Harwich & Embarkation
On the morning of July 4th 2013, Gavin and I spent some time packing our case and ensured that we had everything for the overnight cruise and visit to York.
My father had kindly offered to drive us to the Cruise Terminal at Harwich International Port and we left home at around 11:30. We arrived outside the Cruise Terminal at approximately 12:00 where we had a good view of Discovery from the dock.
Before entering the Cruise Terminal both Gavin and I were sure to take some photographs of Discovery berthed alongside and my father also took some of us together with the ship directly behind.
After capturing some nice photographs we entered the Cruise Terminal, still joined by my father who helped wheel our case up to the embarkation area for us. There were only a small number of passengers in the terminal and the queue to board Discovery moved very quickly. Before long we were at the embarkation desk and began the check-in procedure.
We had unfortunately still not received our tickets, having been informed they were sent out the week prior to the cruise. I will admit I was a little dissatisfied at the greeting we were given by the member of staff who checked us in, who simply uttered the words ‘Can I have your tickets’. No please, and no thank you.
Anyhow, having checked in we made our way over to the ramp, which takes passengers up to the security check-in areas on the second level, where the passenger boarding gangway is also situated. At the bottom of the ramp was the ship’s on board photographer. Gavin and I were happy to have our embarkation photograph taken.
We continued to make our way up the ramp and joined the queue for the security checks. It was quite a long queue and took no more than 20 minutes to get through. After passing through the security area, we made our way along the passenger boarding gangway to embark Discovery!
Upon boarding Discovery we were greeted by the ships’ security crew who scanned our Cruise Cards. We were then welcomed aboard by a member of the ships’ crew who escorted us to our stateroom. We boarded Discovery on Bali Deck (Deck 4) and our stateroom 3101, a category 6 Standard Twin Ocean View, situated on Coral Deck (Deck 3) right at the very bow of the vessel!
Entering our stateroom we were both pleasantly surprised and overjoyed at how stylish and spacious the room was! The stateroom was much better than we had imagined and being situated at the end of the corridor it was somewhat larger than others located on the same deck.
Day 1 - Harwich
Just a few minutes after entering our stateroom, the telephone rang. At first I was a little unsure whether to answer or not, as we had boarded earlier than expected. I let the telephone ring a little more and then answered. To my surprise calling was Rhys Davies, Guest Services Manager who took the chance to welcome me aboard. He was aware of my drawing of Discovery and informed me that the Master of Discovery, Captain Giovanni Biasutti would very much like to meet me and on his behalf extended an invitation to the bridge for sail away. The Guest Services Manager said he would try to find me in our stateroom before sail away and if he couldn’t he would make an announcement over the ships speaker system.
After this truly wonderful surprise Gavin and I both called our parents to let them know we were both aboard Discovery and share with them the good news. After relaxing in our stateroom for a few minutes and ensuring we knew our Muster Assembly Station and lifeboat number we decided to explore the ship. Having visited Discovery twice before, when she was operated by Voyages of Discovery and having studied the deck plan closely, I was very familiar with the layout of the ship and happy to lead Gavin.
Leaving our stateroom we made our way to the forward stairwell taking a quick look through the doors of the Seven Continents Restaurant on the way. Making our way up to Bali Deck (Deck 4), we took a look at the Reception area and then continued up to Pacific Deck (Deck 5) to take a look at the shop.
We continued our tour moving up to Riviera Deck (Deck 6) via the forward passenger stairwell. On this deck many of the passenger facilities are located. We made our way into the Carousel Lounge which is the main show lounge area on board Discovery and was also our Muster Assembly Station.
Next we headed to the Photo Gallery on the portside of Discovery. We would of course be visiting later to collect our photographs taken during embarkation. We continued towards the aft passenger stairwell and on the way took a look in the Discovery Theatre and the Hideaway Bar, which as the name suggests, it is quite hidden away.
Arriving at the aft passenger stairwell we moved across to the starboard side of Discovery and briefly entered Palm Court, a quiet lounge area with comfortable chairs to sit and watch the world go by.
