There are so few examples of true small ship cruising that it is a delight every now and again to refresh the mind that some extremely different sailing experiences are available.
Voyages to Antiquity operate one ship – Aegean Odyssey – and every facility is a much scaled-down version of what is generally available on the larger ships which brings a certain kind of appeal.
There is no doubt that many who have grown used to the vast cruise ships now sailing could think that they had entered the Tardis and travelled back in time if they found themselves aboard Aegean Odyssey. She is so small that the theatre has to be positioned at an angle in order to fit it in across the span of the ship.
At 11,563 tonnage and only 6 and a half public decks this is a much more intimate ship, with many delights if you’re capable of entertaining yourself, are happy to bump into the same people, and enjoying the feel of the ocean as you sail (you would obviously feel the movements of the sea far more in anything but the calmest of seas – perhaps a thrill for those with good sea legs!)
The Observation Lounge is an intriguing venue on the Observation Deck with a series of large windows giving lots of opportunity to watch the world go by. The long thin room can accommodate 60+ passengers on comfy tub chairs, sofas and long sofa-benches as well as the bar stools at the white baby-grand piano. Easy to see that it would be a favourite place for some on their adventures.
The Lido Bar outside on deck will be an enjoyable place to replenish some drinks whilst sailing on the warmer itineraries (and perhaps on odd days on some of the more Arctic voyages). There is a small pool on the main outside space on the Lido Deck surrounded by classic rattan-style loungers.
The cabins are styled in simple elegant comfort – nothing too flashy, but a more homely feel. Most cabins are decent sizes grade-by-grade, and one or two are a quirky shape, normally adding a bit of extra space rather than taking it away.
As befits the likely interests of those who sail with Aegean Odyssey, the library is extensive relative to the size of ship with books relevant to the destinations and themes of the set of voyages being embarked upon at any one time.
The Charleston Lounge at the heart of the ship is a reasonably expansive space with plenty of seating though the furnishings do seem as if they were chosen quite separately from each other and a few years ago perhaps? However a fun and relaxing place to be we imagine. With songs around the piano at one end and drinks flowing well at the bar at the other.
The Terrace Café would appear to be a pleasant bistro-style cafe, with plenty of light from the windows on both sides. The outside decking area of The Terrace itself would be a favourite place to eat during the day and perhaps evenings too for Tapas on the Terrace, with lovely groupings of deck furniture and a view out to sea on three sides.
The Ambassador Lounge on Aegean Odyssey is a rather unique layout with every effort to fit as many in comfort as possible – but with the slight oddity that you’re likely to have to pass in front of the stage to get to virtually any seat. You may be self-conscious to be late or head off to the loo part way through a lecture or performance.
This is where local dancers, musicians or entertainment may come aboard to perform in certain ports to give a greater sense of the local culture – and where the important destination and port lectures will take place.
The main Marco Polo Restaurant seems smart and functional, reminiscent of older family style restaurants where good cooking mattered more than elegant presentation. Wine, beer or soft drinks with the evening meal is included in the fare.
Other Aegean Odyssey facilities such as an internet room, hairdressing salon, and the Athena Health Spa (including small Gym area) add some extra options for your time on board.
With Voyages to Antiquity you will have a more intimate sailing experience, feel the ocean more, and live in good quality comfort rather than superb luxury elegance – and you will have a genuine sense of being on a voyage, discovering places, their cultures, ancient civilizations and histories. You are likely to feel that you benefit from personal service. You will hear experts share their knowledge and be guided by them ashore too. Shore excursions are included in virtually every port of call. You’re likely to go to ports that you’ve never experienced with another cruise line, and certainly feel closer to interesting destinations sailing nearer to many coastlines than other cruise ships.
Aegean Odyssey carries only around 350 passengers and will probably be more expensive than a number of other options – but it offers some unique opportunities and experiences, often with later evening departures and some overnight stays in port.
Voyages to Antiquity sail fascinating itineraries as Aegean Odyssey explores the Mediterranean regions, including the Adriatic and Dalmatian Coast as well as the Nile delta area, around the Iberian Peninsular, a Morrocan experience, and north to Norway and Iceland as well as some superb British Isles itineraries. Voyages to Antiquity have also now added a voyage from the Canaries to the Caribbean, as well as several Caribbean and Cuba sailings. This little ship has some spirit and still some surprises in store.