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Cruise Ship Information

MS Astor is a cruise ship owned by the Germany-based Premicon, under charter to the Germany-based Transocean Tours. She was built in 1987 under the name Astor by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), Kiel in West Germany for the Mauritius-based Marlan Corporation, although originally ordered by the South African Safmarine as a combined ocean liner/cruise ship for the Southampton-Cape Town service.

In 1988 the ship was sold to the Soviet Union-based Black Sea Shipping Company and renamed Fedor Dostoevskiy (some sources spell the name Fedor Dostoyevskiy, Russian: Фёдор Достое́вский), but spent her time under charter to various West German cruise lines. In 1995 she reverted to the name Astor. Since 1996 she has been under charter to Transocean Tours.

On 28 November 2008, an attempted pirate attack on the Astor in the Gulf of Oman was prevented by the German frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Today she operates for Cruise & Maritime Voyages on voyages in Europe, South Africa and Australia.

Atmosphere on board

Astor joined the Cruise & Maritime Voyages' fleet in February 2013 on a three-year charter. The 620-passenger ship is the sister ship to Saga Pearl II (Astor is 25m longer), and was originally launched into the British market in 1987 as a soft-adventure ship before being bought by the German river cruising conglomerate, Premicon Group as the sole ocean-going vessel in the company's fleet. The ship's most recent refurbishment was a £14 million upgrade in 2010.

Astor is higher-end than CMV's other two ships -- Marco Polo and mv Discovery -- and gratuities and all dining (including the specialty restaurants) are included. It spends its summer catering exclusively for the German market mainly on short voyages to Northern Europe; before setting sail for Australia in November, via West Africa, South Africa and Mauritius on a 38-day voyage, before sailing back in March.

Like its fleetmates, Astor is based in the Port of Tilbury, some 22 miles from Central London, which by coincedence is also where the so-called "£10 Poms" set sail from after the Second World War.

Family with Kids/Teens

There are separate children's and teens' clubs on Costa Victoria, but the rooms are small and sparse, a bit disappointing for kids who are used to the facilities provided on big, American ships. Costa can also be a problem for British kids, unless they happen to be good at languages. However, parents like Costa because the under-18's cruise for free if they share rooms with two adults.

The Squok Club, open daily on sea and port days (for children, ages 3 to 12), is split into two age groups: Mini Club for ages 3 to 6 and Maxi Club for ages 7 to 12. Both offer activities from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. with breaks for lunch and dinner. Parents can leave the children in the club for free if they want to go on an excursion.

The teen club is for 13- to –17-year-olds and has limited activities through the day -- a basketball tournament one day, T-shirt-painting on another -- but comes alive with discos and parties late at night.

Past Passenger Programs

The eight decks consist of seven traditional wooden decks and a sports deck with a wrap-around jogging track and wellness centre with heated indoor pool. All the public rooms are on Deck 6, and they include: the Astor Lounge, a 485-capacity space where all the main shows take place; the Captain’s Club, which is in the middle of the ship with corridors running either side, one of which (on the starboard side has a smoking area). There is live music here every night, and it makes a nice spot for a pre- or after-dinner drink. Outside here is a four terminal Internet area (the ship also has Wi-fi throughout the ship charged at €7 per hour). There is also a Library and a Games Room and a small boutique selling branded products. Right at the back of the ship you'll find the intimate Hanse Bar, which has a lot more seating on the Sun Terrace; and a poolside bar. On Deck 7 there is a meeting room, which doubles as a fitness class room.

Fitness And Spa

Fitness and spa options include one outdoor and one heated, indoor swimming pool, a wellness centre with a salon, two massage studios, sauna, and two whirlpools, and a sports deck. In addition to the jogging track the sports deck has a volleyball court, half tennis court, mini golf range, big board chess and yoga area, a fitness centre and a medical centre.

Food & Dining

The Waldorf Restaurant has an open sitting for breakfast and lunch and two fixed dinner sittings -- at 6:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Tables are mainly for four or more. The food is superb: We had a chicken masala starter, that I yearned could be turned into a main; followed by a creamy potato and leek soup. The Norwegian poached salmon was slightly dry for my palate, but very tasty and the Tiramisu was outstanding.

The Club Bistro (Opening times: early breakfast: 6:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m; Breakfast 7:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.; Lunch 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Afternoon tea: 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; Dinner 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.) is a superb self-service buffet, that looks more like an alternative dining room. It's buffet service, but there are food stations at all times, with egg dishes made to order in the morning and a main whipped up for lunch. Most nights there will be a theme. There are two additional specialty restaurants either side of the Waldorf, both with 22 covers and no charge, you just have to book in advance. The Romantic offers a variety of dishes such as asparagus starters and roast lamb or monkfish for mains; Toscana serves Italian fare such as pasta.

Entertainment

On board Astor, enjoy a wide range of very comfortable lounges and stylish leisure facilities to make your voyage a truly relaxing and enjoyable experience with outstanding service from the attentive crew.

From the moment you step on board, the choice is yours to join any of the many activities on offer or simply enjoy the luxury of being able to do absolutely nothing. The ship’s daily programme will be delivered to your cabin each evening, outlining the events of the following day. Maybe join the fitness team on the Sun Deck for a jog or a walk, yoga or an early game of deck chess. Later in the day, perhaps listen to a speaker or learn a new skill from one of our arts and crafts specialists. And, on those sunny tropical days, relax by the pool with a good book and perhaps a refreshing cocktail. And when the sun goes down in the evening, pre-dinner drinks are served on the Sun Terrace with the view of the ocean and the Captains Club where your favourite drink is ready for you.

Nothing whets the appetite like sea air and a leisurely dinner with mouth-watering food and good company is without doubt one of the highlights of the day. After dinner, the highly acclaimed entertainment team invite you to join them in the Astor Lounge where they will display their talents in a colourful big show, and late night cabarets will ensure that your evenings keep going with a swing. Alternatively, enjoy music from our resident pianist or a game of cards with new found friends. And when you decide to call it a night, your comfortable stateroom is just a short stroll away.

Tipping

All gratuities on Astor cruises are included in the fare. On Discovery and Marco Polo: £5 per passenger night is automatically charged to your shipboard account (£4ppn for cruises over 16 nights).

Fellow Passengers


Our recommendation

We stayed here for a few nights and were very impressed with the level of cleanliness! The size of the room/bed/bathroom was excellent. Felt very at home. As we are from New Zealand our Spanish is very poor but the staff were so helpful. Especially Gus, he went out of is way and spent a lot of time organizing a flight for us. We also found the best taco stand around the corner.

This place is excellent value for money!! We will definitely be back next time we are in Tijuana.