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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
This is my third transatlantic crossing on board Queen Mary 2. I've gotten to know the ship very well and the quirks of the ship. I enjoyed the cruise a lot, but perhaps not my favourite transatlantic crossing. Ship: She is a ... Read More
This is my third transatlantic crossing on board Queen Mary 2. I've gotten to know the ship very well and the quirks of the ship. I enjoyed the cruise a lot, but perhaps not my favourite transatlantic crossing. Ship: She is a beautiful ship, her public spaces are spacious and the art deco decor is nostalgic and hearkens back to the golden age of ocean liners. You never feel that there are too many people on board Fellow passengers: sociable and friendly, no major issues Cabin: The cabins show a bit of wear, especially in the bathroom Dining: I felt there was a lot of pork this year, I felt in past years there were more beef options. Activities: Afternoon tea: always a classic event on board QM2. It happens daily and great afternoon activity Fitness opportunities: The gym isn't particularly big but if you enjoy running, running on the promenade deck is always enjoyable. Entertainment: Cunard Insights (Lectures): very good, a lot of interesting lecturers and topics, always something I look forward to attending while on board / Evening Entertainment: like always, nothing spectacular, but Cunard is not known for their singing/dancing shows. Service: Service on board was good. I've gotten to know a few of the crew, and have my "favourite" bartender that has served me on all my QM2 voyages. Port/Shore Excursions: N/A since this was a transatlantic crossing. Value: As a luxury cruise, it is not the cheapest cruise but I enjoyed my time on board and I didn't splurge this year or try to hold back either. Would I go again: At the end of the voyage, I didn't think I wanted to do another transatlantic crossing in QM2 again since I felt I had done all that I could on board, however, given that I'm booked to do another QM2 transatlantic crossing in August 2019, I guess I really enjoy my time on board. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
Crew – 5 stars, Food – 4 to 5 stars, Ship – 4 stars EMBARKATION – in Aruba – a long walk from where the cab drops you off to the yacht, because only the big ships get front docking. They have a shuttle, but we elected to walk ... Read More
Crew – 5 stars, Food – 4 to 5 stars, Ship – 4 stars EMBARKATION – in Aruba – a long walk from where the cab drops you off to the yacht, because only the big ships get front docking. They have a shuttle, but we elected to walk our luggage, so that was a bit hot in the blazing sun. Covered tent at the gangway with someone to check off your name and label your bags that the crew will take to your room. Once up the gangway, you’re taken into the lounge to register, get your photo taken and your room key provided, as well as sign up for a beverage package if you haven’t already. There really wasn’t much of an orientation or anything, then you go to your room and wait for your bags (relatively quick). The process was average, but not difficult. There really didn’t seem to be much of an orientation – you could take tour of the common areas that was scheduled within an hour or so after you boarded – otherwise you were pretty much on your own. DISEMBARKATION at the end of the cruise – in Puerto Caldera Costa Rica – one of the worst things they did on this cruise. The good thing was that your bags didn’t have to be outside your room until 6am on disembarkation day (but you were welcome to put them out the night before). And you received colored tags depending on what time you were scheduled to disembark, and that schedule was provided with the program the evening before. Disembarkation morning, they were way behind schedule, and almost every passenger was in the lounge at 815 am (first group was supposed to be off by 7:30am) and no announcements had been made about what was causing the delay and there were no crew around to ask, and there was standing room only in the lounge (and everyone had their carry on bags). The gangway was down, and luggage was out on the pier, but folks weren’t allowed to get off. Finally, a group decided to leave the lounge anyway, which caused a herd mentality to exit into the lobby area, which only got more confusing and congested. When I asked a receptionist to at least make an announcement (because security had finally started letting people off because it was too crazy in the lobby now), she just said they would make one in a few minutes! Anyway, by the time they finally made an announcement (10 minutes after I’d requested), most of the first two groups had disembarked and were trying to find their luggage. Once it was our turn, we got off, identified our bags and they were swiftly put on the bus – we were about an hour behind, and our group was doing a city tour and then airport transfer. More on that when I mention excursions later. SMALL SHIP VS BIG SHIP – doubt we’ll ever do another big ship again. We don’t need an abundance of evening entertainment. We go onshore at every port, and almost always do an excursion. We love not having ridiculous crowds, the ease of getting on and off the yacht in port and by tender, the crew ratio, the personalized cooked to order meals. Liked that there’s an open bridge policy so you can almost always wander in and look at the equipment, see what’s going on (we never did). We felt more motion on this ship than other others in the past, and even had a slight queasiness the first few days; I’m not sure if it was the ship or the seas (weather was good). If you’re susceptible to motion sickness, you might want to be prepared with the bracelets or Dramamine, and make sure your room is in the center of the ship. All that being said, we’ve heard Star Breeze is about to undergo a major refurb where they cut the ship in half and insert another 50 rooms, more restaurants and deck space, all doing a refurb on the rest of the rooms at the same time. I’m sad about that – really loved that there were only 200 passengers on this yacht. Often when the yacht is anchored, they’ll open the back sports deck and put the pool/ocean toys out (noodles, SUP’s, mats, ocean raft/trampoline), so you can swim in the ocean just off the ship. If you're not used to cruising, read your daily program!! You'll find almost everything there; you're responsible for finding things out yourself! There aren't a ton of announcements. Love the Sail Away song and flag raisin on the deck when sailing away from certain locations. INTERNET – really really slow and spotty. The price you pay for an internet package is ridiculously expensive and then it’s too slow to upload anything, often don’t get or can’t see emails and can’t get to many websites. Forget about posting much to Facebook. There are many spots within the yacht that have no service. ROOMS - the room size is excellent! LOVE the big walk-in closet and the bathroom with two sinks. The rooms with the opening French windows have a step-in tub/shower combo, but you can get a walk in shower in rooms with stationary windows. We were SO HAPPY to have upgraded to a room with the opening doors/windows – there’s a tiny platform you can step out on, but the doors open so you have floor to ceiling opening (glass balcony too) that allows in fresh air day or night – well worth the extra spend! The room finishes and many of the common area finishes are dated, and you can tell the ship is old by the many layers of paint, chipped marble/floor tiles, missing/stained grout, etc. The room furniture was dated, sort of beat up and chipped – but the size of the room made it ok. Wish there were more power plugs – only two US ones in the room – one in the bathroom and one at the little desk in front of the bed. We were constantly alternating charging things. There’s a small fridge with stocked mini-bar and a DVD player for your small tv (big enough to see from the bed and the living area). The walk-in closet had shelves, a couple of drawers and plenty of space for hanging clothes (and they brought us extra hangars immediately upon request). There were a couple of drawers in the little desk opposite the bed. The room’s walls are metal, so you can bring your own magnets and put up your daily programs, excursion tickets, etc, and not clutter your desktop with them. There’s plenty of storage in the bathroom, too: open corner shelves on each side adjacent to the mirror, a long shelf under the sink, and a small cabinet where you can put other toiletries. We had more than enough room, and I bring lots of different lotions and sunscreen. There’s shelving in the shower with enough space for your goodies, and a small ledge along the tub. Their L’occitane products are good if you don’t want to bring your own shampoo, conditioner, body gel and soap. We were glad we brought our own air freshener (car-style, paper) for the restroom, though the vacuum system seemed to take a lot of any odor out. We kept our French windows open most of the time, too, so maybe that helped. When you’re choosing your room, think about what direction your yacht will be traveling, and what side you’ll be on so you can choose to see sunrise or sunset from your room. We prefer sunrise, since I’m always up early and don’t necessarily want to go right upstairs at 5:30am (especially since you can’t get fresh coffee/latte until 6am). And with French windows, you can just open the doors wide and see the most amazing sunrises!! For sunset, we’re happy to be on deck having a cocktail, so didn’t care if we could see from our room or not. CREW – the staff is absolutely outstanding! Our cabin steward (Hasan) knew our names the first day, and always used them, even out of context when we saw him around the ship or on a port tender. He was personable, always greeted you with a smile and asked how your day was, was always upbeat and always asked if there was anything he could do to make our trip special. We’re not high maintenance, so didn’t ask for much, but he was quick with ice when requested, provided a spectacularly clean room, and once, when I came back early from dinner to retrieve something, he gave me personal instruction on how to make a towel animal. The wait and bar staff were phenomenal, too! They got to know our names really quickly, and even what our preferred drinks were. Yogi in the Yacht Club coffee bar, knew my preferred drink style and every day when I was up there at 6am, he’d greet me by name and make my Americano just the way I liked it! I still miss his morning greeting and coffee. I had no idea he worked both the dinner service and the 6am coffee service until I saw him at dinner one day (he was usually at tables toward the back, and we were always at the front) – not sure how he managed to keep his amazing attitude with hours like that, but as the first person I saw every day (my husband was usually still asleep when I went for coffee), he really started every day out for me with sunshine! Some of our other stellar crew: Apple, both bartender/waiter in the deck bar and wine steward in the dining room. She’s also phenomenal, again greets you by name, and knows your preferred drinks within a day, and can recommend others based on what you seem to like. She went out of her way to make other things special, too, whether your food, dining table, just anything. And she’d come over and say hi and see how you were doing, even if you weren’t seated in her area. After our first dinner without her, we asked to be seated at one of her tables every other night. We also made that request, because then our waiter would be the same – Deva! He was fun, funny, helpful, entertaining, and always wanting us to enjoy our time. Again, he provided breakfast service on the Verandah and dinner service, and even if he didn’t have our table at breakfast he would come by to say hi and make sure we were being taken care of. Noel was also another of our favorite bartenders/waiters – we mostly saw him only in the deck bar, but he would also always go out of his way to make sure we had everything we needed, could suggest alternative drinks, etc. I must also mention that every other crew member we came across, from people-facing, to kitchen and laundry, to engineering/maintenance – they always greeted you with a smile and wished you a good day! Really, I don’t know how the crew knows your names so quickly (I do know they post the photos in the galley, but still!) and what you like, OR how they keep their amazing friendly and helpful attitudes when they work the hours/days they do – whatever Windstar does to train their staff really makes the trip the absolute best! The funny thing is, the few times we saw officers (pretty rare), they were the least friendly! FOOD – from good/very good to excellent! For dinner, your entrée is cooked when you order. And if everyone goes into the dining room at the same time, there may be a bit of wait. But well worth it. Most of our dinners were excellent! With good variety from meal to meal, plenty of options of different meat, fish and vegetarian. We often chose to split an entrée as a starter and that was never an issue. If you want to blend two entrees – no problem! Two starters – no problem! Portion sizes are good, too, so you can avoid overeating (unless you over-order ). Plenty of greens available. We wished there’d been a pizza place or pizza on the menu – never appeared once and I bet the kitchen could make a mean pizza! Breakfast doesn’t start til 7am, which seems late to me, is outside or inside at the Verandah – buffet eggs, pastries, fruit bar, cold cuts and cheese, with bacon/sausage and potatoes. Fruit smoothies, too. Made to order specials every day (several kinds of benedicts, fruit pancakes, waffles, etc) and you can also order eggs any way you want every day. Full coffee service (brewed, lattes, etc). Another breakfast option, though, is the Yacht Club, which opens at 6am with coffee any way, pastries, smoothies, fruit and yoghurt. Lunch is also in the Verandah, and is full buffet with a huge salad bar, several hot options, a carving station with one different meat/fish every day, dessert bar. Lunch was usually pretty good, you’ll find something there, or you can order the special hot sandwich of the day (reuben, monte cristo, etc) or a grilled chicken sandwich or hamburger. Any pasta on the buffet was usually overcooked, but that’s hard to do. Our least favorite food was usually desserts – the lunch desserts often seemed tastier than the dinner. The sorbets were good, and they would have different ice cream flavors, but