Voyages to Antiquity cruises

Old Oct 11th, 2011, 09:11 PM
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Voyages to Antiquity cruises

Has anyone travelled on this cruise line? They do "educational/ancient history" type cruises in the Mediterranean, some of which quite appeal to us. The ship Aegean Odyssey is small (up to 378 passengers, with a 1.8-1 passenger to crew ratio), onboard entertainment low-key (definitely not party cruises!), with shore excursions usually to ancient ruins and historical sites. We would appreciate any feedback some of you may be able to give us re service, cabins, quality, food, shore excursions, onboard costs, general atmosphere, friendliness etc.
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 05:58 AM
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cruisecritic.com for ship reviews

no experience with yours but I have done

http://www.traveldynamicsinternation...o.asp?shipid=2

Lots in the past they are supposed to be the best at this

I have been impressed with all of mine starting from $5K
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 06:00 AM
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I am looking at Seabourne Lines this fall up to

85% off on Cruises small ships all AI suites no tip

Prbably will book a $25K cruise for $3K for Nov...

[email protected] crucon.com vacationstogo.com

seems to be where the values are this fall...
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 08:32 AM
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I have travelled 2X now with this company - the first in their 3rd cruise and this July in a back to back tour of the Greek Islands and around the Black Sea.
The ship and the itineraries are geared for the serious history buff with intensive excursions and lectures about the ports and local area. There is no casino or Vegas-type shows but we were treated to two performances by local dance and choral groups that were better than anything I've seen on a standard cruise ship.

The crew is amazing - friendly, professional and fun. The morning staff know what you eat and what you drink by the second day. The front desk ladies are always ready with a smile and advice about what to see in port. The excursion crew provides local history, maps and even a shuttle in most ports for after the daily tours.

The 2 food venues offer a variety of things but I really enjoyed eating on the terrace for most of my meals. It's buffet and I always ate outside to see the new port first thing in the morning and to watch the sunset at night. The buffet always has fresh veggies, fruit for a salad, a pasta dish, 2-3 types of cooked veggies, 2-3 types of meat and a large dessert table. The MDR usually has a selection of dishes from the local area which was great during our trip around the Black Sea.

The ship has been retro-fitted and is rather calm and sedate in design. The cabins are generally smaller than an average ship but still have plenty of room for the average person with lots of closet space and a small but compact and very workable bathroom. The twin beds however are narrow and short so try for a cabin where the bed converts to a queen or king.

Everything is included in the price so the only extra expense for me - internet ( which was a very good price), bar tab and the optional excursions which I found really worth the extra money. My fellow passengers were 45-80 years old, history buffs like me, not big shoppers and very friendly. I travelled with people from GB, New Zealand, Australia, the US and even a lady who lives 3 miles down the road from me and we had never met!

I've booked 3 more cruises for 2012. Shar
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 09:25 AM
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I have cruised this line 3 times. Their value is an understatement. If you are going from the US flights, hotel, gratuities, excursions - it's all included but better yet, it is an excellent quality. This is a great product. They use excellent headsets while on the excursions and the guides are very knowledgeable. The lecturers are professors or well known in their field of expertise. My travel agent is well versed in the product also and has been able to get upgrades, when available, or better air choices, if possible. The comaraderie at the open seating dinner after an all day tour is just great and I've made lasting friendships and travel buddies along the way. I would not hesitate to book again, in fact, I most likely will be booking the new Far East itineraries with my agent when I get back from my next V2A cruise.
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 10:53 AM
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Do not hesitate to book Voyages to Antiquity--you will not be sorry! We have cruised a good bit and our 2 V2A cruises have been our favorites! Excellent itineraries, tours, food, staff, lecturers, and overall attention to detail. I will say that the cruises are port intensive, so be sure go with an interest in history, an empty travel journal, and good walking shoes! On each cruise we have gotten even more than we expected and are sure to sail with them again. If you have specific questions, I'll be glad to try to answer them.
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 01:11 PM
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I cruised with Voyages to Antiquity at the end of last year (November 2010) on an itinerary that included Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon among other ports, and I will be on my second cruise with them in about two weeks. Their itineraries are wonderful and, as already mentioned, they are geared to those who are interested in the history of the ports visited. (I reviewed my first cruise on this line on the Cruise Critic boards, not sure if a link is allowed but it's easy enough to find; I have the same screen name there.)

I concur with just about everything said by the previous posters. For those used to sailing on the larger, mass-market lines and who may hesitate to sail on a small ship, there are quite a few advantages. Service is personalized, embarking and disembarking at all the ports is a breeze, and there is never a long line to be found onboard the ship. The library is wonderful and is stocked with multiple copies of excellent books on the regions visited. The guest lecturers, at least on my cruise, provided insights well above the usual level. Another big plus over mass-market lines is their air program. They offer air at very minimal add-on cost in many cases and the flights are not bad. Having shore excursions included in the cost is a huge plus in Europe, where the cost of good excursions can add up to more than the cost of the cruise.

