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Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby tomvet » 28 Dec 2016 22:01

Motivation: After six cruises with the kids OH and I decided that we would do a shortish / mini cruise leaving the kids at home. We had been looking for some ex - UK but were never that enamoured with cold short Northern European winter evenings. On the vacationstogo website we stumbled upon a Pullmantur Horizon cruise sailing for 5 nights from Lanzarote and calling to Fuerteventural, Gran Canaria and Tenerife with the last day being a sea day. The base fare was USD105 but Pullmantur have high Port taxes, Government fees etc of USD185 - still a great price. Top and tail that with a flight to ACE from Dublin and back to SNN with one night precruise in ACE and the package was complete. Then in November, my Mum, our designated babysitter, fell ill and we really could not ask her to mind the kids. So the revised plan was that OH would stay at home and Minivet 2 would travel. The cruiseline will do a name change for free up to 15 days before travel. €120 saw the flights changed. We were back on track.

Itinerary:
The following was the itinerary

Dec 14th - Fly Dublin to Lanzarote with Aer Lingus and overnight at the Hotel Lancelot
Dec 15th - Embark in Lanzarote and sailaway at midnight
Dec 16th - Arrive in Fuerteventura at 0800 and depart at 1800
Dec 17th - Arrive at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria at 0700 and depart at 2300
Dec 18th - Arrive at Santa Cruz de Tenerife at 0700 and depart at 2300
Dec 19th - Day at sea
Dec 20th - Arrive at Lanzarote at 0700, disembark at 0930 and Fly with Ryanair back to Shannon

As folks that tend to cruise for the itinerary, we loved the idea of long days in port and no rushing back to ship. The fact that we could fly back into Shannon was a real real bonus!

Pre-cruise accommodation: The Hotel Lancelot was a perfect solution for our pre-cruise stay. It is right on the beach in Arrecife and walking distance to the viewing lounge on the 5* Gran Hotel, the Lago. We stayed on a B&B basis, breakfast was typically Spanish, omelettes, juices, breads, pastries, hams and cheeses, fruits etc. There is a roof top pool. Our room was spacious, with a partial sea view. It cost €12 for a taxi to the airport and the same to the port. €69 for a four star hotel with excellent breakfast was exceptional value for us.

Pre-cruise tour: Last year on the MSC Opera cruise, we visited Lanzarote and used Rentaguidecanarias to do a tour of the North of the Island. This time we used the same company for a South of Island tour. Again Dolores and her crew were exceptional and provided an excellent tour of the La Geria Wineries, the Fire Mountains, Timfanya NP, the Camels and El Golfo green lake. Again exceptional value for €25 and Minivet free!!!

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Embarkation: Dolores and Co dropped us in Arrecife City Centre where we had a late lunch and made our way back to our hotel and collected our luggage and made our way to the ship by taxi. By the time we got to the ship, Minivet 2 had fallen asleep in the taxi, it was blowing a gale and she was less than civil and was cold. There was no tent to check in just a security person at the foot of the gang way. We were left stand on the dock freezing until our key cards were delivered to the gangway. This took an age. No one to take the luggage! :o This was not good! I asked if we could go to the top of the gangway and step in from the gale! Response : No! Why? It is not procedure Sir! Oh dear! Another European run cruiseline where staff adhere to procedure and cannot use their noggins as to what the right thing to do is given the situation. We eventually were onboard. I had to haul the bags all the way to reception along with a two year old, do the check in and then back to the cabin. Not the most satisfactory check in I have ever witnessed.

Cabin 6132: We were in inside cabin 6132.

