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T&C Fulham

Would we like the Discoverer?

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We are relatively new cruisers (three years) and have opted for Veranda suites on SilverSeas and Seabourn. We like the fresh air at breakfast time and we tend to leave the door open when we go to sleep.

 

We have run out of cruise choices for next Christmas and are looking at the Discoverer option. There is no way we could afford their Veranda prices. Are the other pluses of these smaller explorer/discoverer vessels enough to persuade us to book a cabin with a window that does not open.

 

 

Clearly the lifestyle created by having far fewer passengers is different. Would some experienced cruiser be kind enough to spare the time to tell us just how different it is? What would we miss? What would we find new and appealing?

 

 

Thanks in advance for any help forthcoming.

 

 

Tony

London UK

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We have sailed on the mainstream ships and on the Explorer and Galapagos. Like you, we chose a veranda suite on the larger ships but opt for no veranda on the expedition ships. We didn't miss it on either trip, (they were 18 days and 14 days, so not short).

The lifestyle on the expedition ships is active with zodiac outings at least twice a day, so you are in the suite for short periods and the open decks are always available.

We have not sailed on the Discoverer but are booked for August/September, again without a veranda.

The atmosphere on the expedition ships is even more friendly probably because you are doing things in small groups led by wonderful naturalists, scientists, historians, etc. The food is not as luxurious as in the mainstream fleet but perfectly adequate and we especially enjoy eating on deck. There is no 'entertainment' (apart from a keyboard player in the bar) but the lectures more than make up for it. There are no extras as all the trips are included.

'New and appealing' - the wonderful imaginative itinerary. I just had a look and I wouldn't mind coming along!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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I have sailed on the Discoverer. She's a fun quirky ship. I think even more so because of the small number of pax and the fact that you are interacting with the lovely and convivial expedition crew much of the time, except when you are sleeping. We did not book a verandah suite, and we weren't in the suite much during the day. By the time nightfall approaches one gets pretty tired, as you have been out in the zodiacs all day, or in a lecture or briefing, at tea or at a meal. The very few times we didn't have an activity, we sat in the lounge and read or sat out by the pool ( in our parkas).

While we do book verandah suites on the bigger vessels (Spirit, Cloud and Wind) I can say we didn't miss the balcony on the Discoverer. We were on the Alaska cruise and it was pretty cold. We have also been on the Explorer, and while we were in 309 (bigger suite) it didn't have a balcony. That voyage was to the Arctic and it was also very cold and snowed. I wouldn't be sitting on the balcony in the cold blustery weather.

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Haven't sailed on discoverer, but have been on explorer multiple times and Galapagos once. We also book a veranda on regent and the other Silversea ships, but on the expedition ships, you really don't need it and wouldn't have that much time to use it.

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Like the previous poster we have sailed on Explorer and Galapagos but not Discoverer.

I agree that on most of the typical expedition itineraries the veranda is pointless, particularly when the 'veranda' is often a small 'juliet style' balcony, which whilst you get a sliding door, is little more than a 'window box'. (On many itineraries that sliding door & 'window box' is costing around $10,000 versus the exact same cabin without them !).

 

I do think however that it depends on the itinerary. For the Arctic & Antarctica we wouldn't have even considered a veranda, however we have booked one for a forthcoming expedition voyage on the west coast of Africa - more sea days and it's a little warmer than the poles !

 

FYI - our very experienced & respected Travel Agent, on a recent trip, was far from impressed with the physical aspects of Discoverer, when compared to Explorer & Galapagos.

 

The dilemma we have yet to resolve is that some of the most interesting itineraries are on Discoverer, but we are not very keen on the ship.

 

Good luck !

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T&C - I have sailed three times on this ship, in its previous incarnation as the Clipper Odyssey. When Silversea took it over they gave it a major refit but it's essentially the same ship. I'm writing this in Sri Lanka where we met a couple who just disembarked the Discoverer at Colombo - it was their first time on an expedition ship and they had a good cruise, they liked the whole expedition experience of landing on remote islands by zodiac. They also said Silversea plan to dump the ship in two years. It is very old now.

 

Our three trips were from Tahiti to Easter Island via Pitcairn; from Tahiti to Fiji; and from Bali to Kuching. The Pitcairn trip remains the best cruise we have ever done. That's what these ships are for. Going to remote places and unless you really want to do that you might be disappointed in other aspects of the cruise. Because these ships are small, deck space, inside and out, is limited and so are the dining options. Food is also limited because of the small galleys. These cruise are always highly social affairs and your fellow passengers will be well travelled and fairly sophisticated. Not dressy at all. Silversea have introduced their butler system to the Discoverer and I think that's unnecessary.

