Welcome to the World of CMV

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) has gained an enviable reputation for offering great value scenic cruising holidays from a range of convenient UK ports. In addition, CMV Signature River Cruises unfold the wonders of Europe’s rivers in premium style and comfort.

This blog is a window on the World of CMV. Read interesting articles, meet some of our team and find out more about some of the wonderful places we sail to.

 

Every day the Daily Programme suggests, as a guide, a mode of dress for that particular evening's events. There are generally two 'formal' or gala nights planned on each cruise of six nights or longer when many gentlemen wear a dinner jacket, although a lounge suit is quite acceptable. The ladies on these occasions have a chance to dress up and often opt for evening or cocktail dresses.

On evenings proposed as 'informal', a suit or smart jacket and trousers, with or without a tie, for the men is suggested and the ladies have further opportunities to look elegant in cocktail dresses or trouser suits.

A 'casual' recommendation often covers evenings spent in port or when a special event such as a deck party is scheduled. 

During the day, attitudes are very relaxed and informality is key. Casual clothing is quite sufficient  during the days at sea and for time spent ashore.

 

What To Wear Infographic

They are one of the most spectacular sights in the natural world, the Northern Lights have inspired people for generations, with more and more looking to seek out the wonder steeped in tradition and mystery.

Northern lights cruise

The Northern Lights are rare, mainly because of the number of elements needed to create them. You may need to spend some days in a particular destination to catch a glimpse, but even then it is no guarantee.

So that makes a northern lights cruise the ideal solution to seeing the lights. Our cruises visit a number of ports of call, so you are constantly on the hunt, giving you a great opportunity to catch the spectacle.

Marco Polo in the Canaries

The days in the UK were getting cooler. Falling leaves heralded the onset of another Winter. Time to head for the Sun. I had booked the cruise to travel South on  ‘Marco Polo’. This would be the fourth time I had cruised on this iconic ship. A taxi came to my Gloucestershire home at lunchtime and I was in Bristol Avonmouth before 2 pm. Boarding is straightforward – sign a health declaration; show your cruise ticket and passport; and collect your cruise card (for cashless transactions while aboard).

All things cruise; how good is your nautical knowledgeSure, you probably know your cruises. You’ve probably been on a few mini cruises, or even a world cruise. You probably know the difference between the berth and the bow, but how many answers can you get on our cruise ship quiz?

This is your port of call for the best facts and questions about cruises, so let’s see if you warrant a place at the Captain’s table.

Lisbon is Europe’s second oldest capital (after Athens), and was once home to the world’s greatest explorers like Vasco da Gama, Prince Henry the Navigator and of course our favourite explorer Magellan! Becoming the first true world city, Lisbon was the capital of an empire spreading over all seven continents from South America (Brazil) to Asia (Macao). The former launch pad for many of the world’s greatest voyages is now where modern travellers come to explore.

Lisbon Panorama

CopenhagenCopenhagen is certainly the coolest kid on the Nordic block - the Danish capital gives Scandinavia that X factor.

It has parks, beaches, award-winning food, safe cycling routes and lots of cool attractions, and with all this in mind it is unsurprising that Copenhagen and Denmark regularly top the international happiness surveys.

If you are going on a planned mini cruise to Copenhagen, then follow our guide to help you tap into the city’s happy vibe. We reveal the top three excursions you can do, top free attractions you can visit and share some expert tips you should be aware of before your trip.

Orkeny IslandsHauntingly beautiful wide open vistas, a proud Norse heritage and a thriving local community. Is it any wonder that the islands of the Orkneys cast such a magical spell over visitors?

For many people, the Orkney Islands are no more than a small smattering of tiny specks on a map of the British Isles, sitting off the eastern tip of the Scottish mainland. Along with the Shetland Isles (which are even further north), the Orkneys represent the far reaches of the United Kingdom where it stretches up into the North Sea and the realms of Scandinavia. In fact, so far north are these outposts, that Orkney capital Kirkwall sits on the same latitude as the Nordic capitals of Oslo and Stockholm – but thanks to the Gulf Stream, enjoys a milder climate.

Few countries are as dynamic, dramatic and beautiful as Norway. Journey through the ancient waterways of this unique Scandinavian country on this once-in-a-lifetime Norwegian fjords cruise, where you will experience some of the most stunning landscapes, fascinating history and impressive architecture in Europe. There are an endless array of things to do and see in Norway, but here are our ultimate favourite experiences in an unforgettable Norway cruise.

