Thoughts on Pullmantur Sovereign


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#1
999 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
I am recently back from Breezes of the Mediterranean on Pullmantur Sovereign which departed on the 24th September. If anybody is interested here are my thoughts.

Background:
I am from the United Kingdom and have cruised before with Cunard, P&O, Fred Olsen, Star Clippers, Voyages of Discovery and Croisieres de France. I was part of a group of fourteen friends who cruise together. Mainly British but some other Europeans. I do not speak Spanish.

Embarkation:
I arrived at the cruise terminal in Barcelona midday. This was probably the peak time. First luggage label queue, then luggage drop queue, then security queue, then check in queue, and finally boarding queue. Despite all this it probably took me less than an hour as the queues were always moving. My cabin available from 4pm. An embarkation lunch was available in a dining room and buffet.

The Ship:
Sovereign is a lovely, attractive and now classic cruise ship. Particular highlights include a large atrium, wide outside promenades and high celling height in many public rooms. My favourite rooms were the nautically themed Spinnaker bar and the 360 Lounge which wraps round the funnel. There was about 2400 passengers on this cruise. The ship manages passengers well and I could always find a quiet spot on deck or in a lounge. The itinerary helped as most passengers take whole day excursion to places like Rome. There are two large (for a ship) swimming pools and I even had one to myself for an hour one afternoon. They are seawater and quite cold but still very pleasant. Unusually for an old ship there were plenty of lifts that were large and fast. I never had to wait long for a lift.

Unfortunately I thought Sovereign was quite tired and battered. Maintenance particularly of soft furnishing has not been kept up. The pile on the fabric of many chairs has rubbed completely away. Arms would sometimes fall off. Wood was chipped and brass was worn. Pullmantur need to do better.

Cabins:
Standard cabins are small by modern standards and are showing there age. My curtain and shower curtain were not properly attached to the rail. My safe did not work from the start. It was replaced quickly but the new one had stopped working by the end of the cruise. Shower gel and soap are the only bathroom amenities. My cabin was service very well once a day usually while I was at breakfast.

Passengers:
Almost all were Spanish of all age ranges with plenty of families. They were all very pleasant and friendly people. I never saw any inappropriate behaviour. The noise level was quite high but you could always find somewhere quieter. One cultural difference I did notice is that pre-school age children would still be around with their parents in bars in the early hours of the morning. The dress code and atmosphere is definitely casual.

Smoking:
Absolutely no smoking indoors was allowed and that was complied with. On deck there was a small no smoking section but that seemed to be ignored. If I sat on a deck chair several people would come to sit near me and start smoking. If you are really bothered by smoke find a different cruise line.

Language:
All announcement, menus, daily programmes, port information, emergency drill, all announcements, signage, embarkation forms, disembarkation information and advertisements were provided in Spanish and English. Staff such as security, my cabin steward, waiters, bar staff and pursers department all spoke very good English and were happy to talk to us in English. It was not a problem. There were two international hosts who were stationed at check in to welcome and introduce themselves to non Spanish passengers. They also held a welcome meeting and disembarkation talk in English. The two hosts were on reception at advertised hours if needed. I found all reception had good English skills so did not need the international hosts to assist. Pullmantur really did well for English speaking passengers. Some excursions could be made bilingual if there was sufficient demand.

Service
I thought the service was very good. The crew were helpful, efficient and hardworking and friendly. Tables were cleared quickly and bar service was particularly prompt. They are a real credit to Pulmantur and made the cruise a pleasure.

Breakfast and Lunch:
Generally the same choices are offered as a buffet in a dining room and at the buffet restaurant. I never had a difficulty getting a table in the buffet restaurant or had to queue for food. Snack were also available for an outside food counter. I found the buffet food quite basic and repetitive. I was a bit disappointed by the food at breakfast and lunch. I never used room service. A tapas bar has recently opened. It offers small portions for an extra charge. Some of the choices I had seen in the buffet previously. Unsurprising it was not popular.

