Voyager Cruise Review by Bollinger_Babe
- Sail Date: January 2015
- Destination: Africa
We are not keen on the huge cruise ships, preferring a more personal experience, so we were looking forward to our trip on the 15,300 ton, 500+ passenger Voyager.
The ship was built in 1990 and is kept in immaculate condition. We were allocated cabin 4130, a twin-bedded outside one with a window. The cabin itself was spacious enough but the bathroom was absolutely tiny, with barely room to move in the shower. There was only one small wardrobe, so fitting in a fortnight's worth of clothes, for two people, was a bit of a squeeze.
There are several bars and lounges throughout Voyager; Scott's Lounge is a pleasant place to sit and listen to the cocktail pianist or the relaxing ambient music, the Darwin Lounge is where dancing and the main evening entertainment take place, the Lookout Lounge was mainly for bridge playing and also had an internet centre. There is also the Sunset Club which bills itself as the ship's 'night club', but we found that it emptied out rapidly after 11.00pm and didn't have a lot of atmosphere.
Dining is on an open-seating arrangement; you have neither a set dining time or a set table, and while there are undoubtedly advantages to this, on the whole we decided we prefer set dining times, where you have the chance to get to know your table companions and waiting staff, which adds to the pleasure of cruising with like-minded people. The food was plentiful and of decent quality and the staff friendly and attentive. Drinks prices were more or less the same as regular pub prices.
Now the entertainment... oh dear. The Voyager Theatre Company consisted of three dancers (2 female, 1 male) and three singers (2 male and 1 female) although the dancers often stepped in as "singers". There were no guest entertainers, so all the shows were performed by the same people. This meant that most nights one or other of the singers performed, and a few times the production company put on rather lukewarm performances; maybe a tribute to Gershwin or to Noel Coward. Despite there being a three-piece ship's band, most of the productions were performed to 'canned' background music, with the empty orchestra stand in the background. The nightly shows soon became repetitive, dull and uninspiring, seeing the same faces performing the same old, well-worn songs.
The only exception was the Voyager Duo, a classical combination of violinist and pianist; they were absolutely superb and a massive cut above the rest of the troupe.
After the main show, there would be a second show in the Sunset Club at 10.30pm. These were abysmal. One of the singers (or dancers) would perform for 45 minutes, by propping up an iPad on a music stand and reading the lyrics to a backing track - nothing more than glorified karaoke. It was easy to tell when the singer wasn't completely familiar with the song.
We were very disappointed with the overall standard of entertainment, and also by the lack of daytime activities when the ship was at sea. A lot of the daily programme was given over to single travellers and those who had booked with "Just You" (who I believe are a sister company of Voyages of Discovery). Take out their activities and not a lot was left. There was a daily list of movies that were available on the in-cabin TV's, but why would someone pay thousands to come away on a cruise just to sit and watch movies?
The daily presentations and lectures were given by guest speakers, including former news reporter Peter Snow, and on the whole were of a high standard if you are interested in history. There were also a couple of quizzes a day, and the usual shipboard games such as quoits and shuffleboard. The ship has a small rounded pool (only 1.4m deep so more of a plunge pool than one for swimming) as well as a small gym.
The itinerary was superb and all the ports of call were new to us. We started at Port Louis, Mauritius and after an overnight stay visited Réunion, Madagascar and then onto Richards Bay, South Africa (overnight) followed by Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town (overnight, then flying home the next day). Organised excursions were excellent, if a little expensive.
On the whole we really enjoyed the cruise and would probably go with Voyages of Discovery again if the itinerary was good. There were only a few little niggles, most of which I've already mentioned, and if VoD sort out their entertainments programme then they would really give their competitors something to think about.
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