Steve Newman takes a voyage closer to home
As the UK’s newest cruise line Ambassador were always going to pull out the stops for cruise holidays for the over 50s and I have to say that this cruise offers exceptional value for money. The second way that Ambassador are on to a winner is their no-fly cruise philosophy that eliminates delays at airports and offers departures from smaller regional ports around the country.
On board Ambition
With up to 1,200 passengers, the ship has 680 cabins, 125 of with balconies and 113 are suites. It is well lit, airy and very easy to move around on. Several passengers had mobility scooters and they managed very well.
Ambition has lots of areas where you can be quiet and private should you want to. I loved the wicker pods on the Pool Deck where, as a couple you can stretch out in private and still see what’s going on around you.
The Spa, Sauna and Wellness areas have complimentary fluffy bath robes which really add to your experience and I frequently saw people walking or sitting around the pool deck wearing them.
There are various bars with some offering live cabaret, gameshows and light entertainment as well as some outside to help achieve the perfect tan, all with attentive wine waiters hovering nearby. Situated just outside the theatre for pre and post-show drinks are the handy and comfortable Pendennis bar, and the wonderfully named Purple Turtle Wine Bar.
Dining on Ambition
The food on board was very good and although allocated a table for the evening meal when I arrived onboard in the main Buckingham Dining Room, I chose to take my breakfasts and midday meals in the buffet/self-service Borough Market. Occasionally if I felt like a snack, I would drop into the Alfresco Pizza Grill on the pool deck.
There is also The Holyrood Restaurant which serves as an alternative to the main restaurant for evening meals. There are two specialist venues you have to pay for but I can honestly say right now the meal I had in the Saffron Restaurant serving Thai and Goan cuisine was the best Indian meal I have ever had.
Lupino’s is a Mediterranean-style restaurant with a relaxed, al-fresco feel where you can watch the chef preparing your meal. Its tapas style starters are mixed with lovely crisp fresh Mediterranean salads and a choice of main dishes. Then just when you think you can’t eat anymore, there are late night nibbles and finger food served in the bars.
I did like the way that in the less formal dining areas the cutlery hangs from a wooden tower on the table so you can just lift off what you need.
Excursions/Ports of Call
The cruise called at Falmouth, Honfleur (we didn’t need our passports), Dundee, Scrabster, Portree, Tobermory and Belfast. There was a selection of at least five excursions to choose from for all the seven ports of call. I chose to see the Bayeux Tapestry from Honfleur whilst others went to the D-Day landing beaches and museums.
At Belfast I went to the incredibly moving Titanic Experience and at Dundee took the walking tour where we went on board RRS Discovery and met Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx!
Complementary shuttle buses were provided from the dock side to the city or town centres if you didn’t want to go on an organised excursion but you should note that at Portree and Tobermory landing was by tender and not suitable for anyone with mobility problems.
There are numerous screens and display monitors around the ship where you can see what’s happening on that day and during the cruise.
Entertainment on Ambition
I have to say the evening shows were some of the best I’ve seen on a cruise ship. However, what really impressed me was that there several one act plays varying from mystery thrillers to ghost stories performed in the theatre. Not everyone likes the Broadway type shows and musicals and this is a very nice option to have. There were also little acting vignettes in some of the bars and recreational areas.
A pianist, guitarist and musical trio provided gentle background music at various times and I found this very relaxing in the bars before the evening meal.
There were a lot of other activities ranging from arts and crafts, a choir and a special area for card players. The library was amply stocked and the table tennis and table football area were used quite a lot.
Now the Bad News
Well, to be honest there’s not a lot. Solo and single travellers did tell me they felt there should have been more hosted events for them and some said the wi-fi was expensive. I thought too there could have been a few more lectures on the sea days.
But the general response I got was this cruise was so very convenient for people living in the southwest, Welsh Borders and the West Midlands and above all, it offered exceptionally good value for money for cruise holidays for the over 50s.
It was an enjoyable cruise with an awful lot going for it.
Take a look at Ambassador Cruise Line for information about their voyages around the UK and worldwide. Call 0800 412 5678 to book or get a quote from our Silver Travel Advisors.