Our arrival in Rio was a bit fraught, with long airport queues for immigration and customs followed by an "interesting" 90 minutes in a Rio gridlock. We arrived at our hotel in Copacabana at 1.30am Rio time (3.30am UK time) fit only for bed and sleep. We arrived at the port to board the Voyager at 1.30pm next day. I would like to describe the embarkation process but it was so quick and efficient that we were in La Verandah eating lunch before we knew it!
Our cabin - or should one say suite or stateroom - was everything we expected. It was spacious and well laid out and proved to be ideal for our 14 day cruise. Our stewardess quickly introduced herself and was always friendly and efficient, keeping the cabin immaculate. The bed was exceptionally comfortable and we slept well every night - although the alcohol may have helped.
What about the food. I thought the food was very good at all times. Breakfast was usually in La Verandah, although we had room service on a few occasions and had a more formal breakfast in Compass Rose only the once. All these options were good in their own way and we always had whatever we wanted. Apart from one occasion we had lunch in Le Verandah or at the pool grill. The special barbecues and themed lunches were very good but, one day, how could I choose berween two of my favourite dishes, bouillabaisse and paella, both of which were very well executed. I took the easy, if greedy option of having both. The one criticism here was that it was not always very easy to dine al fresco as there were never enough tables outside. We had lunch in Compass Rose just the once. Some friends organised a special curry lunch and it was magnificent. As a curry afficionado I have to say that it ranked with the very best - and I think the Lamb Madras was the best I have ever had. We never had dinner in La Verandah so I cannot comment on that venue. Signatures (once) was absolutely superb, as was Prime 7 (twice). To be very picky, the steaks in Prime 7 were underseasoned - but that was easily remedied with a bit of DIY at the table. Our usual dinner venue was Compass Rose and this was always very enjoyable. We never experienced one bad meal or wrong order. Wine service was sometimes a little slow - not the fault of the wine waiters as there occasionally seemed too few of them. The wines themselves were good enough with plenty of choice always available. "Good enough" may seem like damning with faint praise, but they were right for the location. Finer wines would not have been appropriate in my opinion, as storage on a ship is not conducive to the health of fine wines. I should also add that I think the pastry chef did a magnificent job. We were lucky to be given a galley tour by the Executive Chef. This was very interesting in itself, but now having an understanding of the difficulties of provisioning and the effect of climate conditions on, for example, bread making I think the cuisine on the ship was probably as good as it could get (at least for that part of the world). There we a few niggles - eggs benedict not on the menu, the tea served was too weak for my taste, coffee was served before dessert rather than after, courses were served too quickly and a few others. However, I quickly learned that there was a simple solution - just ask! Magically, everything was then as I liked it or, in the case of the eggs benedict, available in every location. The waiters did an excellent job.
Service was always just right - and in Compass Rose this must have been a very difficult task for the waiters as the design of the chairs severely hampered their movement. Bar service was generally good, although in places and at times it could be slow. Again, not the fault of the staff working, but a management issue.
Excursions were good and always interesting. There was crowding sometimes - particularly in Salvador - but this wasn't a major issue. The one big shock for me was the rudeness and downright ignorance of a small minority of the passengers. Some appear to have a vocabulary that omits "please" and "thank you"; some were actually offensive to the staff;some complained long and loudly about very trivial issues. At trivia one afternoon, when setting a space for my team I was told "you can't sit there - we always sit there" - being a stoic Brit I simply moved rather than responding in a suitably Anglo-Saxon way. And was I also surprised at the venom that was spat by some players when they didn't agree with the answer to a question! The icing on the cake was the fiasco at disembarkation where some passengers ignored the very clear instructions and left before their colour was called. This resulted in a strike by the porters and a much delayed exit. This must have been a worry for those with early flights - a situation caused by the selfishness of a few others. (Actually, the delay for us probably wasn't an entirely bad thing, given the torrential rain outside!)
Finally, I must mention the added enjoyment from Terry Breen's lectures. Superb!
So, all in all, an excellent and enjoyable cruise. However, I do fail to see why we were told in advance that yellow fever jabs were mandatory, when clearly they were not. It was also a huge disappointment that, because the engine problems, we could not visit Antigua. I accept that such situations do happen but I do not think it was handled very well. I will not dwell on this except to say that the way it was (or was not) handled was much more concerning than the missed port call itself.