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Sail Date: August 2019
This was our second Seabourn Cruise. We have been on Azamara twice. Regent twice. Silversea twice. We expected this cruise to be as 'luxurious' as our first Seabourn cruise but although enjoyable we felt the service and ... Read More
This was our second Seabourn Cruise. We have been on Azamara twice. Regent twice. Silversea twice. We expected this cruise to be as 'luxurious' as our first Seabourn cruise but although enjoyable we felt the service and food had declined. As far as 'inclusive' cruise lines goes Seabourn is less 'inclusive' than say Regent which is far superior in suites and food plus you get all excursions and internet thrown in plus sauna, steam room, cold room etc at the Regent Spa. Seabourn has an area called the 'Retreat' which is only accessible if you pay. Everything in their Spa has a cost. Internet is only available if you pay. If your only experience of luxury lines is Seabourn then you would not be disappointed. So to sum up the cruise was enjoyable. The food is not luxury even in the specialist restaurants. It's 4 star. The Encore has a very small main swimming pool although there is a small quiet area with a small pool at the rear of the ship. There doesn't seem to be any supervision in the pool areas so we did experience an American family that just let their kids run riot which spoilt the quiet area small pool. Note:- don't go in August LOL. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
I travelled with family and they recommended this cruise line having sailed with them before. The ship is smaller than what I have previously cruised on so I was concerned about motion - turned out to be a non-issue (not sure if it was ... Read More
I travelled with family and they recommended this cruise line having sailed with them before. The ship is smaller than what I have previously cruised on so I was concerned about motion - turned out to be a non-issue (not sure if it was just the ship or the calmer waters we sailed mostly in Alaska). We were traveling with my senior citizen mother so the smaller ship was a great size for her to easily navigate. Although the ship was at capacity we never felt crowded, never waited in any line, and service was impeccable. Cabin was spacious (Verandah Suite Deck 8) and we had 3 in the room with no issues. Bathroom was very spacious and the shower was wonderful with great water pressure. Loved the towels and bath amenities. Our butler was excellent, and it was a nice service. We booked tours in all our ports independent of the ship so I cannot comment on this aspect. Entertainment was basic and we did not do much during the day other than bingo while at sea, which was fun. The evening entertainment was just OK. The best show was the tribute to Queen. Casino is small but not overly crowded. One table each for blackjack, poker and roulette and there were some slot machines. The ship was beautiful and well kept, service outstanding as I mentioned. A few blips to be aware of: 1. Embarkation timing could be seriously improved. We arrived in Anchorage the day before the sailing and took the scenic railway to the ship with the cruise line the next day. Our bus to the train did not depart until 1230pm, so the morning was quiet and sort of boring with not much we could do. The train ride was pleasant, scenery was beautiful, but the ride was long and we arrived at the boat close to 6pm. We were on the last car of the train so last to exit and get on board. As soon as we got on board it was muster drill time, we did not even have time to walk around the ship and get acclimated. After muster we had to get ready for dinner and felt very rushed to unpack and get organized. Rather than keep us in Anchorage, it would have been better to have us depart and arrive at the ship an hour or so earlier to allow passengers to get their bearings. I know most passengers arrive on the train so it gives the crew max time to prepare the ship, but there should be a happier medium. 2. Remember to bring converters. The USB ports did not work and there were not enough USA outlets. There were no converters available to us when we asked our butler and we did not read that converters were recommended to bring- our fault for not asking I guess. 3. Restaurants were overall pretty good. Some blips in service and food quality during dinners in both Atlantide and La Terrazza. I thought the food was good but I think I expected better given the luxury level of the line- it was not much better than I have experienced on other 'less luxurious' ships. What was nice - service was outstanding all over the ship, maitre d's addressed you by name within 24 hours of being onboard, staff was friendly everywhere, and the available wine and any beverage you want anytime were certainly nice! So overall we had a wonderful cruise on the Muse and for our Alaska trip but I am not sure I would book again with them at this time. I reserve the right to reconsider my comment though if I cruise again and see significant advantages to Silver Sea. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Having never heard of Ponant, we chose this cruise because it did a circumnavigation of Iceland which is what we wanted. The ship was extremely clean, comfortable, and well laid-out. Embarkation from a small port outside of Reykjavik was ... Read More
Having never heard of Ponant, we chose this cruise because it did a circumnavigation of Iceland which is what we wanted. The ship was extremely clean, comfortable, and well laid-out. Embarkation from a small port outside of Reykjavik was a breeze (as was disembarkation). Captain Etienne Garcia was terrific - his enthusiasm for the immense beauty of Iceland came through in every message from him and he made sure no one on board missed a whale sighting or any other special event. Food service was in one of two rooms - on Deck 6 was a buffet-at-all-meals room that opened on to the deck which had additional seating. Weather during our cruise was wonderful so we could often eat on the deck which was delightful. Food was good and daily choices varied enough to keep us interested. The drinks-included selections were excellent and the pouring wine was very good. Other food option was a white-tablecloth dining room on Deck 2 with no outdoor access. We learned that it served the same food but with dinner served (not buffet). We did not choose that option. Excursions were very good and organization of everything on the ship was perfect. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
This was our 5th cruise with Azamara and our first time on Pursuit since she was taken over by Azamara, we had sailed with her previously as P&O Adonia so it was interesting to see the refurbishment. Emarkation was not good; when we ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise with Azamara and our first time on Pursuit since she was taken over by Azamara, we had sailed with her previously as P&O Adonia so it was interesting to see the refurbishment. Emarkation was not good; when we arrived at the port at the Trade Centre in Barcelona we were told we could board immediately however it was clear when we had gone through security we were going to have a wait as we were given numbers and asked to take seat. There were no facilities in the area for tea/coffee etc., and no announcements or information from Azamara staff to let us know why we were delayed boarding so not a good start. After sitting for about an hour our number was called and we were taken to mini buses, it was fairly heavy rain and I think Azamara were waiting on the buses to come and transport us to the ship which was about 100 yards away, however we still weren't given a reason for the delay in boarding. Once onboard we were quickly checked in and our photo taken again, I had uploaded a photo online but this wasn't used, seems a waste of time doing it before hand so wouldn't do it again.There was a table for upgrading to the Ultimate Drinks Package and we had planned to do this anyway as it gave us more options, the selection of wines in the package were good and suited us. The Complimentary Drinks remain the same 2 whites, 2 reds which change daily, rose and a sparkling wine which are the same everyday. The ship has an identical layout to Journey and Quest with the exception of the Casino, which is now accommodating the Future Cruise Desk and The Den, it's actually a better use of the space. The ship was in good order and well looked after, staff were constantly cleaning which is understandable. Food in Discoveries Restaurant was a bit of a hit or miss, sometimes it was good other times bland, the service was also good in the restaurant but if you were on a large table there was a longer wait. The food in Aqualina and Prime C were excellent we had the 3 restaurant package and it was worth the additional payment, it was a nice atmosphere and a lot quieter. Service was also first class in these restaurants. Windows food was good but never stayed hot for very long, this was something I did raise at the time and it was acknowledged, but there was always a good selection. The Patio had a good choice of food, the baked potatoes and Chilli were excellent, again service from Vishal 1 and Vishal 2 was excellent, very attentive and helpful. Entertainment, Paul Martell an impressionist and Jane Scali singer were in the show lounge and were very good, Signature singers again in the show lounge were good. Vasi Katina a pianist who played in Den was good. White Sand Trio who played in The Living Room were not good, the young lady who was singing was good enough however there were 2 elderly gentlemen, 1 played drums and the other key boards and sang but they were not good, they didn't gel as a trio. We like The Living Room however we only went there once and never went back as this trio were on every night. The White Night was well attended and everyone enjoyed the Signature Singers and Tony Markey the cruise director singing. We didn't attend the Azamazing Evening which was advertised as an opera but I believe it was 3 Sopranos who sang a mixture of song types. We enjoyed pre-dinner drinks in the Prime C cocktail bar, Ruby was in charge and she was very efficient and knowledgeable about the drinks and made a mean French Martini. The included drinks remain the same 2 whites, 2 reds which change daily, rose and a sparkling wine which stay the same. One of the reasons we enjoy Azamara is the smaller ships usually get the good berths which means being close to the town, also the early arrival and late or overnight stays. We enjoyed all the ports, Port Vendres was cancelled due to rough seas and this was substituted by a stop in Sete which was very nice, Marseilles, Monte Carlo and Livorno were the other ports. We didn't book any excursions. The Captain and crew were noticeable around the ship and all the staff we had dealings with were very helpful, friendly and efficient. Overall this was a very good cruise and we met some lovely people, the passengers were mainly from USA, Australia and Canada and some from GB. The reason for the 4 star review was due to poor embarkation and the entertainment, however this would not put us off booking again as we very much enjoyed our time onboard Pursuit. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