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It was a cabin for four persons. They even had a cot for Minivet 2. The double bed was up against one side wall. This seems standard as there is not room at each side of the bed for a locker. So if you opt for that arrangement the person in by the wall does not get a reading lamp. The bed was extremely comfortable but the base was larger than the mattress - you were in danger of reefing your shins off the metal frames if you took a short corner around the bed. A towel to pad the corner after the first reef sorted it out. There was plenty of storage space. Three drawers in the bed side locker under the lamp. Under the vanity table there were five drawers on either side of the space for the chair, under which was the bin. The main wardrobes was a full length one with the life jackets on the top shelf. There were 10 hangers. In the half length wardrobe, there was a hanging rail and no hangers. The safe was bolted on top of 10 drawers, 5 on the right and the left. The bathroom was unremarkable - complete with soap /shampoo dispenser, Klingon curtain and a toilet that a 2 year old needed steps to get seated upon. The bathroom and wardrobes were larger than what we have been used to - in fact the length of the cabin from door to back was extra long. Another departure for us is that cabins are only serviced once per day. This is the bit I could never understand, each evening at the time when cabin stewards on other cruiselines are tidying up my mess, the Pullmantur stewards stand sentry like in the corridors and appear to do nothing! :confused:

Fellow passengers: It appears that Pullmantur and focussing their marketing beyond Spain and looking very much to France. Many of the crew are from Mauritius and other francophone countries. Needless to mention there were no other Irish on board but there were significant numbers of British, German, Dutch and Russian passengers onboard. Clearly people don't fancy cruising the week before Christmas. This may be reflected in the price but it was also reflected in the numbers on board. The ship carries about 1500 passengers, our cruise had just 500 passengers. This did add to the onboard experience - no fighting for buffet tables. However, because the numbers were so small, the MDR was not opened for breakfast. There were a significant number of kids on board particularly after we called to Tenerife as this was the official start of the cruise and families were on board for Christmas.

The Ship: The ship is an older small to mid sized vessel but I though she looked stunning particularly when set up for Christmas. Decks 4 and 5 are accommodation decks though the reception and shore ex desks are on deck 5 with no other public area. Deck 6 is solely an accommodation deck. Deck 7 and 8 are the main public area decks. The galley takes up the entire aft of deck 7 and forward of it is the La Spendide Restaurant. We had first seating, however as there were so few passengers onboard, an anytime dining was set up. We chose to eat at our assigned time of 1930 each evening. We were initially were assigned to a table of 6. The other two pairs got to the table before us on evening one. They were sat opposite at each end of the table. We as piggies in the middle seated opposite would not work for us. We asked to speak to the Maitre D and were immediately assigned a Table for 2 but were told we could have the table for 3 nights and that we would have to move to another for the final 2 evenings - liveable. Immediately forward to the MDR is the Rendez Vous lounge - cleverly designed with a central dance floor but with three annexes with comfy seats for those who want to enjoy the music in the background and yet be able to hold a conversation with companions. The same deck had a small board room, the future cruise consultant and the photo shop squeezed in. At the bow of the ship was level one of the theatre with unraked seating. One crib is that the production shows were held too late at night i.e. 2300!!!

Aft deck 8 was the Saphir Disco club all regaled out in gold Christmas baubles, however apart from the drill taking place there on evening one, I saw very little activity in this area - perhaps I was in bed too early. Forward of the Disco James's Piano Bar - an attractive lounge complete with fireplace. While Pullmantur operate an AI package, drinks in this bar all came at a cost sometimes just €1. Needless to mention, the bar was almost empty. Might be worth it, if one was trying to get away from a crowded full ship. Next door was the Library with very few books, a card room and two internet stations. Mid ships on deck 8 were the boutiques that did sell high quality merchandise and no tat. Forward of this was the Moka lounge where speciality coffees were the order of the day and included in the price. The seating was not that comfortable, I think the idea being that you stop, have coffee and move on and not sit around all day. There were three internet stations here also. I did not checkout the internet costs. I tend to avoid contact with the outside world when on holiday! :D Moving forward was the kids Guppy club. We attended, as Minivet 2 is not yet 3, she could not attend on her own. We found the staff aloof, not interested in smaller kids and they largely ignored us. We didn't return. Alongside was the Casino and a large lounge in red and blue décor. There was a tiny video arcade on deck 8 - does anyone ever use these? At the bow was the upper tier of the theatre.

