Columbus is very much like a favourite pair of slippers – you feel comfortable but you know it’s not perfect and has probably seen better days.
We chose this cruise because we had not cruised with CMV before and it was a short pre-Christmas trip.
Embarkation always help set the tone for a cruise and I have to say this was the slickest, most efficient boarding process we have encountered in any of our cruises to date.
We may have been lucky in that we beat the rush but from stepping off the car park shuttle bus to setting foot on the ship was less than 15 minutes.
Once on board the welcome was friendly and there were plenty of staff to direct you to your cabin.
The décor is reasonable although whoever selected the carpets on board either has no taste or a wicked sense of humour – from garish orange in the corridors to some hideously patterned carpets playing havoc with your eyes.
The buffet doesn’t have the greatest choice of food, although what was on offer was of a reasonable standard. However, the seating is very limited and trying to get a table at busy times is challenging. Also opening times are too short, especially on sea days, when passengers are expected to eat their meals in a short period.
The main dining room is very good, there are no tables for two, but we were lucky in we managed to have a table for four to ourselves. I know for many people sharing a dining table is their idea of heaven, for me it’s the opposite I don’t want to eat with strangers. I appreciate it is a question of space but I do wish cruise lines would make more tables for two available.
The vast majority of the food was excellent quality and the quantity was good as well, you didn’t come away from dinner feeling you could eat some more, which does happen with some cruise lines. Service was good with friendly staff.
Talking of staff, like most cruise lines the staff were very multinational – unfortunately a large number did not have a very good command of English. They spoke enough to do their jobs adequately but if you wanted to chat to find out a bit more about the individual then most of the conversations went over their heads.
Getting food late in the evening was very difficult – they do advertise a snack service in the lounges between 23:00 and 23:30 but finding this service was like looking for hen’s teeth and when you did find it they had invariably run out of what was being offered.
Now we are not great drinkers however we like an occasional tipple. On the plus side bar prices were very reasonable and certainly a lot cheaper than many cruise lines.
There was a good choice of wines at dinner.
Service in the bars was variable. One evening we went to Raffels and it was very quiet but we walked out after 15 minutes without being served as the waitress was more interested in chatting up the barman and joking with him than serving customers.
When we went to another bar the drinks were disappointing - a gin and tonic was served in a half pint beer glass whilst the Singapore Sling tasted like no other Singapore Sling I have drunk before - and I don't mean that in a positive way.
The entertainment was, how shall I put it, interesting. The shows in the main theatre weren’t exactly bad but they were not brilliant either – they seemed more like enthusiastic amateurs than professionals. Certainly not as slick as shows on other cruise lines.
Costumes looked home-made, the choreography limited and the sound system was appalling, with the music often drowning out the vocals, not helped by some of the performers having weak voices. The only decent show on the main stage was the rat pack tribute and even then the three performers seemed more interested in making in jokes.
Ironically the best show of the cruise wasn’t in the main theatre but was a Jersey Boy tribute in the Atrium one evening.
The outside facilities on this cruise were irrelevant as the weather was appalling. One of the swimming pools has seating beside a bar – which would be cool on a balmy summers day.
Our visit to Amsterdam was cancelled due to bad weather and we were kept informed and updated by the Captain. Amazingly there was a passenger in the buffet who was mouthing off about how disgraceful it was Amsterdam had been cancelled – some people have no concept of safety.
The crew were also able to get port cancellation confirmation letters ready within 24 hours, so we could claim on our travel insurance.
There are plenty of quiet nooks and crannies on board with the Library being a great place to sink into a comfortable sofa or chair with a book. The games room was also popular with a good selection of games and jigsaws.
As an older ship her design is more traditional and streamlined, which proved to be a great advantage as the ship was incredibly stable, even in the force 9 winds in the North Sea, with minimal pitching or rolling.
This was our first experience sailing with CMV, there are better cruise lines around but there also many worse.
I like Columbus and her size and would certainly sail on her again in future.
The cabin was a spacious outside cabin with a large window, allowing plenty of natural light into the cabin. With plenty of space to move around you didn’t feel cramped and there was sufficient space to hang up our clothes and store the cases.
Columbus also has a kettle in every cabin, along with decent size mugs – a major plus.
Power points are standard UK, however there was only one free one in the cabin.
The bathroom was a little bit on the compact size and water temperature did fluctuate daily, so setting the shower temperature was a bit of an art.
The port is located close to the city centre, as the crow flies, however it is a good 30 minutes by road.
Luckily CMV provide a free shuttle bus service, which runs continuously and we did not encounter any queues.
I'm not sure if this happens on every shuttle but as we arrived in the city centre the driver pointed out places of interest.