acceptable inconvenience. Who wants to be quarantined during a cruise? Because the ship cannot filter the muddy water of the Amazon, there were some water restrictions during the cruise. The self serve laundries were closed for about a week, the ships laundry was closed for a few days and there was a day or two when the Lido buffet used paper napkins. The hot tubs were emptied and not refilled for this portion of the cruise (Brazilian law prohibits the emptying of water from the ship). The salt water pool was also emptied and not refilled until departing the Amazon River. Temperatures were in the mid 80's for the duration of the cruise and the humidity was high. There were insects attracted to the lights from the ship at night, but during the day insect annoyance was non-existent. (This included eco tours out of Manaus.) Most passengers had prescriptions for Malarone as did I, but I personally never saw one mosquito. The night before entering the Amazon River, I laid out all my clothes by the back pool and drenched them with some super insect repellent that unfortunately, lasts through 5 washings! Totally unnecessary for this cruise. There were a couple of great excursions arranged through the CC roll call; one for St. Lucia and the second for Manaus. [Please read the roll call for detailed information; http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1235455]. Ports of call: St. Lucia: Took an excellent excursion arranged by a member of CC. Highlights: Traveled by van and boat. Food and beverages were provided during this excursion, with a blue beverage van appearing at most of the scheduled stops. Swam beneath the Pitons, viewed the old volcano, sulphur springs, banana plantation, and a meditation garden. Devil's Island (Ile Royale) French Guiana: No sharks visible. Required to tender into this port of call, waited for open call to go over. It was definitely worth the tender ride over. One can hike a couple of miles and view indigenous rodents, birds and buildings from the old prison. There is also a small hotel on the property. Macapa: Port of entry for ships entering the Amazon. The excursion ride into Macapa revealed views similar to most Latin American countries. Macapa is a great sized urban area. I've never seen so many shoe stores in my life!! (Minimum heels were probably 6 inches). Local police are also Brazilian military -- carry side arms and are never alone. Most shocking: Saw a trashed Dunhill package of cigarettes--on the back side has a photo of a foot minus a toe and a couple of black toes and letters stating "Gangrena." It's an effective deterrent to smoking. Definitely got my attention. Santarem, Brazil: Santarem is the third largest city along the Amazon....I never left the port to visit the city; I boarded a small boat (24 passengers) from the dock! Today was the piranha fishing excursion.......it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to visit a couple of tributaries, view a number of "meetings of the water," view water crafts that local folks utilize to visit shopping areas, view a couple small ranches, a number of local fishermen, lots of different birds, a funny orange butterfly and what is considered the Amazon jungle. Boca da Valeria, Brazil: Boca da Valeria, a tiny village of the original native Indians. It appeared to be a poverty stricken area -- it felt like Tijuana, Mexico25 years ago with all the children asking for money. Some adults and children were dressed in costumes, others held odd pet animals that originally came from the jungle...sloths, a couple monkeys, a huge snake, various lizards...if passengers took their photos they wanted $1 payment. They had a small school, church and a one room bar specifically for tourists. The passengers loved it. $2 ice cold beers and water which beat the cruise ship prices. There were small fishing boats, built like canoes but with 5 horse engines that offered rides up the tributary to the village of Valeria. The ride was fun. I hooked up with another single woman that wanted to go -off we went. We traveled about 2 miles--lots of water birds visible. We didn't pass any housing. When we stopped, the guy waved for us to follow him up a 30 degree incline...it was muggy and warm...the perspiration is just dripping off of us. We get to the top and there is the larger village Valeria. The school looked new and had the red clay roof tile; the main street had street lights...and pretty much every house had a satellite dish out front. There was one pole with all kinds of wires going to and from a solar energy panel. Turns out the solar panel was providing energy for the telephone lines in the community. I was a little surprised....most of the houses had little electric meters out front. Manaus, Brazil: [Free wifi at port office] Another excellent excursion arranged by a CC member. (Weather was rainy for a large part of the day.) First we traveled to an Indian community housed on Federal Protected land. A prayer ceremonial dance/performance was provided. Costumes (or lack thereof) and odd musical instruments entertained us. Next we visited the Pink Dolphin Research facility (a lengthy small boat ride). We couldn't actually swim with the dolphins, we could stand on an underwater platform and the folk that work there attracted the dolphins near us with food...The water was toasty warm which encouraged most everyone to participate. Sneaky mammals. The dolphins would stay underwater and swim behind you and push your legs to terrorize you, and then pop up to receive their treats. After visiting with the pink dolphins it was about 2 hours (because of heavy rain) to get to the lunch on a floating restaurant. The buffet of local foods provided was excellent and included piranha. . The best part of the excursion for me occurred behind the restaurant. What a delight! We were able to view monkeys in the trees, and caiman (smaller alligators) in the water. Multiple types of birds. This for me was the highlight of the day. (I didn't like the dolphins swimming behind me and pushing at my legs. Day 2 I had planned to meet with a couple of other passengers and walk around Manaus city center. Coming off the ship, I saw the driver of the little boat the previous day; his boat was available to provide tours, so another great day of boating up and down Amazon River tributaries. Parintins, Brazil: As an excursion offered by the ship, Holland America leased the convention center and had a mini performance of the Boi Bumba Festival performance. God! What a party for the eyes. The costumes were fantastic...most of the lead roles in the performance had huge feathers...two of the costumes must have been 20 feet wide and high...they guys were like harnessed in them.... Then they had 30 foot high snakes coming out the sides of a face that had to be 30 feet high, a fish that had to be longer than my house...after the chorus sang and danced, each opened and the most festively dressed female important character was revealed....came down to floor level and was harnessed into the most outrageously beautiful feathered back costume. This undoubtedly was the best ship excursion offered, both in value and passenger satisfaction. Alter do Chao, Brazil: Small little port we had to tender into... the small dock was too small to accommodate easy docking of the tender boats e so they had a small vessel docked and the ship tender pulls along side, passengers transfer to the smaller vessel then out to the ramp. It's like a pass through. Very very small town, looked like it may be a vacation area of Santarem, Brazil. We were only there a few hours--enough time to swim in the Rio Tapajos (tributary to Amazon...clearer water--brownish tint but not muddy) and walk 10 minutes into town to see what trinkets were available. Seems like all of the street vendors along the Amazon buy their products from the same company! There was one nice shop, which had art work from a number of Tribes. I believe the name of the shop was Arariba. I could have spent a full day in there just looking. Bridgetown, Barbados: Went to the Boatyard Beach. Taxi was $10 entrance with chair, umbrella and drink with taxi back to cruise port every 15 minutes $12. Water and weather were perfect! Other passengers raved about the Green Monkey excursion offered by HAL. Bequia, one of the Grenadines Islands: Tiny little island, from which one can view St. Vincent (7-9 miles north depending on the source of the information.) The ship anchored off of Port Elizabeth. It is a "port" because the ferry runs to St. Vincent multiple times a day. Gorgeous, not actually geared up for tourists or at least not for ships full of passengers. Interesting fact: There are fisher people that hunt whales during our late winter/early spring. It wasn't clear if each boat could be licensed for two a year or the island of Bequia was allowed two per year. Aruba: Free wifi from the Renaissance Hotel lobby next to the coffee shop. I spent the short time here in the Crystal casino. The food was good...not as outstanding as past Holland America cruises. Lamb was on the menu every day and defrosted crème puffs (similar to those available at Sam's Club or COSTCO stores) were laid out twice daily as dessert options. Pasta and pizza were available on the Lido deck afternoons between meals. One excellent option that Holland America continues to provide is ordering from the dining room menu for room service. Afternoon tea was provided daily with various themes. An added attraction was the String Band that played daily. They were excellent! I dined at the Pinnacle Grill one time with some friends I made onboard. It was enjoyable. Service was choppy (new staff), the entrees satisfactory, and the desert fabulous! The experience fell short of past experiences of dining in Holland America ships in the Pinnacle Grill. It was a very relaxing cruise. Early nights for most passengers. Internet access through the ship was costly and not worth purchasing. It was better to find free wife at ports or internet cafes. The best entertainment on the Prinsendam was performed by a group called Rosario Strings, this group consists of three musicians, one played the piano, another played the cello and another played the violin. They played during tea and in the evening in the lounge across from the backdoor of the casino. You can read my blog on (scroll back to day one): marzerks.wordpress.com You can view my photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=107639993556552852051&target=ALBUM&id=5694332682474933409&authkey=Gv1sRgCK3Fl-GixeXbtwE&feat=email Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
For our 20th anniversary my husband and I cruised the Galapagos on the Celebrity Xpedition in March 2011. We opted for the 10 day option which included 2 nights pre-cruise in Quito and 1 night post-cruise. I'd recommend this option ... Read More
For our 20th anniversary my husband and I cruised the Galapagos on the Celebrity Xpedition in March 2011. We opted for the 10 day option which included 2 nights pre-cruise in Quito and 1 night post-cruise. I'd recommend this option to everyone as Celebrity takes care of you from the moment you clear customs in Quito to the moment they take you back to the airport for your return. The extra cost of the additional three days is a bargain considering they take care of all your transfers, your luggage, your sightseeing, your tours, your meals, and eliminate any hassle you'd have to deal with doing it yourself. This is our 5th cruise and we've never used a cruise line for ANY tours, transfers or hotel options in the past. We always think we can do it for less and better on our own. This time, I say go with Celebrity. They make it worth it. In every way, this trip exceeded our expectations.A little background: I spent a considerable amount of time researching the different options for seeing the Galapagos, and after having experienced Celebrity, I'm confident we chose the best option for the money. We saw the National Geographic ships and the smaller ships cruising the Galapagos and the Xpedition certainly looked more appealing in every way. Yes, it's a lot of money up front, but after you experience the cruise and don't have to pay an additional dime, you realize that it wasn't so much after all. The only extra costs are any shopping you do on the ship or islands (limited opportunity), diving (approximately $250 pp which we opted not to do), Quito airport departure tax, and computer/internet rental on ship.) Compared to a regular cruise with gratuities, shore excursions, pictures, alcohol, specialty restaurants, shopping, etc....the extra costs on the Xpedition are minimal.Best advice we got:-Take more memory cards than you think you'll need-Take pictures of the daily schedule each day so it's easier to categorize your pictures post trip-Take a camera with video capability rather than two separate pieces of equipment. Less to carry and more time to capture memories without hassle of changing equipment.