the cakes, puddings, etc, usually fell flat. There is one specialty dining restaurant, where you’re guaranteed at least one seating – it’s actually in the breakfast/lunch spot on the verandah (outside, but covered) and they put out tablecloths and candles. Same menu all the time, but they have steak (no lobster), which you don’t get much of in the regular dining. The steak was very good, but nothing else was better than the regular dining room, other than eating outside. We liked the dining room selections better so didn’t go back. They actually offered on-deck dining twice on our cruise – grilled meats and a salad and dessert bar. Food was good, but offerings not as good as the dining room – and since there’s very little seating, you had to book a reservation as soon as it was announced! We loved being able to sit outside as the temperatures were perfect. One night, dinner was a barbeque on the deck – this was AMAZING! The salad bar, cold cuts /cheese and dessert bar were huge with a ton of variety. There was fresh grilled lobster tails and lamb chops (while you waited), chicken, paella, and probably so much more I’m forgetting. Thank goodness again for a small ship, where lines were short and there’s room for everyone to sit outside on deck, once they added more tables and chairs (removed lounge chairs). And, of course, both the single and duo musicians played while you ate – really lovely. And one day there’s a special beach barbeque where the crew moves everything to a private beach and freshly grills hamburgers & specialty hot dogs, and arroz con pollo in the big paella pan, along with providing a veggie/salad and dessert buffet. You can sit in your beach lounge chair, or at one of the dining tables they set up. They also bring along full bar service (pay according to your drink package, if any). BEVERAGE / LAUNDRY PACKAGE – about a week or two prior to the cruise we received a notice of a discount package that would include our tips (they will charge you $13.50/day each no matter what), laundry service, internet service and a premier beverage package (includes all cocktails, all wines by the glass, and full minibar). We chose to do this for each of us. It seemed to make sense if we had 4 alcoholic drinks per day each. Which didn’t seem so unreasonable if you thought you might have a beer at lunch, a cocktail at sunset and two glasses of wine at dinner. And that’s probably about what we averaged. We loved the convenience of turning our laundry over in the morning and having it back by 5pm every day! They handled it all perfectly, including the cold water wash. It allowed us to pack a bit less, and we liked that, too. I would be we about broke even on this discounted deal. ENTERTAINMENT – the crew does a talent show – do not miss it! It takes guts, folks, to get up in front of a crowd and sing, dance, play music, or put on a skit – kudos to them for making it so fun! They appreciated our encouragement and applause before during and after the show. We missed the line dancing they did on deck one night – we hadn’t realized it was the crew starting it off (for 20-30 minutes) and thought only it was music for passengers. The music duo played mostly older music that at least was good background for the lounge and bar, and there was a solo male who played a bit more current music at the bar. One of the at-sea events was a towel animal “seminar” – it was not a convenient time for us, so we missed it – wished they’d had more than just the one. Also, we’d heard their galley tours are fun, but they never did have one on our trip – wish they had! SPA - we didn’t use – prices seemed a bit high for massages, nails, etc. But they did have stretching and yoga classes almost every day, though I heard it was hard to do some with the ship’s movement! There’s basic gym equipment, but it’s older. DECK CHAIRS – there aren’t enough to go around. And unfortunately, people go up early and put stuff on the chairs to hold them, but don’t show up for hours – some seemed to be vacant all day. Windstar should not allow this and should either provide more chairs or move belongings if a chair has been vacant more than an hour. We could usually find a table and upright chair at the bar. SHORE EXCURSIONS – the good thing about going with Windstar’s is that if you’re late, or your port is canceled, etc, Windstar handles the logistics. For most of the ports, you’re a ways away, and not within walking distance of anything interesting, so you’d have to book a private tour or cab if you don’t go with Windstar. However, it always feels like you’re paying too much for Windstar’s, especially when you consider the number of people going (usually 20-30 on the ones we went on). Know that some ports are docked at a pier and some anchored and you’ll need to take a tender. Windstar sometimes uses a zodiac boat (like a blow-up/pontoon) and sometimes local boats and sometimes it can be challenging to get onto the boat and/or out of the water – you definitely want water shoes or sandals – good strong sandals might be best if you plan on leaving them on and hiking/walking in them. CARTAGENA City Highlights – the fort, the dungeons (now artisan craft shops), the cathedral and the old town. We enjoyed this. The amount of time allowed for shopping was plenty. Liked the goods and prices at the dungeons a bit better than in the old town. Old town was pretty and well maintained, with some cools shops and restaurants – we really didn’t need any more time than the extra 40 minutes provided. Our guide provided good narrative. You could always go out on your own ($20-$30 cab ride each way?) and just go to the old town (Bocagrande?), but going with an excursion PANAMA CITY - Best of Old & Modern Panama – they don’t tell you it’s an hour bus ride to get to the city. The first part of “Old” means some boring ruins and a museum with a quick run through – with how Panama City came into being. More boring. You barely see any of the current modern city as you ride through with the bus, just that it’s dirty and uninteresting. Our driver was unaware of the upcoming Christmas parade and we got detoured and delayed. Then to the colonial “old city” with is barely in a gentrification stage – some quaint façades of old homes and buildings, but no time to shop or browse in the few stores. Then on to a marina area and a restaurant for dry fish or pork and rice and overcooked veggies, before the one hour ride back to the yacht. Wouldn’t do this again, though we did figure out we would not come to Panama City if we ever returned to Panama (expats must be going to the countryside – this did not look enticing at all). Also heard the locks and boat tour was not very good. PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT itself (on the yacht, not an excursion) – phenomenal. We were lucky with sunshine and beautiful weather, and our original start was rescheduled from 4am to 8am. They brought a guide onboard to narrate what was happening all the way through, but the ship’s speaker system wasn’t working and you could only hear them in two locations (that didn’t have the best viewing) – so we went through without hearing the details. PEARL ISLANDS – we anchored, they lowered the back exit and discovered the seas were too rough to go out. So we waited another two hours to see if they would calm and they did not. So we raised anchor and headed off to Isla Parida a day early. Somehow the crew managed to pull off landing at Isla Parida a day early, and a new stop in Puerto Jimenez to replace this one! ISLA PARIDA – this is the private beach where the entire crew gets off to set up and pull off a beach barbeque. They did a phenomenal job! They also bring the yacht’s own beach toys and kayaks. And there are plenty of lounge chairs and dining tables. See the food section above for the food. The hike they offer as an excursion is not worth it. You can walk the loop trail yourself, having a guide didn’t offer much benefit; the trail is a bit strenuous in a few parts. If we had known they had the beach barbeque there when we booked our excursions, we might not have booked the hike. PUERTO JIMENEZ - Tropical Gardens & Beach Scape - we were not told before booking it was an hour local boat ride across the gulf to visit the gardens (and that some of us would get soaking wet), nor that we would not have an opportunity to go into town when we did this; based on the port talk we thought we would end up in town and be able to spend an hour there if we wanted. The boat took us over by a bunch of pelicans in trees over the water – really not that interesting. The gardens were interesting, but really no birds (two toucans you could barely see as they flew by, and two scarlet macaws so high you could only tell what they were by their shape) and we were much more interested in seeing birds than the few orchids we actually saw. They should not have included the beach time - it's not a good beach there, and only one person did while the rest of us sat around for over 30 minutes waiting! QUEPOS – Manuel Antonio National Park Nature Walk – this is a quick bus ride from the pier. There weren’t as many varieties of wildlife as we might have expected, but we probably saw 8 to 10 sloths! Several were moving, and the guides have little scopes so you can look through a telephoto lens and see them up close; otherwise they are quite high in the trees and hard to see, much less get a good photo. The guides are also good at spotting other rodents, lizards and crabs. We finally saw a group of capuchin monkeys as we were about to leave the park – and we felt like it’d been a pretty good trip. There’s a break for a beach/swim spot, but it’s a pain to carry your stuff around on the walk, so that was a bit of a waste of time. We left and walked on our own for that 30 minutes until we met back up with the guide again. It’s important this tour is early morning, as only a certain number of visitors are allowed daily and once they reach their limit, they close, only re-opening later once a certain number have left. It’s also nice to walk through when it’s a bit less crowded. The marina where you tender to is a nice little place with a variety of restaurants and bars and a few cute boutiques. We had sushi at the restaurant Sunrice, with fresh tuna from the local fishermen – a much appreciated change of pace from the cruise meals. Town is only a few blocks from the marina, also walkable, for your standard tourist shopping. SAN JOSE – city tour and aiport transfer. As noted above, disembarkation was poor and we were an hour late to start. There were only supposed to be folks with the airport transfer and one hotel transfer on our bus, but somehow a number of people were booked into other hotels and thought they could find their way from either the airport or the other hotel, not really checking to see how far their hotels were from those drop-offs. We had also picked up folks from the Wind Star sailing ship which had docked right next to us, and they had told passengers to get on our bus and they would be dropped off at a downtown hotel – and they weren’t supposed to be. It was all a cluster. The San Jose city tour was worthless. The city is ugly (1960’s/1970’s almost communist-era looking architecture) and crowded and a bit dirty, though there are pedestrian ways for shopping. We went to a gold/currency museum that was half closed (not that interesting) and the Opera House (where we could only get into the lobby), and mostly dealt with traffic. I would have no interest in seeing this city. Waiting at the airport for 4 extra hours would have been preferable. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this ship for the itinerary and do not regret the decision. The ship was small (680) so we felt many of the rocking and rolling. Veranda cabin was smaller than Aqua Class on Celebrity and the bathroom almost laughable. The shower ... Read More
We chose this ship for the itinerary and do not regret the decision. The ship was small (680) so we felt many of the rocking and rolling. Veranda cabin was smaller than Aqua Class on Celebrity and the bathroom almost laughable. The shower was tiny with a shower curtain that randomly wrapped around your body! Service was very good, especially stateroom and dining room. We booked shore excursions through the ship mostly as the literature from Azamara made it seem the only way. Not so! Very disappointed in the shore excursions and with the shore excursions desk staff. The spa was excellent albeit pricey. The specialty restaurants were good and offered a pleasant break from the main dining room at competitive prices. The included beverages of wine and beer was nice. Especially liked mosaic cafe for daily cappuccino. Embarkation was smooth with rooms ready by 1:30. Luggage arrived shortly thereafter. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Three couples from their 60-80s wanted to see Cuba in luxury . This cruise overnights in Havana ( could have used another day) and had two more interesting ports. We had been on the Sirena when it was owned by Princess. We took the same ... Read More
Three couples from their 60-80s wanted to see Cuba in luxury . This cruise overnights in Havana ( could have used another day) and had two more interesting ports. We had been on the Sirena when it was owned by Princess. We took the same cabin ( now called penthouse suite) on Princess in Tahiti it was called a mini suite. It is a large lovely room with a renovated bathroom. The other two couples took A1 thinking their cabins would be like the new Marina. They spent the whole cruise complaining about the tiny shower with a flapping curtain. My cabin had a terrific walk in glass enclosed shower with great storage and wonderful bed and bedding. Towels are fluffy. Bring an electric surge protector as there are limited outlets. Balcony is skinny and the two wicker chairs have no footrests . I stuck my feet thru the railings. The food is very good, especially the two specialty restaurants Tuscan Grill and Red Ginger. The miso sea bass melts in your mouth. The main dinning room has service shortages. They are running around like chickens without heads. The buffet is ok and Waves makes a great burger at lunch. Ice cream is everywhere. Entertainment is poor. The Sinatra show the best. The young singers try hard but except for a funny ventriloquist it is pretty bad. The cruise director runs a great cut throat trivia that we found fun. The real problem are the excursions. Oceania messes up royally. We spent hours picking our tours and booked the passport collection. Very pricey as you cannot legally go off on your own. The ship gets the $75 visa for you. There are two US government officials on board watching. Some people did it anyway and took their chances. Tours were canceled the day before. Some were flipped from morning to afternoon then the morning tour came back late and you couldn’t go. No time to take a ride in the cars unless you book it as a $450 excursion. No reimbursement or apology. Told it was Cuba’s fault but I paid my money to Oceania! The best was the Tropicana nightclub . And you can take phone photos no charge. Spectacular!! The young tour guides spoke English well and just want the Embargo over. The country is very poor. Beautiful colonial buildings so shabby . The classic cars fabulous to see. A very interesting trip. Great hot room service breakfasts on port days. I would definitely go back. And a cruise makes it a comfortable way to see it. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
