Columbus is Cruise and Maritime’s flagship, and came into service with the line in June 2017. But she isn’t new – she served with P & O for many years, and we met several passengers who had sailed on her before in her previous guise. She was extensively refitted before becoming a CMV ship.
By modern standards Columbus isn’t a large ship – 63.500 tonnes and with a complement of 1400 passengers and about 700 crew. I guess you’d describe here as a medium sized vessel, but quite substantial. She’s attractive to look at, having been built at a time before the more modern “block of flats” style. She has a pronounced rake to her bow, and a nicely rounded stern.
In total, there are 14 decks, with cabins on 4 to 12. We were on deck 10, in a superior cabin with a large picture window with unobstructed view. Above us were some suites and cabins with balconies, and below us similar rooms with obstructed views and lower down, with portholes. Inside cabins are available on all decks.
Our cabin was a superior cabin on deck 10 and we had a large picture window with a completely unobstructed view. It surprised me as being really spacious, and with tons of hanging space and drawers to put clothes away. The bathroom was also a decent size, with a reasonable sized shower with plenty of hot water. It was kept spotlessly clean by our steward, who came in twice a day to make sure everything was perfect.
The main waiter service restaurant, called Waterfront, is on deck 7 and we had all of our evening meals there. We elected for the second dinner service, which was at 8:30 each evening, and we chose a table of 6. We actually shared our table with one other couple, so we had plenty of room. The food was excellent, with plenty to eat, and with a decent choice including vegetarian options. Two nights of our cruise were described as “formal,” which means dinner jackets or lounge suits with ties. For anyone not interested, it’s no problem to elect to eat in the buffet restaurant on those nights.
The Waterfront is also open for an A la Carte style breakfast each day and we chose to breakfast there on most days. Again, it’s open for lunch, although we only had lunch aboard twice during our week, and only once in The Waterfront.
The main buffet restaurant is called Plantation and is on deck 12. They serve a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner there every day, so you can call in and fuel up there pretty much at any time on night or day. It gets very crowded at peak times, and it can be hard to find a table. The food in Plantation is reasonable quality, although we’re not huge fans of buffet style eating.
Staying with food and drink for a moment, Columbus isn’t the best ship for coffee lovers – even the coffee in the two speciality coffee shops is pretty insipid, but in the restaurants, it’s dire!
The ship excels in terms of bars – there seems to be one every few metres as you walk the decks. Starting at the top, there is the outdoor bar around the two swimming pools, a front observation bar, and a rear one. The Palladium show bar is just below those, and then you’ll find The Taverner Pub and Raffles bar. They all serve a good selection of drinks, and the service is genuinely excellent. I don’t ever remember looking around to find someone to serve us. Prices are very reasonable for a cruise ship – spirits and mixers are about £4, cocktails are £3 and even speciality beers are under £5 a pint. Having a few drinks each day, and wine with dinner won’t break the bank, but we elected to go for the drinks package at £17 per day, each. It included most standard drinks, and surprisingly, all the cocktails, and if we wanted anything outside the terms of the package, like a quality gin or a good bottle of wine, the price was discounted, usually by 30%. I’d recommend the drinks package as really good value for money.
Moving down the decks, there is a gymnasium and beauty spa down in deck 2. The gym is very well equipped, with treadmills, bikes, rowers, steppers and ski machines, as well as plenty of free weights. The spa offers all the usual treatments and massage services.
One big part of cruising is the entertainment, and I was wary of it, as I’m not a fan of cheesy “shows.” I was very pleasantly surprised – the entertainments team are very good and extremely talented. I enjoyed every show we went to. The main evening shows are arranged so that each dinner sitting can attend – in our case before dinner, and for the early sitting, afterwards. The Palladium, which is the venue, is well equipped, with a sliding stage, excellent lighting and great acoustics. As well as each night’s main show, there are various other performances which take place in all the bars – for example, violin and piano in Raffles Bar, a singer guitarist in the pub and so on.
Something that struck me is that every crew member has several roles. For example the singers might be found aboard excursions as the ship’s representatives. While we’re talking about the crew, they are multi cultural lot, from 27 countries, and they seem to be very happy to be part of an international sea going family. The service was really excellent in all areas of the ship – genuinely friendly and caring.
In terms of other entertainment, there is pretty much something going on, somewhere, all day long. From quizzes to bingo, to talks from experts, and Zumba classes, you’re never short of something to attend.
In summary, Columbus is a ship with everything you could possible want, while still small enough to visit ports the huge ships can’t get into.
We’ve loaded our photos of our time aboard the ship into an album called Columbus on our Facebook page.