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14 nights - review of the maiden voyage - Ambassador Ambition

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Itinerary - Port of Tyne Newcastle - Dundee - Sea - Sea - Cherbourg - Brest - St Nazaire(Nantes) - Le Verdon (Bordeaux) - Gexto (Spain) - Gijon (Spain) - La Coruña (Spain) - Sea - Le Havre - Port of Tyne Newcastle 

Having been on the maiden voyage of Ambience we were excited to be able to embark Ambition for her maiden voyage to Scotland, France, and Spain. 


As we live in the north-east now it was a pleasure to join a cruise ship no more than 40 minutes from home, instead of having to drive to the other end of the country.

The Port of Tyne staff were friendly and welcoming and after some  confusion about car parking, the embarkation process was smooth and efficient.  We were both impressed and amused by the heavy Ambassador branding in the cruise terminal which is shared with Fred Olsen.

The Ship

We were fortunate enough to be able to join the Ambition, formerly the Aida Mira, and before that the Mistral, for the Gala pre launch Night/ Naming Ceremony, so we were able to have an early close look around the ship.  Although the Ambition is twenty years old, you wouldn't think it.  

Ambassador have done a great job with her refurbishment - there are 714 cabins, 125 of which have balconies, and 113 of which are suites.  They are all tastefully decorated and there is something for everyone, although the bathrooms are a tad small.

We particularly love the suites at the back of the ship.

The Cabins

The cabins are well appointed, clean, airy and spacious.  Of course we all have different tastes, but we think they are brightly decorated, the beds are comfortable and there is a choice of pillows.  We worry that some of the cabins do not have enough drawer or wardrobe space, there certainly wasn't enough in the superior junior suite cabin we started with on the side of deck 12, though we were able to move to a Premium Suite on the aft on deck 12, and we have to say it's the best suite we have had since our one on the back of P&O Iona.

Regular readers of my reviews will know I have a thing about in-room entertainment, and I'm sorry to say that the tv system in our suite more often than not didn't work, and when it did there were limited channels and still no bridge cam.  There are no music or video channels, not even a basic route/ship progress map.  Although it's apparently a smart tv it takes literally minutes from the moment you turn it on until a picture appears on the screen - smart tv ??!  Very slow tv more like.

There is more drawer space but it is still a bit tight on hanging space.  There is a fridge, safe, hairdryer, coffee machine and kettle, and best of all for me, there was a pair of full size binoculars.

Our suite was situated on the corner so we had a large wrap around balcony with plenty of room, a table, chairs and two sun loungers - we loved it!


There are plenty of activities  and bar/lounge areas on Ambition, with a very different layout to Ambassador's other ship Ambience.

Deck 12 has a jogging/walking track, a splash pool, a giant chess set and more sunbathing areas.

There is a well appointed gym, active studio and one of the best spas we have ever seen (with many treatment and relaxation rooms overlooking the sea) at the front of deck 11.  

Also on the pool deck (deck11)  are two hot tubs, a swimming pool and a thallasotherapy pool, two bars - the pool bar and the consulate bar.

Deck 11 also houses Borough Market buffet, Lupinos Speciality Restaurant (more about that later) and the Alfresco Grill which is buffet style rather than food being cooked on request  as on the Ambience - with burgers, fries and hot dogs only available on some days.  

Finally there is also a table tennis table, football game and dartboard.

Decks 8,9 and 10 consist mainly of cabins although there is a self service launderette on deck 9.

Deck 7 consists of more cabins and The Cavern (forward)- a venue which is used for game shows, quizzes, dancing, bingo and some cabarets. 

Deck 6  the Promenade Deck is another busy one - with Holyrood restaurant one of two main dining rooms, Saffron the other speciality restaurant, Aces and Eights card/games room, The Library and Grafton Street arts and crafts area.   The outside promenade deck has no chairs or sunloungers. 

