We chose this cruise exactly one week after coming of Discovery last year doing the transatlantic with a different itinerary. We had nothing to complain about last year it was superb. We chose exactly the same cabin we had last year on deck 8 right at the back.
Discovery 2 is the sister ship of Discovery and are practically identical in terms of layout. For us Embarkation was swift, smooth and painless with baggage delivered and collected in a timely manner.
The cabin is an aft facing cabin which meant we had the sun most days whilst crossing the Atlantic. The cabin is roomy with plenty of storage. A great feature this year was the addition of USB sockets in each of the lamps which was handy for charging up Ipads and phones. The electrical sockets are 2 standard USA and 2 Eurpean type.
The decor was ok although a picture missing from the wall of the cabin which showed up the marks where it had been. Generally the cabin was kept immaculate by the cabin steward however he rarely replaced the toiletries and despite requesting and reminding him it still did not happen or if it did they were only partially replaced.
On embarkation day there was a letter on the bed welcoming us back. Reading the letter it tells you that you have a Lavazza coffee machine in the room to which you are entitled to one cup of coffee a day! (What! after what we paid I would expect coffee to be free flowing like it was last year) That certainly did not set me off in the right frame of mind.
There were two days were half a dozen teeny pellets of soot landed on the balcony. The stewards cleaned the balconies up immediately and there was nothing to complain about. Those who have not stayed in one of these junior suites seem to imagine that it happens all the time. It does not! Another point is the saying the higher your cabin the more you pay the more it sways. It is no different to anywhere else on the ship. We only had two days were there was a bit of a roll and that was from Tenerife to Gran Canaria and en route to Jamaica but we slept quite well both nights. It is very quiet at the back of the ship.
The air conditioning was not able to be adjusted.
Food and dining.
The food in the waiter restaurants was always hot and our meals were served in a timely fashion. I was surprised to hear people complain that dinner took around two hours. For me that is quite acceptable, who wants to bolt down their food when you are on holiday it also gives you the chance to share tables and meet some very interesting people.
We never ate in the buffet restaurant apart from having afternoon tea one afternoon. I can't really comment on what it was like but the same food is served in the buffet as is available in the main dining room. Gallery 47 is an Italian restaurant with two alternating menus. The food is quite nice here and we ate here a few times.
Surf and Turf and Kora La restaurants have to be booked at a supplement and both are like being on a completely different ship. The attention to detail and the quality is second to none. We only ate at Surf and Turf this time and the supplement was around £29.
There was a fast food outlet called the snack shack where you could grab rolls in the morning fish and chips at lunch time or chicken wings etc. There were also cool cabinets with a variety of salads, sandwiches and pots of fruit. We only had a snack twice here but it was quick, tasty and filling.
At busy times you might be given a buzzer and have to wait around 20 minutes for a table in the main restaurants it only happened once to us during the 18 night cruise but that was because we wanted a specific table so we were quite happy to wait.
We upgraded the drinks package which for us was good value. We had 2 X 1.5 litres of water in the cabin each day. Access to the coffee bar for premium coffees and an enhanced premium drink menu. We found that the drinks on the normal menu seemed to be lacking in something but there was a noticeable difference in the premium drinks. We never had to wait too long for our drinks either being served or being waited on. There were ample staff for this and they were always busy. It worked out at £7 a day and we thought that was good value.
We always found something to occupy us on sea days. There were some activities going on at one time or another. I think one of the biggest problems was inadequate seating in some of the venues particularly the atrium. The theatre is much more comfortable that theatres in London. My only criticism is that once the shows have started the bar service should stop. It is irritating during the show to see bar staff passing through and blocking the views. The shows only last an hour why not bring a drink from the bar it is not as if you are going hours without access to a drink. Also on a couple of occasions there were some ignorant people talking all the way through the shows.
The shows were ok some better than others. I think the entertainment could have been a bit better but that is down to personal preferences.
There were a mixture of Filipino and Eastern European staff on the ship. All we came across were brilliant and everyone of them we met greeted us with a smile and a hello. They are on the ship for up to 8 months and there were some passengers do tend to be rude to them. We met quite a few staff from the Discovery who had transferred to Discovery 2. Surprisingly they remembered us and actually came to our tables to say hi.
Ports and excursions.
Tenerife Day of boarding.
Gran Canaria - We did our own thing as we were here last year.
Mindelo Cape Verde - A God forsaken place not geared up to cruise ships at all. We left the ship at 10:00 and people were already heading back to the ship. Not worth a visit here.
Barbados - Wonderful place but most things closed on Sundays! Got a hotel day pass.
Grenada - Speedboat and snorkel. Absolutely brilliant but £72 was a bit pricey but worth it.
Bonaire - A beautiful little island.- We did out own thing got a hotel day pass.
Aruba - Lovely island- Got our own taxi for a tour $20 each. Island tour and beach for 3 hours. Brilliant.
Curacao - Willemstad is a delightful colourful town. $20 taxi tour about four hours.
Panama Canal - Vastly over priced. £120 Not as described in the blurb not the companies fault but 4-5 hours going around the lakes due allocated time of going through the locks. The last 3 hours were brilliant but the lead up to it was dire! We were very late back to the ship which had to wait for 350 passengers on this tour.
Cartegena- Colombia $30 Taxi tour for 3 hours a beautiful city but boiling hot and humid.
Jamaica- We did not do a tour here.
We loved the itinerary and 18 nights went in a flash it only felt like a week. Can't understand visiting Mindelo but I guess it is a very cheap port for port fees. There are other beautiful islands in the cape so why those chose this one is beyond comprehension.
The medical centre. I have never ever seen so many people walking around a ship with Canulas in situ. Most being diagnosed with pneumonia some clearly not actually having pneumonia. Either there is something majorly wrong with the ventilation system or there is something afoot with the insurance claims.
Would we sail with Marella gain? Not in the near future certainly. Reasonable standard of service but not quite up to the same standard as last year.
Price wise they are not dissimilar to other cruise lines whose standards are a bit higher.
I would point out here that customer service pre and post cruise is abysmal. We had no communications from our Tui travel agent at all. I only got information from a facebook group and had to go into the shop myself to get this information I understand that the telephone service leaves a hell of a lot to be desired too.
The cabin is probably one of the best right at the back of the ship. It is very roomy with lots of storage space. Very comfortable. A very large balcony with two sun beds. Two chairs and an occasional table. It is very quiet at the back as there is no through traffic. This room is sold as a two berth cabin although I noted that the sofa that is in this one can be utilised as a bed unlike last year it was just a normal sofa.