Entertainment is not on the scale of large ships. However, there is live music in one of the lounges in the evening, as well as performances by a classical string group. The atmosphere on board is relaxed, friendly (not at all clubby), and most passengers seem well traveled. The staff is very professional. Usually there are good materials (maps, points of interest) available for those who want to go their own way in ports. Often shuttles are arranged from the port into town at no cost.

There are no facilities for children on board, and I wouldn't recommend it for children in general. Also, many of the excursions are active, walking tours -- just something to keep in mind.

I found the food to be very good in the main dining room, better than in the buffet. I've heard that it is even better this year -- looking forward to finding out for myself soon.

The ship is older and some of the cabins are on the small side. I've not sailed with a luxury line like Seabourne, so I can't compare. However, the Voyages to Antiquity website does a pretty fair job of representing what the cabins look like in various categories.

Working with a travel agent who is familiar with the line has been helpful, even though I've rarely used one in the past. Since it is such a small, specialized line it's good to have someone who is familiar with it. I've gotten advance notice of special deals, assistance with air, as well as an upgrade on my upcoming cruise that I know is due to her efforts. I'm not sure if it's allowed to post such info on this board, but if it is (and if anyone wants it), just let me know in a reply and I'll give her contact info.

P.S. I agree there are good values right now in this market.
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 01:30 PM
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I couldn't agree more with the other posts regarding VTA....I sailed on a 12 day itinerary in May from Athens to Civitavecchia and it was simply great....the shore excursions (mostly) are included and are done in a comprehensive manner...they can be quite strenuous but really get you to the heart of the destination....our particular cruise made 5 stops in Sicily and the lecturers did a great job of helping you understand the destination.....the staff on board are simply some of the best I have experienced with any cruise line...they go out of the way to make sure your experience is top notch........one of the best features is the outdoor terrace for dining....each evening special tables were set up with Sicilian specialities and a pasta station was also available on most nights.......in Palermo, as we boarded the ship, the chef met us with 2 huge swordfish...........soon we were dining on the freshest dishes.........the entertainment is fine....there is a trio and a pianist and these 2 musical acts fit the atmosphere wonderfully on the Aegean Odyssey....the Captain was around all the time, which really added to the feel that you were on your own private (mega) yaucht........it was a great experience and one that I would definitely do again.....
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 06:19 PM
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Many thanks everyone for your great feedback. We had been hesitating to book, but now we feel a whole lot better about it. We had noted that some other Mediterranean cruises are cheaper but don't include shore excursions, and the remark one poster made about these adding up to more than the cruise cost makes us feel better about V2A whose shore excursions are (mostly) included. Your good comments about the food, lectures, entertainment, service and friendliness are also very encouraging.

A practical question: they say they operate a "cashless" system on board, with final bills settled up (by credit card only?) at the end of the cruise. Do they offer you a way of keeping track of what you're spending, e.g. bar dockets as you go? How does the system work for onboard spending?
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 12:48 AM
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twoflower: rather tellingly, every single person on this thread who has replied to this thread - bar quovadis - joined Fodor's specially to tell you how wonderful Voyages to Antiquity cruises are.

You might care to consider that fact.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 06:29 AM
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The purser's office runs your account for you periodically throughtout the cruise. I always get the desk staff to run my account for me after I've booked all the tours just to make sure I got what I wanted and you can ask for a copy of our account anytime. Not sure re the bar tabs but I always got a receipt for the purchases in the spa or shop.
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 12:02 AM
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"Rather tellingly, every single person on this thread who has replied to this thread.....joined Fodor's specially to tell (me) how wonderful Voyages to Antiquity cruises are".

Not sure what to make of this. I admit it's odd, but it's also odd to think people with a vested interest are reading this Forum waiting for my question to come up so they could join and promote it. They might (and may have?) waited years for a question like mine to come up. Surely, for the sake of credibility, they would have joined already?

Puzzled, but if you could elaborate....
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 02:23 AM
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Heya twoflower, I see you joined quite some years ago and I've been haunting these hallowed halls for a while as well - so I guess you start to see patterns. I hang in the Asia room mostly, where spammers are a daily occurence. Of course, the art of spamming has developed as these travel sites gain prominence - I surpect there are teams of keen Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai/Nepali etc. etc. manning the pumps, ready to spring into action. Google search is a powerful thing.

So when you [quite rightly] put the name of the cruise line in the title, all it needs is one person to click on 'Voyages of Antiquity' on Google each morning and bingo - you're a target. It's their job.

So then, the subtle part begins. How to talk it up without seeming too obvious? I suspect that, should Fodor's care to check, they'd find that most of these new members share an I.P. address.

One time spammers rarely return to the scene of the crime and, as you see, nobody has come back in to tell me I'm a complete arse for doubting them.

Yet. lol.

So, either I'm a complete cynic or I'm right. I dunno. It's impossible to tell. I guess the point then comes down to this: would you be happy sailing with an organisation that resorts to these tactics to get customers..?

