Bella's Voyage to Andalusian Spain
Our cruise specialist Bella recently enjoyed three nights aboard Aegean Odyssey with Voyages to Antiquity, cruising from Malaga to Seville, discovering the Moorish legacy of Andalusian Spain - here's her cruise review
After an early morning check in at 04.00 hours at London Gatwick we boarded our BA flight to Malaga. On arrival at Malaga just after 10.00 hours, I met up with my fellow travellers who were going to experience this lovely cruise ship with me for the next four days. The transfer time from airport to port was only 30 minutes by coach.
On arrival at the port, the Aegean Odyssey was proudly docked painted all white in the lovely sunshine with clear blue sky. She looked really small compared to all the cruise ships I have sailed on and visited. She only carries 350 passengers on board. After a smooth check in we embarked on the ship, met by smiling faces of the crew and made us feel so welcome.
I checked into my cabin and saw that my luggage had already been delivered. I was very fortunate to have been allocated a Deluxe Stateroom with a balcony on Deck 7. My cabin was very spacious and with a lovely serene décor. The bathroom was quite spacious too with bath tub and an overhead shower with Molton Brown toiletries. Also a bathrobe and slippers were provided in the wardrobes. All balcony cabins have complimentary bottled water and a welcome bottle of champagne. The balcony was very spacious and had two chairs and a table. After unpacking I met the group for lunch at the outdoor Terrace Café.
A deck below was the Promenade deck where all the lounges and the Terrace Restaurant are situated. There was a large buffet with hot and cold dishes of the day. There was a variety of salads and Italian antipasti. Pasta was also served with a choice of homemade Italian sauce. There was an array of desserts including cakes and ice creams.
The afternoon was at leisure after we finished the muster drill which took place in the Observation Lounge. The ship was sailing from Malaga at 18.30 hours so we all decided to meet up at Lido Bar on the top deck sipping champagne.
Dinner was at the Marco Polo Restaurant which is situated on the lowest deck of the ship. The restaurant was elegant and had a country club casual ambiance which served Mediterranean influenced food.
Dinner included appetiser soups, salads and a choice of 3 or 4 main courses and desserts. Complimentary wine and soft drinks are served with dinner. Wines are from Italy, Spain, France and Greece, and other vintages are available at a reasonable price.
Entertainment on the Aegean Odyssey is very low key. There is a string trio, pianist and casual dancing before and after dinner. There is no casino or disco. Dress code is generally resort casual however there may be an occasion where a jacket for men and cocktail attire for ladies is appropriate. There was a cabaret, which was entertained by the ship's cruise director Richard.
An early night beckoned us in our lovely comfy beds.
We docked at 07.00 hours into Cadiz. After a lovely breakfast in the Terrace Café we disembarked for our included shore excursion of Cadiz. Virtually all shore excursions are included in every port of call.
They can be quite strenuous, and a reasonable level of fitness is required. The daily journal which is delivered in your cabin the night before will indicate the level of fitness required. In every cabin there are QuietVox headsets for each guest. These devices allow you to hear the tour leaders clearly, even at the busiest sites, so that you do not miss anything. Voyages to Antiquity was one of the first cruise lines to operate this service.
Cadiz is the oldest inhabited city of Spain and is a typical Andalusian city, with a wealth of attractive vistas and well preserved historic landmarks. We all got on the air conditioned coach for a panoramic drive of Cadiz which was “Highlights of Cadiz Tour”. After 45 minutes of drive we got off at the Old Town. The town is characterised by the antiquity of its various quarters, amongst them were Popula La Vina and Santa Maria. It had narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas and also narrow streets opening onto small charming squares where the locals perform the flamenco. We also visited the largest food market.
We arrived back for lunch on the ship. After a lovely lunch of salad and appetisers we disembarked the ship for our included Jerez & Sherry Tasting excursion. The drive to inland Jerez was around 40 minutes. We visited the Bodega Gonzalez Bypass which is the most famous wine cellar for sherry tasting. We tasted some of the finest Tio Pepe sherries with tapas.
