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Review: MV Discovery

Cruise - Ocean Cruise

MV Discovery

  • By SilverTraveller Alan-Fairfax

    83 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • Apr 2013
  • Solo
  • Special occasion
  • Luxury suite

104 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.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 18 Comment(s)

  • mangles
    over 7 years ago
    Just returned from Black Sea cruise. Destinations superb and some staff were good. however, cleanliness was dreadful! Up in Lido deck the wooden slatted tables were disgusting with items of old food and dirt embedded in the slats - we always ensured a plastic table, but even these were grimy.
    Plunge pools were too deep, we were unable to put our feet on the bottom and entry into both pools was hazardous. Hot tubs were ok

    Staff were, at first, surly and rude, but after a complaint to manager they did begin to smile occasionally, but if your superior doesn't smile how will junior staff learn?

    Standard of food in restaurant was alright, not the usual seaboard pazzazz but acceptable. The buffet at lunch was awful most days with food transported from gallies on deck 3 to lido on deck 9!!!
    afternoon tea was fine - scones were good

    Breakfast omelette station, especially Joyson, was excellent.
    all in all ok but not good
  • lenah
    about 8 years ago
    I travelled on the British Isles Discovery cruise which left Liverpool on 28th April 2013, I have cruised many times before but never with this company, I will not be travelling with them again. I wrote a letter of complaint whist still onboard but did not receive a reply so wrote to the company as soon as I got home, the only reply I have received to date is that they will look into my complaints. I complained because all the pools and whirlpools were closed; libraries and internet areas were closed, as was the gym. There was no dining in the Lido restaurant and the Yacht Club was closed during the last days on board. I wanted to sit on a sun lounger on deck but was told by crew that it was not allowed because they had been stacked and covered. Food was a joke sometimes taking 2 hours to get toast for breakfast. The ship was being deep cleaned by crew in protective clothing and face masks but the passengers were just expected to sit around and get covered in the cleaning solution. Clothes were ruined by the substance, the smell was unpleasant and all the furniture was coated in it. There were never any senior staff available to talk to passengers about the problems. I travelled alone and paid in excess of £2000 for this cruise. My advise - do not travel on this ship.
  • AmateurCruiser
    about 8 years ago
    Just for the record, mv Discovery has stabilisers fitted with Denny Brown AEG D type fins (3.9 x 1.8 metres) producing 90% roll reduction at a speed of 18 knots. My experience whilst on the ship in March was as if they were either fully retracted or they were not correctly operating.
  • Experienced-Cruiser
    about 8 years ago
    The negative comments and "sniping" as you put it, is soley because of the dispicable way CMV passengers have been treated by this company. To read this review you would think it was a totally different ship to that which I cruised on in March. We have all been fair and said how good the entertainment staff were as well as many of the other crew members. This ship is old and after experiencing the 9 day list I would say not seaworthy. I was not in a "suite" but on deck 5 outside cabin. This was very basic and very tired with a TV that was a joke - and hardly worth bothering with. I woke up every morning with neck ache due to the fact that my body was sloping downwards because of the list - I tried to sleep the other way around but narrowly missed being hit by the TV when it flew off the cabinet in rough seas and decided this was not a good idea. Those of us that kept asking for an explanation were ignored or told to come back later, or that a member of the crew would speak to use in due course - which didn't happen. Since returning home CMV have sent out standard letters responding to our complaints which are full of excuses and complete rubbish. We (and there are quite a number of us) have been blocked from their facebook page as they are allowing only complementary comments. When I spend the amount of money I did on that cruise or any holiday I expect to feel pampered, not in danger and ignored. Even the food was not up to the normal standard of other cruises - this might be though because we were being given the food of the cancelled cruise before ours. We are not sniping, we a just fed up with being ignored or being seen as "sniping" and "complainers" by those who have not experienced CMV's total lack of care for their customers. Just remember that complaint is the best driver for improvement and if you have had a happy experience on Discovery, then it is probably due to those of us that have taken the effort to make CMV get their act together.
  • ESW
    about 8 years ago
    Regular visitors to the site will know that every month Silver Travel as well as offering a star prize also ask for a volunteer blogger to write a review for them. People who have read other reviews by Alan will know that the fact he did not pay for the trip would not affect the impartiality of his review.

