My partner and me arrived at the 'fresh produce' warehouse at Avonmouth Dock, Bristol on 15 April 2013, looking forward to our cruise on the Discovery to see the Northern Lights and Norway.
We waited over two hours in the cold to embark, but we were lucky, we were the youngest there apart from three 20 year old girls. I am in my early fifties so you can guess how old the other guests were.
Cruise and Maritime apparently rent this ship and are one of four companies who have an interest in the daily running of everything on board. I will come back to this point later in this review.
We went to our cabin and did not expect too much, but what we discovered was an old and tired inside room with 'L' shaped beds and two further beds which could convert to make this a family room. We did not want a family room and requested a double bed or single beds which we could push together. The cabin right next door to ours was far more pleasant and clean and did not seem to have the smell that emitted from ours! The plumbing was strange in that our toilet had black water in it and every time the toilet flushed the water was black. We have sailed on ferries before and that is what the room was like with no character and was very depressing! This is supposed to be a luxury ship as described by Cruise and Maritime and we were supposed to be in a 'Standard Plus Twin Interior? I would not put my dog in this room.
The ship listed to port as soon as we hit the open sea to such an extreme that you could not walk without holding onto furniture or the walls in the corridor. The captain actually deceived all the guests by trying to blame an Easterly wind, but it was obvious to most of us that the ship was listing due to a technical fault.
This problem did not improve when we hit rough seas. On the second day the majority of the guests were confined to their beds due to sea sickness. Some even tried to sleep on settees in the public areas as they were in fear of sleeping in their cabins.
I was physically thrown out of my bed so many times that I had to get up and went to complain at reception. I asked the receptionist to contact the manager as I believed the bedroom was not fit for purpose and the ship was dangerous particularly for the elderly guests. This was at 5.30 in the morning so the manager refused to get out of his bed and did not speak to me. The receptionist apologised and told me to come back at 8am when the manager might present himself?
I went to the 'Lido' which was the eating area on the sun deck, and found every chair and table upside down and had slid to port.
The ship struggled so much that we did not in fact visit our first port of call, Stavanger! We were looking forward to seeing this wonderful city and had read up on the sights we wanted to see. We headed for the second port instead?
The Lido's roof leaked and buckets were all over the deck to catch the water and it was so cold that everybody had to put their coats and fleeces on to eat.
The main dining room was an experience! We had two wonderful waiters who tried their best under treacherous conditions to serve us. On three of the nights the eating experience was described as 'extreme dining'. The ship listing caused glasses to fall off tables still full of wine, the plates and food landed in laps and a number of people were knocked off their chairs and seriously injured. The code word for medical assistance was soon identified as 'Code Blue'.
The main reason for all guests to be on this cruise was to see the Northern Lights. A large number of us went out on deck in the early hours of the morning in an attempt to see them. Due to freezing conditions it was important to retreat to the inside of the ship. We felt let down that the ship had no facilities to make a warm drink between 22.00 and 06.00. The whole point of this ship was to cater for the star gazers! When we asked if this could be rectified we were told that the decision to provide a cup of tea between these times had to be made by all four interested companies (administration/accommodation/ship owners and Cruise and Maritime). You will not be surprised then to find out we did not get a cup of tea!
To sum up the holiday;
- Norway was beautiful though we did not see all the ports advertised.
- The ship was a faulty and placed the guests in danger
- A number of people were injured throughout the cruise with ambulances waiting at every port. We even had a helicopter sea rescue when two people were hoisted up on a winch who had fallen ill/been injured.
- Customer service from management was non existent.
- The captain deceived the guests and crew.
- The crew were the only saving grace and in particular some of the entertainment people, who battled on in extreme conditions. Richard Sykes, the entertainment director, deserves particular mention and kept things going.
- We will never sail on this ship again or with this company...avoid at all cost!