We have been ocean cruising for over thirty years, taking at least 2-3 cruises a year, but never been on a river cruise. Looking back over the whole trip I doubt I would do it again. The ship was nice, we had a Royal Suite on the ... Read More
We have been ocean cruising for over thirty years, taking at least 2-3 cruises a year, but never been on a river cruise. Looking back over the whole trip I doubt I would do it again. The ship was nice, we had a Royal Suite on the top deck which was ‘compact’ , you couldn’t sit on the toilet without hitting your knees on the toilet roll holder. The dining was excellent, the food variable, well cooked and stylishly presented. The Head Chef and Dining Room Manager where always available to us and extraordinary helpful and the Hotel Manager, Mr Mauricio ( I think) even shared his private supply of Piri Piri oil with me. Richard, our cruise director , was amazing. He is definitely the best cruise director I have come across in over 30 years. Always pleasant, unflappable and very amusing as well as highly efficient. He made our trip. The bar service was generally good. If I had a criticism it was that there was insufficient waiter service on the pool deck when we were sailing. Regarding the tours the concert in the Liechtenstein Palace was definitely the highlight. Some of the other were just too long. When we stayed onboard the day we had to make an unscheduled stop because of low water levels, it was unfortunate that the pool was out of action for cleaning on a day when the temperatures were 38=40C surely that could have been changed to accommodate the circumstances My main complaint was about the hairdresser who had never heard of a hot brush, didn’t have any rollers and unbelievably ran out of hairspray. I asked her why she didn’t tell me before I went, or even give me chance to go to my cabin and collect my own but she had no answer for that. As we had been moored up all day, on an unscheduled stop, I asked her why she hadn’t gone off the ship to the Aldi supermarket just across from the gangway but she told me she hadn’t had time. Firstly, I can’t believe that as I had been able to change my appointment as she had spaces, and because of the unscheduled stop and the adjusted tour timings other people had cancelled their appointments, and secondly i’m sure if she had asked Richard or the hotel manager they could have arranged for someone to fetch some. Surely she must have been aware several days before that she was running out or down to her last can? Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Having sailed three times previously with Seabourn,we are used to being wowed by their fabulous standards. However this time we noticed straight away that things were different. The cabin balcony had a dirty towel on the balcony, and ... Read More
Having sailed three times previously with Seabourn,we are used to being wowed by their fabulous standards. However this time we noticed straight away that things were different. The cabin balcony had a dirty towel on the balcony, and when I leaned over the handrail my arms were the covered in wet varnish.. The vase had no flower in and the fridge did not have our requested drinks, it was empty .The water bottle was half full and looked cloudy as if it had not been clean and refreshed. I went to Seabourn Square to speak to the someone about my problem, and was given an apology. On returning back to my cabin, I was informed by my husband that there was hair in the bath and the top of a razor on the shelf!! I went back to Seabourn Square and spoke to the head of housek,who apologised and said they would ensure that from now on she would ensure the rest of our cruise would be stress free. Restaurant Day one had to seek out a waiter and ask for a drink at lunch. Dinner asked if they had Pinot Noir and received a blank look? When my husband said he did not like the red, the waiter proceeded to put new wine in the same glass despite a small amount of the old wine still being in the glass. We had to ask for re fills. My lobster Thermidor was full of a brown mushroom sauce, with only a tiny bit of lobster Having made this dish numerous times I have never used mushrooms! We found the menu slightly repetitive and not their usual standard Extra Mile No Seabourn experience All in all very disappointed therefore I will be trying a new luxury cruise line Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
The ship was beautiful, clean and staff / crew were wonderful. Our cabin was large and we were on deck 5 which has smaller cabins than the other decks. It was roomy and laid out well. We were in 514 and it was noisy when they dropped the ... Read More
The ship was beautiful, clean and staff / crew were wonderful. Our cabin was large and we were on deck 5 which has smaller cabins than the other decks. It was roomy and laid out well. We were in 514 and it was noisy when they dropped the anchor. Actually the whole room vibrated. Entertainment was fair. Lectures were very good. Excursions were great, but pricey. The food was a bit of a disappointment, and we were hoping for better. Alaska was beautiful but there were quite a number of older people on board and they had a difficult time getting on and off the ship for excursions. In Alaska you need to do the excursions to get the full picture. I would recommend this cruise. The Sojourn is really the perfect size ship. Not too big and not typo small. It. Was easy to get around the ship because of its size. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We enjoyed Oceania on past cruises, especially the specialty restaurants, the smaller ship sizes and the service. Other cruise lines are cheaper, but the crowds are larger and the food is not as good as Oceania. Our cruise was 19 days ... Read More
We enjoyed Oceania on past cruises, especially the specialty restaurants, the smaller ship sizes and the service. Other cruise lines are cheaper, but the crowds are larger and the food is not as good as Oceania. Our cruise was 19 days and covered a number of ports we had previously been to, but we wished to visit Turkey, Israel and Cyprus. Embarkation at Port Piraeus, Athens ran smoothly. It took less than 30 minutes and we were on the ship. We find the ship is always clean in the public areas, the staff are extremely helpful and pleasant and enjoy a bit of banter. We found this time there were a number of passengers travelling with children. Sadly they are unsupervised around the dining areas and like to run up and down the halls during the day. I realise it is not the staffs responsibility to control them, but this can ruin it for others. We used the ship's excursions a couple of times which were quite good. I think next time we will organise our own excursions. It is most frustrating when people wonder off and forget the time, whilst everyone else is waiting at the bus. The onboard entertainment is not something we go to see. The band at the pool were playing a couple of times, and I thought they were pretty useless. Would have been better with just come music playing rather than a band. Disembarkation at Barcelona, Spain was super easy. We walked off the ship and all the bag were waiting downstairs. Plenty of taxis waiting to take departing passengers to hotels, airports etc. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Our first time on a Crystal Cruise and chose this cruise based on recommendations and the itinerary. The pro's - Embarkation and disembarkion - quickest and most organised of any cruises done to date Food - The best food of ... Read More
Our first time on a Crystal Cruise and chose this cruise based on recommendations and the itinerary. The pro's - Embarkation and disembarkion - quickest and most organised of any cruises done to date Food - The best food of all cruise lines to date, only thing that let it down at times was the sweets, OK but not amazing unlike the entrée and mains. Service - Waterside - a big thanks to Gorkan, Tamas who really looked after us, the buffet staff were all wonderful, Pinto from the Italian restaurant and in the Cove bar, Chris and Priscilla who made our cruise memorable. Our cabin girl Danijela looked after us so well. Cabin - 5010 on the 5th deck was lovely, quiet, no movement, kept spotlessly clean and had adequate storage and all that you needed. Was a lot smaller than the Visa cabin (same cat.) on the Silverseas ships. Entertainment in the Galaxy theatre, enjoyable. the con's - Activities - What activities! So little to do apart from computer, lectures...…… Entertainment - this ship has marvellous bars but if your sitting in a bar after 10.00pm there is more likely hood that there will be more staff in the room than passengers. We sat in the Avalon bar one evening - Piano player and four of us and five staff...……...so no atmosphere at all. Found the piano (2 piano players) and violin (she was amazing) all a bit boring over an 11 day cruise. Same as the duo. Really need more entertainment geared for passengers who would like up beat music and a bit of fun. Saying that, seems that the majority of the passengers are very old (and we are in our 70's). We did not book our excursions through Crystal as found it much cheaper to book ourselves online. Alaska itself is more suited to fit and able passengers who would like to do outdoor activities. If your interest is the towns, found them all much the same, so many jewellery shops, same type of tourist shops, etc. All a bit contrived. Sitka was my favourite stop, lovely walks and suited for older passengers. After two cruises with Silversea's I was anticipating staff calling us by name occasionally but found only Chris in the Cove bar remembered our names after 11 days. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
NORWEGIAN EPIC REVIEW Some background on me to begin. I’m a 32 year old male bachelor. Norwegian Epic was my 17th cruise overall, and the 2nd that I’ve taken with NCL. Others include 9 with Celebrity, 5 with MSC, and 1 with ... Read More
