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British Isles Discovery CruiseAuthor: Colette
Date of Trip: September 2010
Booked a British Isles Discovery cruise on the Ocean Countess leaving Liverpool 4th September 2010 turned out to be the cruise from hell.
Started in Liverpool embarkation procedure was excellent that was probably the only thing I could say about it positively. We sailed from there to Oban. When we arrived we queued for 45 minutes to get off the boat on a tender. No explanation at all by the shore excursion staff. Told they had 3 tenders out but only 1 was working which worried me, as they were lifeboats and they had only just started the cruise.
Oban was lovely and a good start to the cruise then things went down hill drastically. Next stop was the Orkneys after a really windy crossing we should have predicted they wouldn't get the tenders out but no they waited until we arrived to tell us we were not getting off, as it was unsafe. Then onto Invergorden arrived in Force 10 gales but not blaming this on the captain fully appreciated his decision to stay in port until the wind died down. Left Invergorden at 10 o clock seven hours behind the scheduled time.
Our next port of call was supposed to be Honfleur but we were told we wouldn't make it to be a valid stop so we stopped at Zeebruge instead. Next stop was Guernsey arrived at 11 o clock took over an hour to get 3 tenders ashore then they withdrew them. At 2 O clock they decided to get the Guernsey boat to take people ashore as people where now getting very upset. At 3.15 we boarded the tender arriving in Guernsey at 3.30 only to be back on the last tender for 5.15. By this time I was fed up, angry and starting to get cabin fever.
After making complaints the shore excursion staff (Lauren) got us tickets to be on the first tender for the Scilly Islands the next day. However I don't think anyone appreciated the comment "I've never been so glad to see the back of you lot" when embarking the lifeboat!
So the cruise continues to the Scilly Islands to dock at 7 oclock the next morning and disembarking for 8. I was excited to be off at 8 and on the first boat so up early and ready by 7.30 only to see someone from the shore tender to embark and go to reception. I knew it we weren't going to get off here either- right again. Another port missed. Let's see where will we get in next said the shore excursion staff maybe Falmouth or we might go straight to Ireland! No we can't go to Falmouth as we have missed the tide we have to go straight to Cobh. Arrived in Cobh at 8 O clock that night. What a night we had on shore a lovely stop. This uplifted a lot of the passengers who got off the ship.
So you can see from the itinery we were promised we stopped at few of the promised ports. People were very disappointed and upset. Quite apart from the missing of the ports the cruise director and his shore excursion staff did not seem very apologetic or understanding about the upset. If they felt they wouldn't be able to stop in these places some contingency plan should have been put into effect but we all felt it wasn't even thought of. Phoning ahead seemed to be something they didn't even think of.
Quite apart from that the food was not up to scratch I saw mould on tomatoes that were obviously put in a fridge and brought out the next day. Also yoghurt that was out of date and can you believe out of date water! For you tea and coffee drinkers this was cut off at 8.30 at night so that you would spend money on the extremely overpriced drinks.
The cruise director though did put on extra activities when you couldn't get off and if throwing bean bags in a bucket or disorganised lectures floats your boat then you would have been happy. There was also other riveting activities like felt sewing and lavender bags and of course bingo!
Having cruised many times with various cruise lines I felt like I was on a sit com and hope to write one after this cruise as we had such a laugh about the mindless games they expected people to be grateful for when we couldn't get off the ship.
This company have now a PR disaster on their hands as the boat was full and we found no one who would recommend this cruise line to anyone. Many first time cruisers said they would never cruise again, which is sad, as we have had so many wonderful experiences.
This cruise has left many people upset and itching to get home to write for compensation. After all they are the experts and if they thought their tenders would not suitable they should have made suitable arrangements for passengers to visit the ports they itemised in their itinery.
I for one will ensure that I write to the people who advertise the cruise in many newspapers and of course where I can cruise reviews so people know what this company are like.
On most cruises I have been on the cruise director always starts the show in the evening have you had a good day? David didn't ask this question once. He kept his head down as he walked about the ship for fear of being on the other end of yet another disgruntled passenger.
I would like to end on a positive note and say we met some lovely people who were patient, funny and showed their excellent running skills when leaving the ship at Liverpool!
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