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We had little to complain about on our cruise onboard MV Coral. Generally, the majority of the crew were attentive and we enjoyed good service. It was a wonderful holiday and we were sorry to leave our Coral family.

Ultimately if you book this cruise, remember it’s not a 5-star ship and you are not paying 5-star prices! It is an old vessel and however well maintained, it does show signs of wear and tear in places.

However, we did have a few bad service-related experiences and Louis Cruises have been informed of these.

Purser’s office night staff

On our second morning aboard the Coral, the lock broke on our cabin door. The key went in, but the lock wouldn’t turn and the key was stuck fast. Obviously the vibrations from the engines had dislodged the barrel of the lock.

I went along to the reception and reported this to the Purser’s ‘night porter’. He said he would arrange for the ship’s carpenter to fix it. He told us to leave the cabin unlocked with the key in the door and go on deck for breakfast. I pointed out we had no intention of leaving the cabin unsecured and asked him to get someone to look at the lock as a matter of urgency.

After almost an hour, David went back to reception and was again told to leave the cabin unlocked. When David pointed out the ship would be liable if anything was stolen from the cabin, the carpenter miraculously appeared and mended the lock! It was the work of a few minutes to sort it out.

Given the wonderful service we had received from the Purser’s office in the daytime, this advice and disregard for security did surprise us.

The Lido after the Corinth Canal

Most of the passengers were on deck for the journey through the Corinth Canal. The Lido, unsurprisingly, was packed. People sat round the rails and moved the tables and chairs to afford a better view.

When we were once again in open waters, the majority of the passengers left and the crew sprang into action. In a frantic flurry of activity, tables were straightened and chairs returned to their rightful places. While this was perfectly understandable, the crew’s attitude was not.

We watched as a bemused German couple had their drinks and personal belongings moved without ceremony or explanation to another table. The new table was then positioned back in exactly the same place. Did it really matter which table was in that place? All the tables are the same. The poor people looked as bewildered as we were.

More table and chair shuffling went on and we were the next in line. One of the deck staff approached us. With a curt wave of his hand and a ‘whssshtt’ (his only communication) he indicated our table had to be moved to the left. Without ceremony, our table was yanked from under us and re-positioned a foot or so from where we were sitting. We had no alternative but to follow it!

Had he asked if we would mind, we would happily have moved the table for him. Instead his ill-manners, curt hand signals and ‘whssshtt’ were rude and completely unnecessary. Sadly, the experience did mar the day and left a bad taste in our mouths. Incidentally I know from our time aboard, this crew member did speak English, so it was not a misunderstanding caused by a language barrier.

We got the impression the crew members were about to go off shift and they were hurrying to tidy up first. There was no courtesy or consideration – the passengers were clearly in the way and were treated as an inconvenience, at best.

While we appreciate the crew have a demanding job to do, it must be remembered ultimately that it’s the passengers who pay the wages. That sort of treatment is unnecessary and unacceptable.

Drinks service

Our experience of the drinks service aboard MV Coral was good. Some of the bar crew were more than good – they were excellent. However not all were as dedicated.

On two occasions we approached one of the stewards in the bar and asked for a drink. Both times we were told we would have to sit down outside and wait! It wasn’t a peak time. The members of staff weren’t doing anything else but still they refused to take our order.

On the second occasion, I had gone into the bar because we had already waited 15 minutes on the Lido deck. We wanted to order a pre-dinner drink and time was running out. Although I tried to explain this and said we had been waiting, the reply was still the same … go outside and sit down and wait.

We got our cocktail – eventually. But instead of enjoying it in comfort on the deck, we had no alternative but to take our expensive frozen Margueritas to the cabin and get ready for dinner. Sadly, this is another example of the crew’s convenience being more important than the passengers’ comfort.

Beware of the soot!

This isn’t a complaint, but more a recommendation to Louis Cruises. MV Coral needs its chimneys swept!

When the engines are fired up to leave port, the ship’s funnels discharge a great deal of sticky tar-like soot. The open area on the Hera deck (deck number 8) is in direct line of fire.

We were surprised and a little amused to have been used as target practice and I can tell you the funnels scored direct hits on both of us. Fortunately the smuts were small and easily removed in the shower. We did also pick some up some soot on our clothes from a sun lounger by the pool on Apollo Deck. One of our fellow British passengers was hit full on by a fall of soot and was covered! She did see the funny side of it though when recounting the tale the next day.

So take our advice if you cruise on MV Coral. Don’t sit on Deck 8 (Hera Deck) when the ship is leaving port. And check all the seats and sun loungers before sitting down. Those funnels are licensed to spill!