The morning of June 10 2016 started very early, but there would be a cruise ship waiting at the end of it, so it was worth it. My flight was scheduled to leave at 06.15 – meaning a 04.15 meet at Gatwick Airport with my fellow travel agents. Ten of us, including a representative from Voyages to Antiquity, met at check-in. I was bleary eyed from the early start, but raring to go and before we knew it, we were in sunny Malaga. It was absolutely scorching when we arrived, so the air conditioned mini-bus to take us to the port to join Aegean Odyssey was a welcome sight!
Voyages to Antiquity First Impressions
We arrived at the port around noon and were greeted by the sight of Aegean Odyssey, white and blue and gleaming in the sunshine. We went through the cruise terminal and a young waitress from the ship met us, offering juices, chilled water and iced tea, and a chilled hand towel – perfect. This was a nice touch, as we were all hot and in need of a refreshing cool drink by this stage.
We were soon onboard, checked in and on our way to our staterooms. I admired various aspects of the ship as I made my way towards my stateroom, I was instantly aware at how spacious the ship was and her artworks and ornaments were certainly in keeping with the lines ethos of antiquities. My accommodations were on Belvedere Deck, a Deluxe Balcony stateroom and it was wonderful, especially the large bathroom with walk-in shower.
The ship seemed quite quiet and it turned out the majority of guests were on a day-long tour to Alhambra, so I took full advantage of the tranquil swimming pool. It was clean, cold and just lovely.
A few hours later, I met my fellow travel agents in the Marco Polo restaurant for a light lunch, which turned out to be an amazing 4 course feast. The Marco Polo Restaurant was lovely – lots of crisp white linen, sparkling crystal and it had a feel good factor.
In the evening we familiarised ourselves with the ship before retiring early. It had been a long day and we were all in need of some slumber. Plus, we had a day of tours ahead of us in the morning.
Voyages to Antiquity Shore excursions
We all assembled in the Charleston lounge and were taken quickly and fuss free to our air conditioned Coach, which was wonderful as it was 40 degrees Celsius outside and rising. Our tour guide was a man called Juan Antonia Carlos and he impressed me so much I made sure I had his full name. Juan proceeded to give us a full lectured, guided tour of Cadiz with regular stops for photographs. His English was faultless and his local knowledge very good. It transpired he had been born and lived his life in Cadiz and he spoke about his city with pride and authority – he pointed out the hospital he had been born in and the flat that he now lived in with his family – his enthusiasm was infectious. I was also impressed with the Quiet Vox – an individual headset with a small box that hung around your neck and meant you never missed a word the guide said. Even when right in the heart of the busy and bustling city, we could hear every word that Juan said. It also gave great comfort because even though you couldn’t always see him, being able to hear him meant he was only feet away – I expect many guests travelling alone would be incredibly grateful of such a device on tours.
After a busy morning, we returned to the ship for some lunch before assembling once again in the Charleston Lounge, this time for a sherry tasting tour. Again, this tour was guided by Juan Antonia Carlos and we had a very informative narration during the drive to the sherry distillery. He really was a delight, pointing out things that we wouldn’t have necessarily noticed being tourists. Once at the Tio Pepe distillery, Juan Carlos handed over to a Tio Pepe guide, who proceeded to give us a walking tour of Tio Pepe. The piece de resistance was the port tasting at the end – whereby we sampled three types of Port and enjoyed and shared plates of tapas. Thoroughly enjoyable and hard to believe It is all included in the price!
Dining Aboard Aegean Odyssey
Aegean Odyssey has two restaurants, let’s first look at the Terrace Café and Grill, which has an Italian influence with both outside and inside seating. The Terrace Café is perfect for sunny days and enjoying the outside ambience. You can have all three meals in the Terrace, but my favourite was breakfast and lunch. Being able to sit outside in the sun and enjoy good food is one of life’s little treats. the food is mainly served from the buffet, but there is a salad bar and you can also order freshly cooked pizza’s and pasta’s. A large selection of desserts and ice creams also await.
The Marco Polo restaurant was wonderful and had exceptionally good cuisine, here you can enjoy lunch and/or dinner. The lunch menu allows you to choose from a variety of starters and main courses that include grilled meats, seafood and other offerings. In the evening, the menu expands to include appetisers, soup, salads and a choice of four main courses. Wine is complimentary with your evening meal. The waiters were fabulous and very attentive.
Entertainment and Public Areas on Aegean Odyssey
I was expecting the entertainment to be quite low key and was told that sometimes it is, but Richard Sykes, the Cruise Director, was an absolute master on the keyboard and a fabulous singer, he had everybody up rocking on the dance floor two nights in a row. Richard Sykes was the consummate professional and seemed to be on hand, morning, noon and night, keeping everybody entertained with the daily quiz or engaging with the passengers and making sure everybody’s needs were met.
On another evening, we had a flamenco performance from a local Seville dance group and they were superb, it was a lovely added touch. The rest of the time it was a gentle pianist or jazz singer, but the whole entertainment programme that I saw was more than I anticipated, so I was pleasantly surprised.
Moving on to some of the areas onboard, the Pool Deck offered a good sized pool and sun loungers with umberellas and everything was spotless. My only complaint about the pool was that it was empty for 2 days. As we were sailing up a river, we were told that the pool could not be filled with the river water. This was a huge blow not only to me but all other guests – it was so hot and the pool was desperately needed.
The Lido bar was well appointed with lots of top shelf spirits, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to suit all. Very attentive bar staff who looked after us very well and there were also some really nice touches, like being served Hors d’oeuvres with drinks that hadn’t been requested, they just arrived.
My Aegean Odyssey Cruise Summary
I thoroughly enjoyed my time aboard Aegean Odyssey and as a whole I have no complaints. The nationality mix was interesting, I’d say the majority of passengers are British with the rest being Australian, American and others.
Aegean Odyssey is a little dated in some areas, but she makes up for it in many public areas such as the Charleston lounge, Observation Lounge and Ambassador Lounge – all of which are wonderful spaces.
I will also say that Voyages to Antiquity’s shore excursion programme is exceptional and the best I have ever experienced in all my years of cruising. I couldn’t fault a single thing and everything was organised perfectly. The Quiet Vox was somewhat of a revelation for me.
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