A review of Voyager September 26th to October 8th
I wasn’t going to post a review but certain things occurred which deserve a mention.
We stayed pre flight at the Sofitel Heathrow which we always do as it is a short walk to terminal 5 and has a great rate for parking if you have a room. ( it’s way cheaper that way than just to park). The hotel as usual was excellent in all respects.
The following day we managed the short walk to the terminal and had a smooth check in before spending time in the BA lounge which was better than most.
On boarding the plane to Athens we were told that there would be a delay as there was an electrical issue. This eventually was 45 minutes but to the pilot’s credit we were kept well informed. ( was this a first for BA?)
On arrival in Athens we were met and taken to the Athens Sofitel which was a walk away, fortunately we had a trolley. ( more later).
This hotel was not as swish as Heathrow but the food was excellent. We did not have to pay for this as it was a forced stay due to unavailability of plane seats the following day. We were told to assemble in the foyer at 12:15 the following day which we did.
There were twelve of us and 12:15 came and went with no bus or Regent representative. At 1:00 I telephoned the port agent asking why nothing was happening, they seemed surprised. After about 10 minutes a port agent arrived who didn’t have a clue as to what was happening and told us to follow him back to the terminal. Consequently we had to wheel three suitcases and two carryons a ten minute walk to the terminal with no trolley up and down kerbs. Amongst the group was a 90 year old who was really struggling.
At the terminal we waited another 15 minutes with no explanation and the told to follow the same agent out to a bus park, another ten minutes. We arrived to find a small van waiting which obviously couldn’t hold 12 people and luggage. So we waited in the hot sun for another 15 minutes, again with no explanation and eventually a small bus arrived and we got on, the luggage only just fitted in the hold.
Whilst we started with 12 of us we now only were 10 and a new agent appeared and said we would be leaving for Piraeus momentarily. It turned out that 2 had got lost in the process and ended up taking a taxi to Piraeus! The agent hadn’t noticed but neither had we. She, however, must have had a guest list.
We sat for another 15 minutes and eventually another group arrived and of course there wasn’t room for their luggage so some had to be lifted onto the bus. It was obvious then that we had been added to their bus having been forgotten about at the Sofitel. Eventually 3/12 hours after we should have been collected we arrived at the port.
Needless to say I wrote to the General Manager explaining all of the above, accepting that it was not his problem directly but wished it to be noted. I was disappointed that he didn’t pick up the phone to speak to me but got someone from Destination Services to apologise. To cut this long story short on the last night we had a letter to tell us that some on board credit had been added to our account, it was a good job it was refundable!
That out of the way we settled down to enjoy Voyager, as usual there were staff who remembered our drinks from previous times. The food and service throughout the cruise was up to standard. Unfortunately we couldn’t say the same about the Cruise Director and her team.
Compared to all others we have experienced over the years they were a disappointment and almost invisible. The social hostess was unsociable, didn’t want to talk and was not visible. Whilst this didn’t affect our enjoyment of the cruise it had an effect on the atmosphere on board which several others commented on. Cruise Directors do set the tone on board.
The singers and dancers were excellent but the entertainment on other nights with the exception of a comedian was poor in our opinion.
We became platinum on this cruise but turned down an invitation to have our pin presented publicly by the captain. Its not our style. Unfortunately we never received the pin not that it mattered to us as we wouldn’t have worn it but it might have to others.
I would like to mention a couple of excursions we took.
In Limassol we had booked a small group tour entitled ‘ Building Bridges’ which involved crossing from Greek Cyprus to Turkish Cyprus and meeting with a couple of journalists to understand the political situation better. As the ship was holding our passports I enquired at Destination Services if we required our passports which it was my understanding we did but was told no. When we got onto the bus to depart the first thing the guide asked was ‘ have you all got your passports?’ He explained that it was unlikely that we would be able to cross over which in spite of his efforts we couldn’t
We met up with the journalists in an hotel on the Greek side which was very interesting and informative.
We didn’t complain but received a 50% refund, so someone must have.
We had booked an overnight ‘Sacred sites of Israel’ tour in Ashdod. We had done a similar tour 5 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. There were six of us and our guide driver Avi. He was superb. On the first day we went to Masada, a fortress in the Judean desert. Hot it was! It was well worth the visit. For lunch we went to an hotel alongside the Dead Sea which we hadn’t been to before. Again this was an experience. We didn’t swim but paddled. The others in the group did but struggled to get the salt out of their hair. The sea is losing about a metre a year and consequently is now supersaturated with salt.
It turned out that this was the Jewish New Year so every where was busy and we arrived in Jerusalem for the overnight stay at The Orient hotel which was excellent, we even got upgraded! Because of the New Year we had to have dinner elsewhere after a tour around Jerusalem. The meal at the hotel we arrived at was poor.
After a great breakfast at The Orient we started on a walking tour of old Jerusalem which we had done before but our guide Avi was very informative. We then had lunch at an hotel, which was good before going to Bethlehem. As usual we had to change van and guide just beyond the border with Palestine. The queue to see the birthplace of Jesus in the Church of the Nativity was too long, fortunately we had been before but our guide took the cameras of the other couples and went in another way, good for him. We then returned to the ship in Haifa.
We did other tours of course which were ok but nothing to note.
In spite of some issues it was another great Regent Cruise, there were issues but they were dealt with sympathetically. As mentioned, the food and service was up to standard and we are looking forward to our next one in February on Navigator. Just got to pay for it next week!
Sometime ago I posted about how to obtain the platinum tour discount when you are only gold when you book but platinum when you are on that cruise. There was no definitive response but I am happy to say that the cruise consultant sorted it out on board and credit was added to my account.
On a final( I promise) note, why does BA give a menu giving a choice of three main dishes and when they get to row 6 they have run out of two of them...it happens every time.