    I am surprised by the negative comments and snipping this review has generated. As Alan explains this is in cruising terms an old ship with the advantages and disadvantages this offers - especially with regard to the way it rolls.
  • Lori
    about 8 years ago
    Apologies Alan. I meant that I suspected you hadn't paid for for the cruise rather than that you are paid for doing the reviews. It was a well written review but the bit about champagne, fruit, etc was hard to take as the price they do charge for that probably doesn't add up to a reasonable cost given what you get. But no offense intended and keep up the good work!
  • Fossil
    about 8 years ago
    Hi Lori,
    As already stated by Silver Travel I am not a paid reviewer. Silver Travel often give their members the opportunity to carry out reviews. A previous post explains one that is on offer at the moment for Edinburgh. I happen to enjoy cruising and have done many of them. I have always tried to make my reviews as informative as possible. I personally did not sufffer any of the problems that others have on previous cruises. The food I had was good. The staff were friendly. The suite was good as was to be expected. The ship was in good condition. No undue rolling, no list. I did make critisism of the breakfast arrangements and the swimming pools. It seems that because I did not have the problems that others had suffered on previous cruises my review is being treated with scepticism which I think is unfair. I reported it as it was. I have seen another review that has been posted and the poster 'Shippy states " My only moan was that the roof in the lido still leaks, and we did have a lot of rain". It would therefore appear that this cruiser was happy with everything else on the ship as stated in their review including a 'spotless' cabin. They even agree with me on the entertainment. Why is mine biased and not theirs?
  • Lori
    about 8 years ago
    Oh Alan! I suspect you didn't pay, as a reasonable cost would be extremely low. We sailed for 15 nights on the Discovery in March 2013. Whilst we had a great time with the fellow passengers and entertainment staff, at best you could say that Discovery is old and rough round the edges (loke any Love Boat from the 70's). And for our cruise it was on a permanent list which the company have acknowledged.
    ps the amount of detail gave you away as being a paid reviewer. I want that job!
  • TopTottie
    about 8 years ago
    That explains it very clearly. Thanks.
  • Silver-Travel-Advisor
    about 8 years ago
    Hi again
    Apologies if we were not clear. As Alan travelled on the Discovery on behalf of Silver Travel Advisor, he did not pay for his suite. We often arrange trips - for example we are currently looking for someone to review the Holyrood Apart-Hotel in Edinburgh which is in our Guest Blogger section on the site. What is important to us is that reviews are honest and fairly reflect the experience of the reviewer.
  • TopTottie
    about 8 years ago
    Thanks for your reply but that wasn't my question. I asked how much he had paid for a single suite for one night?
  • Silver-Travel-Advisor
    about 8 years ago
    Hi TopTottie
    Just to clarify the situation, Alan is retired and contributes to Silver Travel Advisor on a voluntary basis with his reviews. On this occasion, we asked him to review the cruise. We are confident that he is always honest and fair and he has reported the cruise as he experienced it; he has not received any payment.
  • TopTottie
    about 8 years ago
    Alan, can I ask you how much you paid for one night in a suite on Discovery and what do you do for a living?
  • Experienced-Cruiser
    about 8 years ago
    I can't believe that this review is impartial. CMV cruises have been so bad of late that they have blocked comments on their facebook page unless they are complimentary. A passenger from the 15 March cruise (the 9 day list one) has created a facebook page called "CMV Discovery Survivors" and Marco Polo disgruntled passengers are also joining. The main factor of discontent on my cruise was the lack of communication by the Captain and those in charge as to the cause of the list whilst we were on board. There were so many accidents (we became accustomed to the "Blue Code" announcements. Some passengers were so gobsmacked by the doctor's bills that they were going around the ship showing them to everyone. As far as food - it was OK, I have had far better on cruises. They run out of bananas halfway through and a day or two after that orange juice and by the end of the cruise they were mixing all the juices together and calling it "mixed juice". The lido was like the hospital canteen where I work and I couldn't understand why anyone would want to eat there after paying so much for the cruise. Day trips were very expensive, but luckily we did not book the £100 each one to sit in a field to see nothing. I could find no fault with the entertainment team, they were the best I have ever come across on a cruise and CMV should give them a pay rise immediately as there would be far more complaints if not for them.
  • shippy
    about 8 years ago
    We travelled on the discovery 19th April this year, to Norway, we were 24 hours late in starting due to rough seas, delaying it's arrival in Avonmouth.
    After reading all the horror stories about the last few cruises, I was somewhat apprehensive.
    The cruise terminal at Avonmouth, is just an old warehouse, but the staff were helpful.
    The ship was upright no listing, very clean throughout, no torn or stained bedding, mattresses looked new, no dirty water coming through shower,yes old style t.v. but was screwed down to dressing table, our cabin 5273 on pacific deck was kept spotless.
    by a very pleasant chap.
    Food was fine, and entertainment was first class.
    My only moan was that the roof in the lido still leaks,and we did have a lot of rain, and that the ship does not like slightly rough seas,it had a constant roll from side to side, even in calm seas, I think it is one of those ships that would roll even on wet grass.
  • Fossil
    about 8 years ago
    Having noted the 2 comments on my review I thought it only fair to respond. Yes, I too had heard of the problems with Discovery on past cruises but have to say that I did not experience any of them. Ships have teething problems but they get over them and this one seems to have done just that. With regards to the comments about my suite that is simply explained by the fact that when I go on ships I always photograph the cabin/suite prior to unpacking so that readers can see it as it is on arrival. 2 days? Yes it was a mini cruise that formed the first 2 days of a Round Britain cruise. No, there are no other passengers in the pictures simply because you have to obtain the persons permission to publish a picture with them in it unless taken in a public place. I therefore get up early and do my photographs when most passengers are still in bed. The camera used is an Olympus pocket camera that I paid £62 for 12 months ago not a professional camera. Be assured that the review is my honest opinion of the ship and not a publicity feature.
  • Devon
    about 8 years ago
    Is this the same ship that we sailed on in March? I find it hard to believe. This ship has some problems that ought to be straightened out. Maybe it should only sail in the Mediterranean on calm seas, because it simply cannot cope with rough areas such as the North Sea and Bay of Biscay.

