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Inadequate training and indecent haste to commission their new flagship resulted in a disappointing, distressing and almost unbearable experience for many guests on our Round Britain cruise which was due to call at Invergordon, Ullapool, Tobermory, Dublin, Scilly, Guernsey and Honfleur. This was Columbus third cruise since being acquired by CMV following a 3 night and a 6 night cruise. This review is not intended to be a moan, but rather to tell it how it was for us in an attempt to help others to decide whether this company is safe to cruise with or offers value for money. Embarkation: Transfer from car park to ship for 1.30 embarkation was well organised by friendly helpful representatives. Registration was efficient with 13 crew members on duty. Although some passengers and their hand luggage were scanned others were instructed to bypass this procedure. This gave us serious cause for concern as potential terrorist activity on board a ship is too dreadful to contemplate. One questions whether large cases were scanned. A good selection of food was available in the buffet. Food was lukewarm but we assumed that this was because it had been on display for a long time. A brief tour of the ship impressed with its spaciousness, bars and lounges, spa, gym, shopping area and pleasant atrium, two tier theatre, and two delightful small deck areas at the stern equipped with very comfortable loungers . Our junior suite had a seating area, comfortable beds, usual amenities, 28 drawers and 6ft open hanging space. The small tv had poor sound and picture quality and there were 2 plug sockets. Fresh fruit and canapes were delivered daily and a bottle of wine was provided. The tv remote was broken, the standard lamp did not work as the cable was simply pushed into a hole in the wall with no cover, the washing line did not extend, the grid which covered the lights around the wash basin was dusty and when this was removed it revealed a revolting accumulation of dust and dirt. Wine glasses were rarely washed and cutlery and plates were not replaced. Some towels were very thin and grey. We did not receive our Breakfast in Bed card until day 3 as our steward told us that these were for lower grades of cabin and that we should order from the additional items menu available for suite passengers which consisted of smoked salmon, omelette and toasted sandwich but no basic items. Eventually he discovered the truth and supplied us with 34 cards. He was very friendly and eager to please but had not received sufficient training. His performance was not being monitored by his superiors or these oversights would have been rectified. We did not want to appear to criticise him by asking for these issues to be corrected. We viewed an inside cabin which was spacious with plenty of storage but no toiletries or kettle. Health and Safety: Lifeboat Drill was a complete shambles lasting 45 minutes. Well before the alarm sounded a crew member knocked on cabin doors telling people to go to the assembly point. No checks were made on entry although this was done at other stations. Four crew members called out cabin numbers for ten minutes in four areas of the extremely crowded room. It was like a cattle market and the noise level made by bored passengers chatting between themselves made it impossible to hear. No one was available to assist passengers who had difficulties with life jackets. We then had to file out onto the adjacent deck placing our hand on the person in front. An estimated 90% of passengers were aged over 70 and as some had limited mobility this took fifteen minutes by which time some passengers were feeling ill due to having to stand for so long. Nothing happened when we stood outside. Information in the cabin regarding operation of the light on the jacket was incorrect. There did not appear to have been any officers on duty at embarkation or at the Lifeboat Drill. One would have expected that with an inexperienced crew it would have been of paramount importance to check that vital safety procedures were being properly conducted. Extremely concerned about how a real emergency would be handled we requested an interview with the ships Safety Officer the following day stating that we had serious safety issues we wished to discuss. We heard nothing that day or the next and on the afternoon of the third day we made another request to the Guest Services host who arranged for us to meet him within 10 minutes. We made our points to the officer who seemed genuinely concerned about the haphazard way in which the drill had been conducted and agreed to urgently revisit the training of the crew and to discuss with the captain the need to file onto the deck. He was horrified to hear that not all guests and their hand luggage had been scanned at the start of the cruise and agreed that in these days of heightened security it is essential that this extremely important procedure is fully implemented. Apart from one line in the first daily information sheet advising passengers to use the hand sanitisers there was no effort to encourage this anywhere on the ship. Well over 50% of passengers who entered the buffet did not sanitise their hands but proceeded to handle tongs, spoons, jugs and drinks dispensers, thus potentially spreading any virus which they may have carried. The most worrying and distressing health concern was the large number of cabins whose toilets stopped working. We met a couple who changed cabins 4 times due to this and another two ladies were without a working toilet for 7 days. Many of the public toilets were also out of order causing considerable problems for many guests. Carpet cleaning and use of blowers in corridors due to flooding was a permanent feature. Itinerary: En route to our first port the captain announced that due to forecast adverse weather it would be unsafe to tender into Ullapool and Tobermory and he would therefore stay longer at Invergordon, have another sea day and call at Belfast. Disappointing but sensible. During the gale force winds the ship was very stable and comfortable. Tender and shuttle operations were controlled by ticket. The tender driver from and to the ship in Guernsey was the Safety Officer. In view of the need to revisit shortfalls in safety and security which we had identified one would have imagined that he could have been better employed. There were no scanners in use when we reboarded the ship at any port. Food: Two restaurants with cover charges: The Grill serving organic meat at 24.90 pp, Indian Fusion at 14.90 pp, The Chefs Table at 49 pp includes drinks, 9 course menu and 3 photos. High tea is served in The Grill at 10. A small room service menu is available offering salad from 6.80, sandwiches from 3.95, burgers at 8.95 etc. A good coffee is available in the Atrium for a small charge. Buffet: Plenty of tables. No trays which meant