Discovery World Cruises may not ring a bell
with many cruisers, but if it does sound familiar, let me clarify:
Its the small company selling cruise expeditions, not to be
confused with a day-cruise operation in Fort Lauderdale.
Cruises owner, British travel entrepreneur Gerry Herrod, operated
Ocean Cruise Lines and Pearl Cruises in the 1980s and Orient Lines
in the 1990s.
As he cannot seem to
stay out of the cruise business, Herrod bought the former Island
Princess, one of Princess original Love Boats, had it refitted and
by mid-2003 the 650-passenger Discovery began sailing on
The ship operates
split seasons. Discovery World Cruises markets cruises in North
America from December to April; during the other seven months, British firm Voyages of Discovery charters the
Americans usually are
not found aboard during the U.K. charter period, although, as I
found on my spring cruise, Brits, Australians and New Zealanders
mix in during the North American season.
Stepping aboard the
Discovery in mid-April, I immediately recognized the hotel manager,
the cruise director, the hostess and the maitre dhotel from my
cruises on the Marco Polo and Crown Odyssey.
They, and several of
the crew, transferred from Orient Lines after Herrod sold the
company to Norwegian Cruise Line.
Thats loyalty, and it
shows in the continuity of the onboard product.
Even the public room
names are familiar -- the Seven Continents Restaurant, the Yacht
Club alternative restaurant and the Palm Court.
And as with Orient
Lines, the emphasis is on intriguing cruise itineraries, guest
lectures, cultural entertainment and brochure prices that begin at
less than $200 per day for an outside cabin.
During its inaugural
run between November 2003 and April 2004, the Discovery sailed to
South America, Antarctica, islands in the South Pacific, New
Zealand, Mexico, the Panama Canal, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Azores
The Discovery offers
a 13-day Antarctica cruise, including air from Buenos Aires to the
ship and back, two nights in a hotel and Antarctic shore excursions
for $3,595 per person, double.
During the first
Antarctic season, 45 passengers ranged in age from 35 to 55. The
rest were older and mostly retired. On most cruises, the average
age is about 70, said Tim Davey, Discovery World Cruises vice
On my voyage from
Fort Lauderdale to England, passengers settled into a quiet
lifestyle during the sea days, which were taken up by enrichment
lectures, games inside and on deck, use of the gym and spa
facilities, reading and socializing.
The theme was
Maritime Memories, with lectures and films on the ocean-liner
A former purser told
tales about three decades of life at sea on ships trading to South
Africa and Australia from the 1940s to the 1970s. Another speaker
gave a two-part talk on the White Star Line, including the companys
history before, during and after the sinking of the
A film about the
Furness Bermuda Line depicted life aboard the Queen of Bermuda from
the 1930s to the 1960s. Another film
showed the once-thriving commercial dock activity in London,
Liverpool and Southampton, England.
The Maritime Memories
theme will be repeated during the Dec. 5 cruise from Lisbon to
Navigating the ships
amenities is relatively simple given its moderate size and
organized layout. Most public rooms stretch the length of the
Riviera deck, with naturally lighted side galleries acting as
A view of the sea is
never far away. Many public rooms have excellent forward- or
aft-facing views. The Discovery Lounge and adjoining Explorer Bar
have two-deck-high windows looking onto the aft pool deck, and
passengers gathered here for drinks and dancing before and after
The mezzanine holds
the card room and also offers sweeping stern views. The Palm Court
acts as a connecting gallery, a reading room and the main location
for afternoon tea.
The Carousel Show
Lounge offers gently tiered semicircular seating for specialty
lectures -- one of the lines strengths
-- and evening entertainment.
The ships furnishings
have simple, colorful patterns, and light comes through the
such as table tennis, shuffleboard and golf-putting take place on
four decks high up on the ship, which prevents crowding. A
retractable dome allows for all-weather use of the pool and two
The 351 average-size
rooms and suites include 222 outside cabins (windows or portholes),
none with private balconies.
All rooms feature
twin or double beds (some in L-shaped configuration), direct-dial
telephones, TVs and safes. Otherwise, configurations vary even
within the same category. The ship has 17 cabin categories spread
over five decks, so a study of the deck plan is
Quite a number of
cabins have a third upper berth or a sofa bed, and a few cabins can
accommodate four passengers.
categories have bathtubs, and Bridge Deck rooms have views partly
obscured by lifeboats. Some cabins interconnect, though they are
not marked on the deck plan, and a large number are set aside as
My cabin was
forward-facing. The large window looked onto a small forward deck
and then over the bow. At night, the shades had to be drawn so
light did not interfere with the bridge watch one deck
The cabin was roomy
and had a comfortable couch, coffee table, large-screen TV,
vanity-desk, three closets and plenty of shelf space.
The sprawling Seven
Continents restaurant seats passengers at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
at assigned tables for four to eight people.
The food is good
international fare, well prepared and varied, but stopping short of
Notable menu items
were the cioppino, a California-style fish soup with garlic bread;
most of the spicy soups, such as West Indian bean; fresh swordfish;
blackened mahi-mahi; key lime pie; and chestnut mousse
Wines are fairly
priced, starting at $16.
meanwhile, was of a high standard. The crew was unfailingly
The 80-seat Yacht
Club, an observation venue, serves as the alternative restaurant,
on most nights offering varied Asian, East meets West, Italian and
South Pacific menus, which often reflect the cruising
required, which is not usually a problem, and there is no extra
charge. Passengers who dine before the sun sets will be rewarded
with a sweeping view of the sea.
smartly for dinner: Evening dress may be formal, informal or smart
casual (a collared shirt).
Aft on the same deck,
the Lido Buffet serves breakfast and lunch in an open setting,
under the lido decks overhang or inside the Yacht Club. In good
weather, outdoor barbecues are held here in the evening.
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