We booked this cruise on the recommendation of some friends who were already booked on it.
Before we left it was extremely difficult to get sensible information out of CMV regarding the flights to and from Istanbul. We received a succession of invoices which all showed correct payment information but all specified different flights. We were unable to arrange transport to the airport (Manchester) until the last minute.
The cruise itself was far better. It is many years since we cruised on Discovery but the ship still has a very pleasant atmosphere. The ports of call included Sochi and Novorossiysk, which are not often visited by cruise ships. We enjoyed them all, especially as we had excellent guides on all the excursions we took.
On board, the food was of a high standard, as was the service, although the latter seemed to deteriorate on the last day, after several crew had left the ship. The entertainment was a bit mixed, with an absolutely brilliant comedian (Andy Rudge) and a very talented violin & piano duo from Russia. The quizzes, on the other hand, were, for the most part, gimmicky and boring.
The journey home was a nightmare. We were booked on a Monarch flight from Bodrum to Manchester with an intermediate stop at Gatwick, and the latter caused the problems. CMV should have known what was going to happen, but we were not warned until we got to Bodrum airport, and even then the warning was merely a few words on an A4 sheet, which many people missed. The Manchester passengers were required to leave the aircraft, with their hand luggage, and go through security before returning to the aircraft.
Several people had bought duty free items airside at Bodrum, including drinks and beauty products that were liable to be confiscated by security personnel on the grounds that they exceeded 100ml of liquid. The Monarch captain did his best to get concessions, via the handling agent, but he was only partly successful. Given that we had been through not one, but two security checks at Bodrum, there should have been no necessity for further checks. We were told that our passports had to be processed at the first point of entry int the UK, but that did not actually happen - our passports received a perfunctory glance but were not scanned. Only one position was open and there were more than 200 of us to be dealt with, so the second leg of the flight was delayed. The attitude of the security staff was officious to the point of being offensive - they seemed to think they were doing us a favour by putting us to this futile and pointless inconvenience. We even witnessed a case where one lady had perfectly harmless (and apparently expensive) duty-free items confiscated.
On arrival at Manchester our passports were processed in the normal way, and the Border agency officer we dealt with was quite surprised to learn what had happened at Gatwick.
While none of this was CMV's fault, they should have made it clear before departure from Bodrum that this particular flight would encounter this problem. It has soured the whole cruise experience for us.