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LandC

Voyages to Antiquity

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We are thinking of booking a cruise with this company but reviews of their ship, the Aegean Odyssey, are mixed and there are none since it was refurbished at the end of last year. Has anyone sailed on her recently?

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I was on Voyages to Antiquity's first sailing of the 2017 Spring season, from Athens to Malaga. Lovely cruise; still, Aegean Odyssey is an older ship and you should judge her accordingly. I'm not sure what was refurbished during her winter break, but it wasn't immediately evident in the public areas or my cabin.

 

Is there anything in particular you'd like to hear about?

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Hello cruisemom42. Our main area of concern is the cabins. There are comments about smelly cabins caused by mould in shower and on walls, frayed towels and dirty curtains, occasional brown water from shower, carpets stained and worn.

 

We prefer small ships, and cruised with Swan Hellenic, so are certainly not expecting luxurious accommodation! However we want a clean and comfortable cabin , good food, excellent lecturers and interesting and well paced shore tours. We are in our mid sixties and fairly fit. Do you think this ship would suit us? :)

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Hi LandC,

 

I have sailed on Aegean Odyssey seven times and in a variety of different cabins onboard, from deluxe balcony to solo inside cabin. (For the record, I also have done one cruise on Minerva a few years ago.) I find the two ships more similar than different, although Minerva had a bit more of a country house decor and perhaps slightly nicer finishes throughout the ship. She also is a prettier ship, in terms of her lines, than Aegean Odyssey but that's neither here nor there... :)

 

I've never been in the same cabin twice on AO, but I have never encountered any issues related to cleanliness or mould in either the bathroom or the cabin itself. Nor, thinking back, do I recall any smells. On some ships I've been on, you will occasionally get a whiff of sewer smell in the bathroom (almost inevitable given the plumbing systems onboard ships), but I do not recall that happening on Aegean Odyssey or at least not in any memorable way.

 

Towels can get beaten up in the ship laundry, but when I was aboard in April I noticed my towels were bright white and not frayed. Nor have I noticed any particular wear and tear to curtains or other soft furnishings. (Other than the lounger cushions on deck, which could stand a replacement....)

 

The brown water is a different story. Periodically I have experienced some brownish water from the taps in the bathroom. Primarily this seems to occur when the ship has just filled up her water tanks. It's a bit off-putting and they are aware of it, yet they seem unable to eliminate the issue. (I have been assured there is no health issue, but it's certainly unattractive when it happens....)

 

I can without reservation recommend the VTA lecturers. The cruise I just completed included Lord John Julius Norwich, Justin Marozzi, author of the recent book titled "The Way of Herodotus: Travels with the Man who Invented History", and another excellent lecturer (the name escapes me at this moment) who provided great perspective on the Andalusian ports and Spain (one of his most entertaining lectures was "Did the Spanish Inquisition get a Bad Press?") I found them to be on a par with what I experienced on Swan Hellenic.

 

The shore tours are good but often introductory level tours, perhaps with a bit more focus on art and history than the general run-of-the-mill cruise ship tours. One thing I do appreciate is that there are no 'forced shopping opportunities'. At some ports additional, more in-depth tours are offered, sometimes with a slight additional charge. For example, at our stop at Trapani in Sicily, there was a choice of two included tours -- one to Erice, and one to visit the Greek temple and theatre at Segesta. Additionally there was a longer full-day tour to Selinunte and Marsala that included a stop at a local olive-oil producer, with a light meal, olive-oil tasting and marsala tasting for about $65 extra.

 

Also, VTA use the "whisperers" on all their tours, which is appreciated by those of us who like to wander around a bit but still listen to the guide. I am mid-50s and for the most part the tours seem appropriately paced, although occasionally I feel they are a bit rushed -- generally when they try to cram too many highlights into a half-day tour.

 

There is a very good library onboard, though not as large as Minerva's. Entertainment offerings are low-key but in the same vein as on Swan Hellenic.

 

If you liked Swan Hellenic, I think it's worth giving VTA a try, on the understanding that it's a similar product but of course will not be quite the same and in a few areas less deluxe.

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We have travelled with voyages to Antiquity on a number ofdifferent cruises and they are our favourite cruise line. Yes the ship is oldand things do not always work perfectly but the benefits of a small group andinteresting passengers along with excellent included excursions outweigh thedisadvantages. It is not for everyone but those who enjoy it like it very much.

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Cruisemom42 and Alphabravo, thank you both so much for your replies. We enjoyed cruising with Swan Hellenic and VtoA sounds similar. We really appreciate interesting itineraries and top quality lecturers, and so few cruise lines offer this combination. We will definitely give VtoA a try. :D

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Cynthia - nice to see that you've been back on the lovely little ship. Is there now an awning over the deck with the Terrace Grill?? I'm back on starting June 29 and, although it's not the Med, it does get rather hot and windy.

