Magellan Ship Review
British based Cruise Operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), has added ‘Grand Holiday’ to their fleet. She commenced ex-UK operations as CMV’s new flagship ‘Magellan’ in March 2015.
Formerly MS Holiday, originally owned by Carnival Cruise Lines and entered service in 1985. In April, 2010, she underwent dry dock refurbishment and was then transferred to the Ibero Cruises fleet. In May 2010 she sailed as ‘Grand Holiday’.
CMV now operate four Ocean vessels, mainly from UK ports and aim their product at the adults-only market. They are very popular with the grey pound.
Limitations of this Review
I was on-board Magellan for a very short cruise. I was not able to sample multiple evening meals or the full variety of entertainment on offer. I did not see all of the cabin grades. The cruise was probably not completely full. However I am able to make general comments about the ships layout etc.
Magellan at 46,052grt will carry a maximum of 1,452 passengers operating as an adult only vessel (16 years plus) alongside Marco Polo (915 pax), Astor (600 pax) and Azores (550 pax).
At 46,052 gross tonnes Magellan will be CMV’s biggest ship, although hardly big by modern standards. If you divide all cruise ships into sizes i.e. small, medium, large and mega, Magellan would only be classed as small-medium sized.
However Magellan is twice as big (by volume/GT) as Marco Polo at 22,080. Magellan is a little more spacious than Marco Polo, if you do the ‘volume per passenger’ calculation.
Magellan is also bigger than most of the Fred Olsen Fleet and most the Thomson fleet (except Thomson Dream). Although she is of a similar size to Olsen’s ‘Balmoral’.
At 30 years old (In 2015), verses Azores 66 years, Marco Polo’s 50 years and Astor’s 27 years, Magellan will be their second youngest ship.
Magellan has nine decks, numbered 4-12, which also have names: Caribbean (4), Baltic (5), Atlantic (6), Pacific (7), Amundsen (8), Magellan (9), Columbus (10), Navigator (11) and Sun (12).
Nearly all of the public rooms are located on decks 8 and 9 (apart from reception on deck 5, Raffel’s Bistro deck 10 and the Gym on deck 11). Even though the public rooms are concentrated on two decks, significant walking was sometimes required.
Some of the room names will be familiar to CMV regulars, others not.
At the bow of deck 8 is the lower level of the ‘Magellan Show Lounge’. Behind it, moving towards the stern of the ship is the shopping Galleria, ‘Hampton’s Long Bar’. Amidships is the ‘Kensington Restaurant’ (one of two main dining rooms). After the galley, the next public room is the other restaurant, the ‘Waldorf Restaurant’ at the stern.
Deck 9 has the upper level of the ‘Magellan Show Lounge’ at the bow, then the photo gallery, Captains Club (lounge/bar), Casio Royal, Livingstone Library, Sinatra’s Bar amidships, The Mall, Scotts Nightclub, the Nansen Card Room and the Jade Wellness Centre.
I will not describe every public room in detail, but a few do stand out:
Sinatra’s Bar is an attractive bar which black and white décor and features a wall of monochrome images of classic Hollywood film stars. It did have a pianist performing in it, but I did not hear him play and Sinatra or Hollywood material.
At first glance the Library appears to have numerous shelves full of hundreds of books until you realize they are fake and just part of the décor. The book collection is much more modest in size.
The Mall is a long carpeted internal promenade with plentiful seating reminiscent of those on-board Discovery and the QE2.
Externally Magellan is quite unremarkable with a plain white hull and no distinctive curves. However she does still have the very distinctive Carnival winged funnel. There are few port holes and few balcony cabins.
It would appear CMV have changed very little internally, from her Ibero service. (In fairness CMV have only had the ship in their possession for a month at the time of writing). The main differences are the external livery; funnel colour and public room have been renamed. The children’s facilities have been removed to make her adults only. Most (all?) of the carpets, décor, furniture and soft furnishings remain the same.
The ship is in very good condition and underwent a major refit in 2010. All though the stair landings and passenger corridors look a little ‘Ferry’ in style, most of the public rooms all look contemporary.
The carpets are unusual and often feature squiggly lines or circles. Although some of the carpets in corridors and public rooms look like they are nearing time for replacement.
The ship décor is generally very light, tasteful (understated) or even a little ‘bland’, if compared with American ships. Cream and magnolia colours are used extensively in the public rooms. She has very little ‘Las Vegas’ glitz, although the small casino does have a neon sign outside is saying “Ca$ino, Ca$ino, Ca$ino, Ca$ino” in case you were in any doubt.
Many Brits will see this lack of ‘glitz’ as a very positive comment.