-Take a fanny pack for excursions rather than a backpack. The fanny pack was not as hot and heavy and held a few water bottles and extra camera equipment.-Know how to use your camera and switch between settings, especially if it's an underwater camera (i.e..camera to video, etc..)Things we were surprised by:-The luxury of the Xpedition! I'd expected a small ship wouldn't have the luxuries of a large ship, but it did. Beautiful public areas, bars, artwork, great food and service, and the cabin amenities of a large ship. The staff was amazing and deserves kudos for their hard work. -The contrast between the luxury and raw nature of the Galapagos: you see all this amazing wildlife up close and personal. You're hot, sweaty, awestruck and content, but then you board the Xpedition and are greeted with a wet washcloth to wash your face and hands, live music playing, complimentary beverages and snacks. Wow.-Night activities were really fun. I thought everyone would go to sleep immediately following dinner, but there was always something fun going on put on by the cruise director and naturalists. Salsa dancing, stargazing, Crossing the Equator party, and a talent show were some of the night time activities. -The food was really good! Favorites were any type of seafood and the few times there were barbecues outside with tons of fresh grilled fish and meat.-Staff was super! Cabins were always clean, smiles were abundant, service was good. One evening between the second excursion and dinner the cruise director made an announcement that the captain had seen dolphins off the bow of the ship. The sun setting in the Galapagos with dolphins performing for you..what more can you ask? -Movement of the ship is very noticeable - I specifically went with the Xpedition over a smaller ship hoping to avoid movement and seasickness. Thankfully, I had no seasickness, but if you're prone at all, take meds, ginger, pressure bands, etc.. just in case. The movement is significant.-Sharks! Don't miss the dozens of sharks every evening and/or early morning feeding in the ambient lights of the boat. Items we're glad we had:-lens cleaners for cameras-quick dry clothing to hand wash and quick dry in room-cameras for both of us including underwater cameras. We had a total of 4 cameras including my point and shoot, his SLR, my Canon D10 for underwater and a borrowed Olympus Stylus for his underwater. We were able to capture different shots that wouldn't have been possible with only one camera to share. At one point a baby seal came up and sniffed and touched my husband. If he'd have had the camera, we would have missed the shot.-Sunglass straps-Defog for our snorkel equipment. It was never offered that we saw. If you're really into snorkeling you'll want it.-Fanny pack rather than backpack for excursions - less weight, less of a sweaty back.Wish we'd had:-Febreze - all that wet, sweaty clothing/shoes get smelly-More socks for wearing tennies. I found sand got in my Keens and gave me blisters. I'd have preferred wearing tennies with socks more often. Your experience may vary..-Small notebook for making notes on excursions regarding what naturalists say. A few people had these and I envied them. Only important if you're the type of person who wants to remember and record the details. Advice:-Do your research regarding when to take this trip. We simply went with the cheapest rate we could find within a time frame. Luckily, it worked for us, but might not work for everyone. March was hot, hot, hot. We were ok with that, but for some it would ruin their trip. You could not sit on the deck without an umbrella. Everyone was dripping sweat on the excursions. On the positive side, we didn't need use wetsuits for the snorkeling. Also, everything was green and lush due to recent rainfall. Luckily, we only experienced rain one day. Also, some animals are only seen certain times of year. If weather and particular animals are important to you, do your research. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Since the Xpedition carries only 90 or so passengers, getting on board did not involve long lines or delays. We were bussed from the airport on Baltra to a pier, boarded small 16 passenger Zodiac boats and taken to the ship. Our baggage ... Read More
Since the Xpedition carries only 90 or so passengers, getting on board did not involve long lines or delays. We were bussed from the airport on Baltra to a pier, boarded small 16 passenger Zodiac boats and taken to the ship. Our baggage traveled separately; we were responsible for our carry-ones. Transferring from the pier to the Zodiac and from the Zodiac to the aft end of the Xpedition was handled by the crew with great emphasis on safety. In fact, this attention to safety never wavered during the cruise. Our cabin was comparable to others we have been in. This is based on over 25 other cruises. The food was not top of the line, but it was very good. The staff was excellent and the entertainment was simpler than usual, but done in a more intimate atmosphere. What you would expect on a ship of this size. A little dancing, a little karaoke, some professional music and the nightly briefing by the Entertainment Director/Head Naturalist of the next day's activities. The other guests were friendly, but tended to try to respect your space. Didn't know much about CruiseCritic until the end of the cruise. The people who told us said that they had known all about what to expect before they booked. I thought we did too. When we got home, I read about 10 reviews and noted that one had mentioned that the walking surfaces were troublesome. The other reviewers gave glowing recommendations and I agree with them. It was an experience that should not be missed. The islands are volcanic and basically untouched by man. The walking surfaces included boulders, rocks, shale and lava rocks. I was always watching every place I put my foot. My wife has a deathly fear of rocks, is on a blood thinning medication and suffers from occasional moments of vertigo. The naturalist guides were very helpful. The closest doctor was on board the ship. Falling during one of the walks would have meant getting back to the small rubber raft, embarking, transferring onto the aft end of the ship and, finally, receiving professional treatment. We used a lot of bandaids, but never fell. I think of this trip as an exciting suicide mission that we survived. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
04 January 2010 The day started out cloudy and it looked like it might rain. We decided against taking a 2-hour Beagle Channel cruise (which we had already experienced 4 years ago) and just walked the town, buying and sending postcards, ... Read More
04 January 2010 The day started out cloudy and it looked like it might rain. We decided against taking a 2-hour Beagle Channel cruise (which we had already experienced 4 years ago) and just walked the town, buying and sending postcards, and buying some sundries that we had forgotten to pack. We ran into several people walking around in their red Minerva parkas. They all assured us that they had a great time. Some comments: "Put your wallet away. You will not need it." "If I could think of something to criticize, I would have a hard time" "Even the food was excellent" We had a quick lunch at our favorite seafood restaurant, Tante Nina's, before returning to our hotel to pick up our luggage and head to the port. At 4 pm we boarded the Minerva for our cruise after pushing our luggage down the pier in strong wind. There was a short supply of convertor plugs from the square British sockets to the more standard European socket., but the electrician fixed me up so I could plug my CPAP machine bedside and have a socket by the desk for the frequent recharging of camera batteries, which did surprisingly well in the cold weather. We sailed away at 6:30 pm. The welcome reception was at 7 pm after the muster drill. The adventure had begun. General Impressions The Minerva is owned by Swan Hellenic, but the staff is provided by Abercrombie & Kent. Each company is responsible for filling half the cabins. Due to the economy, the fares were heavily discounted and the single supplement was eliminated. The passengers came from the UK (85), USA (85) with the rest from Canada, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, Hong Kong and other countries. The February bookings were cancelled and passengers moved to other sailings because A&K could not guarantee that they could fill their half of the cabins. A German travel company chartered the Minerva for 3 cruises in February with a plan to fill all 360 passenger slots. Given that only 100 passengers are allowed on land at any time and the limited number of zodiacs, I wonder how the excursions will work! Everything was included in the cruise price. We wondered if the free alcohol would be some cheap stuff. Not so! There were 4 single malt scotches offered including Glenfiddich and Bowmore, Tanqueray, Beefeater and Gordon's Gin, Grey Goose, Absolut, Chopin and Absolut vodka. For blended whisky fans Chivas Regal and Johnny Walker Black were also on the free list. A different red and white wine from Chile, Argentina, France, Italy, South Africa or Australia was featured each day at lunch and dinner. The Wheeler Bar for casual and Shackleton's Bar with a pianist were popular. Meals were served either buffet style in the Veranda restaurant or the Main Dining room with exactly the same menu. The Verandah always had an Indian Curry and papadum at lunch time. Overall the quality of the food was very good. The service in both restaurants was excellent. Eggs were cooked to order at breakfast. Self Service tea and coffee were available 24 hours in the Verandah, including and a self service expresso machine. Special barbecues were set up on the deck on the warmer days. There was Hot Bouillon at 11 am and Afternoon Tea at 4 pm. Two washers and dryers were available for free. We were given red parkas to keep and they did keep us warm and dry. We also received water resistant backpacks which were very handy for carrying camera equipment off ship. Wellington boots were issued for use during the cruise. The Enrichment Lectures were provided 3 times a day on Sea days and less frequently on other days in the Darwin Lounge. The lecture staff was highly qualified. The historian, Dr John Dudeney OBE, had spent several years working for the British Antarctic Survey before retiring in 2006 as Deputy Director. Our Expedtion Leader, Dr Marco Favero of the University of Mar del Plata brought an infectious enthusiasm to the program. Everything was "very very nice" and he always had a Plan A. His wife, Dr Patricia Silva, another veteran of Antarctic Research Expeditions, lectured about the various birds including penguins. Other speakers covered geology, whales, seals and other animal life. All the zodiac drivers were well trained and experienced naturalists and drove the zodiacs expertly even when the wind and waves picked up. The only disappointment was the photo coach whose advise was not very helpful ("you don't need a UV filter" and "store RAW files if your camera supports it") and the only post processing tool he was familiar with was Adobe Lightroom on MAC {"have never used a PC") and the Geology expert had good information but this delivery was extremely dull. The ship was very comfortable and the small size made it easy to get anywhere quickly. After we left the Falklands, Captain John Moulds (who could be a stand up comedian) opened up the bridge and that was a special treat for us for the rest of the cruise. Surprisingly, a small minority took advantage of this special privilege. Dress was very casual and even on the two Captain's suits or smart casual was the norm. We were divided into 2 groups - Discovery group (red dots) and the Endurance group (green dots) seemed to be designated based on whether we booked with A&K or Swan Hellenic. We took turns going first with each group starting first on each new day, and the group that went first in the morning went second in the afternoon. Zodiac ides were typically an hour or so long. Handings were one and a half to 2 hours long. At Grytviken, we were all allowed to go ashore at the same time and the South Georgia Post office came on board to sell cards, stamps, and first day covers. Russ Manning, a veteran of Antartic expeditions, who shared his experiences during his winter stay in South Orkney islands, took on the tough task of taking our postcards by zodiac to the Port Lockroy Station to me mailed with an Antartica post mark. The staff that got us into and out of the zodiacs on the gangway was superb and ensured our safety. Cruise Director Jannie Cloete and his team made sure that everything went smoothly and it was all well organized. There were several opportunities to see petrels, albatross and other birds at sea, but the highlight was the multiple opportunities to see Fin and Humpback whales at close proximity. Seeing seals and penguins on floating ice was exciting too. We were lucky enough to be invited to the Captain's Table for dinner on our last sea day. He said that we had the smoothest seas he had seen in years but also the most precipitation. Thee temperature ranged between 33 and 45 degrees most of the days, except early morning on the deck. All in all, it was a fantastic and intense adventure. No words can truly describe what we experienced. It is indeed unfortunate that the Minerva will not be returning to Antarctica next season. 