The idea of cruising small had often crossed my mind. Having sailed on small ships such as Minerva and Black Prince, I had experienced what it was like to be on a small ship. Voyages of Discovery had been a cruise line that had interested me and so when I saw the 3 night 'Taste of Voyager and France' cruise advertised, I thought lets go for it.
For 3 nights and no single supplement on an inside cabin, it was £299. However, before sailing, I got an upgrade to an outside. Now that's what I call service.
The embarkation process in Portsmouth was a rather interesting procedure. Because the cruise and ferry share the same terminal, passengers embarking Voyager had to wait until the embarkation and disembarkation of the passengers on the ferry Port-Aven took place.
I had arrived at the terminal a few hours before the actual embarkation took place but the time went fairly quickly. The terminal is fairly new and has good amenities such as a Costa Coffee Shop on the top floor. A good place to grab a quick bite to eat and a nice hot chocolate. Yum!
Embarkation started at 4pm and I was in the first group to be taken to the ship. After security, we boarded shuttle buses which took us to the ship which was berthed a little bit away from the terminal.
Once on board, I was shown to my cabin (a nice touch as most big cruise lines have cut that out) It was on deck 2, Raleigh Deck. It was a nice size cabin, bigger than I had imagined it would be, however the bathroom was a little on the small side and the shower you would have to battle with the shower curtain as there was very limited space. A contortionist would have struggled to have taken a shower. The cabin had two portholes and let in good light.
After getting acquainted with the cabin, it was time to explore the ship. My goodness, she really is a lovely little ship. I had only been on board 15 minutes and had already fell in love with the ship. She has three main lounges along Deck 5. Scott Lounge, Darwin Lounge and the Lookout Lounge. All very nicely appointed and good size. The Darwin Lounge was where most of the evening entertainment took place. Whilst the Scott and Lookout Lounges were places to relax and unwind and enjoy a drink or two with good company.
MV Voyager also has a lot of outdoor space and along the promenade and pool area, the decks are made of teak. A nice sight to see as most modern ships now are phasing teak decks out. Although the Sun Deck at the top had the green astro-turf, it worked well and there was plenty of good vantage points from the Sun Deck, looking over the bow and port and starboard sides.
The two restaurants were nicely appointed too. The Verandah was the more casual restaurant and offered a buffet fare whereas the Discovery Restaurant was the traditional service restaurant.
I tried out both restaurants and found that they were both as good as each other, although it is nice to be served now and again.
Entertainment on board was understated as expected but nonetheless very good. The in house theatre company of young singers and dancers were very good and put the bigger lines to shame. The cocktail pianist was also very good and he performed in Scott Lounge every evening. We also had two very knowledgeable guest lecturers on board and were very good, in particular the port lecturer who was extremely knowledgeable on the ports of call.
The staff on board were very friendly and went out of their way to make sure the cruise was good. However, some of the bar service was a little slow at times and the cruise director or entertainment manager made too many announcements and each time they were repeated about three or four times which did get a little irritating.
Itinerary wise, it wasn't the most exciting but nonetheless I was looking forward to going back to Guernsey, St Peter Port is such a lovely place it deserves a re-visit, I took a walk around town before heading to La Valett, the German Undergound tunnels. These were in use by the Nazi's when they occupied Guernsey. It was a rather chilling yet interesting place to visit.
It was then back to the ship on the tender afterwards. As small a ship as Voyager is, we had anchored a fair distance out from the harbour and it was a good 20 minutes tender ride to and from the ship.
Thursday saw us in the port of Honfleur, France. At the estuary to the River Seine, Honfleur is not very far from the port city of Le Havre. It was a rather dull, overcast and wet day. I had initially thought of walking into town from the ship but the weather being so changeable I decided to take the rather over priced shuttle bus. £5 return for a 10 minute journey, I thought it was extortionate and unfair and should have been complimentary as walking distance was around 30 minutes and you had to negotiate around industrial wasteland if you went on foot. A big gaff from Voyages of Discovery in my opinion and something of which left a sour taste in my mouth. Honfleur itself was a tad disappointing. Yes, its picturesque but nothing really wowed me. Of course the weather didn't help so that perhaps put a dampner on things One good thing though is we saw CMV's Azores berth at Honfleur. She is of course the former Stockholm which sank the Andrea Doria in 1956. It was the first time I had ever seen her in the flesh and she was a real beauty.
Overall the cruise was an interesting experience and I enjoyed it. The ship was very nice indeed however I couldn't have sailed on her for longer than 3 nights. The lack of facilities and activities during the day mean that you are limited as to what you can do. For ship purists, she is a really nice ship and most would enjoy her traditional style and quirks. Therefore I would recommend her but don't expect to be overwhelmed by the activities on board.