The ship does not have a great amount of artwork on display, but there are some mosaics on stair landings, including a large mermaid. My cabin had a modern art print on the wall which was colourful, featured a fish and a seagull, but generally made no sense whatsoever.
There is not atrium as such, but on deck 5, the reception deck/excursions desk/future cruise sales are in a single-height central area which has an interesting illuminate artwork in the middle, surrounded by a circular bench seat.
The ships passenger deck corridors are wider than the modern ‘norm’, which is nice.
The ship has 15 grades of cabins. Most outside cabins have picture windows, rather than port holes, which is nice. There are just 14 balcony cabins, on deck 11, which are grades: Junior, De-Lux and Royal Suites. The balconies generally overlook the lifeboats and can suffer from some partially obstructed view.
I was booked in the cheapest grade of ocean view cabin (standard Cat 6) on deck 4 (Caribbean) the first (lowest) passenger deck. I picked cabin 4066 because of its amidships position.
I often find that the first few passenger decks on any older ship can suffer from noise, vibration and heat from the engines and generators. However I am pleased to say that there was virtually no noise or vibration in this cabin location. (I cannot comment those cabins located at the stern of deck 4, but I would expect some noise pollution).
The cabin was surprisingly spacious. In fact more spacious than similar grade cabins on-board the Marco Polo, which are ‘compact’. In fact the cabin was probably the largest ‘standard’ cabin that I have ever been in.
My cabin had twin beds which had been rearranged from a side-by side configuration, to an ‘L’ shaped one: one bed was under the window and the other one running along the wall. This made the cabin feel more spacious, although it meant one of the reading lights affixed to the wall was in the wrong position to use.
Curiously some cabins still had the twin beds in a side-by-side configuration. I wonder what determines how they are orientated by the crew?
I also saw several cabins with a double bed configuration, but this may have simply been two singles pushed together?
The cabin had two large wardrobes and dressing table, with chair and a safe. Draw space was plentiful. The furniture and fittings were a little dated (original I guess) but all functional. The TV was modern.
The bathroom, with shower, was adequate in size did not appear to be as old as the ship. It was in very clean/good condition. The shower was of a reasonable size, so the shower curtain did not stick to my back at all. However the water did tend to run down the curtain onto the bathroom floor – but there was a well-placed drain for this common eventuality. The water pressure and water heat were fine.
The toilet was the modern ‘barking dog’ (vacuum) variety.
The washing basin had a single, strange tap. It worked like a joystick and was able to be moved 360 degrees. It probably seemed very ‘trendy’ in the 1980’s. However a lot of manual dexterity was required to combine the right mix of water pressure and water temperature. One false move and the water accelerated into the sink-bowl and then rebounded out, soaking the user.
The air-con was novel. I spent quite a bit of time searching for a thermostat on the wall, without success. I late discovered that there is a twist knob on the air-con vent, on the ceiling. Now this simply increases the flow of cool air or reduces in to almost none. It does not appear to control the temperature of the air. However it seems to work OK for my tastes in a moderate climate. I’m not sure how well this simple system would cope in a hot climate?
I have read comments about “thin cabins walls” and being able to hear noise from the neighbours, but I did not experience this. Maybe I was just lucky?
I did not have time to properly inspect the other grades of cabin, but I assume that most are more than adequate.
There are two main restaurants, The Waldorf and Kensington, plus the exotically named ‘Raffles Bistro’, the Lido-buffet. There are no other alternatives apart from the pool side grill.
Both are attractive rooms, with good space between the tables. The Kensington looks a little dated, but does have attractive has green, black and white décor. Glass screens break up the room a little. The Waldorf looks like it has undergone a more recent refit and uses whites, browns and yellow for the décor.
The Kensington has a buffet station for self-service breakfast, easing the strain on the Lido buffet.
The Waldorf and Kensington are both located on deck 8 (Amundsen). The Kensington is amidships and the Waldorf near the stern. Both have the same menu and share a galley in between the two. The traditional 2 fixed sittings (6.30 and 8.30pm) operate in both, with some formal evenings.
Unfortunately this layout causes quite a bit of confusion when navigating the ship. To get to one restaurant from the other you need to go up to deck nine, walk along the deck and descend back down. You cannot of course walk through the galley.
The Waldorf has odd table numbers and the Kensington has even table numbers. However I was still allocated to the wrong restaurant, but this was quickly remedied. Both are reasonably attractive rooms, with good space between the tables.
The evening meal was excellent during my brief experience, with six courses being served including a sorbet. The meats (Chicken and Lamb) were particularly tender. I enjoyed a very good soup and a salad course. The house red (the only wine by the glass) was very respectable. The gaps between course was quicker than average, although the service slowed for the sweet and coffee.