Continuing our tour on Riviera Deck (Deck 6), we headed aft into the Explorers Bar, before taking a quick look in the cosy Library on board. The Discovery Lounge was next on our tour, which is one of my favourite areas on board. Located right at the stern of the vessel it offers great views through two deck high windows. Exiting the Discovery Lounge onto the outside deck we took the chance to look at the Waves Pool on the stern, which was empty.
Entering the Discovery Lounge again we continued up to Promenade Deck (Deck7) taking a look at the Card Room, which overlooks the Discovery Lounge below and also offers views over the stern through the two deck high windows. Also on this deck is the Internet Center which has 6 computers, although not many, enough for a small ship like Discovery.
Moving up to Bridge Deck (Deck 8) via the aft stairwell we took the opportunity to view The Atlantis Spa and Gym on board Discovery. The spa has a number of different massage suites and the Gym offers good views over the stern. The Beauty Salon is located on Sun Deck (Deck 9) and is connected to the Gym and Spa by a spiral staircase with glass roof.
After having a quick look at the Beauty Salon we made our way outside, before continuing along Sun Deck (Deck 9) into the Lido area, which features a buffet, Lido Bar and Pool, all covered by a sliding glass roof.
Lastly we made our way forward to look at The Yacht Club which is located at the bow of Discovery and offers wonderful panoramic views. We then made our way back to the lido area to have lunch. It was very busy but this was to be expected. There was a fairly good selection of food considering this was a smaller ship compared to the others we have cruised on and visited. It was very difficult to find a seat so we joined other passengers who had taken their lunch into The Yacht Club further along from the buffet and lido area. The food was satisfactory overall; I personally particularly liked the desserts!
After lunch we headed up on to the Sun Deck (Deck 10) as this was one of the remaining areas we hadn’t yet taken a look at. Also we thought it would be a good opportunity to get some photographs of Discovery’s funnel and the CMV logo.
Whilst taking some photographs of Discovery’s funnel, an announcement was made from the Guest Services Manager asking for Harry Cotterill to make his way to reception. Gavin and I quickly made our way down to Bali Deck (Deck 4) where the reception desk is located. A short while later Rhys Davies the Guest Services Manager came to meet us. He informed us that unfortunately Gavin would not be able to visit the bridge with me and this was a decision we understood and respected. Fortunately the traditional design of Discovery allows passengers to stand right next to the open bridge wings.
Now approaching 14:15, our Muster Drill was to take place shortly. Before returning to our stateroom I took the time to show Gavin where he could stand on Bridge Deck (Deck 8) right next to the bridge, ready for sail away from Harwich.
We then quickly returned back to our stateroom on Coral Deck (Deck 3), collected our lifejackets and carefully carried them to our Muster Assembly Station situated in the Carousel Lounge on Riviera Deck (Deck 6).
The Muster Drill took a little over half an hour, but now complete it was time to prepare for sail away from Harwich!
Day 1 - Harwich Sailaway
We took our lifejackets back to our stateroom and following this I made my way to reception and Gavin went to the deck area next to the bridge wing which I had shown him.
I joined the queue at reception and asked to see the Guest Services Manager who would escort me to the bridge to meet with the Captain. A lady in front of me at reception asked for a message to be passed on to the Captain. When Rhys Davies the Guest Services Manager arrived we ventured around the ship to find the lady. Eventually Rhys decided to make an announcement using the speaker system and the lady came to meet at reception. She was joined by a number of other friends, all of which used to work for All Leisure Holidays, the parent company to Voyages of Discovery.
Now the other passengers were here, we made our way up to the bridge. I let the ladies from All Leisure Holidays speak with the Captain first and whilst they did this I was allowed to explore the bridge. I then went out onto the starboard bridge wing and found Gavin nearby, where I had suggested for him to stand.
Heading back inside on to the bridge Rhys then introduced me to the Master of Discovery, Captain Giovanni Biasutti who was very welcoming. I spent some time talking to him, as well as the other officers and local pilot too.