06 January 2010: Falkland Islands There were a multitude of complimentary organized tours for us to choose from the Stanley. We took the 30 minute bus ride followed by a rough 4x4 Land Rover ride to Bluff Cove where we saw Gentoo penguins with a handful of King penguins, including 3 who were standing still incubating their eggs. After cake and tea we headed back to the ship before shuttling to Port Stanley for some Fish & Chips at the Brasserie. We walked to the Museum which was disappointing but the Brits probably found it more interesting. A quick stop at the Post Office yielded some Penguin and Albatross First Day Covers. I paid with crisp US$ bills (the banks their will not allow businesses to turn in torn or ratty bills) and got change back in Falkland coins (same value as UK Pounds but minted differently)! The Minerva moved position from the pier at 4 pm to the outer harbor where she carefully tied up to a fueling tanker aka bunkering ship. About 6 hours later, we were ready for the 750 nautical mile 2-day cruise to South Georgia. 09 - 11 January: South Georgia Nothing is certain in the Southern Seas. The weather can change quickly and plans need to be dynamic. On the first day, the first group went out for a zodiac ride with reasonable but as they returned the snow started to fall. Our group encountered snow and higher waves and wind that made photography difficult, but the Macaroni Penguins were a sight to behold. As the weather worsened, plans to visit Right Whale Bay were scrapped and we went to Fortuna Bay (originally planned for the next morning) where there is a huge King Penguin colony. The second day started with a landing at Stromness, the site of a former whaling station that Shackleton finally made contact with the outside world after his 16-month ordeal in the pack ice! We landed on a dark shingle beach that was coated with male fur seals guarding their territories, and tiny dark brown pups that were busy exploring their new world, at least when they could tear themselves away from their busy schedule of napping. A herd of reindeer grazed on the grassy floodplain, while Antarctic terns made use of the gravel areas between stream channels as nesting sites. In the afternoon, we landed on a beach just below the Grytviken cemetery where Shackleton's grave is located, along with those of many whalers who lost their lives in the pursuit of whale oil. We wandered past snoring elephant seals, aggressive fur seals and fearless king penguins en route to the remains of the whaling station. Rusty storage tanks, dilapidated whale catcher boats and old industrial machinery lay in disarray everywhere. Day 3 was supposed to start at 4 am with a landing at the picturesque beach in Gold Harbour, but the sea was too rough. The ship proceeded to the revised Plan A location at Royal Bay. The zodiacs went out to test the waters and it was decided that it was unsafe to land. The next Plan A took us to Larsen Harbour at the entrance to the picturesque Drygalski Fjord for an exquisite zodiac ride. The wind and swell were nearly non-existent once we got inside Larsen Harbour. Fur seals, king penguins and elephant seals peppered the rocky shoreline, while a group of Weddell seals were resting up on a snow bank. We even spotted the hard to find pipit. It was a gorgeous place, and drifting in the zodiac with the engine off was the perfect way to take it all in and view the reflections of the dramatic peaks in the calm water. Following the zodiac tour, Captain John Moulds took the Minerva far into Drygalski Fjord. Immense mountains rose vertically on either side of the ship surrounding the glassy pale blue water and bits of brash ice. Finally, we all converged on the Darwin Lounge for a very lively recap of our amazing adventure at South Georgia Island as we sailed into the Scotia Sea for the 2-day cruise to Antarctica. 12 -13 January 2010: Scotia Sea The ship movement was so ever slight on a gorgeous flat calm sea, with bright sunlight flickering off the few ripples to be found on the sea surface. We got an extra hour sleep since had turned the clocks back an hour. The first afternoon, we came up upon a scattered group of fin whales, which are the second largest whales in the world. Late in the afternoon, Naturalist Russ Manning told us about his exciting experiences as a British Antarctic Survey base commander during his presentation, "Twenty years of living and working in Antarctica". Russ took us through a year in the life of someone working at an Antarctic base, providing us some real insight into what a challenging, but rewarding, experience it is to work in this part of the world. On the second day, the atypical easterly winds continued in the morning after having increased somewhat during the night. The ride onboard the Minerva was still very comfortable, however, due to the fact that the wind and swell were coming from nearly behind the ship. After lunch, we spent some time watching the Minerva's approach to Elephant Island under stark windy conditions. The ship cruised between tiny Cornwallis Island and Cape Valentine, the first site that Ernest Shackleton and his men landed on before deciding to move west to the slightly more sheltered Point Wild during his fabled 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. 14 - 17 January 2010: Antarctica I woke up at 3:45 am on the 14th to see the sunrise and catch the Minerva's passage through the spectacular Antarctic Sound with massive tabular icebergs scattered in all directions, many of them passing very close by as the ship maneuvered around them. After a quick breakfast, we donned our cold weather gear and boarded the zodiacs for our first Antarctic landing on Devil Island, a small volcanic island located on the western edge of the Weddell Sea. We could see the spectacular cliffs at Cape Well-met on the zodiac ride ashore. From the landing, we walked along the beach and up to a large colony of Adelie penguins, the sound and smell of which dominated the scene. We saw so many nests without eggs or chicks, and were told that perhaps a late spring snow storm, had caused major nesting failure at this colony. The views out across the huge penguin colony and the iceberg-filled bay beyond were spectacular. Snow began to fall, a phenomenon we had grown very accustomed to on this trip. Next, Captain John Moulds brought the ship north into Duse Bay. The visibility was limited as we made our way into the bay, finally clearing enough to show that the Minerva had reached the fast ice stretching out away from the Antarctic continent. It was a sight to behold! Sea ice peppered with giant icebergs loomed ahead of the ship. Groups of Adelie penguins lounged on the ice edge, while crabeater seals dotted the bright white landscape further into the fast ice. Captain John Moulds pushed the bow of the ship right into the ice, its flat surface buckling under the force from the engines. During the late hours of the night, the Minerva lowered a zodiac (driven by Russ Manning, of course) to drop off fellow guests Wayne Trivelpiece and Jefferson Hinke from the Scripps Institute and their luggage at their research station on King George Island in the South Shetlands. Our second morning, the zodiacs landed in calm conditions on a cobble beach on Half Moon Island with several chinstrap penguins to greet us. We made our way up the hill to the chinstrap penguin colony, and then headed off to the left towards another remote beach and more penguins beyond. Most of the penguins had two small chicks that were peeking out from the safety of their parents' bodies. During the afternoon, we encountered a mother and calf pair of humpback whales just off of Deception Island, and went over for a closer look. The whales moved off, and Captain John Moulds proceeded to maneuver the Minerva through Neptune's Bellows and into the hidden central harbor of Deception Island, a dormant volcano approximately eight miles in diameter. We steamed further into the flooded volcano and anchored off Pendulum Cove. Widely regarded as the best swimming hole in the Antarctic, the geothermal heated waters at Pendulum Cove make it possible to bathe at the water's edge. Large clouds of steam were rising from the gravel shoreline, which was a deceptive sign for the bravely foolish like me attempting the "swim" today. The water was not warm at all, but I took the plunge and joined the exclusive HOT TUB CLUB! On Day 3, the zodiacs landed at the Argentine Almirante Brown station, which is situated on the mainland of the Antarctic Peninsula in Paradise Bay. As our feet planted themselves firmly on the Antarctic continent itself, we had reached the milestone of having set foot on all seven continents. We found a very small breeding colony of gentoo penguins. Afterwards, we boarded the zodiacs for a tour of the bay. We saw a colony of blue-eyed shags, tending to their young perched on precipitous ledges high above us on a cliff face. Out in the bay, patches of brash ice and stunning icebergs were everywhere. We also came across a large glacier stretching all the way down to the water, and a "bar boat" which supplied us with Nicholas Feuillante champagne to toast our continental landing. In the afternoon, we went to Cuverville Island to visit a gentoo penguin colony where there were lots of little chicks. We had an exciting zodiac ride back and got sprayed. Under misty morning light on our last day in Antarctica, the Minerva approached the northern entrance to the legendary Lemaire Channel, aka "Kodak Alley" for its spectacular scenery. We saw the National Geographic Explorer in the area as they attempted to head south to Petermann Island. We reached Pleneau Island and Booth Island, which surround the dense collection of grounded icebergs appropriately named "Iceberg Graveyard". We boarded the zodiacs and meandered in and out of the maze of ice, where every imaginable shape of iceberg could be found. Windy conditions dominated the scene, with white caps and spray providing us with an appreciation for how harsh the conditions can be in the Antarctic, even in the height of the summer. We saw crabeater seals on floating ice. As the wind gusts began to top out over 50 knots the second group was lucky to get an abbreviated zodiac tour. We abandoned plans to visit Petermann Island in the afternoon due to the worsening weather conditions. Instead, The Captain took the ship north through the Gerlache Strait north towards Drake Passage. Expedition Leader Marco Favero announced that some humpback whales were sighted ahead and we headed up to the bridge for a closer view. The next 2 days (Jan 18 and 19) saw up travel through "Drake Lake" passing within 7 miles of Cape Horn into the Beagle Channel and finally docking in Ushuaia around 8 pm on the 19th just in time for a fine crab dinner at Tante Nina's with some new found friends. The National Geographic Explorer pulled into port soon after us. 20 January 2010: Ushuaia We saw the Mare Australis, Corinthian II and the Akademic Sergey Vavilov pull into port and dock while we were having breakfast. We picked up our passports and Cruise DVD before we disembarked around 9 am. Russ Manning had our bags loaded onto a cart. It was a long push down the pier to the taxi stand. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
My family and I have been on many cruises and had reasonable expectations for the Silver Galapagos given the many negative reviews. The air conditioning on the ship did not work well most nights. We were informed by the staff that this ... Read More
