Now this was an extremely memorable cruise for all the wrong reasons. I am in fact lucky to be alive I feel after spending three weeks on board over Christmas 2017 on a trip to Cape Verde and up through the Canary Islands, Tenerife and Madeira. These were all places I was keen to visit and me and my elderly mother of 88 flew to London from Australia to join this cruise.
We are not cruise novices at all. In fact I have been on all the major cruise lines and before this I only had cause to whinge about the most mundane things.
From the get go we were not impressed with the Magellan but I became increasingly alarmed as more and more people succumbed to an horrific form of pneumonia. Apparently there were dozens of people lying around on drips in the ship's hospital. Out of our table of 7 people, 4 became incredibly ill and I assume it was rampant through the air conditioning system which was turned too high. I just sadly waited my turn and then it hit me too, but fortunately after we'd seen Madeira so I only missed Porto. However I have never been sick on a cruise ship and now I associate the Magellan with death and destruction.
I was so glad I had the foresight to bring some penicillin along just in case. I had no idea that ships could be riddled with lung infections. I always thought it was gastric infections. But I never heard of one person suffering from a gastric infection on this ship at least. I didn't go to the hospital but I instead became a prisoner in the cabin which was undoubtedly just as bad only cheaper! I couldn't sleep because if I laid on my side I could hear all the fluid whooshing around in my chest and I coughed and coughed all day and night. And along with the other awful ship noises (this ship is incredibly noisy and I kept thinking someone was knocking on my cabin door when there was in fact no one there) I heard lots of other people hacking away in their cabins too..
I am grateful that it was me who got the pneumonia and not my 88 year old mother as that would have been the end of her.
However, she does have wonky legs and I would at a guess say that these old ships have not such good stability as it rocked and rolled a hell of a lot. Well the ship became so buffeted by the seas that my mother fell over in the cabin twice and hurt herself badly. I heard that people were continually falling down stairs etc and on the last day at sea someone was airlifted off after a fall. I totally blame the instability of the ship for that.
The cruise itself, was a total nightmare. I hadn't done any sort of research prior because I had some sort of insane hope that cruise lines were all more or less the same. Well they are not. This bunch CMV buy up out dated cruise ships and then send them out to work for them. The cruise ship we were on was built in 1985 and used to belong to Celebrity. When they turfed it, this company took it over and now they run cruises all over the world in it.
They had lousy entertainment. They had a couple of comedians, and their dance troop, while all excellent dancers, came from the Ukraine. (cheap labour). That was the sum total of the entertainment. They had dug up a guest lecturer on astronomy who was big on knowledge but not a good presenter. They showed one movie in the movie theatre on the second day and then not another one for a week, and from then on they seemed to make sure we were all on excursions when they showed the next movies.
And you'd think that maybe there could be some solace by watching TV in our rooms. But they never got any reception and if they did, they had organised to have the most horrible channels as I guess they didn't pay for them in exchange for showing advertisements. One station was called 'men's movies' and showed all the 1950 cowboy style movies. They seemed to have two channels running 'The Chase' but mostly there was no signal. They had a station which seemed to show an awful lot of Babylon 5 which was a series from the early 1980s and then there was the channel that showed Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, Car rebuilds....obviously because it's free for them. There was no channel that showed movies that normal people want to see. Even a crime channel would have been better than those!
And the food. Oh yes. It is almost impossible to find much to compliment there. Normal cruise ships always have a German, Austrian or Swiss Executive chef. Seems that they are the only ones who know how to run a kitchen. The staff on this nightmare ship were ALL Indians. The normal cut for Atlantic salmon is in a cutlet and with the grain. This looks good and keeps the flesh moist. That's even how they sell it in the fish shop. But this ship had invented a new cut. They cut the salmon like a slice of ham and across the grain so that they could no doubt get more from the entire fish. When I ordered it I could not believe my eyes and of course it was totally dry and inedible.
On the first day I went to afternoon tea and I took what was supposed to be a 'roast beef' sandwich. I took one bite and nearly vomited. It seemed to be full of foamy stuff. I looked inside and I guess the best description of the mess was that it was cat's food in a frothy mix. Totally repulsive.
And their cakes were just a classic. They seemed to think that all cakes are the same - ie with a thin sponge layer, topped with an inch of cream and then topped with another sponge layer and more cream. This was their recipe for Tiramisu, Black Forest Cake and dozens of other cakes. In fact they had a chocolate buffet one day which sounds good but was just like that. Every cake was decorated differently but they were all exactly the same inside.
And on the first day I ordered Eggs Benedict and nearly fainted when I saw what came. It was horrible. Slices of white bread topped with hard poached eggs. Apparently most people returned them to the kitchen saying they were an abomination and that gave them a week to learn the real recipe as they served Eggs Benedict every Monday. So I knew it was safe to order Eggs Benedict the following Monday and I was right as they now were on a proper bun and lightly poached and with Béarnaise Sauce.
As for the bread on the tables....all ships I've been on had seed buns of different styles and shapes in a basket at night. This ship had those white round rolls you buy in supermarkets.
The staff for the most part were surly.. There were a few bright sparks amongst them but they were for the most part a sour and dour lot. In fact one morning in the breakfast restaurant I came in and plonked at the same table as my mother. A most officious woman ordered me to get up and join the table that was being filled by them at that moment. When I refused to move, she sternly told me to get up and go to where she was ordering me. They seem to be robotic with no common sense whatsoever.
You might also meet some most unusual passengers on this cruise ship.
You have been warned!
The Magellan is now on its way to the Amazon and I don't have to use my crystal ball to know that the sick bay is already full of people with pneumonia as it would take a cleansing team from every hospital on earth to get the germs out of their air conditioning system. But hey! Microbes have a right to live too. Maybe the ship is owned by Jains!
The cabin was extremely noisy due to creaking sounds made by ghosts perhaps. Also the air conditioning was too high. But Maria our room steward, was extremely good and helpful. The cabin was kept very clean by her.
We took a tour at each port and they were just average.