several trips to obtain courses. Hot food was never hot. Plates were usually cold. Butter was frozen. Breakfast was good apart from bacon which was extremely fatty and flabby. Fried eggs, omelettes and poached eggs were cooked to order. Wide choice at every meal although it was possibly not what one expected. One lunch menu offered roast pork neck, fried tilapia, roast pork belly, bangers sausage, pasta with quorn mince, potato dumplings or chilly gobi. Scones with clotted cream and jam at teatime were excellent. Up to 1400 guests trying to obtain a scone within the one hour time slot during which tea is served created queues. Dinner was similar to lunch with no tablecloths, the usual cutlery wrapped in paper napkins, wine in plastic glasses and thick mugs for hot drinks. Food was removed at 8.30pm on the dot. There were plenty of waiters clearing tables. Windows and revolving doors to the deck were dirty. Dining Room: Sittings at 5.45 and 8.30. Tables were close together and were mainly for 6 or more although there were a few for 4 or 2. The room is sectioned off presumably to create a more intimate atmosphere but we prefer a large open dining room which is less claustrophobic. Tables were not laid with cutlery, but this was provided according to what was ordered. Some waiters asked for your dessert order before the meal and others waited until you had finished your main course. One wonders whether they all went to the same training school. There was always a good choice of food, but it was never hot. Quite often the wrong food arrived, and very often waiters started clearing plates before everyone had finished eating. Seals around windows were degraded, blistered and black. Rain water seeped in, soaking items placed on the sills. Should anyone mourn the passing of the Baked Alaska parade on other cruise lines, they can be assured that it is alive and kicking on C&M, sadly now without the sparklers! The drinks package at 17 per day may have been good value for some. We did not use it and were surprised to find that a glass of cider cost 25% more in the buffet than in the dining room. Was this due to lack of training of wine waiter? Shore excursions: A good variety was offered. In common with most cruise lines they are much more expensive than doing it yourself. A trip to Sark on the regular service cost 49 booked on the ship but 28.65 at the kiosk. Similarly booking Herm on the ship cost 35 but 13 at the kiosk. There is a 20% cancellation fee up to 48 hours before arrival in port and 100% fee within 48 hours. Entertainment: Quizzes were fun with basic general knowledge questions hosted by the friendly production team who ensured a good atmosphere. No deck games. A shuffleboard grid was marked but no equipment was available. On port days no activities were organised between quizzes at 9.30 and 4.00 and the library was only open from 4.00 to 5.00. Live music around the ship from 4pm was very good. Jeff Chandler provided fascinating insights into the Crimean War, Gallipoli and D-day landings. Sight lines in the theatre were poor due to lack of tiering downstairs and a safety rail upstairs which always seemed to be in the way wherever one sat. People constantly moved seats to get a better view. Raising the stage would help. During the presentations noise emanating from the control booth upstairs from crew talking and radio chatter was distracting. The comedian was past his sell by date and after 10 minutes of smutty jokes we left. The Queen Tribute may have been good but the volume was so loud that it was painful to listen to and we left after 5 minutes. The final production show with a classical and operatic theme was excellent in every way. Cruise director Tony Parkin was lacking in social skills and nowhere near the standard we have experienced on ten other cruise lines. His crude joke about genital exercises was not very amusing. Other points to note: This is the only cruise line where cabin numbers are printed on cruise cards. This would seem as foolish as attaching your home address to your house keys. We were asked to vacate cabins by 7.00am on final morning. Disembarkation announcements were only made in the allocated waiting areas. We arrived 30 minutes before our time slot to find that our group had already been called. Announcements requesting missing passengers to contact reception were not broadcast in all areas. On day 3 we were woken at 4.15 am by furniture being moved on the Lido deck above us. At 5.15 it was moved again. The Guest Service manager apologised, said he had already spoken about this before and he had now told them again. Why did he need to tell them twice? We visited reception to request a dvd. This would be dealt with by someone who would deliver it to the cabin. After waiting 3 hours we went down again. A different crew member turned to the drawer behind her where they were kept and handed it to us. No details of films or timings were available on the 5 film channels. The laundrette was not functioning as the slots on all machines needed Australian dollars. Reception could not provide them and suggested using the laundry at a cost of up to 4.10 per item. Apart from at the reception desk almost all the crew were extremely polite, smiling and helpful. They tried their best to do a good job but due to deficiencies in their training or lack of communication and follow up by their managers, their best was not always good enough. We did not see any of the officers around the ship. Cruise and Maritime should have anticipated that the previous owners would have carried out minimal maintenance during the months prior to handover and had a year to build in sufficient time before sailing to carry out a thorough inspection of vital services such as plumbing, allowing time to rectify problems. A deep clean should have been implemented. Some areas could be rated as satisfactory or good but if the unsatisfactory aspects are not typical of the way in which the company operates, we believe that a serious error was made in putting to sea in a ship that was not fit for purpose. After the first two cruises when so many problems came to light, the decent and sensible way forward would have been to cancel all future cruises until the ship was made safe and serviceable by more effective staff training and by ensuring that all areas were operating hygienically, correctly and efficiently. If C&M preferred not to do this they should have warned passengers about the problems which they would undoubtedly encounter and offered them a reduced rate to continue with their booking. The ship has now been operational for 19 days and there are still many functionality and aesthetic snagging issues to be dealt with in addition to the major concerns. Columbus has the potential to offer value for money. It is a pity that the ship was put into service before the problems which we encountered had been addressed.

