We travelled on the Minerva II Christmas/New Year cruise and found the ship overcrowded and the food to be below the standard expected from an 'award winning' cruise company like Swan Hellenic. Do any of our fellow passengers feel the same?
We heard comments about the Christmas cruise being very full, but I imagine that is to be expected.
It was more or less fully booked I think when we were on, but we didn't find it overcrowded as quite a number of the cabins were booked as singles, so there were about 500 or so passengers.
It was our first time on the ship and we would definitely go again.
We have cruised a number of times before and prefer the smaller ships.
We also felt that the food was not quite of the standard we have experienced - not really up to Fred Olsen, for instance, but it was more than adequate and there were other factors that outweighed this. For instance, we liked the open seating arrangement in the dining room for meals, including dinner and the alternative dining rooms for variety of meals.
Overall, we considered the ambience of the ship and the attention to detail superior to any other ship we had been on.
We went on Minerva II on the transatlantic in April (having previously sailed twice on Minerva I and three times on Orpheus). We thought the ship was very nice - very comfortable and we had a standard outside cabin on deck 4 which was far superior to other ships we have been on - Orient, Saga Rose, Fred Olsen, Voyages of Discovery.
I have to say that we enjoyed the food very much indeed and certainly would place it higher in rank than Fred Olsen. However, food is a personal thing. I would say that Fred Olsen food is plainer and many people probably prefer that. The chef of Minerva II is from Orient Line and we always enjoyed his food then.
We were probably lucky in that the ship was not full - indeed so much so that when you went to dinner at night there was nearly always a sign saying there was still room in the two speciality restaurants. Normally you have to book these by lunchtime. I believe from people on the cruise who had been previously when the ship was fuller service can be slow and the dining room noisy and people book the two speciality restaurants to escape. They were good too for a change though I think we probably liked the main restaurant best. If you should want a table for two it is possible to get one if you arrive at the start of opening. We would never do this normally prefering to meet people but I had a bad chest and did not want to talk too much so we tended to do this the first week of the cruise.
We would certainly go again if the itinerary and price were right. My only criticism for me personally is that it is too organised. I dislike having included excursions. If you do not take them you have paid for them (and highly) and if you do you can end up exhausted and not really seeing a place as you would always wish. We prefer a fifty fifty approach of some excursions, some by ourselves. I also found the entertainment a little highbrow for me though my husband was happy enough.