AEGEAN ODYSSEY To Antiquity, Part One

In the sixteen months since this AEGEAN ODYSSEY report was first posted, many of the start up issues (lips on stairways, lack of hotel manager and cruise director, etc.) mentioned in this post have been corrected. Today, the ship and overall Voyages to Antiquity experience are enjoying strongly favorable feedback from cruise enthusiasts who appreciate an intimate ship that provides a highly cultural and itinerary-rich experience.

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First Posted: Saturday, June 5, 2010

Roma eterna!

For this journey, we allowed an extra day in Rome before and after our cruise aboard Voyages to Antiquity’s AEGEAN ODYSSEY. On the evening of our arrival, Monday, May 31, 2010, we chose to meander the streets and alleyways of Rome on a course that began near the Arco di Giano and ended at a trattoria on Via Madonna dei Monti. For some mystical reason, the Eternal City was neither crowded nor hot, tempting us into delving into its ancient mysteries just a little longer. But a short visit, a decent meal and a mandatory gelato would be enough to whet our wandering palates before jet lag intervened. By 8:00 PM, we were on the shuttle back to the Sheraton and some rest before our morning drive to Civitavecchia, where we would be boarding the AEGEAN ODYSSEY.

Please click on image to see larger version. All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2010 unless otherwise noted.

Voyages To Antiquity website

Review and Photos by Paul Motter of CruiseMates.com

Tuesday, June 1, 2020.

Knees crunched into the back of the driver’s seat, we both yearned for a cappuccino and something to nibble on as our driver chatted away on his cell phone. One of those handy roadside mini-marts did the trick, sustaining my traveling companion, Christopher Kyte, owner of niche travel operator, Uncommon Journeys, and myself for the remainder of the journey and well into the afternoon.

Fin-topped trident at Civitavecchia.

Even Civitavecchia looked nice on this late spring day as our car wound through its crowded residential streets until finally reaching the port. In addition to several Tirrenia, Moby and smart-looking SNAV ferries, Civitavecchia’s cruise ship lineup included Aida Cruises’ AIDA VITA, Pullmantur’s SOVEREIGN (ex SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS), Crystal’s CRYSTAL SERENITY and either the RUBY or EMERALD PRINCESS (I never got close enough to see) in addition to the AEGEAN ODYSSEY. Now, it may be because I am somewhat biased, but the modestly proportioned ODYSSEY with her smart new blue and gold striped livery and gold trident logo looked the best of the bunch. In some respects, with her new funnel, she was reminiscent of a squared-off version of the former Royal Cruise Line’s GOLDEN ODYSSEY.

ODYSSEY sentinel.

Check in went smoothly as we sent our luggage off with a porter and were handed our cabin key cards.

Category C cabin 741, facing port.

We were escorted to the gangway and then shown to 741, a pleasantly decorated, 275 square foot Category C cabin with balcony on aft/port Deck 7. This concierge level accommodation can be arranged with a double or two twin beds (topped with very comfortable Linea Strom mattresses and white down duvets), a small sofa, cabinet with mini-bar (stocked with bottled water and soda), a chair, cocktail table, flat screen television, phone, wardrobe and twin night stands. The decorative palette of beige, jade, white and royal blue was harmonious and soothing.

Cabin 741 veranda, facing forward.

On the balcony, there were two chairs and a small cocktail table.

Cateory C cabin bathroom.

The spacious bathroom had sink, toilet, hairdryer and one of those newfangled, half-enclosed walk-in showers that does not feature a curtain — much as one would find in a “W” type hotel. I’m not sure I get the point of getting most of the bathroom wet when showering (especially on a ship where slippery floors are never a good idea) and am hoping that this decorative trend will pass quickly.

Molton Brown amenities in each cabin include shampoo, soap, bath gel, a vanity kit and shower caps.

Concierge Level cabins (categories A to G) are all brand new, with two new staterooms replacing the equivalent of three original cabins from the ship’s AEGEAN I days, including 42 with verandas. Concierge level perks include stocked refrigerators, bathrobes, slippers, priority embarkation and disembarkation, separate check-in, extra movie channels and welcome champagne.

Aft from Observation Deck over the newly restyled pool area.

The AEGEAN ODYSSEY has seven passenger decks, beginning at the top with Observation Deck (9), followed by Lido (8), Bridge (7), Promenade (6), Belvedere (5), Columbus (4) and Marco Polo (3). The conversion has taken a pleasant, hard-working ship and made her into an elegant-looking charmer.

Observation Lounge, facing forward from port.

Observation Deck features a wrap-around teak promenade, the lovely, 85 seat Observation Lounge (with bar, dance floor and grand piano) and the Lido Bar overlooking the midships pool.

Midships Lido, facing forward.
Totally random terrazzo shot.
Facing forward from aft Lido Deck.

Lido Deck begins with an observation platform, the ship’s Category A and B suites, a sheltered space forward of the pool area, a teak-lined lido and pool, the spa and gym and a large aft lido with a whirlpool and padded deck chairs overlooking the stern.

Aft of the wheelhouse, Bridge Deck contains more accommodation and a small sheltered terrace at the stern.

Ambassador Lounge, facing aft.
Port promenade, facing aft.
Totally random teak shot.
Charleston Club, facing aft from starboard.
Totally random carpet shot.
Terrace Cafe, facing aft/starboard.

