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‘This is an affordable cruise ship’: Traveler films her journey with the new British line ambassador

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Travel writer Jo Kessel filmed aboard Ambience, the first cruise ship for the new British company Ambassador Cruise Line. The images show the British character of the liner, from the SW19 bar to the purple and green branding of the Wimbledon Tennis Championship. Plus the inside scoop on the liner’s affordable drinks and premium specialty restaurant, which serves seven delectable courses.

The joy of cruising has always been about convenience – it’s the captain (and ship) who takes the strain as you get from one destination to the next.

And if your boarding port is in the UK near where you live, the holiday will start even earlier. Enter Ambassador Cruise Line, a brand new British liner whose voyages depart exclusively from the UK.

Jo Kessel films her journey aboard Ambience, the first cruise ship in the fleet of the new British cruise company Ambassador

Ambassador is the first British cruise line to launch in ten years and the 1,400-passenger Ambience is the first ship in its fleet, with a second named Ambition set to sail in May 2023.

Atmosphere is new to Ambassador, but it’s not a new ship. It was built in 1991 for the American liner Princess and christened the same year by Margaret Thatcher! About ten years later it became part of P&O Australia’s fleet before Ambassador bought it in 2020.

If you’re looking for a shiny new ship with luxurious amenities and high-tech entertainment, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a ship that harks back to the classic cruise era, this is your ship.

The ship is not brand new - it was built in 1991 for the American liner Princess and christened the same year by Margaret Thatcher

The ship is not brand new – it was built in 1991 for the American liner Princess and christened the same year by Margaret Thatcher

The video begins on the upper deck, next to the ship's two central pools (one of which is pictured)

The video begins on the upper deck, next to the ship’s two central pools (one of which is pictured)

Jo Says This Pool Is 'More Of A Fountain Plunge Pool'

Jo Says This Pool Is ‘More Of A Fountain Plunge Pool’

The beauty of Ambience is both its age and size – I was hoping to capture both on camera during a seven day sailing trip to Norway from Tilbury Docks, Essex.

This ship is big enough to feel spacious, but not so big that it’s a marathon to run from one end to the other. It is a pleasure to navigate, nothing is too far or too difficult to find.

Mine was one of the two-a-year, multi-generational crossings, but most of Ambassador’s trips are adults-only, aimed at the over-50s.

The video begins on the upper deck, next to the ship’s two central pools, one of which is more of a fountain-paddle pool.

The sunbeds are plush and deep with the prettiest seating areas on the four upper decks aft, which also have a couple of hot tubs. It is a lovely place to relax and watch the wake of the ship.

Jo says this hot tub is a lovely place to 'chill out and watch the ship wake up'

Jo says this hot tub is a lovely place to ‘chill out and watch the ship wake up’

Jo relaxes on one of the ship’s ‘plush and deep’ sunbeds

The nave is decorated in a Wimbledon-inspired color palette with an atrium (above) called ‘Centre Court’

Pictured above is the ship's bar - SW19.  The ship can almost be confused with the All England Lawn Tennis Club at times, says Jo

Pictured above is the ship’s bar – SW19. The ship can almost be confused with the All England Lawn Tennis Club at times, says Jo

Ambience’s ‘Wimbledon’ purple-and-green color scheme (from the funnel to the paneling to the logo) gives the nave a genteel look and if you go inside and find an atrium called ‘Centre Court’ it could almost be confused for the All England Lawn Tennis Club. There is even a bar called SW19!

Speaking of bars, Ambience serves possibly the cheapest drinks at sea.

I kept thinking there was a mistake at the till: 50p for a sparkling water; £3.20 for a glass of Prosecco; £5 for a large cocktail.

It costs just £3.20 for a glass of Prosecco on the ship.  Ambience may serve the cheapest drinks at sea, she says

It costs just £3.20 for a glass of Prosecco on the ship. Ambience may serve the cheapest drinks at sea, she says

But no, these were the real prizes. With rates from £500 pppw for full board and drinks this is reasonable, no wonder fellow passengers are smiling.

