At the beginning of June, I set sail on the Columbus ship with Cruise & Maritime Voyages to celebrate my nans birthday. A cruise is the perfect option for taking my nan on holiday as the ship is easy to navigate when using a wheelchair with wide walkways, lifts, easy ramps and disabled toilets. Last year we travelled with CMV to Norway on the Magellan and this year for our trip we were onboard the Columbus for its first trip with the company.
The Columbus ship was a lot larger than our previous trip. It’s incredibly grand and has a luxurious feel. Cruise & Maritime ships are a lot smaller and have a ‘homely’ feel compared to larger cruise lines such as Celebrity cruises and P&O. I’ve personally never used another cruise company, but the ships I’ve been on are big enough and have everything you could need for your trip. Onboard the Columbus there are 2 swimming pools, hot tubs, a show lounge, a couple of restaurants, multiple bars, a dome club, library, games room and spa. There’s always something to do on board and always always always some food to eat. Our cabin was spacious and always clean with plenty of room for two. The areas around the ship were always cleaned and refreshed, ready for someone to take a seat at the bar or a table in the restaurant. The entertainment on board was extrodianarly entertaining every evening, full of talent and ambition. The acrobatic act on the last night was incredible to watch. There was also an extra show on the last evening as a celebration to the first voyage which was great fun. I much prefer the layout of this shipped compared to CMV’s Magellan due to the locations of where the restaurants and bars were, especially when navigating a wheelchair. On the Columbus, the show lounge, bars and restaurant are all along one floor, whereas in the Magellan we had to change floors depending on where we needed to go. There was always plenty of seating available inside and out and everything was well organised.
Our time on the Columbus maiden voyage did have a few teething problems. Firstly, a technical error meant many key cards were not working properly on the first day so we couldn’t access the rooms and spent over an hour queuing in reception and walking up and down corridors back and forward to the room trying to gain access with new key cards. The staff did however take over and walk to room for me and sort it out whilst I had a little relax in reception as I was getting flustered! (Edit – since writing this, Cruise & Maritime have advised that all the keycards have been changed so there’s no issues!) Another issue was accessing Amsterdam when we arrived in port and took a long time to resolve meaning the hours were pushed back for when we were able to get off the boat and when we left. For us this wasn’t too much of a big deal, but others had excursions booked for set times which they were likely to miss. The biggest issue we encountered was the dinner service. Dinner service on 2 out of the 3 nights took over 2 hours from start to finish. As out dining time was half 8, it meant we hadn’t finished eating until long gone 10 o’clock. This caused a lot of frustration for a lot of people on the table around us. By the third night, the dinner service was perfect. All of these issues are easily fixable for the next time the cruise departed again so I would most definitely not worry about these issues when booking another cruise on the Columbus.
Whilst there was a lot of problems, the employees on board to Columbus ship couldn’t have been more apologetic and helpful if they tried. There was always bound to be a few teething problems, a new ship meant a lot of new staff who hadn’t worked on a cruise ship before, and expierence staff who were battling with new systems and operations. This did not ruin the trip for us at all. Staff were continuously friendly, smiling, eager to please the and diffuse negative situations as much as they could. I understand that people were unhappy with the service being less than they expected but some cruisers were uncessarily rude. It’s not the water boys fault that your dinner is late, or receptions fault that the ship was not better prepared for knowing how to access the ports. All staff were willing to answer to your every request to keep guests happy. I could not fault them.
Last year on our ship, our wonderful dinner waiter named Joe left a lasting impact on us as he was so friendly and entertaining. We saw Joe on board, though he was not working our table, but to our surprise he recognised us and said hello with a little catch up. Joe had been on many many cruises in the last 9 months and seen thousands of new faces. The rest of the employees are much like Joe, eager to assist you in anything you may need. Our new waiter, Komang, was able to deliver us a perfect dinner service on our last night which made up for the slightly terribly service the previous nights. Although service was slow, there was no way you could fault the food produced by the chefs. Cruise dining is a great experience with 5 delicious, delicate courses available every night. Our last night was topped off with a celebratory bottle of wine and birthday cake for my nan. I’d dine on board that ship every night if I could… I highly recommend the fish if you ever go on a Cruise & Maritime cruise because every time it came out perfect.
Overall, I had an incredible time onboard and would love to sail away again in the future. With a shorter cruise, there isn’t much time to really get a feel for the ship so extra time on board would be great to,explore more. I highly recommend using Cruise & Maritime Voyages as they have lots of destinations to choose from and plenty of deals like buy one and get one free! If you want a stylish surrounding, good food, friendly staff, an entertaining evening, comfy beds and strong cheap drinks then look no further.