Promenade Deck is devoted entirely to public spaces, beginning with the slightly terraced, 380 seat Ambassador Lounge. Aft on either side are teak topped, finite promenades. Beyond the forward vestibule, there is the 125 seat Charleston Club (shown on the deck plan as the Rendezvous Lounge) with picture windows on either side, a small stage forward and bar aft. It is the most decoratively vibrant space on the ship, with swirl-patterned carpet and mauve and red seating. On the starboard side aft of the aft vestibule is the 12 seat Library with its dark wood tones, ship models and shelves filled with reference materials. Accessed via the port side is the pleasing, blue and white-toned, informal dining venue, the 164 seat Terrace Cafe. The open air, aft portion of the ship contains a 110 seat annex, especially popular on balmy days and nights.

Reception, facing starboard/aft.
Smokers' haven, facing port.

Belvedere Deck contains the Reception foyer, the beauty salon, internet center (with six stations) and a sheltered terrace at the stern where smoking is permitted.

Columbus Deck houses more accommodation and the medical center.

Marco Polo Restaurant, facing aft from starboard.

Just aft of the forward vestibule on Marco Polo Deck is the 200 seat Marco Polo Dining Room. This is also where most tendering takes place.

SOVEREIGN Of The Spanish Seas.

I spent the full afternoon documenting the decks, public areas and whatever accommodation I could access. After a brief lunch in the Marco Polo, where we met several fellow passengers (six Americans and one Brit), I headed ashore to photograph the AEGEAN ODYSSEY and the SOVEREIGN, returning just in time for boat drill.

A SOVEREIGN SERENITY ODYSSEY at Civitavecchia.

At 7:00 PM, there was a press party in the Observation Bar, a great vantage to enjoy the departure as we slid past the remaining ships and ferries and turned south into the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Appetizer: Smoked Salmon Parfait with asparagus and orange salad with drill, capers.
Soup: Minestrone with focacia crostini and fresh pesto.
Main Course: Pan Fried Breast of farm raised chicken stuffed with garlic herb over Swiss chard, Anna potatoes, Trifolata of mushrooms and natural roasting juices infused with sherry.
Dessert: Butterscotch tart.

Dinner in the Marco Polo was at 8:00 PM, consisting of four courses, including dessert.

Twilit ODYSSEY.
A wake at night.

Even though it was still early, I was pretty spent, so after a brief walk around deck, I called it a night.

End of Part One.

Click Here For Part Two

Click Here For Part Three

Voyages To Antiquity website

Review and Photos by Paul Motter of CruiseMates.com

History Of An ODYSSEY

NARCISistic origins -- remnants of NARCIS bead lettering on AEGEAN ODYSSEY's stern. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Voyages to Antiquity is Gerry Herrod’s latest venture, continuing in the footsteps of his often lamented Orient Lines and the still very vital but no longer Herrod-owned Voyages of Discovery. The emphasis is on unique itineraries and cultural enrichment with a stellar cast of guest lecturers and a few thoughtful touches like shore excursions and wine included.

MV AEGEAN DOLPHIN at Piraeus. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 1992.

The 11,563 gt AEGEAN ODYSSEY has spent the past year or so undergoing a top to bottom refit/conversion into an elegant, low density premium market cruise ship. She was built in 1973 as Zim Lines’ ro/ro ferry NARCIS and converted into the smart, high density cruise ship AEGEAN DOLPHIN for Dolphin-Hellas Cruises in 1988.

AEGEAN DOLPHIN funnel with Epirotiki's Byzantine Cross. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 1992.

Although a third the size, AEGEAN DOLPHIN was often compared to Hapag-Lloyd’s EUROPA of 1981. Her well-balanced lines and even her funnel certainly borrowed from the larger ship’s blueprint. The AEGEAN DOLPHIN spent much of her career under charter to other operators, such as Epirotiki, who used her on their local Aegean cruise service.

AEGEAN 1 in Renaissance Cruises colors off Limassol. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 1997.
Renaissance logo on funnel. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 1997.

In the mid-1990s, the AEGEAN 1 was chartered to Renaissance Cruises until the first of eight “R” class ships were delivered in 1998.

Golden Sun Cruises' AEGEAN 1 at Rhodes. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2001.

In the late 1990s, she was operated by Golden Sun Cruises, remaining in Piraeus-based Aegean cruise service.

The transformation begins. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2009.

In 2005, the vessel was purchased by Louis Cruise Lines of Cyprus but a legal battle between her original owners and Louis kept the ship tied up at Eleusis until the matter was finally resolved. The AEGEAN 1 was next sold to Gerry Herrod in 2009 and taken to Keratsini (near Perama) for a complete rebuilding into AEGEAN ODYSSEY.

Freshly "finned" funnel at Keratsini. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2009.

Alterations include the installation of a larger, finned funnel, the doubling of many cabins and the addition of 42 verandas as well as a complete renovation of all public areas. Capacity has been reduced from 570 to 380 passengers.

MV AEGEAN ODYSSEY at Keratsini. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2009.

Special thanks: Martin Cox, Johanna Jainchill, Heather Krasnow, Christopher Kyte, Paul Motter, Mitch Schlessinger

Click Here For Part Two

Click Here For Part Three

Voyages To Antiquity website

Review and Photos by Paul Motter of CruiseMates.com

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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