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Ambience, Western Mediterranean and Atlantic

4

An eagerly awaited return to Ambience

Itinerary - Tilbury - at sea x3 - Lisbon - at sea - Madeira - Tenerife - at sea x2 - Cape Verde - Cape Verde Praia - Gran Canaria - at sea - Casablanca - at sea - Leixoes - at sea x2 - Tilbury

Embarkation Process
Fortunately we had a business meeting which meant we avoided the usual chaotic embarkation process at tilbury, which was made even worse by Border force’s insistence of checking every incoming passenger’s bag with one sniffer dog. Apparently this was due to the ship’s previous itinerary - Cuba and the Caribbean.

Returning to the Ambience, and to be greeted by name by so many friendly and familiar faces made us realise that we had missed ambience even more than we had thought. This ship may be old but she has plenty of character.

Regular readers of my reviews know that I like to get the negative stuff out of the way first. As I said, this is an old ship and there are still some ongoing problems with the air-conditioning which you couldn’t describe as consistent and reliable, though in fairness to the team on Ambience, they do strive to resolve issues as quickly as possible.

Our other irritation is the poor in room entertainment system. Not only is there a lack of channels, they also do not relay onboard shows and lectures on the cabin tv, and perhaps most baffling of all, there is no bridge cam or weather information, which we imagine can’t be good for anyone with an inside cabin, though we have been assured this is being addressed.

Ambassador have a strange policy re bringing alcohol on board, even if you have a full drinks package, and you would be saving the cruiseline money by drinking your own alcohol in your stateroom it is strictly forbidden. Also, if you have a drinks package you are not allowed to have cans of soft drinks - there is an insistence on pouring the whole can into a glass ?? The drinks package are great value in our opinion.

The final oddity is that the cruise line talk about being eco friendly and sustainable but ask for receipts to be signed every time you have a ‘free’ drink on your package.

Despite the above, and we do consider ourselves to be discerning passengers, we keep returning as there is something very special about this ship and company that makes you feel part of the family with a warmth missing on many other lines these days.

Ship Appearance/Public Areas
What we are greatly encouraged by is the improvements that have been made to the ship in the last six months. We are also immensely reassured by the constant cleaning process that takes place, for example the handrails on the stairs are wiped down frequently, and the toilets are the cleanest we have have seen on any ship.

The public areas are well appointed and spacious, and both Raffles and The Botanical Lounge on deck 7 are full of character. On this particular cruise we spent a lot of time at Dickens on deck 5 in the atrium/centre court area, which is a great place to relax and chat with fellow guests. There is also an Observatory Lounge on deck 14 on the bow, which is the venue for many events including cabarets and the late night disco. The Purple Turtle on Deck 8 is quiz heaven.

The Consulate Bar on the outside stern area of deck 10 is a source of some frustration to us and others as it is only open from 12-5 - even when the weather is lovely and there are people around.

Other bars include SW19 on deck 7 - the pool bar, and the small bar in the Borough Market buffet. There is also a coffee house on deck 12 forward with indoor and outside seating.

Dining on Ambience

Borough Market is the buffet on deck 12, it’s not a favourite of ours, there is a wide range of good quality food available, and lots of seating. Whilst we didn’t experience it on this cruise, fellow passengers told us how much they enjoyed afternoon tea there too, with a range of scones and sandwiches.

At the back of Borough Market is one of the Speciality restaurants - Saffron which serves some of the best Indian cuisine we have ever eaten at sea and is great value for money at 14.95 for three courses - a big favourite of ours.

Between Borough Market and the pool is the Al Fresco Grill which is not always punctual with their opening times. It offers freshly cooked burgers, hot dogs and chips, together with a rotating menu of different pizzas.

Sea & Grass, the other speciality restaurant is located on deck 12 forward. Again, we would consider the dining experience offered here to be one of the best available at sea 24.95 for 7 courses and an extra 5.00 to include wine pairing. It truly is an experience rather than just a meal with the meals being cooked from fresh in the restaurant itself - do allow at least two hours to enjoy.

The Buckingham is the main restaurant situated on deck 7 aft. There are two sittings 5.45 and 8.15, and the team led by the wonderful Kiran and Lestor are friendly, welcoming and efficient. The chefs are great too and nothing is ever too much trouble. And if you are a vegetarian or have any allergies the chefs will go that extra mile to ensure you are well catered for.

Room service is available 24 hours a day.

Gym and Spa

There is a small but well equipped gym located on deck 2. Again, regular readers of my reviews will know we are not normally great fans of onboard spas as they are normally so over priced, particularly on American ships, but the wide range of spa and beauty treatments available on Ambience represent far better value for money, and there were always special deals to be had. There is also a sauna and a steam room.

Daily classes of Pilates take place on deck 14 in the active studio. There is also a table tennis table next door. And for those who like to dance there are a number of sessions in the observatory.