My family and I have been on many cruises and had reasonable expectations for the Silver Galapagos given the many negative reviews. The air conditioning on the ship did not work well most nights. We were informed by the staff that this is an expedition cruise and such should be expected. The food was terrible by any standards. The accomidations were as expected, but again, we had low expectations. The public rooms smelled of mildew and mold. Having been to the Galapagos three times now, I can say with confidence that this cruise is highly over priced given our experience. Other operators offered better service, food and accommodations for about 60% of the cost. On the positive side, the naturalists were very knowledgeable and friendly. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2014
Just returned from a week in the Galapogas and we think it was probably 4 or 5 days to long. We are pretty seasoned travelers with about 200 cruises under our belts and a number of land trips also. This destination was on our bucket list ... Read More
Just returned from a week in the Galapogas and we think it was probably 4 or 5 days to long. We are pretty seasoned travelers with about 200 cruises under our belts and a number of land trips also. This destination was on our bucket list because we had heard from other travelers it was a must now that we gone it's not for us because there isn't much to do or see that is exceptional and day after day is pretty repetitive . Different birds, turtles,iguanas, sea lions and less than stellar snorkeling On to our accommodations, Silver Sea new Silver Galapogas, what a disappointment . On arrival from a zodiac a patched and dented hull, railings not varnished,18 steps to climb on and off daily. The carpet was a poor choice of color gray beige, looked dirty always room not. Bad. But bathroom floor buckling. Food poor, lunch up in the grill the best to offer, service. Not up to their standard, food and silverware taken away and next course but no silverware with it. No premium liquor, no non alcoholic beer. Lack of communication . Was served root beer for non alcoholic., asked for hot tea water and was given cold bottle water, asked for tomatoes on my salad and was given potatoes on a salad. Coffee in suite almost always cold even when we wrote HOT coffee. Friends of ours had a distressing problem when snorkeling and we're treated Nonchalant about it. I could go on an on but I would not recommend Silver Galapogas if you are going.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2014
Firstly the good points as they are few and far between. We saw the northern lights in their glory which was the whole point of the cruise so a big plus. Second our cabin steward was brilliant to the point where we could have adopted ... Read More
Firstly the good points as they are few and far between. We saw the northern lights in their glory which was the whole point of the cruise so a big plus. Second our cabin steward was brilliant to the point where we could have adopted him. That's it for good points. The boarding was a total haphazard mob of people everywhere, which was sad really as the very initial part where you dropped your cases of was organised and reassuring. Once upon the ship all seemed well. Cabin was fine, clean, but why do I sound surprised surly that's what's expected. We had a double bed facing the front of the ship and we were right at the front of the ship which later we realised was not a good idea as the first night we had all the noise of the staffs party below us and boy do they know how to party. The other part of the bed facing to the front was when we had a bad stormy night on two occasions we had our feet down then lifting off then CRASH as the front of the ship hit back down it was worse then a roller coaster at universal studios! Our first nights meal ok average, very small portions but didn't feel hungry afterwards did the trick gave me calories. The days at sea were boring.... Nothing to do...hold on line dancing "ok let's give it a go" kill an hour or so....ummm 4 dances and over .. Now was that worth the effort NO... Come on if you say line dancing let's have a dam good go at it not just a dip in of the toe. Crafts were ok.. But again could have been much better Evening entertainment.... Well two comedians one average the other should have walked the plank.. Literally absolutely terrible. In fact they allowed him to have a second show and I think it was practically empty from what I was told as you guessed I couldn't face being sick,with out it being the sea making me feel ill. The other shows were average. They did put effort into the shows but It lacked something...the main female singer could not sing to save her life well let's be nice if she sang in tune and in range it was fine but for some reason she chose to sing at screech pitch! Not good. I was trying to find and be nice bit it was difficult. Then the cocktail saga, one night a big glass the next a smaller one,yep the measures were different but you paid the same price... Naughty and were they bothered no way. Now it states late night snacks..... A waiter with a tray of greasy nasty deep fried rubbish and then had the cheek to give you a napkin and you had one of each lovely late night treat. One eaten never again unless you want to live off of heartburn remedys. The staff were not brilliant there were the odd one or two who excelled and they know who they are, but other wise they were pretty , opinionated not overly friendly. We had a couple of occasions where they staff were arguing in front of us who was putting the coffee glasses onto the tray... You do not need to see or hear this. On another occasion we were chatting to one of the friendlier staff members when bellowed from behind the bar he was ordered instructions to get ice... Well firstly he was doing what he's meant to do talk and be nice to paying passengers secondly it was his break it wasn't like he was not pulling his weight but there's no such thing on board as passenger satisfaction at all. The trips were fine. We did a few. Husky dog safari, ice hotel, snowmobile etc all good. The other ports of call were bit boring not much to see not much to do, why go there. See a wooden church ok but not worth a stop for! Surly the itinary could have been better arranged so you could see And do more when off the ship. There was only one bout of novo virus dealt with swiftly and well in my opinion. We had a lady air lifted off by helicopter one night poor thing she was fine evidently but the Dj was getting quite irate with people in Scott's bar. I don't think people were glorying in on the fact this poor lady was I'll more the fact you don't see a sea rescue everyday! But he tried his best to keep people from the windows and everyone did all sit back somewhat, but he did loose it a bit. Now the Dj in Scott's bar was fine but it was very loud if you wanted to chat... I'm being pinickity now as yes if you want to chat you could go into another bar but Scott's stay open later so if you wanted that holiday feeling of drinking cocktails staying up late it had to be Scott's, well until the staff had decided enough was enough and told you to go. It is not like other ships where you are welcome till you decide to go on the Marco Polo they tell you when to go. There was a party of 8 to 10 people wanting to stay up late and party this is not the ship for you after all the staff want to go into the staff quarters to party all night how can they do that whilst looking after paying passengers! The food ... Umm well where do I start, portions size one mussel for a starter, laughable but true, or a tiny spoonful of veg on a tiny piece of lettuce. We had steak one night well it was called steak may have been old boot leather. Who could tell the difference, cooked to perfection if you wanted it nuked! Fish yes we had fish couldn't tell you what fish,only it was that. The cutlery was few and far between one night we were asked to keep our used cutlery to use on the next course. Bread rolls one each if you wanted more I think we may have begged! Plates were not placed nicely in front of you but more slung in a surly manor. Now the last night, night before the big tip boy was our waiter polite and nice... Bit too late we opted out of mass tips and gave them according to the deserved. Wine waiter was very good no problems there and drinks package was good. I stated you can opt out of the mass tipping, the day before you dock back at tilbury go to reception tell them that's what you want to do.. It's not a problem sign a form done! Then as I said you can tip the deserved and they get a tip worth having. Please think about this it's worth it if you find some are very good. The buffet was ok bit of the same really. Salad never really changed much same of the same. You are given your cutley in there, just choose a table and off you go. Staff do get in your way they really don't see you as the passenger more of an in convienance and if they are there and want to top up say lettuce you WILL get out of the way... They will make sure of that. Just rude the whole time. Now I know it's a ship but I believe it has a ghost captain.... Where the hell was he. It's understood he doesn't like the passengers and it shows. He never comes down for a meal never eats with the passengers in fact we saw him briefly once but that was it. Marco Polo is 50 years old it needs help it looks old it creaks and groans but boy oh boy it bounces around the sea like an inflatable dingy. Everyone even well seasoned cruisers felt sea sick. I'm not too offay with ships but there must be something seriously wrong with her stabilisers because even with a slight swell it felt awful and you felt every single movement unlike any ship I have ever been on before. The two storms one night our cabin had been arranged so nothing would smash or fall and on the bing bing we were informed the second night the following week, nothing in fact we knew it was going to happen by looking at our phone app of the sea conditions and in fact it was a worse storm than the first one. It took me a week to feel like I wasn't being bounced about on the sea upon returning home that's how the Marco Polo is so unstable. Will I ever go on her again a DEFINITE NO. Was I pleased I went well yes but only because I saw the northern lights and met some lovely people. So make your mind up from this but if you want something special choose another ship... It's just not polished and lacks that's feel good factor unfortunately. PS this ship needs a new executive chef urgently (But doubt if Cruise and Maritime read this!)   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
January 3, 2014 We have just returned from our trip on the Yorktown visiting the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, offered by Travel Dynamics International (TDI). Rather than repeat the information about the ship’s provenance or the ... Read More
January 3, 2014 We have just returned from our trip on the Yorktown visiting the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, offered by Travel Dynamics International (TDI). Rather than repeat the information about the ship’s provenance or the company and its target audience, etc, as reported in the editorial and passenger review preceding this, I will focus on our experience on and off the ship and with its crew. First, the original trip was canceled while it was still in dry dock due to a delay in receiving US Coast Guard certification; that should have sent a signal. We chose to go on the next passage, because it was still over the holiday period (paid time off). Just before leaving, we were told the ship, heading for Saint Thomas from Florida, had encountered rough seas and strong currents and could not make it to its destination in time. We were sent tickets for a connecting flight to San Juan where we were to meet the boat after dinner at a nearby hotel. TDI did a good job of collecting us at the airport and we had a pretty good dinner at the hotel (much better than any dinner we were to have on the ship). Then around 9:30 we were taken to the ship, where for some reason the embarkation took a very long time. We ended up having the mandatory safety drill at 1:00 a.m., after a very long travel day. Saturday, December 28: After a perilous overnight sail from San Juan to Jost Van Dyke, we arrived late morning. The ship had heaved and rolled all night on water that was merely choppy; waves of two to four feet should not be difficult for a ship of this size, however this ship has a very narrow draft of nine feet. It is a ship for rivers and lakes, not the ocean, as would be made quite evident over the course of the trip. Many people were quite seasick the next day. As I said we got in late morning, and by then we were to have been swimming, snorkeling or kayaking on White Bay Beach. Instead it was lunch time and we were told that right after lunch we’d be boarding the “DIBS” (I’ll call them pontoons) for a wet landing on the beach. All those going were to wait with