Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 365 out of 500
Accommodation: 140 out of 200
Food: 233 out of 400
Service: 261 out of 400
Entertainment: 61 out of 100
Cruise: 256 out of 400
Overall Score: 1316 out of 2000
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: CDF Croisieres de France
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 8918136
Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)
Original Cost: $210 million
Entered Service: Apr 1992/Jun 2007
Length (ft/m): 682.4/208.0
Beam (ft/m): 95.1/29.0
Draft (ft/m): 23.6/7.2
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (19,960kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 10
Total Crew: 670
Passengers (lower beds): 1,340
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 37.3
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.0
Cabins (total): 670
Size Range (sq ft/m): 172.2-500.5/16-46.5
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 110
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 4
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 3
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: Euros
This family-friendly casual ship is for French speakers
Overview. This ship is best suited to young (and young at heart) French-speaking couples, singles, and families with children of all ages who want a first cruise experience in an elegant ship, with plenty of public rooms and a lively atmosphere, and food that ranks quantity above quality, at low cost.
The Ship. Zenith was formerly owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises. Although now 20 years old, it still has a contemporary, though rather sharp, angular profile that gives the impression of power and speed thanks to its blue paint striping along the sides, separating the hull from the superstructure (the hull was designed by mega-yacht designer Jon Bannenberg).
Inside, there is a similar interior layout to its sister ship, Island Cruises’ Island Star (formerly Horizon), with elegant and restrained decor. The feeling is one of uncluttered surroundings, and the ship has some interesting artwork. Soothing, pastel colors and high-quality soft furnishings are used throughout the interiors.
The Art Deco-style hotel-like lobby, reminiscent of hotels in Miami Beach, has a two-deck-high ceiling and a spacious feel, and is the contact point for the reception desk, shore excursions, and onboard accounts.
The principal deck that houses many of the public entertainment rooms has a double-width indoor promenade. There is a good-size library. Other facilities include a cigar-smoking lounge complete with fireplace and bookshelves containing leather-bound volumes; a library and Internet-connect center; and a Plaza Café for coffee and loud chat. A large, elegantly appointed casino has its own bar.
The hospitality and the range and variety of food have been tailored to its French-speaking family clientele. You will usually find a lot of smokers aboard.
Passenger niggles? Standing in line for embarkation, disembarkation, shore tenders, and for self-serve buffet meals is inevitable aboard many ships. The doors to the public restrooms and the outdoor decks are rather heavy. The public restrooms are clinical and need some softer decor. There are no cushioned pads for poolside sunloungers.
Families. CDF Croisier has a good program for children and teenagers, with specially trained youth counselors, and lots of activities. All drinks are included, which makes things simpler for families with children.
Accommodation. There are several different price grades, including outside-view suites and cabins, and interior cabins. Many outside-view cabins on one of the decks have lifeboat-obstructed views.
Standard cabins. The outside-view and interior cabins have good-quality fittings with lots of wood accenting, are tastefully decorated and of an above-average size, with an excellent amount of closet and drawer space and reasonable insulation between cabins. All have twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed, and a good amount of closet and drawer space. The cabin soundproofing is quite good although this depends on location - some cabins are located opposite crew access doors, which can be busy and noisy. The bathrooms have a generous shower area, and a small range of toiletries is provided, although towels are a little small, as is storage space for toiletries. The lowest-grade outside-view cabins have a porthole, but all others have picture windows.
Royal Suites. The largest accommodation is in two Royal Suites midships on Atlantic Deck (Deck 10), and forward on Marina Deck. These have a large private balcony and a separate bedroom and lounge, a dining area with glass dining table, plus CD and DVD players in addition to the large TV set. The bathroom is also larger and has a whirlpool tub with integral shower.
Another 20 suites, also on Atlantic Deck, are very tastefully furnished, although they are really just larger cabins rather than suites. They do have a generous amount of drawer and other storage space, however, and a sleeping area with European duvets on the beds instead of sheets and blankets, plus a lounge area. They also have good bathrooms. Butler service is standard. All accommodation designated as suites suffers from noise generated on the swimming pool deck directly above.
Dining. The Caravelle Dining Room, with a raised section in its center, has several tables for two, as well as for four, six, or eight (in banquettes), although the chairs don’t have armrests. There are two seatings for dinner, and open seating for breakfast and lunch, at tables for two, four, six, eight, or 10. The cuisine, its presentation, and service are more notable for quantity than quality, and green vegetables are hard to come by.
For informal meals, the Windsurf Buffet has a traditional single-line self-service buffet for breakfast and lunch, and includes a pasta station, rotisserie, and pizza ovens. At peak times, the buffet is simply too small, too crowded, and very noisy. The Grill, located outdoors adjacent to the Windsurf Buffet, serves typical fast food such as pizzas.
Entertainment. The two-level Showlounge, with main and balcony levels, has good sight lines from almost all seats, except where the railing at the front of the balcony level impedes sight lines. It has a large stage for this size of ship, and decent lighting and sound equipment.
The shows consist of a troupe of showgirl dancers, whose routines are reminiscent of high-school shows. Cabaret acts are the main feature; these include singers, magicians, and comedians and are very much geared to the family audience that this ship carries on most cruises. There is also plenty of live - and loud - music for dancing to in various bars and lounges, plus the inevitable discotheque. Participation activities tend to be quite amateurish.
Spa/Fitness. The Spa is high in the ship, aft of the funnel. It has a gymnasium with ocean-view windows and high-tech muscle-pump equipment, an exercise area, several therapy treatment rooms including a Rasul room, and men’s/women’s saunas.