Aft deck 11 is the Terasse Grill serving burgers, chips, hot dogs etc. This area is covered by canvas canopies and also acts as overflow for the buffet which is immediately forward which leads onto another outdoor dining area (again for buffet spillover!). Immediately forward of this is a stage which over looks both pools - 0.5m kids pool and 1.4 m adults pools. At the far end of this lido section is the Zephir bar. The bow of deck 11 houses the suite accommodation.

Aft deck 12 has a teak sun deck. The deck over looking the pools and forward is covered in an awful green carpet that does a very bad job at mimicking grass! Deck 12 is complete wrap around but walking around it during the day is an absolute course, but it may be pleasant in the evenings.

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Food: In a word excellent! Menus are in English. Waiters speak English. We had breakfast and lunch in the buffet and dinner in the MDR each evening with after dinner coffee taken in the Moka lounge. :thumbup: There was one Gala Evening and the Gala Dinner was exceptional and no Baked Alaska parade. The only thing that was not to my liking was the Gazepacho! Soups were made to be eaten hot! :D :D Breakfast was the standard fayre, bacon and egg rolls for Dad each morning, fresh fruit and a muffin. Minivet 2 started each day with an OJ, bowl or rice Krispies, set lemon yoghurt and a muffin! Only drawback, an application for a tea spoon has to be made to a supervisor for Minivet 2 to eat her Krispies, I eventually got tired of the palava and kept the spoon for the duration of the cruise and made a big drama returning it to reception on disembarkation. I find the reluctance of junior staff to acquiesce to simple reasonable requests because they are not given autonomy most annoying. When mentioned to senior staff members, all you get are the platitudes of 'thank you for your comments', 'you can mention it in the complaint form' etc. OJ in the mornings was freshly squeezed with bit and not that awful over sugared water downed cordial that most mass market cruise lines serve!! We tended to have excellent salads for lunch and indulging in burgers and chips on the sea day! Yum! One thing I like in the buffet was cards that you left on the table that indicated 'Still Eating' or 'Finished - please clear the table'. This allowed both crew and fellow passengers gauge accurately if a table was free or not! In the MDR there were a few quirks, when ordering soup you were presented with a bowl with a crouton, quenelle of crème fraiche and some green garnish, the soup was then poured in from a thermos flask - I am not sure if this is the Spanish way of doing things or more likely a way to ensure the soup stays warm. Regardless the soups were delicious! Fillet steak on gala night was excellent - a seven course affair! Desserts were fabulous! Definitely the best food on board a ship since we cruise with HAL back in 2008. No inkling of it being a mass produced meal. The waiters were wonderful.

Entertainment:For a cruiseline that wants to market itself outside Spain, I thought having a Spanish stand up as the showcase on Night 1 to be a bit of an own goal! The Abba Show on night two, despite it being a type of cliche was very enjoyable. Night three saw music and dance from around the world, African rhythms, Aboriginal digideroo music, American tap, European can can and Zorba, finishing off with Indian Jai Ho! Night 4 was a Beatles night - this was not so enjoyable. The last night was dubbed 007 night and was the Captain's cocktail night - there was little in terms of a show apart from two acrobats on a hoop that performed for 30 seconds. We were introduced to the crew - painful and the Captain, who had the personality of ............! Hope he is better at steering a ship than smiling!

Ports of Call

Fuerteventura: We took a taxi from the port to Corralejo and a ferry from there to Los Lobos Island where we walked to the far end of the Island to the lighthouse and back. Weather was 4 seasons in one day! Sea conditions on the way home were rough and the ferry turned back to the Island. I nearly had a heart attack! We got back to the mainland via another route! Phew! We took the local bus back to Puerto del Rosario.

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Gran Canaria: Took a local bus that took and age to Masapalomas where we hiked across the sanddunes. I was not prepared for the nudity :shock: Minivet 2 did not notice but if I had Minivet 1 with me, there would be a huge number of Qs about sizes, shapes, lengths, etc etc :shock: After our hike in the dunes, we took a camel ride where Minivet 2 fell asleep in the saddle!! We headed back to Las Palmas and did pressie shopping for those we left at home!