First Ocean Cruise with Viking after 4 river cruises. Very intimate for an Ocean Cruise. Food was better than river cruises as was the entertainment. The formal production shows were still pretty hokie but the musicians that played ... Read More
First Ocean Cruise with Viking after 4 river cruises. Very intimate for an Ocean Cruise. Food was better than river cruises as was the entertainment. The formal production shows were still pretty hokie but the musicians that played around the ship each night were awesome. I really liked that you had dining options and that included not only where you ate but when you ate. The ship was tastefully decorated and there was more than enough space for everyone. Nothing ever seemed crowded. We have taken over 10 Ocean cruises with other cruise lines (Norwegian and Royal Caribbean) which ranged from just OK to pretty good but none of them compared to our Viking Ocean Cruise. However, while it had some advantages over the river cruises that we have taken, I still prefer the river cruise experience. Nothing beats being able to walk off your ship and be right in town and the views while cruising are so much better when you are on a river as opposed to being on a larger body of water. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This is our second trip on this ship...the Quest. We had been taking 1-2 Regent trips per year through 2013 and then have taken a few SilverSea (SS) expedition trips, almost all with LCT, so this line was rather new to us. We upgraded to a ... Read More
This is our second trip on this ship...the Quest. We had been taking 1-2 Regent trips per year through 2013 and then have taken a few SilverSea (SS) expedition trips, almost all with LCT, so this line was rather new to us. We upgraded to a lovely 3 room suite with a huge balcony, huge bathroom and separate bedroom and living room. While my Regent info is dated and I’ve only done expedition trips on SS, my comparison may not be accurate. What I like about Azamara Quest: you get directed to your cab in immediately upon boarding and the luggage is prompt; service levels are very high—superb— uniformly; the specialty restaurants, included for suite guests, are excellent; the cruise tour desk goes above and beyond and is efficient. Ship staff are warm, friendly and responsive. From the stewards to hotel captain, there is an overwhelming pride and focus on details. The Azamazing evening experience in Bali was superb. Azamara general dining in Jewish terms is “meh.” Activities onboard so-so. Lectures not too thrilling. Entertainment has been good; in fact, they are going/coming from Regent. So, about the same quality. The cruise director and performers are very talented and lovely. Service levels are superb. One thing I really like about Azamara is their attention to mid cruise evaluations and making immediate corrections. The hotel director promptly communicates to staff and things are corrected and good performers are told. For example, I don’t drink. We have a bar setup in the room that is free and no one will use. However, I couldn’t have Perrier or Evian as a replacement without taking a beverage package. I also couldn’t have these upgraded waters with meals and was charged for them. After the evaluations and my constructive comments, The staff ensured I got the water free of charge everywhere I went. Evian was sent to my room as well. I also like the ability to accrue free nights. This is so much better than just pressing, laundry and wi-fi. Just from 2 trips, we accrued 6 free nights, a handsome savings. Wi-fi is discounted to 150 for the cruise, we have free pressing and a free laundry bag every 7 days with a suite. Discounts also range from 4-10% onboard discounts on future sailings depending on the number of nights sailed. Add in shipboard credit promotions and it’s an excellent value. All this is enough to have us return. Rooms: Azamara can be very cheap if you go for an inside cabin. Regular cabins with a window or veranda aren’t bad but the bathrooms are teeny. The Continental Club rooms are a good deal. They are a decent size, have a tub with shower, a private spa deck and hot tubs, a veranda and include all specialty restaurants. We stayed in one of these rooms the first trip and were very happy. We upgraded to a Club Oceanview Suite this time, due to a good deal, which is at the front of the ship. It had a nice size living room with a dining table, a full bedroom (king bed) separated from the living area by a door, a powder room with a toilet and a large bathroom with a large soaking tub and a large, separate shower. These corner rooms have a wall of floor to ceiling sliding doors to a very large balcony with two lounge chairs and a table with 4 chairs as well as a large window. It’s light and airy with good storage. Negatives? The rail is solid so it’s hard to see the ocean lying down and there is no outside light. This is the front, so it does rock and roll and you hear the anchor. There are three higher categories of rooms. One is at the back and is a bit bigger with a bigger balcony. Folks were happy with these suites. Another consists of w spa suites. The living space itself is the same as a basic Regent room but it has a HUGE bathroom with a large jacuzzi with floor to ceiling glass windows. The room is contemporary and luxurious but it has a very small balcony. This is the perfect room for colder climates, where you wouldn’t really use a balcony but want a light airy space. It is on the top floor, next door to the spa and very private. It would be my room of choice if I were going alone. There are also owner’s suites mid ship on the sides but I didn’t see these rooms. A perk of having a suite is having a butler,but I am really not a fan of having them. Another perk is expedited embarkation, debarkation, front rows at the Azamazing evening and a fabulous VIP dinner with the staff. You also accrue points for free nights faster, get a discount on internet, free specialty dining, free pressing and a bag of free laundry each week. Doug and I loved the extras and extra room. Food: Breakfasts were fine. It was available in the cafe or in the room. Lunch was okay. I really liked the brunches and felt they were excellent. There is also a cafe with the ability to pick up snacks anytime. There are two specialty dining venues. One is a steakhouse and one is Italian. service and food are as good as it gets. The menu in each is large and there are specials each night. There are chef’s tables at 90 pp (Asian, French or Italian). We did the French one and had a great time. There are also special theme dinners at 25pp but we didn’t try one. I hear they are excellent. The White Nights evening was great, but we missed it this year. Tours: pretty bad. I don’t know whether it was the ports or the tour operator but I wasn’t impressed. Azamara does not make you feel like cattle. Tours are limited to 25 max and they pass on discounts if they go higher. The ports were far away from fun things to do overall and too much time was spent coming and going to the sites. Food offered on the tours were of a very high quality. Azamara also offers private tours. These were awful. I’d never take one again. It seemed that Azamara tried to fill up time even if there was nothing to see. I heard stories of one hour at a statue. We did have several good tours and I’ll go into them in my port reviews, but they required long treks in a bus. That’s what we tried to avoid with the private tours...the long bathroom breaks and uncomfortable buses. With Azamara’s Private Journeys we got poorly planned tours with a driver and no real guide. I found the coordinator Sandra Carola Fernandez Gonzalez lacklustre and she never followed through in following up on our poorly planned Bunbury tour. I expect expertise and there was none. Ports: Jakarta was our first port stop. I think I’d rather end my life early then to ever be a citizen in either Jakarta, Semarang or Surabaya. Indonesia's lack of tax authority enforcement leads to the Government having little money for serious developments. In fact, they have only 27 million registered taxpayers when there should be around 120 million people if everyone eligible complied to the tax law. This is due to the severe lack of funding and manpower in their tax office, leading to many citizens having a completely lax attitude towards tax evasion as they probably wouldn’t get caught anyway. It’s port capacity is very poor. This leads to Indonesians having to spend much more if they want to export goods to foreign markets due to a lack of supply of container transportation. It is much more lucrative to base operations in Singapore which has ready made cheap transport for exports. As a result, Singapore has an export level of around USD23 Billion, which dwarfs Indonesia at USD12 Billion, despite having a small fraction of Indonesia's population. As a result, Indonesians find it more profitable to base and list their business in Singapore due to its infrastructure availability and ease of doing business. Indonesia's financial industry is underdeveloped and undersocialized. The lack of availability in financial instruments which could generate higher returns to investors and lack of financial literacy among the Indonesian population is costing Indonesia. As a result, Indonesians react to this by choosing to launder and park their money abroad (mainly Singapore), where they can invest in different types of financial instruments provided by investment banks. I was not prepared for the degree of poverty or filth in Indonesia. Jakarta was our first stop. Slums were the norm. Families were sleeping in doorways. Trash was everywhere. Our tour guide was excellent and did his best to educate us on the city. Jakarta, is the home to 10 million people and is not only the seat of the national government and the provincial government, but it is also Indonesia’s political center. It sits on swampy land, the Java Sea lapping against it, and 13 rivers running through it. So it shouldn't be a surprise that flooding is frequent in Jakarta and, according to experts, it is getting worse. But it's not just about freak floods, this massive city is literally disappearing into the ground. The dramatic rate at which Jakarta is sinking is partly down to the excessive extraction of groundwater for use as drinking water, for bathing and other everyday purposes by city dwellers. Piped water isn't reliable or available in most areas so people have no choice but to resort to pumping water from the aquifers deep underground. But, when groundwater is pumped out, the land above it sinks as if it is sitting on a deflating balloon - and this leads to land subsidence. Our guide says that his in laws use rain water, but that is only available during certain seasons. Most have to purchase water and store it in large tanks held on the roofs. He shared that experts confirm that water management authorities can only meet 40% of Jakarta's demand for water. Day 2 in Indonesia was more uplifting in Semarang. Flooding issues were highly visible with inner city roadways in an awful state but the highway system was rather good. Outside of the city, there were gated communities with large homes against a backdrop of volcanoes. The countryside jungle was lush and beautiful and roadside food stands and shops were rather abundant. It was a Sunday and families seemed to be out and enjoying life together. We were on our way to Borobudur, which is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Central Java, Indonesia. It is the world's largest Buddhist temple. It was hot. Very hot. The temple was impressive and very well maintained. I believe it was discovered in the 1200s and later made a UNESCO heritage site. Our lunch was excellent....vegetables were fresh and flavorful, the chicken satay and beef dish were the best I have ever had. We drove through countrysides of coffee plantations and rice plantations with folks hard at work in the fields. Most folks had smiles on their faces and it was a long, 9 hour day well spent! Day 3 was Surabaya. This was our day of enduring 97 degree humid weather, traveling hours by bus and then getting 12000 steps on our fitbits to see nothing. Surabaya is headed by a Muslim woman whose key focus is cleaning up filth and adding greenery. It was clean by comparison to Jakarta but definitely not pretty. We drove through middle class and wealthy areas to end up at our destination....a mangrove river tour. We were supposed to learn about mangrove restoration and benefits. The rubbish in the swampy river was disgusting and the cruise was disorganized and lacked organization, the walk was dull and uninteresting and ‘learning how to plant mangroves’ consisted of giving us a small 2 foot tree to put in a hole. I’m all for helping out a struggling community but I gotta would have preferred to stay on our lovely ship. We all should have been reimbursed for this tour. It was dreadful. Indonesia part 2: 2 days in Bali and 1 half day in Komodo. Day 1 (December 11) We had some choices over our 2 days there. I knew I wanted the Monkey Forest tour and that was day 2. The Azamazing evening was day 1 and I didn’t want too exhausting a day as there would be 2 tours that day and we’d have to get ready and were the first group out. I seem to overbook us and piss Doug off. After the disgusting mangrove tour, I was hoping for something better. Our choices were: a beach resort (Doug is not a beach guy but this is what we should have done), A culture tour, a shopping tour (not with Doug), a temple tour ( doing that with the monkeys), Ubud on your own, Ubud Ridges, Villages and valleys. We chose the latter thinking we’d see Ubud. It was supposed to be a journey with incredible views of the volcano, stunning rivers, discover village life. It was none of these