Voyager joined the Voyages of Discovery in 2012 and is the only ship in its fleet. Built in 1990, this adults-only ship was formerly the Alexander von Humboldt, and previous owners were Cunard, Ki Development Corp. (operating as a casino ship based in Hong Kong) and Club Cruise. It does what small ships do best, and does it extremely well -- the atmosphere is intimate, friendly, and luxurious. After a major refurbishment in 2014, an explorer theme has been introduced to the whole ship, reflecting the destination-led itineraries. The small size means that Voyager can access remote ports.
The public rooms are attractively designed with the ambience of an expensive country hotel. The library's soft leather sofas provide a temptation to sink down and enjoy the extensive choice of books -- a more comprehensive collection than seen on many larger ships.
A drawback of smaller ships is sometimes that one public room leads into another, so that onboard activities can be interrupted by a flow of passengers walking through. During the refit, Voyager has solved this problem by creating a corridor along the side of the Darwin Lounge, where indoor activities from lectures and ballroom dancing classes to the production shows each evening can be enjoyed without passing traffic.
The entertainment is sophisticated, and cultural shore excursions are popular. There's plenty of relaxed enjoyment too, with singers and instrumentalists playing all evening in the various lounges, and a full house in the night club. There's also a bridge club on certain cruises.
The dining arrangements ensure that there is no queueing, and service overall is excellent. Voyager has adopted the current trend for open dining rather than separate sittings, and this works well. Members of staff are always on hand to find the diners a place, and although one restaurant is waiter service and the other self service, the waiters who serve the drinks and are attentive, making for a pleasant experience.
The average age is middle aged to active elderly. Some cruises are organised in partnership with the National Trust or RHS Garden Holidays, so passengers will reflect those special interests. Overall Voyager attracts those with intellectual pursuits, mainly British, and there is an atmosphere of bonhomie around the ship.
There was one formal night and two smart casual nights on our cruise; there are usually two formal nights per cruise; the first the captain's welcome cocktail party and the second the farewell gala dinner. On formal nights ladies are invited to wear evening gowns or cocktail dresses, and gentlemen may wear black tie or lounge suit with tie. At other times, smart casual attire is requested. This is specified in the daily programme as dresses or blouses with skirts or long trousers for the ladies (no shorts), and buttoned shirts or collared shirts with collars and long tailored trousers (no shorts) for the men, with closed shoes (no shorts or sandals). After 6 p.m., a blazer or sports jacket is suggested (but not required) for the men. The alfresco eating areas are less formal, and shorts and jeans are acceptable, as they are throughout the ship during the day.
For U.K. bookings gratuities for cabin staff, waiter and assistant are included in the cruise fare. A service charge is included in bar and wine prices, and British pound sterling (GBP) is the onboard currency. Any further tipping, for exceptional service, is discretionary.