Was it perhaps us?
We’re not new to Cruise and Maritime, far from it, in fact. We were really looking forward to the Christmas New Year cruise. It was our third time on the Magellan, and our second during the festive season on the ... Read More
Was it perhaps us?
We’re not new to Cruise and Maritime, far from it, in fact. We were really looking forward to the Christmas New Year cruise. It was our third time on the Magellan, and our second during the festive season on the ship. Embarkation was exceedingly efficient, and our luggage was already at our cabin when we got there.
Just a couple of months earlier, we sailed to Canada on the Marco Polo and had an absolutely fabulous cruise. I perhaps ought to say that unlike in September, this time, we boarded hugely deflated due to the election result and knew we’d have to bite our tongues as the country had chosen a very different path to the one we’d fought for. It actually crossed my mind that most people should be in a really good mood, looking forward to all of the excellent opportunities our new government was promising, so complaints would be minimal and kept to something that’s justified. But no, for many, the sea was still too wet, the earth was too round and the moon wasn’t made of cheese. But the prize went to a woman who exclaimed “not fish again” one lunchtime when her main course arrived, having been given a choice of at least five other options…
We usually find Cruise and Maritime’s “quirks” quite endearing, after all, where else would you find exotic delights such as “Scottish Cornish Pasties” on the menu? And we loved trying to work out what the warning on the lunchtime menu meant (it said “The below Icon which one mention the menu is condense with”). The restaurant signage refers to “Ruffles” and then there was the beef “noddle” in the buffet… The lack of attention to detail really is something CMV ought to address – the worst example of this was when we docked in Lisbon at a different place to where it said on the daily explorer, so people went the wrong way when leaving the ship if they didn’t know the city. And why are there no maps of ports included in the writeups? But at least this time they got the time right, unlike during our Canadian trip where one day ship time ended up different to shore time!
We found the entertainment a little mediocre to be honest, but one thing that is most entertaining is to hear all the gossip which quickly becomes Chinese whispers. Apparently we got the Columbus’s dock in Agadir, very interesting considering they were due to go to Casablanca! And so many people seemed to be much more accomplished sailors than the captain, constantly questioning why the ship went when and where it did forgetting that it can be quite tricky to park in a supermarket carpark at this time of year, never mind finding a port! We were very glad to be kept safe from the bad weather in the Bay of Biscay, but yes, we’d have liked a couple more hours in Lisbon.
One thing that might be considered during the muster drill is to teach passengers how to explain how to communicate effectively with waiters whose first language isn’t English. Waiters simply don’t really need to know why you want something, just that they’ve understood what you’ve ordered - in amongst the life story of why you want a poached egg rather than a fried egg, but you don’t like boiled eggs and the scrambled eggs are too runny/firm/hot/cold (delete as applicable), but then decide on a boiled egg anyway while all the other passengers are patiently waiting to place their order... It all just leaves the poor server very confused. It’s also very useful to listen when the order is being confirmed to avoid saying “is this what I ordered?” when it arrives. I have no idea how they do their job, let alone for 8-10 months without a day off!
As for the muster drills, I joked that CMV were cutting down on comedians as the drill was an absolute farce – I’m not sure a member of staff ought to have been setting up the buffet during our second drill! Oh, and if there is to be a second drill, perhaps it might be a good idea if it were reflected in the Explorer’s events programme?!
I do apologise if I’ve sounded like I’m moaning – I am a remoaner after all! Let’s cheer up the mood by saying that in three weeks, we didn’t queue once, there were no art auctions, no kids and on the whole, food and service were great and all in all great value for money – just some of the things we like about CMV and make it our preferred line. I also like the fact that there are a fair few non-UK guests onboard giving a more international flavour than some other British lines. We also like not having 24 hour food, so sometimes you can actually feel hungry before eating again! Another thing we very much liked was that even on port days, the Kensington was open for à la carte breakfast and lunch, meaning no pushing and shoving at the buffet and generally interesting company. I’m not quite sure why they ran out of orange juice, but even that isn’t really the end of the world and it’s not like they can just go and get some whilst at sea!
As for the cabin, we were allocated 7029, towards the front and well located - there aren’t any frills, we bring our own toiletries and it’s kept spotless – the bed’s comfy enough, but the fold down beds do get in the way of you being able to sit up in bed, and some hooks would have been very useful. We could have done without the toilet being so temperamental, but it was mended fairly quickly each time – it did make us laugh when we were waiting for the handyman when on the TV one channel was showing “All the Number Twos from the 1980s”!
We also enjoyed the free breakfast in bed – a pastry and a slice of toast was all we need so we could enjoy lunch. Our cabin steward (Wiktoria) was very efficient and kept us well stocked with tissues – and Ruben, the steward on the next block, had been our cabin steward last time and even remembered us leaving a Christmas decoration in our cabin which he’d left at reception for us (but that was a couple of years ago…). In all fairness, CMV does what it says on the tin very well – it doesn’t claim to be what it isn’t.