Dinner:
Served as two sittings (19.30 and 22.00) in two dining rooms. We had first seating. The food was very good and a highlight of the day. For six our seven days the same menu was offered. If I remember there was about twelve starters, twelve main course and six deserts. I thought this worked really well as there was plenty of choice, I could try different choices on different days and repeat a favourite dish. I tended to order two starter courses, a main course and a desert. On the other evening a Gala six course menu was served. There was no choice but I liked it all. The food that night was some of the best and most interesting I have ever had on a cruise ship. Apart from the final evening the service was very good. One the final night we had a different waiter and it did not go well. A shame as it was the final impression. Dinner was also available in the buffet restaurant and an extra tariff restaurant. I did not try these options.

All Inclusive:
I had the basic all inclusive package and was very pleased with it. It include wine, cocktails and coffee that I was quite happy with. I was happy to pay a few Euros for a different drink occasionally. I liked the freshly squeezed orange juice that was made at the bar and most of my onboard account was made up of this.

Entertainment:
Our group made our own entertainment. Activities and shows are obviously in Spanish. Though the musical shows (such as an Abba tribute) are probably suitable for all languages. I was disappointed that live music, such as a pianist or singer, was not offered in most of the bars and never at lunchtime. I would have liked more live music.

Disembarkation:
I had an early train from Barcelona station and reception were happy to change me to the first group. I was off Sovereign quite early. The luggage area was packed but I was able to get my suitcase reasonably quickly. There were no queues for the taxis which was great.

Conclusion:
I really enjoyed this cruise. The ship and service were both very good. I would happily travel again, as part of a group, with Pullmantur and on Sovereign.
#2
285 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Hi1 My sister and I will be traveling on this ship for 2 weeks. Nov. 5-12 and nov 12-19. good review. were there any dress up evenings? How do people dress for dinner? How did you get into Rome? Did you take any excursions through the ship?
#3
999 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by rein53
Hi1 My sister and I will be traveling on this ship for 2 weeks. Nov. 5-12 and nov 12-19. good review. were there any dress up evenings? How do people dress for dinner? How did you get into Rome? Did you take any excursions through the ship?
On the whole I would describe the evenings as smart casual. I wore trousers (not jeans) and a shirt. There was one Gala evening with a special menu in the restaurant. I do not remember a dress code as such. Most people put on their finer clothes. Evening dresses or jackets and tie. One chap put on a whole obviously new outfit of matching football shirt, jeans and trainers. All in red.

I did not go to Rome. Excursion in Spanish were offered. A coach transfer was also available. Alternatively, some people take the shuttle bus to outside the port, walk to the railway station (it is quite a way) and then a train to Rome. I did not want such a long and tiring day.

The shuttle bus drop off and pick up point in Citivecchia has apparently changed. It is a car park with separate and clearly marked areas for each ship. Ship identifation card are checked before entering and I saw toilets. Unfortunately it is a bit further away from the town centre.

I hope you enjoy your Pullmatur cruise. I had a great time on Sovereign. The officers, staff and crew are lovely me made the cruise for me.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes, Stephen
#4
285 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Thank you for the information on smart casual dress and gala night. We were wondering about travel to Rome. I am sure we will enjoy the trip. We have done most of this itinerary before on Norwegian, but were looking for something a little different.
#5
acton,london
3,298 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
A nice review I did a cruise on monarch on my own which was OK but apart from dinner with a few English speaking sat join my own didn't see an extra tariff restaurant. I was charged twice still have not found out why! I had to reverse the other charge I have book a transatlantic next year won't use a card again, thanks again four your review

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#6
999 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
I read you comments on Monarch on Liners List I think. They were very interesting and informative. Thank you. I must admit I was glad to be part of an English speaking group. By myself I would have been quite lonely. For the price I think Pullmantur provide a good cruise experience but without the alleged luxuries of other lines. Luckily I was only charged once. I hate it when companies take a double payment. Please let us know how your transatlantic crossing goes. Thanks again, Stephen.


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#7
acton,london
3,298 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
Nice one Stephen yes won't put me off going again hopefully meet a few more next time

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#8
Tampa, FL
43 Posts
Joined May 2003
Hi Rein53,

I just sailed on the Sovereign October 15-22. Stephen's review captured everything nicely and was spot on. However, we did not see many children, perhaps because we sailed in October when they are in school. There were approximately 15 English speaking passengers, some Brits and some Americans.

