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Everything posted by JAR

  1. We just returned from the World Traveller Christmas cruise, & were quite pleased by the food. They had multiple selections each night & service was fantastic. We never waited long for our meals & all the servers were eager to please. We felt that the weakest part of the menu was the dessert selection. The souffles were delicious. Too many of the ice cream choices were plant based & the variety of flavors was limited. The special menus & table settings for the holiday meals were wonderful. Lunch had a great selection of hot foods & salads. I agree with a previous post that some of the soups could be better.
  2. I failed to add in my comments that my husband was closely tracking Drake weather throughout our Voyage on 3 different models. All 3 were predicting high wave heights and very high winds on 12/25 & 26. We went well below the Antarctic Circle which was a pleasant surprise. Additionally, we such made good time heading down that we got a surprise stop in the South Shetland ( Penguin Island). I suspect that the additional fuel burned to make such good time would not have occurred if Atlasc was in financial difficulties. The holiday celebration & special holiday meals had in be costly for the line. They really made everyone "s ( guests& crew) holiday festive.
  3. We were on the World Traveller that rushed back to Ushaia due to weather. It was a fantastic cruise with great service & wonderful explorations. Upon our return to Ushaia locals in airport said we were lucky to get out of Drake Passage before the storm hit. We were fortunate to complete our entire cruise and experienced no signs of financial difficulty with Atlas.
  4. I have been a huge fan of American Queen Voyages in the past, but they are currently a company in CRISIS. Over the past 2 years we have had 4 cruises canceled by them within a few months of sailing. Two of the cancelations we discovered ourselves by looking online & noticing that our trips were no longer listed. We booked our trips while onboard and received good promotions. After AQV canceled, they did not offer us any special fares, resulting in any rebooking prices to be almost brochure rates. This year because of the late cancelation we are left without holiday travel plans. To add to the issue the refunds from AQV take multiple months to be issued & require a great deal of follow-up. I am concerned because this type of poor customer service occurred before Vantage Travel went bankrupt and I still have 2 future cruise " booked". Customer service refused to give us the email address of the new CEO which says an awful lot of AQV"s current philosophy.
  5. I am so glad that you enjoyed your trip! I am only posting again because I have a few questions. I agree that the ship & service were outstanding. I am curious if the food quality was better on the inaugural cruise when John Wagoner was onboard. Do you think having the travel agents as guests influenced the menu? By the end of our cruise many people were joking about the food, especially the soups & fish. Was the specialty restaurant open on your sailing ? It was not available on our trip. Also, we did not have a culinary ambassador. The spa was only open on the last 3 days of our trip so we didn't have an opportunity to use it. Did the Ocean Victory get to the glacier on the first cruise? The jet boat tour to the glacier ($399pp) was fantastic and we were glad we did it since it was our only opportunity to see a glacier. Unfortunately, we were not able to do anything but rush to see the glacier because the shore excursion lead told the captain the incorrect destination at first, which forced us to try to beat the tides. I was so looking forward to having a chance to hear the whale sounds & speak to a whale researcher, but this was not offered on the 2nd cruise. The expedition team did great presentations, but we did not do any " research". I enjoyed the observation areas that were opened occasionally. We also loved the small ship experience, but at $12k we expected more. Our cruise was only at half capacity which made the cruise more enjoyable. I love the concept & hope it is successful, but the product must meet what is advertised. Many items in the brochure were not provided.
  6. We were on the 2nd sailing - Sitka to Vancouver. There is no true entertainment on this ship. We had a very talented piano player, Max , who provided music before and after dinner. I did want to add that the bathroom/shower is nicely sized. Although the Ocean Victory is a new ship, it had been at sea for the Antarctic season & is not sparkly new ( no new car smell).
  7. They never mentioned why the specialty restaurant or smoothies were unavailable. Any issue was meant with the response " well this is the first time we've done this". The reduction in crew due to Covid had an impact in some services, but the specialty restaurant seemed completely overlooked. Other people posting are correct that testing is not required if departing from Sitka because it is a domestic flight. We left from the port of Vancouver and the Canadian government did not accept testing performed on the ship resulting in testing being done in the Hyatt Hotel. I am a big fan of AQV and hope the kinks can be worked out. I know many passengers on our sailing were dissatisfied, including many past AQV passengers, and I hope it doesn't reflect poorly the brand. I am also looking forward to hear reviews from other cruisers.
  8. Yes, they did arrange testing at the Hyatt Hotel. They provided transportation to the hotel & airport free of charge, but disembarkation was very disorganized. Unfortunately the bus being chartered to carry the Covid positive passengers had to be canceled because the provider of the bus pulled out. The dinner on the final night was very good & we wish that they had put that much effort into the other meals. This was the first time we didn't receive "comment sheets" after the cruise. You must attend the daily briefing to be informed of the following day's schedule because daily bulletins are not given out. I am definitely not trying to be negative about my experience, but I expected so much from this "expedition" based on the cost. This is an objective view from our experience and I truly hope others can share their cruise views
  9. Testing must be completed before returning to the US & if you are taking arranged transportation from AQV to the airport there is no opportunity to go on your own for testing. This is especially important because of the current outbreak on the ship. A short while ago a plan was announced to guests regarding tomorrow's testing. They had no issues with testing before boarding the ship.