We always go for second sitting, but for the first time on any cruise, after a week or so, we chose to eat in the buffet as we generally wanted to go to bed early - we both suffered badly from colds (in common with lots of other passengers) and we were out of sorts generally. However, for the first time on any cruise we’ve been on, let’s just say we ran out of conversation with our table mates – we’ve never moved table before, but it did cross our minds, but wondered if it would be out of the frying pan... It was a shame, as our waiters - and the food – were great. The buffet was okay once you got used to it and we perhaps weren’t up to making conversation for a prolonged period every night.
Our usual game of “Brexit bingo” seemed somewhat easier than usual – we score points for words such as Wetherspoons, Brussels, Benefit Scroungers, Immigrants, Tipping, Foreigners… Brexit itself didn’t seem to be mentioned that much (and we’d have politely steered the conversation away, especially as we’d banned ourselves from looking at the news). We awarded ourselves a bingo bonus when we learned that there was a book written on the carpets of Wetherspoons (and were shown photos!) by someone we met who had made it his life’s mission to visit each and every pub in that chain! It takes all sorts to make a world, after all, and if that’s what floats your boat…!
Somehow we found the entertainment a little lacklustre (again, it could have been us) – we really didn’t understand why the Netherlands aren’t included in the Round the World cabaret (is Rotterdam not a home port these days?), nor why that dreadful song about us ruling the waves and having an Empire still gets an airing – perhaps “The Old Bull and Bush” would be more in keeping, especially with so many East End/Essex people on board, although I’d rather have John Lennon’s Imagine to represent our country. But I did learn that Tequila comes from Brazil. Apparently! There are so many great Brazilian songs and they play one from Mexico!! Another CMV quirk!
Due to weather conditions, our itinerary was amended a couple of times at the beginning of the cruise – we spent a lovely day in Rotterdam, then the Captain told us about storms over the Bay of Biscay, so we docked in Cherbourg for two days, which meant missing out Vigo, Tenerife and Lanzarote, and adding Agadir. To be honest, apart from being able to meet up with friends in Tenerife, the new itinerary suited us far better – it included a country new to us, and we still made it to Cape Verde, which was really fascinating, especially as we didn’t visit the two more touristy islands. I can understand people not knowing anything about Morocco as it wasn’t on our original itinerary, but it’s beyond me why people didn’t do a little research about Cape Verde before going there – why go to a developing country then moan about its infrastructure? Due to the itinerary changes, we were given £100 onboard credit for the inconvenience, which we thought was a very generous gesture. There were also free shuttles at just about every port (although at some it was stated they were for the less able-bodied) – in Praia in particular, the old town was far too far for just about anyone to walk and thankfully anyone was admitted onto the shuttle. The blurb said it was around 800m to town, but that was obviously copied and pasted from the Mindelo information as it was much further– and uphill most of the way (in nearly 30C).
Our excursions were very good, and changes to the itinerary were handled without a glitch (we were in Cape Verde a day later than originally planned, and our excursions were simply transferred) – the additional stop in Agadir was very short, so by doing the excursion we made the most of our time there. Restaurant times were adjusted in accordance with port timings, for example sometimes lunch was served from 11.30.
On sea days, we attended quite a few of the lectures – a graphologist, stargazer and talks on entertainers of yesteryear were all interesting – I’d have gone to more of the creative writing sessions had they not clashed with lunch. One of the passengers organised a daily LGBT meetup which was a great idea and something we haven’t had on CMV previously, something most other cruise lines put in their programmes automatically – on every CMV cruise we’ve been on, there has been a fair smattering of same sex couples. As we weren’t on top form, we didn’t go to quite a few of the shows – although it was interesting how few of them were repeats of what we’d seen on the Marco Polo, just a few of the production shows were very similar.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what made this cruise one of our least favourites. Perhaps it’s just that we’ve enjoyed others more and our mood was a little lower than usual. Toothache certainly didn’t help (the medical centre arranged for a trip to the dentist in Gran Canaria), and our colds and generally feeling unwell meant we were in bed by 11pm on New Year’s Eve, and many times by 9pm. We also weren’t overly fond of the Captain’s Club where all of the entertainment happened, it was crowded, hot and the band weren’t at all to our taste, we found them far too raucous, but that could, of course, be due to us feeling under the weather and other passengers commented how good they were.
If there’s something that could be put right, then I’d gladly give some constructive criticism, but I’m really not sure what CMV could do to rectify anything, apart from a little more attention to detail. Perhaps it was just our deflated mood following the election campaign (in which we were heavily involved), general health and the fact that we’d recently spent 30 days on the Marco Polo that lessened our enjoyment and back then, we still had some hope for our country’s future. I sincerely hope that I can look back at this review at the turn of the next decade and that our fears were completely unfounded. But before that, let’s hope that the next two cruises we’ve got booked on CMV are as enjoyable as our Canada cruise! Let's just hope we get rid of this cough/cold by then! Read Less