Editor's Note: MV Discovery is no longer part of the Cruise & Maritime Voyages fleet, having been sold by its parent company in October 2014.
Along with the QE2 and Titanic, the MV Discovery must be among the most familiar looking passenger ships in the world. As the former Island Princess, she was the sister ship of the old Pacific Princess, TV's "Love Boat," and even stood in for her more famous and almost identical sibling on some episodes.
I love this ship. It was built during a time when vessels had graceful lines, when staterooms were designed to fit the shape of the ship and not manufactured in mass quantities, and it should be declared a historical landmark. A superb refit in 2003 has retained most of its original charm, and if you didn't know this vessel was more than 35 years old, you'd never guess it by its condition. They really don't make ships like this anymore, and it's a shame.
It has recently been announced that Discovery will enter dry dock later this year and will undergo an extensive refurbishment before entering service under the Cruise & Maritime Voyages brand in 2013. Voyages of Discovery will take delivery of another ship at the end of 2012, the 15,721-ton, 540-passenger mv Voyager. Voyager has undergone a multi-million dollar refit and will enter service in December with 270 cabins, 30 of which have balconies.
Discovery began its service as the Island Venture in September of 1971 for the Norwegian company Flagship Cruises, where it made the New York-to-Bermuda run. In 1972 it was renamed Island Princess when it joined the Princess fleet, where it stayed until it was sold to the Korean company Hyundai Asian Cruises in 1999. Briefly known as Platinum in 2001, it was bought later that year by Gerry Herrod's Discovery Cruises and launched as their only ship in 2003.
Voyages of Discovery describes itself as a "soft adventure" experience, a way for passengers to go to seldom visited destinations without the rigorous shore excursions and spartan accommodations of the "hard adventure" competitors. Exotic destinations include Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Norway's North Cape, Spitsbergen, the Amazon, Devil's Island, Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. It is the only non-Ecuadorian cruise ship with a port of call in the Galapagos Islands. It even cruises to Cuba; those trips are marketed only through its British brochures and Web site.
Discovery carries four or five times more passengers than many other excursion ships, but this doesn't tell the whole story. Discovery has a passenger capacity of more than 800, but the line says it never carries more than 650. Further, the Ecuadorian government allows only 500 passengers when it visits the Galapagos.