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For those that noticed. We walked along the beach and Minivet 2 got her shorts wet from the waves and not by other means! That's the truth!!!

Tenerife: I am always a tad hesitant to book excursions to mountain tops as you are as likely as not to be fogged out of it. Having been to Loro Parque last year we decided to chance Teide with an excursion from livingsantcruz.es for €41 and Minivet 2 free. We left Santa Cruz in sunshine and then entered miserable cloud in the Esperanza forest where it was cold. We stopped in a café and it was miserable. However when we got to Roques de Garcia we were treated to this!!! We had 9 mins to walk about before returning to Santa Cruz. We got off our bus at the Auditoro for a coffee before returning to the ship.

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Disembarkation: Uneventful! Bags out by 1 am. Cabin vacated by 0800. Off ship at 0930. Bags on the quay side. As we were in the berth nearest the city we walk the 1km into Arrecife, had a coffee and then took a taxi to the airport. Flight took off 25mins ahead of schedule and in SNN at 1750 as opposed to 1815 where OH and Minivets 2 & 3 were waiting. Cases had to be opened there and then to hand over the pressies!!! ;)

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Final thoughts: Excellent small ship cruiseline! I label it Fred Olsen for Europeans! The similarities were remarkable. AI is great - drank buckets of Lavazza Americanos though I would wish waiters would realise that an Americano with milk on the side is not what they call coffee with milk. I had to send several back. This is something I noticed at all levels, staff tended to hear what they thought you needed not what you actually needed. Minivet 2 loved the virgin Pina Coladas. The ship was stunning! The cabins large and comfortable. The food divine. The downsides, kids over two pay full service charges that are not negotiable which makes Pullmantur pricier than those that only charge half rates. Staff not given sufficient autonomy. One staff member who kept pulling Minivet 2's thumb from her mouth and saying it was dirty! That was a line crossed on the third occasion so I raised a complaint. I didn't see the individual on the ship again! :shock:

Would I cruise with Pullmantur again! Now that I know their idiosyncrasies, yes I would but it is not likely as they are rather pricey. Yes I know they include drinks but even taking that into account, I would get a lot of Lavazza coffees for the difference! Their shore excursion prices are very reasonable with most full day excursions costing €59 and €29 for a half day excursion.
Last edited by tomvet on 07 Jan 2017 22:15, edited 1 time in total.
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December 18 - A-ROSA Aqua - Cologne - Mannheim - Kehl (Strasbourg) - Mainz - Cologne
October 19 - A-ROSA Luna - Lyon- Viviers - Arles - Avignon - Vienne - Lyon
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Re: Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby Dave » 29 Dec 2016 01:27

Thanks for the review Tom. It's great to know that members are still prepared to put in that kind of time and effort. There's an awful lot to digest properly on my phone so I'm looking forward to enjoying your review at leisure when we get home. :-)

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Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby judgegeoff » 29 Dec 2016 09:03

As usual Tom, a brilliant review, easy to read, very informative and very well illustrated. Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to produce it :clap: :clap: :clap: . I have flown on a Pullmantur plane (Gatwick to Rio de Janeiro for a Fred. Olsen "Balmoral" sail back) but, thanks to your review, would be happy to sail on a Pullmantur ship. :)
Geoff

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Re: Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby rdw123 » 29 Dec 2016 10:26

Thanks Tom for a very interesting review. Shall be that way myself in 10 days so it's given me food for thought. Perhaps I'd better pack an extra jumper. Looks like mini vet 2 enjoyed herself as well. Ruth
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Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby Gillzajoker » 29 Dec 2016 14:26

Great review, Tom, and, as always, wonderful pics. :D :D
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Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby adogap » 29 Dec 2016 15:40