NORWEGIAN EPIC REVIEW Some background on me to begin. I’m a 32 year old male bachelor. Norwegian Epic was my 17th cruise overall, and the 2nd that I’ve taken with NCL. Others include 9 with Celebrity, 5 with MSC, and 1 with Carnival. Like many of my cruises, I sailed with my 76 yr old father who has some health issues. —And although, it’s a cruise to spend some father/son time together as we live in different states, he usually goes to bed quite early, and I enjoy the night life well into the wee hours of the morning… So, inevitably It ends up becoming a “singles” cruise for me. Before I describe the ship and everything else about this amazing cruise, I think it’s important to point out a Difference with Norwegian as I see them.... First off, this is not going to be a doom and gloom review... As I do view this cruise, and ship very favorably.... But I’ll start out with a fundamental disagreement that I have overall with NCL. As Compared to the other lines that I’ve sailed with....(Twice now with NCL), they are the Kings and Queens of overly casual. Very few people dress up. I guess that I’m a rare traditionalist millennial when it comes to this opinion....I wear a sport coat often to work, and that’s in south Louisiana where it’s needless to say, quite warm for most of the year. I also, as a bachelor enjoy when women take the time dress up. Cruising is the last romantic way to vacation. There’s something about going to sleep at 2AM with a bottle in your hand in the middle of a beautiful ocean and awaking in an exotic location somewhere in the Caribbean or Mediterranean. Buuuuttt, in a nutshell, I guess that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “Freestyle Cruising”. —It’s not so much the dress attire that turns me off, it’s the fact that very little if anything is structured at all. For instance, virtually every other cruise line particularly my 2 favorites (Celebrity and MSC) have two main entrainment shows per night. —You organize your dinners(whether it’s a specialty restaurant, or one of the main dinning rooms around whichever show that you choose to attend.) —It’s a real simplistic way to cruise. There’s no overthinking it...It comes a little more natural. Freestyle cruising is more like trying to decide most of your shows, dinners, and evening hour activities on the first day of the cruise or even pre-cruise. Nothing is actually “freestyle” about it... You’re forced to decide your show times, or speciality restaurant times or even dinning room times in some cases by the end of the first evening unless you want your dinner at 11pm. I get what Norwegian is trying to do with freestyle cruising. —I understand that they want to give passengers options...And I truly see why they’ve had so much success doing this... **But I also see why other lines have been reluctant to head in their direction. And I get it now. ON TO THE POSITIVES: The EPIC might be the perfect cruise ship for the Mediterranean. It’s not quite Norwegian’s best or biggest ship. As I thought that the ESCAPE(which I sailed in 2017 was nicer and much more updated and had better social gathering points and creature comforts and cabins). But it has all of the things that modern cruisers want(including me). Plus your itinerary, and getting to see some of the cradles’ of civilization(especially those in Europe) is something to greatly credit. Although the ship holds over 4000 passengers, you rarely ever feel crowded. That’s a small advantage to a ship that was built 10 years ago, as opposed to some of the newer ships that are only a few years old that I’ve taken recently. The ship was also refitted 5 years ago... So you hardly notice any wear and tear at all. The ship also flows very well. Unlike some of the newest ships, there’s very few instances to where you can’t walk from one end of a deck to the other. —It really helps with getting around. EMBARKATION: A+ If you’re reading this about to take a Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona or Civitavecchia, do yourself a favor and opt-in on the transfer from the airport to the cruise port. —You can do this directly on the NCL website. Well worth the $50(round trip) per person. So $100 total for two people. We were sailing out of Barcelona and took the transfer charter bus from the Barcelona Airport to the cruise port(which took around 20-25 mins or so with traffic). —It’s only about 10 miles apart. It really is the easiest route to go. The cruise port check-in was a breeze. Maybe 20-25 mins from entering the port to stepping on the ship. Barcelona only has 3 cruise ships on a Sunday, so it doesn’t seem to back up with people quite as much as Miami, or Lauderdale. Also, we arrived pretty early at the port as our flight was a red-eye into Barcelona. (We were on one of the first transfer buses from the airport to cruise port)....And credit to Norwegian for allowing you into your stateroom by noon. It was great to set down cary-on bags and get a view of the stateroom before exploring the ship. THE SHIP ITSELF OVERALL: A- I found the ship pretty easily navigable. My advice would be to take the time to really explore the ship on the first day, and you should be pretty good to go by day two. I tend to explore any ship that I sail as much as I can on the first day and make it a point to have a drink at every bar. —That usually gets you around pretty well ;) My advice, if you’re sailing the Mediterranean, and flying in that day from the U.S., make sure to do a little exploring around the ship before you pass out for your cat nap before the vacation begins. STARTING FROM THE TOP The Pool Deck(s): A+ The Pool Deck is spacious, and really has A TON of deck chairs that they’ve found every nook and cranny to put in. Like most cruises, deck chairs fill up quickly with towel clips, bags, and magazines holding chairs for sometimes hours before they’re actually occupied. But, I legitimately found very little overcrowding on any of the pool decks(including the actual pool deck 15). There was always available lounge chairs at any time of day(including sea days). Like the majority of newer NCL ships, slides and kiddo pool areas take up a large portion of the deck, but they really weren’t a nuisance(even if you’re looking for less kids and more relaxation).... If somehow the slides or kid areas near the main pool do bother you, EPIC smartly made “Spice H20” which is a smaller pool deck towards the back of the ship also on deck 15. —It’s an adult only pool. But I seriously found plenty of relaxing areas in the main pool area. Spice H2O also has several nighttime parties throughout the cruise. There’s also a Pool deck up high(even if you’re not a Haven passenger) on Deck 18. You access this via the main pool deck right near the outdoor part of the Buffett. Not much on 18 except deck chairs. The Bars/Lounges/Clubs: A- EPIC really does have a solid variety of bars to satisfy most tastes. I really enjoyed “Shakers Martini Bar” as the best overall bar itself. VERY VERY good drinks. It’s also near several of the speciality restaurants on Deck 7, and is right above the casino and near the theater. “Shakers” also has several pianists who play sing along music in a subtle non-annoying way. My other favorite drinking spot on the ship was “Bliss Ultra Lounge”. It typically starts off in the evening as a karaoke bar, and transcends later in the night to a full night club. Trust me, if you’re young and single, this is most likely where you’ll find your cruise romance lol. There were other honorable mention bars as well. The main pool deck bar(name escapes me as I write) is one of the largest pool deck bars at sea. Although it’s probably one of the most crowded on the ship, again you rarely have to wait more than a min or two before your drink order is taken. Also, if you’re a big craft beer person, O’Sheeans Irish Pub is very popular. O’Sheeans also has bar food like wings, cheese sticks ETC... Casino, Shops, and General Areas B+  As it’s well published, NCL EPIC has one of, if not THE largest casinos at sea. It seems to go on over half of the entire Deck 6. Stretching from Manhattan Main Dinning Restaurant(rear of the ship) all the way to O’Sheeans Irish Pub(which is mid-to-forward of the ship) If you like the tables, slots, or simply watching the action like me, It’s truly a massive entertainment center of the ship. If you’re a player, this is YOUR SHIP. SHOPS: Some of you might not care much about the shopping of the ship considering the destinations within your itinerary. I found the shops decent. (Not great/not bad)… The best store in terms of variety on the ship is the cosmetics and fragrance store(don’t remember the name). The watch store also has a pretty good variety. Other than that, nothing really comes to mind. Seems to have fewer shops and duty free alcohol stores or much smaller than ships equal of Epic’s size. —Not a big deal as like me, I’m sure very few of you choose a ship for the shopping. GENERAL AREAS: The general areas on Epic are pretty good minus one glaring exception…The vast majority of newer ships have main promenades(which serve as the central gathering points of the interior of the ship). —You’ll typically have bars, a dance floor, restaurants nearby, and a view of either 3 or 4 decks at one time. --Those of you who like Celebrity know that that area of the boat is near the martini bar on Solstice Class ships, and the Edge. Those who like MSC know that that area is around the Swarovski Staircases. NCL EPIC doesn’t seem to know where to send people in the interior, and it almost spreads people out too thin, limiting the action and interaction between passengers. Again, seeming to cater to the “Freestyle” cruising idea. In other words, “you choose wherever you wanna go”....Even Norwegian’s newer ships like the ESCAPE do a better job having a true main promenade. Again, some of you might roll your eyes at that, or think that I’m knit-picking on that one. But, if you cruise often like me, and aren’t necessarily entirely loyal to one line, you might get what I’m trying to say. The interior of the ship is very very nice though with lot’s of variety. No complaints at all about the condition of the ship, or the décor. All very nice! –I’m sure that this was improved during the refitting in 2014-2015. THE FAMED AND CONTROVERSIAL EPIC STATEROOM LAYOUT DEBATE: B+ Like pretty much all cruise ship cabins, it was small and served it’s purpose. Like I said earlier, I am a 32 year old bachelor... and although I always get a balcony room on any ship that I sail on, I can’t tell you that I ever spend much time in my state room other than to sleep and get dressed. But, for what it’s worth, the state room was very nice, and modern. You are on a cruise ship to have a good time, and be around other people, and get some sun. —You can’t do any of those things by staying in your room. One huge plus is the closet/drawer space. —Amazing for your sized stateroom. On to the big debate about the bathroom lol... I’m sure that most of you have read the controversy over the bathroom set up. There is no doubt that many others have nailed the fact that it is definitely unconventional....The toilet is on one side of the entrance of the stateroom with a sliding fogged glass door for privacy. And the shower is virtually a twin copy of that on the other side. Then, the sink is just outside of the shower openly in the stateroom. —I really think people overly pan this situation unfairly. —It’s really not that bad. One big argument to play the devils advocate for those hatters of this situation is that if you’re a married couple, one spouse can shower while the other is using the sink to get ready without being on top of each other like you’d be in a regular cruise bathroom. Also throw a kid into the room with that couple, and it’s logical and realistic that a wife can be doing her makeup at the sink, the husband is showering, and the kid can still use the bathroom all at the same time without stepping on each other. What other conventional stateroom can you do that in??? It’s really NOT THAT BAD. Buuuuutttt, strange layout nonetheless. THE PASSENGERS AND CREW: A+ This cruise had a very fun crowd! I was absolutely shocked at how many millennials and Gen-“X”ers were on this cruise considering the expense for American’s to take a Mediterranean cruise, and the added costs associated with traveling to get to Europe in the first place. But, there were many young professionals on the ship. Norwegian seems to do a great job at attracting younger passengers without stooping to the spring break Carnival college kid crowd. Although there were lots of younger people on the ship, NOT ONE AGE GROUP seemed to dominate the masses. One of the most balanced cruise crowds that I’ve ever seen. I was shocked at how balanced the crowd was. Also, tons of single millennials on the ship to