things. I never saw a volcano. It was a long walk through a trail behind resort communities. Boring. We did have an outstanding lunch with gorgeous views, though. Our Azamazing evening was an evening of Balinese folklore at the Taman Budaya Art Center.A dance troupe entertained us under the stars.the performances showcased story telling dance characterized by intricate footwork, eyes and finger movements. Balinese dance is an ancient dance tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression among the Balinese people and is dynamic, angular and intensely expressive. Bali dancers learn the craft as children and even in the womb they are played Balinese music. They are taught to dance with their hands before they can walk. Official training as a Bali dancer starts as young as 7. In Balinese dance the movement is closely associated with the rhythms produced by a musical ensemble specific to Java and Bali. Multiple levels of articulations in the face, eyes, hands, arms, hips, and feet are coordinated to reflect layers of percussive sounds. Wow! I never knew hands could move like that. It was absolutely breathtaking. I almost cancelled the next day’s tour...Monkey Forests and temple due to the poor tours we’d been having but I like monkeys. We began at the Tenah Lot Temple, famed for its location atop a craggy outcrop set amid crashing waves. The coastal temple Pura Tanah Lot is located in the southern part of Bali. To many people, Tanah Lot epitomizes the romantic island of Bali. Tanah Lot means Land in The Sea, a perfectly fit name for its unique offshore settings. The silhouette of Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most popular iconic features of Bali. The history of Tanah Lot temple was believed to date back to the 16th century. For the Balinese, Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most important and venerated sea temples. However, it has all the authenticity of a stage set – even the tower of rock that the temple sits upon is an artful reconstruction (the entire structure was crumbling) and more than one-third of the rock is artificial. We then continued to the Monkey Forest at the Alas Kedaton Sacred Sanctuary where long tailed macaques thrive in a natural habitat. Alas Kedaton is a popular monkey forest sanctuary - a sacred one at that. The sanctuary is made up of many acres of land purely inhabited by big bats and monkeys. The forest sanctuary is located at Kukuh village in Tabanan and made for a fun hour. The crab-eating macaque is the major breed of monkey found in this sanctuary, and Bali in general, as these primates are native to Southeast Asia. A baby bat decided to jump on my back and go for a ride. Eek! Last, we ventured over to Pura Taman Ayum, an 18th century temple complex. Tama Ayun is an aesthetically pleasing temple and is located in a mystical park sheltered by trees and ponds and is a temple built to honor various historical deities and gods. The temple has a rift in form of canals and can only be accessed through a bridge that leads you to a wide spaced grassy courtyard, which leads to another courtyard that houses multiple shrines, and ponds filled with lots of lotus blossoms. The best part of the tour was our guide who immersed us in Balinese culture both past and present. Lunch was again excellent. It was a varied, pretty and enlightening day. It was the best trip of the cruise. December 13 was our final day in Indonesia. I’d travelled thousands of miles to see a Komodo dragon in the wild. It was one of my reasons for taking this cruise. Komodo National Park is a World Heritage Site that was set aside to conserve the Komodo dragon and their natural habitat. The world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon is arguably Indonesia’s best-conserved large animal. Protected under Indonesian law, the population is relatively stable, with around 2,500 animals in the park. Entrance fees for foreigners were recently increased sharply plus an extra fee for a guide – in a bid to raise more revenue. Currently, the biggest threat to the dragons is the poaching of deer which is their prey, and the rise of human populations. The species shares the park with nearly 4,000 people, many of whom supplement their incomes by selling curios and snacks to tourists. The dragon dominates the food chain and underpins the local economy. We were surround by small and aggressive children peddling small trinkets as we made our way to venture deep into Komodo National Park where we went to search the dry forest for a glimpse of the prehistoric Komodo dragon. They exist nowhere else in the world and are of great interest to scientists studying the theory of evolution. After about 25 minutes of following guides into the park in 100 degree heat, we were told we might not even see them, as they are wild animals. Finally, right near the trance where we walked in 25 minutes earlier, we see our first cluster of dragons. The park staff are armed with sticks – which doesn’t seem like enough in case of a Komodo dragon attack. With their fearsome reputation in mind, I stay well back. At first sight, they do appear “lifeless” – like large seals wearing crocodile skin. When they move, they crawl on their bellies and then suddenly rear up sphinx-like, sticking out their forked tongues and making a distinctive hissing sound. There are five of the dragons in the group. They are grouped around each other, occasionally standing up, walking a few steps and hissing. The guides stand near us with massive sticks, which they will use to beat the dragons back in the event that they come near us. One guide, told me I reminded him of his mother and led me to them for upfront and personal close ups. I hoped he liked his mother. The Komodo can consume very large prey such as water buffalo, deer, carrion, pigs and even humans. It has a unique way of killing by biting its prey - especially when it is a large water buffalo, - surrounding it in a group then wait patiently until the poison in its saliva has slowly killed its victim.  After which it completely shreds apart and devoured with bones and all.  If the prey escapes, it will usually die within 24 hours due to poisoning of the blood that comes from the venomous and bacteria ridden saliva. Surprisingly, we were not rushed and were allowed quite a bit of time with them. Folks, who visited before, noticed that there were decidedly fewer Komodos than they have seen previously. Hot, but worth the experience. The only difference I would have liked—I would gladly have paid the guide for a shorter visit, with no trekking in the humid heat. Three days at sea (12/14-16) and then Western Australia.(12/17-12/22) The seas became rough. Returning to our cabin on 12/15, water was pouring under the glass sliding doors. The movement wasn’t bad. The position of our bed allowed for rocking side to side instead of head to toe (which our room was doing). It was rather pleasant. It was the crashing of the waves—the bang, bang, bang against the hull that ruined our sleep. We found out that a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck around 1,000 km north-northwest of Perth on 12/15. It was much too rough to enjoy pools, hot tubs or our large balcony during our sea days. The draw of this cruise for many was to visit Broome and Exmouth. Broome is a beach resort town in western Australia’s Kimberley region. Along its Indian Ocean coastline, the white sands of Cable Beach offer a dramatic backdrop for sunset camel rides. At Gantheaume Point nearby, dinosaur tracks are revealed in the beach’s red rocks during low tide. An ideal beach resort that was cancelled. Ugh. Exmouth is a small resort town on Western Australia’s North West Cape. It’s a gateway to nearby Ningaloo Marine Park with its coral reefs, colourful fish and migratory whale sharks. Nearly surrounding Exmouth, Cape Range National Park has kangaroos, sheer cliffs and red, rocky gorges. On the Cape's northwest coast, Jurabi Coastal Reserve's tidal rock pools, beaches and seasonal nesting grounds for marine turtles. This was cancelled too. Ugh. So, 2 nights in Geraldton (12/16-17) replaced these two ports. Geraldton is a major west coast seaport and a logistics center for regional mining, fishing, wheat and sheep. It was a far cry from an iconic beach resort with incredible wildlife and snorkelling. The downtown is struggling to keep alive and shops have a hard time surviving. According to some Australian friends, they had a great day of shopping. The Mid West region of Western Australia is strategically located on an iconic coastline between Perth and the growing economies of the State’s north. There are a host of different economic opportunities - all of which the region intends to capitalise on. Traditionally an agricultural region, the Mid West is now attracting unprecedented investment interest from a range of other industry sectors. The mining industry has quickly become the main economic driver of the region. Strong international demand for commodities and high commodity prices have already underpinned significant mining investment and many more projects are planned for future years. Most folks are positive about the economic stability of Geraldton long term, and attest to Geraldton being one of the best places in the country to live if you're looking for a great balance of lifestyle, affordability, and beauty. There are enough jobs if you have the right skill set or are willing to undertake training or education. There are few better places in terms of beaches and a wonderful outdoor lifestyle. And you don't need to be a multi millionaire to live near the beach, like you would in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth.  But the last decade plus of unquestioned positivity has lead to lots of members of the public being left holding investments that are now worth far less than they paid and many people owe far more on their homes than what they could reasonably be expected to sell them for today.  Rewind to 2006. Property prices around WA were booming, in large part due to the insatiable demand for WA's iron ore from China. Meanwhile, the City of Geraldton was hiking rates like they were in the rate raising olympics. Property, all of a sudden, didn't seem like such a great investment.  Nationally syndicated writers, economists and property "gurus" boldly kept predicting Geraldton was the next "boom town", and that it was a "gateway" to the North West and to the Mid West. Fast forward to 2018. Geraldton was budgeting for the future based on an assumption that Geraldton was going to spike in population within a foreseeable timeline. There was no explanation about how those official sources made their predictions, but the exact opposite happened. Geraldton's population declined in the following few years.  I digress from our day to give you a handle on the fact we were docked in a port far from touristy things to do. So, we signed up to visit an animal rescue facility nearby and to visit the old town of Geraldton. It wasn’t an exciting day but it was very pleasant. The weather was lovely, the guide good, the animals fun and I had the best scones ever. While we overnighted there, we didn’t arrive until a bit after noon. First stop was The Greenough Wildlife Park which was not the best park for animal interaction, but it was a good learning facility as it was designed as a temporary home for rescued animals, rehabilitation and release. It was small and the animals were all caged. The owner was a former cop and had a warm and engaging personality. We were able to get up close and personal with parrots, crocodiles, dingos, red and grey kangaroos and reptiles. She is the person you call if you find a python or a highly venomous snake around your house. Our guide was Greenough wildlife guru Michelle Jones who was an interesting lady. Recently, she spent two weeks helping scientists conduct important crocodile research at the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in far north Queensland. Ms Jones worked alongside the Australia Zoo’s crocodile team, including Irwin’s widow Terri and children Bindi and Robert. The Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park manager was tasked with helping catch and restrain the giant reptiles so the scientists could safely do their work. Michelle said the research was being used to better understand crocodiles’ habits and, in turn, teach people how to live safely alongside the awe-inspiring beasts. She said she had plans to work with a scientist who was conducting groundbreaking research into social interactions between crocodiles. “We attach satellite and acoustic transmitters to large saltwater crocodiles to track their movements in the river systems up there. The satellite tags allow us to pinpoint where the crocodile lives, and its dive time, which we’ve worked out can be up to 12 hours. The crocodile is processed and back in the water within about 25 minutes; that’s how quick the researchers and the scientists are up there. When the wet season comes, they head up the river systems to certain pockets, and then returning after the season is over to live in rivers where, sadly, a lot of people go swimming. It’s totally uncharted territory. It’s never been looked at before.It will be looking at whether they know their offspring and if they are socially interacting each year through recognition of pheromones.” She also had 2 dingos. The dingo is a type of dog that is native to Australia. Its taxonomic status is debated. Australia is home to so many of these animals that they are generally considered pests. A famous “dingo fence” has been erected to protect grazing lands for the continent's herds of sheep. It is likely that more dingoes live in Australia today than when Europeans first arrived. Though dingoes are numerous, their pure genetic strain is gradually being compromised. They can and do interbreed with domestic dogs to produce hybrid animals. Studies suggest that more than a third of southeastern Australia's dingoes are hybrids.  