See our full shore excursions list.

1 Alta The Igloo Hotel
2. Honningsvåg The North Cape
3. Flåm The Flåm Railway
4. Alta In Search of the Aurora Borealis
5. Åndalsnes Rauma Railway & Bjorli
6. Eidfjord Scenic Fossli & Vøringsfoss Waterfall
7. Åndalsnes Romsdal Valley & Bjorli
8. Geiranger Scenic Geiranger
9. Bergen Bergen Intro & Funicular
10. Flåm Norway in a Nutshell

 

GBRSpectacular, mesmerising and awe-inspiring. As one of the seven wonders of the natural world, a cruise of the Great Barrier Reef lives up to every superlative you can think of. You don’t get many natural wonders more wonderful than this. Whether you’re embarking on your first cruise or going on the adventure of a lifetime on a round the world cruise, the Great Barrier Reef has to be on your bucket list.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef needs little introduction. This underwater wonderland of colourful coral stretching for 1,200 miles off the coast of Queensland takes the crown as the largest living thing on Earth. It can even be seen from space! Those lucky enough to get a close-up view of this natural phenomenon can see marine life in glorious technicolour with vivid corals competing with the bright hues of shimmering shoals of tropical fish.

It’s no secret that visiting the Great Barrier Reef is many travellers’ dream. Getting the chance to plunge into the crystalline waters is an out-of-this-world experience. Feel yourself become part of a constantly evolving masterpiece – where turquoise shades form a moving translucent backdrop that ripples and flickers in time to the sun’s dancing rays.

the Church Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg Russia  Copy

Words alone cannot do justice to the breath-taking extravagance of the Imperial splendours of St Petersburg. This Russian city puts the grand into grandeur with its awe-inspiring collection of ornate palaces, museums and cathedrals that rose to royal glory under the Russian tsars and survived the subsequent Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and, more recently, decades of Communist rule.

There is no shortage of tourist sights in this former capital. In fact, visitors need plenty of time to appreciate what this grand city has to offer, which is why CMV ships always stay overnight, giving guests two days to explore. One of the best ways for cruise passengers to discover St Petersburg is on cruise line excursions as UK passport-holders are covered free of charge by the ship’s group visa. Those wanting to go ashore independently need their own visa, and this has to be arranged in advance.

Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and built on a series of islands in the Neva River connected by iron and stone bridges, St Petersburg is overflowing with cultural gems, inevitably spiced up with accompanying tales of murder, mayhem and intrigue. The top draw is undoubtedly the famous Hermitage Museum, housed in the 18th century Baroque Winter Palace, which could easily take days to explore on its own. Dating from 1764, when it was founded by Catherine the Great, it is one of the world’s largest and foremost art museums, boasting more than three million exhibits housed in at least 1,000 rooms.

Isles of Scilly

Few destinations offer a more quintessential taste of England’s coastal glories than the Isles of Scilly. This engaging cluster of tiny outposts dotted just 28 miles off the tip of Land’s End is a delectable haven of escapism, combining effortless natural beauty with a blissfully serene way of life.

In some ways, these sleepy isles are more reminiscent of another era, taking visitors back to a time when life was simpler and moved at a slower speed. It’s easy to fall under the islands’ soporific spell and immerse yourself in the rich traditions and legends surrounding these remote Atlantic settlements, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.

These are lands of shipwrecks and treasures; of deserted villages and ancient remains, with granite Tudor castles and military garrisons sitting as a reminder of more turbulent times.

Marco Polo – South American Treasures, 5th January 2016

by CMV Passenger John Wilkes

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The cruise was due to start from Avonmouth but inclement weather on the previous cruise resulted in Southampton being the port of embarkation. Comfortable coaches took us there from our initial gathering place at Avonmouth cruise terminal. Aboard my coach, good conversations were enjoyed; and packed lunches were supplied. I was on board Marco Polo before 4pm and was escorted to my ocean view cabin on Atlantic Deck 6. The pleasantly warm and quiet air-conditioned cabin was kept scrupulously clean and well stocked for the entire voyage. The mattress was very comfortable. The washroom had a shower compartment but no bath. I had two round portholes. After unpacking and some refreshment in the Bistro, I attended the mandatory Safety Drill. We left the port before 9pm seeing two other cruise liners, Boudicca and Queen Elizabeth, in the Solent. The Welcome Show in the Show Lounge was enjoyable.

