We had not realised until we arrived at the ship that the operator, Shearings Holidays, did not own the ship and had only chartered it for two cruises. This was not, therefore, a Voyages of Discovery cruise.
On the positive side, for us, we had a small ship of 750 capacity, with an excellent RESIDENT crew. We cannot speak highly enough of the waiters, cabin boys and bar staff, all Filipino. Nothing was too much trouble for them and everything was done with a smile on their face. The food itself was varied, of excellent quality and tastefully presented. All facilities were provided on a very clean and well looked after ship. If i was rating the cruise on these factors alone they would get maximum marks.
What spoiled the whole experience for us, however, was Shearings part in it. They got us to the terminal in good time and check-in went well. What transpired over the period of the cruise saw a downhill slide and is the subject of a lengthy complaint direct to the Company's CEO.
Shearings staff introduced themselves as Head Office staff and throughout the cruise exhibited very little cruise knowledge. The trips were poorly organised and subject of many complaints, some resulting in refunds. In the main the staff had not even experienced the places we visited and when things went wrong couldn't deal with the problems. On the ship the staff were scruffy in appearance, unprofessional in dealing with clients and seemed, in the main to be there to enjoy themselves. The entertainment was amateurish, so thank goodness for the cinema.
Passengers experienced varied problems, some of which we saw, others we heard about. In our case i was verbally abused during a discussion with a member of Shearings staff and my wife was shouted at and then had this person "in her face" with a finger pointed directly into her face.
So please take two things away from these comments. Firstly, the ship and its permanent staff were a delight and and in its Voyages of Discovery trips I am certain first class (see other reviews) . Secondly, do not go on a Shearings cruise,it's so unbelievably unprofessional.
Community Manager's Note: 'This review was written when the ship sailed for Voyages of Discovery. As of February 2013, it is now sailing under the Cruises & Maritime banner"