Review: MV Amorena - Saga Adriatic Coastal Explorer
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
7 Days before the mast - wonderful holiday on board the MV Amorena
13 people found this review helpful
34 of us booked sole use of the MV Amorena through Saga’s groups department, who were always helpful and informative and we departed LGW on 19th June en route to Split airport to embark from the nearby lovely mediaeval town of Trogir. Unsure exactly what to expect, we had not anticipated how very lovely the Amorena is. The pictures in the Saga brochure do not do justice to her sleek lines and profusion of polished wood and brass in the public areas, which came as a very pleasant surprise.
So far as cabins go, the cheaper below-decks cabins are a tad gloomy, being lit only by two small portholes, and can be noisier as they are closer to the ‘workings’ of the vessel (pumps, engines, generators etc) but the trade-off is that they are considerably larger, with plenty of storage space and reasonable size bathrooms, whereas some of the upper deck cabins are smaller and do not even have a shelf in their tiny bathrooms. A small torch is useful below, especially when dealing with the room safe, which seemed to be a particularly intransigent object – I required the services of the on-board safe-breaker on more than one occasion, although it may perhaps have been ‘user-error’!
The Amorena is owned by Captain Ivan and his brother, who both conveyed an air of effortless seamanship and efficiency, even during the spectacular thunderstorm we encountered one morning.
The delightful and always cheery Jessica, who multi-tasked as chambermaid and waitress, kept the cabins impeccably clean and also served us every day in the dining room with great good humour.
And the talented chef and his assistant produced daily miracles of delicious cuisine in a galley the size of a small cupboard. Although the lunch and dinner menus offered no choices there was always something else for those who wanted it (we had a coeliac sufferer in our party who was looked after with meticulous care) and breakfast was an excellent buffet of hot and cold dishes with freshly-cooked scrambled or poached eggs. The only whinge was from dedicated coffee drinkers who had trouble adapting to the instant coffee on offer: we tea drinkers, who had wisely taken our own tea bags, managed better, with boiling water supplied in thermos flasks by the hard-working waiter.
Refreshments available at the free bar included very acceptable draught lager beer and various wines and spirits, locally produced but quite palatable, as well as a selection of soft drinks.
The Saga rep, Dee, was charming, very well informed and helpful to the nth degree. She really is a gem, absolutely perfect for the job and we all loved her. For entertainment she arranged live music most nights, which was very good, a light-hearted quiz one evening and also took us on an after-dinner stroll through Zadar to hear the sea-organ and see the amazing Salute to the Sun solar-powered light show nearby.
Unfortunately one of our party suffered a problem with her back and Dee (who seems to know every doctor in every town on the itinerary) arranged doctor and clinic visits and looked after her with great care and compassion. She even managed to persuade a pharmacist to fill a prescription for painkillers on a bank holiday.
We cruised effortlessly through the stunning archipelago of islands which make the Croatian coast so spectacular, stopping every day to see a variety of sights including the majestic Krka waterfalls; the unique sea-organ in Zadar; the incredible palace of Diocletian in imposing Split; historic Sibernik; gorgeous Trogir and some delightful small towns on remote islands.
Although the sails were raised all too rarely, when they were it was an amazing experience – one day, after having moored earlier in a lovely bay for some intrepid souls to swim from the boat we then enjoyed our lunch under full sail before gliding silently and majestically into Split harbour.
Most of us had chosen to take Saga’s reasonably-priced (£249) post-cruise 7-day extension on the island of Brac, so after mooring overnight in Split before our reluctant farewell to the Amorena, we transferred by ferry for the 50-minute journey to the Hotel Kaktus in Supertar.
For those who had not read the holiday literature carefully, the hotel came as something of a surprise. Accommodating around 2000 guests, it is a full-blown ‘resort’ hotel covering several acres in a multitude of buildings, with five swimming pools and designed for families and young people seeking a beach and sunbathing holiday. There is entertainment every evening which some of my party described as ’somewhat below Gang Show standard’ or ‘just like Butlins’ whilst others more generously pronounced it ‘amateurish – but enthusiastically performed!’.
Also, be aware that an excursion which is described as a ‘gentle walk through pine forests’ to a nearby village involves quite a bit of scrambling across rocks and requires stout footwear. Blissfully oblivious, I set off in light sandals which just about survived the terrain.
Saga also offers a half-day tour of the island, including a visit to a local artisan soap maker, which was more appealing than it sounds – the soap is lovely – and a tour of a stonemason’s school, which would have been more interesting had we seen some students working the stone.
However, the hotel rooms are modern, air-conditioned and comfortable, the buffet meals plentiful, varied and tasty, although it could be a bit of a scrum at busy times, and the Saga lounge an oasis of peace and quiet under the efficient eye of Leia, the charming lounge hostess. Internet access was available but only in the hotel lobby.
The town of Supertar is a good base from which to explore, and after swimming and sunbathing palled for some of us (round about the second day) we set off to explore the island with my Lonely Planet guide book and the local bus timetable. The bus journeys involved precipitous mountain roads and spectacular views reminiscent of the Amalfi coast, en route to delightful small towns such as Milna and Bol, built of the local white stone (as used in the Washington White House) and offering lovely walks, secluded bays and delightful restaurants. We also took the ferry over to Split one morning and spent the day exploring the extensive Roman ruins at nearby Solena.
So, well done Saga, we all thoroughly enjoyed our holiday and can see why it is your most popular cruise. It was our first trip with the company but we want to travel with you again and I have been asked to investigate the possibilities of a similar voyage in 2017 – preferably aboard the M.V. Amorena again – to explore more of the lovely Croatian Coast.
13 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.