Although we have cruised several times before, with Costa (Arabian Gulf), Princess (Alaska) & Celebrity (Baltic), we really only cruise when it seems the best option to see where we want to go. Hence we booked this 'Iceland & Northern Isles' cruise with Cruise & Maritime. My wife has always been keen to see Iceland (I was neutral), but the visits en-route to Shetland, Faroes and Orkney interested me - plus the price was right, ie low, and we were sailing from Liverpool (we live near Manchester). We booked originally on the Ocean Countess, but then the ship was changed to Discovery, ex Voyages of Discovery, and the port was changed to Harwich, a mere 275 miles away!! We had 2 days extra for no extra charge, but these days were at sea, which we do not really enjoy, but we stuck with it, as all the other reasons were still valid.
Before we went, we heard that 3 lots of friends had been on the same ship shortly before. Two lots had been on the British Isles Discovery cruise, and hated it, while another pair had been on a Norway cruise and loved it! So our expectations were not high. In the event we loved it all, the only downside being that Newmarket Travel did not send out anything until 10 days or so before the start and - in particular - did not include anything about excursions off the boat. By the time I managed to find them on CMV's website and decided which we wanted to do, we were too late to book them. In the event, we booked the ones we wanted as soon as we embarked, except that one we want had been full for weeks, so we had to choose another.
Our cabin - a standard twin on deck 4 with ocean view (2 portholes) was fine, though the engine rumble would have led to loss of sleep for me if I had not taken some earplugs. The food was generally of a high quality, and the service very good and pleasant. We ate in the restaurant every evening, apart from 2 visits to the Yacht Club (no extra charge), which was worth doing. You could eat in the restaurant for breakfast and lunch as well, which we did several times each. At these meals, we sat with whoever was on the table we were sent to, and could have a nice chat. The smallish size of the ship meant that you would see those people again, which we found very friendly. The Lido food was fine, and in all eating places there was compulsory hand sanitization, no no sickness problems.
The entertainment, led by the brilliant, very pleasant and talented Cruise Director Richard Sykes, was very varied and enjoyable, and the theatre was small enough that you were right on top of the action. We also enjoyed the guest lectures, especially by geographer Louise Bonner, and there were films and quizzes to fill in other periods of time. This meant that we survived the days at sea better than we expected.
The weather was with us all the way - how lucky we were! This meant that excursions, whether through the ship or on foot (we did Faroes (Torshaven) and Reykjavik on foot) were very scenic and enjoyable. We would recommend Reykjavik on foot, as it is a small and interesting city, and by the time we arrived, we had been sceneried-out, as it were, from 3 previous Iceland ports of call.
I must finally mention the efficiency and timeliness of the ship's staff. Apart from a 5 hour delay leaving Harwich due to an engine fault (this time was almost all caught up by the time we reached Shetland), everything started band on time - meals, shows, excursions, and disembarkation. When embarking at Harwich, we were told not to arrive until after 4pm, and when we arrived, we were straight in. Similarly, disembarkation was handled by deck number equally efficiently. Finally, finally, the Italian captain was great, with good sense of humour when making his regular announcements.
I hope this review helps. Maybe we were lucky, but most others whom we spoke to on the ship agreed with us. Happy cruising.