We just returned from a wonderful experience onboard CMV's Columbus through the British Isles. This was my 68th cruise and Cruise & Maritime Voyages was my 15th cruise company to experience. As a note of interest, in 1993 my 16th ... Read More
We just returned from a wonderful experience onboard CMV's Columbus through the British Isles. This was my 68th cruise and Cruise & Maritime Voyages was my 15th cruise company to experience. As a note of interest, in 1993 my 16th cruise was on the same ship, when it was cruising as the Star Princess. The other couple we traveled with had been on that cruise as well, and we all agreed that the Columbus was in great shape, still providing an excellent cruise experience for it's passengers.
The reason we chose this cruise is because of many intriguing facets of the CMV experience:
> CMV serves primarily a senior, United Kingdom market, with only a small percent of passengers from North America and other areas of the world. We were 4 of less than 10 American passengers among the ~1300 passengers aboard. For us, this was one of the highlights of the cruise. We found our fellow passengers to be very friendly and welcoming. We enjoyed conversing with the "locals" as we journeyed through the British Isles.
> CMV lives up to their goal of providing a "more traditional and leisurely style of cruising aboard classic-style cruise ships", as stated in their brochure. For years we have been impressed with the extraordinary features and activities that are offered on the main-stream, large ships that are common to the North American market. However, many times we have heard, and experienced, a feeling of "that was great, but it sure is different than the classic cruising of the past". CMV provides that classic cruising experience, while still offering great amenities aboard their ships.
> CMV has great itineraries that visit some ports that are not often offered on the big-ship itineraries. Many of the UK passengers we met had not even been to the parts of the UK we were visiting. In addition, CMV offers numerous itineraries throughout the world, including an around the world cruise.
> CMV offers very competitive pricing for their cruises.
The ship itself is in great condition, after having recently been refurbished when turned over to CMV. There are some areas that show evidence of the ship's 27 years and ownership by different companies, but nothing that takes away from the cruise experience. The pools were in good condition, although the weather for us was not conducive to a lot of swimming. I do wish that there were more hot tubs on deck, but that's a personal preference of mine. Our cabin (Category 8, ocean view) was large in comparison with most ocean view cabins we've had. The shower was large and worked well, plenty of pressure and hot water. We were very impressed with the dining aboard. Dinner meals were for the most part excellent, even surpassing some of the recent experiences we have had on the mega-liners. We ate at the Indian Fusion specialty restuarant and experienced some new Indian dishes that were unusually good. The buffets at breakfast and lunch were good, with some interesting items that Americans may not be familiar with, but they were fun to try! Service throughout the ship was very efficient and friendly; no long waits for food as was reported in early sailings for the Columbus. We enjoyed the shows we experienced, much the same as on the mega-ships. The lounge acts were exceptionally good; there was a trio playing popular hits from the 70's and 80's in one lounge, a guitar player playing acousitc hits in another lounge, and a classical duo (piano & violin) that were excellent. There were a couple of comedians that we missed, but I heard from others that they were good. The violinist and and an opera singer were highlighted in the final production show the last night...we all commented that the show was one of the best we've seen at sea!
We decided to take an excursion in almost every port and throughly enjoyed all but one. The ports we visited were:
> Antwerp...we did a walking tour excursion and although it was raining most of the tour, the guide was great and the information provided was very informative,
> Honfleur...we chose the visit to a cheese factory and Deauville. The beach resort of Deauville was great, but we did not enjoy the visit to the cheese factory...just wasn't for us. We would have preferred to have spent time in the town of Honfleur itself.
> St. Peter Port, Guernsey...we chose the Coast & Countryside tour of the island and enjoyed it greatly.
> St. Mary's, Isle of Scilly...we did 2 excursions here; the Island Sea Safari and the St Mary Island tour. The Sea Safari (zodiak-type boat with only 9 passengers) was an hour adventure to see some wildlife. We saw Sea Lions, Puffins and many other species of birds. The guide and boat pilot were great! The island tour was also only one hour, but very informative. We had plenty of time to walk around the beautiful port of St. Mary and visited the Star Castle Hotel, which is an old castle converted to a hotel over looking the bay of St. Mary.
> Dublin; we took the Highlights of Dublin tour in the morning. Malcolm was our guide and he was very knowledgable. We visited the famous Temple Bar for my first Guiness!, and had fish & chips at a neighborhood Pub
> Belfast; our morning tour was the Belfast City Tour and Titanic Museum. Our tour guide was Colin who was entertaining as well as informative. His discussion of the recent history in Northern Island, the "Troubles" as the Irish call them, was very interesting. The Titanic Museum was quite an experience and surpassed our expectations...we could have used more time there.
> Greenock; we took the bus transfer to Edinburgh and spent our day there walking around, having lunch and shopping. Need to go back there!
> Unfortunately, our Captain cancelled the ports of Tobermory (Isle of Mull) and Portree (Isle of Skye) due to predicted high surf and dangerous tendering in Portree. Instead, we stopped in Invergordon and had an extra sea day. We just did some walking around and shopping in Invergordon; many took excursions or the transfer to Inverness.
> Our last port was Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands...what a beautiful place!! We took the Scenic Orkney tour and saw a great deal of the countryside and ocean cliffs.
There were no kids on our cruise. CMV is mostly adults-only, with only a few sailings where children our allowed onboard.
I have read reviews about problems with embarkation and debarkation. We experienced no problems whatsoever. The building where we checked in was the main terminal for the Port of Tilbury in the old days. It is a classic, old building that has many historical pictures hanging on the walls, showing the busyness of the port from past days. There were huge hanging baskets of beautiful flowers adorning the front of the terminal building. We really enjoyed the experience at Tilbury.
We would definitely cruise with CMV again and are currently looking at a couple of itineraries that interest us. We thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the cruise caters to the United Kingdom market and loved the interaction with the "locals". Read Less