Dunno. I think the itineraries look rather good - and I do note a great many cheapo deals floating around for the company right now - which may mean something - or nothing.

The science of marketing is changing. Your post is, of course, a brilliant way to keep the name of the company right up the top of the board - which is free advertising. I find it pretty hard to believe that a casual, non-member reader - or ten of them would suddenly think 'Ah, poor twoflower needs my help. I must join the club, open a membership immediately, specifically to answer his question...'

Would you?

So I always click the poster's name to check their history. Like TripAdvisor, those with one gushing post OR those with an axe to grind are to be taken with a grain of salt.

Of course, I may be wrong. Perhaps all these people are kosher - but if I replied to a post, I'd then follow it. So far, with one exception, that isn't happening. All I see is glowing praise - not a single negative comment - 100% customer satisfaction. Wow.

So, here's some balance from cruise critic:
http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...?EntryID=71738
http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...?EntryID=69851

There's more. Here's the link to everything.http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...ty-cruises/cl/

Caveat emptor, twoflower... caveat emptor.
What does it all mean? Dunno.
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 09:40 AM
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Very astute obs. dogster. This forum is not the busiest in the world so to get so many replies for a cruise line not exactly mainstrean like RCI, CCL. etc. and for them to come w/i mere hours of each other or minutes in some cases is very suspicious I think. I mean you normally don't get so many reples so fast to question about the more popular mass market lines let alone a speciality line like this. Elementary, eh Dogster.
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 12:25 PM
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So, since I happened to be in contact with my local TA, she told me that someone on this website was asking ? re V2A and would I care to reply having now been on the ship 2X.
So, that's why I replied and I have a feeling the request may have gotten passed on to a few more than me.

NO deep, dark ulterior motives and if you follow the very wise suggestion to check out Cruise Critic you will find me and the others - no TA's just people who have been on the ship, had some issues but have generally enjoyed the experience.

I travel as a solo and no where else can I get a solo cabin with only a 10-15% premium, not the usual 50-75%.

Grab a cup of coffee ( or maybe a glass of wine) and read all the postings, good and bad. Hope to travel with you. calm seas and blue skies. Shar
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 03:08 PM
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Dogster: Thanks for the further information. I guess I'm too trusting - it would never have occurred to me to check the history of all the posters - but when you pointed out their newness I did think it odd. But then I thought back to my own experience of joining Fodors: I seem to remember reading reviews and threads for some weeks, then finally thinking "Ah, I can contribute something helpful to this topic", at which point I joined and did so. So I told myself maybe this is what happened here. Then I read the Cruise Critic links you provided...and now I'm worried!

The reviews were from 2010, and it would be nice to think V2A have addressed some of the issues, but... It would be good to hear comments from fodorites with a proven history who have been on a more recent V2A cruise. Ontariotrekker: what is your response to the Cruise Critic reviews in the links posted above?

I'll keep you all posted on what we decide....
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 03:43 PM
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Read the 2011 cruise reviews on the CC website and you'll see that most things have been improved.
Some issues still for me:
- smoke stack still gives off some smuts - I just take a quick look before I sit down and drop a napkin on the seat if nec. Smoke backdraft is not an issue on the pool deck anymore.
- I'm not much for "fancy dining" anytime and found the service in the MDR slow and inconsistant.
- I'm also a fan of plainer food and the found some of the meats to be stylisly undercooked. The buffet chefs got to know this very quickly and my veal or lamb was cooked to order.

Bottom line is that even 'discounted ' prices and deals will not generate the kind of repeat business V2A gets unless the product is very good... Smithonian and Road Scholar people are very evident on board.
If you'd like to see my Black Sea review - email me [email protected] - Shar
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 03:55 PM
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"So, since I happened to be in contact with my local TA, she told me that someone on this website was asking ? re V2A..."

And what benefit would the Travel Agent gain from this altruism? More sales.

Follow the money, twoflowers, follow the money.

Yep, you are too trusting - and that's kinda nice. Australians and New Zealanders are like little baby lambs abroad. The poor sods have absolutely no idea what's going on, most of the time.[I'm Australian].

Here's a tip: don't believe what you read on the net. There are some well spoken, persuasive, intelligent, BAD people out there. I'm not suggesting the above posts are an example of this - merely stating a broad point.

There's nothing wrong with trusting - except when you trust people with your money. Then the game changes. Due diligence. Caveat Emptor.

That's why Detective Dog is here.

Of course, Detective Dog might be the well spoken, persuasive, intelligent, BAD person in all of this...

See? That's the point. You don't know. That's what Google is for.
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 04:29 PM
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Since my opinion is now suspect and Detective Dog is being bullheaded about it, this is now my last post We Canadians are peacekeepers. Happy sailing to everyone.
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 04:39 PM
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I too find it odd that Ont. just happened to get a call from the TA. Perhaps so, but odd.
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