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We have sailed with CMV twice before (see previous reviews), and most recently on the ill fated autumn gardens cruise that failed to land at either of the Channel Islands. We had booked this Northern Lights cruise before booking the above, so we knew we were in for some potential problems. On the other hand, The Magellan has a catalogue of virtuous points which I will detail first. 1. It is cheap. I do not know of a cheaper way to cruise to Norway in the classic sense of cruising. 2. The drinks are cheap, and less than London pub prices, with no stupid 12.5% service charge that you get on some US boats. 3. The currency is £UK, so you know what your true bill will be at the end. 4. It is very much aimed at UK adults, so you know approximately what you are getting. 5. You can embark at Tilbury, which may be more convenient than flying to an overseas embarkation, but may not compare favourably with Dover or Southampton 6. It is not pretentious. 7. Whilst most of the profit is made from the extras that are sold to you, we have been in more pressurized environments and paid more for excursions. If you are minded, you can avoid the overpriced extras. 8. Did I say it was cheap? 9. Inside cabin (6130) was surprisingly comfortable and spacious, but lacked draw space, had useless bits of furniture, and the electrics are laid out illogically. We had upgraded to avoid the noise of the bow thrusters which were a problem on our previous voyage, but this seems to have been fixed now. 10. We had little trouble getting a table for two for most meals. There were a couple of times where we failed, but we succeeded in avoiding unwanted company 90% of the time. I know that cruises are supposed to be sociable, but being landed with the perpetual moaner, the braying know-it-and-done-it-all, or more unfortunately someone who is demented (lots of them) can take the shine off an experience. 11. It is very cheap. 12. Currently the entertainment crew is first rate and they have a couple of vocalists who even I liked. Other reviews of this trip are pretty accurate, and so I will concentrate on those bullet points which marred our trip, and have led us to the decision that it is the end of the line for us as far a CMV is concerned, and we would prefer to pay a bit more for a better product. 1. From the moment we embarked (promptly) everything was delayed, with a 2.5hr delay to departure (no explanation given, but appeared to be delay in taking on new fuel in the smelliest way possible) and this knocked on to a late arrival at Amsterdam, disrupting our planned trip to museum land as we had been to Amsterdam many times, and the organised trips were of little relevance. 2. Everything is geared around the first sitting for dinner, which is either at 5.45 or 6.15. If this is not your wish or your culture, then you will be missing out as much of the entertainment occurs when you are dining, and the 8.30 sitting we were allocated to was just a touch too late. Leisure seating gets full then, and it is easy to find nowhere to sit after your meal. 3. Everything is also geared around the ship’s excursions, and if there was a late arrival, the excursions were undertaken, but independent travellers were left in the dark as to what facilities might be open. On one day we arrived almost in the dark after public attractions had closed and learned that the excursion destinations had been kept open exceptionally for the paid trips. 4. There appeared to be a great disconnect between the divisions of the ship with little evidence of teamwork, and much evidence of crew not knowing what was going on. This was particularly so with the reception staff who were experts at deflecting reasonable questions, and often told untruths rather than say they did not know (which was most of the time). Shore excursion staff seemed to know little about destinations apart from what was printed in promotional material, and gave the impression of never having left the ship. 5. As has been mentioned before, a number of lifts are not working. When we were on the boat 6 months before, they were trying to repair broken lifts, but now all pretense of that has been abandoned, so as the buffet restaurant is on level 10, you may have to wait. Stairs are there, but are very steep. Fortunately the boat did not rock much so I did not witness any falls. 6. Whilst the food in the buffet has improved somewhat since my last trip, with a better pizza station and often hot food stations of the day, it is still chaotic. There is insufficient room to sit, insufficient utensils, and the general push and prod problem of buffets. The risk of luke warm food is high, but there were some pleasant surprises. There is no served breakfast as such, and if you go to the main restaurants for breakfast, it is a cut down version of the serve yourself buffet, but with waiter served teas and juice. We opted for the buffet because there was a better variety of food. 7. Many of the staff are Eastern European, with the biggest contingent of passenger facing staff coming from Ukraine (largely Odessa according to my straw poll). When we were on board, several of the dancers were Ukrainian, and one can only guess that they were exiles from the Odessa ballet. Unlike other cruise liners, there are virtually no Phillipinos. It has been my experience that there is no culture of hospitality in the old Eastern Block Soviet Style countries, and whilst I could not fault the attempts to please by some, it is clear that there is some way to go until the level attained on some of the more up-market cruisers are reached. I can only guess that the somewhat utilitarian Soviet appearance of the interior of the ship makes them feel at home. 8. Although this is not an opinion held by all, the ship produced probably the worst show entertainers I have ever witnessed. A man with little vocal talent and a banjo. I walked after 5 minutes the first time, but gave him the benefit of the doubt the second time and walked after 10 minutes. As our views were so out of kilter with those of other passengers, may be it was telling us that we have come to have higher expectations from cruising, and it is time for us to wave goodbye to CMV. It was cheap, but maybe we should look for something better. The resident Vocalist Raoul (winner of Romania’s TV talent show), is excellent, and his tribute to the Four Seasons is truly remarkable. 9. Served food in the dining rooms is good, and the staff serving were excellent. The food is presented well, but at the second sitting, it was clear that it had been sitting around since first sitting for the cold starters, which sometimes had started to dry out. The ship is incapable of producing a good desert anywhere, and this was a weak point of the catering. Even ice cream was left standing around until it had melted. Staff seemed poorly briefed about what the food actually was if they were questioned. If you have a broad palate, then the food will be the least of the on-board problems. 10. Whilst the ship might work in good and hot weather, in a cold weather cruise, there is insufficient seating especially at mealtimes. It is assumed that some people will sit outside, but with Arctic temperatures, that will not happen. At disembarkation time every seat on the ship is occupied after cabin vacation time of 0700hrs. All in all, whilst the trip was successful and we saw the Northern Lights on three separate nights, the trip lacked a feel-good factor, mainly due to the shortcomings of the infrastructure of the cruise staff and the general indifference of some of them to customer needs. It should be noted that one of these occasions that we saw the lights was on an organised excursion where we paid £95 each to be taken on a coach to stand in a field in the snow at night and we had about 3 minutes of light over a 3 hour period. At least we saw them as it would have been injury on top of insult if we had not. NB all northern lights trips come with a health warning: you may see nothing.