We were able to pat and meet the dogs. Their fur was coarse and bristly but they acted like normal pet dogs, wanting a kiss or a scratch. I had the unfortunate accident of stepping into a hole a dingo had dug and was plagued by constant knee pain for the rest of our trip. I think it’s finally on the mend. The kangaroos are a hoot. The red kangaroo is large with droopy eyes, a relaxed attitude and a “hey, dude” disposition. The grey kangaroo is a bit more skittish. I had the opportunity to cradle a baby grey one. From there, we went to the Greenough Historical village. There were numerous out buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Quite honestly, we have more interesting places in the US. We were treated to warm scones, clotted cream and jam with tea and these scones made the stop worth our time. Upon returning to the port, the Geraldton port had decide to throw us a welcome party, with local foods, drinks, port information, animals, mining info. It was well done and very enjoyable. Day 2 in Geraldton was an all day private tour to the pink salt lake and the Kalbarri National Park, one of Western Australia's most popular places to visit. It was striking but paled compared to our Grand Canyon. In all honesty, I think the time to visit is when the wildflowers are out, July to September. At that time, You can see the park ablaze with the colours of spring, with over 1,100 varieties of wildflowers are found there. It was a long day for a day trip. You drive through acre upon acre of wheat fields...think Nebraska. You get to your destination, quickly see the sites and have to turn around. I think it’s a place you want to spend a couple of days, taking hikes and enjoying outdoor activities. You can go bushwalking, gorge hiking or canoeing and take a journey back 400 million years, when the tidal flats of an ancient sea formed the striking red sandstone and the mighty Murchison River carved out deep gorges on its way to the ocean. We took a more relaxed experience and drove out to the park's many lookouts for some must-snap vistas, including the famous Nature's Window, The Loop, Z Bend, Hawks Head and Ross Graham, Red Bluff and Pot Alley. What spoiled the outdoor activities a bit was the heat and the swarms of bushflies. These flies look like our flies but are much smaller and swarm around you. They were everywhere we went in Australia. You really needed to wear netting which we didn’t have. The pink lakes: Australia is home to the bizarre pink coloured lakes. They look good enough to drink but are the saltiest bodies of water on earth. Analysis of the water has shown about 10 species of algae and bacteria, which are all predominantly pink. Despite bacteria being the reason for the strawberry milk color, the lake is totally safe to swim in. In fact, the lake's high salt content likely makes the water so dense that you'd float incredibly easily, the way you would in the Dead Sea. It was incredible to look at but mines and factories dotted its shores making it hard to enjoy. The echidna: Driving along we found an echidna in the road and we stopped to rescue it. See pics. So what is an echidna? It has spines like a porcupine, a beak like a bird, a pouch like a kangaroo, and lays eggs like a reptile. Also known as spiny anteaters, they're small, solitary mammals native to Australia. They're usually between 12 and 17 inches long and weigh between 4 and 10 pounds. Their spines are actually modified hairs. Echidnas' bodies (with the exception of their undersides, faces, and legs) are covered with 2-inch long spines. Fur between the spines provides insulation. Echidnas live slow and long. Echidnas have the lowest body temperature of any mammal, 89__°F. Their body temperatures are not controlled in the same way as that of other mammals, and can fluctuate by up 6–8°C over the course of the day. Their long life spans — up to 50 years in captivity, with anecdotal reports of wild animals reaching 45 years — are due to their low body temperature and slow metabolism. Male echidnas have a bizarre, four-headed penis. You might wonder how you mate with a four-headed penis. During sex, two of the heads shut down while the other two grow bigger to fit into the female's two-branched reproductive tract. Males alternate the heads they use between matings. Echidnas form mating trains. A strange process marks the start of echidna breeding season. Males line up nose to tail behind a single female, forming a train of up to a dozen individuals. Trains can last more than a month, with males dropping out and rejoining. When the female is finally ready to mate, the males dig a trench in the ground around her. The males compete for mating honors by pushing each other out of the trench. The last one remaining gets to mate with the female. Strange creatures! Food: We stopped for lunch where we could sample emu, kangaroo, crocodile. The crocodile tasted like, yes, “Chicken.” The others like over cooked shoe leather. I guess it tasted awful because it was too cute to eat? Bunbury and Busselton, Australia.. (December 19 and 20th) These two ports are really close to one another and about an hour from the wine area—Margaret River. I booked a private tour through Azamara Private Journeys for Dec 19 and wanted to see it all. Unfortunately, the white night was being held on 12/19 and Azamara’ should home office wouldn’t change the date to 12/20 since we were told the guide was out of Bunbury. It turned out he was between Bunbury and Busselton. We were picked up at 12:30 and the driver said he was taking us to Busselton. I asked why as we were going there the next day. We were to get an historical walking tour of both towns but he wasn’t informed of that. He did his best with a quick driving tour and then took us on our scheduled plane ride which was foolishly set up as Busselton to Busselton. It was pleasant. Then, he took us to the Margaret River to visit a winery and for dinner. Almost everything was closed by the time we finished one winery and we missed out on the chocolate and cheese factories. Then, we were taken to dinner at a holiday hotel. Since there was a function in the dining room, we were seated in the lobby, amid screaming kids, drunks and dogs. The dinner was about the equivalent of a poor man’s Pizza Hut. We had to get our own food, which was inedible. Moral of story: Do not ever sign up for Azamara’s Private Journeys. We were toured out and just did Busselton on our own. It’s a nice little beach town with cute shops, a great kids’ playground and a long jetty with a natural aquarium at the end. The jetty is said to be the longest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere and is the second longest wooden jetty (pier) in the world. The jetty construction commenced in 1853 and the first section was opened in 1865. The jetty was extended numerous times until the 1960s, ultimately reaching a length of 1841 m. The last commercial vessel called at the jetty in 1971 and the jetty was closed the following year. It passed into the control of Busselton Shire and has been gradually restored and improved since. view the event. The aquarium was opened on 13 December 2003 descending 8 metres below sea level where one can view the corals and fish life through eleven viewing windows. It was interesting but no WOW. If you are in the area, I suggest spending your time in the lovely Margaret River area, playing tourist, sampling wine and cheese and chocolates, enjoying the scenery and watching out for kangaroos dotting the fields. If you want to save money and enjoy the ship, you can safely wander both Bunbury and Busselton. Don’t waste your money on tours. Final day: Perth My husband thought I was crazy signing us up for a 12 hour tour for our final day, especially given the quality of the tours. Each of these experiences could be enjoyed as day trips from Perth unto themselves. It’s foolish to combine them all in one day unless that’s all you have. Our guide was excellent and was an encyclopedia of information. It could have been a great day if it had been timed better. Our day started out with the Caversham Wildlife Park. We should have spent a few hours here but only had 40 minutes. At Caversham Wildlife Park there are a variety of daily attractions that you can come and see and get involved with which include: Meet the Wombat and Friends, Feed the Kangaroos and Meet the Koalas, feed the Kangaroos. It was a fine stop and a shame to have had so little time there. Each of these destinations is 90 minutes from Perth. Our next stop was the lobster processing factory which offers the complete lobster experience from lobster pot to cooking pot! The Lobster Shack provides a close up encounter with the most valued single species fishery in Australia; the Western Rock Lobster. We were able to see how the lobsters are processed in the factory and packaged up to be sent LIVE to destinations all over the world. However, Azamara cheaped out and served us fish and chips while other table was diving into lobster dinners . We gladly would have paid an up charge. Everyone was quite angry. I suggest that this stop could be a day unto itself. As a day tour, you can go out on a lobster boat and go lobstering and then indulge on a lobster dinner. Or, you can just visit the processing plant, have lunch and then go to the Pinnacles. The Pinnacles is pretty far, so I’d either combine visiting it with The Lobster Shack or the white dunes. It takes about an hour, more or less, to visit. Within the park is the ancient Pinnacles Desert, which is an area with thousands of limestone formations called pinnacles. Standing tall in the shifting sand dunes lies thousands of large limestone pillars that were originally believed to be a lost city. The first records of identification date back to the 1650s. Following this, there are no known records of the Pinnacles until 1820 by Philip Parker King. With very little discovery, the Department of Lands and Surveys included the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park (created in 1956) in the 1960s, and it was through this inclusion that the desert became a popular destination. The Pinnacles Desert has been home to Aboriginal tribes for many years – with artifacts found dating back 6,000 years. Many theories have been proposed about the formation of the Pinnacles. One of the theories is that they formed as a result of kastification, characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves that weathers rocks, such as quartzite, given the right conditions. Another theory states that the pinnacles were formed through the preservation of tree casts buried in coastal aeolianties. A third theory states that the Pinnacles were created by plants. It is beautiful and well worth a visit. We then went to Lancelin for some dune buggying and sand surfing. We never really got to do either. When you visit the legendary Lancelin sand dunes you could squint and imagine you’re in a post apocalyptic dystopian world with David Lynch writing the script. It’s trippy. The sand is white like icing sugar rather than Sahara desert golden, and some dunes are as big as three story buildings. We headed off on a dune buggy bus. Up a dune; down a dune. Wavering at the top of a dune, our driver tried to stop but couldn’t reverse, so down we went into a sand crevasse. We all left the vehicle so the driver could dig us out. Uh uh. We were stuck in the middle of the desert with no one around, the sun growing dim on the horizon. Stuck. We had no choice but to climb the dunes and walk back to our awaiting bus. No sand boarding time for us. This was our misadventure. The tour escort called the ship as we were so late all dining would be closed. We were met by the hotel director at the bus doors and told ‘not to worry’ as the restaurants were kept open for us. What an end to our tour experience Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We enjoy cruising with Viking. They are first class and do not “nickel and dime” you. The service is excellent and the crew is very good. Everyone working on the ship is friendly and says hello with a smile. The food is outstanding ... Read More
We enjoy cruising with Viking. They are first class and do not “nickel and dime” you. The service is excellent and the crew is very good. Everyone working on the ship is friendly and says hello with a smile. The food is outstanding and the two specialty restaurants serve unique food . It is nice traveling with only adult passengers and also not getting harassed by photographers. The entertainment is average. We usually enjoy the lectures and classes , however, we did not enjoy them on this cruise. The topics were not interesting or relevant for us. I don’t care about somebody rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. The cruise port talks were not well done and the moderator seemed to be just reading his presentation. The two cruise directors were very friendly and personable- Mark and Heather. The two musical shows that Heather and her assistant, Brian Rodriguez, put on were very good. They both have beautiful voices . The glitches on our cruise were associated with the transition from one cruise to the other. It seemed that they forgot we were doing a B2B and we got no communication about the second half. There was a considerable change in the service for the second cruise and service wasn’t as good as the first part. There were long waits in the dining room for just service and food . Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
This was our first 5 day cruise - it was much easier to fit into our busy work schedule and we had a blast! We thoroughly enjoyed the not-huge size of the ship, and the fellow passengers (few children and no crazy party people). The time ... Read More
This was our first 5 day cruise - it was much easier to fit into our busy work schedule and we had a blast! We thoroughly enjoyed the not-huge size of the ship, and the fellow passengers (few children and no crazy party people). The time of year was handy; it fit into our schedule. It’s wonderful to visit hit places when it’s cold and snowy at home. Also, we made friends on this cruise. We have not done this before. We plan to cruise together next year. We have already been communicating with them. We did no excursions. We very happily remained on the ship and enjoyed what is had to offer. The only small concern was that there were no enrichment activities. We enjoy them. Also, portrait photos were not taken very often. That can be improved in. I always love my cruise photos and portraits! They are always great. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Travelled with family, attracted by the itinerary to Myanmar. Stayed in a Silver suite on level 9 with adjoining room. Previous personal experience on Silversea is only on a Galapago cruise and mainly have taken Crystal cruises (sorry if ... Read More
