We have just returned from a six week cruise on the m/v 'Magellan' operated by CMV. The itinerary was sailing Tilbury on the 5th January 2016 to the Amazon and the Caribbean. On the way we also called at Amsterdam, Lisbon, Funchal (Madeira) and Mindalo (Cape Verde). After crossing the Atlantic we entered the Amazon River and spent a week with a port call every day upto Manaus and back. On the way to the Caribbean we called at Isla da Salut (Devils Island) and after four port calls in the Windward Islands we called at Horta and Ponta Delgado in the Azores before returning to Tilbury. The highlights for us was undoubtably the Amazon and Devils Island, particularly the latter.
Prior to booking we read all the reviews regarding the Magellan and CMV and it is fair to say that as a result we had serious doubts about booking. However, we decided that the itinerary was so appealing, and the price so reasonable, that we would proceed but with low expectations on the ship and cruise line. We were wise to do so.
First the good points. The cabin, which we chose with great care taking into account online reviews and personal experiance on cruising generally, was excellent. It was roomy and the cupboard space easily accommodated our 5 suitcase load. It was also very quiet which could not be said for many others. She is an old ship and some others experienced creaking and groaning in the the fabric of the ship when she was working in even a reasonable sea which kept them awake at night. To the extent that some with outside cabins were given inside cabins for sleeping in, retaining their original outside cabin for day use. The only down side was that as we were on deck 4 (4036) and only about 3/4 meters above the waterline in rough weather they bolt shutter over the inside of the Windows as protection. This happened for one day on our journey outward and for two on the return leg across the Bay of Biscay. They give you no warning. They just do it. But it is for your safety so no arguments here on it.
The ship was built in 1985 when there was not so much pressure to cram as many people onboard as possible so we found her public spaces well laid out and more than adequate. Even when no one was on deck due to cold/bad weather you could still always find a spot to settle yourselves down in one of the lounges.
Almost without exception we found the waiters and bar staff were superb and we cannot praise them high enough. They made up for many of the deficiencies.
I have no doubt she is perfectly safe and seaworthy but the ship is old and it shows cosmetically, serious TLC needed. Maintenance staff are everywhere, always either repairing or running maintenance checks. Sometimes these seemed planned to create the maximum amount of inconvenience to the passengers. A bit of forethought would have gone a long way. There are eight lift shafts but two of them never worked the whole time we were onboard. When you consider the age profile that CMV targets, many of which have varying degrees of mobility problems, it is frankly not acceptable. About two weeks into the cruise there appeared a wet area just outside Sinatra's Bar with just towels put down to soak it up and a yellow warning sign. We were told it was the air conditioning. After a further two weeks we were all just walking past it without noticing it anymore. When we got to colder climate it stopped. No attempt was made that we saw to remedy the fact that the air conditioning unit was dumping excess moisture out of the air onto the floor In a steady drip. Most of the lounge furniture has seen better days and needs either replacing or reupholstering. They have replaced most of the sun loungers on deck but some of the old ones are still used but are dilapidated and should be pensioned off. Again there is plenty of space on deck although shade is at a premium.
The excursion team, with one notable exception, seemed a bit disorganised and some, not all, of the trips were badly conducted. All cruise lines grossly overcharge for shore excursions but some of them on this ship bordered on daylight robbery. One in particular at Bequia was a cataraman trip to a secluded beach and back. Cost £24 each. We were tendered ashore and had to wait about 45 minutes for the cataraman which took ages to board as we all had to wade out to it. It then just sailed round the headland and dumped us on a beach about ten minutes later, which was just a 15 minute walk from where we boarded the boat, we know because we walked back. Everyone was livid.
The food is adequate, nothing exceptional. Occasionally they put on a very late buffet where the food is excellent. Unfortunately most times many of the early diners had already gone to bed and the late diners haven't long finished their main meal so a lot gets wasted.they should forget the buffet and concentrate on providing better meals in the dining rooms. Bar prices are exceptionally reasonable for a cruise ship with none of the compulsory 15% surcharge you get added by most other lines.
Smoking areas are not clearly defined or sign posted. Ther are three areas on the port side on deck 10 and 11, more space than we have seen allocated to smokers on any other cruise line, where smoking is permitted. It is not enforced and by the end of the cruise smokers had virtually claimed the whole of the port side of the ship including the boat decks. In the Eros Bar on deck ten even the ships officers were smoking in an area that was just marginally over the centre line into the port side.think it is a case that as the Management smoke they have no interest in policing the policy.
The entertainment staff were very enthusiastic and friendly of mixed talent, some very good and others not so, but they really threw themselves into everything they did.we only had three guest acts flown in which for a six week cruise is appalling. The usual activities that you would expect, lectures, quizzes etc which you can take or leave as you please.
Despite the above we have no regrets. This gave an opportunity to visit places, at an affordable price, which we thought we would never get to see and, despite the niggles,it was a fantastic and memorable holiday which we will long remember. The itinerary was everything. You just have to remember that this is not Princess Line or Celebrity and that you are paying a price accordingly.
Would we sail on 'Magellan' again? Definitely not, although it might be interesting to see what they do to the old girl during her docking next October.
There was a very mixed response from fellow passengers. Some saying they would never sail on her again to others that were enthusiastically booking future cruise whilst onboard, at least one couple we met who actually booked the 120 day round the world cruise from Tilbury leaving on the 5th January 2017.