Back on the ship at 16.30 hours and experienced the afternoon tea which was served on the Terrace Café. It consisted of tea, coffee, cream scones, cakes and a selection of sandwiches.
As it was such a warm evening we all decided to have cocktails on the upper Lido Bar situated next to the Observation Lounge on the top deck. Dinner tonight was at the Terrace Café as we all fancied a buffet. The waiters are all at hand to help you carry your trays to the table, especially for the guests who are not very stable on their feet.
All the entertainment is held in the Ambassador Lounge whilst the trio perform at the Charleston Lounge. There is a renowned lecture programme on the ship which is also held in the Ambassador Lounge. There are a number of guest speakers on the cruise each with a different area of expertise. Prior to arrival in every port of call there is a short briefing to inform you of the sites culture and history.
The morning starts with either Pilates or Yoga on the Aegean Odyssey. There is the Athena Health Spa & Gym which has a sauna and a steam pod. I decided to experience the steam pod and it was very relaxing where you can adjust the temperature and timing. The neck and shoulder massage was well worth it as well.
We were given a tour of the ship to see the variety of cabins where I have outlined some facts below:
- The single cabins were surprisingly quite spacious with abundant storage space.
- The Premier Inside and Outside cabins all had walk in showers compared to the Deluxe staterooms having the bath tub with overhead showers.
- Most of the outside cabins have windows rather than port-holes.
- All cabins feature flat screen TVs, safe and hairdryers.
- There is a well-stocked library with beautiful wood panelling and is regularly updated by Oxford-based book sellers Blackwells.
- An internet centre for passengers if they want to keep in touch with their friends.
- In the Athena Health Spa there is also a beauty salon.
- The language on board the ship is English and passengers are mainly from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.
- As the cruises are generally destination focussed it is not suitable for children.
- Tips are included.
- Complimentary wine and soft drinks are included with evening meal on board.
- Open seating for dining.
We were now cruising on the Guadalquiver River and we absorbed some breath-taking scenery along the river.
We docked at Seville around 14.30 hours and the temperature had soared to nearly 40 degrees. However we decided to disembark and take the horse and carriage ride. At the cost of 45 euros for four people, it is a fabulous way to see parts of Seville.
The walk from the ship to the centre was only 20 minutes. Rest of the afternoon was just spent relaxing on the spacious pool area on Lido Deck.
Today’s evening entertainment was the “Flamenco”- a local show from Seville bringing live music and traditional costumes combined with local singers and dancers brought a magical spectacle to the Ambassador Lounge.
13/06/2016 - Day of Disembarkation.
We had to leave our cases outside our cabins before midnight the previous day. After a quick breakfast we were sorry to disembark the Aegean Odyssey. Our departure flight back to London Gatwick from Seville was not until 19.30 hours; however there was an excursion arranged for Seville city.
Seville is a beautiful and romantic city. Legend has that this Andalusian city was founded 3000 years ago by Hercules and it is also said to be the birthplace of Flamenco. We visited the 15th century Cathedral of Seville which was last built in the Gothic style. The Alcazar is a functioning Royal Palace where the upper royal quarters are still being used by the Spanish Royal Family. Finally we strolled through the Old Jewish Quarter of Santa Cruz with its narrow streets and lovely Moorish courtyards before enjoying a traditional Spanish Tapas lunch in an authentic restaurant.
We had some free time to walk around the squares where there were souvenir shops and ice cream parlours.
We were picked up at 17.00 hours for our final journey to Seville Airport. Our flight was at 19.30 hours arriving at rainy Gatwick at 22.30 hours.
What a lovely experience we had on this beautiful immaculate ship. I will not think twice when recommending the Aegean Odyssey. This cruise company is very much itinerary driven so don’t expect a Baked Alaska or photographers on board. However, you'll enjoy an intimate cruise with like-minded fellow travellers, avoid crowds, dig a little deeper into the history and culture of the enchanting destinations you'll visit, and be pampered by a friendly and attentive crew - Need I say more!!
If you would like to book a Voyages to Antiquity cruise, why not speak to Bella today?
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