their gear in the lounge until the three pontoons were secured to the swim platforms and we would then go in groups, 12 to a pontoon. We waited, and waited. This was TDI’s first trip in the VI, obviously completely unrehearsed! It turned out they had to figure out how to secure the pontoons, and then they realized they only had one person available who could commandeer the thing. Ultimately they found one other, who was busy “working on the anchor” who was pulled into service. So now we had two pontoons that could bring a total of 24 people at a time. The lounge was full, I’d say about 60 people waiting to go. When they called for the first group, there was no order, just whoever was closest to the stairs to go down to the platform. Chaos ensued, a crowd not a queue, as people were handed life jackets and “helped” (more on that later) onto the pontoons. One pontoon at a time was made ready as the platform on the other side of the ship was not used; they did not have enough staff. By the time we made it onto a pontoon, it was mid-afternoon. The experience of being assisted (we are not novices at this) was very telling. The pontoons were not secured close enough to the ship, and there was a lot of movement on the choppy water. It was not calm, there was constant yelling to grab this, step on this, and people were getting kind of thrown on. The condition of the pontoon was horrible. These were small, uncomfortable metal units resting on rubber pontoons that were riddled with repair patches. These were very old, very used up equipment that inspired no confidence. The splash control ( a rubber sash across the front) sagged almost into the water and anyone sitting in the front had to get a lot of splash. I’d say we got to the beach around 3:45 p.m. This “secluded beach,” reachable only by “special boats” like ours, was tiny, mobbed, and extremely loud; there was an outdoor club playing loud loud loud hip hop rap “music” non-stop. The beautiful coral and fish (displayed in the colorful brochure) were not there; I saw a sandy bottom and some minnows. That’s all anyone else saw. After about 45 minutes I had enough of the noise and got on the next available pontoon to return, with just enough time to shower and get ready for dinner. There was no facility on the return to the platform to rinse off all the sand on the fins, our sandals, feet, etc. Imagine the mess 60 sandy people made trudging back to their rooms, forced to rinse their gear off in the shower! The captain just shrugged his shoulders and said “we’ll just have to do the best we can.” (Oh, oh, I said to myself.) What a mess, everywhere. By the time we had arrived at that beach, we were already supposed to have done it and then returned for lunch while they sailed to Peter’s Island for afternoon swimming and snorkeling at Soper’s Hole. The actual sail occurred during dinner, and we arrived there at night. A few brave souls went out with Wayne the “Expedition Leader,” and the account told to me was that they walked around the town in total darkness, no lights anywhere and crossing streets with cars whizzing around them. Wayne offered no information about what they were “seeing.” “We could have been killed” said the couple I spoke with. A word about the expedition leaders: Wayne and Karen Brown, Expedition and Assistant Expedition Leaders, are billed in the promotional literature as having expertise in environmental and marine biology, and ecology. The expectation was that they would be accompanying us on excursions to explain what we were looking at. They didn’t. Their primary function seemed to be herding people around, getting them from point A to point B, often on open air safari taxies because the boat did not get close enough to where we were going. Wayne was constantly babbling on the speaker system on the ship, repeating information, to most people’s great annoyance. Sunday, December 29: We were supposed to awake arriving at Tortola, capital of the U.S.V.I. Instead, we were awakened at 6:00 a.m. by Karen over the PA system, telling us in a chirpy happy chuckley voice that we were not in Tortola, we were still in Soper’s Hole, and we had one hour to get cleaned up and get some nutrition and make it to the “taxis” that would take us to our destinations, about 45 minutes away and not a comfortable ride. I was livid; there was no explanation, and no apology offered for the inconvenience. I found Karen and let her know how insulted I felt at being treated this way, and that we all deserved an explanation and an apology. She was all chirpy happy until I let her know how inappropriate that was in light of the situation. She did then get on the mike, apologized, and explained that they had lost an anchor when attempting to leave Soper’s hole, and a dive team was on the way to retrieve it. We were stuck, and behind schedule already. We had opted for a historical tour of Road Town. We first drove to the botanic garden to find it closed (why didn’t they know it would be closed on Sunday?), skipped without mention one museum, then visited an old cotton works museum, where we spent more time than anyone wanted to. Those that went on the Sage Mountain Hike were far less fortunate. Apparently it was not planned out, and split into disorganized groups. It was a treacherous hike with seemingly no purpose; no explanation of the environment they were in or what they were seeing. There were injuries (mostly scrapes), including a broken rib. On the ship there was not even easily obtainable over-the-counter medications to help those with injuries. We were supposed to have lunch while sailing from Tortola to Peter’s Island for swimming, snorkeling or kayaking; instead, we were still stuck at Soper’s hole. The group was offered a taxi back to a local beach for swimming only. We decided to not even go back to the boat, and had ourselves a very nice lunch on the pier. At this point I’d like to mention this is not a cheap excursion; John and I paid, net after air credit, $10,000 for our (2) cruise tickets. At this price point for 7 nights, 6 days, we expected a lot more than we were getting. Late afternoon, we were supposed to be sailing for Virgin Gorda, but we were still sitting dead in the water. We settled in before dinner for a concert by an excellent chamber music quartet (specific to this cruise only, for the benefit of various music appreciation groups who booked this cruise); more on that later. During the concert the crew was noisily testing raising and lowering the newly attached anchor, and finally we were on our way, considerably behind schedule. Monday, December 30: Of course by now the morning arrival at Virgin Gorda was now to be an afternoon affair, so we skipped breakfast to get some sleep. Now for the much touted BBQ on the sun deck, prior to our excursion to The Baths at Virgin Gorda. And why did it have to be an “excursion?” Shouldn’t this special boat with its nine foot draft just bring us there? The BBQ consisted of hamburgers and bean burgers, cooked in the restaurant kitchen and sent up to be warmed on the grill. Ribs? Chicken legs? Hot dogs? Nope, just hamburgers. They did toast the buns. But wait! They served the 20 or so of us that were on board (I don’t remember what they offered off shore that morning) and when those legions returned, guess what? There was no food for them! They literally ran out of food for the much touted BBQ after serving about a quarter of the people on board. The rest were told to go get their burgers from the restaurant and bring them up, and they could get their buns toasted. How festive! At this time I caught sight of the beautiful Seabourn Pride across the bay from our ratty ship, and I just wanted to swim over to it. It was like dangling shrimp in front of a cat. How cruel. Mid-afternoon, our trip to the Baths at Virgin Gorda was nice, if crowded. With all the time it took to load up the taxis, get there and back, the photo-ops we were supposed to have in the afternoon were instead some quick shots (I didn’t bother) on the way back as the light was quickly fading and it was hazy. It was bright and clear on the way out, so why didn’t they stop then? The (after lunch) nature hike to the summit of Gorda Peak National Park didn’t happen, again because they were still catching up to their “schedule.” Tuesday, December 31: This day was supposed to be a variety of stops around Salt and Normand Islands. The one item on the itinerary that was made available was a hike around a natural salt evaporation pond. A stop at Cooper Island was changed for this “more interesting stop” so snorkelers could view a famous ship wreck, but the currents were too strong and that was canceled (shouldn’t they have known about the currents?). The “late morning” sail to Norman Island to swim or snorkel and view an area known as The Caves did not happen. It was almost dark when Wayne announced we were sailing past The Caves, and we could look out and “still see them.” No one bothered. One had the sense that this was a cynical attempt to say this part of the itinerary was at least partially met. Pathetic. Another beautiful concert on board. Wednesday, January 1: After another perilous overnight journey through a violent storm (I heard the ship had gone further out to sea to dump “grey water”) we arrived at Cruz Bay in Saint Thomas. It was a wilder ride than the initial one from San Juan. It was dangerous to get out of bed. I went on all fours to use the bathroom, and hung onto the shower bar and vanity and had one foot braced against the shower sill. My first no-hands pee! I crawled back to bed and worried about making it. We took it easy in the a.m. and opted for an afternoon shuttle to Trunk Bay, a beautiful if crowded beach maintained by the National Parks. It was clean and there were shady areas, and a concession stand. There is also an underwater snorkeling trail, which John explored, but it was so crowded you had to “keep moving” to not hold up the line. Barkers in bullhorns periodically admonished swimmers to not stop or touch or stand on the coral. Barkers from major cruise lines such as Carnival walked up and down the beach yelling for their passengers to return. So why were we here, instead of at a very private secluded beach, with our special boat with a 9 foot draft? At this point I didn’t care, I was glad to be out wading in clean warm water, knowing I would soon be packing and that we were disembarking the next morning, a day early. We had changed our flights to beat a storm, and, admittedly, it was a good excuse to get off the ship. An incident with staff: After dinner Wednesday evening, I finished packing and as it was still early went down to the lounge to get a glass of wine and look for anyone I hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye to. It was about 10:45 by my iPhone and the bar had been closed early. I started chatting with a couple and their son about the trip (this really was a topic most passengers found common ground with!) and they were asking me about other cruises I’ve been on. The bartender (Tom) appeared to fetch something and I said “Great! Can I get a glass of wine?” Tom said no, the bar was closed. I asked how late the bar was open and he said 11:00. I said I was there before 11:00, and Lisa looked at her watch and said it was only a few minutes past 11:00 and that I’d been there talking to them for at least 20 minutes. An awkward moment passed, then Tom leaned over to me and said “Well I guess that’s just too bad for you.” We were pretty surprised at the unnecessary rudeness, and as he walked away I said I was going to report him in the morning. I blew it off, and we continued chatting for about another 20 minutes, when Tom came into the lounge with two other staff members, came up to me and said “I have determined that you are inebriated and need to be escorted to your cabin.” I can only guess this was a futile attempt to pre-empt the complaint he surely knew I would make. It was also quite clear to all present that I was entirely lucid and in control. We all froze at first, recognizing the potentially dangerous situation. I looked this guy in the eye and said “I’m not going anywhere, and I want you to call the captain.” (There was no way I’d be caught with him out on a dark deck on a rocky boat.) My friends did a great job of showing with their body language that they were staying put with me. The other two staff looked awkward and stayed back, avoiding eye contact. Tom went to the bar and picked up a phone, mumbling something, and it looked like he was pretending to make a call while trying to think of how to get his self out of his own mess. The other two staff, to their credit, moved away from the door and turned their backs. I whispered too my friends and they walked with me to my