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Review: Minerva

Cruise - Ocean Cruise

Ancient Cities in the Sand - A cruise on the m/s Minerva

  • By SilverTraveller DaveC

    1 review

  • Mar 2011
  • Wife
  • Special occasion
  • Inside

36 people found this review helpful

On 30th March my wife and I returned from a cruise on the m/s Minerva, during which time we visited Oman, Eritrea, Egypt and Jordan. What attracted us to this cruise was the itinerary, particularly the opportunity to visit The Valley of the Kings and Petra. These two locations in particular met all our expectations. Words like unique and breathtaking are regularly overused, however, The Valley of the Kings and Petra were precisely that.

Previously we have travelled with a number of the other major cruise lines, but this was our first with Swan Hellenic and our first time on a “small” ship.

On the positive side, all the included excursions were excellent; undoubtedly the best we have ever experienced with any cruise line and the Swan Hellenic staff who attended and managed the excursions were very friendly, helpful and extremely efficient.
Entertainment was non-existent, save for a superb opera company, Absolutely Opera (Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Tenor and Baritone), who were outstanding; sadly they only appeared three times throughout the duration of the cruise. There were regular “lectures” which complemented the locations we were visiting and they were both interesting and informative. The passenger number to size of ship ratio was good; never a problem in finding a seat in either the sun or the shade and the price and quality of the drinks sold onboard was good.

However, on the negative side, the food served in the Dining Room for dinner was by far the worst we have ever experienced. Whilst breakfast was fine and lunch on most days good with some nice curries and other dishes, the evening meal was awful most nights. At its best it could be described as mediocre and at its worst, truly appalling. Apart from bizarre taste combinations, for example, Lamb stuffed with blue cheese in a whiskey sauce, most beef, pork or chicken dishes were served with the same “gravy”, which tasted like Bisto. The fish dishes were no better apart from when they picked up local fish from the market and barbecued it for lunch. We sampled some of the most unpleasant fish we have ever tasted on this cruise. Soups were over salty to make up for lack of taste from other ingredients and desserts read much better than they were in reality, often consisting of tinned fruit! We both quickly came to dread the evening meal, a major disappointment for us as we normally look forward to the fine dining provided by major cruise lines.

I have read many accounts of the decor on board Minerva; typically it’s described as “Country House”. In our opinion the Darwin Lounge resembled a 1970’s second hand furniture showroom, containing a mixture of odd sofas, with the addition of some incredibly uncomfortable garden chairs. The room was totally inappropriate for any sort of presentation / entertainment event.

In conclusion, we met a number of very nice people onboard; however it is fair to say that these were typically first timers and in the minority. The majority of the passengers were loyal Swan Hellenic customers and had been for many years; interestingly most of these passengers had not experienced other cruise lines, so their ability to draw objective comparisons was somewhat limited. The age profile onboard seemed to be heavily weighted in the 75+ bracket, nearly all re-enacting the days of the Raj, vocally exercising their unjustified superiority complex.

Whilst the memories of the excursions and Absolutely Opera will stay with us for a lifetime, for all the right reasons, the memories of the food and the environment onboard will stay with us for all the wrong reasons.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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