My friends and I did several ship excursions and I thought I could maybe answer some of your questions. We did the Rome Complete excursion, which was a full day. The bus ride to Rome from the port was about an hour. We started at the Vatican which took about half of the day. Tickets to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel were included in the price of the excursion. We saw a little of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and the entire St Peter's Basilica. We had two different tour guides, one for Rome on the bus and one for the Vatican. We were 4 American ladies and all of the the tours we took were in Spanish and English. The bur tour guide (Sarah) had excellent English. The Vatican tour guide was Hugo and his English was not so good, combined with the noise level inside the building made it hard to understand. We were also there on a Wednesday, when the Pope has a papal audience, so it was a bit more crowded and we had to wait a bit for the Sistine Chapel to reopen. After the Vatican and a little time to shop, we were back on the bus for the Rome tour. The bus drove by the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, the Victory monument, the Borghese gardens, and the some ruins of the original city. After we finished the city, we had about 35 minutes of free time to see either the Trevi Fountain or the Spanish steps. This was not enough time and was my only complaint. We had to chose between seeing the Trevi Fountain or eating or shopping. Since it was a full day tour, we tried to do both the Trevi and eat, but we ran out of time and ended up gulping takeaway pasta on the way back to the bus. (it was very good takeaway pasta however).

Not sure what other ports you will be visiting but we did the ships excursions in Naples/Pompeii and Aix en Provence. I'll be glad to give you details if you are visiting those ports. We did Porto Torres, Sardinia and Mallorca on our own.

Americans tend to be very casual, so except for the Gala night, we usually went to dinner in what ever clothes we had worn into port, including jeans and capri pants. Our British dinner companions did the same. We never felt out of place. As a rule though, the Spanish diners tended to dress up a bit more. I think if you avoid shorts and flip flops, you'll be all right in whatever you wear. For the Gala night, we wore short cocktail dress with "blingy" jewelry.

I hope this helps. I know you are sailing soon and you will enjoy the Sovereign. The staff and crew are delightful.

Kim
#9
FL
5 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Originally posted by rein53
Hi1 My sister and I will be traveling on this ship for 2 weeks. Nov. 5-12 and nov 12-19. good review. were there any dress up evenings? How do people dress for dinner? How did you get into Rome? Did you take any excursions through the ship?
Hi! where are your traveling from? My husband and another couple will be aboard the ship from 11/12-11/19. we are using smart cruise tours for our transfer to Rome but i believe the Cruise line offer a transfer as well.
#10
FL
5 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Originally posted by kcross3625
Hi Rein53,

I just sailed on the Sovereign October 15-22. Stephen's review captured everything nicely and was spot on. However, we did not see many children, perhaps because we sailed in October when they are in school. There were approximately 15 English speaking passengers, some Brits and some Americans.

My friends and I did several ship excursions and I thought I could maybe answer some of your questions. We did the Rome Complete excursion, which was a full day. The bus ride to Rome from the port was about an hour. We started at the Vatican which took about half of the day. Tickets to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel were included in the price of the excursion. We saw a little of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and the entire St Peter's Basilica. We had two different tour guides, one for Rome on the bus and one for the Vatican. We were 4 American ladies and all of the the tours we took were in Spanish and English. The bur tour guide (Sarah) had excellent English. The Vatican tour guide was Hugo and his English was not so good, combined with the noise level inside the building made it hard to understand. We were also there on a Wednesday, when the Pope has a papal audience, so it was a bit more crowded and we had to wait a bit for the Sistine Chapel to reopen. After the Vatican and a little time to shop, we were back on the bus for the Rome tour. The bus drove by the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, the Victory monument, the Borghese gardens, and the some ruins of the original city. After we finished the city, we had about 35 minutes of free time to see either the Trevi Fountain or the Spanish steps. This was not enough time and was my only complaint. We had to chose between seeing the Trevi Fountain or eating or shopping. Since it was a full day tour, we tried to do both the Trevi and eat, but we ran out of time and ended up gulping takeaway pasta on the way back to the bus. (it was very good takeaway pasta however).

Not sure what other ports you will be visiting but we did the ships excursions in Naples/Pompeii and Aix en Provence. I'll be glad to give you details if you are visiting those ports. We did Porto Torres, Sardinia and Mallorca on our own.

Americans tend to be very casual, so except for the Gala night, we usually went to dinner in what ever clothes we had worn into port, including jeans and capri pants. Our British dinner companions did the same. We never felt out of place. As a rule though, the Spanish diners tended to dress up a bit more. I think if you avoid shorts and flip flops, you'll be all right in whatever you wear. For the Gala night, we wore short cocktail dress with "blingy" jewelry.