‘Raffles Bistro’ has a typical ‘buffet’ design at the aft of the ship (deck 10). However it is quite spacious with some open air dining at the stern, by the pool. There is also a bar at the rear of the Bistro. It reminds me a little of the QE2’ s Lido buffet.
The range and quality of the buffet food is good, but perhaps not as wide and exotic as some premium ships offer, but that is no surprise. The vegetable curry was particularly excellent.
The Magellan Show Lounge
The show lounge is an interesting hybrid. It is in the traditional location at the bow so there is no through-flow of passengers. The furniture consists of many soft-benches and tables/chairs , typical of older ships ‘show lounges’. However Magellan’s lounge is steeply raked, having two levels (across two decks) just like the Theatres on more modern ships.
The sight-lines are generally excellent, apart from a few poles. Although there are some glass safety screens, topped with silver-metal edging. This ‘edging’ could cross you vision in certain seats.
The live band were very proficient and on a raised balcony, stage right. The room’s acoustics were particularly good. The room felt very spacious yet not so big that the live atmosphere got lost. In fact it is probably the best show lounge that I’ve seen on an older/smaller ship.
On-board the Marco Polo, if you want a reasonable view of the show, you have to arrive early enough to secure a seat in the front half of the lounge. In Magellan’s show lounge this will not be so vital as the seats at the back are raked.
The entertainment is mainly provided by the resident entertainment team. The style and quality is the same as on-board Marco Polo and very similar to that provided by Thomson. (The multi-talented cruise director Richard Sykes, is ex-Thomson). We were treated to an Abba show. The singing and dancing were all very good, although hardly original in content; the audience enjoyed the show none the less.
The open decks are teak and appear to be spacious, but I have not seen the ship in a hot climate, so cannot easily judge the sun –lounger to space ratio.
There are two pools, one at the stern and a bigger one amidships. There are also three ‘whirlpools’ (Hot Tubs).
There is almost a wrap-around prom deck (10), but it stops at the bridge. However there is an external view looking over the bow, above the bridge (deck 11) accessed by stairs.
Some outdoor ‘grill’ dining and drinking is available on deck 10 and 11, weather permitting. There is also a circular outdoor bar on the top deck, at the stern and also an outdoor stage. These look ideal for sail-away parties in warm climates.
Up near the funnel, there are some strange silhouettes of ‘sporty’ looking women painted on part of the upper superstructure. These used to also adorn the outer hull as well , for the Ibero livery. I think it was probably wise that they were removed by CMV for us more traditionalist Brits.
There is a ridiculous shortage of toilets in the public spaces, on-board the ship. For example there is one male toilet outside the upper level of theatre and one on the lower level, with one toilet bowel in each. If there is more than one man in each toilet and a queue forms. The Ladies have a similar issue. There were no toilets directly outside the restaurants.
Although the crew were efficient; many were rather stand-off-ish. However they are a very new team featuring some of the Marco Polo’s experienced crew, but with many new faces. I would expect the teamwork and morale to improve.
The stairs on-board the ship were often steeper than normal. However lifts were always nearby, although relatively small. Less mobile passengers may well feel that a more compact vessel (like the Marco Polo) is more suitable for their needs.
TV personality Gloria Hunniford is the Godmother of Magellan, but I did not spot her photo on the wall anywhere?
Older ships often seem to experience plumbing issues, including toilet failures and blockages. My measure of quality on an older ship is how quickly these are rectify. However I did not experience any on this cruise.
Magellan is a welcome addition to the CMV fleet.
She is a small-medium sized vessel, yet a reasonably spacious ship. She is nothing like the much smaller and much-loved, ‘Marco Polo’, being more like the ‘Discovery’, but less tired and a little bigger. However what she loses in charm and intimacy, she gains in larger public spaces. I did meet some passengers that felt that she was just too big, but compared to most other cruise ship in the world, she is still small by comparison.
Magellan’s public rooms are arguably superior to many on-board the Marco Polo’s in terms of space. There are also long internal promenades (port and starboard) offering plentiful seating. The show lounge is excellent with good sight -lines and good acoustics. The standard cabins are definitely much bigger than on-board many other ships. Most outside cabins have picture windows. Balcony cabins are rarer to find on this ship.
Magellan offers very different ‘hardware ’ to the Marco Polo, but her software is likely to be very similar. For example the food and entertainment is surprisingly good for the fare paid. The more mature traditionalist cruiser including Fred Olsen, Thomson and Discovery fans should feel particularly at home on-board her.
Older ships are often like vintage cars, full of character and charm, but quirky and not also reliable.
However we can expect many good-value ‘Grand Holidays’ from Magellan.
More images below:
Questions and comments welcome.
Also See Marco Polo Ship Review HERE.