At just 20,600 GT, the 620-passenger Astor is an intimate cruise ship, joint operated by British cruise line Cruise & Maritime Voyages, and its German brand, TransOcean Kreuzfahrten. It mainly sails the waters of Northern Europe during the summer with TransOcean, and the winter months with Cruise & Maritime Voyages operating in the warmth of Australia. Built in 1986, it has a near-identical sister currently sailing as Saga Pearl II.
Despite her small size, Astor has everything you need to enjoy a leisurely cruise experience. Her spacious interiors and accommodation, make her a perfect ship to sail on long, exotic voyages. Although lacking a variety of onboard bars, Astor is more like a floating home, where the atmosphere is warm and friendly and striking a conversation with new people is a breeze. Astor is the perfect ship for destination-focused people, wanting a relaxed and sociable cruise experience.
Atlantic Deck 5 is home to the reception, shore excursion and concierge desks. With a simplistic, yet mesmerising small water sculpture near the main staircase, this is the area where guests first step aboard.
A small Library and Internet Area issituated opposite the Card Room and Photo Gallery, near the entrance to the Astor Show Lounge on Deck 6, and surrounding the large Boutique shop, selling branded products, essentials, clothing and accessories.
Boat Deck 7 is home to the teak promenade area, although very wide, it does not not wrap-around the length of the ship. A spacious Conference Room is nestled in-between the two accommodation corridors, which presumably is also used as the chapel.
Astor has a range of accommodation available to suit all budgets. Cabins are comfortably furnished and fairly spacious. Unlike her sister ship, a large percentage of cabins feature windows that almost run from floor-to-ceiling, letting in plenty of natural daylight, without the need for a balcony (for which the ship has only three of).
Astor has three premium suites - two Senator Suites and the gigantic Astor Suite - located on Boat Deck 7 at the very front of the ship. The two Senator Suites (#102 & #103) are situated Port and Starboard, with the large Astor Suite (#101) filling up the space in the centre. All three suites have access to an exclusive forward-facing open deck, accessible via a communal door. The two senator suites also benefit from a private, but very small balcony, which has just enough room for a table and two chairs, that overlooks the side of the ship. The suites have a large bedroom offering sea views, a walk-in closet, and a spacious living area. The impressively large bathrooms in the suites have a bathtub, large sink area, a separate glass-enclosed shower, and a small adjacent room with a toilet and sink. The bathroom mirror even has a television built into it, so you will never need to miss your favourite television programmes when getting ready! The only downside to the bathrooms are the partially-obscured frosted glass wall.
Astor also has eight smaller De Luxe Suites, also on Boat Deck 7. With floor-to-ceiling windows, a comfortable seating area, large vanity area and a bathroom with bathtub, the De Luxe Suites offer a spacious retreat.
20 Premium Suites are situated on Atlantic Deck 5, in addition to eight interior Superior Suites. These are the smallest suites on the ship, but are still very sizeable and includes a lounge area, large desk and two floor-to-ceiling windows, letting in plenty of sunlight.
Waldorf Restaurant (Deck 6, aft)
At the aft of Deck 6 is the Waldorf Restaurant, the main dining room on Astor. Operating on two fixed sittings for dinner, sumptuous food is consumed here each evening. Most tables seat more than four people, emphasising a social affair, however several smaller tables for two and four are available, for a more intimate dining experience. The Waldorf is also open for a more formal breakfast and lunch.
Unlike other Cruise & Maritime Voyages ships, Astor features two speciality restaurants when operating in Australia. Admiral's Restaurant serves Asian dishes, as well as curries from India and stir-fries from Singapore and Malaysia. The Mediterranean-inspired Commodore's Restaurant offers classic Italian dishes. When operating for TransOcean Kreuzfahrten, Admiral's, renamed The Romantic, offers a formal dinner affair, with fine wines, and succulent cuts of meat. Commodore's is renamed Toscana, and continues to serve Italian cuisine.
Übersee Club (Deck 7, aft)
The Übersee Club is the self-service buffet restaurant on Astor and feels very spacious. The buffet consists of two separate counters, one for cold and fresh items, such as salads, sandwiches and vegetables, and the other for hot dishes, such as stews, curries, potatoes and pasta. A small table hosts two cauldrons of soup and a bread basket. A dessert counter and coffee station is located on the opposite side of the buffet. Large sliding doors can be opened onto the large outdoor sun terrace, where guests can choose to dine al fresco. An outdoor grill, serving burgers and fries, opens on sunny days.
The nautical-themed Captain's Club is a popular place for pre-dinner drinks, live music and afternoon tea. Surrounding the Captain's Club on both sides is the Gallery Arcade, lined with seating along the large picture windows.
With its dark, wooden panelling, and brass fittings, Hanse Bar, with its easy access onto the sun terrace, is a cosy hideaway, to escape the sunshine during the day, or to socialise with a pre- or post-dinner drink.
Astor Lounge (Deck 6, fwd)
Almost all of Astor's facilities are situated on Promenade Deck 6, expect for its namesake, the promenade. Astor Lounge is the main show lounge onboard, and is home to production shows and guest entertainers. The warm, inviting colours of the seating, in addition to the large windows running the length of the show lounge, makes this venue not only a popular place in the evening, but also a fantastic place to spend the day. Several restricted sight lines and chairs that face away from the stage, were some issues we identified with the lounge, but overall the show lounge is a very good size for a ship of Astor's size.
Wellness Centre (Deck 4, mid)
Located on Caribic Deck 4, the Wellness Centre is very impressive, considering the size of Astor. The large indoor heated pool, relaxing loungers, and refreshing sauna, are a great way to spend some time on a cold, overcast day at sea.
Astor's outdoor pool is situated just feet away from the buffet entrance. It's a good-sized pool and rather deep, but didn't look all that inviting. Plenty of sun loungers and tables overlook the aft of the ship, on the curved terraces that span three decks. A decent-sized Fitness Centre offers sea views overlooking the starboard side from Bridge Deck 8.
Sun Deck 9 is home to a jogging and walking track, a large forward-facing observation deck, and an impressive sports court, offering table-tennis, two tennis courts as well as the options to play basketball or football.