I hope this helps. I know you are sailing soon and you will enjoy the Sovereign. The staff and crew are delightful.

Kim

Hi! glad you had a good trip! May i ask what companies you used for your excursions in Naples and La seyn?
#12
5 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
May 20, 2018 . . . We are currently on the Sovereign's Mediterranean cruise.

Our immediate thoughts . .

1. Our waiter acts like he could NOT be MORE interested . . . We've opted NOW to go to the Buffet. Seems ONLY the younger staff members truly are there to serve the passengers. The older staff, could use some additional training.

2. On the food . . . 1st day? AWESOME 👍 food . . . Ever since ? . . . Yea, not so great

3. For a ship that JUST came out of Dry Dock in November . . . It's in sad shape:
a. Bar by the pool is RARELY open
b. One of the pools has been CLOSED for
TWO days for painting
c. The shower 🚿 in our stateroom has a
buckled wall AND water floods the floor
d. Compared to the Monarch, THIS ship is
sad & has the appearance that it has been put into service long BEFORE a
COMPLETE renovation
E. There seems to be SOME sort of
repairs /banging on a DAILY basis

4. BUT THE MAJOR PEEVE OF THIS CRUISE !

Naples was THE ONLY port that ACTUALLY docked AT the itinerary port.

ALL the other itinerary destinations docked SOMEWHERE ELSE & aside from Nice, WE had to PAY ADDITIONAL to get to the itinerary port.

So be SURE to have euros with you.
#14
n fork li ny
1,554 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Originally posted by sabaka11
Hello,
Can you tell about what you did in each port? Also Any tips about how what to do, see in the ports and how you got there? Thanks so much!
We stayed in Barcelona at near La Rambla. Our first stop was Naples where we say Pompeii and Sorrento. Our second stop was Civitavecchia where we went into Rome and saw the Coliseum, the Vatican and other sights. We then ported in Livorno, where we had an excursion in Florence where we went to the Uffizi museum and walked around Florence. Then Villefranche, where we went to Monaco and Monte Carlo. We ended with Sete, where we had an excursion in Carcassonne, where we went into a medieval city and went into a town nearby.
#15
n fork li ny
1,554 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Originally posted by sabaka11
Hello,
Can you tell about what you did in each port? Also Any tips about how what to do, see in the ports and how you got there? Thanks so much!
We used Pullmantur excursions exclusively as Cruise Critic doesn't seem to have Pullmantur roll calls for specific cruises. A couple of them were narrated in Spanish only, but we asked the guide if we could leave the group and meet up with them at the pickup point and we were able to see things such as the Uffizi Museum on our own.
#16
7 Posts
Joined May 2018
Westview, Thanks for the information. how did you get from BCN airport to your hotel and then from hotel to cruise ship. Also how early will Pullmantur allow you to board the ship.Any info is so helpful!
#17
n fork li ny
1,554 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Originally posted by sabaka11
Westview, Thanks for the information. how did you get from BCN airport to your hotel and then from hotel to cruise ship. Also how early will Pullmantur allow you to board the ship.Any info is so helpful!
We cruised to Barcelona on Norwegian and then took a cab to the Hotel Gaudi which I can recommend for its location, free breakfast and a beautiful roof deck which let you see the city. We boarded the Pullmantur Sovereign around 11:30 and the lines were minimal. I heard that it got worse later in the day, so I would recommend you board early. We took a cab from the hotel to the cruise ship. If you can, spend at least 2 nights in Barcelona. It's a very nice city. We took the Hop On Hop Off bus and enjoyed the sights. We ate at the Restaurante Ferran and had great meals.
#18
5 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
The Metro (subway) system in Barcelona was THE BEST in ALL of our recent trip thru Spain, France & Italy

I don't know where YOUR hotel is, but WE stayed on La Rambla, SO . . .

We were able to take the Metro right there at the airport, with 1 transfer, straight to La Rambla (Liceu) stop.

The next day we walked out to the Columbus monument & caught the bus straight to the cruise terminal.

We enjoyed breakfast, people watching & a beautiful walk . . . La Rambla is a destination in of itself.

We arrived at our ship around 1:30, but I believe boarding started at 12.