Unsafe and out of order

Columbus Cruise Review by canmcatcot

58 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Inadequate training and indecent haste to commission their new flagship resulted in a disappointing, distressing and almost unbearable experience for many guests on our Round Britain cruise which was due to call at Invergordon, Ullapool, Tobermory, Dublin, Scilly, Guernsey and Honfleur.

This was Columbus third cruise since being acquired by CMV following a 3 night and a 6 night cruise. This review is not intended to be a moan, but rather to tell it how it was for us in an attempt to help others to decide whether this company is safe to cruise with or offers value for money.

Embarkation: Transfer from car park to ship for 1.30 embarkation was well organised by friendly helpful representatives. Registration was efficient with 13 crew members on duty. Although some passengers and their hand luggage were scanned others were instructed to bypass this procedure. This gave us serious cause for concern as potential terrorist activity on board a ship is too dreadful to contemplate. One questions whether large cases were scanned.

A good selection of food was available in the buffet. Food was lukewarm but we assumed that this was because it had been on display for a long time.

A brief tour of the ship impressed with its spaciousness, bars and lounges, spa, gym, shopping area and pleasant atrium, two tier theatre, and two delightful small deck areas at the stern equipped with very comfortable loungers .

Our junior suite had a seating area, comfortable beds, usual amenities, 28 drawers and 6ft open hanging space. The small tv had poor sound and picture quality and there were 2 plug sockets. Fresh fruit and canapes were delivered daily and a bottle of wine was provided. The tv remote was broken, the standard lamp did not work as the cable was simply pushed into a hole in the wall with no cover, the washing line did not extend, the grid which covered the lights around the wash basin was dusty and when this was removed it revealed a revolting accumulation of dust and dirt. Wine glasses were rarely washed and cutlery and plates were not replaced. Some towels were very thin and grey. We did not receive our Breakfast in Bed card until day 3 as our steward told us that these were for lower grades of cabin and that we should order from the additional items menu available for suite passengers which consisted of smoked salmon, omelette and toasted sandwich but no basic items. Eventually he discovered the truth and supplied us with 34 cards. He was very friendly and eager to please but had not received sufficient training. His performance was not being monitored by his superiors or these oversights would have been rectified. We did not want to appear to criticise him by asking for these issues to be corrected. We viewed an inside cabin which was spacious with plenty of storage but no toiletries or kettle.