Travelled with family, attracted by the itinerary to Myanmar. Stayed in a Silver suite on level 9 with adjoining room. Previous personal experience on Silversea is only on a Galapago cruise and mainly have taken Crystal cruises (sorry if I use it as a benchmark a lot). Other family members have been on other Silversea cruises. Embarkation - easy and quick. Disembarkation within Silversea's control was fine and well organised. Some confusion with the ground transport staff and which van was to take us to the airport, waited for ages (Singapore). The ship and cabin was excellent. Butler and attendant were excellent also. Did room service breakfast once at 6am for an early excursion - butler served it right on the dot at 6am and it was laid out beautifully, food was nice and hot. Absolutely no complaints about the room (bed is on the firm side which I like), wardrobe, bathroom etc. See comments in cabin section about TV media comments. There is 24/7 wifi available for this room category - when we checked in, it automatically connected to the standard wifi but you are eligible for the premium wifi and we had to speak to reception once to get that sorted (but being at sea, I'm not sure how much faster the premium wifi was!). Laundry included with this room category. But be aware that there is only one laundrette per floor and only one washing machine/dryer in the room, I think perhaps they could have installed a few more machines. The ship has a lot of modern artwork displayed, may not be everyone's cup of tea! The destinations and excursions were as expected. Potential Myanmar travellers be aware - the Pagodas and Monasteries which are the highlights - do require that you remove all footwear (and including socks!) when you visit. The main Shwedagon pagoda was clean and well maintained but the other places we visited were perhaps not so clean. Bring lots of wet-wipes along! Enrichment activities were generally good and as expected. Overall a pretty good experience but the only issue is the dining. I was very apprehensive in the lead-up, as I had been reading all the reviews on this site so I think did not have particularly high expectations. My previous main cruise experience has been with Crystal so I am guess I am using that as my main comparison. Walk-in everywhere during the day time. At night, Atlantide and Indochine and Spaccanapoli (pizza place) were walk in, everywhere else needed a reservation although to be honest most places were not full when we peeked in for a look so I'm sure you could walk in. We found Atlantide to be the best and most consistent in terms of quality. There was some day to day minor variability in the menu (I think a full menu change was only once a week, as other reviewers have commented) and service was good. Atlantide ended up being our main go-to restaurant to dine, and I think the same for other diners as it got progressively busier towards the end of the cruise. Indochine - service good but quality of food was not great, only went once. La Terraza - menu did not change for many days. Inside tables were a bit strange, most of the tables were an oval shaped table and there were two sizes. The smaller sized table was fine for two people and the larger table was quite large, it could seat 4-6 people. There were no in-between sizes (except outside or some side booth seating). It was pretty much free-seating for breakfast and lunch. However at dinner, found it a bit irritating the maitre d' kept trying to put us (a group of three) on a small table as it was way too small. Most times we'd have to say something and request a larger table (and there definitely was availability, restaurant was not full). Breakfast buffet was also in La Terraza. A reasonable selection, you could go help yourself or also order e.g. fried eggs with staff. Hot food at the counter had to be served. The Grill (hot rocks) - excellent. Steak quality was fantastic. Prawns were very good too. Just beware it gets a bit oily and the frying smell wafts everywhere. For daytime, they served the usual (hot dogs, burgers, salads etc). Couple of times there was also special buffets also. Spaccanapoli - went twice. First time great. Second time not so good (pizza crust and topping not matching menu description). La Dame and Kaiseki unfortunately did not live up to expectations in relation to food quality (service was great). We had booked La Dame twice but ended up going only once and cancelling the other booking. Nothing special and similar dishes were actually available in Atlantide! The $60 charge could be reviewed I think (I did hear other guests commenting similarly). We had booked Kaiseki but tried it out for lunch first - sushi and sashimi was not great (Silk Road on the Crystal ships were much better) and we ended up cancelling our booking. We are not big drinkers so I cannot comment much on the bar and alcohol. The served wine was ok. I thought the wines you could purchase were priced well. Bartender at the Grill was very enthusiastic and gave great service the one night we got a drink there. Overall everything about the ship is great except the dining, mainly lacking in food quality consistency and variety. Atlantide was generally the best. Everywhere else, some meals were great, some were a bit average. Was not happy with La Dame, Kaiseki and Indochine. I hope I'm not being overly fussy (first world problems I realise!) but given Silversea's reputation and price, I think it could be a bit better. More menu changes (more frequently) is needed. I commented to family during the cruise that on previous Crystal cruises, we actually looked forward to dinner, we wanted to see what they would serve each night (they had it displayed and you could go look in advance every day) and had confidence whereas on this ship, it was sort of "oh dear, where should we go tonight for dinner?". On Crystal there was one main dining room and you were assigned a particular table for the whole cruise and had assigned wait staff dedicated to your table so that was also nice, you would look forward to seeing and chatting to them but you knew they were also keeping an eye out on things for the whole meal. The menu changed everyday. There were other restaurants but the quality and service in the main dining room was so good, I daresay I could have gone there every night and be a happy diner. But on the Muse it was different. Besides the menu/food issue, there were some little issues with the service (or rather, how things were organised). You'd see the same group of staff around but one would take the order, another would be in charge of drinks, another would be in charge of the water etc. I'm not sure if that way of organisation works well because no one "oversees" the table as a whole (or at least I could not identify who was "in charge"). Service - staff were 9/10 times so enthusiastic and keen but again maybe the way things are organised could lead to confusion for them. Some previous reviewers have commented on food service being slow - we tended to dine early, we did not encounter any issues with delays in our food (but restaurant generally not particularly busy at the times we dined). Family do not recall such issues on other Silversea ships so I hope we can still put this down to "teething issues" but the ship is more than a year old now so I hope Silver Muse can iron some of these issues out as otherwise, it is a lovely ship! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We have approx 14 cruises under our belt, but this is the 1st for the Caribbean. !st Seabourn , they took care of us all the way. Before we were out of the taxi we were met by a representative and then guided to check in, no lines nor ... Read More
We have approx 14 cruises under our belt, but this is the 1st for the Caribbean. !st Seabourn , they took care of us all the way. Before we were out of the taxi we were met by a representative and then guided to check in, no lines nor waiting ...and had a drink and lunch in no time. As we left the ship once again guided thru to a taxi, effortless. The room was nice, loved the walk in closet ( penthouse suite ), bathrooms nice and large 2 sinks. The ship was nicely appointed, the rooms needed to be updated but not enough to complain about. Food was excellent everywhere and really loved the "Patio" dining at nite, Service was top notch without being too fussy. The crew were professional and having fun with us at the same time. Wine selection very nice, don't be afraid to ask for something other than what is offered, they will try and accommodate...took a few days to figure that one out. Dis not take advantage of all of the entertainment but did love the band and the cruise director as well as the new assistant cruise director what a voice! Her "one man" show about all the late greats is a must see. WE traveled with another couple and we would both hope to cruise with Seabourn again. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We have sailed on Viking Ocean before, and will do so again. Check-in and debarking was excellent. We had a PS3 cabin, which was worth the money. The food was quite good; although they should have more green salads, and the included ... Read More
We have sailed on Viking Ocean before, and will do so again. Check-in and debarking was excellent. We had a PS3 cabin, which was worth the money. The food was quite good; although they should have more green salads, and the included wine were very drinkable; a Tempranillo from Spain, and a red from the Vaucluse in France. The entree portions were often quite small. The food in Manfredi's was OK, but the Chef's Table was awful; miniscule portions, and we headed up to the buffet for desert. We found the lecturers to be quite good, particularly the Astronomer Dr. Wright. The Planetarium was enjoyable, but the 'shows' could have been done on an Imax, and pushed the obsolete 'Orion Mars Project'. There were a lack of some of our favorite activities: Zumba at 7PM!!!!; and no ballroom dance lessons (the entertainers reduced to 4 from 8 on our last voyage) were busy learning their new routines. The band, while good for some types of music never played real dance music in Torshaven. No tangos or rumbas, and very few swings or cha-chas. The cabin was magnificent; and service by our attendant the best we've had in years. The only problem with the cruise were the Awful!!! included tours, except for the one in Bali, which was fine. Komodo was a disaster; we saw three drugged dragons and the heat was very bad; I saw two people pass-out from the heat; one waiting for a tender, and one in the jungle. The crewman in the jungle stood there mouth and did not know what to do. There was no way to call for help. Eventually the passenger was helped up. Overnight in Darwin: Tours arrived at museums 45 minutes before they opened, sometimes expecting you to stay 90 minutes at a small exhibit. Awful guides. Thursday Island: Nothing to do, but walk around a dreary village. Included tours in Cairns and Townsville were also 'misses'. The tour staff stopped giving out rating sheets. Brisbane was wonderful, but only a long day. Read Less
Joy
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
I also found not all passengers were treated the same. I think if you socialized with the crew you were treated better. If you spent time later in the evening with then and participated in their games, they greeted you and treated you ... Read More
I also found not all passengers were treated the same. I think if you socialized with the crew you were treated better. If you spent time later in the evening with then and participated in their games, they greeted you and treated you differently. Because of our age we thought this would be a good way to see Australia. Flight arrangements were terrible, sent us north to go west,long layovers. Food was very good and service excellent. Food in dining room was very good, specialty dining was excellent, World Café could have been better. Excursions could have been better, on some you spent more time on the bus than being able to enjoy the sight you were visiting. We've taken Viking River Cruises and I think the excursions and value for our money was much better. Also I think the crew was more attentive to all. We didn't have as many dining options but were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We went on this cruise to join our friends who went on River cruises with us. We also wanted to see the beautiful Viking ship that is advertised on our TV programs. The ship is totally lovely. The food was excellent. The staff wonderful. ... Read More
We went on this cruise to join our friends who went on River cruises with us. We also wanted to see the beautiful Viking ship that is advertised on our TV programs. The ship is totally lovely. The food was excellent. The staff wonderful. We were happy with many of the excursions in the cities on the cruise. But some of the excursions were not planned well and were rushed. We spent more time on the bus to and from Florence than in the city itself. Also rainy fall weather disrupted a couple of our excursions. Perhaps the fall is not the right time for this trip. One disappointment is that the ship always moved from port to port at night while we slept. The only coastlines we saw from the ship were Barcelona, our first port and when we left Monaco, a truly beautiful view. We did not see the Italian Amalfi coast from the ship when sailing from Florence to Rome. So sad. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We wanted to try Viking. Their food was very good. But we both agreed that Oceania's food is better. The cabin was comfortable. We had great cabin attendants. Always there to help. The mini bar was always stocked, extra towels ... Read More
We wanted to try Viking. Their food was very good. But we both agreed that Oceania's food is better. The cabin was comfortable. We had great cabin attendants. Always there to help. The mini bar was always stocked, extra towels if needed. The mustard drill was fast and very good. The ship was clean and the most comfortable ship that we have ever been on after more than twenty some cruises. Not crowded at all. There was always a comfortable place to sit and relax. Check in was fast and very easy. The staff was right there to help with any question. It felt like a very safe ship as well. The free excursions were nice. We had been to these places before, but not the very same locations. The ship is really the perfect size for us. Although, I have to admit that we like the small ships too. Like Sea Dream. I would definitely take another cruise on Viking. We haven't yet been on a River Cruise and would also like to try one of those soon. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We had booked a suite high and forward to limit the effects of the vibrations, i was surprised, not bad at all. The ship is smaller so it took me a while to get adjusted to the ceiling height and general smallness of the ship, it needs ... Read More