 

I would not chose a balcony cabin for cold places or if you expect rough seas. This ship was originally built as a floating casino for the Japanese market and was never intended to go out into the wide oceans. I can tell you, it doesn't handle well in rough seas.

 

Choose a vessel like this if you really want to see remote places. If you just want a cruise in the winter and don't really care where you are going then this won't be for you. These cruises are destination driven.

 

PS: How I wish someone was on the Discoverer right now on that inaugural cruise to Bangladesh. I'd love to know how that went!

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Thanks folk.

 

Lots of good advice there.

 

Sorry not to respond quicker. The email updates don't seem to be working 100%.

 

Tony

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PS: How I wish someone was on the Discoverer right now on that inaugural cruise to Bangladesh. I'd love to know how that went!

 

Hello Fletcher

 

Is that the itinerary that included Sri Lanka to Bangladesh ?

 

We were very interested in that one but already had plans, and decided we would take a look if it appeared in future years. Unfortunately it hasn't appeared again, for reasons unknown !

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I can tell you, it doesn't handle well in rough seas.

 

 

 

Are you suggesting that Colombo to Zanzibar would be uncomfortable, Fletcher?

 

 

Tony

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T&C Fulham - No one can predict rough seas, except perhaps in the South Atlantic, but when we sailed from Ducie Island to Easter Island the seas turned really rough, turning a two-day trip into three, and ropes were put in the restaurant to help people walk to a table. Also, all the coffee and tea urns in the more casual restaurant fell over and several tables were broken, causing the restaurant to be closed for the rest of the trip. No, I cannot predict bad weather. Yes, I can say the ship doesn't handle well.

 

machotspur - yes, that's the trip, from Sri Lanka to the Andamans, Bangladesh and Calcutta. No repeat of it so far. I wonder how it went.

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Thanks Fletcher.

 

I loved the itinerary with lots of stops for snorkling.

 

But I felt it was expensive. If I'd been able to get a 12000 suite for 8,000 I would almost certainly have bought.

 

But not after your post. Just too risky for a currently"able limbed" 77 year old. I would hate this to become our last holiday due to one freak wave.

 

Tony

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Over the past three years, my wife and I have spentapproximately 87 days on the Discoverer. We also sailed on the Explorer and all of the classic fleet. Given the number of days on board, weobviously have enjoyed the Discoverer. Yes, she is an older ship but Silver sea has done a great job of keepingher in shape. Since September, she hashad a soft re-fit with new carpets, drapes and upholstery throughout. The venue, which was previously used forbuffet breakfasts and lunches, has been converted into a day lounge, which isused for reading, cards, or simply enjoying coffee or espresso while reading abook. Tea and snacks are served there inthe afternoons.

What makes the Discoverer so appealing to us are the crewand expedition staff. Thepassenger/crew ratio is such that the hotel team and expedition staff gets toknow you very quickly. We have sailed with most of the expedition staff beforeand it’s always great to get to see them again.

A typical day on the Discoverer begins between seven andnine am and normally involves the Zodiacs in the morning and afternoon. Guests are divided into four zodiac groups tocontrol the congestion on the zodiac deck as well as on land. A scout boat will normally go out very earlyand determine the best place to bring the zodiacs ashore as well as gauge thecondition of the surf. All landings arenot “wet” and it is very common for the ship to come dockside. On other occasions, the zodiacs will disembarkat a jetty. Sea and visibility conditions permitting,snorkeling is offered on many cruises in the South Pacific, Mauritius and the Seychelles. Snorkeling is done of the Zodiacs that havecustom ladders that allow re-entry. Onselected voyages, scuba diving is offered to certified divers. If you want to scuba dive, it is veryimportant to comply with the pre-cruise requirements. Otherwise, you probably won’t be allowed todive. As with all excursions on theExpedition fleet, there is no charge, even for scuba diving.

Morning or afternoon expeditions could involve a hike orinland tour on buses to temples, historical sites, markets, and villages. If a hike is on the agenda, the staff willoffer a challenging hike as well as a “gentle” hike. Atleast two expedition staff accompanies each group. Guests always have the option of staying onboard and enjoy a nap, good book or movie. During a typical expedition there will be several all day trips leavingaround nine and returning between four-thirty and five. On those occasions, guests will enjoy plentyof comfort stops as well as lunch at a hotel. On our recent post-cruise expedition to Bhutan, the staff put on a picnicfor hikers and non-hikers in the forest at the trail head to the Tiger’s NestMonastery.

