We book cruises for their itinerary. This 39 night cruise from Sydney to Mumbai looked very good and having travelled on Discovery in 2009 and enjoying the cruise we were happy to book this one. From the time of paying the final ballance things went downhill. Two of the six Australian ports were cancelled - no worthwhile explanation given. Port times changed e.g. Yangon- reduced from 2 1/2 days to efectively 1 1/2 days because of the tides. VOD should have known the tides before they put out the itinerary. In Darwin and again in Singapore we had one night on a berth and then had to change ( to anchor in Darwin and a container terminal in the latter). It seems as if VOD publish these itineraries and then hope.
Our cabin 4398. Unless you are deaf never book this one. We treated ourselves to an outside cabin and it was a disaster. It had a high pitched whine a lot of the time which could not be blotted out even with ear plugs. We were eventually shifted for 12 of the 21 nights of the first leg but then had to spend the remaining 18 back in this cabin. It was awful. As well, the standards of linen and cabin cleaning seemed to have slipped badly. The bottom sheet on my bed was stained and torn. The steward replaced it but it should never have been used. The air conditioning barely worked and the cabin becane unbearably hot. It took hours and many calls to reception to get someone to come and the thermostat replaced. It was fine after that. The ship had trouble with the hot water. For three days we could not have a shower as the hot water was scalding and the shower could not be adjusted to a temperature you could shower in. On returning to 4398 on the second leg of the trip, the cabin hadn't been vacuumed and the next morning I discovered the shower curtain hadn't been changed from previous people. How often linen was supposed to be changed I don't know but we only got it changed after 10 nights ( I asked the steward after 9 nights when it was going to be done and he said tomorrow) and even then the pillowcases weren't changed for another day.
We were travelling through the tropics and the airconditioning generally didn't cope well. The dining room became unbearably hot in the evening. The Lido deck which is enclosed top and sides with glass ( no airconditioning) was usually like a sauna as the glass panels over it didn't seem to slide back as they should (I think they managed to get one to slide a bit) and the glass sides had only a few opening windows. This is where buffet breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea are served. It didn't take long for the food to look as limp as the people.
Lecturers. On the first leg we had a large number and they were excellent. Interesting and varied topics ( one on North and South Korea stood out for me). However the second leg they were overall disappointing, unless you were very interested in military history.
Shore excursions. We didn't use them in Australia ( very expensive) but did for most of the rest of the cruise. Fortuntely they became more affordable and generally we found them good. The poorest was in Mumbai but this was partly because the ship was 2 hours late arriving and it was cut short ( no partial refund though).
Food. Satisfactory but could vary the vegetables a bit more! Very pleasant waiter.
Reception- not as helpful as in 2009. Always took more than one visit or phone call to get anything done.
Overall. With so many changes to the itinerary and the state of the ship ( I can't see refurbishment fixing all the problems. It is too old), I don't think we feel confident enough to ever travel on her again.
Community Manager's Note: 'This review was written when the ship sailed for Voyages of Discovery. As of February 2013, it is now sailing under the Cruises & Maritime banner"