We had booked a suite high and forward to limit the effects of the vibrations, i was surprised, not bad at all. The ship is smaller so it took me a while to get adjusted to the ceiling height and general smallness of the ship, it needs refreshing and i heard it was due in the near future. The smaller ship gives you a more intimacy feeling. The stewardess were as usual amazing , always smiling and they have the worst job, cleaning up after us. There was a small decrease in quality of the service especially on the veranda. Maybe a very small decrease in the number of staffs The food was very good with a few hiccups, soufflé's are basically warm cake, good but not a soufflé , the pastry/croissant were not as flaky as in the other ships, the french baguette was amazing, the selection of cheeses was very limited, every day i saw the blue cheese, there is thousand of cheeses in the world , could have been better, the food was very good in general The excursions were fine, the buses 70% of them were uncomfortable if you were unlucky on being the last ones on the small bus, you were stuck over the wheel with your knees in your face. The organization for the excursions , checking in was bad, especially when the others ships have a different system, you come in, checkin, they give you a number then you sit until your number is called, here everybody would line up until they called your excursion number, and you do not want to be the last ones on the bus, so most people are standing to get their buses tickets Tenders , especially the first one was horrid , they picked up on it and got better. We missed the meeting of the waters, the negro river and amazon because the ship was late leaving the port by one hour, got too dark, i blame the captain, he should have been more organized or in the morning announce the event by speaker. Overall, a good trip, what made the difference was the speaker Terry Green, she made this cruise, she was terrific , and reading the river of doubt , which narrates the expedition of Teddy Roosevelt down the amazon was also very helpful. The cruise director Andy is terrific as are all of the crew, always smiling and greeting you. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
There is ONLY 1 Oceanliner in the world like it,and its not to be confused with a cruise ship. Every day was an Event and it wasnt the locations or destinations that made the cruise special it was the the cruise it self, even the crew ... Read More
There is ONLY 1 Oceanliner in the world like it,and its not to be confused with a cruise ship. Every day was an Event and it wasnt the locations or destinations that made the cruise special it was the the cruise it self, even the crew loved sea days . Its smooth even in the Atlantic, there is a sense of occasion and dining at the princess grill was nothing short of exceptional and with a cellar of over 400,000 bottles on board the choices are plentiful and and fruitful.Every dinner was a dinner party nobody could wait to talk about the day and enjoy the evening .The rooms are spacious the staff is exceptional. I was so impressed that i booked another cruise Now before you think this is a retired persons ship, you are almost correct most have retired in there 40s or semi retired. I have travelled on other lines however if you like a more serene cruise with a sense of occasion with out screaming children this is it .sailing out of New York Harbour has history and probably the most iconic entry/ departure port in the world. The rooms are great , I have say they are better insulated than other liners so you dont hear almost anyone, the downside of this insulation is internet, it is best used in public areas or leave the door ajar. I personally can't wait for the next one, for me and probably more 80% of the passengers on board the only question is "when can we do this again.?" Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Pretty well everything about this voyage was great. The only concern I had was the obvious lack of experience from some of the expedition crew in their lack of ability and skill in operating the RIB's ( zodiac ). In saying that ... Read More
Pretty well everything about this voyage was great. The only concern I had was the obvious lack of experience from some of the expedition crew in their lack of ability and skill in operating the RIB's ( zodiac ). In saying that I was just a bit careful who I travelled with. But all of their lectures were great. And they were quite passionate in what they did in regards to the preservation of the environment and passing on information to the passengers. I think the captain certainly did his best along with the crew to make our experience the best ever. Which they achieved. The Patagonian coast with the Andes in the distance made for fabulous scenery every day while aboard. I felt the food was more than adequate and their was plenty of it. Travelling as a single person I also had no problems in meeting a lot of great people. Not only from Australia, but from a number of other countries. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Service is exceptionally excellent by all staff allways. Food is not up to expectations: very refined on the printed menus but too many different ingredients result sometimes in lack of genuine taste. Thomas Keller Grill is just ... Read More
Service is exceptionally excellent by all staff allways. Food is not up to expectations: very refined on the printed menus but too many different ingredients result sometimes in lack of genuine taste. Thomas Keller Grill is just o.k., nothing exceptionnal. For lunch at the Collonade, there is not much variety for the cold dishes and salads: allways the shame shrimps and salmon and salads. The breakfast on the terrace outside the Collonade is a magic moment and very well served. The tea time at the Observaton Bar is also a delicious experience. And after dinner, the same observation bar is a cozy place to enjoy a night cap with Jacqui's singing at the piano. We did not like the noisy entertainment games at the pool deck (Costa style), but they took place just 2 or 3 times. Entertainment and activities were not very interesting, we expected more lectures and classical music performances (piano 1 time, violin 1 time). But all by all, it was a marvelous experience, the weather in november on the south atlantic was sunny and warm, but above all, the way the staff makes you feel as a king all the time is the best reason to come back! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
My wife and I booked cabin 5083 originally, a penthouse veranda, as she was worried about motion sickness. A few days before the cruise was to depart, Our travel agent said that Viking had upgraded us to cabin 8007, a jr. penthouse suite. ... Read More
My wife and I booked cabin 5083 originally, a penthouse veranda, as she was worried about motion sickness. A few days before the cruise was to depart, Our travel agent said that Viking had upgraded us to cabin 8007, a jr. penthouse suite. After reading several reviews of the 8000 series cabins, all but one cruiser stated that they felt no or minimal motion on that deck. Apparently my wife is a little more susceptible to motion as we left Rome at 10pm to cruise to Livorno and my wife slept poorly. We spent two days in port and she was better, but as we left Livorno at 6pm for Monaco, the motion sickness became so bad she didn't sleep and we had to see the ship's doctor(an $85 fee) to get motion sickness pills. We missed the Monaco excursion, but Viking refunded the cost. We asked if we could move to a lower deck and since the ship was almost full, we took cabin 3031, a veranda stateroom. Viking stated that they would not refund the difference for what we paid for the original room and the lower grade room since it was a motion sickness issue. Between the pills and the lower cabin, we were able to finish the cruise in relative comfort. As many others have stated, the ship is beautiful, clean, and well maintained.Cabins were cleaned twice a day, no one asked us to but anything, and all staff members were friendly and courteous. Food was excellent and, plentiful, and varied. My only complaint with dining was that after my wife had a glass of coke with lunch or dinner, she was not offered a refill. The included shore excursions we took were rather dull and short; we took a few long optional excursions and enjoyed them. We enjoyed the Beatles and ABBA shows, but outside of those, there was not a lot of entertainment unless you like classical pieces or acoustic guitar solos. Singers in Torshaven, the night lounge, did a nice enough job though. I did spend a lot of time in the spa which is extremely well kept and is probably one of the best at sea. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
The ship was absolutely beautiful - new and very well designed. PRE-ARRANGED TRANSFER: Had a bit of a problem upon our midnight arrival in Bangkok when there was no one to meet us, despite assurances that there would be. After several ... Read More
The ship was absolutely beautiful - new and very well designed. PRE-ARRANGED TRANSFER: Had a bit of a problem upon our midnight arrival in Bangkok when there was no one to meet us, despite assurances that there would be. After several hours passed, we rented a van for the 1.5 hour ride to the ship (for which we were reimbursed). EXCURSIONS: Included excursions were so-so. There seemed to be a formula for sightseeing in each port: flower market, national monument and temple. Quality of guides was inconsistent with respect to understandable spoken English and initiative. BALI EXTENSION: The Bali extension excursion consisted of hours of driving to visit 3 different temples - extremely long day (10+ hours) to visit sites that were similar to each other. Would have preferred to visit some sights in Ubud, which is well known and also located closer to our Nusa Dua hotel. The Laguna hotel was very nice, and we enjoyed having 2 nights there after we disembarked from the ship. ONBOARD THE ORION: Experiences on board the Orion were lovely - variety of activities, excellent staff, well run dining venues, and public spaces that were suitable for private reading or social gatherings. So many pluses about our time on the ship! A norovirus red alert prompted the closing of pools and public parts of the spa for several days. While we appreciated the precautionary measures, the exclusion of those activities was very disappointing - especially on days at sea. Nonetheless, I loved the cruise overall and love traveling with Viking. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
This was our third sailing on the Viking Sea, and my wife and I have become very fond of this spectacularly beautiful, well-designed, and immaculately-maintained ship! The staterooms are setup just right to accommodate our needs, the ... Read More
This was our third sailing on the Viking Sea, and my wife and I have become very fond of this spectacularly beautiful, well-designed, and immaculately-maintained ship! The staterooms are setup just right to accommodate our needs, the public spaces are excellent and abundant, and the crew seem uniformly happy and eager to please. The food and entertainment are very good, and the other amenities (wifi, pool, spa, fitness center, sports deck, lounges, laudromat, and shops) are very good. We chose this particular cruise because of the itinerary (Caribbean and South America) included some ports that we hadn't visited previously (Santo Domingo, Cartagena, and Santa Marta), two ports that I hadn't visited for more than 60 years and was eager to enjoy again (Aruba and Curacao), two places that we are very familiar with (San Juan and St. Kitts), as well as opportunities to enjoy two At-Sea days. Viking Cruises handled the arrangements for our air transportation, our transfers between the airport and cruise terminal prior to our embarkation, and also after debarkation. When we arrived at the airport in San Juan, it took a while for all of the expected passengers to obtain their baggage and to check-in with the Viking representatives.. The bus that was brought us to the ship had a door malfunction, and it took a long time for us to get through the San Juan rush hour traffic.. But everything fell into place as soon as we arrived at the cruise terminal -- welcome, check-in, champagne, dinner, meeting our stateroom attendant, and having our baggage delivered to our cabin. This was our 23rd ocean cruise, and we have observed the cruise industry's trend toward increasing large cruiseships, and increasingly large numbers of passengers onboard those ships. On the mega-ships, it seems that one must spend a large amount of time waiting for elevators,.and searching for a quiet place in public areas to read or talk. But this is NOT the way things are on Viking Oceans cruises! We are impressed at the variety, beauty, and comfort of public spaces on Viking Oceans ships! The Atrium, Wintergarden, Explorer Lounge, Pool Area, and decks are superb! Viking Oceans ships offer several dining alternatives, including The Restaurant (the ship's elegant main dining room), the World Cafe (buffet), Manfredi's (Italian food), The Chef's Table (gourmet food & drink), Mamsen;s (Scandinavian deli), and the Pool Grill (hamburgers, etc.). My wife has certain food sensitivities, and the ship's wait staff were quite knowledgeable about those issues, and very accommodating to her needs. The food was sometimes excellent, and always at least very good. My wife and I enjoyed walking the outside decks every day, and I also worked-out in the ship's excellent Fitness Center every day! We enjoyed the musicians and singers that entertained us onboard the ship. As musicians ourselves, we appreciated the variety of musical styles that were presented, as well as the musicianship of the performers. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We had been on a wonderful cruise on the same ship last year and LOVED it. The room was a nice size...all rooms have verandas. The fridge is stocked each day, the bathroom floor is heated, the staff is excellent, the food is exceptional! ... Read More
We had been on a wonderful cruise on the same ship last year and LOVED it. The room was a nice size...all rooms have verandas. The fridge is stocked each day, the bathroom floor is heated, the staff is excellent, the food is exceptional! Love this cruise line because there are no theme nights, casinos, or children. Our disappointment was with a couple of excursions with terrible guides. On one, we were on the bus for 2 1/2 hours.....didn’t have a bathroom break....never got off the bus to take pics, walk in a church, or eat or get a drink. Bus got stuck on a one way street. It was awful. We saw two attractions: a lighthouse and a church. Was told there “was a beautiful beach but we’re not going there!!!” All we saw was the slums of that island. We know it’s not the cruise line’s fault....they don’t hire the guides themselves. I see that that cruise is not offered in 2019 or 2020. I would take another cruise with Viking again. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We have wanted to try a luxury cruise for sometime. We have cruised about 15x on various lines including Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, MSC and Royal Caribbean. Here are some things to consider if you are used to standard cruise lines and ... Read More