    Maybe if we hadn't had a force 9 gale in the North Sea, with passengers being injured, things flying off tables and out of cupboards and then the Discovery having a list for days afterwards; plus a fire in the engine room, not one single lifeboat engine being able to start in the crew life-boat drill and many passengers contracting a severe bronchial/chest virus needing antibiotics, we might have really enjoyed the 14 day cruise. Also drinks, including bottled water, were far too expensive and the red wine in the Carousel Lounge was disgusting (£5 per glass). The Doctor's exorbitant charge for a check-up and antibiotics (£244.51) was incredible! Plus 350 passengers being charged £100.- per head for a coach drive to the middle of a field on a really overcast night to see the Aurora Borealis, was daylight robbery. =£35.000 for someone.

    On the positive side, the food was delicious, the entertainment staff excellent, and the crew (cabin staff, restaurant staff and all the other staff) very friendly and helpful. We did have a sense of humour and rode through the ship's list problem with daily jokes, albeit all passengers became used to walking down the corridors like a drunk and clinging onto the stair bannisters for dear life. We did get to see the Aurora and also had a wonderful time mushing the huskies, as well as visiting some interesting ports of call.
  • TopTottie
    about 8 years ago
    Single man in a suite on a Round Britain cruise that lasted 2 days ??????? Impressive pics indeed and not another passenger in sight in any of them, no luggage or personal bits in the cabin, sorry, suite!
    Sounds like a publicity post to me after real paying passengers have left bad reviews about the ship all over the net. :(