We didn't have very high expectations of this ship as we knew that it was fairly old and we couldn't find any reviews on her but on first inspection we were pleasantly surprised with her appearance. Everything was shipshape, clean and not at all tired looking. The embarkation was seamless, however my suitcase on delivery, was very badly ripped all along the zipper and looked as though it could have been tampered with. I duly filled out an "Incident Report".
Cabin: Despite assurances from CMV Australia when I booked that my cabin did not contain a sofa bed as part of the "twin bed" arrangement, we did in fact get a very uncomfortable sofa bed and the other single bed was only marginallly better. We complained and were given mattress toppers which helped a little. Others we spoke to were having the same problem. Otherwise the cabin was adequate but was very noisy. This may have had something to do with the cabin being in the aft part of the ship though others amidships had the same complaint.
Food: Breakfast was always good. Lunch adequate but very repetitive. Dinner was disastrous. Unappetising presentation (grey looking meat) oversalted gravy with hardly a green vegetable in sight.
They had two specialty restaurants which were free but I would have regretted going there if there had been an extra charge. In our opinion the asian specialty restaurant was the better of the two. Service was excellent.
Drinks: Beer and wine prices were within the expected range but I ordered a Johnny Walker Red with ginger ale and it cost AUD $13.00 ($8-00 for the whiskey and $5-00 for the can of ginger ale!) which we considered exhorbitant. Johnny Walker black was AUD $10-00 with AUD $$5-00 extra for a can of ginger ale. Anything other than beer and house wine was exhorbitantly priced. We have been on many cruises but these were the dearest scotch and dry prices we've ever experienced.
Entertainment: The shows were good with very talented singers and dancers but were let down by the venue. Large pillars obscured all but the lower level of the showroom (which is flat) and large tables surrounded by 6-8 chairs took up an inordinate amount of space. Everyone had to drag these very heavy chairs away from the tables to find somewhere to sit.
Tenders: These tenders are antiquated, uncomfortable, claustaphobic and difficult to get into as once aboard you have to descend more steep steps to get down into the seats.
Service: Our cabin steward (Maya) was faultless but the lack of training was very obvious in the restaurant and buffet in particular. The staff were mainly from Russia, Ukraine and Romania and could not have been described as warm and friendly initially, but by the end of our cruise in Capetown were a lot more familiar.
General: The crossing of the Indian Ocean was not very pleasant, due in some part to a couple of days of fairly heavy swell, but mostly because the ship didn't seem to handle even the most moderate swell very well. If the ship had stabilizers it was not apparent or they were not deployed. Another passenger who had served on cargo ships for most of his life concurred with our observations. Obviously the pool had the be closed on rough days but we were also denied the table tennis/darts/tennis/basketball area as it was being renovated for almost the entire trip.
There was one very unpleasant incident in Durban where guests were told they could walk out of the port if desired only to be prevented from doing so. So a hundred or more unhappy souls were then told a shuttle was organised and was on its way so then people stood around for another 45 minutes. Some silly people ignored the authorities and just walked through until they closed and barred the gate. By the time we all got the shuttle it was almost time to go back to the ship so there were a lot of unhappy campers!
The number of passengers on board the ship was approximately 350; well short of its 650 passenger capacity. Due to the smaller number of passengers there was only one open sitting for the evening meal and this meant that the one entertainment show was attended by most passengers at the same time; this lead to some overcrowding. I would not like to be on this ship when it has its full complement of passengers as I feel that the breakfast and lunch in the buffet would be chaotic.
A big problem was that the shows finished about ten o'clock and the tea and coffee facility in the buffet was removed at ten o'clock. Many passengers, myself included, found this to be a totally unnecessary inconvenience as many people like to have a cup of tea or coffee before returning to their cabins.To make the problem worse there are no tea of coffee making facilities in the cabins.