hang out/flirt with. I’m not saying that I was necessarily looking for a “target rich” environment… But It certainly makes things more interesting if you catch my drift haha. ***Although, I have no data to back up my numbers…. I would guess that the age of passengers on the ship was: 30% Gen X, 25 % Millennials, 20% Baby Boomers, 15% Seniors, 10% Gen Z/Children Nationalities on board were: 45% of passengers were American, 40% European, 10% Latin-American, 5% from other parts of the world. Crew: I cannot say enough great things about the EPIC staff! These people, no matter whether they’re a stateroom attendant, buffet bus person, or an officer were simply perfect. They’ve mastered the art of service. I would give you specific examples, but we’d be here all day. One thing that I’ll point out was the bartenders were great! All were friendly, fast, and after a few days would remember your drink. —Truly remarkable for thousands of people circulating in and out week after week. SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS, MAIN DINING ROOMS, AND BUFFET My father and I ate at 5 of the 7 speciality restaurants on board. This isn’t super typical of everyone who adds speciality dinning to their cruise, as most people will eat at between 2 or 3 restaurants. In no particular order, opinions/grades on the 5 that we ate at: * Le Bistro (French) B+ The food at Le Bistro was pretty good. Not great. I heard several others sitting around us that they were really enjoying the cuisine but there’s a huge caveat for me with the fact that I’m from Louisiana and live in New Orleans. Please understand that I have access to some of the best French food available in the US on a daily basis. * La Cucina (Italian) A+ The food at La Cucina was excellent! Great starter salads, beautiful charcuterie board/antipasto and ton’s of Italian favorites. I had the veal and it was excellent! * Shanghai's Chinese Restaurant B- The meal was decent. But Not nearly the best Chinese food that I’ve had at sea. Much better Chinese on Celebrity Equinox....Called “Silk Harvest”. Their biggest problem is that they are missing some of the American favorites of Chinese. No General Tso Chicken and many other thing’s that Americans would expect from a Chinese restaurant. * Cagney’s Steakhouse D+ Unfortunately one of the worst meals that I’ve ever had at sea. I ordered my ribeye “medium”, and it came out still mooing. Also, the ribeye was 50% fat. I love ribeyes and cook steak often at home, and understand that that cut of meat will have extra marbling, but this was absurd. My father ordered his steak medium-well, and it came like a piece of leather. We both ended up just eating our salads and sides(which were fair at best), and cast aside the steaks. —The staff tried to make it right though. (Plain and simple, Cagney’s just sucks. Tried it on the NCL Escape as well, and thought the exact same thing). —You’d think a steakhouse would be one of the easiest to operate. * Teppanyaki (Japanese hibachi) A+ This was the second best meal that we had behind La Cucina. The food was excellent, as was the enjoyment of the hibachi experience. And the hibachi chef’s were entertaining and hilarious. The food was excellent. Great variety of Steak, chicken, shrimp, muscles, veggies, and rice. ***As you can see from above, 4 of the 5 were good, with 2 being great. Very disappointed in Cagneys on both the Escape and the Epic. MAIN DINNING ROOMS: A+ There are two main dinning rooms on EPIC. “Manhattan” and “Taste”. Manhattan is a little dressier with a little bit more formal setting. Whereas Taste is a little more laid back with more of a traditional menu. We only ate at Manhattan once, and both really liked it. —Very similar menus and atmosphere to other comparable ships. BUFFET: A+ Good choices for breakfast and lots of variety. Pretty typical for a mega ship buffet, but added variety. They seem to a little better job on breakfast than other lines (particularly with omelette stations)... They have omelette stations and other quick to order stations all over to try and get it to you fast. Although we only ate lunch once at the buffet, again there was a good variety of American favorites and various salad bars, and other ethnic cuisine. One thing that we loved was the burger/grilled items outside near the pool deck. Easy to grab lunch and to get back to your deck chair. ENTERTAINMENT: B+ If you remember my opening, you know that I don’t particularly care for “freestyle cruising” because of having to schedule everything so early... Nothing is more prevalent of that than the main theater shows on EPIC. THE SHOWS: “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" and "Burn the Floor," are the Two main headliner shows in the theater. Both were entertaining and high energy. Really liked “Burn The Floor”. Drag isn’t necessarily my thing, but still thought Priscilla was hilarious. Unlike most cruise lines, I do give NCL a lot of credit for their (what I call) “sub-shows”. —Which are smaller venues with comedians, or other shows within smaller venues around the ship. The best show on the ship hands down was called “Cirque Dreams Epicurean” Held in the “Spiegel Tent”. —Which a smaller dinner theater near the main theater. Given the small theater and the rapid changing of the various stages, you feel like the actors and acrobats are right on top of you! It’s interactive as well! There is a charge for this show as they serve dinner as well. It was about the price of a specialty restaurant. Book early! The shows fill up rapidly and were sold out for most of the cruise. Another “sub-show” was “Howl At The Moon” located in Headliners Comedy Club —Free and open to anyone, three musicians play various instruments and take requests from the audience for hours... They were AWESOME! Plus, you can come and go as you please. They typically play for about 4 hours. 8-11PM is clean in case kids are there. After 11PM is uncensored(which is more enjoyable) Speaking of Comedy....One MASSIVE negative which robbed my ENTERTAINMENT GRADE OF BEING AN “A” was no comedy show at all! —Not Even in the comedy club! —I’m not sure if this was just for this cruise, or whether NCL plans on ceasing comedy shows or what the deal was??? MISCELLANEOUS POSITIVES: -I found a lot less nickel & diming on EPIC. -One of the biggest varieties of speciality dinning, along with free speciality dinning options. -The ship really does well with excursions which is important when you’re in Europe given the language differences. -NCL Might have the best premium drink package on earth! Way less expensive than Celebrity and MSC, and you can order virtually anything. They also don’t “drink count” as I call it. In other words, if I ordered two drinks at a time, I didn’t need two cruise cards. They just did it(Believe me my friends, that is rare) MISCELLANEOUS NEGATIVES: -The WiFi was the worst I’ve ever had at sea. Mind you that both my father and I bought the premium unlimited packages on that. Had to constantly re-boot and try for sometimes 7 to 8 times to just to sign on. I get it, I was on vacation and some of you will say that I should’ve unplugged. But, I’m in management with a media company and have to check my email once a day during weekdays for emergencies even when on vacation. -No free bottled water. —Seriously. With a premium drink package, you can order all the Patron, Grey Goose, or Johnny Walker Blue Label you want, BUT NOT bottled water unless you want to pay out of pocket. Otherwise, you get a glass of tap water. Never seen that on 17 cruises except this. IN CLOSING: This cruise was amazing because of the three main factors. 1.) The itinerary, 2.) the people on the ship 3.) the crew. Yes, the ship is nice. But you’d be dazzled by some of the newer ships that other lines have come out with recently. I give the overall grade of B+ to the entire cruise. Inconsistencies in the food, the WiFi, freestyle cruising and a few lesser things narrowly cost EPIC an “A”. —Still a great cruise. Cheers to you on your next voyage! -Matthew from New Orleans, Louisiana Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a ... Read More
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a little less than fantastic The spa deck was very small and hard to find a seat on some days. So, the concierge upgrade was not really worth the money. The bathrooms were very tiny and, we knew going in it was a smaller ship but, if you are on the toilet with the door closed it was sideways sitting. The room stewards were not as intuitive as to what we needed. For example- on day one we had champagne in a bucket that we didn’t drink on boarding as in it was more fun after sail away. When we came back to the room to drink- the bucket was gone and the champagne on the counter. We had to call to get the bucket back. The buffet restaurant was not quick with water, tea or coffee. Most breakfasts we had to flag someone down to get us more. There was link flexibility in changing restaurant dinner times even with empty tables. The good- heck it is still a fantastic line! The food is fantastic and who doesn’t like grilled lobsters. Honestly, the best food you can have at sea. The main dining room and speciality restaurants had great service. The ship is very clean. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
For those interested in a comparison, let's look at the differences between Oceania and Princess. We were on the 18-day Dublin-Copenhagen segment. This was our first cruise with Oceania. We are elite with Princess. We chose this ... Read More
For those interested in a comparison, let's look at the differences between Oceania and Princess. We were on the 18-day Dublin-Copenhagen segment. This was our first cruise with Oceania. We are elite with Princess. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary: Norway and northern Russian ports. Oceania has considerably less merchandising pressure. There is no crew of photographers. The crew seems under less pressure to sell extras. There are no "cruise ship art" events. Speciality coffees and sparkling water are available without extra charge. Speciality restaurants are available without extra charge. On the other hand, the cheapest bottle of wine on Oceania is about $10 a bottle more than on Princess. That generally put wine above what I was willing to pay. The ship felt less crowded and there was never a problem finding outdoor seating (although the Northern itinerary may have had something to do with that). 