Cruise & Maritime Voyage’s acquired ‘Magellan’ in 2015 and she was their flag ship until the recent arrival of ‘Columbus’. She was formerly owned by Carnival and Ibero Cruises and was first launched in 1985 (refurbished in 2010). She weighs 46,052 tonnes, is 728’ long with 9 passenger decks, 660 crew, 1250 passengers and 15 cabin types.
The 726 cabins are divided into 5 grades of inside cabin, 7 grades of outside cabin (both including dedicated cabins for single passengers – 150 in total, at a supplemental cost of 25%) and three categories of suite (14 in total). They are all a reasonable size with inside cabins measuring 135 – 143 sq ft, depending on category, and outside cabins 139 -145 sq ft. The main difference between the categories is their position on the ship, although Category 6 outside cabins have portholes, rather than picture windows.
Bed configuration can usually be double, twin or even ‘L’ shaped (despite the description) and I was particularly taken by the use of frosted mirrors in the inside cabins, enhancing lightness, during my recent ship visit in Liverpool. Each of the suites on deck 11, has a balcony and commendably are proper suites – with a fixed panel separating the living area from the bedroom. The balconies generally overlook the lifeboats below and can suffer from a small partial obstruction, but not one that significantly detracts from the view, to my mind.
What struck me most during my time on board was the huge open teak deck space available. It seemed to me to be a lot more than you would find on much larger ships and makes ‘Magellan’ infinitely suited to sailing itineraries in warmer climes, where this space can be put to best use -as you might expect from a ship named after the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe! There are 3 deck bars (to complement the 3 interior bars, see below), 2 on deck 10 and one on deck 11, two sea water swimming pools and 3 jacuzzis/whirlpools (one nicely placed on the Sun (top) deck under the eaves of the funnel.
Coupled with the outdoor stage on deck 11, these are excellent areas to experience sail aways with a bit of live music and a drink in hand! I particularly liked the tranquillity of the Sun Terrace on deck 9: at the back of the ship and with a calming water pool (not for swimming!) the arrangement of smart grey rattan seats and tables, accompanied by cosy blankets (we were in Liverpool after all) had a distinctly classy and semi private feel, especially as the seating is sheltered from the elements and the decks above.
There is also a Promenade deck (deck 10) which you can nearly circumnavigate the ship on, prevented from doing so only by the Bridge. This feeling of spaciousness is enhanced further by wide corridors and stairways inside the ship, although some of the staircases are a bit steep. There are plenty of lifts (8 in total) to be used, although they do have a small passenger capacity.
Nearly all of the inside public rooms are located on decks 8 and 9, apart from Reception (deck 5), Raffle’s Bistro (deck 10) and a reasonable sized Gym (deck 11). The lounges are intimately comfortable with panoramic seating and good sea views.
At the front of deck 8 is the Magellan Show Lounge, extending over two decks and with tiered seating like the Theatres in more modern cruise ships. As a result, sight lines are good from any of the range of seats (benches, arm chairs, sofas for two). Atypically the Lounge also has windows, offering natural light or curtains for evening use and ‘Magellan’ employs a live band/orchestra for all its shows (rather than using pre recorded backing tracks). Moving out of the Show Lounge and going aft is the Shopping Galleria, Hamptons Bar and the restaurants: the Kensington Restaurant (mid ships) and the Waldorf Restaurant (at the stern of the ship).
Both restaurants offer the same menu serviced by the galley which is situated in between them both. Full English breakfast, five course lunches and dinners are on offer. Breakfasts and lunches are served on an open seating basis, whilst evening meals are traditional fixed sittings (6.30pm and 8.30pm) and guests are assigned a table number: odd numbers in the Kensington and even in the Waldorf. As you cannot walk through the galley, you have to walk up to deck 9, along and back down to travel from one restaurant to the other. The Kensington restaurant is decked out in green, black and white colours, with glass screens breaking up the room and has a buffet station for optional self service breakfasts. The Waldorf restaurant has a white, brown and yellow décor.
Deck 9 has the upper level of the Magellan Show Lounge at the bow, then the photo gallery moving aft, the Captains Club (a large lounge and bar in the centre of the ship with a small stage, the obvious hub and central meeting place of the ship), the Casino Royal (with a decent selection and number of gaming tables and machines), the Livingstone Library, Sinatra’s Lounge Bar, The Mall (a long and wide internal promenade on both port and starboard sides, with plenty of ocean view seating), Taverners Pub (formerly Scotts Nightclub), the Nansen Card Room and the Jade Wellness Centre.
Of particular note is Sinatra’s Lounge Bar – decked out in black and white, with a feature wall of monochrome Hollywood film stars as you enter and a bank of wall mounted TVs offering an extensive range of viewing options from TV programmes to presentations. The Taverners Pub decorated with London street scenes, a tartan carpet, darts board and table football, serving drinks only and the Jade Wellness Centre: a beautifully tranquil setting at the back of the ship, decorated with green mosaic tiles, redwood and grey treatment rooms. Impressively large for the size of ship, it offers hair dressing facilities and reasonably priced spa and beauty treatments (eg. a Ladies top to toe 40 minute treatment was advertised at £47).
Raffles Bistro is the self service restaurant on ‘Magellan’. It was not open for service whilst I was on board, but appeared to offer a reasonable selection of food, from designated serving stations, eg. pub food, pizzas, vegan food, salads and cold cuts, Asian and diets (gluten, dairy, sugar and lactose free dishes were available).
Weather permitting, there is also a Pool (side) Grill. ‘Magellan’ offers limited speciality dining in the shape of ‘Fusion’ (an Indian restaurant next to Raffles Bistro with a cover charge of approx. £14 pp), but during some cruises additional cost ‘Surf & Turf’ menus (£19 pp for 180g fillet steak and 120g lobster tail) or ‘Chef’s Table’ (£49 pp, nine course degustation menu with wine, galley tour and photographs), held in Hampton’s Lounge Bar, maybe available. There is also an ice cream (Gelato) servery on deck and a coffee and cake ‘Taste Comes Alive’ area, next to Sinatra’s Bar (selling Whittard teas and Piazza D’Oro coffees).
Walking round the ship, there is not a lot of art work to see, apart from mosaics on some stair wells, but the colour scheme of creams, beige and magnolia tones is restful and welcoming.
Although I have already mentioned the extensive deck space, there is plenty to do within the ship too: live music is on offer in each lounge, along with the rest of the musical entertainment and Cruise & Maritime offer an additional Enrichment Programme of daytime activities, including guest entertainers, speakers and craft specialists (typically on cruises of 5 nights duration or longer).
They have also recently introduced an Additions Programme – bookable up to 7 days prior to sailing date. There are 4 onboard packages available from CMV Value: pre paying gratuities (£6 pp/day, rather than £7pp/day if paid on board), CMV Plus: gratuities and an alcoholic house drinks package (£23 pp/day with every 7th day free), right the way up to CMV VIP: a package including premium drinks, discounts on speciality restaurants, daily water in the cabin and a VIP party (£29 pp/day, with every 7th day free).
All in all ‘Magellan’ is a small-medium sized ship with large public spaces (both inside and on deck), offering ‘no fly’ cruises from one of 8 ports round the UK (currently Tilbury, Newcastle, Liverpool, Dundee, Dublin, Belfast, Cobh & Bristol). Most itineraries are ‘adult only’, although a few, during school holidays, are multi generational. The ship will appeal to cruisers who like a traditional British cruise experience, on a slightly older ship (no climbing walls or FlowRiders, but perhaps the odd creak and groan) offering good value for money without pretence.