I was lucky enough to attend the naming ceremony and launch party of Cruise & Maritime Voyages newest ship, Magellan, thanks to a good friend of mine who invited me to join him on board for the overnight event. I to meet with my friend, Jordan in London as Cruise & Maritime Voyages had arranged and hired one of the MBNA Thames Clippers ferries. We boarded the ferry at the London Eye pier and around an hour and a half later arrived at Tilbury, where Magellan was berthed.
Upon disembarking the ferry, which berthed right in front of the ship we quickly made our way to the Cruise Terminal, which was only a short walk away and took no longer than 5 minutes. The Cruise Terminal is quite dated but is a listed building, so there is only so much which can be done to improve the facility. Nevertheless check-in was very swift and hassle free. There was plenty of seating and a reasonable number of check-in desks for the size of ship and number of guests boarding. As this was a special event I am sure it might have been different for passengers boarding.
Upon boarding Magellan we were warmly welcomed aboard and I was pleased to be greeted by the Guest Services Manager, Julie Thompson, who remembered me from my cruise aboard Marco Polo. We made our way to our cabin, which was a category 8 standard plus twin located in midships on Deck 5. First impressions of the cabin were good. The cabin was very spacious with a fairly large bathroom with shower. The cabin had a large window which offered a very good view. There were a few problems however as later that evening we got locked out of our cabin and some of the fixtures were very lose and broken in a few places.
Next we decided to explore the various passenger amenities aboard the ship, starting with the Reception and Shore Excursions on Deck 5. This was a pleasant area with very good lighting and a nice central seating area with lots of space too.
We continued our self-guided tour, moving up to Deck 8. Here we explored the Hampton’s Lounge Bar and Kensington Restaurant. Whilst in the restaurant we found our table where we would be seated for the gala dinner later than evening. Hampton’s Lounge Bar was a spacious lounge, split in two with a walkway down the middle where guests enter the Kensington Restaurant. The restaurant itself again was very spacious with a raised level in the centre with two self-service counters for when it is used as a buffet.
Moving up again to Deck 9 we entered the Captain’s Club, a fairly large open lounge area with a bar, dance floor and stage. Moving aft adjacent to the Captain’s Club was the Casino Royale which offers a number of gaming machines and tables.
Continuing aft along Deck 9 is The Mall, a large corridor on the starboard side of the ship, with many large windows and lots of seating. Located off of The Mall are the Internet Café, Sinatra’s Lounge Bar and Scott’s Nightclub. I liked Scott’s Nightclub which had a somewhat more modern feel compared to the others lounges.
At the aft of the ship on Deck 9 starboard is the Jade Wellness Centre. We were welcomed by a crew member who was kind enough to tour us around the spa, which includes a hair and beauty salon, treatment rooms, including a couples treatment room, sauna and thermal suite. Next to the Jade Wellness Centre is the Nansen Card & Bridge Room.
Now approaching 16:00 we swiftly made our way to Deck 10, where the Raffles Bistro is located, where we had something to eat. The buffet area had a fairly decent selection for a ship of its side. Service was good although the cutlery stations were at times empty. Unlike other ships I have been on the area was not full with people looking for a table.
After enjoying a brief lunch in the buffet, we made our way to the Magellan Show Lounge located forward on Decks 8&9 for the Naming Ceremony & Ship’s Blessing. Once in the show lounge we found a seat on the upper level towards the front, which gave us a good view of the stage. The show lounge has a number of pillars which can slightly obstruct the view of the stage, but thankfully these are quite thin.
Cruise Director, Richard Sykes introduced and welcomed guests to the ceremony. A number of speeches followed from CEO & Chairman Christian Verhounig and Commercial Director, Chris Coates. Various members of the ship’s crew and shore side staff were introduced and welcomed onto the stage. The Master of Magellan also gave a short speech. The ship’s Godmother Gloria Hunniford was then welcome to the stage before the ship was blessed and officially renamed.
Following the re-naming was a dance performance from Luke Mill and Laura Robinson, which are said to be the fastest rising Latin American dance stars in the UK. The dance performance was followed by Yvonne Howard, hailed by the international press as ‘one of the finest singing actresses the country has produced’ and pianist Juliet Edwards. Both performances were excellent. As enjoyable as the Naming Ceremony was there were a few technical difficulties with the microphones which was a little disappointing.
Magellan Tour (Continued)
Following the Naming Ceremony & Ship’s Blessing, I continued to tour the ship with Jordan before dinner which was scheduled for 17:30. Together we took the opportunity to view some of the show cabins located around the ship, all of which were spacious. Just before making our way to the Kensington Restaurant we took a stroll around the upper decks and viewed the pool and Eros Bar.
Entering the Kensington Restaurant we were directed to our table, but were not directed to the right side of the restaurant and did not get the warmest of welcomes. Other guests were escorted to their tables, whilst we were stood waiting and rudely pointed to the wrong table. The gala dinner was quite nice and the food was visually pleasing and presented well. I enjoyed most of the food served apart from the main course, which was not to my liking. But this was down to my personal opinion and taste. The main course was followed by the Cruise & Maritime Voyages traditionally Baked Alaska Parade. Unfortunately like the Naming Ceremony there were a few issues with the sound system and microphones. On a more positive note the dessert was very tasty.
Following the gala dinner Jordan and I quickly made our way up to Deck 12 ready for the fireworks display over the River Thames. We had a fantastic view from the top of the ship and the display was certainly very impressive!
After the fireworks display we enjoyed some of the festivities and entertainment around the ship and continued to explore, viewing the passengers amenities we had not yet had time to view, including the Gym and Neptune Observation Bar on Deck 11, the Shackleton’s Conference Room and Shopping Galleria on Deck 8, the Livingstone Library on Deck 9 and we also took a quick look at the Waldorf Restaurant on Deck 8 aft, which I preferred to the Kensington Restaurant.
Before retiring to our cabin for the night we enjoyed a drink or two at the Eros Bar on deck and met a few fellow members of the cruise and travel industry in the Captain’s Club, whilst we enjoyed some of the entertainment.
One problem I heard passengers talking about was problems with the toilets throughout the night. The following morning the toilets on Deck 10 were still out of order. At the same time toilets on Deck 9 were not in use either.
Breakfast & Disembarkation
After a good night’s sleep we awoke around 06:15 and headed for the Raffles Bistro on Deck 10 for breakfast. There was quite a good selection to choose from. I always like a cooked traditional full English breakfast and was happy with the food available. I was a little confused, as were other passengers, as to why the drinks stations on the starboard side was in use but the portside was not. A few passengers had to ask myself and crew members where they could get a drink from.
We finally disembarked Magellan at around 08:30. There were no queues although this was obviously not a cruise with paying passengers. Jordan was booked on the 09:00 coach to London, as was I, although I would not be getting the coach back to London. Instead my father came to pick me up from the Cruise Terminal for the journey home to Colchester. Jordan ended up getting the ferry across to Gravesend to take some photographs of Magellan from the other side of the River Thames and then got the train to London and onwards to Southampton.