Astor - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)


★★★ +

Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 349 out of 500

Accommodation: 141 out of 200

Food: 258 out of 400

Service: 286 out of 400

Entertainment: 62 out of 100

Cruise: 274 out of 400

Overall Score: 1370 out of 2000

Astor Statistics

Size: Small Ship

Tonnage: 20,606

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: CMV/Transocean Cruises

Former Names: Fedor Dostoyevskiy, Astor (II)

IMO Number: 8506373

Builder: Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (Germany)

Original Cost: $65 million

Entered Service: Feb 1987/Apr 1997

Registry: The Bahamas

Length (ft/m): 579.0/176.5

Beam (ft/m): 74.1/22.6

Draft (ft/m): 20.0/6.1

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (15,400kW)/2

Passenger Decks: 7

Total Crew: 300

Passengers (lower beds): 590

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 34.9

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 1.9

Cabins (total): 295

Size Range (sq ft/m): 140.0-280.0/13.0-26.0

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 0

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 0

Wheelchair accessibility: Fair

Cabin Current: 220 volts

Elevators: 3

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 2

Hot Tubs (on deck): 1

Self-Service Launderette: No (ironing room only)

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: Euros


Traditional style and restful decor for mature-age cruisers

Overview. Astor caters for couples and single travelers of mature years and provides a degree of traditional style and comfort in a relaxed, spacious, informal setting. It offers a good-value-for-money vacation, with appealing itineraries and destinations, adequate but uninspiring food, and friendly service.

The Ship. This is an attractive modern-ish ship with a raked bow, a large square funnel and a nicely balanced almost contemporary profile. It has been well maintained and refurbished over the years. Introduced by Transocean Tours (as it then was called) in 1997, this ship was placed under a long-term charter agreement from its present owner, Premicon (which also owns a number of fine riverships).

Astor was the original name for this ship, the larger of two vessels bearing the same name in the 1980s, originally built for long-defunct Astor Cruises. Its previous owners, the also defunct AquaMarin Cruises, brought back the ship’s name to Astor from another previous identity as Fedor Dostoyevskiy.

This ship represents a good mix of traditional and modern styling, with restful decor that doesn’t jar the senses in any way - though some say it’s a little too dark. Its high standard of German construction can be seen in the fine teakwood decking, polished wood railings and interior fittings, much of it refurbished in 2010.

There is an excellent amount of open deck and sunbathing space, plus cushioned pads for the sunloungers. There is a basketball court for active passengers, as well as a large deck-chess game on an aft deck, and shuffleboard courts.

The public rooms and conference facilities are supremely comfortable and varied, most with high ceilings. Apart from a showlounge, there’s a Captain’s Club lounge, a library and card room, and two large boutiques. The wood-paneled Hanse Bar, with good German lager on draft, is a fine retreat; it has an outdoor area, too, and is popular as a late-night hangout. There is no crowding anywhere and no annoying background music in hallways or elevators.

Transocean Cruises has interesting and well-designed destination-intensive worldwide itineraries, and cruises are provided at a very attractive price. The mainly European hotel staff members are friendly without being obtrusive.

Transocean Cruises staff can be found aboard every cruise, some of which are designated as special-theme cruises. Port taxes, insurance, and gratuities to staff are all included in the fare. The drinks prices are inexpensive, particularly when compared to land-based prices.

A service provided by ABX Logistics can collect your luggage from your house, and transport it to the ship for you; when you return, the service will collect it from the ship and bring it to your house - all for a nominal fee.

Astor is now operated under charter to the UK’s Cruise & Maritime Voyages, and cruises in Australasian waters during its summers. The ship will also continue to be marketed by Transocean Tours.

Accommodation. The accommodation, spanning numerous price categories, is spread over three decks, and comprises 32 suites and 263 outside-view and interior (no-view) cabins. No matter what grade of accommodation is chosen, rosewood cabinetry and plain beige walls is the norm - a restful environment. All suites and cabins with outside-view windows have blackout blinds - good for cruises to the land of the midnight sun.

Astor Suite. This suite measures approximately 635 sq ft (59 sq m) and includes a private balcony, with a separate bedroom and living room. The large bathroom has a tub, separate shower enclosure, dual washbasins, and a separate toilet with washbasin.

Senator Suites. These two suites (516.6 sq ft/48 sq m) are tastefully decorated in pastel colors, and have wood cabinetry and accents. Each has a separate bedroom, lounge/living room, private balcony, and a French balcony. The bathroom has decent-size storage cabinets for toiletries, as well as a tub, separate shower enclosure, toilet, and dual washbasins. A wide variety of bathroom amenities is provided.

Outside-view and interior cabins. These cabins (139.9 sq ft/13 sq m) are well appointed and tastefully decorated in fresh pastel colors, and have dark wood accents and cabinetry, making them very restful. There is plenty of closet and drawer space, as well as some under-bed storage space for luggage. The bathrooms are very practical, and each has a decent-size cabinet for toiletries, as well as all the necessary fittings, including a white enamel washbasin.

Suite 105, facing the piano in the conference room opposite, is subject to the sounds of practice and musical rehearsals. In standard cabins, many day sofas convert to beds. Twin beds cannot be pushed together.

Outside-view family cabins. These large, four-berth cabins (258.3 sq ft/24 sq m) have two lower beds, one upper berth and one sofa bed - good for families with children. The tiled bathroom has a shower enclosure, white enamel washbasin and toilet.

All grades have a minibar and personal safe, European duvets, 100 percent cotton towels and bathrobe, soap, shampoo, shower cap, sewing kit, and a basket of fruit. The bathroom towels, however, are small.

The cabin service menu is limited, although German-speaking passengers in general seldom use room service for food items. There is an extra charge for sandwiches, and little else is available. However, there is plenty of food elsewhere around the ship. There is an extra charge for freshly squeezed orange juice, as aboard all ships in the German-speaking market.

Dining. The Waldorf Dining Room is reasonably elegant, well laid-out, and operates two seatings. It also has one small wing - good for groups of up to 30. The service throughout is friendly and unpretentious, and the food quality and presentation has received some attention from the food caterer, although remember that you get what you pay for, and food is not a particularly high priority for Transocean Cruises.

The menus are reasonably attractive, and both quality and presentation are acceptable standard fare, but nothing special - there’s certainly no ‘wow’ factor. In addition to the regular entrées (typically three entrées for dinner), there may also be a pasta dish and a vegetarian specialty dish. The wine list contains a decent selection of wines from many regions, and all at inexpensive to moderate price levels, but wine glasses are small.

Other dining options. Two small specialty dining venues (one serving Italian cuisine, the other a ‘romantic dinner’) are reservations-only, extra-cost dining spots for those wanting something a little more special and as an alternative to the main dining room. Larger wine glasses are provided.

Casual breakfast and lunch buffets (both in the restaurant and another lounge) are reasonably well presented, and constantly refreshed, although they tend to be somewhat repetitive; the choice of foods is limited and there is room for improvement. In typical German style, a Frühschoppen with the appropriate music, Bavarian sausages, and complimentary beer, is presented on the open lido deck once each cruise and is not to be missed.

Entertainment. The Showlounge is a single-level room, but 14 pillars obstruct the sight lines. It is better suited to cabaret and mini-concerts than large-scale staged production shows. The stage itself is also the dance floor, and cannot be raised for shows. The entertainment possibilities, therefore, are limited, with singers, magicians, and other visual acts providing the bulk of the shows.

Spa/Fitness. The Wellness Oasis, located on the lowest passenger deck, contains a sauna, steam room, solarium, indoor swimming pool, beauty salon, treatment rooms, and changing areas. Massage, facials, manicures, and pedicures are some of the services offered. A separate fitness center, equipped with techno-machinery and exercycles, is located on an upper deck (Bridge Deck), complete with ocean views.