Fabulous read and pics, thank you Tom. The photo of the lake in Arrecife with all the little boats made me smile. We have visited on a few occasions and try to stop for coffee or a lunch which must include Canarian spuds :D
All your daughters are gorgeous!
I hope your mum is keeping better and Mrs TV and yourself get a well deserved break soon. Sending a big hug to you all from the North :wave:

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Re: Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby tomvet » 29 Dec 2016 15:43

Dave wrote:Thanks for the review Tom. It's great to know that members are still prepared to put in that kind of time and effort. There's an awful lot to digest properly on my phone so I'm looking forward to enjoying your review at leisure when we get home. :-)

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I debated to post a review or not but I felt I owed it to the forum that has give me endless hours of entertainment. Also the fact that it was not a main stream line, that the forum deserved to be informed about cruising with Pullmantur. Hopefully, I can later in 2017 bring Phoenix Reisen river cruising to the forum. Who knows after that? AIDA??? I am European after all and we all cannot sail P&O and Cunard!!!! ;)

I think as some one that likes Fred Olsen and Thomson and Costa, I think Pullmantur would suit you and Fred extremely well. Not that I look specifically at veggie option on any cruise, veggie options in the buffet and MDR were noticeable in the range and number provided. I did choose a Risotto from the veggie menu on one evening and it was excellent.

They do have Royal suites on board! ;)
Last edited by tomvet on 29 Dec 2016 15:49, edited 1 time in total.
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October 18 - MSC Opera - Marseille - Mahon - Cagliari - Valetta - Messina - Naples - Genoa
December 18 - A-ROSA Aqua - Cologne - Mannheim - Kehl (Strasbourg) - Mainz - Cologne
October 19 - A-ROSA Luna - Lyon- Viviers - Arles - Avignon - Vienne - Lyon
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Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby tomvet » 29 Dec 2016 15:46

judgegeoff wrote:As usual Tom, a brilliant review, easy to read, very informative and very well illustrated. Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to produce it :clap: :clap: :clap: . I have flown on a Pullmantur plane (Gatwick to Rio de Janeiro for a Fred. Olsen "Balmoral" sail back) but, thanks to your review, would be happy to sail on a Pullmantur ship. :)


I certainly would give them a try Geoff, however from the UK you have to be prepared to do seperate flights and cruise, AFAIK, they don't do fly-transfer-cruise options.
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October 18 - MSC Opera - Marseille - Mahon - Cagliari - Valetta - Messina - Naples - Genoa
December 18 - A-ROSA Aqua - Cologne - Mannheim - Kehl (Strasbourg) - Mainz - Cologne
October 19 - A-ROSA Luna - Lyon- Viviers - Arles - Avignon - Vienne - Lyon
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Re: Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby tomvet » 29 Dec 2016 15:53

rdw123 wrote:Thanks Tom for a very interesting review. Shall be that way myself in 10 days so it's given me food for thought. Perhaps I'd better pack an extra jumper. Looks like mini vet 2 enjoyed herself as well. Ruth


Ruth, while you are most likely to have wonderful sunshine, the hour or two that it rains in the Canaries coupled with a norterly wind can make it seem like a typical set day in the British Isles. Definitely take layers - light and heavier fleece and a rain jacket and you should be good to go! No matter the weather in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, if you venture towards Teide, don't just go in shorts and a tee shirt. At least have another trousers you can don and a fleece and jacket as the windchill and elevation make the place quite cold.
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October 18 - MSC Opera - Marseille - Mahon - Cagliari - Valetta - Messina - Naples - Genoa
December 18 - A-ROSA Aqua - Cologne - Mannheim - Kehl (Strasbourg) - Mainz - Cologne
October 19 - A-ROSA Luna - Lyon- Viviers - Arles - Avignon - Vienne - Lyon
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Re: Review: Tom and Minivet 2 on Pullmantur Horizon

Postby Meg50 » 29 Dec 2016 15:57

are mini vets 1 & 3 forming a disorderly queue to do the next one to one cruise with Daddy?
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