 

 

thanks Shar

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Cynthia - nice to see that you've been back on the lovely little ship. Is there now an awning over the deck with the Terrace Grill?? I'm back on starting June 29 and, although it's not the Med, it does get rather hot and windy.

 

 

thanks Shar

 

Hi Shar -- yes, there is an awning over the deck back there. It extends most but not all of the way to the stern. Very, very pleasant place to eat. :) Although in April there were a few nights when it was a bit too chilly.

 

Good to hear from you -- Enjoy your next voyage!

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Cynthia - thanks for the quick reply. I have another ? about the laundry. Did you use the service because I know there has been issues in the past? I always rinse out my personals and whites but hope to send my heavy stuff at least once since I'm on her for a month this time. I do remember that some folks complained that their stuff came back faded.

 

Shar

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Cynthia - thanks for the quick reply. I have another ? about the laundry. Did you use the service because I know there has been issues in the past? I always rinse out my personals and whites but hope to send my heavy stuff at least once since I'm on her for a month this time. I do remember that some folks complained that their stuff came back faded.

 

Shar

 

Sorry, I can't help there. Even though I get a free bag as an O.C. perk, I never use it because I am very particular with my clothes. Since I can only be gone from work for about 2 weeks at a time, I don't mind hand-washing a few things as I go, but I'm sure that would get tedious for a month. Good luck -- hopefully someone else may be able to chime in and give you the info.

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cruise mom42...don’t know if this is the way to reach you?

We are on Aegean Odyssey this April, Athens to

Athens. Is this ship noisy? Our cabin 409 inside forward

Columbus deck and is this far forward likely to cause

seasickness. Thanks very much.

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I see that others have responded to you on another thread. Just to add that I was in cabin 434 in 2014, and had no problem with noise, nor with the ship's movement. You are a little more forward, and may have more noise and movement when the sea is rough and when the bow hits a bigger wave. But, I won't worry about it. The ship is surprisingly stable for its size, and you are in the lowest passenger deck. Your itinerary looks very interesting. We will be back on VTA in August, and we would like to know your opinion on the condition of the ship under new ownership and after a long winter lay-over in Athens.

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We are in the process of signing up for the VTA Capetown to Malaga cruise - up West Africa and have been offered cabin #557 - F category - one of the 200 sq foot ones.

 

Anyone have experience with cabin 557 and location - mid ship, near the stairs and elevator - right over the ship's shop. Nearly took one of her maiden voyages back when Palmyra, Syria was still a safe destination, but backed out at the last minute due to reports about the condition of the ship.

 

Regret this now naturally since Syria has become off limits. But cruisemom42's enthusiatic endorsement for the VTA brand put it back on the radar for us again. We are former Voyages of Discovery cruisers so we know pretty much what we will be getting into, including the occasional "brown water".

 

Sorry this ship does not have the retractable glass dome like the original Discovery - how is the open Lido area? Are there enough shaded outdoor areas, as we are going from summer in South Africa, across the equator and then finally up to "sunny" Northern Europe in the winter.

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I have never been in cabin #557, but the most current CC review of the Aegean Odyssey complained about the noise in cabin #554, which is on the other side. If I remember correctly, the central empty square in the deck plan is where the smoke stack is, and it can be noisy.

 

The open Lido area is my favorite area for lunch and dinner. When the ship is moving, there is a breeze, and it is never hot. When in port, we will look for tables shaded by large umbrellas. But outside sitting is limited, and about half the time, we have to sit in the air-conditioned inside.

 

Since OlsSalt is a frequent poster on the HAL board, let me just add a few words of our opinions on the two cruise lines. We cruise twice on VtA and twice on HAL. Our last time on HAL was a 30 odd days trip from Buenos Aires to Vancouver. Our first time on VtA was a 30 day trip from Singapore to Cairo. The AO has smaller cabins and less entertainment. AO's food is less refined, but in our opinion, better quality. The lectures and excursions are much better with VtA. My wife and I both agree we enjoy AO more.

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Hi OlsSalt, will be on Aegean Odyssey this April, 14 days Athens

to Athens. Will post when we return with a report on the ship

and VtA. We are on Columbus Deck quite forward. Hope our

location is also suitable.

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Got our VTA confirmation Capetown to Malaga this morning plus air. Pretty incredible itinerary and we already know one of the featured speakers from a priior Voyages of Discovery cruise (VOD) - he was outstanding.

 

This will be totally new territory for me and will push me over the top to be Travel Century Club Silver member - 150 countries. VOD delivered my 100th country -Mauritius - a few years ago on an equally incredible cruise from Singapore to Capetown poking around the Indian Ocean and the eastern side of Africa.