cabin. I felt so threatened I was afraid to fall asleep, so John jammed the lock lever to prevent anyone from turning a key from the outside. I reported this incident to Brian (Tour Manager) who was very surprised and concerned, and wanted to make sure I was alright. (Actually, I wasn’t) Disembarkation: Even this was complicated, and there was confusion about what to do. Brian had been told that before we could go to the airport, we had to go to a customs declaration site because we had been out of the country. The driver went to the wrong one of two sites, they were not nice, and sent us back to the ship. Brian and the purser then came with us to straighten it out, and ultimately they decided that since we had just cleared Saint John we could in fact go to the airport. Again, this process should have been vetted before taking on passengers. It’s a good thing we started early. We caught the last flight to Boston before the storm. A final word: It was strange to be on such a problematic trip, yet experience such a lovely group of passengers. This particular cruise happened to be mostly a charter for alumni groups associated with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The musicians were the creme de la creme of chamber music; I regret having to miss the last concert. Apparently this is the type of audience TDI targets, and by all accounts, until this cruise on this boat, they have done it very well in Europe. For this group of people, the cruise itself was secondary; they were there for the music. Still, the problems became even too much for them, and there were no happy campers. The crew on this ship left much to be desired, with the exception of Brian Goyette (Tour Manager) and Terri Lundi (Tour Director, I think). They were professionals who always had their hands full yet managed to stay calm and keep things moving. The wait staff was fine, but the boat crew from the captain on down gave the impression that TDI fished from the very bottom of the barrel. We did not expect this to be a luxury trip, but we did expect for the price to have a real expedition and education style cruise; we are sorely disappointed. end -   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
I am an Elite member of the Captain Club on the Celebrity Cruise Line. I did online check in which usually gets us on board in 10 to 15 minutes. 90 minutes later we finally walked on to the ship. It went down hill from there. My room was ... Read More
I am an Elite member of the Captain Club on the Celebrity Cruise Line. I did online check in which usually gets us on board in 10 to 15 minutes. 90 minutes later we finally walked on to the ship. It went down hill from there. My room was next to a family that had taken 4 cabins for 7 children and the parents, The 3 rooms for the children were next to mine. The parents room was 4 doors away. I did get my room changed but that was not easy to do since it was a holiday sailing. My next room was next to a man with 2 children. The AC in my room was terrible so I kept my balcony doors open only to be woken by screaming children on the next balcony. Nothing was done about this. The specialty restaurant that never allowed children under 12 yrs. bent their rules this time because there were so many children on board. Infants and toddlers were in the adults restaurant. They had to make every nickel and dime they could. There were so many people in the staterooms that it made this small ship very crowded, loud, and almost uncontrollable. Children running and screaming thru the halls and in the public areas. No one stopped them. Areas that normally were set aside for adults and quiet areas were over run with loud children and adults. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
The Silver Galapagos is a sad old vessel fit only for low budget travellers or the breakers. Neither it nor the service and quality on it lived up to any of Silversea’s descriptions. To avoid serious disappointment do not consider ... Read More
The Silver Galapagos is a sad old vessel fit only for low budget travellers or the breakers. Neither it nor the service and quality on it lived up to any of Silversea’s descriptions. To avoid serious disappointment do not consider sailing on it. If you are now contractually committed to sailing you must put the Company on notice that unless you receive the level of accommodation and on board service that is so outrageously over hyped in its sales literature you will be seeking a substantial cash refund. Our sailing did not have a full complement of guests. What it would be like with 100 passengers does not bear thinking about. As others have mentioned the suites were really only cabins with nowhere to put the cases. The shower cubicle was a tight fit, towels and flimsy robe got damp just for being in there for the duration a shower. Toiletries were sparse not even a shower cap. As these are normally provided everywhere now my wife cuts down on packing by no loading up the case with these any more. After asking one shower cap was provided for the duration. The balcony was very narrow. I acknowledge it was a comparatively small ship but very little thought had gone into the supposed overhaul of this ship and the minimum necessary done.. The Vista windows in other cabins we went in were something of a misnomer as they were three narrow windows of less than half length. Worse still curtains had to be kept closed in these at all times as the walkway went round them and people congregated. Again as others have mentioned the butler was really just a steward and no unpacking or packing was carried out or offered and we saw little of him on the first day. I am sure he was busy but it was not the service that was promised “on a ship that brought luxury to the Galapagos” at last. Forgive the pun but the waiting staff were all at sea and, for the most part, appeared not to have had any training. The main restaurant is long and narrow and the food inconsistent. Fine wines were promised but if one asked for them they were very begrudgingly given and then only the tiniest amount not even a standard 125ml.. Some of the higher Silversea staff admitted they knew they needed to do much more and they were still in a development phase – not acceptable when are paying the full dollar for a luxury trip. In case you are unaware all the itineraries and expeditions are organised and delivered by the GI National Park guides. That means whatever boat you go on your experience in this respect will be much the same. As seeing the Galapagos Islands and their wildlife is the reason for going on this trip you might as well save your money and disappointment and go on a less expensive, but probably better run established ship. I am happy to pay for comfort, quality and good service but if I am not going to get it, why bother. I just feel ripped off by totally misleading advertising. Perhaps with time they might get their act together but the ship will still be a very old ship and the makeover of the cabins could have been so much better. Browse the web, there is a good range out there. You can certainly do better than the Silver Galapagos. In the Galapagos this is a large ship. As a consequence there is quite a lot of queuing to get on the zodiacs on both the outward and return journeys.   Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
My partner and I went on a Northern Lights Cruise with Hurtigruten along the coast of Norway. We had been planning this for some time and were really looking forward to it. Norway is a beautiful country but the 'cruise' was very ... Read More
My partner and I went on a Northern Lights Cruise with Hurtigruten along the coast of Norway. We had been planning this for some time and were really looking forward to it. Norway is a beautiful country but the 'cruise' was very disappointing. If you are planning to go with Hurtigruten to Norway make sure you know what you are booking. There were so few passengers on our trip that the majority of the excursions were cancelled. It is the trips that make the holiday special so it was nowhere near as special as we thought it would be. It was very frustrating to be in such a beautiful country but not able to get off the ship and spend any time exploring. The cruise was more of an expensive ferry hop between ports - many of which were arrived at during the night or for very short - half hour stop offs in ports a significant away from the towns. The crew on the ship were great and the food was good but I would never travel with this company again. We did write to Hurtigruten with feedback but they were not interested. Instead of recommending Hurtigruten we are telling all our family and friends to be very careful if they are thinking of travelling anywhere with this company. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
We, along with 188 other passengers anticipated our Viking River Cruise on the Idun departing Nuremberg on June 1. The cruise turned into a very expensive and deceptive bus trip through Europe. Unfortunately, the passengers had not done ... Read More
We, along with 188 other passengers anticipated our Viking River Cruise on the Idun departing Nuremberg on June 1. The cruise turned into a very expensive and deceptive bus trip through Europe. Unfortunately, the passengers had not done full due diligence prior to arriving to realize that the Danube river was ALREADY closed to river traffic and the ship would NOT be able to depart the canal it was on. The crew professed no prior knowledge of this and each day we had to see what the contingency plan was for the next day. The ship actually departed the canal dock in Nuremberg and sailed a short distance to Redensberg where we then proceeded to bus to either planned destinations or destinations such as Munich that VRC offered to keep everyone busy. The horrible part was the lack of information by the crew to the passengers and a continued message of optimism that the water levels would lower and we would sail. This was impossible as they did not even crest until after our 'cruise' had ended. VRC acted irresponsibly in transferring all guest by motor coach ( over 7 hours ) to Bratislava, Slovakia to the Viking Njord which was holed up in a totally flooded commercial shipping slip where passengers had to access the trip through a flooded parking lot walking on railroad ties and on a corrugated tin utility access cover that covered the electrical controls for the gantry crane that ran beside the ships. At 50 we were probably the youngest on the trip and there were many with disabilities that had to either stay on the ship or chance the path. VRC dropped one passengers suitcase in the water and did not even inform them. They used the Njord as a 'hotel' for us for two nights and bussed us back and forth to Vienna from Bratislava instead of DOING THE RIGHT THING and putting people in a hotel in Vienna instead of saving money this way and wasting even more of our time on busses. Everyone was empathetic to the situation the crew was in HOWEVER, the cruise that was scheduled to sail the next day from ours gave the passengers the option to go home / full refund or take the 'bus cruise'. VRC should have or fully knew the situation and pushed to get us through the system and out the back door. VRC offered passengers a 75% cruise credit (time expired in 2015) to people that saved years for this trip and/or will never do another river cruise again. A few communications with VRC in California resulted in a reinforcing letter that they feel they did everything to accommodate and compensate according and that they will not move from this position. BEWARE OF VIKING RIVER CRUISES. Competitive cruise lines did the right thing and cancelled cruises and/or offered refunds and compensation where VRC weight the options of the impact on its business and made a fiscal decision, not a customer focused decision. Boat was good. Crew was good. Food was good. If the water was fine, it would have been good however a corporation is judged by how it reacts when things to WRONG and there are hundreds of very disappointed and upset passengers that feel that we were tossed along like hot potatoes, outright lied to and misled by the crew ( even to the point that the transfer to Bratislava was with the 'hope' that we would sail to Budapest form there ( THEY KNEW THE RIVER WAS CLOSED AND RISING ) but did not communicate that to the passengers. The cost of doing the right thing would have been much less than the loss of business they will encounter from this. Even a partial refund in cash vs a time expired credit would have been the right thing. Peed off in the North Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