We have wanted to try a luxury cruise for sometime. We have cruised about 15x on various lines including Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, MSC and Royal Caribbean. Here are some things to consider if you are used to standard cruise lines and debating on higher cost of luxury. Pros for us are fewer people, no crowds, food is amazing! There are 4 different dining venues and 2 specialty ($40 & $60pp). Regular dining room, Asian style, tapas style and our favorite cooking on a hot lava stone. Food was so good we did not do specialty restaurants. Room service has an extensive menu, available any time and Butler sets up linen table setting. You can get “room service” any where on ship when other venues are not open, like between breakfast and lunch. All inclusive is a plus. We have added drink packages on to previous cruises but it is very nice not having to sign every time you get a drink. Room is stocked with what ever you want, wine, beer and liquor. We asked for vodka and they brought a full size bottle! When we drink our bottle of wine it was replaced with another one. There is a butler and he was great but besides making sure our fridge was stocked I am not sure this was a big difference than a cabin steward. Maybe we just did not ask for much. They will shine your shoes, make dinner reservations... The cabins are fantastic, major pro! We typically do balconies or mini suites. All cabins are suites. Bottom ones are window, then floor to ceiling window, next are balconies. We had a deluxe veranda, booked last minute so not much choice. Lots of room, bathrooms are the best we have had. Great shower with rain head and hand held. The cons (for us) are the ship is reallly quiet, very few activities or entertainment. We do not go to shows in the theater but if you do know you will not find that here. We do enjoy a band playing in a lounge and music pool side. There are limited bars and they are not really set up for socializing around the bar. The main lounge has a small bar off to the side and the couches and chairs. There was a solo guitar player, really not much in terms of lively entertaininment. We would have loved an upscale bar with views to relax at in the evening and chat with other guests, A nice martini bar with mixologists would fit well on this ship. There is not main/grand staircase or center bar/entertainment area like you find on other ships. MSC has very attractive boats and I am fond of the rich wood look in lounges on Princess. Celebrity has some attractive areas as well. I am not a fan of goudi look of Carnival. The decks and public areas are very nice on SilverSpirit but could use a bit more elegance in lounges. Rich woods or maybe crystal lights, just something. The carpeting in hallways needs to be replaced, many stains and dirty looking, the walls are tile and I found them unattractive for a luxury ship. This may seem picky but when paying a much higher price your expectations do go up. The gym is super small, so if you work out you may be disappointed. I did a yoga class that was on a small out door deck, 6 of us barely fit. One day it rained so another fitness class was done inside in weight room area. There were 7 of us and barely had space to move, not to mention how warm it got in that little room. The instructor mentioned the week prior no one showed for a single class so I think 7 was a mass crowd. We were in port until 10pm or later but most shops close early so not a lot of things to do after dark. The casino can only open when at sea so it was open very late and the size was like an arcade. We are not big gamblers so this did not matter to us. You just have to think about what matters to you most. Overall the service, cabin, food and small number of passengers were a major plus! We had a very good vacation but most likely will not book again with SilverSeas. It was too quiet for us and not sure the high price tag was worth it. We would love to find a higher end option with more areas of entertainment and mingling. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
The cruise had a fabulous itinerary and we chose it for that. We were not disappointed. The cruise was amazing and the ports were phenomenal. Everything was interesting and easily explored. Sometimes we had to travel a distance from port ... Read More
The cruise had a fabulous itinerary and we chose it for that. We were not disappointed. The cruise was amazing and the ports were phenomenal. Everything was interesting and easily explored. Sometimes we had to travel a distance from port to the points of interest but that is often to be expected with a cruise. We could not have been more pleased with the choice of ports. We arranged for private shore excursions and were so happy we did. In 2 ports we took ship tours because there were no private tours available. In Limassol, Cyprus, the tour was OK - not great, but interesting. In Salalah, Oman, the tour was absolutely terrible. The ship should have given everyone a refund of the money they charged. The tour was to be 4 hours and it ended up being 2 1/2 hours because of immigration problems. However, the tour was terrible, uninteresting and not worth even $25. Just horrible. We complained, as did many other people. My recommendation is to stay away from ship tours if at all possible. The ship was lovely and it was kept very clean. We had a problem, however, with service in the Grand Dining Room and in Waves Grill. Both seemed to be short-staffed. Many times there were tables that needed to be bussed at Waves. Since this is an outdoor venue and the weather was lovely, many people wanted to sit outside but we had to bus our own tables sometimes. The staff just couldn't keep up with it. The service in the GDR was excruciatingly slow most nights. We didn't find the wait staff overly friendly - certainly not as it had been on other Oceania sailings. Something was off on this sailing and it was noticeable to many. The menu in the GDR was unspectacular and often plain boring. Several nights there was nothing that any of us wanted. The Jaques Pepin menu never changed and was very tired by the end of the cruise. The specialty restaurants were much better, with better service and food. We found Toscana a bit more to our liking than Polo Grill because the wait staff was better. The food was more inconsistent in Polo Grill, too, but both were FAR better than the GDR. We were able to eat 6 times in the specialty restaurants and we were very glad we could b/c the GDR was just not up to Oceania's normal standards. Add poor service to that on some nights - a 15 minute wait for a waiter to even come to the table!! - and it was a recipe for dissatisfaction. We always went to Happy Hour in Horizons and had one server who was outstanding, Beverly. She was attentive, knew our drink selections after the 2nd day and was always cheerful. If we didn't sit in her section, she would come to us and ask us why we weren't sitting in her section. She really cared about us and proved that good service is still possible on Oceania. She made our evenings so very enjoyable. Our cabin was always kept clean, however, when we first arrived, we did not see our cabin steward until the next day! This is unheard of. We knew the name of our attendant but we never saw him. I called for extra hangers and they took forever to arrive. Poor service there on the first day. When we finally saw our cabin steward the next morning, we found out it was not the one who had been assigned to us. The steward originally assigned to us had left the ship in the embarkation port. We figured that there had been some personnel problems b/c surely they would not have assigned him to our cabins had they known he was leaving. Still, no word of explanation nor was there an apology for the replacement. And we still would not have met our new steward if it hadn't been for the fact that he was in the hall when we left the cabin the next morning. Another "off" thing about this sailing. The Cruise Director, Julie James, is a bit tired and long in the tooth. She was our Cruise Director once before and we didn't think she was all that great. She is friendly and bubbly but that's about it. She doesn't expend a lot of energy getting to know her crowd. We have had CDs who are much more engaged with the passengers. The production entertainment staff was engaging and the kids worked really hard but they were not all that good. They were as cute as they could be but they didn't seem to be that skilled. Sometimes off key in the singing. The dancers were very good and far more skilled. The hired entertainers (magician, musician, flautist) were excellent. They could not have been better and we enjoyed them tremendously. The professional lecturers were outstanding and we enjoyed their presentations. Since we were seeing so many foreign ports, their input and information was extremely valuable and helpful. All in all, we have loved Oceania and are willing to give this cruise experience in the cabin and dining room areas a pass. Perhaps something was going on that we were not aware of as passengers. Certainly, we have experienced a much better Oceania in the past. We hope that this is not becoming the standard because if it is, we will be turning our allegiance elsewhere. An outstanding itinerary cannot make up for some of the issues we found. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
First Viking Cruise, my wife and I enjoyed it immensely. Good staff, very engaged and aware of customer needs. Lots of attention to detail like constantly refreshing buffet offerings in World Cafe. The "all in" policy on tips, ... Read More
First Viking Cruise, my wife and I enjoyed it immensely. Good staff, very engaged and aware of customer needs. Lots of attention to detail like constantly refreshing buffet offerings in World Cafe. The "all in" policy on tips, free mini-bar etc was nice. The Port Talks were excellent, and gave a good idea of what to expect. The talk and slides on the antique cars was great. How do the Cubans maintain 60 year old cars, and get simple things like oil filters. All answered. Talks on politics, on the cities to be visited, etc. Room 6031 was clean, and perfectly fine for a short cruise. The lack of drawer storage was notable,so we threw the hair dryer, shoe shine pack, etc into the closet to create more space. Dining was fine. We had dinner in Manfredi's, and at the Chef's Table, as well as in the World Cafe. The wine selection was OK, the (free) base wines ranged from good down to swill. Beer was fine with a good range of European choices. Several special nights with pig roasts out on the aft deck, seafood spectacular, etc. All were done well. Full breakfasts were available, with alcohol for those who wanted it. The excursions are a work in progress. Cuba doesn't have a lot of experience in tourism, and more remote places like Cienfuegos and Santiago are behind the curve. That's to be expected. On four excursions, we had two superb guides, one OK, and one awful. I'm not sure how much control Viking has over the tour operators (I only saw one provider in both places). In one case, we were expected to walk through knee high grass, down a washed out culvert to see a lake. And back up via another route. Older people had trouble other , people were concerned about ticks in the grass. Another guide engaged us in a forced march, so we could spend a whole half hour in yet another a rum / cigar shop. The third in four excursions. Several people had trouble with the pace. There was a lot of overlap, as we received the Cienfuegos city park talk twice, from two different guides. It was interesting what they chose to emphasize. Some guides were great, and the excursions provided a great window into a lovely country. Hard working people, horse drawn carts, street musicians, vivid colors, wonderful sunsets. I had the opportunity to walk by myself through the mercado and beyond after one excursion ended. The guide had received 30 people, and delivered 30 people back to the dock. After that, I walked off on my own. About a two mile walk. Friendly people selling wood carvings, hats, gourds, etc. Didn't feel the least bit threatened. The neighborhoods looked a little more worn than those traversed by the tour buses, but it seemed more real. Street musicians, very lively areas. I speak a little Spanish, and did fine. The US government requires that the trip address certain people to people needs. So, we saw an honors arts school, with young children demonstrating high levels of musical proficiency. And visited the adjacent painting studio where the instructors displayed their work, most in support of the revolution. For sale, too. Other schools visible on our trip did not appear to have the same level of maintenance or exterior paint. But, all kids wear uniforms, and those we met were exceptionally polite. I'd go back to either Cienfuegos or Santiago de Cuba in an instant, and I will. But, I know it will be different, just like it was different five years ago. A government patrol boat sat near our ship in both ports. In Santiago, the ship was required to anchor about 30 minutes outside the main harbor, making a long tender ride Practical notes: I tipped guides, taxi drivers, etc in all of US dollars, Cuban convertible pesos, and Euro. They were grateful for the tips, it's a big part of their income. The government takes a cut off the conversion of all US$ to Cuban currency, so most preferred the Euro We departed Santiago de Cuba in the late afternoon, bound for Miami. A day at sea, and a 6am arrival in Miami. Customs doesn't report for work until 7am, so it was 7.15 before the first people were processed. Everyone was required to be out of their cabins by 8am, and off the ship by 9am. I would have liked a few more hours in Santiago de Cuba, and an hour more sleep in Miami. This is not a child friendly cruise. No kids activities, and most excursions were adult level. Not too much partying, the average age was probably mid-60s. Read Less

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