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Christmas Markets Cruise, December 2022


Britboys
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A brief report & thoughts on the 5 night cruise to Hamburg and Amsterdam last month.

 

Parking and check-in was very good. On arrival at the car park opposite the Terminal Building, I was directed first to a covered shed where main luggage could be dropped off and transferred on to the ship. I was then directed to a car parking space and walked across the road with my carry-on luggage to join a short queue to get into the Terminal Building. My Covid certificate was checked and it was then straight on to security and then joined a short queue for the check-in desks, which were staffed by crew members. Once check in was completed, the next desk was to collect my cruise card and then a quick dodge of the embarkation photographer and straight on board and directly to my cabin. I had booked early and received an upgrade to a Superior Single Outside, which was spacious and had twin beds. It was spotlessly clean and had lots of storage space including a walk-in wardrobe area adjacent to the bathroom. As usual, the bathroom was compact but with a good size shower. During my cruise I did not experience any problems at all with water temperature or pressure and the flush on the toilet behaved! The ship is 30 years old so the cabin was not contemporary but everything was in good condition and the bed was very comfortable. The aircon unit in the ceiling was loud - no rattles or anything, just a loud whoosh of air loud...

 

Food - I ate dinner every night in the main dining room, The Buckingham. The menus were interesting & varied and quality good but not outstanding. I only had one poor experience, on the last night, when I seemed to have chosen wrongly on every course. Service was good and if anything wasn't right the waiting staff were keen to resolve it. Because my last night meal was so bad, the waitress asked a restaurant manager to come and talk with me. He was very receptive and apologetic. Breakfast in The Buckingham was a bit chaotic and a hit & miss experience.

I used the Borough Market Food Court most days for lunch and some breakfasts. Like all ship buffets, it was busy at popular times. There was a wide variety of food on offer but it was somewhat formulaic, so a variation of the same things on different days. There was only one dessert counter which always had queues at lunchtime. Portions were small but you could have as many as you wanted. Afternoon tea was served here and was very good.

 

Ports - Hamburg was a wonderful destination at this time of year but Amsterdam less so. We were due to leave Hamburg at midnight but at a late stage it was decided that we would remain in port overnight and so be able to enjoy the sail down the River Elbe in daylight, which was nice. A complimentary shuttle was provided in Hamburg and we were berthed centrally in Amsterdam.

 

Entertainment - This was very much a highlight. The in-house theatre troupe were excellent, all talented singers and dancers. Costumes were outstanding and staging very good. The bar/lounge musicians were good too, especially the classical duo. Personally I didn't care for the 'party band' but the late-night Observatory Lounge was heaving with enthusiastic pax dancing every night.

 

General - The public rooms are mostly quite attractive, especially Raffles Bar, The Botanical Lounge, The Atrium and the Palladium Theatre. I found the Observatory somewhat dark and cold with a rather 80's bling decor. The Purple Turtle Pub to me just doesn't work and so I rather avoided it. This was the first cruise where the ship was full to the gunwhales and I found some of the public rooms very crowded when wanting a pre-dinner drink. Service in the bars and lounges was a problem and I suspect Ambassador will be recruiting extra crew to cope with a full ship. Air-conditioning was also a problem at times both in cabins and public rooms. Hopefully this will be resolved.

 

Conclusions - I very much enjoyed the cruise despite a few problems. Ambassador and the Ambience have a lot of positives and I am keen to sail with them again once I feel assured that the aircon and staffing problems are sorted.

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Thanks very much Britboys - very helpful review.

Glad you enjoyed it.

Hopefully the air con and staffing get resolved.


It will be very interesting to see how the next ship Ambition is , which I believe starts in May and has some unusual departure ports like Falmouth and Bristol I think ?


Very good that they decided to stay overnight in Hamburg - that’s impressive service.

 

 

Could you have a pre dinner drink and watch the bar/lounge musicians at 6pm ish time ?
 

Do they do turndown service ?

 

thanks 

 

 

 

 

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I'm surprised by your review of Borough Market.

 

On my trip I ate there every day because I simply don't like lunch/dinner to be a 2.5 hour marathon.

 

and on most days the choices matched that which was being served in the Buckingham, though less formally plated.  It most certainty wasn't "the same every day"

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On 1/6/2023 at 3:00 PM, paulatsea said:

Thanks very much Britboys - very helpful review.

Glad you enjoyed it.

Hopefully the air con and staffing get resolved.


It will be very interesting to see how the next ship Ambition is , which I believe starts in May and has some unusual departure ports like Falmouth and Bristol I think ?


Very good that they decided to stay overnight in Hamburg - that’s impressive service.

 

 

Could you have a pre dinner drink and watch the bar/lounge musicians at 6pm ish time ?
 

Do they do turndown service ?

 

thanks 

 

 

 

 

Yes, Ambition has departures from Newcastle, Dundee, Liverpool, Belfast, Bristol and Falmouth.

 

Sorry, can't say about the bars around 6pm as I was generally returning to my cabin then to start getting ready for the evening.

 

There was an evening cabin service. Bathroom freshened up, curtains drawn and light left on. Bed not actually turned down, no pillow chocolate.

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19 hours ago, tim_london0 said:

I'm surprised by your review of Borough Market.

 

On my trip I ate there every day because I simply don't like lunch/dinner to be a 2.5 hour marathon.

 

and on most days the choices matched that which was being served in the Buckingham, though less formally plated.  It most certainty wasn't "the same every day"

What I meant by the same every day was that it was always a variation on a theme. Because it is comprised of a number of themed counters (pasta, fish, oriental, curry, roast etc) it seems to limit what they actually serve. Sadly, like so many places now, on many days spicy dishes seemed to dominate.

I never ate there in the evening as I don't go on a cruise to eat dinner at the buffet. We were always out of the mdr within 2 hours in the evening.

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It's not clear to me how "always a variation on a theme" can be a problem when the alternative is a "choice of 3 pre-plated options selected by someone else".

 

At least with Borough market I can go around and get my protein off of one counter, my carbs off another one and my veg off a third.  I don't just have to stick with the choices that someone else has made for me.  (I guess that I can change this in the MDR, but doing it everyday has got to end up being a right old faff.)

 

And there wasn't a limited choice, IIRC there were 9 different counters to choose from.

 

and I don't recall the being an excess of spicy food either.

 

Finally, as I suspect is clear to you, I don't go on cruise to make meal-times into an event.  They are just of means of gaining sustenance to survive until the next day.

 

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4 hours ago, tim_london0 said:

It's not clear to me how "always a variation on a theme" can be a problem when the alternative is a "choice of 3 pre-plated options selected by someone else".

 

At least with Borough market I can go around and get my protein off of one counter, my carbs off another one and my veg off a third.  I don't just have to stick with the choices that someone else has made for me.  (I guess that I can change this in the MDR, but doing it everyday has got to end up being a right old faff.)

 

And there wasn't a limited choice, IIRC there were 9 different counters to choose from.

 

and I don't recall the being an excess of spicy food either.

 

Finally, as I suspect is clear to you, I don't go on cruise to make meal-times into an event.  They are just of means of gaining sustenance to survive until the next day.

 

We obviously had a different experience of the Borough Market. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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