Sunday, June 8, 2014

LIFE ABOARD THE KAWARTHA VOYAGEUR

My cruise ship with her bow raised for locking
When I first saw the Kawartha Voyageur, the ship that was to be our home for ten days, I thought she was boxy and unattractive. I'm a fan of sleek vessels with graceful lines, so it was a surprise. I quickly grew to love this ship.

Captain Brian, with the wheelhouse lowered
She is perfectly designed for the Ontario waterways — flat-bottomed, shallow draft, and able to get under some of the low bridges. K.V. is quiet, so quiet passengers can't hear the engines in their cabins when she is underway. Admittedly when she uses her bow or stern thrusters, you know it. But remember, we moor every night, so engine noise is not an issue then — ever. KV is stable, we're not at sea but plying placid inland waterways. And wifi is  excellent everywhere on board and free, not like the big ships where you pay through the nose.

The huge real-time navigation chart in the lounge
KV is packed with automated systems that lower the radar arch over the bridge, lower the wheelhouse, and the upper deck canopy. There is a huge screen in the lounge with a real-time navigation chart. The two engines, two generators, etc., are all computer controlled. To fit through the locks, the bow deck raises at the push of a button.

She has three decks. Lower - cabins; middle - lounge, dining room, and crew quarters; upper - sun deck with a lowerable canopy.

KV is the cleanest, most shipshape vessel I've sailed on. The crew cleans all the time:

  • cabin windows and the mid-deck windows are washed daily
  • the floors are vacuumed three times a day
  • the lounge area, including chairs are dusted daily
  • The exterior paint work was washed at least once over five days
  • when I visited the galley, it was spotless, as all the rest of the crew's quarters.
I could go on about their cleaning obsession, but I won't!! It made for a great five days.

Anne, the cruise hostess
Then there's the food! Nothing like ocean-going cruise ships but delicious farm-style cooking. The long tables groan with food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are three course meals and there are always seconds! There are home-made snacks at 10am (fresh-baked cookies), 3pm (a variety of nibbles), and 9pm, in case you're hungry!! All kinds of drinks quench your thirst from 7:30am to 10pm (self-serve and on request). All alcoholic drinks are $3.50 but there is not much choice, and you can run a tab.

The captain, mate, and all the crew do everything. Tonight I was met at my cabin door by the skipper with a toilet brush in his hand. It had been forgotten!! When we joined the ship, the entire crew unloaded the baggage of 45 passengers and delivered it to our cabins.

I would say that this crew has the best customer service I have experienced even in 5 star hotels and resorts. The reason is that it is authentic, not obsequious. They love their jobs and they love their passengers, even those who are over-90 years old! Ontario Waterway Cruises does not allow tipping. I had trouble giving them a book for the little library....

The only negative is the very small cabins. One occupant has to get up or go to bed at a time. My husband found the bunk too small for him and has had a hard time sleeping. Though we have a small sink and a toilet, they are divided from the sleeping area by a curtain. (There is one wheelchair-accessible cabin and an elevator between decks.) The showers are terrific and modern, but down the hall.

The crew put on a show on the final night, which was hilarious and well received by all because we had all bonded into a cohesive whole.

The amazing crew of Kawartha Voyageur:
Captain, mate, team leader, chefs, servers, and deckhands

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2014. All rights reserved.