Sunday, 28 August 2016

CMV ASTOR 42 nights from Tilbury to Auckland

Way back in Jan 2015 an advert of 2 for the price of 1 caught our eye for a cruise to Australia.  It seems this is a regular offer and for an outside cabin the total cost was £4946 for 2 people 56 nights to Freemantle.  There is an option to disembark in Auckland for New Zealand then Sydney, Adelaide or Perth for Australia.

The ship leaves from Tilbury which is easily accessible by train from central London.  It's the original port from where the £10 poms set sail to Australia.

The ship only holds 600 passengers so the boarding process was quick and efficient.  As an older ship the card system works for on board purchases and boarding and disembarking but for the cabins you have quite a hefty key.  Safe keys are available free of charge at reception.

There are few double cabins with double beds as the single beds cannot be pushed together due to fixed furniture in the middle.  In the basic cabins there is a fridge, TV, dressing table, writing desk and wardrobes but probably not enough hangers.  Lovely fluffy white bath robes were provided.

The bathrooms were a decent size with complimentary soap, multi purpose shower and shampoo gel, sewing kit, shower caps and nail kit.  As well as hand and bath towels there were face cloths.  Extra blankets, pillows and 2 large beach towels were in the wardrobes.

We had cabin 104 on deck 3 towards the front of the ship.  It should have been a family cabin with an additional room containing bunk beds.  It was very quiet in the cabin although we did notice splashing outside when the seas were a bit rough.

Most facilities are on deck 5 making it very easy to find things.  We had lowered our expectations knowing this was a lower grade cruise ship but in most areas we were very impressed.

Food was varied and they had lots of special nights, themed by country or party style out on deck.  Leaving Mexico we had a tropical buffet with all the unusual fruits that had been taken on board.

Needing a gluten free diet my needs were very well catered for in the Waldorf restaurant bur not so well in the Ubersee buffet.  Many people did not understand gluten free and when asked if a product
contained gluten they would answer "yes it has milk in".  However it never seemed any trouble to get someone to bring up what I had ordered from the Waldorf menu.

There were some superb shows such as Abba, Phantom of the Opera, Rocky Horror Show spoilt slightly by the fact that the theatre is badly designed with many pillars obstructing views.

Of the many activities things got a bit confusing as times were changed often.  Morning exercise classes were very good when put on but not available every day.

Quizzes were held in the Captains Club which wasn't really big enough for the number of people attending.  Fortunately we were all sympathetic to the entertainment crew reading out the questions with their foreign pronunciation.

The main area where we and the majority of people on board thought things could be improved was down to the cruise director.  He was not keen to listen to comments or constructive criticism and insisted on doing thing the way he always had in spite of this being a little different as a long duration cruise with many sea days.

Overall we would highly recommend this cruise and were surprised how many first time cruisers were on board for the full 56 nights and all thoroughly enjoyed it. 

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