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Seeking recommendations for our next cruise line


Arrgghhh
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Hello, brand new member and my first post so thanks for reading.  A little about us: we are recently retired, (55 and 62) and so far have been on two Viking cruises, Barcelona to Rome and just last month Panama Canal.  Really liked Viking, but am considering an alternative for our next cruise.  Here is what we loved/liked about Viking:

  • Beautiful ship (Sky) and very clean
  • Great customer service-top notch
  • Incredible spa
  • Really enjoyed the port talks and on board historian. Truly the "thinking man's" cruise line"
  • Very comfy king size bed(a must for us as we are both 6" and need space!).  We had a deluxe veranda, Ok size albeit a bit snug. Larger balcony would be great
  • All our excursion's were good to great.  Only one was poor.

The not so great:

  • Ship is nice and a perfect size, but the minimalist Ikea style will get boring.
  • Food was generally good, sometimes excellent.  Loved the Chef's table and the attempt at premium wine pairing, but the wines weren't premium. Food was sometimes a miss-all the seafood in the World Cafe was overcooked. Main restaurant was just OK.
  • Biggest negative-even with the Silver package upgrade, the wines were pretty abysmal.  You only got a decent wine if you purchased an entire bottle.
  • Entertainment was spotty.  Cruise director and her assistant gave stellar performances.  Other than that, not much.

So looked like Oceania would be a great choice as they tout their focus on dining experiences, but a lot of the recent reviews I read indicated otherwise and there has been a rather precipitous decline. I realize there will always be a few people who get a less than desired experience on any given cruise.  But is this a prevalent trend with them? Any fans or confirmers of their decline?  Any Azamara fans? Is Regents worth the extra $? Any insights from experienced travelers who are fellow foodies/wine lovers greatly appreciated. We are looking forward to many more years of cruising!

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I found the food on Seaborne to be very good, as long as you stayed out of the main dining room (where food and service was bad).  I found the service on my Seaborne cruise to be mediocre, but I suspect you'll fair better as a couple than I did as a solo.  The ship was lovely and comfortable.

 

The best food I've had cruising was on the old Crystal - I have not yet sailed on Crystal since it was bought and renovated, so I don't know personally if the food and service are equally as good as it was in the past (I have a cruised booked with them in 2024). 

 

Azamara was good, but not special.  If you're looking at Azamara, book a suite unless you are OK with having a very tiny shower stall (about 20" x 20").

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41 minutes ago, calliopecruiser said:

I found the food on Seaborne to be very good, as long as you stayed out of the main dining room (where food and service was bad).  I found the service on my Seaborne cruise to be mediocre, but I suspect you'll fair better as a couple than I did as a solo.  The ship was lovely and comfortable.

 

The best food I've had cruising was on the old Crystal - I have not yet sailed on Crystal since it was bought and renovated, so I don't know personally if the food and service are equally as good as it was in the past (I have a cruised booked with them in 2024). 

 

Azamara was good, but not special.  If you're looking at Azamara, book a suite unless you are OK with having a very tiny shower stall (about 20" x 20").

 

I've sailed on the new Crystal and the service is as good as ever and the food is even better, if you can imagine.

 

To the OP, Viking, Oceania and Azamara are not the true luxury lines, people often refer to them as luxury light. The true luxury lines are Crystal, Seabourn, Silversea and Regent. There's a new line, Explora, owned by the European line MSC. I have heard mixed reports on them. 

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Crystal!  I like that the shore excursions are NOT included like a few other lines.  I mainly prefer to do my own thing in ports.  Check them out and read reviews here on Cruise Critic.  

 

Welcome to Cruise Critic @Arrgghhh and Happy Retirement travels!

 

~Nancy

Edited by oakridger
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  • 2 weeks later...

for me the door with seabourn is closed :

if wine is important : the complimentary wines on Regent and Crystal are very good

but the connoisseur wine list on Crystal is very expensive  -   on Regent the prices are very decent 

on Silversea the connoisseur wines are somewhat lower priced as on Regent and choice is more elaborated especially in whites 

on Regent no extra's for the speciality restaurants   - on Silversea no extra for cooking class SALT 

read my review on Explora  : complimentary wines very poor and wine list extremely expensive !

imho in view of the rather high prices on Regent that company should offer something better as complimentary Champagne Heidsick Monopole Blue top 

laundry is free on Regent 

Silversea is having some more choice of complimentary wodka's 

on SS every cabin does have a butler 

but the 2 newest Regent ships are very lavish : Splendor and Grandeur

 

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  • 3 months later...

Late answer, however you did say "any Azamara fans?'

As someone who sailed a lot with Princess & Holland America, I found as the ships got larger, more crowded, and definitely noisier, I looked around for a smaller line that wasn't astronomically expensive, and have found it in Azamara. 

The normal cabins are small and have very small bathrooms, so you may need a suite.

It is all inclusive, however the provided wines are not the best, so you should consider the $35pd "Ultimate" package to get a better range of drinks and better wines. 

The ships are really nice, around 600/700 pax, itineraries are great, and they usually provide a free shuttle into ports. 

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