 

Half the fun of a trip is studying up ahead of time. Half the misery is packing down ....this time ...for sure. Do they have "formal" nights on VTA and do people dress up a bit for dinner - just because.

 

Regarding our prior HAL cruising, nearly 500 day Gold Medallion, we had a TransPac to Japan/Shanghai already booked on the Westerdam, but learning what they did to their libraries made spending that much time on the new "curated" HAL ships suddenly unappealing. Hoping VTA continues in the same vein as our prior beloved experiences with Voyages of Discovery - good times, good itineraries ...... with very good travellers.

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What are the room keys like on the ship? Keys, insert cards, electronic swipes? How do they get best carried around for those who are pocket deprived (aka - too many women's "travel" clothes).

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I don't remember having formal nights on the AO. However, we were invited twice to sit at the Captain's table. I was glad that I had a tie and a jacket with me.

 

When we were on AO, they use insert cards for room keys. I asked the front desk to punch a hole on the card, and carried it with a lanyard.

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I don't remember having formal nights on the AO. However, we were invited twice to sit at the Captain's table. I was glad that I had a tie and a jacket with me.

 

When we were on AO, they use insert cards for room keys. I asked the front desk to punch a hole on the card, and carried it with a lanyard.

 

Thanks for the info. I always get a punch hole in my insert cards and then carry them on a wrist coil. Looks like I had better keep mine for the VTA cruise too.

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To add my thoughts on a few of OlsSalt's queries, the Lido is a very pleasant place to eat as long as the weather isn't too chilly. It is mostly covered, except for a few of the tables along the rail and in the back.

 

There are no formal nights aboard. But people tend to dress "nicely". As a several-times past passenger I also have been invited to the captain's table and also to dine with other staff occasionally in the dining room where it's usually a little dressier than in the Terrace Cafe (or the Terrace itself).

 

There are lounge chairs in both sun and shade -- I usually can find one on the Promenade deck that's shady to sit and read.

 

The only real quibble I've had over time is the main lounge which is all on same level, so getting a spot with good sight lines to the lecturer's presentation can sometimes be hit or miss if you don't arrive a bit early.

 

I've always liked their lecturers but it seems they are upping the game even more based on what I'm seeing in the late 2018/early 2019 cruise descriptions. Several additional personnel are listed for crafts and other interests as well as lecturers.

 

I have been looking at the Jan 2019 cruise from India to Singapore. I'd have to wheel and deal to get so much time off at a stretch, but it's tempting...

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Sorry to learn the VTA lecture room is all on the same level. That was a huge drawback on the new VOD Voyager that replaced the old VOD Discovery (former Island Princess "Love Boat" sister ship, which was ramped for pretty good sight lines around the whole room.

 

Darn it, sorry to learn this because we also had to get there way too early early to get even a remotely good seat too. Glad we got this warning ahead of time. We have such a good balance between port and sea days that I suspect there will be lots of good lectures to attend on the VTA trip we signed up for.

 

Their VOD excellent lecturers were wasted by the poor sight lines on their now defunct "newer" ship - a conversion of the Alexander Humboldt, which really did not work for what was their strongest onboard appeal - plus very noisy outdoor Lido area, a blocked off upper deck viewing area because they were directly over cabins, and a very cramped dining set up all around, but had excellent food.

 

The observation lounge room actually had very limited windows - but still it took us to such wonderful places (Norway and the White Sea) that mostly all was forgiven. I suspect this might have been built as an ice-cutter type ship or more of a research ship - which would have expanded its itinerary possibilities but was a little too basic for comfortable vacation cruising.

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Looking at the Noble Caledonia website and found VTA Aegean Odyssey among this family of small cruise ship offerings. Can anyone give me the background on this relationship? Not sure if Noble Caledonia is an umbrella company handling many of the smaller independents, or a travel agency or what. Thanks for any info.

 

We had been previously looking at Noble Caledonia's Island Sky since it was one of the few ship that made stops at Tristan de Cuhna at one time. Had not remembered that VTA was part of this NC group.

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I do not know about Noble Caledonia. But, I have seen two alumni associations using VTA. When I looked into them, they both referred to the same TA, who apparently reserved a block of rooms, and marketed them at roughly the same price as VTA, and with the alumni associations receiving a referral fee. Noble Caledonia, being a non-profit trust, may be similar.

 

While on board the AO, I have encountered groups organized by Road Scholars, and by Mr. Bridge. Both groups are nice people, and the Mr. Bridge group even invited anyone interested to join their activities.

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OlsSalt - I've started a roll call for the Sri Lanka to Malaga cruise. I'll be on her too and this will be my 11th cruise on her.

 

Shar

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