Voyager - Springtime European Voyager
Voyages of Discovery had a couple of cruises during 2014 which had no single supplement for their new flagship, Voyager.  I decided to book the repositioning from Civitavecchia to Portsmouth from the 21st April to 4th May.  When I mentioned having a dietary requirement, I was told they wouldn't take the £200 deposit until I'd returned a form she'd pop in the post for me to fill in and they assessed my requirements.  Oooooookaaaaaay.  When the form arrived, it was for disability.  I phoned and was told I shouldn't have been sent it and they'd process the deposit.  The pre-voyage information arrived, including flight, on the 5th December with a reminder of the balance being due by the 30th and I paid it the following day.  By the 11th February, it was completely sold out and I received my documentation on the 2nd April.  Voyager would be my 30th ship, 58th cruise and smallest to date I'll have sailed on.

The day before the flight to Rome, I took the coach to Gatwick where I'd booked a hotel.  We went via Portsmouth so I saw where I had to get it back after the cruise, or just about since it was pouring!  By the time we reached the airport, it was dry.  I'd booked the new Premier Inn at the North Terminal, which was across the road from the lift to departures.

Check out was noon but I was gone by 11am.  There were two reps from Voyages of Discovery waiting to cross your name off.  Thankfully there was a choice of talking to a human being to check-in or use the dumb machine.  I opted for the human being and a good job since my British Airways Executive Club number had been entered incorrectly so I gave it to the lady.  It had taken two phone calls to Voyages of Discovery to get the thing added so I wasn't happy about that.  Security was generally a breeze but why am I always the random beeper???  I was wearing no metal.  Grrrr!  Gate 570 was given my flight and it was a smooth boarding, although completely random with the calling and we left slightly earlier than the 1455 departure time.  The couple next to me were going on Eurodam for 31 nights.  Nice if you have the time.  There were plenty of Voyages of Discovery reps waiting for us the other end and once we had our luggage, there was a long walk to the buses - which hadn't turned up!  Once they did, we were on our way and had a commentary from Lucia as we went.  The roads were clear so we arrived at the port by 8pm and there was our bambina, all alone apart from ferries but looking fabulous.  She's not the world's prettiest ship but ugly ducklings can be swans.  Would Voyager be?  The check-in desks were in alphabetical groups such as A-D, making it much easier and no Voyager Club queue.  I remember the one at Harwich for Discovery was longer than for the rest of us.  They just checked your name and got your card from the box beside them.  Your passports were taken until the end of the cruise then after your photo was taken (or not) it was a short walk to the gangway where you were greeted by Gerry the Cruise director and her assistant Lauren.  One thing I love about Voyages of Discovery are the little touches you used to get on QE2, such as being taken to your cabin.  There was a key in the room for the door so I'd have to remember not to try and put my cruise card into the slot.  It wasn't a proper key, like you got on Discovery.  I was very impressed by the size of the room, and the bathroom wasn't too bad either, apart from shower cubicle being for size zeros.  They also supplied the Vox receivers, which many have already experienced via other cruise line tours, but they were just for borrowing.  in my room (no idea about others) the aircon was annoyingly on the ceiling with a very tough knob to turn.  You get the key to your safe from reception but the sign on the wardrobe door needs to be more prominent.  Mine was low down on the inside of the wardrobe door, making it easy to miss.  The dining room is open seating now, so you can turn up any time before 9pm and avoid Hyacinths!  I wasn't sure how this would work with my dietary requirement so I looked forward to finding out.  As soon as Erick saw me, he gave me a hug, asked where Rob O'Brien (who I sailed Discovery with) was and remembered my dietary requirement.  Amazing considering it was almost 19 months since I'd seen him.  He told me Raffie was now on Carnival while Reagan on holiday.  I was seated with five other people, four of whom were gabbing amongst themselves before noticing I and the other lady were there.  Once they had, it was a very enjoyable evening.  To get around the non-fixed seating, they would write your cabin number on the advance menu and you just tell them the next day.  After dinner, I went to acquaint with my home for the next thirteen nights and liked what I saw.  Deck space is very important to me, and it's a shame so many modern ships remove that as they cram as many people in as possible.  The big crate looking thing on the aft deck is an generator.  The Promenade deck isn't wrap around as you need to go in and cross to the door the other side.  I stumbled across the Sunset Club (formerly Bridge Club)on deck 8 which was completely empty so had a drink and chatted to one of the barmen about our dogs.  He began his career on Norwegian Wind and prefers smaller ships.  I wish VOD did drinks packages.  It would save me a fortune having the soft stuff!  I also liked they kept the Alexander von Humboldt port plaques.  The Island Princess ones on Discovery had impressed me and I wish more did that too as it's part of the history of the ship when they change hands.  I did wonder if any Crown Monarch ones survived anywhere.  After a long day, it was time to hit those cosy pillows after watching Now, Voyager on Voyager!  One of my favourite Bette Davis films and it was on a loop that day.  They certainly look after you on these ships.  As well as a duvet and bedspread, they supplied a blanket and the pillows were as comfy as those supplied on Cunard.
As we were having company in Civitavecchia, it was a 5.30am start.  One advantage of being docked starboard was I could see anything coming and when Eurodam was in sight, I headed up to deck 6 aft.  The lovely deck cleaner left me in my dry corner.  Past experience has got me wet regardless.  They also dry the hand rails, which I've never seen anywhere else.  Eurodam followed a ferry in then along came Berlin and Costa Serena.  The Costa towered over us and suddenly I felt incredibly small.  After some photos, I went back to sleep.

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© Patricia Dempsey 21st April-4th May 2014
Not to be reproduced without permission