Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Sun Cruises
Sailing Date: April 22nd, 2002
Itinerary: Trans Atlantic Voyager
April 22- May 4, 2002
We started with a 7 am flight from Toronto to Barbados via Skyservice, a very rough bumpy flight as we went through a large number of weather fronts. Seat belts on 90% of the time. Arriving in Barbados we were quickly escorted to buses and took to the pier where the Sunbird awaited us, our baggage was sent from the plane direct to the boat which was an excellent feature. On check in which was very quick we were issued a cruise card for which all our purchases onboard was to be used and put on our account. A few hours to explore the ship and do some duty free shopping at the pier in Barbados, alcohol was not allowed to be brought on the boat and was tagged for our later disembarkation. But I managed to squeeze some into my jacket sleeves for personal use on the cruise.
At 5:30 pm we set sail for Antigua, watching Barbados disappear into the horizon from the Sundeck. Off to the cabin to ready ourselves for the late sitting and meet the new friend who would be joining us for supper each night. After a sumptuous meal that was magnificently presented we venture to one of the many lounges to see the entertainment. Jazz bands, not my cup of tea so off to another lounge to listen to a British comedian, must have been funny all the Brits onboard laughed heartily but I could not understand a word said. Darn English accents, I thought to myself as we sat having a cocktail in the Chartroom (a beautiful lounge Deck 12 aft) we might not be in for such an enjoyable cruise if this is what the entertainment was going to be for the next 12 days. I checked through all my Sunquest travel brochures and saw nothing about a "themed" cruise. Well to my chagrin the entertainment was definitely "jazz" throughout the trip so a complete waste of time for us. Entertainment value to us was a 4 on a scale of 10, but if you liked jazz it was likely very good.
Early morning arrival in Antigua, St. Johns a lovely town loomed on the horizon, off the ship to do some sight seeing and shopping for a few hours. Later we set sail for the Atlantic crossing 6 days without seeing land.
A bit about the ship for you cruise aficionados. The deluxe inside cabin we had on the Cabaret Deck was adequate with 2 single beds and a walk-in 3 piece bathroom, a little small at first glance but standard and easy to adjust to.
The ship was very well kept and clean from top to bottom, we had no problems with the cleanliness aspect of this ship, all public restrooms were immaculately clean.
Lounges were very nicely decorated and spotless to say the least, a couple of the public area needed the carpets restretched as they had some wrinkled spots which could have caused someone to trip very easily.
Food was very good and beautifully presented in the Seven Seas dining room, the Lido cafe had a very good selection of breakfast and lunch fares, while there were sub sandwiches available afternoons on the pool deck. Breakfast in the Seven Seas was a choice of a la carte of buffet which was a rather nice feature.
Drinks which of course are never included in a cruise were the same as you would find in any resort, any kind of concoction was available for a price. The cost of drinks was very expensive by Canadian standards but relatively cheap by British standards according to friends we met from the UK. I personally thought that a rum and coke and a beer at sea with no duties and taxes should have been a lot cheaper than $9.70 Cad when the pound sterling was converted. Even the duty free shop on board was very expensive when compared to the shops in the islands, an example was a bottle of vodka at 11 pounds sterling which is over $24 Cad, when in the island it may have been around $6 US.
A pleasant smooth six day cruise across the Atlantic, getting cooler and cooler each day as we approached the European continent, from the high 80's to the mid 60's. According to the Captain each day we had low seas never over 2 meters and winds no higher than 6 on the Beaufort scale, but it is cool when you compare cruising at 22 knots (24 mph.) and wind speed of 6 to riding in the back of a pickup truck at 30 mph. A jacket is needed.
Arrival at Madeira, a Portuguese island where the mountains meet the sea, beautifully tiered with garden of banana's, grapes, tangerines, mangos and almost every conceivable vegetable. Every inch of fertile land was put to use by these people and was beautifully manicured and spotlessly clean wherever you went on the island including the city. An absolutely beautiful floating garden and worth every cent of our 5 hour taxi tour around the island.
Off to sea once again for another day before we would enter the Straits of Gibraltar, looking forward to seeing the "Rock". A bit warmer into the low 70's but jacket still necessary. It is announced that we will be passing through the straits around 2 am the next day and passing the Rock approximately 4 am. So out of bed after a couple hours of shut eye and on the sundeck. Casablanca appears to the south of us beautifully lit against the night sky and the full moon, so very nice photo opportunities. To the north the shoreline of Spain is dotted with lights along the coast with the mountains silhouetted in the background. Then the "Rock" a magnificent silhouette but not lit up like expected, at least I can say I saw it. On to an early morning docking in Malaga Spain, a beautiful well maintained city where we found absolutely no tourist traps available to buy souvenirs and the like. A caution to travelers this city while very beautiful it is a haven for gypsy pick pockets, not experienced by us but by many aboard the ship.
Off to seas once again and a days sailing towards our final destination Palma Mallorca past the cliffs of the island of Ibiza where we met up with our sister ship the Carousel on a rather cool misty rainy afternoon. Sailed the rest of the night to arrive in Palma in the early morning. Baggage put out the evening before, off loaded onto pier in the morning, picked up and loaded on a coach for a quick 20 minute trip to the airport. Virtually no time to see anything in Mallorca a basic wasted day.
General things about our cruise.
A British company owned ship of Bahamian registry, well kept and clean.
No upgrades were afforded Canadian passengers that we spoke to while many Brits purchased last minute accommodations for one third of our costs and were given better cabins. Sell offs should be relegated to best available and pre booked passengers moved up based on booking date, still waiting to hear from Sunquest.
The cruise was advertised an informal type cruise, so I had planned for at leas one formal evening with proper attire, only to find out we had three (3) formal evenings, felt a bit out of place without alternate formal attire, washing a dress shirt sink is not my idea of fun. Thank God for wrinkle free wash and wear fabrics.
Photographers should take extreme care when taking flash pictures at dinner sittings, as some people as susceptible to retinal flash burns, as I am and this did cause some temporary problems.
Our last day in Palma was a waste and time should have been afforded for some tours and luggage transported to airport, instead of sitting on deck for hours waiting for announcement to disembark and claim luggage and be hurried off to an airport to sit for another 3 plus hours.
Flight home via Skyservice A330 airbus, very smooth, long and uneventful.
On an overall scale of 1 to 10 I would rate the cruise as follows.
Shipboard expenses 5
Overall avg 7