I am finally getting to write my review of our cruise. We traveled with the large group of 40 along with our travel agent, which was very nice because all our tours were preplanned and prepaid. Below you will find the brief description by ... Read More
I am finally getting to write my review of our cruise. We traveled with the large group of 40 along with our travel agent, which was very nice because all our tours were preplanned and prepaid. Below you will find the brief description by category, which might or might not help future cruisers because everyone's feedback is different and can vary significantly. Here is our's: Destination / ports of call: we sailed from Hong Kong to Shanghai. Loved every port, enjoyed the tours, lot's of walking. Amazing sights. Cruise Ship: this is our second time on Celebrity and we were not very impressed. Everyone were saying that it is better than Princess but we didn't think so. Embarkation in Hong Kong: very disorganized, took a long time. Cabin: we were in Aqua Class and it was great. The cabin was nice, our room steward was very attentive, can't be better. Food: average to say the least. Lunch buffet was terrible, dinner was so-so even in Blue, menu not interesting. Service was poor both in the dining room and in the Blue, extremely slow, although, personnel was friendly. Spa area: very good, enjoyed it a lot. Overall the ship did not look renovated. The main atrium was not very impressive. They could do much better on the refurbishing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2011
We Arrived in New York 21st overnighted then Boarded next day Saturday. No Luggage labbles available/supplied until the Bus has arrived at the dock & we had waited over 20 minutes. Boarded the Poesia & escorted to our Cabin on ... Read More
We Arrived in New York 21st overnighted then Boarded next day Saturday. No Luggage labbles available/supplied until the Bus has arrived at the dock & we had waited over 20 minutes. Boarded the Poesia & escorted to our Cabin on Deck 12 (Balcony). First couple of days experience "passable" but the continual 5 languages begun to annoy. ENGLISH (1748 english speaking passengers)LATIN(OK it is a Latin Ship) GERMAN ( I know that most Greman schools teach German as a second language)FRENCH & SPANISH. The Impression we obtained (along with numerous other passengers was that ANNA (Cruise Director) liked the sound of her voice & desired to show how clever she is. Food, passable but SO REPERTICOUS absoluteley no variation to Breakfast & lunch in the Buffett Diner poorly cooked presented & the variety appalling. Crusie Shows NO LIVE BAND IN THE THRETER; no intrduction of the EXCELLENT PERFORMERS. On the final night supposed to be HIGHTLIGHTS OF THE CRUISE not one singer no dancing no crowd involvement ect ect ect. Tours good but very much over priced $98 each to see the town & canal we did it by Taxi $25 each WHY THE ENNORMOUS PRICE HIKE. Staff distant did NOT show ANY Hospitality to Passengers & seemed to be allocated one task,ie pick up dirty plates that is ALL I DO do not suggest I should pick up dirty glasses. Service Charge "NOT NEGOTIABLE" $12/day/passenger. If Passengers chose to "tip" individual Staff can"happen" but the service charge WILL NOT BE REMOVED UNTIL AFTER CLOSE OF BUSINESS LAST NIGHT. 0545 morning of arrival over 250 lined up trying to sort out Service Charge ect. Why can not the accounts be closed say 8.00pm last night & the ability be given to sort out questions during the last night. MANY OTHER CRUISE LINES OPERATE THIS WAY; no it seems to be TOOO HARD FOR MSC besides THIS IS THE WAY MSC OPERATES PASSENGERS DO AS WE SAY. It almost seems in good Faulty Towers style: MSC would run a very happy contented problem free cruise if it was PASSENGER FREE. & believe me my family will contribute to making MSC PASSENGER FREE. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2011
We booked this cruise because the website promised it was unlike others - it was an "uncruise". The brochure promised that there would only be "up to 49 guests", and that the trip could be highly active ("Whether ... Read More
We booked this cruise because the website promised it was unlike others - it was an "uncruise". The brochure promised that there would only be "up to 49 guests", and that the trip could be highly active ("Whether you are looking for moderate activity or vigorous, extended and challenging outdoor pursuits, we can tailor most any expedition to suit your skill level.") We are in our 30s and moderately active, so this sounded ideal for us. Upon going to the embarkation point, we discovered that almost all of our fellow passengers were considerably older than us. The median age would have been well into the 60s. That would have been fine, except the promised activities did not eventuate. Neither the original not an amended itinerary supplied shortly before the trip were complied with, and every change was to the detriment of active passengers. For example, on Day 2, the first full day of the trip, the amended itinerary promised to "Push your senses and your muscles with the exhilarating combination of sea kayaking and trekking. Or ride a skiff to the same shore and take a relaxing walk on a trail that boasts a 350-foot elevation gain." The amended itinerary promised a much watered down version, to "Push your senses kayaking, trekking, riding a skiff, or trying your luck at stand-up paddle boarding." What actually happened is that we were unable to do any offship activities whatsoever -- aside from an extremely tame and pedestrian small boat ride to look at Baird Glacier. In other words, the rigorous physical activities promised went from being considerable, to being mild, to being entirely non-existent. Day 3 provides an even more outrageous example of bait and switch with regard to the physicality of the activities on offer. The original itinerary promised that we would "Take on the exposed terminal moraine of the Baird Glacier Trail, until you reach the top of the glacier itself. Enjoy a long guided kayak excursion from Scenery Cove to Cascade Creek and then treat yourself to a short trek on one of the several scenic Cascade Creek trails." This time the revised itinerary added something which sounded even more rigorous and strenuous than the original: in addition to the walk on Baird Glacier, it promised that we could "Choose guided kayaking and a lush forest trek on one of the scenic Cascade Creek trails. Or go big on the 5-mile hike to the glacially-fed and rarely visited Patterson Lake for spectacular kayaking." What actually happened is that there was no guided kayaking. No lush forest trek on a Cascade Creek trail. And no 5 mile hike to, and kayak at, Patterson Lake. None of these promised activities actually happened at all. Instead, we got a visit to Baird Glacier which, despite being advertised as the "fast" hike option, was far slower than any hike I have gone on since I was a small child. And instead of any of the rigorous, interesting, challenging activities outlined in the original and revised itineraries, we were permitted only a "free", unguided paddle within very narrow parameters, no particular destination, and unchanging scenery. On Day 4, once again the offerings did not live up to the promises previously made. All slots in the so-called "fast" hike had been taken by other passengers on the evening of Day 3 before we had an opportunity to put our own names down. As the thought of a hike even slower than the expedition to Baird Glacier was untenable to us, we requested Kirsten to make more slots available, or to arrange for an activity more suited to our energy levels to be added. She angrily told us that it was not possible, and that the existing offerings were sufficient. This was a striking contrast to the brochure's glossy promises: "Whether you are looking for moderate activity or vigorous, extended and challenging outdoor pursuits, we can tailor most any expedition to suit your skill level."|"One of the primary features of our "un-cruises" is our ability to cater to individual needs, so whatever it is you desire, please don't hesitate to ask."| "No matter what you are interested in, InnerSea Discoveries' goal is to provide you with as many opportunities as possible to challenge yourself in the outdoors while also making it extremely easy to enjoy moments or hours of escape and relaxation. The choice and pace are all yours." The offerings on the cruise were so poor that in the end we ended up abandoning ship part way through when the boat reached Wrangell. I am writing this review to warn others about the possibility of extraordinary changes to their itineraries if they book this trip. There are clauses in the contract that purport to allow this kind of itinerary change. If you're younger and active, BEWARE - what is promised isn't necessarily what you get. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
Took a weeks cruise on the Costa Magica. After reading all the other reviews on this cruise I should have took more notice as everything bad that was said happened.So much so that after four days my wife and I booked a flight on the ... Read More
Took a weeks cruise on the Costa Magica. After reading all the other reviews on this cruise I should have took more notice as everything bad that was said happened.So much so that after four days my wife and I booked a flight on the internet and came home.This is not I repeat not for English passengers.After 15 other cruises we though we knew what to expect. WrongAll the English waking trips were cancelled as late as eight pm the night before.The food was really bad, and if you didn't eat by the time the dining room closed that was it until the next morning. That is unless you wanted dried up pizzaI would strongly suggest that you avoid Costa. We tried to switch off by going to the adult only pool.On arrival it was more like a children's holiday camp. This cruise was the pits Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Cruise Line: Costa Cruises Ship: Costa Pacifica Sailing date: April 27th, 2011 Itinerary: 12-day Holy Land, later changed to Turkey & Greece After making a comfortable one-hour transfer by train (independent), from Milan we ... Read More
Cruise Line: Costa Cruises Ship: Costa Pacifica Sailing date: April 27th, 2011 Itinerary: 12-day Holy Land, later changed to Turkey & Greece After making a comfortable one-hour transfer by train (independent), from Milan we arrived at the port of Savona. Embarkation was easy and organized. My accommodations (outside cat. E1 - Notturno deck) had soft colors, beautiful wood cabinetry, a desk with mirror, mini-bar, personal safe, TV set and was clean and comfortable. The closets were ample and the cabin had huge sofa for four persons. The soundproofing is excellent. The room service is limited but worked well. TV options were mediocre. The cabin steward Aldian, from Malaysia was very good, keeping cabin clean and made up. The New York, New York Restaurant is used at lunch and two Dinner seatings; decorated with extremely bad taste in purple, dark red and brown, chandeliers with burnt lamps and very few windows. The food came in tiny portions but was really good and well presented. As a cruise line economy measure our good waiter had to attend 22 persons and the service was very slow until I made a complaint to the maitre D and we got another waiter assistant to help and to put the service in good shape. The Buffet La Paloma used for breakfast and alternative lunch is very informal, the food was acceptable. The Pizza served in this buffet in the evening is the worst I have ever tried in ships. No Midnight Buffets. The officials ignored the passengers, not even greeting us when passing by. The Captain was only seen on the first and last day and did not make any traditional noon announcement during the entire cruise The dress code was very casual and few men wore jack & tie in some occasions. Entertainment was very good with nice music and shows. The boutiques have good service and selections and the photo-shop is very good. Shore excursions were expensive and limited so I took independent tours in all ports. This ship has been very well maintained but has a horrible and very tacky decor, plenty of purple, dark red and brown and very dark in some areas. The casino is unbelievably decorated with "arts" showing panties and brassieres. Ports of Call: Katakolon, Limassol, Marmaris, Izmir, Pireus, Civitavecchia Katakolon The small village is very nice and the gateway to Olympia Limassol The city does not have any touristic interest, the ruins of Paphos outside Limassol is a place to go. Rhodes The best port of this cruise; this island is full of history and historical buildings. Izmir An uninteresting port city, gateway to Ephesus and house of Virgin Mary Pireus The ship stayed in port only for six hours due to a four hour strike in the subway and we did not have time to go to Athens. Interestingly, MSC Musica was also there and stayed in the port for the whole day allowing the passenger to go to Athens and other interesting places. Civitavecchia We stayed in this interesting city as we have been in Rome before. Conclusion We bought an expensive Holy Land cruise but received a cheaper Turkey and Greece instead. Egypt and Israel ports were canceled and Costa did not give us any compensation, option to cancel, a voucher or even a chance to change for other cruise. The ship dEcor is really horrible, call this Italian is an offence to a nation that has so many talented designers. The cruise quality in many aspects was very low, the worst in all Costa Cruises I have been. Next time I want to go Italian style I will choose a MSC ship, Costa never more. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