Voyage of the dimmed

Magellan Cruise Review by mgoldman666

22 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We have sailed with CMV twice before (see previous reviews), and most recently on the ill fated autumn gardens cruise that failed to land at either of the Channel Islands. We had booked this Northern Lights cruise before booking the above, so we knew we were in for some potential problems. On the other hand, The Magellan has a catalogue of virtuous points which I will detail first.

1. It is cheap. I do not know of a cheaper way to cruise to Norway in the classic sense of cruising.

2. The drinks are cheap, and less than London pub prices, with no stupid 12.5% service charge that you get on some US boats.

3. The currency is £UK, so you know what your true bill will be at the end.

4. It is very much aimed at UK adults, so you know approximately what you are getting.

5. You can embark at Tilbury, which may be more convenient than flying to an overseas embarkation, but may not compare favourably with Dover or Southampton

6. It is not pretentious.

7. Whilst most of the profit is made from the extras that are sold to you, we have been in more pressurized environments and paid more for excursions. If you are minded, you can avoid the overpriced extras.

8. Did I say it was cheap?

9. Inside cabin (6130) was surprisingly comfortable and spacious, but lacked draw space, had useless bits of furniture, and the electrics are laid out illogically. We had upgraded to avoid the noise of the bow thrusters which were a problem on our previous voyage, but this seems to have been fixed now.

10. We had little trouble getting a table for two for most meals. There were a couple of times where we failed, but we succeeded in avoiding unwanted company 90% of the time. I know that cruises are supposed to be sociable, but being landed with the perpetual moaner, the braying know-it-and-done-it-all, or more unfortunately someone who is demented (lots of them) can take the shine off an experience.

11. It is very cheap.

12. Currently the entertainment crew is first rate and they have a couple of vocalists who even I liked.

Other reviews of this trip are pretty accurate, and so I will concentrate on those bullet points which marred our trip, and have led us to the decision that it is the end of the line for us as far a CMV is concerned, and we would prefer to pay a bit more for a better product.

1. From the moment we embarked (promptly) everything was delayed, with a 2.5hr delay to departure (no explanation given, but appeared to be delay in taking on new fuel in the smelliest way possible) and this knocked on to a late arrival at Amsterdam, disrupting our planned trip to museum land as we had been to Amsterdam many times, and the organised trips were of little relevance.

