Magellan Cruise Review by Llanfairpg
- Sail Date: July 2019
- Destination: British Isles & Western Europe
Firstly if we ever take a cruise from Liverpool when we live near Portsmouth departing at start of school holidays, shoot us!
The car drop off was easy, but we were early and it was going to get much busier, without a lot of space to operate in. Parking the car meant following a black minibus for about 1 mile along the main dock road, with lots of traffic lights. This was asking for trouble and sure enough being third in line, at the back meant I had to stop at lights when the others had made it through. Fortunately the driver was very observant and kind, so found somewhere to stop and wait. The trip back was uneventful and the service was excellent.
My wife had waited for me in the large seating area (tent) and we had to wait to get on board until our luggage label was called (Red). As we were early, we had quite a wait, which was OK but a number of other passengers with Red labels, just walked into the queue for boarding and got away with it. We were told when we asked that we couldn't get on any earlier. We were in the tent waiting at 13:15. Red was called at 14:00. So for 45 minutes we watched the boarding procedure. Below are our observations:
1. Due to the boarding system, the room cards were handed out at a separate table. Which had up to 3 people searching through stacks of cards alphabetically as in all "M's" were in one stack but not in alphabetical order from then on as "Ma" should have been near the top but was half way down and missed first time through the stack. This was a slow process and meant the 10 people with paddles designed for linking credit cards and checking passports were constantly waiting for people.
2. Most other cruise lines integrate the card/passport checking with giving cabin cards.
3. After 15 minutes someone decided to move the table for handing out cards away from the health form table, which made absolutely no difference as they were still the bottleneck!
Due to the very steep slope (and wet) leading down to the pontoon, where the ship was berthed, provision of a bus for people with walking difficulties was a great idea. Thank you.
As there were 1,000 people maximum getting on board, it should have been a straightforward process. If they had to cope with 3,000 plus it would have been chaos. Clearly this was not a full time operation.
Our hand luggage was not scanned when getting on the ship. We walked on with a full small suitcase and back pack.
The luggage reached the cabin before we did, which was great. Maybe due to us arriving early, but that part of the process is definitely efficient.
The bistro for lunch has a reasonable selection, though the sugar free lemon mouse had absolutely no taste of lemon whatsoever. The layout is pretty good with space between tables. The pizzas lack a tomato base and have been there for ages.
The Waldorf restaurant for dinner is very good and though the portions aren't large the food is served very quickly, the waiting staff are excellent and really work hard looking after the guests. Vegetarians get two choices for main meal which is good.
Breakfast in the Waldorf is buffet and the food is alright, The orange juice is squash and it is a bit of a scrum at times. The food is what you'd expect from a buffet. If you want sit down go to the Kensington where it is better and more relaxed. The choice is excellent. Scrambled egg on toast was nice and freshly made but a tiny portion. They even do crispy bacon. Most of our breakfasts were taken here.
We met the head of restaurant and chef with other guests with special dietary needs who explained they can deal with most requests, if they knew about them. The guests could get a menu for the next night and write what they wanted or changes and they would make them. They would even cook you something different if there was nothing you liked and the selection of gluten, lactose and not free products were excellent.
The shows are of reasonable standard, though not outstanding and the singers/dancers are OK. They do struggle with some songs and the dancers "whoop" at the end of songs which is disconcerting. The cruise director has the best singing voice and also knows how to get out a song, one of the younger singers is also good. The dancers are certainly energetic and put a lot of effort into it.
If you sit upstairs down the sides of their show lounge, don't expect to be served a drink at all quickly, whereas downstairs multiple waiters are ready to serve you. On one occasion we waited 20 minutes trying to get attention from upstairs and ended up going to see one of the crew just to get a waiter to come and take my order. Then the drinks took a further 15 minutes to arrive and the show had started, so 35 minutes to get two simple drinks! An earlier attempt only took 10 minutes less!
The ship is compact and bijou. Everything seems smaller and the ship itself is definitely narrower and has corridors down one side of public areas to make larger (e.g. Pub and Sinatras bar).
There is no promenade, though you can get completely around the ship on deck 10 via a few doors and steps at the bow. There is also no running track, though the gym does look to be pretty good.
The ship seems to roll in the slightest of swells, The North sea was about as flat as it could be 3 foot waves max) yet Magellan rolled on occasions. We've been on much larger ships in over twice the swell and had less movement, maybe it is because it is an older ship?
The corridors in the cabin areas is nice and wide, enabling two sets of people to pass easily.
The staff are very polite and say good morning... when they see you. Even the receptionist we dealt with over the room was always friendly and polite.
The waiters are very efficient and fast with service and always very polite.
We were issued with bars of soap for the cabins, but on day 10, why?
Ports & Excursions
The excursions are good though getting on and off the ship can be fun. The gangway height can be very low and once due to the tide it was too low and they had to resort to tenders, which seemed to cause a stir. They should have known the tide levels. Another occasion, our first tender port, one of the boats had a problem which caused significant delays, why couldn't they just get another boat ready?
The excursion deck has really unhelpful opening hours, half an hour in the morning (07:30 - 08:00 - when you are having breakfast & 18:00 - 20:00 when it is first sitting for dinner!). Reception can't help. I understand it is a small ship and crew and they have multiple jobs/roles, but on all other lines we've been on the opening times are much longer.
