The morning of 25th September 2018 could mirror a day in summer, the sun shone brightly and it was pleasantly warm day even though we are in autumn. Tilbury Cruise port may not be the most glamorising places to visit but what counts is what ship is moored. I heard many good things about Columbus and many of my clients have booked and come back very happy. The ship measuring 811 feet is classified as medium size vessel which is why she can dock in the London port of Tilbury.
After our security check I stepped into the atrium where all visitors first enter. First impressions always stick and I was not disappointed. I began to warm to this classic ship and our guide took us to the Dome observatory on deck 14 for coffee and pastries. I can just imagine it, with binoculars at the ready this area is a great way to see what’s around you. The observation dome virtually covering the 360o of this area giving you great views especially on her carefully selected itineraries such as the fjords. The Dome Observatory doubles up as a nightclub in the evening, star gazing whilst listening to Michael Jackson or Tom Jones, fantastic.
As our CMV guide showed us around the ship I noticed how pleasant and warm the crew were. This is the norm on most cruise lines and well done to the crew, they were great. The ship was clean, well signed and the areas of entertainment were easily accessible. The sun deck (top deck) was well groomed with the centre swimming pool being the main attraction. I could not help notice the arch over the pool, must be great on a warm summers night doing the now famous white parties. Another feature, not new but entertaining, was the large screen above the pool. Watching all those great movies under the Milky Way. The walk around the pool deck was pleasant, fake grass so much better than other imitation floors that I have walked on. There are many areas for sun bathing and relaxing, always a plus. Hot tubs are available at the back of the Columbus deck (8).For those who enjoy a cigarette there are smoking areas along the upper open decks.
Board/card games rooms are available, two in fact, one with matching Chesterfields and a cosy fireplace. In the same area a standard size ping pong table as well as a small conference room. Library (English/German), gym, beauty salon and relaxation areas for Spa and sauna are also available (JadeSpa). The most surprising one are the warm stone beds which are complimentary, but you do have to book in advance.
The cabins all were of a reasonable size with all the mod cons you require on a cruise. The two suites that we were shown had walk in wardrobes, just as well for the extra suitcase that you can bring on board. Some ocean view cabins have an obstruction view which is all explained at time of booking.
As we entered the last third of our tour we visited two optional restaurants, one Indian (£14pp) and one Mediterranean (£25pp), practical and well maintained. What caught my eye was the small cafés that we passed along our visit. Hemmingway’s at the atrium and a small “corner” café serving you coffee by trained baristas as well as in the internet area. With a world cruise ear marked for the Columbus I noticed the laundrette, this is a must have especially on long journeys. (Who said life was boring whilst at the laundrette?). As we entered the Promenade deck (7) we were shown the theatre area, moving stage was the main feature.
With cruising the most sought after areas of relaxation are the drinking venues. I was really taken aback by the ones on this ship, all different in their own right. One is at the Captains Club and casino aptly located on the Recreation Deck number 5, watching folks, whilst sipping a cocktail, bet on the red when it lands on the black can’t be matched anywhere. The deck above (Main) you have the main beverages and eateries. Connexions bar a slick and 30s feel about the place with its woven design like chairs it reminded me of yesteryear. (The bar is very art deco). With a small stage for singers it must be a great place to enjoy a drink. As we neared the back of the ship the Taverner’s Pub welcomed me with a great choice of brews and lagers. Large enough to accommodate many folks, again with a small stage for music.
With all ship visits the finale is the dining area, on this ship it’s called Waterfront restaurant. The area leading to the back was not as open planned as other ships, many areas were separated by five foot panels decorated with green foliage on top. I noticed a small private dining area beautifully decorated with a large selection of wines on one side. At the back of the ship, the large 10 seater tables are located, although I did see 2, 4, 6 and 8 tables scattered across the restaurant. Waiter service with one formal night per 7 night sailings is the norm here. Alternative buffet restaurant is the Plantation on the Lido Deck (12) where you can have breakfast, Lunch and dinner al fresco if you desire.
Food was one of the best I tasted, a five course meal was laid out with waiter service including wine, maybe to woo the agents or not, it tasted great, for me a three course would’ve been sufficient or even in the buffet.
Overall impression was more than what I expected. I will continue to recommend this ship to my clients, if you are after climbing walls, large casinos, water features, sports area this is not for you. If you want to “break away” from the usual norm of everyday life and relax for a week seeing some of Europe’s most beautiful coastlines then this is for you. Affordable, comfortable and well looked after.
Come and join me in the Fjords 22nd July 2019 for 6 days.