650 passengers instead of thousands does make for a different (and pleasant) experience. Oceania does live up to its reputation for good food. The dining room food was consistently a notch better than Princess. The buffet food was also very good. However, the buffet was typically more crowded than I'm used to on Princess. Our cabin (C1 ocean view) was equivalent to what we'd expect on Princess. Surprisingly, the cabin steward was good, but not as good as is typical on Princess. There were two ship lecturers. We only went to the lectures by one, but she was outstanding (https://cruisethroughhistory.com}. I liked the smaller venue for ship shows, although the noise level (at times 90db or more) was louder than I'd like. Passenger demographics: Oceania is a bit older and fellow passengers are on average wealthier. They also have a tendency to provide lots of details on their previous exotic Oceania cruises. At first that was useful, since we've not been on Oceania before, but enough was enough.... Shore excursions are overpriced. We generally don't book ship excursions, but we took their tours to make life easier for the three Russian ports, and we booked the bird safari at North Cape (a mistake). In Lerwick we hired a cab for the day. I tried to rent a car, but waited too long. I'd recommend planning ahead and getting a car. Even if you feel a bit uncomfortable driving in the UK, traffic on Shetland Island is thin. We walked around Bergen, a lovely port. Instead of the Oceania excursion to Mt. Floyen, we booked in advance on-line (https://www.floyen.no/en). Efficient and lots less money. In Kristiansund, there is a company that takes off from the cruise dock and heads up the local fjord for a lot less than Oceania. The Russian tours were fine, although private packages would have saved money. North Cape was a good tour — but we could have done it for less than half the Oceania price on our own. My advice is to rent a car (there is a company at the pier that will rent a car for 1500 NOK). That would allow both the bird safari and a drive up to North Cape, and save a whole lot of money. Thee is also a public bus, although an expensive one, from the pier to North Cape. The tourist office at the pier has the details. Although the cruise to Flam is spectacular, I can't say I'd recommend the railroad trip — but if you do take it, don't book with Oceania. You can either book on-line in advance or buy a ticket once you get there. Flam itself is a town of about 500 that absorbs thousands of cruise ship passengers, and is entirely uninteresting on its own. Cabs in Copenhagen (Uber withdrew from the city) are readily available at the cruise terminal and will set you back less than the Oceania transfer. In sum, Oceania is about twice the price (or more). If I had a choice between them I'd take Princess assuming identical itineraries. However, Oceania's smaller ships bring one to places Princess doesn't. I wouldn't hesitate to book Oceania again — but only if the itinerary was one that Princess could not match. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
This is my fourth cruise with Oceania. I have been on both the Riviera and the marina. Well both ships are lovely, I have to say that I enjoyed the Riviera the most. I find the ship to be simply beautiful. This service is always so helpful ... Read More
This is my fourth cruise with Oceania. I have been on both the Riviera and the marina. Well both ships are lovely, I have to say that I enjoyed the Riviera the most. I find the ship to be simply beautiful. This service is always so helpful and cheerful. We had a penthouse suite as I was traveling with my father and aunt. The room was clean, well appointed, and had plenty of room. We all had enough space to put away all her clothes. The suitcases fit comfortably under the bed. They would unfold a sofa bed every evening that my dad slept in. I wanted to sleep in it but he insisted that it was more comfortable. The walking closet was large enough to act as a changing room. I am usually out all day on a tour or exploring on my own. I have no real interest in on board activities or entertainment. I found the chamber music group that played in front of the grand dining room and martinis bar to be absolutely delightful. I enjoyed the afternoon tea. However, I notice that they no longer have the pastries and sandwiches set up as self serve. You had to wait to be served with the little cart that goes around. There are some ways I see that the line is cutting back since they have been acquired by Norwegian line. I hope this doesn’t continue. The tea was still delightful. We had our transfers from the airport to our ship and from the ship to our hotel handled through Oceania. This was very efficient and made embarkation and Disembarkation pretty easy. The only trouble was is that there were so many people who had booked the room at the grand Brittania hotel in Athens that they were somewhat overwhelme. Oceania did their best to accommodate us while we waited to be checked in. The only problem I encountered during the cruise was with regard to their policy on booking on board. They provided numerous handouts stating that you could save $600-$1200 if you booked on board depending on the length of the cruise you chose. However that so-called discount only brought the cost down to what was their published prices less $100, you also got 100 on board credit. This is not the $600 to $1200 that The handouts indicated. Also the onboard Oceania ambassador I found to be Unhelpful and disingenuous. It seem that she was more concerned on her commission then in booking us in an appropriate room. Oceania is a great product they do not have to rely on this shady kind of marketing. I find the food to be generally of high-quality on the ship. I do agree that the offerings in the grand dining room tend to be very boring. Also if you expect your steak in the polar grill to be very rare, you have to order it “blue“. If you say rare you will get something like medium rare. I have already booked a Caribbean cruise and a cruise that goes to southeast Asia next year. I feel Oceania is kind of on the cusp here, it is still a very high-quality product, I just hope corporate doesn’t ruin a good thing. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Embarkation went smoothly although we didn't embark from Basel but from Bruisach, and we had to wait at the airport a while because an abandoned piece of luggage caused the airport lock down. The ship was spacious and airy, and ... Read More
Embarkation went smoothly although we didn't embark from Basel but from Bruisach, and we had to wait at the airport a while because an abandoned piece of luggage caused the airport lock down. The ship was spacious and airy, and the cabin comfortable with the balcony in use all the time, which made it seem even more spacious. Dining was good. We always used the main dining area, and enjoyed the alternate menu option on a couple of occasions. The Table La Rive was exceptional and the Portabello restaurant was also good. We thought the chefs were exemplorary, working in such a small space, and we had never tasted lamb chops like it ever! We enjoyed the musical interludes both on board and the special event in the baroque palace. Then we made friends in the bar afterwards, dancing the night away. Service was exceptional, the staff were all friendly, professional, and attentive. All areas of the ship were exceptionally clean. Also the turn down service when the cabin had its second cleaning of the day was excellent. We enjoyed the shore excursions, we usually chose the guided walking options to get to know the town we were staying in, and the Mercedes Benz tour was mind blowing! We did think the tours were a little short, and there could have been an afternoon option, but also enjoyed the time to relax on the balcony. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
The duration and locations, especially starting on the Black Sea. Very happy we went from east to west as it consistently got better all the way to Prague. Budapest and Prague were great large cities and the smaller towns like Durnstein ... Read More
The duration and locations, especially starting on the Black Sea. Very happy we went from east to west as it consistently got better all the way to Prague. Budapest and Prague were great large cities and the smaller towns like Durnstein and Pecs were great surprises. The Passion was very nice with a small spa, but the exercise room was way too small. I couldn't lift the weights up as they hit the ceiling and the max weight was 10k. Matre'd was very accommodating to my wife's pepper allergies and there were some vegetables at the breakfast buffet for me. The tours of the towns and cities were well done, although most of the guides have their speech idocincracies. The presence of the Habsburg family made it a special themed cruise and more personal (only the portion from Budapest to Regensburg). By the end, we had heard the stories repeated so many times about Sissy, that we didn't want to hear anymore. Would have liked to have been involved with more sustainable activities and performances, like our Avalon cruise on the Mekong. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital ... Read More
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital with heart problems and we cancelled the cruise and got all of our money refunded from our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in California. By late summer of 2018 I was feeling much better and we booked the Iceland-northern Norway cruise on the Crystal Serenity for 2019. Unfortunately by February I had more heart problems and was back in the hospital for 45 days and three operations. But, damn it; we were not canceling the 2019 vacation. It turned out I should have stayed at home, The cruise was Reykjavik to Copenhagen over 17 days. We had two prior cruises on the Crystal Symphony that were great. Getting There: We love Icelandair! It is the only airline we can afford to fly first class on (they call it Saga Class), but getting a flight from St. Louis to a city served by Icelandair can be a problem. You have to get your baggage after your domestic connecting flight and recheck it. We went through Chicago this year, which was a bit of a mistake. The International Terminal is nowhere close to any another terminal, requiring a bus ride across the airport complex. We were delayed two hours for a 45-minute flight because they had to replace a seat (apparently there was a human discharge.) Once in Chicago things were a little smoother, with one exception. I left an “Andy Carpenter” mystery novel by David Rosenfeld that I was in the middle of on a luggage cart stand. The flight to Reykjavik was great and in fact one of the flight attendants was on our Iceland Air flight in 2006. She did not appear to have changed a bit in 13 years. There was a free large bus from the airport to the dock. This is where I frist discovered I would be having problems. The long walk to the bus showed my heart was still having issues. I had to stop about every 100 feet to catch my breath caused by my heart beating too fast. I had left instructions that if I die on this vacation to give my body to a medical school in Reykjavik or Oslo and save the shipping costs back to the U.S. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The unusual: There was a long line to get onto the ship. It was outside and there was a cold wind blowing with drizzle. This was unusual for us as past Crystal Cruise there were no lines. The Usual: Since Crystal is “an all inclusive” line I have referred to it as the “Cruise Line for Alcoholics.” Passengers were met at check-in by staffers holding trays of glasses of Champagne. Once on board check-in was very fast and efficient. The Stateroom: We got what we paid for even if it was about $7,500 a person for 17 days. The stateroom was small. The only chair in the room was a desk chair. The sofa was narrow and low to the ground with a vinyl covering. You had a tendency to slide off of it. Unlike the beds on the Symphony which had firm mattresses, the bed had a soft uncomfortable mattress and the cruise was for 17-days. If you are in colder climates dry hair is a must and there were two hairdryers, one in the bathroom and the other by the desk. Since our last Crystal cruise they added large screen TVs. There was no disk player in the TVs to play DVDs or music on CDs. However the new large screen TVs came with a selection of downloads that included 84 movies, TV shows and several hundred music selections. The bathroom was nice with a couple exceptions. There was not a walk-in shower but a high wall bath tub/shower combination. The tub was short. Since most people on Crystal are going to be older, this creates two problems. It is difficult for people with knee and hip problems stepping over the high wall of the bathtub. It also seems that the tub was so small it would be difficult to get in and out of it unless you are 5-foot-1 or smaller. A walk-in shower would still need a higher lip, since the drain is slow during peak hours of use, but it would better than the tub. The other areas of concern was that they could use another “grab bar” in the shower and one next to the toilet seat, which like all other seats on the ship is low. THE FOOD: As usual the Crystal food was better than I have had on any other cruise line. There was one exception. One night in the main dining room T-Bone steak was on the menu. My steak was so tough that you could not cut it with steak knife. This was not an isolated bad piece of meat. Diners at other table had the same problem. If you could cut off a piece you ran the risk of choking on it. WHAT? They did have Beef Stroganoff on the menu. I didn’t look closely to the menu since everyone knows Beef Stroganoff is served on noodles. Everyone knows that except the chef and cooks on the Serenity where it is served on rice. The Main Dining Room: It is named the Waterside. As usual there were no lines or long waits to be seated. Service was very efficient but not rushed. My wife had a favorite waiter and we sat in his section on most nights. This was good as I did not have to feel guilty about not leaving a dozen waiters a tip, I could simply leave one large tip at the end of the cruise on our ship’s account for one waiter. Beyond the call: All the desserts were good depending what you like. My wife asked a question if they ever had Strawberry/Rhubarb pie. They don’t, however a maitre told her to come back the next night as he would have one especially baked for her. They did and she said it was very good (I’m not eating rhubarb on a bet.). The same thing happened at the Palm Court bar on the 12th level. I was easy as I always wanted a Coke or a Dr. Pepper. But my wife enjoys mixed drinks. One night she ordered a “Bee’s Knees” cocktail. The staff was unfamiliar with the drink. But the bartender looked it up on the internet and the next afternoon she was served a Bee’s Knees. The specialty restaurants: These were all good, plus they had a few items on the menu that were not part of the specialty dishes for spouses who hated the normal specialty items. At the Silk, a Chinese restaurant I was disappointed they did not have my favorite “Lo Mein” on the menu, but I was well aware that “Lo Mein” is not really Chinese, but something sold at American Chinese restaurants. Bistro: We would often skip the traditional breakfast and go to the Bistro on Deck 6 for fresh fruit and muffins. At night we would often skip dessert in a dining room and go to the Bistro where they had a number of desserts for you to pick from including chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate truffles (I started with 3-truffles a night and by the end of the cruise was downing six.) plus desserts in cups such as Crème Boule. ENTERTAINMENT: Dan Davies in the Piano Bar, The American Saloon, isn’t American but is an Australian. He also was the best entertainment on the ship. He was funny and showed signs of being a very good jazz pianist. He won’t be selling any CDs of his vocals, but still he was worth several trips to his venue. The majority of the passengers got sick with colds and sore throats Dan was not an exception, but his piano work was so good on the nights he could not sing it was still very entertaining. The passengers’ requests were a problem. People should realize the piano bar guys hate playing the Piano Man and My Way. It didn’t stop the passengers from requesting them and Dan reluctantly playing them. There were two comics on this cruise, both British entertainers. One was very good and the other was barely “OK.” On July 4, a British female singer with a number of performances in shows in London’s West End was the featured entertainer. On the program it stated there would be patriotic 4th of July songs for the Americans. I thought it was odd that a Brit would be singing songs reference a war that King George III lost. My worries disappeared when the only song she sang was “When the Saints go Marching In” which has nothing to do with American Independence and is most associated with New Orleans which belonged to the French until 1804, The Crystal Quartet was a group of musicians from the Philippines. They performed music from the American Songbook and pop tunes through the 1980s. They usually played in the Palm Court on the 12th floor. This is also where the ships male dancers, the Ambassadors, who danced with single women or wives whose husbands could not dance, were found on most nights. You could detect a slight accent of the female singer, with one exception. When she would sing songs made famous in the 1950s by the “Singing Rage Patty Page” she sounded just like her. TORTURING OLD PEOPLE: Just like in the cabins, in the bars and lounges all the chairs were extremely low to the floor. In the Palm Court there were four high back chairs that were actually off the floor and they were always occupied. Older people getting up from all the other furniture sounded like a Rice Krispies commercial, “Snap, Crackle and Pop” coming from people’s knees. THE CON: One lecture on the ship was “The History of the Swiss Watch.” The lecture was not by a nice person from Switzerland but by a Brazilian, who happened the run the ship’s “Watch Shop.” He handed out raffle tickets to people attending, but the winner was not announced at the end of his talk in the movie theater. You had to follow him to the Watch Store where he would draw the winning ticket for a small gift certificate. I did not follow him to the store. I felt I was being scammed and walked in the opposite direction. THE DIRT COVE: On thing that really amazed me was that for a ship that was in dry dock for an allegedly complete interior overhaul, was how filthy the white chairs in the Crystal Cove. These were covered in dirt and it is hard to believe that staff was not aware of their condition. This is one of the higher priced cruise ships in the world. You would expect the furniture to be clean. HIGH MARKS: Chief Concierge Marco Juen from Germany went out in the rain and got us a taxi to standby when we simply asked if there were any cabs available while the ship was docked in Tromso, Norway. Juen told us to have a seat. We thought he was going to make a call. Instead he went off the ship and retuned in 10-minutes, wet and telling us there was a cab waiting for us. MOST POPULAR GUY: That would be the guy manning the Scoops Ice Cream bar from noon to 6pm on the 12th level next to the Trident Grill. This guy was serving up Ben and Jerry’s and soft serve for six hours straight, often getting unusual requests to mix the flavors in half or quarter scoops. Regardless how busy he was and how stupid the request was, he always had a smile on his face. FREE: This was the first time on a cruise ship where the computer/internet service was completely free. The ship had a computer room with at least 12 computers available for passengers. Several other computers had leading newspapers’ online editions at no charge. SYMPHONY VS SERENITY: While we found almost everything on the Serenity to be very nice, we preferred the Symphony. Everyone we spoke to who had been on both ships said the same thing. TOURS: My wife and I often differ on places to see. I like to see where people live and styles of houses. She likes to go to where the tour busses are going to famous locations. To handle this dilemma we try to find a taxi that will give us an hourly rate. On this cruise we found that the taxi was often cheaper than the ship’s tour bus trips. The only problem was in some smaller towns there were no taxis to hire. The last full day of the trip was in Copenhagen. The ship offered a free shuttle bus into downtown Copenhagen. It was about a 30-minute ride one-way. It was a rainy day and they rain increased when we got downtown. We just stayed on the shuttle bus and went back to the ship. We got a free 1-hour tour of Copenhagen, a city we had been to before and spent lots of time on a sunny day seeing the tourist sites. WEATHER: Iceland was relatively warm with temps around 54f. In the Norway towns north of the Arctic Circle there were July days where the temperature was near freezing with a combination of drizzle and snow. THE COUGH AND SNEEZE: By the end of this cruise at least half the passengers were coughing and sneezing. Both my wife and I went to the Ships Medical Center. We knew better than to rack up a big bill by seeing the doctor. Instead nurses gave us cold medicines that were very reasonably priced. My wife was in bed for three days on the ship and a week after our return. I was carrying a wash cloth to cough into while on the ship. Counting the cost of the cruise, airfare and other transportation, plus the dog sitter back home our total cost was around $22,000 and perhaps in years to come the biggest memory with be the cough and cold. DEPARTURE: My wife had signed up for the shuttle bus from the dock to the airport. On our last full day on the ship we learned that a taxi to the airport was the same price as the bus or cheaper. Marco Juen at the Concierge Desk had no problem cancelling the bus. We were then able to reserve a taxi with someone from Copenhagen’s Tourist Bureau who was on the ship. It turned out the taxi fare was cheaper than the bus. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose Scenic as we were looking for a cruise that was 100% all inclusive. It turned out to be the right decision as we never once had to pull out our wallet. The only additional cost was a massage! Scenic lived up to everything we ... Read More