One of the highlights of each day is “recap and briefing”where guests are informed of the plans for the next day followed by expeditionstaff who will speak about the sites we saw during the past day. This usually takes place between six and sixthirty and concludes around seven when the main dining room opens.

Lunch and breakfast are served buffet style in the maindining room. You can also order from thepool grill menu or the twenty-four hour room service menu. Many guests opt to have a light breakfastserved in their suite. Like any cruiseline, the dinner menu cycles about every ten days. We enjoyed the food as well as the serviceprovided by the wait and wine staff. Ifnothing on the dinner menu suits you, you can always order a beef filet,grilled salmon or chicken. Sautéed spinach and asparagus as well asmasked, baked or fried potatoes are also always available by request.

 

One final note. Ourrecent voyage including maiden calls in Bangladesh. The Discoverer was the first “cruise ship” toever call in Bangladesh! Our first portwas Maheshkall Island where we visited two sites visiting a Buddhist temple, weaver’sshops, and a visit to a local school. Tuk Tuks transported the guests between the two sites. Frankly, the guests were a huge curiosity tothe villagers just as they were to us. The school children sang songs for us and the headmaster gave a shortpresentation about the school. Followinghis presentation, the expedition leader presented a gift of school supplies andsoccer balls to the headmaster on behalf of the guests. In the afternoon, wehad a zodiac cruise on the Bagkhali River to observe local fisherman andwildlife. This was a day rich with photographic opportunities. The next two days were spent in theSunderbans which is a UNESCO world heritage site. It consists of approximately 3900 squaremiles of mangrove forests. Our groupwas divided in two and one group cruised the mangroves while the other walkedoverland on a nature/birding tour. The afternooninvolved zodiac river cruising. The highlightwas observing otter fishing where domesticated otters are used to drive thefish into the nets. As the sun was setting, the expedition and hotel staff hadset up a “sundowner” on the river providing champagne and snacks to the guestsbefore returning to the ship. Our last day in the Sunderbans featured apre-dawn zodiac cruise into the mangroves to observe the wildlife at dawn. This was another day full of photographicopportunities.

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Thanks JackO

 

All you say is highly appealing.

 

Have you ever been on the Silver Discoverer in bad seas?

 

I don't know how lightly they would be on a trip from Colombo to Dar in late December - but I do not fancy the thought of ropes to get to the dinner table and ladies being thrown from their seats. I am not an invalid but I don't want to become one either. Fletcher makes the point that nobody can predict bad seas so one has to be sure the vessel can cope with them.

 

Tony

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I don't recall any big seas in the South Pacific or on the recent trip from the Seychelles to Kolkata. However, during the crossing from Seward to Kobe, we encountered big seas in the Russian Far East. My definition of big seas is when the staff puts the barf bags along the grab rails in the halls. My recollection is that they were from four to five meters. It did not bother us as long as we had one hand on the rails. The elevator was never out of action. The servers were extremely helpful in escorting guests in the MDR. In those situations, many guests take their meals in their suites.

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Great report! You answered a lot of questions. May I assume that this is the same Jacko that we have enjoyed on a few cruises?

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Yes you may! Looking forward to folding napkins poolside with you again.

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Thanks to all for their great notes on the Discover. I will be on the cruise from Colombo to Dar es Salaam in December. I previously was on a Silver Seas expedition cruise in the Arctic and found the lecturers and guides to be superb. Had very rough seas on an expedition cruise from Tahiti to Easter Island (Zeghram Exp.) in October several years ago.

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We just got off the Discoverer in the amazing Kimberly (Australia). I had a wonderful time and would do it again in a minute, but if "cruise lifestyle" is your focus, it may not be for you. This was a terrific wilderness experience with fantastic naturalists, that happened to use a ship to get around. The ship itself is a bit run down, not optimally configured for warm weather, and has pretty basic service. The money you are paying is for what you learn and discover. If your focus is on the ship and onboard experience, chances are you'll be disappointed. We are regular cruisers on Crystal and have also been on Regent and Oceania, and the standards of the ship and service are far inferior on Discoverer. I give it 10/10 as a nature experience and 5/10 as a luxury cruise. In case you do decide to go.... we discovered that if you "ask for it", chances are they will make it happen for you but there isn't much being offered on this ship (eg. if you'd like champagne rather than the generic sparkling wine they dole out you have to ask, it will never be offered).

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Rojann19 -

I can't remember... do you know when the Discoverer leaves the SS fleet?

 

July 2019 - last cruise finishes in Singapore.

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