Health and Safety: Lifeboat Drill was a complete shambles lasting 45 minutes. Well before the alarm sounded a crew member knocked on cabin doors telling people to go to the assembly point. No checks were made on entry although this was done at other stations. Four crew members called out cabin numbers for ten minutes in four areas of the extremely crowded room. It was like a cattle market and the noise level made by bored passengers chatting between themselves made it impossible to hear. No one was available to assist passengers who had difficulties with life jackets. We then had to file out onto the adjacent deck placing our hand on the person in front. An estimated 90% of passengers were aged over 70 and as some had limited mobility this took fifteen minutes by which time some passengers were feeling ill due to having to stand for so long. Nothing happened when we stood outside. Information in the cabin regarding operation of the light on the jacket was incorrect. There did not appear to have been any officers on duty at embarkation or at the Lifeboat Drill. One would have expected that with an inexperienced crew it would have been of paramount importance to check that vital safety procedures were being properly conducted.

Extremely concerned about how a real emergency would be handled we requested an interview with the ships Safety Officer the following day stating that we had serious safety issues we wished to discuss. We heard nothing that day or the next and on the afternoon of the third day we made another request to the Guest Services host who arranged for us to meet him within 10 minutes. We made our points to the officer who seemed genuinely concerned about the haphazard way in which the drill had been conducted and agreed to urgently revisit the training of the crew and to discuss with the captain the need to file onto the deck. He was horrified to hear that not all guests and their hand luggage had been scanned at the start of the cruise and agreed that in these days of heightened security it is essential that this extremely important procedure is fully implemented.

Apart from one line in the first daily information sheet advising passengers to use the hand sanitisers there was no effort to encourage this anywhere on the ship. Well over 50% of passengers who entered the buffet did not sanitise their hands but proceeded to handle tongs, spoons, jugs and drinks dispensers, thus potentially spreading any virus which they may have carried.

The most worrying and distressing health concern was the large number of cabins whose toilets stopped working. We met a couple who changed cabins 4 times due to this and another two ladies were without a working toilet for 7 days. Many of the public toilets were also out of order causing considerable problems for many guests. Carpet cleaning and use of blowers in corridors due to flooding was a permanent feature.

Itinerary: En route to our first port the captain announced that due to forecast adverse weather it would be unsafe to tender into Ullapool and Tobermory and he would therefore stay longer at Invergordon, have another sea day and call at Belfast. Disappointing but sensible. During the gale force winds the ship was very stable and comfortable. Tender and shuttle operations were controlled by ticket. The tender driver from and to the ship in Guernsey was the Safety Officer. In view of the need to revisit shortfalls in safety and security which we had identified one would have imagined that he could have been better employed. There were no scanners in use when we reboarded the ship at any port.

Food: Two restaurants with cover charges: The Grill serving organic meat at 24.90 pp, Indian Fusion at 14.90 pp, The Chefs Table at 49 pp includes drinks, 9 course menu and 3 photos. High tea is served in The Grill at 10. A small room service menu is available offering salad from 6.80, sandwiches from 3.95, burgers at 8.95 etc. A good coffee is available in the Atrium for a small charge.

Buffet: Plenty of tables. No trays which meant several trips to obtain courses. Hot food was never hot. Plates were usually cold. Butter was frozen. Breakfast was good apart from bacon which was extremely fatty and flabby. Fried eggs, omelettes and poached eggs were cooked to order. Wide choice at every meal although it was possibly not what one expected. One lunch menu offered roast pork neck, fried tilapia, roast pork belly, bangers sausage, pasta with quorn mince, potato dumplings or chilly gobi. Scones with clotted cream and jam at teatime were excellent. Up to 1400 guests trying to obtain a scone within the one hour time slot during which tea is served created queues. Dinner was similar to lunch with no tablecloths, the usual cutlery wrapped in paper napkins, wine in plastic glasses and thick mugs for hot drinks. Food was removed at 8.30pm on the dot. There were plenty of waiters clearing tables. Windows and revolving doors to the deck were dirty.

Dining Room: Sittings at 5.45 and 8.30. Tables were close together and were mainly for 6 or more although there were a few for 4 or 2. The room is sectioned off presumably to create a more intimate atmosphere but we prefer a large open dining room which is less claustrophobic. Tables were not laid with cutlery, but this was provided according to what was ordered. Some waiters asked for your dessert order before the meal and others waited until you had finished your main course. One wonders whether they all went to the same training school. There was always a good choice of food, but it was never hot. Quite often the wrong food arrived, and very often waiters started clearing plates before everyone had finished eating. Seals around windows were degraded, blistered and black. Rain water seeped in, soaking items placed on the sills. Should anyone mourn the passing of the Baked Alaska parade on other cruise lines, they can be assured that it is alive and kicking on C&M, sadly now without the sparklers! The drinks package at 17 per day may have been good value for some. We did not use it and were surprised to find that a glass of cider cost 25% more in the buffet than in the dining room. Was this due to lack of training of wine waiter?

Shore excursions: A good variety was offered. In common with most cruise lines they are much more expensive than doing it yourself. A trip to Sark on the regular service cost 49 booked on the ship but 28.65 at the kiosk. Similarly booking Herm on the ship cost 35 but 13 at the kiosk. There is a 20% cancellation fee up to 48 hours before arrival in port and 100% fee within 48 hours.

Entertainment: Quizzes were fun with basic general knowledge questions hosted by the friendly production team who ensured a good atmosphere. No deck games. A shuffleboard grid was marked but no equipment was available. On port days no activities were organised between quizzes at 9.30 and 4.00 and the library was only open from 4.00 to 5.00. Live music around the ship from 4pm was very good. Jeff Chandler provided fascinating insights into the Crimean War, Gallipoli and D-day landings. Sight lines in the theatre were poor due to lack of tiering downstairs and a safety rail upstairs which always seemed to be in the way wherever one sat. People constantly moved seats to get a better view. Raising the stage would help. During the presentations noise emanating from the control booth upstairs from crew talking and radio chatter was distracting. The comedian was past his sell by date and after 10 minutes of smutty jokes we left. The Queen Tribute may have been good but the volume was so loud that it was painful to listen to and we left after 5 minutes. The final production show with a classical and operatic theme was excellent in every way. Cruise director Tony Parkin was lacking in social skills and nowhere near the standard we have experienced on ten other cruise lines. His crude joke about genital exercises was not very amusing.

Other points to note:

This is the only cruise line where cabin numbers are printed on cruise cards. This would seem as foolish as attaching your home address to your house keys.

We were asked to vacate cabins by 7.00am on final morning.

Disembarkation announcements were only made in the allocated waiting areas. We arrived 30 minutes before our time slot to find that our group had already been called. Announcements requesting missing passengers to contact reception were not broadcast in all areas.

On day 3 we were woken at 4.15 am by furniture being moved on the Lido deck above us. At 5.15 it was moved again. The Guest Service manager apologised, said he had already spoken about this before and he had now told them again. Why did he need to tell them twice?

We visited reception to request a dvd. This would be dealt with by someone who would deliver it to the cabin. After waiting 3 hours we went down again. A different crew member turned to the drawer behind her where they were kept and handed it to us.

No details of films or timings were available on the 5 film channels.

The laundrette was not functioning as the slots on all machines needed Australian dollars. Reception could not provide them and suggested using the laundry at a cost of up to 4.10 per item.

Apart from at the reception desk almost all the crew were extremely polite, smiling and helpful. They tried their best to do a good job but due to deficiencies in their training or lack of communication and follow up by their managers, their best was not always good enough. We did not see any of the officers around the ship.

Cruise and Maritime should have anticipated that the previous owners would have carried out minimal maintenance during the months prior to handover and had a year to build in sufficient time before sailing to carry out a thorough inspection of vital services such as plumbing, allowing time to rectify problems. A deep clean should have been implemented.

Some areas could be rated as satisfactory or good but if the unsatisfactory aspects are not typical of the way in which the company operates, we believe that a serious error was made in putting to sea in a ship that was not fit for purpose. After the first two cruises when so many problems came to light, the decent and sensible way forward would have been to cancel all future cruises until the ship was made safe and serviceable by more effective staff training and by ensuring that all areas were operating hygienically, correctly and efficiently. If C&M preferred not to do this they should have warned passengers about the problems which they would undoubtedly encounter and offered them a reduced rate to continue with their booking.

The ship has now been operational for 19 days and there are still many functionality and aesthetic snagging issues to be dealt with in addition to the major concerns.

Columbus has the potential to offer value for money. It is a pity that the ship was put into service before the problems which we encountered had been addressed.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 11145
Large cabin with seating area and full size bath and good shower. Very comfortable beds. All usual amenities including kettle. Cleanliness and maintenance were poor.