  10. The food ( quality & preparation) has been below that of any of the 50+ cruises I've taken. It is much different than on the AQV river boats. The specialty restaurant was never open and there are no alternatives for meals. Room service is only available during dining hours and the options are the same as the dining room. The staff is wonderful and the shop is very clean.
  11. I don't want to curb anyone's excitement about their upcoming cruise, but keep your expectations low! On day one we were introduced to so many things that will set our "expedition cruise" apart from the " big, bad cruise ships". We were told so many things that were just not true. For example, we were told that we would slow down if animals were active in the water and despite a magnificent whale show we kept chugging along. We were told that they have an outstanding "chef" that they prepared the best food. Again, this is simply untrue - think a HomeTown or Old Cou try buffet with less options. Today's BBQ made my high school's burgers seem delicious and the steaks are of Bonaza Steak House quality, at best. The salmon served onboard has been the Atlantic farm raised variety, not local wild caught, when Alaska is the capital of fresh salmon. We are disembarking in less than 24 hours and they still have no plan on how we will be Covid tested before getting off the ship. This important detail has been totally overlooked by the cruise line, even though they have had several months to plan for this first disembarkation. This situation is causing a great deal of angst among passengers that have early or even midday flights. We were informed that even making our noon flight may not be doable. I have never been on a cruise where a 12pm flight is not possible when an airport is nearby. Every crew member is giving us a different answer. There are new cases of Covid on board. Isaac, Peter, Bertrand, Mike, and Wilbon are still going "above & beyond" to make the passengers happy! The waite and bar staff are excellent.
  12. Here are a few answers to some questions about the Ocean Victory Alaska cruise. When arriving in Sitka Airport we were not greeted by a cruise line rep nor were given any instructions by the cruiseline. We took a taxi to the hotel for a very short $5 per person ride. There are not many taxis so you may have a little wait or share with another party. The provided hotel was nice, very clean & had a great staff. It is located within easy walking distance to shops & restaurants. The precruise breakfast was not very good, but there is a coffee shop nearby. Concerning boots & gear - Rubber boots were provided as was a light rain suit, if you asked. I am unsure how many rain sets were available. Dress in layers as the weather can hange quickly. Bring moisturizer for your skin & conditioner for your hair as it is not provided. Do not expect the "bath product " to be of the quality on AQV, even the brochure states "designer amenities". Also, you may want to bring snacks as food is primarily available only during meal times. Cookies are available at the coffee machine for short periods of the day - sorry no ice cream machine like they have on other AQV vessels. Room service is only available during the dining hours, not 24 hour service as indicated in the brochure. And the room service only includes the same items being served in the dining room. We found ourselves occasionally wanting a little snack after an expedition activity and nothing was available. Breakfast and lunch are only buffet which becomes tiresome quickly, especially the one single line. No options such as sandwiches, burgers or fries are offered. Do not expect " Alaskan inspired" food. As we write this, we are on day 9 and have not had halibut or any type of crab yet. Salmon was Atlantic, not local & the nightly steak option is sirloin, not filet as is served on the other AQV vessels. Lobster tail is offered nightly, but getting melted butter is quite a struggle. Some evenings there is not potato option (not even as a special request), only rice or pasta. The specialty restaurant has not been open at all. The bar staff is amazing, but the bar offerings (liquors and types of drinks) are limited. No blender drinks are available, nor the morning juice/ smoothie bar as mentioned in the brochure. The cabins are very nice and most have balconies. The bathroom is big enough and efficient. There is plenty of storage space in most cabins. Overall, the ship is very clean. But expect the "satellite programming" that stated in the brochure. There is no live TV stream, at least on this run. The staff is wonderful and work very hard to provide great service. Hopefully, Peter, Bertrand & Isaac are on board when you cruise, because they are the glue trying to hold it together. I have rarely met such outstanding crew on any vessel such as those gentlemen. Get questions regarding tours answered before arriving because the tour desk is still learning the product. This is our 6th Alaska cruise & it is the first time that we did not see a glacier while on board despite beautiful weather. The captain made a decision to not go into the glacier areas even though there was less visible ice than any of our other visits to Tracy Arm. This seemed odd, since this ship is specifically designed for this type of environment and the promotional marketing made a big deal about this ship being able to get in areas the big ships cannot. Ok, the elephant in the room.... Yes, Covid is an issue and we were turned away from one port. The expedition staff had a few cases, but the quick action of the hotel and expedition leaders kept it under control and avoided spreading. Peter (expedition director)was creative in still getting kayaks & zodiacs out. A small number of staff & guests tested positive and were isolated. In summary, even though this is an "expedition cruise", we believed it should still have the level of luxury that matches the price and at least equal to other AQV vessels. We have taken other expedition cruises and we received both the expected luxury and more adventurous expedition activities. There is obviously some learning curve to overcome.
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