We chose Scenic as we were looking for a cruise that was 100% all inclusive. It turned out to be the right decision as we never once had to pull out our wallet. The only additional cost was a massage! Scenic lived up to everything we expected. Rooms were excellent and the addition of a small balcony was great on mornings when we wanted room service rather than eating at the restaurant. Food was very good with incredible selection. Tours had enough variety that it appeared there was something for everyone. For people considering a river cruise for the first time here are some pointers that I was not aware of and had I known it would have made the experience even better: 1. Don't take the top deck for a room if you are travelling in the summer. Air Conditioning works better on the lower level. Rooms closer to the back of the boat are louder due to the engine. If you like white noise then they are great. Rooms closer to the front you hear everyone passing your room. 2. Do your research on destinations along the river you are cruising on along with tours. Some of our tours were two hours bus ride before you got to your destination. My assumption was destinations would be a virtual walk off the boat. (I understand the Rhone is more like this). When it was it was a walk off the boat such as Durnstein it was fantastic! 3. Compare docking stops. On the Danube we sailed by Passau. It looked fantastic but Scenic does not stop there...… Viking does. 4. Understand how often you can be up on the sun deck on the river cruise. Depending on low bridges or locks you are limited to just the lounge area below. This is when you really want a balcony ….. or pick a different river. The channel between the Danube and Nuremburg there are many locks. Although interesting we loved being up top so that is a disappointment. 5. On Scenic you would do a tour and the boat would continue down the Danube and you would pick it up later in the day. One day we passed on the tours and enjoyed just cruising. Again look at the schedule..... this may have been my favourite day! Ultimately identify how much you want to be busy or relax and choose the right cruise based on this. 6. Beware that the success of a cruise can be very dependent not only on the staff but also who you have the luck of cruising with. With a minimum of less than 200 people if the group is fun..... you will have fun. We met many ships along our cruise and it became obvious we were very lucky with the group we had. 7. Cruise success is also dependent on whether the water is at the right height. Check months and get some statistics from your travel agents to try and ensure that you will be on the water for 100% of your trip...… or book last minute like we did. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
After reading a review posted here, I want to post my own review of this same cruise. On our 8th Oceania cruise, our second on Nautica, this cruise was one of our best cruises for the total ship experience with the additional charm of the ... Read More
After reading a review posted here, I want to post my own review of this same cruise. On our 8th Oceania cruise, our second on Nautica, this cruise was one of our best cruises for the total ship experience with the additional charm of the Irish ports of call. If I get obvious out of the way, Nautica is way overdue for an interior refit. In no way did the condition of the ship detract from our onboard experience. If I compare our Nautica experience with our cruise to Cuba on Sirena, this cruise better organized, and, the crew had a better focus on the total customer experience. The food service, the quality in Polo, Toscana and the GDR was very good, at times our dishes were the best we have ever had on an Oceania cruise. It’s true that ship excursions board tenders before independent travelers. We booked all of our excursions with our Cruise Critic members on our Roll Call board. At no time did we find that this delay was a problem on this cruise. Yes, the Oceania excursion product is way overpriced. Oceania needs to do better in this regard. We prefer the Oceanis cruise product, and, we have booked another cruise for next year. I believe the Nautica is one of Oceania’s best ships for the overall management and for the total cruise experience for the passenger. Once the refit is complete, I expect the Nautica will continue as a top choice for Oceania travelers old and new. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This was our 9th Silversea cruise all previous being on Spirit and Shadow, so we were keen to sample the Muse. We stayed in Fairmont Waterfront pre cruise, and exceptional hotel, top tip, choose a harbour view Gold floor room. It was ... Read More
This was our 9th Silversea cruise all previous being on Spirit and Shadow, so we were keen to sample the Muse. We stayed in Fairmont Waterfront pre cruise, and exceptional hotel, top tip, choose a harbour view Gold floor room. It was a mixed experience on the Muse. The new Musification decor and the ship did not disappoint, a stunning ship and much improved over the older ships. The crew as always were superb, always friendly professional and a delight. However, we for sure noticed a slipping of previous standards. The main points we noticed, all small, but it's the small detail that counts: This was an Alaskan cruise, with the spotlight on scenery and wildlife, previous Silversea cruises always had binoculars in every cabin, wow, not any more, when I asked the reply from the Cruise Consultant was, it cost to much as guests steal them, a lowering of standards. I was surprised to see on the open forward deck, Zodiacs and Kayaks tied down, very unsightly. It became clear during the cruise that this cruise was partially an Expedition cruise, unfortunately this was not made clear in any pre cruise matterial. One day of the cruise was modified, without any pre cruise notice, to facilitate the expedition element as the ship moored for 12 hrs in Rudyard Bay, yes lovely scenery but after 12 hrs looking it became tiresome, it was all for the Expedition and tours using Zodiacs and Kayaks. Dining in the La Terrazza restaurant was very disappointing, the changes have created a more open cafe concept, very noisey taking away its previous charm. Top tip, try it once but dine in Atlantide, Silver Note or La Dame, these are all very good. We noticed the service was not as before, standards from Silversea are dropping, these points are small but important, to me all drink measures are smaller, canape are meager, one other guest called it the "Meega Muse" Also lacking was the old Silversea luxury of a waiter taking ladys by the arm to escort to table. Sliding standards. And what happened to the luxury touch of your butler giving you a choice of toiletries for your cabin. Sliding standards. If you have this option, take the Juneau Silver King Lodge tour, amazing wildlife and lunch. To summarise; Yes Silversea are exceptional and I would certainly cruise with them again and recommend them. However, the new Musification is missing something, I'm not sure what but they seem to have just taken there eye off the ball, and are cutting back on small luxury items, but I would suggest that it's just those small luxury touches that have made Silversea. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
My husband and I, and 2 other couples, chose this ship because we wanted a small ship. It was perfect in size...getting on and off ship was easy and quick. We were in cabin 240 which is at the very end of the hall. It proved to be a ... Read More
My husband and I, and 2 other couples, chose this ship because we wanted a small ship. It was perfect in size...getting on and off ship was easy and quick. We were in cabin 240 which is at the very end of the hall. It proved to be a great room in the sense that there wasn't much foot traffic outside our door. The cabin had more than enough storage cabinets and plenty of under bed storage for suitcases. Bathroom had a great shower and all amenities were good. My complaint about this ship is the last night before disembarking, they seemed to shut off all A/C. It wasn't just our cabin, but everyone else's, too. Don't know what the deal was, but our final night on board was sleepless...very hot. The gym was small, but adequate with a couple tread mills, 1 elliptical machine, 1 stationary bike and lots of free weights. None of us had a bad meal and all dinners exceeded our expectation. Cabin attendants were very good and all the staff was very helpful and kind. ENTERTAINMENT: Windstar needs to work on this aspect. Most of the music played outside around the bar and deck area was so old and tired...Jackson 5 genre. It seemed like our party ages 55-60 were the youngsters, and maybe the majority who appeared to be 70's and 80's enjoy that era of music. We would've enjoyed more current music. Our cruise had a pianist and singer that performed most evenings, but the room was small with low ceilings so the music was too loud. We always left for areas that we could converse. Our party of 6 did not go on any Windstar excursions because we found better value by booking private tours on our own. All in all, we loved the ship and would consider going again based on the service we received and the small ship size. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
After having completed over 100 cruises, covering some 1300 nights, we wished to try the "small ship" experience of Azamara. After reading reviews of a number of various smaller "up-scale/luxury", we decided on ... Read More
After having completed over 100 cruises, covering some 1300 nights, we wished to try the "small ship" experience of Azamara. After reading reviews of a number of various smaller "up-scale/luxury", we decided on Azamara, for our "test run". Being on a "smaller" ship, there was a discernible ( but not annoying) feel of some ship movement in open choppy seas. This was somewhat expected, if we encountered rougher sea conditions. One of the advantages of cruising in this category suite is the varied dining options. For dinner there are two specialty restaurants, "Aqualina" and "Prime C" available each evening (complimentary) as well as the main dining venue "Discoveries Restaurant", or the buffet "Windows Café". Of course en-suite dining is also available, for all meals (complimentary). One would have no need to "go hungry", at almost any hour. We did not attempt to find food at 03:00, but surmise it might have been available. We did have one issue that was somewhat of a nuisance. When we initially entered our suite the temperature was very warm, so we lowered the setting on the thermostat, in the living room.. After a while and not seeing any change we found another thermostat in the bedroom. We lowered the setting there also -- still no change. When our suite attendant and his assistant stopped by to introduce themselves, we mentioned the too warm temperature to them. They attempted the same changes that we tried, with no discernible change. Shortly after that Wayon (Cabin Attendant) returned with a technician to resolve the issue. The tech removed the covers from the thermostats, and checked some electrical connections, and shined his flashlight into the output vents. He then told us that "all was now, O.K." Two hours later, no real change was evident. When we met out butler, Xaviar, after that, we told him of the air-conditioning situation, he said he would have it fixed. He returned a short time later, with the same technician and another person, possibly the tech's supervisor, They went through a similar routine, and declared the situation resolved. There was actually a bit of cooler air coming out of two of the three vents (one in bedroom and two in living room). One of the vents in the living room was still putting out warmer air? The next day, we received a received a request from the Hotel Director for comments as to how the cruise was going, so far. We commented that the only "issue" we had encountered was that of the air conditioning, and said that was not something we expected to encounter on a "luxury cruise line" -- three (four, counting our response to his note) requests for relief, with no real resolution of the issue. Right about then, our Suite Attendant stopped by to inquire how things were progressing -- we told him about all that had transpired with the air conditioning. He said he would look into it again, and within an hour, another tech (actually two different techs) came