Eventually somewhat later than planned at 15:50, Discovery began to slip away from her berth at Harwich International Port and we began to make our way out to sea. It was fantastic to be able to be on the bridge for sail away, an experience which I was told not many ever get to experience, so I felt very special! It was very interesting for us to view Harwich and Dovercourt as we passed. Both Gavin and I have watched various cruise ships, including Discovery, sail pass from Harwich many times, but it was nice to actually be aboard!
Once we had passed the Ha'penny Pier at Harwich and Discovery had carefully manoeuvred around the corner of the dredged channel, Captain Giovanni Biasutti invited me to view my drawing of Discovery, which was on display in his own cabin.
Rhys Davies, Guest Services Manager also joined us. As we entered the Captain’s cabin, there was my drawing on the wall in a truly beautiful frame! It was wonderful to be able to view the drawing displayed in this very special location. I took the opportunity to have a photograph taken with the drawing together with the Captain.
After viewing the drawing and speaking with the Captain for some time it was time for me to leave the bridge and continue to enjoy the evening aboard Discovery. Rhys escorted me back to the forward stairwell before he went back to work.
I made my way out on deck to search for Gavin, who had moved up to the Sun Deck (Deck 9) above the bridge. By this time we had exited Harwich Haven Harbour and had passed the Port of Felixstowe and were now making our way Northwards along the coast of East Anglia. We both called our parents to let them know we were on route to Hull.
After speaking to our parents we took a leisurely stroll along the Promenade Deck (Deck 7) to the stern of the vessel, where we spotted the Pilot Boat off in the distance. We watched for a while as the Pilot Boat followed us closely and then eventually came alongside Discovery. We rushed along the Promenade Deck and waited to see the Pilot disembark Discovery. I wanted to attempt to wave to the Pilot as I had met him on the bridge and enjoyed chatting to him and I did in fact get a wave back. He looked up just at the right time!
The Pilot Boat then headed back to Harwich, so Gavin and I made our way up to the bow on Sun Deck (Deck 9) as we continued to head northwards along the coast of East Anglia. We watched a Stena ferry pass us and then headed back to our stateroom.
Evening 1 - On Route to Hull
Now well underway and on route to Hull our stateroom offered remarkable views of the sea as Discovery sped along, even though we only had two small portholes. We both loved being so close to the sea and in fact would have to argue if a balcony stateroom on the larger ships is actually worth the extra money or better.
After relaxing in our stateroom for a while, sitting by the portholes watching the sea, Gavin and I headed up to the Discovery Lounge to enjoy a pre-dinner drink. The weather was so wonderful and we headed outside on to the deck for a while in the sunshine with our drinks.
The sunshine offered truly exceptional photo opportunities from the stern of the vessel as Discovery cruised along, which both Gavin and I captured after enjoying our pre-dinner drinks on the stern. It was so relaxing to sit at the stern of Discovery overlooking the ship’s wake. We headed up to the Sky Deck (Deck 10) next to get some more photographs, including some of Discovery’s funnel.
Having enjoyed some of the sunshine we headed back to our stateroom to get ready for our gala night aboard Discovery, starting with the 5 course gala dinner. On the way we stopped off at the Photo Gallery on Riviera Deck (Deck 6) and found our embarkation photographs and each brought a copy of all three. We were told to come back later to collect the second copy of the photographs. Compared to other ships we thought the prices were very reasonable. We also purchased a Discovery key ring each.
Night 1 - On Route to Hull
Now approaching 20:00 we were almost ready for dinner. Before making our way to the Seven Continents Restaurant, which was just along from our stateroom, we headed up to the Promenade Deck. The sun was beginning to set and was beautiful! Before making our way to dinner we went up to the Sun Deck (Deck 9), before taking a stroll along the Promenade Deck to the stern.
After our stroll around the outside decks we made our way to the Seven Continents Restaurant on Coral Deck (Deck 3). When booking the cruise I had booked a table for 6, as it is nice to get to know other passengers. Upon making our way into the Restaurant we were escorted to our table, 38. Interestingly the crew member was about to take us to the wrong side of the ship, before both I and another crew member corrected him. Gavin and I were last to arrive at our table.