A full day at sea followed; the ABBA tribute show entertained. Clocks were put forward an hour. Swells as in the Bay of Biscay were not too pleasant. Midday on Day 3, we arrived at La Coruna, Spain. It was raining but I still enjoyed a seafront walk to view the spherical San Pedro glazed elevator and beach-front art works. That evening UK guest act, comedian Andy Leach cheered us all up with his humour. He also performed the following evening, incorporating some magic into his act. Earlier Dr Clive Leatherdale had given the first of his excellent geo-political talks: ‘Introducton to South America’. There was also a Port excursions talk by the Shore Excursions team; and a talk on photography by John Riley ably assisted by his wife Linda.

Marco Polo - What makes this ship special

8 tips for first time cruisers

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Sailing through Europe along the Danube River is akin to travelling through the pages of a history book. This mighty waterway - the second-longest in Europe after the Volga - brings alive the past glories of the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire and the famous Hapsburg dynasty who ruled many of these lands.

In ancient times, the Danube formed the frontier of the Roman Empire while in more recent years, its route behind the Iron Curtain through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary served as a fascinating insight into Communist rule. Forever immortalised by Johann Strauss in the Blue Danube Waltz, this vital artery is a treasure chest of cultural riches, where statuesque palaces and historic castles vie for attention with charming medieval towns and unforgettable views.

Sparkling Waters, Azure Seas

I had booked a bespoke CMV cruise consisting of two brochure cruises - 'back-to-back'. The first – 'Iberian Classics and West Med Highlights'  was sailing from Bristol Avonmouth to Livorno in Italy; and the second one followed on with a cruise to Venice, weaving through the Greek Islands and taking in mainland Turkey and Greece along the way. Also this second cruise would visit a Croatian island in the Adriatic. September was a good month to go. The Mediterranean sunshine beckoned.  As usual packing the luggage and dealing with all the necessary domestic issues needed some careful planning. I did not take my car to the port as the return journey to the UK involved a flight to Gatwick. I used a private taxi to take me to Avonmouth on Tuesday, Sept 8th. I was on board 'MV Azores' by noon. One's luggage is collected from you at the terminal and the next time you see it is outside your cabin. I had an ocean view cabin on  Deck 2. It was very comfortable and spacious and equipped with a bath in the en-suite. Digital TV showed films, news, location and the bridge webcam view.

After the mandatory safety drill, the ship was passing through the lock gates and out into the Severn Estuary by four o'clock. I met people that I knew from previous cruises and we enjoyed viewing the islands of Steepholme and Flatholme; as well as seaside towns like Clevedon,  from our vantage point on the aft deck. That night a tasty meal with fellow solo travellers; the Welcome Show; and clocks forward one hour.

Take a look below at our Cruise & Maritime Voyages infographic which provides you with interesting facts and figures that should help you decide why you should ‘set sail with Cruise & Maritime Voyages today.

Infographic

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Having been lucky enough to sail on both Magellan and Marco Polo this year, I thought it might be a good idea to flag up some of the salient points of each ship for those undecided about which of the two they might possibly like to sail on next year.

First, a few general points;

You have to bear in mind that the two ships were built some twenty years apart, and for very different purposes. Lithe and beautiful, Marco Polo is every bit as much an obvious ‘Sixties Girl’ as, say, Dusty Springfield or Diana Rigg. Her long, lean lines and fine, low slung hull reflect that era to cosmetic perfection.

Magellan, by contrast, presents a chunkier, more vibrant profile, and her broad open decks betray the fact that she was built for open, expansive cruising from the start. That silhouette- so ridiculed back in the day- has filled out to resemble something more welcoming and almost matron-like with the passage of time. But she is still a very different experience on many levels to her storied sibling.

In terms of size, Magellan is twice as large again as the Marco Polo- 46,000 tons against 22,000- yet, at the same time, she carries just over half as many passengers again (1250 as against 800). Hence, Magellan feels more open and spacious than the Marco Polo, assuming both ships are full. And, on my two cruises, both ships were sailing at full capacity.

In terms of cabins, those aboard Magellan are of a more uniform, almost cookie cutter type of design. They are generously proportioned, and all around the same size- both insides and outsides- so that the real pricing difference lies largely in location rather than specifications. Magellan also has a handful of balcony cabins and- a real deal- some 125 rooms are set aside as dedicated single cabins on each voyage, at a supplement of just twenty five per cent of the twin rate. A smart move.

Cabins aboard Marco Polo have a lot more individual charm in general, great wardrobe space, and absolutely beautiful interior woodwork. They come in a vast variety of grades and, if booking one, you’ll need to check out the deck plans really carefully to ensure that you get exactly what is best for you.

In terms of dining, the Magellan has two main restaurants- Kensington and The Waldorf- that operate on a two sitting system for dinner. Interestingly, the opening times for both first and second sitting are staggered some fifteen minutes apart each evening.

Magellan- like Marco Polo- also offers a more casual, upper deck lido alternative for all main meals, including dinner. The newer ship also features an almost round the clock pizza corner, and a lunchtime burger food outlet located near the main, central pool area.

The dining operation aboard Marco Polo revolves mainly around the midships situated Waldorf. This beautiful dining room also offers dinner in two sittings, with open sitting for breakfast and lunch. As previously mentioned, the lido offers another main dining option. Outside, there is a separate deli area that serves up delicious hot sandwiches, wraps, and hog roasts on some sea days that are very popular.

On both ships, food and service is very good indeed, and most passengers are more than content with the overall preparation, content and delivery of the food on board. You will not starve on either ship and, in my opinion, you will often be both surprised and delighted. Both ships deliver an excellent, value for money product in this respect.

In terms of indoor spaces, it largely comes down to personal taste. The Marco Polo is, quite simply, one of the most exquisite jewels still afloat; a beautiful ship, suffused with Art Deco accented nooks and crannies that ooze cosy, old world intimacy and comfort. You soon get to know the staff, and vice versa.

Magellan, by contrast, has much better passenger flow, and a chic, Scandinavian flair that makes strolling her broad, open interior walkways a true pleasure. Long, expansive lounging areas flank a row of floor to ceiling windows, creating a long, languid space ideal for strolling and people watching alike.

The showroom on the Magellan also wins out over that on the Marco Polo. Hardly surprising, as it was installed as a purpose built, two story high auditorium for Vegas style stage shows when the ship was new.

Both ships feature good quality live music across a number of disciplines, from rock and soul to classical piano and violin duos. Sadly, neither ship has enough musicians on board. Each, for instance, would benefit from having a genuine live jazz music handle.

In terms of open deck space, the broad, capacious exteriors of the Magellan offer more expansive lounging spaces, with two separate pools and a trio of hot tubs. The centre pool, located in a kind of sun bowl, has both sunshine and shade on really fine days. Purpose built for cruising from day one, her open spaces are both diverse and delightful. And the aft facing garden area, located right aft, is as lush and elegant as that of any six star ship. It has proven extremely popular from day one.

But for sheer, symmetrical beauty and balance, nothing beats that triple tier of cascading sun decks at the stern of the Marco Polo. The extended arms of these seem to almost cradle passengers in an embrace of sun splashed teak styling, and the open expanse behind the popular Scotts Bar draws people with its magnificent, almost Olympian vista over the wake at any hour of the day or night. It remains one of the most compelling, totally alluring open deck spaces on any ship afloat, regardless of style, size, or presumed prestige. Quite literally, there is nothing else like it on the ocean.

In terms of other stuff, Magellan has a decent sized casino, where Marco Polo does not have one at all. There is a more expansive shopping gallery on Magellan, but the branded logo stuff is pretty much the same across the board on both ships.

So, hopefully, this should provide readers with some insight to help them make a choice. Personally, I find both ships to be good, solid and appealing vessels, each in their own way.

Of course, the Marco Polo is- and always will be- the true beauty of the pair, thanks to her harmonious marriage of Art Deco interiors to timeless, perfectly proportioned Sixties styling. The ship is as elegant as James Bond’s original Aston Martin and, in my opinion, every bit as iconic.

But Magellan, too, is winning people over. Her boxy, high sided hull is softened immensely by her new paint scheme, and her sharp, raked prow truly is a thing of beauty. And, with that graceful ‘whale tail’ funnel looming above a pert, perfectly squared off stern, the ship looks much more sleek and beautiful from most angles than many of the newer, far more modern new builds of late.

Both ships serve up a well programmed, carefully co-ordinated cruise and shore experience that is very good value indeed for the price. And, with attractive all inclusive drinks packages from £17 a day as part of the optional on board menu (more on short, two and three day taster cruises), you can budget to sail on either- or, indeed, both- without breaking the bank.

Your cruise, your choice. Enjoy ;-)

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There was a time when ex-UK cruises were viewed as something which people went on who were afraid of flying or too old to undertake a journey by air. In the same way, flying was seen as part of the holiday experience, jetting off to arrive in foreign climes in a matter of hours.

