Here’s one cruise Odyssey that serves up a voyage to remember

//Here’s one cruise Odyssey that serves up a voyage to remember

aegeanodyssey1.jpgIt’s been more than a week since I returned from Aegean Odyssey and five days sailing along from Venice along the Croatian coast to Dubrovnik. I haven’t forgotten that a review of the ship is overdue, so here goes . . .
Facts and figures first: the ship is 460 feet long with seven passenger decks, carries 378 passengers in 198 cabins, and has a crew of 200. Aegean Odyssey was built in 1974, but not as a cruise ship – it has a strengthened hull and was designed to carry ammunition. Later converted for passenger use, and sailing under a number of names, it was acquired by serial shipping entrepreneur Gerry Herrod, and underwent a lengthy refit to become the one ship in the fleet of a company called Voyages to Antiquity.
Actually, refit is an inadequate word to describe what was done to the ship. It was virtually re-built. Passenger capacity was reduced from 560, and most of the cabins are completely new and larger than before.
The majority of the public rooms are on the Promenade Deck; the Ambassadors Lounge is the venue for most events, from the Captain’s cocktail reception to the port briefings and the lectures by visiting experts (see below). Midships is the Charleston Lounge and Bar, and aft is the Terrace cafe and grill.
Also on this deck is the ship’s boutique, selling essentials, mementoes and “resort casual” fashion items, and the library, which is rather smaller and less well-stocked than the equivalents on, say, Minerva or Spirit of Adventure.
The main dining room, the Marco Polo restaurant, is down on Deck 3, while the airy Observation Lounge is on Deck 9, up from the Lido Deck and its delightful pool, surrounded by sunbeds and parasols in a classy combination of navy blue covers and burgundy towels.
There’s a small gym and spa on the Lido Deck, and a beauty salon and an internet room aft of the reception desk on Five. There’s a sheltered deck space for smokers at the aft end of Deck Four – it’s the only place on the ship they are allowed to light up.
The refit provided 42 balcony cabins, most of which are in Concierge class which provides a few extras such as mini-bar stocked with soft drinks; a welcome bottle of Champagne, bathrobes and slippers, and Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom.
A classical trio and a cocktail pianist provide entertainment, but there’s no casino, disco or production shows – the emphasis here is on discovering the destinations and all the culture and history they have to offer.
To that end, a local expert spends time on board during sections of each cruise, to provide briefings , and there a guest lecturers on board to bring their own insights to the voyage.
While I was on board we had the benefit of historian Dr Oswyn Murray, of Balliol College, Oxford; Sir Tom Richardson, a retired diplomat who was British ambassador to Italy from 1996 to 2000; and Classics professor Dr Tom Winnifrith, who also specialises in Balkan history.
The Ambassador’s Lounge was invariably packed for their talks, even after dinner, and question time often produced a lively debate, particularly from the group of Road Scholars – American travellers specialising in educational tourism – who can be found on most voyages.
Aegean Odyssey and Voyages to Antiquity show lots of promise for an outfit in its first year of operation. Standards of food and service are excellent, and the excursions – included in the fare – are of a high quality, and enhanced by the fact that each passenger is provided with a radio receiver to listen to the guide’s exposition.
But there are a few improvements that would be beneficial during the close season – the ship will be laid up for the winter after completing a cruise from Cairo to Athens, via Lebanon and Syria in December, and sails again from March next year.
The decor could be described as minimalist at best; it’s rather sparse and cold. There are few pictures or decorative items around the ship, and all the public rooms would benefit from having curtains or blinds – the Observation Lounge in particular could be a much more inviting space.
And work needs to be done on the funnel, which was rebuilt during the refit, but which still throws out blobs of soot which make sunbathing at the aft end of the ship a hazardous experience.
These, however, are relatively minor issues. Herrod and his team can be justifiably proud of what has been achieved so far.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:18+00:00 3 November 2010|Cruise Gossip|2 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. John Campbell 4 November 2010 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    Thanks, John, for publishing this review. I have to admit that I am very drawn to Voyages to Antiquity. Early on in their first season there was a high-visibility review that wasn’t particularly positive. I found this disappointing at the time. I’m happy to hear that they have addressed some issues and improved their product.

  2. Scott Anderson 16 November 2010 at 9:26 am - Reply

    Hi John – great review of this little ship and re-assuring to read that they are offering a quality product and on board delivery. Was supposed to fly out and see it earlier in the year but ash cloud put paid to that! Hopefully in 2011! Voyages to Antiquity has proved popular with our members too so I expect them to go from strength to strength.

Leave A Comment