Having just returned from my fourteenth cruise, I just got off the phone from my travel agent after booking my eighteenth. I've booked myself and our Non-Executive Director, Gavin Pamment on the maiden voyage of Cruise & Maritime Voyages new flagship, Columbus, departing London, Tilbury in June 2017.
Soon to be the new flagship of the Cruise & Maritime Voyages fleet, the ship was originally launched in 1989 and has been operated by a number of different cruise lines since, including P&O Cruises, Ocean Village and most recently P&O Cruises Australia as Pacific Pearl. The 63,786 GTR ship was extensively refurbished in August 2015 and will be upgraded further in April 2017 before joining the Cruise & Maritime Voyages fleet.
The 3 night cruise which we are booked on departs the ship's home port, Tilbury, on 11 June 2016. Our two ports of call are Amsterdam and Antwerp, which both Gavin and I have been to a number of times on our recent cruises. We're looking forward to return to the two beautiful European cities and are very excited to be booked on the maiden voyage of Columbus!
Perhaps we might see you aboard?...
On 25 March 2016, Gavin and I will be re-boarding Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' Balmoral, having just disembarked from the cruise before. We first embark Balmoral in Southampton on 18 March 2016 for the first cruise, the 7 cruise, before arriving back in Southampton on 25 March.
We are both really looking forward to our first ever and rather last minute back-to-back cruise and spending an extra 2 nights on board! Our port of call, Boulogne-sur-Mer in France will also be a new experience.
On 21 March 2016, I'll be reunited with Cruise & Maritime Voyages' Azores, albeit under the new name Astoria. In fact I'll be on the first sailing under the new name. I previously sailed on board the ship in August 2015 for a short 2 night repositioning cruise from Liverpool to Bristol, which also included a short visit to Dublin. I enjoyed the 2 nights, but despite my short time on board, I had already began to get bored, therefore I am a little apprehensive about spending 7 nights on the ship, but luckily this itinerary is port intensive and only includes one sea day.
This 'Scottish Isles & Emerald Isle' itinerary will set sail from Bristol Avonmouth visiting various Scottish and Irish ports. On this cruise, I'll be visiting two new places - Stornoway and Greenock - and while I may have been to the other ports before, I am still very much enjoying the chance to return, especially to the picturesque Tobermory.
Launched in 1946, Astoria is officially the oldest cruise ship still in passenger service. At just over 12,000 GT, the ship is more like a private yacht, than a cruise ship.
On 18 March 2016 I will be boarding Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' 43,537 GT Balmoral in Southampton. Joining me on board will be our Non-Executive Director, Gavin Pamment. This will be our third cruise with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, but at 7 nights will also be our longest cruise yet. As many of you will know from our previous cruises, we generally tend to do shorter cruises.
This will be Gavin's first time on board Balmoral, where as I have previously visited the ship so know what to expect a little more. The ship was originally built in 1988 as Crown Odyssey but has since sailed with a number of different cruise lines. In 2008 Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines brought the ship and re-named her Balmoral. The ship was extensively refurbished and was also lengthen by 30 meters. She is by no means the largest or most impressive cruise ship afloat, but is a more traditionally styled, medium sized cruise ship, carrying a maximum of around 1,350 passengers.
This 7 night cruise offers a slightly different and interesting itinerary. Entitled 'River, Canals & City Overnight' the cruise will take us to some of Europe's finest cities, visiting three beautiful countries: Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Two of the three ports of call are also overnight stays, meaning we will have plenty of time in port and to go ashore and explore. We've got one sea day, but there's also plenty of time cruising the scenic canals and rivers as we sail into and out of port, particularly Amsterdam as we cruise along the busy North Sea Canal.
I am really very excited about this cruise, especially as it will be my longest yet, but both Gavin and I are thrilled to be cruising with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines again, which in my opinion is one of the friendliest cruise lines. As always upon our return we will be posting a full cruise review and photos, but you will also be able to follow along on our Facebook and Twitter pages too whilst we are aboard!
24 year old Harry Cotterill is one of the youngest cruise bloggers in the world. He's become known across the world for his amazing talent of drawing cruise ships!