2. Everything is geared around the first sitting for dinner, which is either at 5.45 or 6.15. If this is not your wish or your culture, then you will be missing out as much of the entertainment occurs when you are dining, and the 8.30 sitting we were allocated to was just a touch too late. Leisure seating gets full then, and it is easy to find nowhere to sit after your meal.

3. Everything is also geared around the ship’s excursions, and if there was a late arrival, the excursions were undertaken, but independent travellers were left in the dark as to what facilities might be open. On one day we arrived almost in the dark after public attractions had closed and learned that the excursion destinations had been kept open exceptionally for the paid trips.

4. There appeared to be a great disconnect between the divisions of the ship with little evidence of teamwork, and much evidence of crew not knowing what was going on. This was particularly so with the reception staff who were experts at deflecting reasonable questions, and often told untruths rather than say they did not know (which was most of the time). Shore excursion staff seemed to know little about destinations apart from what was printed in promotional material, and gave the impression of never having left the ship.

5. As has been mentioned before, a number of lifts are not working. When we were on the boat 6 months before, they were trying to repair broken lifts, but now all pretense of that has been abandoned, so as the buffet restaurant is on level 10, you may have to wait. Stairs are there, but are very steep. Fortunately the boat did not rock much so I did not witness any falls.

6. Whilst the food in the buffet has improved somewhat since my last trip, with a better pizza station and often hot food stations of the day, it is still chaotic. There is insufficient room to sit, insufficient utensils, and the general push and prod problem of buffets. The risk of luke warm food is high, but there were some pleasant surprises. There is no served breakfast as such, and if you go to the main restaurants for breakfast, it is a cut down version of the serve yourself buffet, but with waiter served teas and juice. We opted for the buffet because there was a better variety of food.

7. Many of the staff are Eastern European, with the biggest contingent of passenger facing staff coming from Ukraine (largely Odessa according to my straw poll). When we were on board, several of the dancers were Ukrainian, and one can only guess that they were exiles from the Odessa ballet. Unlike other cruise liners, there are virtually no Phillipinos. It has been my experience that there is no culture of hospitality in the old Eastern Block Soviet Style countries, and whilst I could not fault the attempts to please by some, it is clear that there is some way to go until the level attained on some of the more up-market cruisers are reached. I can only guess that the somewhat utilitarian Soviet appearance of the interior of the ship makes them feel at home.

8. Although this is not an opinion held by all, the ship produced probably the worst show entertainers I have ever witnessed. A man with little vocal talent and a banjo. I walked after 5 minutes the first time, but gave him the benefit of the doubt the second time and walked after 10 minutes. As our views were so out of kilter with those of other passengers, may be it was telling us that we have come to have higher expectations from cruising, and it is time for us to wave goodbye to CMV. It was cheap, but maybe we should look for something better. The resident Vocalist Raoul (winner of Romania’s TV talent show), is excellent, and his tribute to the Four Seasons is truly remarkable.

9. Served food in the dining rooms is good, and the staff serving were excellent. The food is presented well, but at the second sitting, it was clear that it had been sitting around since first sitting for the cold starters, which sometimes had started to dry out. The ship is incapable of producing a good desert anywhere, and this was a weak point of the catering. Even ice cream was left standing around until it had melted.

Staff seemed poorly briefed about what the food actually was if they were questioned. If you have a broad palate, then the food will be the least of the on-board problems.

10. Whilst the ship might work in good and hot weather, in a cold weather cruise, there is insufficient seating especially at mealtimes. It is assumed that some people will sit outside, but with Arctic temperatures, that will not happen. At disembarkation time every seat on the ship is occupied after cabin vacation time of 0700hrs.

All in all, whilst the trip was successful and we saw the Northern Lights on three separate nights, the trip lacked a feel-good factor, mainly due to the shortcomings of the infrastructure of the cruise staff and the general indifference of some of them to customer needs. It should be noted that one of these occasions that we saw the lights was on an organised excursion where we paid £95 each to be taken on a coach to stand in a field in the snow at night and we had about 3 minutes of light over a 3 hour period. At least we saw them as it would have been injury on top of insult if we had not. NB all northern lights trips come with a health warning: you may see nothing.
mgoldman666’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 6130
Quite comfortable.A bit austere, lacking decoration Sufficient wardrobe space for 2 weeks, but insufficient draw space. Illogical layout with one bed having no bedside light. Bathroom ok, but inadequate shelf space for two. Air conditioning useless, and most of the time the cabin temperature was in excess of 24C even with air on full.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews