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   Cruise Travel - Reader Reviews

Welcome to Your Favorites, where you have the opportunity to share your travel experiences with fellow Internet Travelers around the world.

Festival Cruises

MS Mistral

Your Rating:four Stars
Reviewed by: Joseph Vermeer
# previous cruises: 10+
Date of Trip: March 30, 2001
Itinerary: Caribbean - Eastern

Ship cruises on a two week schedule from and to Guadeloupe and brings its pax to various islands of the French and British West Indies. Once you are accustomed to the ports that most cruises do to and from Florida, this is an interesting change. Ship sails during the evenings and nights and stays in the ports during daytime. It turned out that because of its pricing policy this cruise became more expensive than accustomed to. For instance the purser (bank) charges 3% for changing AMEX traveller checks for US dollar bills. On excursion fares a service surcharge of 15% was the case. No free movies in the cabin. In some cases passengers have to pay to get ashore. Ship cruises the Caribbean until May 4 and pursuant it sails to the Mediterranean to cruise there.

Public Areas
It is rather new ship with a wide variety of public rooms and bars. It has nice facility for kids and a first class facility for body treatment, special bathing and very well equipped and roomy fitness room. There is plenty of room for sunbathing as well as walking. It is also easy to find quiet spots as compared to the center of activities around the pool. The shops aboard the ship are nice, well stocked and nicely situated. The elevators are roomy and fast enough. The stairs are easy to walk.

Food and Service
This ship is under French hotel management. But don't expect much better food than f.i. on the fun ships of Carnival. The variety is greater and the portions also. The drinks and wines are very expensive. Too expensive, but the wines aboard are very good. There are 2 dining rooms. One is destined for suite passengers. In the morning and for lunch one can enjoy a simple buffet, serving continental, english/southern food, lots of fruit. In the afternoon one can have high tea buffet. Ad midnight one time a show buffet and during the other days small bites. The dinners are at 7 pm and 9.15 pm. Especially the Spanish and French pax might have loved late dining, but doing so one misses a great part of the evening activities, since dinner is finished around 11.15 pm. Too late. Deck service is limited. Only around the pool. Somewhat pushy behaviour in order to sell expensive cocktails. Most service personnel spoke french and so they had problems with most of the other languages. There is no such thing as a permanent pizza facility or ice cream bar. When one wants an ice cream on deck, once gets a prepackaged factory bar and has to pay a firm price for it.

Nice cabin. Enough closet space. Kind of US standard. Big window in outside cabins. Inside cabins have big mirrors instead. Flushing of toilet is very noisy, which is disturbing during nighttime. Shower is high enough for adults. Modern TV but no satellite programs like CNN, sports programs or BBC world service shown. Only the French station. Movies can be seen on a per day basis at a rate of USD 10 per 24 hours. Cabins are clean. Everyday clean sheets and towels. Electronic locks open with the on board credit- and identification card.

This management seems to want to save on expenditures for entertainment. The shows were really amateurish and the Italian noisy not funny announcer (the director of entertainment)tried to make it comfortable and understandable for the visitors of the beautiful show theatre of made a fool of himself. I suppose his speaks his native language very well and maybe also French and Spanish, but he better keeps his mouth shut when he wants to speak English or German. The music aboard was mediocre and that was also the case with the Latin American and Caribbean bands on deck. We did not participate in the childish activities around the pool under the overenthusiastic supervision of a French girl and an Italian man (plus their junior staff - called "animators"). In general this aspect deserves more than a 5 on a scale from 1 to 10.

3/30 arrival at Point A Pitre Guadeloupe. Well organized transfer from airport to ship. 3/31 St. Maarten. Went ashore. No excursion. 4/1 Tortola (British Virgin Islands) Did excursion 'Nature Lover's Tour' but saw few birds and flowers. 4/2 Dominica. Had a nice excursion all over the island. 4/3 St. Barts. The most beautiful port of them all. Outspoken French territory. Good for shopping and walking around. 4/4 Antigua. Nice tour to former British naval facilities. 4/5The isle of Mayreau near St. Vincent. Barbecue on the beach (which we missed because of unclear communication by the ship) 4/6 Back at Guadeloupe, where we could stay in the cabin until 1.30 pm and make use of restaurants and public rooms as well as some temporary cabins until the transfer to the airport took place. That is a first class treatment we never have experienced before. Activities are: step aerobics, playing darts, dancing lessons, water gym, playing cards, casino, table tennis, power gym.

Who Goes
We are Dutch. We communicate easier with English or German speaking passengers. The majority of this cruise were formed by French, Swiss, Spanish and Swedish passengers. We did not make new friends but we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere on the ship.

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