The Dangerous rope ladder' we climbed up to board this ship should have been a warning of what was to come. My cabin was shabby box-like and basic and after cruising on the Princess line it was a shock! The noise from my cabin was ... Read More
The Dangerous rope ladder' we climbed up to board this ship should have been a warning of what was to come. My cabin was shabby box-like and basic and after cruising on the Princess line it was a shock! The noise from my cabin was horrendous especially when the chain passed under me when the we were about to anchor and when the engines started up. I paid more as a single traveller, I discovered, than most of the couples and had one of the worse cabins. More fool me for not complaining! I couldn't, eat the food the first two nights but to be fair it improved slightly as the cruise continued.My dream of travelling around our beautiful coast line turned into a nightmare as the gale force winds threw the ship around like a yacht in a storm. We couldn't land at the Orkneys or the Scilly Isles because of the weather and those were the places I wanted to see. When we couldn't dock at Hornfleur we were pretty fed up by this time!! The ship is old and past its'sale by date' and although it has had a makeover this is only apparent in some public areas eg reception! Never again! this has put me off cruising for some time!! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2009
Antarctica is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is amazing, beautiful, breathtaking. Hurtigruten represents unprofessionalism and poor service. This is very frustrating for such an expensive undertaking ($15,000 plus) Example #1 --- ... Read More
Antarctica is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is amazing, beautiful, breathtaking. Hurtigruten represents unprofessionalism and poor service. This is very frustrating for such an expensive undertaking ($15,000 plus) Example #1 --- Hurtigruten books airline ticket for the wrong day for my father. It is bizarre that Hurtigruten can not follow their own agenda that they created. Example #2 --- Hurtigruten provides a single bed for my father and I. i love my Dad, but really would like two beds. Example #3 --- I write Rolf Logan, Director of sales a letter sharing with him my experience. He never responds. This is an example of the apple not falling far from the tree. If the executives do not care about their customers, you shouldn't be surprised that lower leverl employees to not excel at service. Example #4 --- Despite all this, I was attempting to book a cruise with Hurtigruten to Norway for June. After two weeks of emailing the staff, I decided to sign up with Celebrity for another location. Hurtigruten's staff would take sometime 5 days to respond to emails, provide incorrect information, or simply ignore questions. Antartica is a must see. The variable is the serivice provided by the cruise line. Please do not depend on Hurtigruten. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
I have been on several cruises in my life and this cruise line was THE WORST I HAVE EVER BEEN ON EVER! The embarkation was extremely chaotic and we had no idea what was going on because nobody spoke English. If you do speak english noone ... Read More
I have been on several cruises in my life and this cruise line was THE WORST I HAVE EVER BEEN ON EVER! The embarkation was extremely chaotic and we had no idea what was going on because nobody spoke English. If you do speak english noone wants to speak to you and will outrighly be rude to you, spit in your face, or ignore you. Our cabins were decent but our steward was not very friendly..even when we tipped him extra at the end of the trip. The food is horrible. Expect Europeans blowing smoke everywhere. My entire suitcase and clothing at the end of the trip reeked of smoke. They rarely cleaned the deck so I personally slipped 4 times and saw 20 people slip. There are inadequate warnings in place by the pool to indicate that the floor is slippery. If you are elderly, this is a walking death trap. Nobody ever lines up and expect people to push you out of the way or bite your hand off while trying to get food at the buffet. Serious....I know that everybody is hungry but people will literally push you out of the way to get a piece of salami. The workers seems completly worn out and I honestly feel bad for them because apparently the ship's tipping structure doesn't allow them to get much if at anything at all. Most are very nice and you can tell that they HATE their jobs. If you speak english expect almost all of your shore excusions to be cancelled. more than half of our excursions were cancelled because they didnt have enough english speakers. FRONT DESK (with a ship of over 3000 people), only have 3 people working at one time and when you get there, everybody refuses to help you. They are downright rude to you if you ask them anything. I think they have amnosity towards English speaking people because when I spoke to other Canadians and American on the cruise, they felt the same way. Here is what pushed me over the edge. Last day when we had to disembark, we didnt get our charge sheet till the morning. They overcharged us hundreds of dollars in those excusions that they cancelled. So we went to the very "helpful" ahem freaking CRAPPY front desk and they didnt want to help us. Then we went to the excusions desk and it was of course closed as it always is. we asked somebody where to get help because we had to get off the ship and she gave us a dirty look, ignored us, and said we had to wait at the excusions desk for the next 4 hours before it opens. Thanks for your help! We had to get off the ship in less than 1 hour. We finally had to flag down the cruise director "Stefania" to help is ater 2 hours of waiting. She wasn't rude and finally got someone to help us. The lady that came had the nerve to say, well good thing you came now because if you came for a refund in the next hour we can't give any of your money back. Isn't that stealing woman? If we didn't flag down the cruise director we wouldn't be able to get back our money that the ship intended to steal. Then she blamed it on us because we didnt check our charges the night before when they didnt even give us the charges till the morning of our disembarkation. When I got off the boat I was relieved to be away from the chaos. If you are paying for a relaxing trip in this tough economy, then pay for another cruise ship. DO NOT take this ship I warn you. Oh yah they didn't do any safety drills till the second last day of the cruise. It is not reassuring and if noone can help you with day to day matters and an emergency happens, expect chaos. DON'T TAKE THIS CRUISE! Positives: The ports visited were beautiful and the shore excusions that didn't get cancelled were wonderful. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
A Zegrahm cruise on a vintage Quark ship, which they use routinely. We selected Zegrahm for the itinerary. Unfortunately we missed the entire west coast of Antarctica, barely made it to the Peninsula, because the ship wasn't in full ... Read More
A Zegrahm cruise on a vintage Quark ship, which they use routinely. We selected Zegrahm for the itinerary. Unfortunately we missed the entire west coast of Antarctica, barely made it to the Peninsula, because the ship wasn't in full working order. A propeller was seriously malfunctioning which Zegrahm knew before we departed. Hence we missed 4 days of the itinerary, arrived late at many landings so light was very poor for photography, landed on Deception Island in total darkness. Because so9 many clients were unhappy with all the time at sea, Zegrahm finally offered a weak compensation package, which still required considerable haggling. Their offer was largely dependent on future bookings, in other words Zegrahm making more money. A good deal for Zegrahm, not for the clients. After considerable discussion, they finally offered 10% cash on a very expensive, once in a lifetime trip. In addition, the ship is in dire need of interior renovation, grimy, seats falling out of the lounge banquette. We recommend Natl. Geographic - new ships, faster, with more time on the ground. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
General Overall Impression: We were deeply disappointed in the expedition portion of the cruise. We missed 50% of the cruise due to excessive ice in Scoresbysund. Silversea’s answer was to do more in Iceland. We did not pay to ... Read More
General Overall Impression: We were deeply disappointed in the expedition portion of the cruise. We missed 50% of the cruise due to excessive ice in Scoresbysund. Silversea’s answer was to do more in Iceland. We did not pay to visit Iceland – we paid to visit Greenland. For some unknown reason they did go to the southern part of Greenland and made this second half and Iceland tour. I blame the Captain here since he controls where we go. There was no reason we could not have gone south and done other expedition areas. The choice of going to Iceland and doing normal ports Husavik, Akureryi and western Fjords was not expedition sailing but sightseeing. Pre-Cruise Hotel: Hotel was horrible the Radisson Blu Scandinavia. Internet did not work and construction noise throughout our three day stay. Breakfast was mediocre buffet. Some people paid nearly $300 per night, through Silversea, for the privilege of staying at this dive. Transfer to airport. Paid $99 pp for this transfer. No better than taking the Flybussen for $19. We had to drag the luggage around the airport to find the check-in. Silversea’s contracted agents were pretty useless. Flight to Longyearbyen was good - on time and transfer to ship was quick. Svalbard – 4 day cruise. Very interesting though many excursions required you to be in shape and physically fit. Some passenger requested some more less walking friendly tours (ie. Zodiac cruises) but these requests were ignored by the expedition leader. Ship Impression. Having been on the Silver Explorer 18 months ago we knew what to expect. The ship’s decor is VERY tired looking. Rooms are almost all same size (except for the small number of expedition and owner suites). Lounge is very small and fills up for high tea and drinks. Service was excellent. Only comment is that the butlers are glorified housekeepers. Our request for special gin (Henricks) was ignored. Food. Much improved over past expedition cruise. Did not have a bad meal. Previously the buffet lunch was the highlight meal. This cruise the dinner portion is where the chef shined. Chef Pia did a great job. Iceland – what a waste - we were not scheduled to do this we were to do Greenland. • First port Grimsey Island was cancelled due to high waves. • Second stop was a Siglufjord town – where the highlight was the Herring museum. Now come on this is an expedition cruise. Herring museum ..zzzzzz.. • Husavik the whaling capitol of the world. However no whaling but a bus tour to visit the falls and hot springs. Have done this twice before. • Akureyri. Botanical garden tour. ..zzzzzz.. • On the last tour Grundefjord – 75% of the people requested that we return to the ship early – it was so bad as was the guide. Disembarkation: Was quick and the hotel transfer was done effortlessly. Pluses – • Ships Staff – great service. Housekeeping and restaurant staff outstanding • Food – chef Pia did a great job. Never had a bad meal. Minuses- • Ship is tired looking. Needs an interior makeover. • TV never worked – there is no other entertainment. • Internet exceeding slow when working. Some of it is the location but rest is a bandwidth issue. • Wines - thought the red wines could have been of better quality. Mostly all blends (which I hate) • It was not an expedition cruise. I blame the Captain. Read Less

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise