Magellan Cruise Review by Papa Shep
- Sail Date: October 2018
- Destination: Norwegian Fjords
We choose to purchase the premium package and found this financially very beneficial as we were given an upgrade from a guaranteed outside cabin to a superior twin outside cabin (6199) as well as including the tips and a couple of free bottle of wine. (We opened 1 bottle but preferred to drink in the bars so we left the other bottle unopened in our cabin at the end of the cruise.
We also choose the return bus ride from Victoria Coach station to get us to and from the ship. This was a good and cheap option as the bus took us straight to the ship for embarkation and as we had received an email that the ship would be sailing an hour earlier than originally planned (This was the first day after the change of time for daylight savings) and from a different wharf, we didn't have to worry knowing the ship would have to wait for us if we were late. Of course we were not late but as we were one of the last to arrive embarkation for us was quick and easy. We were through and on the ship within 15 minutes.
Once on board we were given our cruise card and pointed to our deck and room which we had to find for ourselves. The ship uses a separate card for entry to your room which was disappointing that the cruise card couldn't be used to open your cabin door. So for the entire cruise we had to have our cruise card for drinks and a room card to get into our cabin. This was an inconvenience that we soon got used to.
Our cabin no. 6199 was spacious we thought with a large window on the Starboard side. It had one of the best showers we have had on a ship with good strong flow and plenty of hot water that stayed inside the shower recess and did not go onto the bathroom floor and the mirror did not fog up!!! There was good closet space, although we did have to ask for an additional 20 coat hangers that were promptly provided. We hung all our clothes up and had 2 large empty suitcases that didn't fit under the beds so we placed them against the wall and that was fine. Even though we were at the back of the ship on deck 6, throughout the cruise we DID NOT have any strange smells in our cabin and the ONLY engine noise we had was when the ship engines started up or slowed down to pick up the pilot and this would last only for about 20 minutes but was not too obtrusive. It didn't bother us.
Naturally we explored the ship and like every other ship we have been on the layouts are very similar with bars, showroom, general entertainment areas, public areas, dining areas, photography, shopping and pool and deck areas. The main restaurants, a small cocktail lounge, table tennis and shopping areas (Small and limited in stock compared to other ships but we found some items that we bought) were on deck 8. On Deck 9 were the bars (plenty and all good) and other drinking areas, small casino and a coffee lounge. Deck 10 had the bistro and main deck area which was rarely used during our cruise due to the time of year and some weather conditions on some sailing days. The ship was easy enough to get around and while some may say the colour scheme may be outdated it was all good and functional and did not detract from our experience of an older ship. Some people would be excited and call it "retro" it depends on your perspective.
After reading ship reviews and watching some you tube videos on the showroom entertainment we were worried as it didn't look exciting. How wrong we were!! The 4 main singers CAN sing and sing very well. The only observance I would say is that not all of the songs they sang I thought best displayed their voices and the ad-libbing by the males between songs needed to be improved. There is also a 6 piece live band that accompanies the singers who were FANTASTIC! I will make special mention of the violinist who played many solos and accompanied a pianist in one of the cocktail bars as he was OUTSTANDING!! One of the singers had her own night singing opera. She was fantastic and received a standing ovation. This was the last night of the cruise and she is spectacular singer. The dancers were also great and in particular a couple of the male dancers did some outstanding Russian dancing moves. The costumes were very colourful and exciting. Sometimes the choreography was a bit basic but overall there were some of the best shows we have seen on a cruise ship.
On four nights we had 2 comedians, one was funny enough for me while the other one was probably past his best, but did say 2 funny lines when he did an adlib.
Overall we looked forward each night to the shows.
Activities & Guest Speakers
The only activities that interested us were the Guest Speakers, The Star man talking about the stars and the Northern Lights was very fascinating and passionate about his studies, The Whale man was a bit dry for me and the craft person, we weren’t interested in.
The shipboard activities weren’t to our liking much except some of the quizzes, although I didn’t think it was good when you self-marked your own quiz. The late night entertainment was reasonable at times but again the ad lobbing by some of the singers when hosting wasn’t good at all. The disco for us was also a bit disappointing as the music wasn’t always to our liking. But for other passengers, the game shows were well attended to and they obviously liked them.
The cruise entertainment director David was fantastic and full of energy and new when to take the Mickey out of passenger contestants. His personality and style helped make the cruise!
Around the bars, the music and singers were good and relaxing. Passengers were dancing and enjoying listening as we did to the pianist and violinist in the Hampton’s Lounge before and after dinner.
The captain was seen regularly walking around and talking to passengers. We had a chat to him when someone we were sitting with thought he was a drinks waiter and asked him for a drink. The Captain was the most approachable and friendly Captain we have had on any of our cruises. He had a personality, told some jokes and we congratulated him on his steering of the ship through the hurricane winds. He then explained what he did and why he did it and the ships ability to cope in simple terms. The Captain also told us that during his previous 16 trips to Alta in Norway he had never seen the Northern Lights until this cruise. He also said that many of his visits to Norway were during the warmer months.
We dined each evening in late session in the Kensington Restaurant placed on a table of 8. We had marvellous table guests and we all got on very well. This helps to make a cruise if you dine with people you get on with. We had a lot of laughs and good conversation. Each evening the 6 course meals were delicious and filling. The variety and quality for our meals were outstanding. For me it was hard to choose which main meal I wanted so I would ask our waiter each night for his recommendation and to surprise me. He did very well and I enjoyed all of my meals. Our drinks waiter was also very good having my glass of red waiting for me each evening. The waiters were very popular on our table.
We had breakfast and most lunches at the Bistro. We found if it was very busy just wait 20 minutes and there would be plenty of tables. The food quality and variety was reasonable here without being outstanding. Sometimes they were short of coffee mugs or replacing meals but serving so many people this can happen and you just wait a few moments. I will say that I didn’t like the breakfast sausages. To me they didn’t taste too good but, most of the passengers were eating them.
The Cruise, Ports and Excursions.
To us the Magellan has character and charm and is not busy with too many passengers. It is easy to get around and even though we travelled through a Gale Force 11, 120kmph Hurricane winds with 7-9 metre waves for 20 hours on our first full sailing day, WE LOVED OUR CRUISE.
We later spoke to the Captain on his remarkable handling of the ship during the hurricane winds. He told us that he knew the capabilities of the ship and that it could take plenty more before it became a concern. He said he had the ship listing at 60 degrees to tackle the winds as the ship could go to an 85 degree list safely. He also said that land during this time was still over 150 miles away so he would have to have gone further into the winds to go to a port and the n the remaining itinerary would have to have been changed to allow us to return to England on time. We have no problems on the decisions he made that day.
The Ports we visited were wonderful with Bergan being our favourite. Alta came second because even though it snowed in the morning and we had heavy cloud all day and the tour guide said we only had a 47% chance of seeing the Northern Lights, we still saw them. The tour guide took us out at 8.00p.m to a secluded place about 55km inland and there we had a clear sky and for 2 hours we witnessed the magic and dancing lights. This was a highlight of the cruise. When we returned to the ship the Lights were still showing over the ship but not as bright as we saw them on the excursion with no town lights to distract. We also saw wild reindeer on the road as we travelled on the excursion.
The coldest place we visited was the North Cape. At minus 3 and with horizontal bitting wind this was invigorating.
All of the ports we visited had good and very good points of interest for us and we were glad we visited them. We saw many sights that we had never seen again and the snow-capped mountains, Fjords and wildlife was spectacular.
When we booked our excursions we thought they were a bit pricey but checking local Norway websites for private tours we found the ship tours were very reasonable and value for money. Norway is an expensive place to visit with a small paper cup of instant coffee and a small coke costing 84 Krone (about 17 Australian dollars or about 8 GBP)
For us travelling on the cruise line bus to Victoria Coach Station disembarkation was quick and easy. The ship docked at Tilbury around 8.15a.m. and we left the ship on schedule at 10.05a.m picked up our bags and got onto the bus and even though it was Remembrance Day (11/11) we had an easy drive into London, travelling over Tower Bridge, and were at Victoria by 11.30 a.m. We did see other groups waiting to disembark were running over an hour late but did not know why.
In summery we had a great time, we didn’t suffer any sea sickness and would easily travel on Magellan again. While I have read some other reviews of this same cruise I understand that everyone has their own expectations and experiences and any review is subjective. However, you do need to remember that this IS NOT a 5 star party ship, it is an older ship and that must be taken into consideration. You can either look at events as disappointing or you can look at them as an adventure. Looking back and at the time we thought the hurricane was an adventure to experience and say we did it. (I hope that we don’t have to do it again) My point is once you see things in a negative light it makes it difficult to enjoy the positives. The cruise, ports and excursions exceeded our expectations and as such we had a great time.
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