We embarked Voyager in Tianjin, China, a new cruise ship terminal which is extremely difficult to find if you are independent travellers. Check in was efficient and off we went to greet the numerous crew members we last saw in October 2012. We were also delighted to meet old friends from previous cruises, so everything was set up for another great cruise. Our suite was 1005 which proved to be in a quiet and very convenient location. Our luggage arrived promptly and once our kit was stowed and our nest prepared for the next 16 nights we could relax.
Our first indication that things would not go smoothly was delivered by Captain Gianmario, who explained that because of problems with the propulsion system we would not make Shanghai on schedule. To make matters worse, he also announced that to meet our schedule into Hong Kong we would be missing out our second port Xiamen (the only port on the whole cruise we had not been to before). The explanation given by the engineers was that the propulsion system did not like the cold water off the Chinese coast. I commented that Voyager managed its full cruising speed when we sailed up to the Arctic ice shelf and through an ice flow. No compensation was offered which was surprising as guests who had sailed from Sydney had been given compensation because of the propulsion issues which caused so much disruption with their cruise itinerary. Perhaps the waters off Australia were too warm for the propulsion system.
The technical issues continued, but this time the problem was the capability of Axel the Executive Chef who was incapable of managing his kitchens. In an effort to deal with the issues three PCH executive chefs joined the ship in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, I did not meet them, as from day four of the cruise I contracted viral bronchitis and I stayed in my suite to avoid contact with other guests. However, my wife ate with either senior officers or friends whilst I was incapacitated. She reported back to me each evening, how she struggled to choose anything to eat from the Compass Rose menus and what was served was invariably cold.