We paid around £500 per person for our 7-night ‘Autumn Fjordland’ cruise. This is a cheap cruise. We generally cruise in a large party of 7 and we were only able to coordinate leave to be available to go away in the last week of September. Due to this and a number of other considerations, this Magellan cruise was our only option. As we usually go with P&O, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity we felt some degree of trepidation about our first CMV holiday. We were prepared for it to fall short of our usual expectations and it did - but not by that much!
Check-in/embarkation was good, quick – probably better than I’d had before.
I found the cabin to be pretty spacious and well appointed. My only complaints here would be that the TV signal was unreliable for the majority of the cruise and I wasn’t a fan of there being a separate room key card (in addition to the cruise card).
We purchased the drinks package and I have to say this was brilliant value for us. We like a drink when onboard and at £17 a day the package cut our bar bills in half – or even more on one or two days. The cocktail choice in particular is pretty exhaustive.
The food at dinner was very good and we found our waiters to be attentive. Our wine waiter was particularly good. Knowing that we all had the drinks package, he would be at your shoulder to replenish your drink as soon as your glass was empty.
There was a decent selection at breakfast and lunch, but finding a table was a challenge – even with our party broken up into couples. However I would say that this has often been the case on other much larger ships I’ve been on. I was disappointed that the breakfast in the à la carte restaurant was the same buffet as upstairs – and not a la carte with table service as I’d come to expect from other lines. People have complained in a number of reviews about the variety of food available at lunch. While this was not a ‘around the world’ buffet, there were a few different choices and they were generally pretty tasty.
Quizzing is usually a big part of our cruise holidays and CMV was a mixed bag in this respect. We liked that they’d have a minimum of 2 quizzes a day, but they were too short and generally too easy. 20 quick-fire questions. From start to finish, the quiz took about 15 minutes. The winning score would generally be 18 or 19 out of 20. Particularly obscure questions were often ruined by the quizmaster offering up a clue. I realise that this area may not be of relevance to many people.
Anyone who is used to cruising on the likes of P&O, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity etc will find the distribution of bars and entertainment facilities across the ship to be odd. Most public areas seemed to be concentrated in the centre/upper decks of the ship – rather than having a mix of cabins and bars, shops, lounges etc throughout. The lack of atrium is part of this. Though there were ample bars for the number of passengers, the lack of journey between them made the ship feel a bit cramped and nowhere in particular felt like a destination. I don’t think I could have done more than a week for this reason. I usually come home from a cruise with an element of regret that I wasn’t able to see the whole ship – this certainly didn’t happen this time.
This was my partner’s first cruise. As I’m only 24, I figure I’ve got about another 50 years of potential cruising left in me. I was anxious that she should have a good time so that we might go on many more in future. I think she did, but there were a few occasions where I found myself apologising for the ship and saying things like “on a proper cruise …”.
Would I recommend CMV to those looking for a ‘once in a lifetime’ ‘holiday to remember’ type experience? No. But it’s definitely a good option for regular cruisers who are looking for a decent standard on the cheap.
Be warned, though, if you are used to larger ship cruising you will notice the difference.