Overall we both really enjoyed the gala dinner experience and the food was very pleasing if not exceptionally good. We were both sure to capture a number of photographs of the courses we ordered. During our sitting, which was the second sitting, there were a huge number of birthday celebrations and one of the gentlemen on our table also celebrated his birthday. He was kind enough to share his cake with both Gavin and I and the other couple on our table and also let us capture a photograph of the cake!
After enjoying the main courses and those lucky enough to have birthday cake, passengers were surprised with a baked Alaska dessert and sparkling display as the waiters paraded around the Seven Continents Restaurant bringing desserts to passengers. We also enjoyed our dessert with a slice of birthday cake, both of which were very tasty!
Having now passed 22:00 the night’s entertainment had been delayed a little, to ensure all passengers in the second sitting were able enjoy their dinner before exiting the Seven Continents Restaurant.
Gavin and I decided we would go to collect the second copy of our embarkation photographs at the Photo Gallery. This time the photos were ready for us to pick up and we took them back to our stateroom. The photos which we had had taken during dinner we not however, so we would return later.
We both then went to check out the entertainment on offer, starting with the Carousel Lounge, but as we were late there was no seating available, so we didn’t stop for long. Upon exiting the lounge Jodie Stuart, Sales & Marketing Executive, Cruise & Maritime Voyages rushed over to introduce herself to myself and Gavin. We spoke for some time before making our way up to the Sun Deck (Deck 10). It was very peaceful and quiet outside.
Next we took a look at the entertainment in the Discovery Lounge at the stern. Again it was very busy but there was a fantastic party atmosphere and extra seating had been put in place which was good to see. After standing and watching the entertainment for a while we went to see if there was any activity or entertainment taking place on the upper decks, which there was not. I think we had just missed the late night buffet in the Lido area.
Having no luck finding any entertainment on the upper decks, we went to take a look at the various plaques which are displayed in the forward stairwell on the Promenade Deck (Deck 7), as we would most likely not have time to look at these again before disembarking in the morning.
Before retiring to our stateroom we headed to the Photo Gallery to look for our photos from dinner. Understandably the photos still hadn’t yet been displayed, but the photographer recognised us again and was very helpful and endeavoured to find them and before long he did. Certainly very kind of him! This time I purchased just one photograph, of myself and Gavin together in the Seven Continents Restaurant and did not purchase the individual photographs of us. Now approaching 00:00 we headed back to our stateroom and prepared for our arrival into Hull in the morning and to ensure we were ready for disembarkation, before getting some much needed rest.
Day 2 - Hull Arrival
Although we did not get to sleep until very late we did have a very comfortable night’s rest, if a little too short. We awoke at around 04:30 and looked out of our portholes to see that we were already approaching the berth at Hull, so quickly made our way up on deck.
In order for Discovery to get to the berthed, the ship had to enter a lock, which was very interesting for us to watch. It wasn’t until after we got home that we learnt that this was the first time Discovery had visited Hull. It appeared to be quite a tight squeeze fitting through the lock. Discovery had two tug boats to assist, one on the bow and the other on the stern.
Once Discovery had made her way very carefully into the lock and the water began to enter, we watched for a moment before returning back to our stateroom to get some more sleep as we were still very tired.
Day 2 - Disembarkation
After managing to get a little extra sleep, although still not enough, it was time for us to both get ready for disembarkation. Gavin and I had packed most of our things the night before, so only had a minimal amount to do in the morning.
The disembarkation procedures and timing were a little confusing. We were originally instructed to vacate our stateroom at 08:00, but then read 07:30 on the embarkation information sheet, before an announcement was made stating a different time. In the end Gavin and I stayed in our stateroom for as long as possible, until our steward came along, which was around 7:45.
After vacating our stateroom we made our way up one deck to Bali Deck (Deck 4) to the area by Reception, as the gangway was situated close by. There are only a few seats in this area and many passengers had taken to sitting on the floor and had congregated around the forward passenger stairwell where the gangway was. Passengers were invited to sit in the various lounges aboard Discovery, but these are located on the upper decks, meaning carrying luggage with you, or waiting a long time for a lift. I thought it was wise like the other passengers to just wait as disembarkation was scheduled to begin at 08:00.
Unfortunately there was continued confusion and after passing 08:00 disembarkation still had not began and more passengers were getting frustrated. Sometime later we were informed that the coaches were prevented from entering the Port of Hull as the P&O Ferries which we docked had priority. After quite some time the first few coaches were finally allowed to come alongside Discovery and disembarkation began.
The disembarkation of passengers was split into 5 different groups, including those making their own way home or those getting the various coach transfers, some not enjoying a day in the City of York en route. The coach both Gavin and I needed was the Hull to Southend-on-Sea via Route B coach, which would stop in Colchester after visiting York. This was the last group to disembark, so we had quite a wait. Luckily we managed to get one of the few seats in the Reception area, as more passengers joined the queue.
At approximately 09:30 an announcement was made for our group to disembark Discovery, so we joined the queue, which was now thankfully somewhat shorter. The gangway off the ship was quite unsuitable with very steep steps. It was impossible to pull luggage cases behind you, so we had to carry them down. For elderly passengers this must have been quite difficult.
Now on the quayside we both took the opportunity to have a final photograph taken with Discovery behind us before making our way over to the coach. The coach driver was very welcoming and asked why we did not get on the coach to embark Discovery the day before. We explained that this was not required and we were dropped off at the port by my father.
Boarding the coach, Gavin and I had seats at the very back on the left side, with an elderly couple on the right, leaving the middle seat empty giving myself and the elderly lady some extra leg room. At around 09:55 we were finally underway and began our journey to the historic City of York.
Day 2 - York & Coach Transfer Home
After a very pleasant journey, enjoying some beautiful countryside and views, our coach arrived in York at round 11:15. The weather was also very good, very sunny and warm.
Gavin and I both decided that we wanted to visit the National Railway Museum, especially as the 75th Anniversary of Mallard’s 126mph speed record was being celebrated. On the way we stopped at McDonald's for a bite to eat. This saved time looking around for somewhere else to eat. The special locomotive was joined by the other five in the A4 class. It was quite a long walk to the museum and when we arrived it was quite busy, although we had expected it to be.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable visit to the National Railway Museum and it was very interesting to see such a wide range of exhibitions, including old and new trains. It was of course especially nice to be able to view the six A4 class locomotives, including the Mallard. Upon exiting the museum we both brought a few souvenirs from the gift shop, including a Mallard T-shirt each!
After our visit to the National Railway Museum we walked back over the River Ouse, passing via the Memorial Gardens. Next we headed for York Minster Cathedral, another place we both wanted to see. We decided not to enter inside as there as was an admission fee of £8.50. Instead we both enjoyed an ice cream in Dean’s Park right next to York Minster Cathedral.
The sun was still shinning and it was now very warm if not hot. After enjoying our ice cream and relaxing break in Dean’s Park we decided to walk back to the coach park. On the way we went into York Post Office, where both Gavin and I purchased a Lottery ticket. Although we had no jackpot win, I won £10.
Upon arriving back to the coach park we boarded the coach and made ourselves comfortable and ensured we had a drink available for the journey back to Colchester. The coach was very hot, 36°C which after leaving the coach driving brought down to a cool 18°C.
We left the coach park at 15:03, which couldn’t have been much closer to the planned departure time of 15:00.
The journey from York to Colchester took over 5 hours, but went very quick and we were both very comfortable. Gavin and I were both able to get some sleep as well. On route we stopped at Cambridge Services on the A14. This allowed passengers to have a break and stretch their legs, whilst the driver had his 45 minute break, which was required by law.
After leaving Cambridge we continued along the A14 to Ipswich before taking the A12 direct to Colchester. We arrived at North Station, Colchester at around 20:25. A few other passengers got off at the first stop. The driver got our case out of the luggage compartment and Jodie Stuart, Sales & Marketing Executive, Cruise & Maritime Voyages thanked us both for travelling with Cruise & Maritime Voyages. We took the opportunity to have a photograph with her, which the coach driver kindly took for us.
My Dad had drove to North Station to come to pick us up and we said thank you and bid farewell to both the driver and Jodie before returning home after what was a very enjoyable two days.