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cvabishop

Magellan to Honfleur and Rouen

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Itinerary

Disrupted due to weather with Zeebrugge cut out. The upside was that we had a full day in Rouen which was better than the scheduled late afternoon/evening and there is more to do/see in Rouen at this time of year than in Bruges. It did however mean that the Seine transit was in darkness both ways although I did see some of it by moonlight on the way back. A full day in Honfleur wasn’t really necessary as you can take in all the essentials in 2-3 hours but we did have lovely sunshine and were able to sit outside in a harbour front cafe for coffee.

Outbound to Le Havre the sea was quite rough as it also was immediately after departure from Honfleur on the way back although it calmed down as the evening went on.

An advantage of ‘smaller’ ships is that they can visit attractive ports that the big vessels cannot reach. You won’t find Cunard or P&O at Rouen for example.

At Rouen and Honfleur free shuttle buses were provided from ship to town. With fewer passengers than the bigger ships it is much easier to get off and on at ports with no queues.

Ship

I was impressed with Magellan which is in very good condition for her age. She was originally Carnival’s ground breaking ‘Holiday’ built in the mid 1980s and introduced many innovations at a time when cruise ships were often just old converted liners. The interior décor has changed substantially over the years but the basic layout remains much as it was, the outstanding two deck show lounge being virtually untouched and an excellent design with very good sightlines from all parts.

Cabins are a bit on the small side for those accustomed to current large cruise ship standards but perfectly adequate and the beds were comfortable. The shower tended to run cold early evening though, probably due to demand.

At 46,000 gross tons Magellan is small by today’s standards (but about the same capacity as Titanic!) and carries just 1,400 passengers. To me this was part of her charm as a classic vessel with lots of traditional nautical features such as interesting nooks and crannies to explore, much varnished woodwork and polished brass and vast areas of genuine teak decks. In short a ‘proper ship’ compared with today’s behemoths. She does not lack facilities with a variety of differing public rooms and various internal and external bars. At some times during the cruise these were crowded which reflected that the weather precluded use of the outside decks. In sunny climes passengers would be more widely distributed around the vessel.

Sizewise she is a bit bigger that Pont Aven in grt but is in a different dimension when it comes to onboard space in cabins and public facilities. There is simply no comparison.

Catering was generally satisfactory. Evening meals were of a high standard with four courses but did not feature more exotic dishes such as lobster except at a supplementary cost. Bigger ships of course have extra cost speciality restaurants. The buffet was very popular for breakfast and lunch and food best described as adequate rather than outstanding but appropriate to a budget cruise operation so no complaints in that respect.

Evening entertainment in the show lounge was OK but not especially exciting, being song and dance routines with different themes which were a bit samey. But it must be difficult to secure top class acts with so many cruise ships competing for similar talent. Daytime activities were conventional, Bingo, quizzes and the like and not really for us but there was always somewhere comfortable to sit and read. The evening guitarist/singer in the Pub was very good.

Drinks prices were reasonable and similar to UK pub prices with no extra gratuities added. The non alcoholic cocktails were particularly good value at £2.85.

Passengers

Probably 98% Brits and no children on board. Our table companions were pleasant and congenial. Dress code was followed to some extent but jacket and tie was quite OK for the formal evening. Not ‘stuffy’ at all.

Crew

Multinational as expected bur they seemed to be well trained and very friendly with attention to detail. No complaints whatsoever on that score and well up to standards of more upmarket cruise lines.

Overall

C&M is generally considered to be a budget operation and as long as you bear that in mind, on our experience you are unlikely to be disappointed. I thought Magellan punched well above its weight in delivering the cruise experience. You could pay a lot more and not get much better.

We thought we got what we paid for despite the weather problems. C&M seems to be an efficient operation.

Looking at the BF Christmas/New Year offerings they are simply not in the same ball park as Magellan. Much of Pont Aven’s internal space is taken up with the garage and her public rooms are not a patch on those onboard Magellan which offers a similar itinerary at a comparable price. Cabins are around twice the size with proper beds rather than bunks and of course all food is included with a four course evening meal and you get your own cabin stewards etc.

If you want to do this itinerary up the Seine then C&M is a no brainer over BF.

 

If anyone would like to see Rouen/Honfleur photos I will post separately.

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Great report and perhaps warrants a trip sometime on a proper cruise ship. How do they handle the cars and luggage at the departure port ? Is it like P&O in Southampton ?

A little unfair to compare it with PA facility wise as they do 21/2 extra decks to play with.

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I compared with BF as prices are very similar but you get so much more for your money with Cruise and Maritime.

I like PA, she is fine as an overnight ferry which was what she was designed for and delivers very well. You need a bit more for a longer trip I think.

Arrival and departure at Tilbury is very slick. There is a well signed dedicated car park. You drive in and drop off your luggage which is delivered directly to the ship (and arrived before we did!). You then drive to a designated parking spot.

There is then a shuttle bus which takes you a few hundred yards to the cruise terminal where you go through the formalities. before boarding which is pretty painless.

On return your luggage is taken ashore and you are told when to disembark. You collect your luggage in the terminal and can then either take the shuttle bus or simply walk around to your car in the car park which takes just five minutes. The able bodied are encouraged to walk which we did, those of impaired mobility are transported. Very impressive orgnisation I thought.

 

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Thanks for the quick reply. More consideration needed as it a bit trek to get from Worcester to Tilbury at our age. I will not say what age but I have been retired for 15 years. Anyway we will make Portsmouth  for the Xmas trip.

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Yes. the M25 is always a lottery. All I can say is that embarking on a ship is a much better experience than takiing a flight.

I like Portsmouth as I can drive there in 1h15. and frequently visit the dockyard to meet up with friends and will be doing so next week.

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Thanks Colin, in laws have travelled with C&M and have found them good value too. I noticed the plastic door entry card in the photo, I've got a few of those rattling around in a draw.

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Nice report, thank you for sharing. I think the new blue hull makes Magellan look much better, almost a different ship!

I've been looking at a CMV cruise next October to Iceland, from Newcastle on the Marco Polo. I've been looking at taking the Norrona for some time now but this cruise is tempting because of course it removes the need to get to/from Denmark, goes to all the places (and more) i'd like to see and as such is probably better value for money. The ship even spends a couple of nights in Reykjavik. I sailed on Marco Polo in 2015 to Norway and liked her very much. 

Edited by Ryan_H
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Ryan that answers a question I was going to put about Marco Polo. That sometimes sails from Avonmouth which would be ok for us.

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1 hour ago, Ryan_H said:

Nice report, thank you for sharing. I think the new blue hull makes Magellan look much better, almost a different ship!

I've been looking at a CMV cruise next October to Iceland, from Newcastle on the Marco Polo. I've been looking at taking the Norrona for some time now but this cruise is tempting because of course it removes the need to get to/from Denmark, goes to all the places (and more) i'd like to see and as such is probably better value for money. The ship even spends a couple of nights in Reykjavik. I sailed on Marco Polo in 2015 to Norway and liked her very much. 

Not forgetting that Smyril Line isn't exactly cheap either, take a van and have a decent cabin and it's well over £2k... brochure's nice though!

We saw Narrona at Hirtshals at the end of September.

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