My husband and I went on the 20 day cruise from Harwich to Norway and Russia. I will not comment too much on the ship as she is going for a re-fit soon which she badly needs. She is still loved and looked after with maintenance going on somewhere on the ship most of the time. Hopefully the character of the ship will be the same when she returns from dry-dock in Spring 2013. As other reviews have said, she is like putting on a comfy pair of slippers. But we had a fantastic time and saw some amazing places. The majority of the passengers are repeat offenders and they were older than we expected. There were a couple of passengers under 30 and one under 20 and we think they felt a bit out of place. But the crew certainly know how to look after everybody. Nothing was too much trouble.
This was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare with but we considered the food on the Discovery to be excellent. BREAKFAST can be taken in two areas - the Lido on top deck (level 9) which is buffet style but with so much choice and the other option is in the Seven Continents Restaurant on level 3 which is a mix of waiter and buffet service. LUNCH can be taken in the same two areas as breakfast and in the same style (buffet on level 9 and waiter service on level 3). TEA at 4pm at the Lido - choice of sandwiches made to order, cakes, biscuits, hot desserts and cream tea. DINNER - 2 sittings (6.30 or 8.30pm). The choices are excellent and superb quality. Portions are a sensible size and I don't think we had any dish repeated over the 20 days. There is also the YACHT CLUB -no extra charge but can only go once a week. Food here is equally as good and a lovely setting on level 9 at the front of the ship. Then there is a LATE BUFFET at 11pm!! There was always a hot dish, cold meats, breads, cheese, fruit and cakes and sometimes a chocolate fountain! There is 24 HOUR TEA AND COFFEE on Lido deck which is self service and very welcome and free. If you request a hot drink in the bars you will be charged.
Entertainment is very good. The evening entertainment is performed by a very talented group of singers and dancers, the Discovery Orchestra, the Coral Duo and the Discovery Strings. Evening shows are performed twice for the two dinner sittings. In the day there was various entertainment, crazy golf, giant Jenga, Quoits , the gym, the spa, movies, the Internet room and the library to go to as well so there is not a lot of time to get bored!
There are plenty of places to sit on level 6 and everyone had their favourite areas. Most of the chairs were not particularly comfortable but our favourite areas were the Explorer Bar in the day and the Hideaway Bar in the evening. The Hideaway Bar is small, friendly and sometimes noisy with Karaoke and lively chat. Allan and Chino were the barmen and they were great fun (made good cocktails as well)!
Our Cabin Steward was excellent and we never heard any complaints from anybody. The cabins are cleaned in the morning and again when the beds are turned down in the evening when chocolate is left beside your bed along with reminders to change your clocks if necessary.
A few points that you may wish to know.
Toiletries are supplied and I liked them. Tissues are provided in the bathroom.
Towels and face flannels in the bathroom are supplied and replaced twice a day if you want.
Towels for sun-loungers and swimming are supplied on the decks where needed.
The pools are small so no good for swimming but good for a cool off if you are in a hot climate I suppose.
I found there to be plenty of storage in the bathroom and there was a washing line in the shower cubicle if you need it.
There is not a lot of room for storing suitcases so make sure they are not too deep so they can go under the beds.
Take insulated cups for a morning cuppa in bed (if your other half can be persuaded to go and get one for you!) or to drink when watching the arrival of the ship at ports early in the mornings up on deck.
Take a small bag for the last day as your luggage has to be out before midnight so you will have some things to carry off in the morning.
Air freshener is an essential item to take!
If you go to Norway or Russia you do not need much in the way of local currency as everything in Norway is so expensive and in Russia you do not get a chance to spend anything as you do not go near shops etc.
The trips organised from the ship are expensive so choose carefully!
The ship docks near to town centre and it is an easy walk to the shops, the Bryggen and the funicular. There are maps of the town supplied by the gate on the way out of the port. We had an excellent cup of coffee and cake at 'Baker Brun' along the Bryggen where the staff spoke perfect English!
The funicular costs 80 Krone return but worth it if the weather is good as the views are great from the top (320m above sea level). Trains depart every 15 minutes and the journey takes 7 minutes.
Did not seem to much there but we went on an organised trip to the Saltstraumen Maelstrom which was excellent.
We did not buy our own visa so could only leave the ship with an organised trip. We went to the ice breaker Lenin and the Museum of the Northern Fleet - both excellent.
SOLOVETSKY ISLANDS, Russia
We did not go ashore but most who did said they enjoyed it but make sure you have good supply of Mosquito repellent.
We went on an organised tour round the City and to the Museum of Fine Art. Very enjoyable.
A long walk into town from where the ship docks and not much there when you do get there! Maps are provided by Reception on the ship.
Lovely town! Easy walk from the ship and plenty to see and do. We went on an organised tour to the Museum of Reconstruction but we walked back from the museum as it was a lovely day. On our walk back to the ship we went to the Polar Bear Society and became a member.
Maps supplied by Reception on th eship. Shuttle bus provided but it cost 'Â£5 each but essential as it is a tricky walk into town. Nice town, plenty of shops but everything is expensive!! A McDonalds burger costs 'Â£10!! But it was good to look around the Cathedral and the Kristiansen Fortress on top of the hill. The Kommandanten Restaurant is very good there - we had homemade burger with homemade tomato sauce, homemade bread and hand cut chips. It cost around 'Â£15 but well worth it.
Complimentary shuttle into town. Not much there but there is a nice marina and a few shops and it was good to have a walk around.
We went on an organised trip to the Black Friday Museum - very interesting. Refreshments were included and we had some lovely Norwegian cakes. Good trip.
We enjoyed this cruise and will probably go on the Discovery again one day. When the Captain was asked why so many passengers come back time after time he replied it was because of the crew and we agree with him. The crew are amazing and make your time on board unforgettable.
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"