Columbus is the latest ship to join Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) and at just under 64,000 gross tons, she is now the largest in the fleet. I was particularly pleased to be invited to spend a night onboard, and attend the renaming ceremony with her new godmother Angela Rippon, as I did cruise onboard in one of her previous lives. She originally entered service for Princess Cruises in 1989 as Star Princess, and then in 1997 she moved to sister company P&O Cruises, and was renamed Arcadia, where she stayed until her final voyage from Barbados back to Southampton in March 2003. This was some years before I sold cruises for a living, but was onboard for that voyage as a paying passenger, and we loved the ship. She then went to the shipyard to be refitted and emerged as the newly renamed Ocean Village, and spent the next 7 years with that line. In 2010 she was transferred, again within the Carnival Corporation, to P&O Australia, and was renamed Pacific Pearl. Although she had an extensive refit in 2015, she recently underwent further refurbishment in Singapore, before returning to the UK to join CMV as Columbus. Further down the page you can watch my video of Columbus or look at my photos of Columbus on Facebook. If you require any further details about Columbus, or would like to book your next cruise, contact GoCruise with Ian on 01455821770 or 08002922850.
I boarded Columbus soon after 1pm, and took my overnight bag straight to the cabin, and took photos and video of it before unpacking. Then I started my whistle-stop run around the ship, taking as much video and photos as I could. Not just in the public rooms, but also a good selection of cabin grades as well. After a quick sandwich and drink, I went to finish looking around the decks I hadn’t already seen. At 3.45pm it was time for a quick shower, and then off to the welcome cocktails, before heading for the Palladium Show Lounge for the renaming ceremony with Angela Rippon, followed by some great entertainment.
After a really enjoyable dinner, and the Baked Alaska parade, it was time to grab a drink and head up on deck for the spectacular firework display. The river and airspace above had been closed for a short period, so that the fireworks display could take place on a barge in the middle of the Thames. Partying went on into the night, but it was a relatively early night for me, as I was aiming to disembark before 5.30am, for the drive home.
Columbus is an ‘adult only’ ship, which means a minimum passenger age of 16 years old, but they must be travelling with someone aged at least 18. However, there will be a couple of cruises during the August school holidays, which will be open to all ages.
There are a total of 775 cabins and suites, spread across 21 grades, from a Category 1 Twin Inner up to a Category JS Junior Balcony Suite Ocean View. A minimum of 150 double cabins will be allocated for single occupancy, at just a 25% supplement, so Columbus will generally carry around 1,400 passengers. Cabins have a UK 3-pin socket, which is really good, as Columbus is aimed mainly at the UK market. Hairdryers are also provided in the cabin, as well as a safe, telephone and television.
There are a number of entertainment venues, including the two-tiered Palladium Show Lounge, which has a retractable stage to give a large floor for ballroom dancing, and the Dome Observatory & Nightclub. Your evening entertainment includes shows put on by the Columbus Show Team, as well as guest entertainers including singers and comedians. There are also musicians offering a choice of music to cover all tastes. During the daytime there will be guest speakers, quizzes, and deck games to keep you busy. If you like playing bridge, backgammon or chess, you can register your name with the Librarian, who will then put you in touch with others with the same interests. There are also Arts & Craft sessions held onboard, and if you need to purchase materials, these are supplied by the crafter at a modest charge.
The main dining room is the Waterfront Restaurant, which is open seating for breakfast and lunch, but offers two sittings for dinner, when you will be served by the same waiters each evening. The Plantation Bistro is open for buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, and when the weather is good you can also eat at the Alfresco Grill. For a supplement you can try one of the Speciality Dining venues, which are Fusion, Grill or the ‘Chef’s Table’.
The Captain’s Club and Casino is just one of seven areas for you to visit. Others include Connexions, Taverner’s Pub and Raffles, as well as two deck bars. There are also two speciality coffee and tea shops.
There is a fully equipped gym, as well as the Jade Wellness Centre for a massage or beauty treatment. You will also find a selection of shops in the central Atrium, a library, and Trumps & Aces, which is a dedicated bridge and card room.
Outside on the traditional wooden deck, there are two heated swimming pools, as well as a large screen for showing movies and sporting events. There are a total of 9 lifts serving the 11 passenger decks but, as is often the case, not every lift goes to all decks.
During the day it is quite acceptable to dress casual, including shorts and t-shirts. For the evenings there are casual, informal and formal nights. There will usually be two formal nights on a cruise (apart from mini cruises) and men would generally wear a dinner jacket or lounge suit, with ladies opting for an evening or cocktail dress. On informal nights men might opt for a suit or trousers and jacket, with or without a tie, and ladies might choose a cocktail dress, trouser suit or stylish co-ordinates. On a casual night, perhaps when the ship is in port, or it is a deck party night, the choice of dress is down to personal choice. Full details of the nights for each dress code would be advised to you before your cruise.
The onboard currency is sterling, so there is no need to worry about exchange rate calculations, and it is a cashless society onboard. You register a payment card when boarding at the start of your cruise, and then all purchases made onboard, such as drinks, shore excursions, beauty treatments, gratuities etc, are charged to your cabin account.
Gratuities of £5 per passenger per day (£4 for cruises of more than 16 nights) are also added to your onboard account, and this covers tips to your cabin and dining room stewards.
A drinks package can be purchased, and at the time of this review the price was £17 per person per day. The package includes house, draught beer and soft drinks served by glass with meals, house wine, draught beer, cocktails and other alcoholic drinks, and soft drinks and juices served by the glass, in the bars during normal opening hours. Premium brands, drinks from the minibar, large bottles of water and tea & coffee from bars are excluded. The package can be purchased within the first 24 hours of the cruise, and must be for the whole duration of the cruise, and needs to be purchased by all passengers sharing a cabin.
In my opinion Columbus is a great addition to the CMV fleet, and will prove very popular with their existing customers. I also feel sure that there will also be a lot of people who have cruised on the ship before, when she was called Star Princess, Arcadia, Ocean Village or Pacific Pearl, and who will now cruise with CMV for the first time.
All prices mentioned are correct at the time of writing, but are of course subject to change at any time without notice. For up-to-date prices, more information, or to book your cruise on Columbus, call GoCruise on 01455821770 or 08002922850.