We chose the "Oriental Odyssey" cruise aboard Voyager for the itinerary: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan, South Korea and four Japanese ports, returning from Tokyo. The flight out aboard BA's new double-decker A380 was as comfortable as a 12 hour over-night flight in economy can be, and transfer from the airport to the ship was handled smoothly. Awaiting us on arrival in our cabin was a letter to say that the ship was not being allowed into Taiwan. I suspect that Voyages of Discovery must have known about this for some time, but only chose to tell us on arrival. In place of this we were being offered a call at the Japanese island of Ishigaki. In fact rough seas meant we missed out this call and proceeded direct to Shanghai. Not a good start. The rest of the cruise proceeded as per itinerary and our expectations of the ports visited were met and exceeded. A good range of excursions were on offer in most ports and these were well-managed and no more expensive than most cruise offerings. Port shuttles for guests leaving the ship independently were, however, few and far between and where available were provided by local shops for the benefit of crew rather than passengers.
We'd booked the cheap deal which didn't allow a choice of cabin, but simply guaranteed an outside cabin. In fact we were allocated a good sized cabin which wasn't on the lowest deck and was pretty centrally located.
Positive features of the cruise were:
- Good food in both the formal Discovery restaurant (open seating) and the self-service Veranda.
- Excellent lectures from three well qualified and charismatic speakers
- Reasonably priced drinks
- Good choice of excursions; well-managed and good guides.
- Excellent classical piano/violin duo and good pop trio.
There were, however, some shortcomings - some serious:
- The heating on board was either too hot or too cold.
- With the cold weather in this part of the world at this time of year, the alfresco space outside the Veranda restaurant was unusable and there was a scrum inside the restaurant much of the time it was open.
- The layout of the ship was far from ideal; the library was the corridor to the restaurant and guests walking through the Darwin lounge regularly disturbed lectures.
- The best lounge was reserved for bridge players much of the time.
- The brochure had promised the option of ' a stylish and intimate' Explorer club restaurant. This no longer existed.
- The brochure and website referred to art and craft classes and a choir on board. No such activities were on offer - although the feedback questionnaire asked us to rate them!
- The 24 hour hot drinks station was located in the Veranda restaurant on deck 7 - hardly convenient for most cabins.
- The cruise director was an excellent singer, but her announcements were robotic and often inaccurate.
- The entertainment team were young and enthusiastic, but stage shows were rather amateurish and samey.
Overall we'd be happy to book another cruise on board Voyager, but our decision would be based on the interesting itineraries offered by this company rather than any inherent features of the ship.