WHY CMV COLUMBUS?
--We chose the late dining option for the Waterfront Restaurant. We also took most breakfast and lunch meals at the Waterfront. The food was good and nicely presented. The pasta selections tended to be soggy or firm. Otherwise the entrees were satisfactory. The appetizers, however, were outstanding. The cafeteria on DGck 12 was always crowded, so we used it sparingly.
--By far the best entertainment of any cruise we have taken. The small troupe of dancers and singers are exceptionally good. The comedian was outstanding too. The tenor regaled us with traditional opera as well as popular vocals. The Entertainment Team gets an A+ from us.
--On sea days we attended Power Point lectures by a Russian specialist on Peter the Great and the Romanov's as well as St. Petersburg's history and the Siege of Leningrad. She was very informative and set the stage nicely for the highlight of the cruise, namely our two days in St. Petersburg. There were other lectures and demonstrations as well, but we did not attend them.
--All staff members struggle with English. It was often difficult to make our wishes know or understand them. The Reception Desk staff was very helpful however.
--Out cabin steward was great, always looking after the room. 8133 is centrally located, but is above the Connextions Lounge so it could be a bit noisy at bedtime. Fortunately I have a white noise app on my phone that covered up the partying below us.
WINE AND BEER
--Being moderate drinkers, we opted for the on-board opportunity to purchase five bottles of wines for 85 GBP and ten beers for 49 GBP. We'd have a half bottle of wine at dinner and the Waterfront wait staff would save the other half for the next night. Occasionally we had an ala carte glass of wine for about 5.60 GBP. We did not have any specialty coffees or colas.
EXCURSIONS AND PORT CALLS
--We took only one CMV Columbus excursion, at Stockholm. The panorama portion of the excursion was horrible. Big bus, narrow streets, no views. But the Vasa museum was spectacular and we had plenty of time to see this amazing old ship that has been restored.
--We took the train to Delft for a self-guide tour. If you use the station nearest the ship you need correct change or else a credit card with a PIN. We walked to Rotterdam Centraal Station and took the trains (about 20 minutes).
--We hit stormy waters so we were diverted from Copenhagen to Aahrus, which was a pleasant surprise. Everything you want to see is just minutes from the ship and there is no need to buy an excursion.
--A bust. The ship docked away from Wandemunde where you could catch a train into Rostock. A free shuttle was provided, but there was an hour and a half line to catch it. We did not go into Rostock or into Berlin (three hours bus ride each way).
--We did this on our own. Outstanding. The old city is just a 20 minute walk from the dock. We toured both the lower and upper city and enjoyed a great lunch.
--We opted for a small group, private tour that cost about half of what CMV was charging and we had an outstanding time.
--For a small charge, I took the ship shuttle to the city center to meet an old friend. On my own.
--Too little and too far. The port time was shortened by the fact that the port is an hour away from Stockholm. And we had very limited time. Bummer, except for the Vasa museum.
--Rain, rain, rain. Plus very little port time. Just about the time the rain stopped we had to leave. More time needed.
--Two of our sea days were stormy and the ship rocked and rolled. It caused a three hour delay into Tillbury on the last day.
EMBARKING AND DISEMBARKING
Perhaps our best ever embarking and worst ever disembarking. We walked on quickly on Day 1. On the last day there was mass confusion, missing signs, and a traffic jam that prevented us from express embarking. Fortunately our hired car waited an hour overtime for us, but we had to pay an extra 20 GBP because of the ship's incompetence. Certainly they have had late arrivals before and ought to know what to do to relieve the chaos. They seemed clueless.
Pleasantly roomy and nicely appointed. The bathroom was large and the shower was quite a bit bigger than any other cruise ship I have traveled on.