Travelling with friends (first-time cruisers) to the Baltic for the first time we chose a small ship on the basis that our friends wouldn't be fazed by a thousand passengers and we would enjoy more space, plus the smaller ship should be berthed nearer the centres of our destination ports. It had a music theme but the onboard artists were not impressive at all.
Joining Voyager in Portsmouth we had to climb a steep, narrow gangway and were immediately surprised by the lack of security. The Junior Suite was very spacious and comfortable, but to function on this ship you need a cruise card, a door card and the safe key with you all the time. Hopeless for going ashore.
The recent re-fit has covered most of the furnishings, bedding, towels etc but some of the major refurbishments are not done.Our bathroom had very poor lighting and the balconies are tiny - you couldn't sit out on them at sea - the fronts are open railings not glass.
Heating control very variable, the ship never got warm and we needed some heat in the Baltic this year!
VoD try to operate 'Freedom Dining' but in total between the two restaurants there are about 50 seats fewer than the number of passengers. Since most of our fellow-passengers were elderly they ate early and stayed all evening. If you want to eat at 7:30 you will wait such that the staff are clearing up around you at 9:00.
The food was excellent and the staff friendly. Deck service was pretty poor and a bit sloppy as far as charging is concerned - they didn't take cards to charge out, they tried to remember cabin numbers.
Entertainment extremely unimpressive, but they have a problem with such a small stage. The Darwin Lounge - with the stage - is set out with Rest Home chairs and tables, such that the viewing is not optimised. You have to pass through that lounge to get to the Lookout Bar, where there are more, somewhat uncomfortable chairs - if there is a talk or show on at the time, you can't go through without disturbing lots of people.
Library and Scott's Lounge also a bit uncomfortable - the library has 2-seater leather sofas, so the Library is full of single people taking up space for two.
24-hour hot drinks service comprises a set of urns outside on deck 7 or sometimes inside the Verandah buffet. Late-night snacks are quite elaborate and are served in the Scott Lounge - quite bizarre.
Decorations generally good, carpets new.
Absolutely no security for packages or bags. Security staff seemed unsure how to use their computers on the gangway.
Gangways often very steep and narrow with high steps on the way down. Some passengers had to descend backwards. Not much assistance offered to wheelchair users.
We came away thinking:
Great company - we brought our own
Very unimpressive ship
Felt like a Rest Home at sea - mostly pretty elderly passengers with low expectations
No 'Wow factor' at all
Book with caution
We note that our good reviews for tours relate to the tour contractor ashore, not necessarily VoD - any cruise line could use the same contractors.