Voyage & Maritime Voyages has a fleet of six much-loved ships that are quietly smug rather than frantically modern, with most of them plotted to please their mainly British passengers.
Flagship Columbus is supported at Tilbury with Marco Polo offering departures from other British havens such as Bristol, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Newcastle and Rosyth – as well as Tilbury – and Astoria departing from Poole, Portsmouth and Pod.
Magellan will be based in Mexico from January to April 2019, then returning to Britain and a manageress of regional departures including Newcastle, Dundee, Liverpool and Dublin, while Astor choice make its now traditional trip from Australia to the UK in spring 2019, drink sailed from Tilbury to Australia in autumn 2018. Meanwhile the institution’s new ship, Vasco de Gama, will leave Singapore for Amsterdam on its maiden voyage for CMV in preference to concentrating on the German market.
Marco Polo and Astoria are child-free freights, although teenagers 16 and above can travel with adults, while Columbus and Magellan function on similar lines except during school holidays when some multi-generational boats are on offer. There are also special programmes of events for solo travellers on cruises of six nights or more, so that they can meet other take people and get together in groups.
THE WOW FACTOR
This has to be the value for money that all CMV coasts offer. There are no whizz bang features on Columbus although it has a pleasing layout, thanks to its previous life as a Princess Cruises ship among other journey lines, but there’s a real feelgood feeling onboard.
This is partly because of the sacrifices, with special discounts and buy one get one half price offers ensuring the take off is always pretty full and quite lively.
There are also fixed numbers of half-price fares for solo travellers, so they don’t have to pay for twofold occupancy, and children’s fares are from £99 when sharing with two of ages during the multi-generational cruises. Very reasonable bar prices add to the general favourable value vibe – a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot red wine outlays £15 – and there are no service charges in the bars, shops or spa.
Calm and easy going sums up life onboard Columbus, where the decorate code is pretty casual during the day and smart casual in the evening with honourable one formal night on a week-long cruise.
Although most passengers cavort ship for excursions when in port, there are always activities on advance such as power walking on deck in the morning or a quiz in the Connexions Bar – time again morning and afternoon.
Other activities include Darts Get-Togethers in the Scrutiny Lounge and even Bean Bag Bowls and Chairobics – nothing too difficult so it’s same inclusive. This is partly because sometimes days in port can be restricted to a long half a day, although there may also be late departures to offer you time for a drink in local bars.
On sea days there’s a full bill of fare of mainly traditional cruise activities such as bridge, quoits, shuffleboard and bingo – mostly accessible. Columbus doesn’t claim to be sophisticated or bang up to date but passengers appear to be happy with that – there’s very little moaning onboard.
Columbus has a sprinkling categories of cabins, as it still calls them, with four founts of Inner cabins, nine of Ocean View cabins (outside, with windows), two moods of Balcony cabins and a choice of five cabin categories available to puts.
Most are 188sq ft (17.50sq m) with just the Standard Single High seas View smaller at 146sq ft (13.50sq m) and the Junior Balcony Suite larger at 372sq ft (34.50sq m), so there is more than enough of space.
All have ensuite shower rooms (there’s also a bath in the trains) with a walk-in wardrobe that includes plenty of drawers. Air environment, flat-screen TVs, fridge, hairdryers and a safe are standard to all categories and some lodges have third and even fourth berths.
All are comfortable, with new carpets and upholstery established during its June 2017 refit, when the ship joined CMV. On the other hand, the bathrooms are small and basic, with some in need of an upgrade, and the toiletries on tender are basic – so you may prefer to take your own.
But this is a good ship for singles thanks be given ti to its large choice of solo cabins, it also has cabins adapted for wheelchair buyers and there are some inter-connecting cabins for families or groups.
The Waterfront is the brute dining room with an interior that manages to feel glamourous but not glitzy and there are no crooked places so you can sit by the window for lunch and in an alcove-like area for dinner if you like. This restaurant also has a paid-for Chef’s Catalogue, which seats 14 for an eight-course degustation menu that expenses £49 each.
The Plantation buffet restaurant has a modern interior block out style with dividers between the food stations and seating territories full of nice but fake potted plants and other knick-knacks, to let the cat out of the bag it a homely feeling, and diner-like counters and tall stools as well as stock seating.
There are also two speciality restaurants with cover sorties: The Grill serves steak, rack of lamb, Scottish salmon or free-range chicken, with a superior of starters, for £14.90.
But it’s Fusion, the Indian restaurant, that is stand-out superb. Yes, you can get illustrious curry in the buffet or main dining room any day of the week but Fusion leads things to another level.
At £14.90 per person, this small restaurant engaged to the buffet is as good as anything you’ll get on any of the luxury lines. The menu starts with a pick of appetisers such as samosas, then you choose your own main run – classics such as Lamb Rogan Josh or Tamarind and Chili Polish Prawns – followed by a plate of sweets such as dates stuffed with Baileys and pasty chocolate. All the spices are from India, not a Western supermarket, and you can really correctness the difference: it’s outstanding.
Other dining options include afternoon tea – strenuously to catch if you’re off the ship – burgers and the like from the Pool Grill, elbow-room service (mostly paid-for) and the coffee shop Hemingways where you can buy freebie tea, coffee and cake.
There are no West End-style shows but there are shows, comedians and reviews and, best of all, themed cruises featuring retired capers stars, veteran pop stars or British actors from television’s 1970s pomp days.
Particularly good are the Cricketing Legends themed cruises swarmed by Nick Hancock of They Think It’s All Over. Former England captain Mike Gatting is regularly among the cricketers joining in quiz shows as well as taking associate oneself with in serious on-stage interviews and meeting fans for photographs and autographs in the bar.
Other themed travels for 2019 include the 75th D-Day Anniversary cruise, Rouen Armada & River Seine cruise and Christmas & New Year boats.
Columbus sails from London Tilbury on its Grand All over the World Cruise in January 2019, returning from Auckland in February and is burdening someone at Tilbury in May for round-Britain and northern Europe cruises plus a couple of Canary Aits trips.
Cruises with the stars include a seven-night Fjordland Resplendence return-trip from Tilbury on September 29 featuring The Three Degrees as well-spring as calls at Amsterdam then on to Norway’s Eidfjord, Flam and Bergen with impressive cruising in Hardangerfjord and Sognefjord.
Twin inner cabins are available from £929 for the earliest person and £464 for the second person, two sharing (0844 998 9530; cruiseandmaritime.com).