by to look/see and made a few adjustments --- Voila !!! COOL air. Wayon surely saved the day (and perhaps the cruise) and allowed us to enjoy our, now comfortable suite (Sweet/Suite). We only had one other hiccup throughout the rest of the cruise -- more on that later, We had read a number of comments about the "poor quality" which are included (complimentary) for all passengers. We found the quality ranged from "drinkable" to "pretty good", and the prices for 'exceptional" wines was not totally out of line -- even left the ship with some unused OBC (On Board Credit). We ate dinner in the specialty restaurants just about every evening, and cannot recall any meal that was less than excellent. Some of that was assuredly due to the wonderful/attentive care of Kris (our usual waiter in Prime C), and the excellent Sommelier, Milena. There were also other advantages afforded to guests staying in Club Owners Suites. One of these was the "Best of the Best" dinner -- even though the title is a bit "over the top". For this event, the "Drawing Room" (see Deck Plan) was converted into a private dining venue for the evening. The dinner was by invitation and hosted be the Captain and the Hotel Director, also at the table were the Staff Captain and Chief Engineer (don't ask who was driving the ship). Each course was presented by the Executive Chef, with an explanation of the preparation, and the wines were presented by the Sommelier, with the rationale for each pairing -- these wines were definitely "top shelf". All of this was coordinated by the Ship's Concierge. The Guest List, as best as we could determine, were the occupants of the six Club Owners Suites and (perhaps) the couple on-board with the highest number of Azamara cruises. Along with the invitation to this dinner, the same guests were offered the opportunity for a private Bridge Tour and also to experience a tour of the Engine Control Room, hosted by the Chief Engineer. Whilst on the subject of Senior Officers/Managers, they were very visible (and approachable) to just about any passenger, throughout the cruise.-- a very nice touch. The only disappointment we encountered was the "Azamazing Event" which took place in Sitka -- we were contacted , via telephone, prior to the cruise to ascertain if we would be attending the event, supposedly to allow for "special" seating arrangements. Despite what we had read about the Azamazing Events on past cruises, on this particular cruise, no special seating arrangements were made for those passengers in the top suites. Instead disembarkation for transfer to the event venue was done by "Deck Number". We were assigned to Group 5. When we arrived at the venue, we were directed to seating by Group Number. Instead of being in the "Reserved Section" on the main level, our group (5) relegated to a cramped corner of the balcony, where the temperature was very warm. From what we could see/hear of the presentation/show, it seemed to be very good. We felt like we were perhaps in the upper deck, corner seats at something like the Super Bowl. When we were leaving the venue, we asked the Hotel Manager, "Why the change in seating?" He told us that he was not consulted on the "arrangements" ??? Truly the "low point" of the entire cruise, even worse than the "air conditioning scenario". That situation was at least reconciled. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise, and would do another cruise aboard Azamara, just not in the immediate future. Whilst on board, we did book another cruise -- on Celebrity. Azamara has a cruise with a similar itinerary to the one we booked with Celebrity, but we are more confident about the total experience we will receive aboard Celebrity. That does not mean we will not return to Azamara - - just not in the near future. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Bucket list cruise that fulfilled all expectations. Visited Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan. Not forgetting the amazing Hubbard Glacier. Saw so much wildlife including a brown bear who came within 15ft of us. Too many experiences ... Read More
Bucket list cruise that fulfilled all expectations. Visited Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan. Not forgetting the amazing Hubbard Glacier. Saw so much wildlife including a brown bear who came within 15ft of us. Too many experiences to list. Took tours through Celebrity. Booked them online before we sailed which was much cheaper. All the tours were excellent. See below for cabin reviews. Blu restaurant food was excellent although the service could be very hit and miss. The Oceanview Restaurant always delivers excellent food although i felt that cleanliness of the tables could have been better. Dined in Le Petit Cuisine which was excellent. This is a must visit especially with children. The Cocktail Bar is a lot of fun and the measures very generous! Only went to one show this time which was ok. Made the most of the stunning sunsets from the Sunset Bar. Would highly recommend this cruise, certainly the top one we have done. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Ship is nice with a good itinerary. The idea of spending the night in a few ports was attractive. However, the itinerary changed 3 times after we had booked and we booked only 100 days out. These changes actually took out an entire night ... Read More
Ship is nice with a good itinerary. The idea of spending the night in a few ports was attractive. However, the itinerary changed 3 times after we had booked and we booked only 100 days out. These changes actually took out an entire night in Rouen, France which changed the ability to spend an evening in Paris which was our plan. Azamara's goal is to make this a boutique cruise catering to a smaller group of people. Our ship was to capacity with 690 guests on board. The attempt is a good one and the entertainment is definitely top notch. However, to compare this line to Windstar or Seabourne on anything but entertainment would be a disappointment. The crew is friendly, food is good, not exceptional, staterooms are small and the bathrooms are tiny. The idea of all inclusive beverages is a bit misleading as they up sell 2 different drink packages to include certain mixed drinks and certain brands of liquor. On the included drink package if you want to order say a mojito, you must specifically ask for the basic liquor or they charge you for it. There is a very basic list of drinks that can be ordered on the regular package anything that differs from that list, if you don't specifically ask for the included liquor package, will be charged to your room. It cheapens the experience. On other boutique cruise lines all drinks are included unless you specifically ask for the top shelf liquor, then you are charged for a top shelf liquor. On the positive side, they have a wonderful smoothie bar in the buffet every morning. All food in the buffet is labeled for gluten,dairy,vegan etc. Some of the staff are better than others when it comes to accommodating dietary needs. Gluten free was a trick for many and by the end of the cruise I gave up asking for GF items ie bread as it seemed liked too great a challenge and just ate the items I knew were GF. We had a balcony state rooms which was nice. Smaller than other ships but adequate. The bathroom is a joke. Literally, no room for 2 people to stand in the space. To brush our teeth while the other person was brushing theirs, one of us would have to get in the shower to accommodate for space. (We're not large people). Entertainment was by far much better than other boutique lines. Cruise director Eric is extremely talented and ran a fabulous entertainment department. I would sale on Azamara again but I would consider it a nice cruise line not a luxury boutique line. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We did mostly eat at the World Cafe (amazing sushi and crab legs), we did also enjoy Manfrettis and the Restaurant a few times. We also did use room service. The food was wonderful. No complaints. I cannot eat gluten and I was ... Read More
We did mostly eat at the World Cafe (amazing sushi and crab legs), we did also enjoy Manfrettis and the Restaurant a few times. We also did use room service. The food was wonderful. No complaints. I cannot eat gluten and I was completely taken care of. I felt safe and appreciated the extra care they went to. Our room was a delight. The bed was comfy and for us we felt spoiled with having the room cleaned twice a day. We were very glad that we chose to do a lot of our excursions with other companies. There were far fewer people and it cost less. Best example: Use All Tours in St. Petersberg. They were amazing. We also booked our own Rodne Tour for Pulpit Rock at less cost for the exact same trip. Because there were so many ports, in the end it was just a bit exhausting. If we do a cruise again, it would be one with fewer places to visit. We found every single person who worked at Viking to be friendly, helpful, and kind. If, like us, you do enjoy quality spirits, I strongly suggest purchasing a few bottles at the Stockholm Airport Duty free store. It was less expensive than at home and far cheaper than any other place we stopped. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Had been on Ama (wonderful), Uniworld (good) and wanted to try Scenic. Also wanted Danube cruise that went to Salzburg. The service was excellent, room kept very clean, and excursions good. Wine far better than we were expecting but ... Read More
Had been on Ama (wonderful), Uniworld (good) and wanted to try Scenic. Also wanted Danube cruise that went to Salzburg. The service was excellent, room kept very clean, and excursions good. Wine far better than we were expecting but food was a disappointment. Beate, the cruise director went out of her way to help everyone but she was leaving at the end of our cruise for a private job opportunity. Some of the excursions groups were too big and they should have hired another guide or 2 to keep the groups smaller. The new system for the headset didn’t work well all the time, but that was due to too large groups. The biggest disappointment was the food. Breakfast was a 10 but lunch and dinner fell short. Sometimes the food was lukewarm. The veal schnitzel was almost inedible. There were no wow factors. The salmon and tenderloin that you could always order were under seasoned. The gala night had Canadian lobster tail and beef Wellington and it was very good. Then the closing night was turkey. The turkey was good but it doesn’t seem like a luxury dinner on the last night of a luxury cruise. They could Improve by doing a grill on deck with bratwurst and cheeseburgers! Soups were generally pretty good. Desserts were average except for ice cream. We are excellent home cooks so food is very important to us. I will stick with Ama for future cruises. Or try Crystal. But Scenic and Uniworld are out. If you are a foodie, go with Ama. I’ve attached pictures of menus and wine lists and daily plans. I wish I could have received this information in advance so hope it helps others. Mark, the musician, was excellent. The dancers were ok. The concert in Vienna was very nice. Portobellos had excellent appetizers and desserts but mediocre entree. Have to submit photos separately because they don’t attach from an iPad. Read Less

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