Review: MV Discovery
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
11 people found this review helpful
The Love Boat was an American television series in the 70’s and 80’s set on board cruise ships. One of these ships was the Island Princess now named Discovery and I was about to cruise on her. Arrival at the Avonmouth Cruise Terminal quickly saw me through check in and security. Within minutes I was on board and in the lift heading for Promenade Deck, deck 7, where my cabin was situated. This turned out to be a Suite named after the famous explorer ‘Shackleton’. The lounge area was nicely laid out which led into the sleeping area with two large single beds. Attached to this was the bathroom with its panels of inlaid marble. As you would expect with a suite there were those nice little extras. A bowl of fresh fruit with Apples, Oranges, Grapes and Strawberries accompanied by a bottle of Champagne on ice. In the wardrobe were dressing gowns, slippers, shoe cleaning pads, Tote Bag and enough hangers and hanging space to accommodate my complete wardrobe let alone the small amount I had for the cruise. The bathroom had a large bath as well as a shower. The toiletries of shampoo, body gel, body lotion, shaving kit, sewing kit, toothbrushes and dental cream and a host of other niceties which were all of good quality go to making your voyage more pleasant. Unpacked it was time to join a tour of the ship.
Built in Germany, Discovery entered service for Flagship Cruises in 1972 before being sold to Princess Cruises in 1974. Since then she has had several owners and name changes before joining the Cruise and Maritime family in 2013 after a multi million pound refit at the end of 2012. At a little over 21,000 GRT. 550 ft. in length and 80 ft. in width with 354 cabins and carrying 700 passengers she is now a small ship compared with the monsters that regularly cruise our oceans. However Discovery has a fairly deep draught which means that when the sea gets rough Discovery will maintain a fairly smooth passage. This was shown on my second day on board as we ploughed through a fairly ‘Bouncy’ Irish Sea at 19 knots with very little rocking. The ship has various cabin grades from Standard Twin Inside to Twin Superior Ocean View all of which average 135 sq. ft. Cabin sizes then start to increase up to 430 sq. ft for the De Luxe Suite Ocean View and Owners Suite. Irrespective of which cabin grade you choose they all come well equipped with the necessities plus television, safe and that most important item for the ladies, a hairdryer.
There really are some lovely areas to the ship where passengers can sneak off to for a read of their favourite novel or for that afternoon snooze that is synonymous with cruising. The library is situated on the starboard side of deck 6 and quickly became one of my favourite areas with its veneered wooden book cases lining one wall filled with all types of books to keep the most earnest of reader’s happy. The opposite wall is large picture windows.
The Hideaway Bar is aptly named as you could be forgiven for walking past the entrance without seeing it. This is a delightfully furnished bar with comfortable seating and happy smiling waiters where you can drink until ‘late’.
Although the ship has two swimming pools neither is big enough to actually swim in so should be regarded as large plunge pools. One is situated on Sun Deck, deck 9 and has a retractable roof that can be opened when sailing in warm climates. There is also a bar close by as well as the buffet area. The other is at the rear of the ship on Riviera Deck, deck 6. Surrounded by a large sun bathing area and Waves bar for a drink whilst enjoying the sun this would be the place to find me on a hot day.
Discovery boasts three separate entertainment lounges which for a small ship is excellent and to make life easy they are all on Riviera Deck, deck 6. They are under the personal direction of Richard Sykes a very capable Cruise Director. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard and he is a true professional. The largest of these venues is the Carousel Show Lounge at the front of the ship and this hosts the main entertainment events. With comfortable tiered seating and glass drink tables I spent a most enjoyable evening here watching the very talented on board show team perform a ‘Tribute to Abba’. At the end they received rapturous applause and rightly so. Discovery Theatre is situated in the middle of the ship and is used to host classical events and lectures. It can also be used as a cinema as can the Carousel Show Lounge. Discovery Lounge is situated at the rear of the ship and has a backdrop of windows 2 decks high making this a very light and airy area. During the evening it hosts cabaret acts and dancing whilst during the day it is the home of various activities such as quizzes, bingo, line dancing and other group activities. The Discovery Bar is just around the corner with a very pleasant seating area by large windows giving glorious sea views.
Ask any regular cruiser what they consider to be the most important element of a cruise and they will in all probability tell you it is the food. So what is the food like on Discovery? There are two main dining areas and these are the buffet on Sun Deck and the Seven Continents Restaurant on Coral Deck, deck 3. The buffet offers a good selection which can be enjoyed at tables and chairs which are a mix of teak and wicker. It is also nice to see real wooden decking. The Seven Continents Restaurants is the main dining room that keeps to the traditional 2 seating’s for dinner, providing waiter service for lunch, and is a particularly pleasant dining room. Tables for 2, 4, 6 and 8 are adorned with white table cloths and topped with a pink square. The seats although armless are very comfortable and with their light wood frames and grey seats/backs contrast nicely with the duel striped carpet. My first meal here was lunch. My starter was Chicken ‘Tikka Massala’, followed by Split Green Pea Soup, Grilled Fillet Mignon, Cabernet Mushroom Sauce, Fondant Potatoes and Bouquet of Garden Vegetables and all washed down with a very acceptable white wine. To finish I chose the Ice Cream and a Coffee to follow. Dinner that night was another 4 course meal with plenty of choices. Breakfast was again taken in the Seven Continents Restaurant where I was a little surprised that it was a buffet and not waiter service. The waiters bring the various juices on offer as well as Coffee and Tea but the rest you get yourself. There are three food islands. One island deals with scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, beans etc. whilst another has plates of meat, cheese and the added delight of ‘Rollmops’. However if you want fried eggs then you join the queue that is waiting for omelettes. This means that whichever way you queue some items will get cold while waiting for the other. One person suggested to me ‘Why not put the fried eggs with the scrambled eggs thus saving having to queue twice?’ Excellent question and one perhaps the company should take notice of. They have the same system on their other ship the Marco Polo. On the up side the food was hot, was well cooked and offered a good variety. The omelette that I had was excellent.
Now comes the big question. What did I think of the ship? As already said Discovery came on line in 1972, a little over 40 years ago and things have moved on a lot since then. However Discovery has received a lot of TLC, the last being a refit only a few months ago in Italy. It may not have the glitz and glamour of the large modern cruise ships that you see or the different amenities, venues and speciality dining. Yes, breakfast arrangements in the Seven Continents Restaurant could be improved on but that is a minor point in the bigger picture of things. What MV Discovery does have is its own charm where people feel comfortable on a ship of this size and age. Most travellers are 50+ and want somewhere they feel at home with. It is a ship where tradition, good food and good service still matter. Lounges that are comfortable bright and airy. Smaller bars and lounges you can escape to like the library if you want to read. It has real teak decks that are in good condition with a nicely tiered stern. Speaking with people who had stayed in the lower grade cabins I heard no complaints. A greeter to guide you to your cabin on boarding is shades from the past but a welcomed one. Drinks at reasonable prices. And once again the shows. Fabulous. I spoke with one gentleman at breakfast who told me it was his first ever cruise. I asked him what he thought of it. ‘Wonderful’ was his reply. A couple I spoke with had travelled from their home in America to do this round British Isles cruise. They told me they loved the ship as it was a real ship and not ‘A block of condominiums’ that you see in so many American and Caribbean ports. Everyone on board seemed to be enjoying themselves. The staff smile and have that ‘Can do’ attitude that is so lacking now days. Would I cruise on Discovery again? Yes I would. It offers a good cruise experience at reasonable cost.
11 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.