There are always a full range of activities during the day including lectures, a choir, quizzes

One of the things we have not seen on any other cruise line is the performance of plays and acting vignettes - unique we think.

George Cross, the Cruise Director is by far one of the best we have ever seen in 70 cruises. Not only is he funny and entertaining, but he also makes a great effort to be out and about around the ship talking to passengers. It would be fair to say his presence on board would be a contributory factor to when we sail on this ship again. George truly enhances our cruise experience.

Entertainment is another strong point for Ambassador, the production shows are high quality, and we have seen some brilliant guest entertainers on board such as Lloyd Hollett and Benjamin Moss. There is a singer/piano player in Raffles, a classical duo in the Botanical Lounge, a trio in Purple Turtle and It Takes Two in the Observatory.

Personally we find the guest lecturers a little niche, but many people have enjoyed. We would prefer more naturalists talking about sea life,a representative from Orca or someone to talk about astronomy - which has always been popular on other ships.

There are regular self- hosted meetings for the usual community groups and for single travellers.

The ship also has a small casino, a cards/board games room, a small library and a craft room.

But perhaps one of the things we love most about this ship is the amount of outdoor space on the stern, including two partially covered areas on decks 8 and 9. There is also a viewing area on the bow of deck 10.

The hot tubs are situated on the rear of deck 11.

Officers
The officers on board Ambience led by Captain Hugh Maynard are visible, friendly and approachable - we would particularly like to mention Joao - the Hotel Director who is a lovely man who always has time for a chat, as does the Bar Manager - Carlito.

We would also like to give a mention to the security staff on Ambience - one of the smiliest security teams we have ever encountered.

The thing we love about shore excursions on ambience or destination experiences as they call them, is that most of the time they treat you like adults and allow you to find your own way off the ship to the tour buses. Also, most of the tours are reasonably priced.

There are the usual shops selling expensive jewellery, a duty free shop, and a shop selling snacks, toiletries, clothing and ambience souvenirs.

Technology
Like most cruiselines these days Ambassador have their own onboard App, but unlike some other cruiselines this one is easy to navigate and has lots of useful information on it.

For those not wanting to use their own technology there are large screen versions of the app around the ship that can be utilised.

With regard to internet charges, no cruise line who charge are cheap. Ambassador charge £10 per day if you buy a package to last the duration of your cruise, and on this trip it has been very reliable.

There are a wide range of cabins on Ambassador to suit everybody’s budget, we always book a junior suite which is situated on deck 11. You should be aware that you may be occasionally disturbed by noise from furniture being moved on the sun deck above.

Our cabin is well appointed, spacious with plenty of storage space, a large comfortable bed and a sofa.

A little bit more about the food. Unlike some cruise lines we have travelled with, the food is not repetitive on Ambience - there is a wide variety and it’s good quality.

Senior management tell us they are always interested in hearing feedback, and if there is a food you would particularly like to see you should tell them as they are very accommodating.

Disembarkation
It was excellent and had no problems at all.

Summary

So here’s the thing. We still occasionally cruise with Viking, celebrity and azamara but as we said earlier, being back on board Ambience made us realise how much we have missed her, and despite the unreliable air- conditioning, and the poor in room entertainment system, during this 21 night cruise we have grown to love Ambassador even more. We really can’t wait to be onboard the Ambassador Ambition for her maiden voyage in May.

The itinerary was great with a good balance between sea and port days. We particularly liked Cascais (from our Lisbon stop), Gran Canaria and Porto. Talking to fellow passengers they also enjoyed their time in Cape Verde, particularly Praia.

The officers are great and we particularly love Joao the hotel director, Carlito the bar manager and Ronald, the guest services manager. The crew are for the most part, friendly, welcoming and efficient, particularly the team in Dickens where we spent a lot of our time.

The Ambience with her outdoor space on the bow and plenty of space on the bow, exudes the essence of cruising, and we hope she is sailing the seas for many year to come.

Tony
Post Date: 09/03/2023
Score
Cruise Overall
4
Ship Overall
4
Dining
5
Service Onboard
5
Accommodation
4
Public Rooms
4
Boarding & Disembarking
4
Excursions
4
Value for Money
4
Review Images
Customer Reviews
Ivan wrote a review in May, 2022
It was the Maiden voyage, so its the shake down cruise. Yes it did need a shake, but all in all it was a very pleasant 4 night journey to Hamburg and back. Entertainment was fantastic, food was up...
Susan wrote a review in May, 2022
Wonderful 5 star food staff couldn’t have been better
GRAEME wrote a review in May, 2022
The ship really needed one or two more weeks preparation to get it ready to take paying passengers. Some areas had not been completed and were not available. There were technical problems, such as plu...
trevor wrote a review in May, 2022

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