Shetland is a wonderful island group, with plenty to see and do on the main island. Strongly recommend a local guide. Ours was brilliant (Grant). We didn't realise how big the islands were. Puffins and seals were amazing to see, St Ninians beach is our idea of heaven and we'll be back.
Olden was great going to the Birksdal glacier, with the ride most of the way up (Troll car). The last bit we had to walk was hard, but we'll worth it.
Geiranger going to Mount Dalsniba was brilliant and the views were breath-taking, we were lucky enough to have a clear day. Our guide was excellent too. Eagles road also provided an excellent viewpoint.
The Flam railway was the tour we looked forward to most, but it was badly run, just a train (the scenery was good) and a stop for mediocre waffles, jam and cream. The disembarkation from the ship took absolutely ages (over an hour). It was not organised well at all, one boat needed servicing which didn't help. The train was late both ways, and there was very little to do at Vatnahalsen after eating waffles to take up the hour and twenty minutes we had at the top. Please do not expect too much from this tour.
Eidfjord is pretty but unless on an excursion very little to do (our excursion was cancelled). We went on the road train which took up an hour, from then on there is little else.
Stavanger has quite a few attractions, get in early as with 3 cruise ships in it was definitely busy. Been told the oil museum is interesting.
Orkney is much more commercialised than Shetland, and though there are some excellent sites, there are some that are expensive (Scara Brae). It is a lovely place and the views would have been good without the most and rain.
Following on from the tender debacles, I have a question for CMV:
If you have 1,200 people wanting to get off a ship and the journey, from ship to shore and back takes 30 minutes (I timed it, 10 mins each way and 5 mins for on/off the boat). How long does it take with only 3 Tenders? Assuming 60 people per boat, that is 20 boats worth and 20 boats at 30 minutes each therefore 10 hours! Fortunately not all wanted to get off, but enough did so that as the boats started at 08:15 The people with ticket B (so second non excursion group), were on a boat leaving the ship at 09:20. That is ridiculous!
The actual question is, assuming you arrive at the port to go back to the boat at 14:30, there is a long queue and you get on the fifth boat out. As it was raining, how wet are you when you finally get on a tender? Answer: VERY! Therefore, how happy are you with CMV that they only put 3 tender boats on? Answer: FURIOUS!
Even MSC tendering in Santorini, from a similar distance out had at least 10 tenders in the water and though they had more people to get back, it only took 5 minutes to get on a boat.
To say the whole tendering scenario on Magellan is a farce is an understatement. Apparently we were told they tender boats were restricted due to the pollution they spewed out (which was large amounts and very smelly diesel). Answer get better tender boats.
As we are travelling from Liverpool to Portsmouth we want to get an early start back. The problem is that with both of us requiring a stick, with 2 large cases a small one and a ruck sack, there is no way we can use the express service. I.e. Get yourself off the boat. We also have to recover our car from parking about a mile and a half away.
We went down to excursions, who have given us black luggage labels so we can get off at 09:10 and not 10:00, which is good.
The actual disembarkation process was excellent and very quick. We were called at 08:50 20 mins early, we were met by a fan to take us up to the luggage area, because of having sticks and a steep ramp. Our luggage was easily identifiable and both pieces next to each other (which is a first). The transport to where the car was parked was quick and efficient so we were off home before 09:25.
There are a number of pros and cons with Cruise and Maritime, or this cruise on Magellan in particular:
• Embarkation and disembarkation (cases there each time)
• Customer Services getting on and off ship
• Cabins can be noisy
• Cabins have thin walls
• Tendering service
- Read more Cruise & Maritime Voyages Magellan Reviews
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The cabin is reasonably sized for an older ship. Pretty clean and tidy, with a few signs of wear, but nothing too bad. No places to put large cases for a 12 night cruise (won't fit under beds). had to stick out of the way best we could. The cabin could do with more drawers.
The outside window is good sized and easy to see out of. Though it rattles at times when moving.
The double bed is 2 single beds out together, which again is different to other ships.
The aircon is above the beds and fairly noisy. Worked out how to turn it off at night, which reduced some noise. The walls are very thin and can clearly hear the tv in the cabin next door (e.g. the safety announcement from their tv) and talking, which is not good. The engine noise and general vibrations are bad (especially when manoeuvring), though there are much worse rooms! Our problem is we specifically/repeatedly asked for a quiet cabin and were assured this cabin was quiet. It is not and the various vibrations and engine/propeller noise keeps us awake through the night! So much for a quiet cabin.
We asked to be moved and reception did explain as the ship is full, one other cabin was available from the second night, but it was on the port side about 3 cabins up from where we were, so exactly the same. A carpenter was sent to look at some of the vibrations and fixed one, but there were others he could do nothing about, never mind the engine noise.
The light switches are loose and there is half a ton of dust on the bedside lamp bulb.
Jelli (a very nice receptionist) contacted us on the ninth day and said cabin 4045 had become free and would we want to use it for sleeping. This cabin is way quieter than 6167 (apart from the neighbours tv) so we slept in there for 2 nights and got a decent amount of sleep.
I downloaded a noise measuring app onto my smart phone. The ambient noise in 6167 was 47Db, with the air con on it was 55Db, when the ship was manoeuvring it reached 67Db (recorded this twice at 01:00 and 05:00 in the morning). Cabin 4045 has an ambient noise level of 35Db and has never reached anywhere near 50Db when measured so far (even with next doors tv on :-)).
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