I am writing in defence of the Discovery. Yes, she is old and a bit tired, no balconies, no flash crystal chandeliers, a leaky roof etc. But we had a fantastic itinerary in the Black Sea. The excursions were excellent and tour guides (with maybe one or two exceptions) were brilliant. We learnt so much history and saw so many things we would have missed if we had tried to do our own thing. Istanbul, Yalta, Odessa and Sevastopol were the highlights for me and so interesting - Stalins Dacha, the winter palaces, the secret submarine base at Balaclava, Troy - I thought it was all fascinating.
We opted for 2nd sitting a table of 8 and met some great people. Food was good - not too filling. Breakfast whivh we usually had in the Lido was good. Lunch, which we also usually took at the Lido buffet was also good. Drinks were a reasonable price. We often had the gym to ourselves in the early evening and sat in the jacuzzi under the stars. Our cabin was nice (although we paid quite a bit extra for a junior suite at the front, it was worth it on a winter cruise when you spend more time in the cabin).
Quality of lectures was poor in general. It would have been nice to learn more about where we were visiting. And the shows were very amateurish. The comedian Andy Rudge was very popular and judged his audience (mainly of a certain age) impeccably. No swearing or too blue jokes.
We met some great people. Everyone was nice and friendly. The ship had a lovely, friendly ambiance. You felt you knew most of the passengers. The itinerary was brilliant. I assume that most people doing a Black Sea cruise are there for the interesting ports of call, rather than a boozey, loud time. Indeed most people were in bed by 11!
I did hear a few complaints about the ship being a bit down at heel, but to be honest, I felt those people just didn't "get" it and would have probably have been happier in a 3 star hotel in Benidorm.
They were often the ones who did not take the excursions and came back to the ship saying there was nothing to see!
This was our first cruise and I loved it. However, I am not sure I would like one of those enormous gin palace ships with thousands of passengers - and I would only cruise somewhere like the Black Sea which would be impossible to get to see any other way.
Lastly, we were originally booked to go on the cancelled Northern Lights cruise mentioned by other reviewers. In hindsight, I think we had a lucky escape - you may want to choose a bigger, newer ship with better stabilisers to venture into the North Sea in winter!