Then the video goes to the accommodation and my boarding cabin with sea view.

It wasn’t posh, but the beds had excellent firm mattresses (I slept very well) and even if I had a balcony I’m not sure it would have been used.

Jo's entry level ocean view cabin.

Jo’s entry level ocean view cabin. “It wasn’t posh, but the beds had excellent firm mattresses,” she says

Most of the time was spent exploring the ship or lounging outside on the sundecks.

Norway and its fjords are spectacular. The images show hikes to waterfalls and highlights, but you can still enjoy the panorama from the ship, including the hot tub!

Unlike most cruise ships, the sauna, steam bath and heated ceramic loungers of Ambience’s thermal suite are free to use.

But for some real pampering, it’s definitely worth booking a Balinese massage. Masseuse Vi was so exceptional I didn’t want it to end.

“Norway and its fjords are spectacular,” writes Jo. Above is the town of Flam

Jo says passengers can easily admire the Norwegian landscape from the comfort of the ship

Jo says passengers can easily admire the Norwegian landscape from the comfort of the ship

Wake to go: Ambassador's second ship, Ambition, will sail in May 2023

Wake to go: Ambassador’s second ship, Ambition, will sail in May 2023

'For a real treat, it's definitely worth booking a Balinese massage (above),' says Jo

‘For a real treat, it’s definitely worth booking a Balinese massage (above),’ says Jo

The kitchen is next in the movie, with quality as impressive as quantity.

The four-course dinners in the main dining room of ‘Buckingham’ were exquisite and for the two formal gala evenings of the voyage – this is a ship where passengers like to dress up – there were five courses.

But for seven courses, don’t miss Ambience’s specialty restaurant Sea and Grass.

According to Jo, every dish at Ambience's specialty restaurant, Sea and Grass, is 'delightfully delicious'

According to Jo, every dish at Ambience’s specialty restaurant, Sea and Grass, is ‘delightfully delicious’

An employee carves a face into a watermelon during a fruit-cutting demonstration

An employee carves a face into a watermelon during a fruit-cutting demonstration

Above is the ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ show with Anton du Beke from Strictly Come Dancing on an LED screen behind the ship’s company

TRAVEL FACTS

A seven night cruise on Ambience to the Norwegian fjords from Tilbury Docks costs from £609 pp, full board, departing 13 June 2023.

For more information visit www.ambassadorcruiseline.com or call 0808 1028030.

Every dish—each captured on camera—was mouth-watering, from scallops with salmon caviar to goat cheese mousse to duck breast with caramelized apple. The £25 pp fee is a steal.

Ambience offers classic cruising at its best, no gimmicks.

This is a ship where guests create their own entertainment in the card room (called Aces & Eights) and enjoy organized activities such as quizzes, fruit carving demonstrations and tap dance lessons.

There are also shows at the Palladium Theatre, the most popular of which is ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ featuring Anton du Beke from Strictly Come Dancing.

Well, ok, it’s a virtual Anton (he’s on a LED screen behind the ship’s troop) but it’s still a lot of fun. In short, this is a great value cruise ship with a touch of classic magic.

Before the journey comes to an end, there is still time for one last Pina Colada. If they only cost a fiver, it would be foolish not to!

For more from Jo visit her Youtube Channel.

“This is a great value cruise ship with a touch of classic magic,” says Jo

Ambience has 11 decks and can accommodate 1,400 guests

Ambience has 11 decks and can accommodate 1,400 guests

ATMOSPHERE BY NUMBERS

  • Ambience is Ambassador’s first ship.
  • It measures 32 m (105 ft) wide and 247 m (811 ft) long – and weighs 70,285 gross tons.
  • It has 11 decks and can accommodate 1,400 guests in 798 cabins.
  • There are 215 international crew members on board.
  • The ambassador’s second ship, Ambition, will depart in May 2023 from regional UK ports, including Newcastle, Dundee, Bristol, Liverpool and Falmouth.

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