This was my 2nd time with CMV. I chose this cruise due to the itinerary and price. I am happy to travel on any cruise ship with any company, and would usually chose by itinerary and price (specifically solo supplement - I refuse to pay a large supplement).
CMV doesn't do frills, however it never claims to. This trip, as with my last one with CMV provided a good itinerary, edible (and sometimes really nice) food, a comfortable cabin, and entertainment that kept me amused although will not win awards for excellence or originality.
I drove down the drive down the day before and stayed the night at Stifford Park Hotel. This was CMV's suggested hotel, and provided decent accommodation for the night, breakfast, parking and a taxi, for close to the cost of just parking at Tilbury Port. First time I have done this, and would do again. Hotel was fine, think Travelodge with some nice gardens, and a good breakfast. Not somewhere I would stay for a holiday, but definitely more than good enough for 1 night. NB there is no lift to some rooms, so do say when booking is you have mobility issues (or just lots of luggage!)
Smooth enough at Tilbury. It took longer than usual due to additional health checks for COVID - 19. I arrived at the time requested, and went straight through to check in. I wouldn't want to arrive earlier as the port has few amenities.
My cabin was the cheapest inside cabin and I liked it. Really big for 1 person, and plenty of storage. Shower great, with lots of room, hot water consistently and good power.
The bathroom however had a slightly unusual layout; when you sat on the toilet, a shut door was right in your face. I was solo so just left it open.
You need to step up into the bathroom, and there are no grab rails. No rails in shower either.
Cabin steward brilliant, and even fixed my bed when the poor sea conditions broke it.
Im gluten free, so as with most cruise companies I pre booked the meals the night before.
Main courses were really nice. Lots of meat and potato options which they did well. I also had some nice pastas.
Desserts were disappointing. Mostly because they couldn't make many gluten free. This included black forest gateau which I thought would be easy to do gluten free - even a brownie with blackcurrant jam and some creme would have been fine. When something was not possible to make you were given what they had that was naturally gluten free - usually a creme caramel or creme brulee. As someone who has been gluten free for 20 years, this desserts bore the hell out of me. Hey ho. I had cheese one night, and the cheese crackers were fine.
Afternoon tea was really disappointing. GF rolls used horrible, and the scones were literally inedible. I tried twice, but gave up.
The food in the buffet I thought was the same standard in the restaurant. All food had allergen labels as well which was good, although they cannot guarantee free from cross contamination due to other passengers sharing tongs etc. I ate most breakfasts here, and some lunches and had no issues. For breakfast gluten free toast was available from the omelette chef. At lunch gluten free rolls were available, but you need to ask at the same station as breakfast.
This I thought was broadly as expected. I attended most of the shows and enjoyed what was put on. Male vocalists were better than female, and as in usually the case the older cabaret singers based in the bars were (vocally) better than the show team. I particularly liked Pauline.
Other activities included quizzes, dancing, creative writing classes, and craft classes. There were also unhosted events such as a book club, and knit and natter sessions.
There were also a number of films shown in the theatre. This I really enjoyed especially the Greatest Showman (think I have now seen this 106 times). Some of the other films though I thought were odd. However a selection I suppose means wider groups are catered for.
I accidently went into the gym, and it looked quite big. There were also some exercise classes put on, catering for literally all accessibility requirements eg chair aerobics.
They had a couple of people giving lectures. Both were really interesting and I enjoyed, although one was definitely a more compelling storyteller.
I appreciated the TV in my room had a recent range of UK channels. As a solo traveller it was nice to have the news on while dressing for dinner. There were also a couple of film channels, although again I thought the films shown were slightly odd choices.
The weather was poor, and we had 3 sea days that were really terrible. Staff and ship coped well, but, possibly for the first time in my life I missed the option for room service. I couldn't even stand up, so for those 3 days I didn't eat. I lost 5 lbs on the cruise which is the opposite of usual. I would have so appreciated a cheese sandwich from room service on those days. In fact i dreamed so much about that sandwich, it was the first meal I had once I could stand again.
I bought the drinks package, which I thought was good value. I'm not a big drinker, so don't think it worked out cheaper for me personally. However I definitely tried drinks I wouldn't have before, because it was 'free' to try. So I probably would do the package again.
I bought wifi, and although it is expensive compared to home, for me it was worth it and I would buy again. I am self employed so needed to do a little work while away. As a solo traveller I also usually buy a little wifi, so I can check in as safe with family. Signal is only available in public areas, however I found it coped consistently really well with emails, messages including whatsapp, and browsing social media. I don't think I would try uploading videos, or video calls though.
Service getting drinks was often slow. Many activities in the theatre also lacked drinks service which was disappointing.
Library (including book cases) were open 24/7. There was also a large book swap service, which was a greater range of authors and genres than the CMV loans available
Most public toilets required a step into them. A few disabled toilets were around the ship, although one was inside the mens bathroom, so open that door with caution if you're female.
Shop onboard was pointless. Nothing interesting or useful to buy. Definitely take your own chocolate and crips, as these were expensive to buy in the shop, despite being duty free. They did have a small range of toiletries if you forget anything.
Lots of space and storage for 1 person.