This was a 120-night, Round the World Cruise. The cruise line (Cruise and Maritime Voyages) and the ship (Magellan) managed to turn what should have been the trip of a lifetime into the cruise from hell. The food was very disappointing, to ... Read More
This was a 120-night, Round the World Cruise. The cruise line (Cruise and Maritime Voyages) and the ship (Magellan) managed to turn what should have been the trip of a lifetime into the cruise from hell. The food was very disappointing, to say the least. It tasted like institutional food. It would have been adequate (maybe even good) for food served in a prison. It would have been below standard if served in a nursing home. However, this was a cruise ship! This was our 11th cruise in three years, with 7 different cruise lines. So, we have some comparisons. The food is usually a major highlight of a cruise, something that deserves rave reviews. We barely ate enough to sustain us. The food was that bad. As a matter of fact, we even lost weight on this cruise, because the food was not worth eating.
The food was just one of our disappointments. However, the major disappointment was that we docked far away from our destination cities. In Sydney, we docked in White Bay, two expensive ferry rides away from the center of Sydney. It took us 2 3/4 hours to get to Watson's Bay, where we hoped to spend a lovely day. Because it took so long to get there, all we had time to do was eat lunch and start our long journey back to the ship. If we had docked at Circular Quay, it would have only taken 1/2 hour each way. So, this not only cost us extra money, but it also robbed us of some precious time.
We docked in many container ports, instead of cruise ship ports. We had never experienced this before. It was quite often an hour or longer drive to get to where we should have docked. Here is a perfect example. In Colombo, Sri Lanka, we were scheduled to dock at the Queen Elizabeth pier, a beautiful port with just a 15 minute walk into the city center. Perfect! Unfortunately, just a few days ahead of this port, we were told that we would be docking at the East Container Terminal. This terminal (being designed for container ships) had no facilities whatsoever. It was 4 km to the city center. They provided no shuttle bus and said we would have to take taxis. At the same time, they told us that the taxi drivers were not always scrupulous or reliable. We needed to negotiate a price ahead of time and hope that they stuck to what we agreed to pay. In other words they dropped us off in the middle of nowhere to fend for ourselves (with untrustworthy and unreliable transportation). These are just two examples. It happened time after time.
Just to be clear, there are major differences between container ports and cruise ship ports. Just because a ship will fit in either place, does not mean that they are interchangeable. Container or industrial ports do not have ANY facilities. There are no ATM machines or Money Exchange counters. That means that passengers have no way of acquiring local currency. As a matter of fact, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, we had extra time on our ship organized shore excursion (mostly because the Hindu Temple we were supposed to visit was closed). So, we made an unexpected shopping stop at Pettah Bazaar. This delighted most of us, until we discovered that we couldn't buy anything because we had no local currency! Additionally, there are no Tourist Information booths at container ports. So, no information and no local maps. If you are going into town independently, you will have to pay the taxi driver in something other than their local currency and hope that they drop you off some place of interest to you. It's very difficult to plan your day without a decent local map. So, to summarize, container ports provide no local currency, no local tourist information or maps, and quite often no reliable way to get into town. On the ship, we summarized this as a lack of money, maps and mobility.
Their Shore Excursions were hit or miss. Some of them were quite good, but just as many were very uninformative and very disappointing, certainly not worth the money. However, at some locations, because we were docked so far away from our destination city, you had to book an excursion or stay onboard the ship. The options for going ashore on your own were too risky or incredibly inconvenient.
During this four-month cruise, we had more than 70 sea days. The activities aboard the ship were the same day after day. Very little thought or imagination went into creating the daily activities. Guest lecturers did appear now and again. A few of them were good, but not the majority. And, the topics didn't necessarily have anything to do with our cruise. We went Round the World. Surely there are lecturers out there who could have presented talks about our destinations on this cruise. One lecturer even presented erroneous information about passage through the Panama Canal. There were many people onboard (us included) who had been through the canal several times before. We all knew that she was presenting incorrect facts, which was all the buzz after her lecture.
The air conditioning in our cabins was inadequate for the type of heat that we encountered. As a matter of fact, during the first weeks of the cruise, we lost air conditioning completely twice for 2 1/2 days each time. The first time was the compressor that serviced our cabin. So, a few dozen of us were without A/C for a couple of days. More importantly, we were without it for two miserable nights. The second time it went out (a week later), the entire ship was without A/C (again for two nights). Many people slept on the pool lounge chairs on the upper decks, because the rooms were stifling. Fortunately, this did not happen again. However, the
A/C in our cabins we're not quite up to the task at hand. It was always a bit too warm for comfort in our cabin.
Customer service was almost nonexistent. The bar staff and wait staff were excellent, even though it was obvious that they were not appreciated by management. However, reception and the shore excursion desk were not very helpful. They lacked the necessary information and authority to do their job properly. If you brought a concern to their attention, they were defensive instead of proactive. Their method of resolving a concern was to do nothing and hope it would resolve itself.
During the last month of the cruise, a large meeting was held by the passengers to discuss how unhappy we were with many aspects of the cruise. It was very well attended and conducted in a very civilized manner. Management refused to attend this meeting, even though they were well aware of it and were invited to meet with us. Since they were not there to hear our concerns, a list of our major issues was compiled and a representative met with management the next day. However, we received no response to our concerns and the fact that several hundred passengers expressed dissatisfaction with many aspects of the cruise was totally ignored. That is no way to treat paying guests. During the entire cruise, we felt like we were an inconvenience. Everything was done on their schedule for the convenience of the staff, no matter how inconvenient it was for the passengers. We were just in their way. As a matter of fact, our room steward walked in on us nine times, while the Do Not Disturb sign was on our door. If she needed entry into our cabin for any reason (to change the shower curtain, to check the expiration date on the light on the life jackets or on the package of peanuts, etc.), she just came into the cabin (regardless of the Do Not Disturb sign). This shows a lack of proper training, which was a common theme on this cruise.
In summary, taking this cruise was one of the worst mistakes that we have made in many years. Save yourself some major disappointment and avoid Cruise and Maritime Voyages. Read Less