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Memorable trip on a super ship and fun at the Captain’s table

Above: Dee and the Captain share a joke. Below: The Captain's Club lounge.Below right: Welcome to the suite life

As a prelude to our adventure of the Indian Pacific train my wife Dee and I took a five night

cruise on the good ship Astor, and what a wise decision that turned out to be.

The Astor is CMV vessel and a small ship in these days of super liners (she carries less than 600 passengers) and is the cleanest ship, I have ever seen. She was spotless and beautifully maintained throughout. And being small there were no long walks to get to dining rooms or entertainment.

Like all cruise ships the cost of alcoholic drinks is high, so it was well worth spending an extra $100 each for the drinks package which included the ubiquitous gratuities charge. Inclusive packages are something I like: no worrying about keeping a check on the credit card. This one had an added extra – a free upgrade if it is available – and it was!

We had booked an inside suite and got the upgrade to an Ocean View suite, which was spacious and very classy – and it came with an elegant welcome pack of red wine and fruit. That was a lovely surprise.

Dining was another pleasant experience in the formal Waldorf Restaurant or the more relaxed Übersee Club, the food was excellent, but there was a snag with the wine. The bottles on the menu, we discovered too late were not included in the CMV Premium package, but at least they saved the half bottle that remained for another night.

Guests could also have a pool deck buffet, but it was much too cool to enjoy the night air or the outdoor pool.

There were also a couple of speciality restaurants, the Admiral's Salon (Asian Fusion Cuisine) or the Commodore's Salon (Italian/Mediterranean Cuisine). These come with an additional charge. I don’t how much extra because we did not feel the need to access them. The food in general was tasty, well prepared and well presented.

Much of the nightly fun takes place in the Captain’s Club, a very comfortable bar with plenty of chairs and tables. The entertainment was provided by a solo pianist/vocalist or vocal trio, and there was never enough noise to drown out conversation. We met and mingled and made some good friends even on such a short trip, so good was the atmosphere. Dress was no problem either for on the short cruise there is no formal night, which meant there was no need to pack a dinner suit and evening gown, which was handy being as we were only allowed 23 kg on the plane.

We also enjoyed the full scale cabaret with some talented entertainers in the Astor Lounge. I was surprised at the quality of the entertainment. The Captain also introduced us to himself and his crew in the lounge.

Then we discovered that we were listed to sit on the captain’s table on one night (a privilege of the suites apparently and only three couples were honoured!), which was a thrill for my wife who got sit next to the Captain. He was great fun too, knowledgeable, informative and with a great sense of humour.

Our short cruise went from Fremantle to Esperance and then back via Albany.

There were a few excursions, but we prefer to take the ports as they are and do some exploring.

Back on board we checked out the indoor pool and the Oasis beauty, spa and wellness centre where passengers can get facial treatments, massage therapies, body treatments, hair styling, hand and foot care. There is also a well set up fitness centre on Bridge Deck next to the Sun Terrace. And when the sun goes down in the evening, pre-dinner drinks are served on the Sun Terrace with the view of the ocean. It was a bit cool at night for us Queenslanders, so we stayed in the Captain’s Club!

What did I think overall? Excellent value for money, especially in the suites, and the drinks packages were good too. Again it was a spotlessly clean vessel and the service was spot on. I would love to join her again.

Entertainment in the Captain's Club. Below: Aft and the pool deck.

Below, awaiting the Captain and a happy Eric and Dee

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