We have just returned from the Ancient Affair cruise, departing from Limassol and calling at Alanya, Marmaris, Heraklion and Haifa.
We did not have an auspicious start as, upon arrival at Paphos airport, we were left in a queue in the coach park while a TUI member of staff had to locate our driver. We would have been less than impressed if it hadn't just stopped raining. Once on board the coach, the transfer from Paphos to Limassol took around 1 hour.
Embarkation was easier than I had anticipated and our cases arrived at our cabin very quickly indeed.
The paperwork in our cabin said that the muster drill would take place at 9 p.m. We decided to explore some of the ship and had stopped in the Water's Edge Bar for a quick drink when one of the waiters came over and told us that the drill had started. There was no announcement over the tannoy (or if there was, it wasn't loud enough). We proceeded to our muster station to be confronted with what must have been the most disorganised and polntless drill we have ever experienced. No one demonstrated how to put on a life jacket, there was no demonstration of what the alarm sounded like and what one should do in a real emergency and no one was properly checking who had attended and who hadn't. We might as well not have bothered and I am not sure the shambles we winessed would actually comply with maritime regulations.
Since the drill was next to the buffet, we decided to grab something to eat there. The food in the buffet is some of the worst we have had on our 10 or so cruises. However, the experience in the Orion restaurant was much better and the food was very good indeed (although I do think it is a bit cheeky to charge an extra £9.95 if you want a steak).
The entertainment on the whole was pretty good, and the all inclusive drinks package more than covered our requirements. The drinks were plentiful, measures generous and no feeling of being limited.
New Year's Eve was a great night. The main dining room looked very festive and the food very good. The deck party was fantastic and the atmosphere great. We enjoyed it very much.
The only port in which we booked excursions was Haifa (having been changed from Ashdod). We ended up doing the overnight experience and had an absolutely fantastic time. The guide was great, the overnight hotel wonderful and we packed in so much that we felt it well worth the cost.
The stand out point on this ship is without doubt the crew who were absolutely lovely and couldn't do enough for you. It was also one of the friendliest cruises we have experienced.
We had an inside cabin on Deck 5. This was smaller than cabins we have had on other ships, but was clean and functional enough. The ship is much older and smaller than we are used to and the engines were very noisy and juddery, especially at the aft of the ship. The shower in our cabin was extremely temperamental and we found you were either scalded by boiling hot water or covered in an icy shower. Almost impossible to get the mixer taps to work properly. The safe was free, as was tea and coffee making facility but there was no complimentary bottled water. There are, however, water stations on each deck and it is easy enough to fill an empty water container there and keep it cold in your fridge.
Fantastic tour, taking in all major sites.