Also on deck 6 is the Clifton Bar/lounge which has live entertainment, the Angel Bar , and The Palladium Theatre. 

Going down to deck 5 there is the beautiful Purple turtle 🐢 wine bar, Guest services/reception, Future Cruise Sales, Destination Experiences, and the shopping area.  

Pendennis Bar - another live music venue and the other main dining room - Buckingham Restaurant are also found here.


In our view, Ambassador have some of the best entertainment we have ever seen st sea.  Their  production shows in our opinion are of west end standard.   

There are a number of musicians who perform nightly in the lounges too - including  a classical duo, a party trio and a singer/piano player - our favourite - Jamie Lees was not on this cruise as he is currently on the Ambience - Jamie is such a favourite of ours that we have even booked cruises specifically to hear him  - serious talent, a great personality  and great engagement with the audience. 

Cruise Experience

We love the Speciality Restaurants on Ambassador and as usual had a couple of meals in Saffron - eating some of the finest Indian cuisine  we have ever eaten at sea.  Good value too at £16.90 for three courses.

Now on Ambience they have Sea&Grass, but on Ambition there is Lupinos  - a Mediterranean Speciality restaurant named in honour of Michelle Lupino  - a dearly departed Ambassador employee.   Again a beautiful meal - with out of this world desserts. Priced at 14.95 again great value in our view.  


In over 80 cruises on 50 +different ships we have never known there not to be a lounge at the bow of the ship as is the case on ambition - a disadvantage we feel.

Also, it is the first ship we have been on where the main dining room is not situated right at the back of the ship, so dependent on where you access the deck from you may find yourself having to walk through the restaurant. 

Furthermore, not all lifts go to all decks which can lead to confusion

Another oddity of this ship is the layout of the guest relations area - making queuing a challenge, which has led to some disagreements between guests.

What we really don't like 

So everyone has their own preferences, and some may not agree with what we are about to say but it's a dealbreaker for us.  You cannot get a sit down breakfast or lunch in the main dining room - it's all served  buffet style - this has led to us switching three out of four planned Ambition  cruises to Ambience which doesn't have this problem. 

Many people have also expressed concern that bottled water has been removed from the drinks package, meaning the purchase of a refillable water bottle which bar staff then have to refill.  They tell us this is frustrating for them as bottles do not fit in their machine properly, and that it also slows down general bar service.  

Unusually there are no seats of any kind  or sun loungers on the promenade deck.

There is a lack of storage space  in many of the cabins

The tv system is still intermittent with no programming details and there is still no bridgecam.  Internet has also been less consistent than Ambience.

What We Love About Ambassador

No fly cruising on two smaller ships 

The food is good and we believe their entertainment is amongst the best in the industry.  The production shows are of west end standard in our opinion.

Most importantly of all - the officers and crew make you feel like family - they are welcoming, helpful and friendly.  Officers are visible around the ship and are approachable.  The friendliness  continues with the staff in head office when it is necessary to contact them

Ambassador offer a good value quality cruise - and for that reason we will definitely continue to sail with them.

Undoubtedly the crew and officers made this cruise for us......

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@Onboard Thanks for this thorough review! Ambassador Cruise Line is not a super well-known line, especially here in the United States. I enjoyed reading this summary for your trip because it gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to explore cruising with the line. I agree that no-fly cruising is the way to go, and you are certainly blessed to live so close to this beautiful embarkation port! I'm so glad you were able to experience such wonderful entertainment onboard your recent Ambassador Ambition cruise. It goes to show that you don't need to be on a mega-ship to experience exceptional amenities and activities. In my opinion, there is definitely a stigma around the "lack of entertainment options" on smaller ships. I think guests automatically assume that the entertainment is bigger and better on larger ships, but this review proves a good point. You don't need to be on a big ship to get exceptional entertainment options, and if anything being on a smaller ship gives you the advantage to have a more intimate entertainment experience versus sitting in a massive theatre in the nosebleeds. 

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