Times have changed and the once pleasurable flying experience is, for most of us, an endurance test! It begins with parking the car; transferring to the terminal with all your luggage; checking in; queuing through security and then walking to the gate (at what seems to be the opposite side of the airport). The whole process can take hours before you have even stepped onto the plane. And then when you do arrive the other end, there’s that awful sinking feeling when the carousel stops and there’s no sign of your luggage.

By contrast, a cruise departing from a UK port can be simplicity itself. Most of CMV’s guests live within a 50 mile radius of their chosen departure port and with more and more UK ports developing their cruise terminals, ex-UK cruising is becoming more and more convenient. On arrival at the port, luggage is whisked away by porters. The next time it is seen is outside the cabin door. And when cruising, unlike flying, there is pretty much no luggage restriction. None of that weighing your case and deciding whether you really need those extra pair of shoes; take as many pairs as you like!

At CMV, we operate a staggered check-in arrangement according to cabin position so that waiting to board the ship is kept to a minimum. A short walk will lead you directly on board where you will either be escorted or directed to your cabin. A quick freshen-up, a light embarkation meal awaits and your holiday has begun! Compared to an air holiday, there really couldn’t be a simpler, less stressful start.

If you book on a British based cruise line like CMV, the on board currency will be sterling, so there’s no need to worry about exchange problems. The bars and shops will all be priced in pounds. What is more, we cater mainly for British guests, so the on board language is English. Another great advantage of ex-UK cruising is being able to easily reach destinations like Norway and Iceland where your ship is your hotel. These countries are extremely expensive to visit and stay in and would cost a fortune on a land based holiday. Also popular are short two to six night cruises combining two or more European cities in one short break.

Ex-UK cruising with CMV is growing as more and more people discover the hassle free way to a great holiday.

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I have never been on a cruise before, let alone travel by sea, so as you can imagine, I was very excited to be experiencing my first cruise, even if it was for only two nights.

On a warm sunny morning, I met Magellan at the port in Tilbury, and I have to admit, she certainly looked bigger than what I had imagined. As I entered the ship I was instantly struck by how lavish the ship was. I was greeted gracefully by my cabin steward and couldn’t wait to see my cabin. I must say, it really didn’t disappoint, with a modern bathroom, the layout of the cabin was fantastic. I was given a cabin with a large window, giving me an impressive view of the beautiful blue ocean that we glided on. Before I embarked on exploring the ship and what it had in store for me on my travels, I unpacked and took my time and got comfortable with my new home for the next two nights.

Being a regular gym goer, it was the obvious stand out room that had to meet my expectations; thankful, it didn’t disappoint! Having the opportunity to actually workout for the next two days was marvellous (crazy, I know!).

As we sailed the ocean, I spent time and enjoyed the open deck experience with my fellow passengers, soaking up the sun and taking the time to relax in the Jacuzzi, whilst indulging in a cold drink. A truly wonderful experience.

We arrived at our first destination, the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. Our shore excursion was a walking tour around this wonderfully beautiful city and with the weather being as glorious as it was, walking for three and a half hours didn’t sound too bad. Many locals also took advantage of the warm afternoon by taking their boats out and spending the rest of the day on the water.

Our tour was tremendous, with the tour guide providing a very educational and funny history of the city as well as demonstrating some of the landmarks of the Dutch capital. Amsterdam was brilliant, a beautiful city with a great history, I loved it.

We arrived in Hamburg on the 2nd day, unfortunately, it was time to say goodbye to the stylish Magellan as I was due to jump on a plane back to the London. Luckily, I did get to see how amazing Hamburg really is on the way to the airport, definitely a city worth coming back to.

My first cruise, it was a magnificent adventure. If you’re the sort who loves exploring different countries and cities with ease, then cruising is for you, it takes the hassle out of travelling entirely. In fact, cruising is just that – an introduction to new places. I would definitely recommend cruising (particularly if you want a little introduction to different cities and then exploring it in-depth later on. Although it was only a 2 night cruise, I truly couldn’t believe I actually got the time to fully explore two great cities in the world, Amsterdam and Hamburg in one weekend!

As a food lover, having the chance of having catering included in the package was just a dream. The buffet was amazing; the evening dining was one I couldn’t miss. Absolutely one of the best dining experience I have ever had, great staff, great company, along with an outstanding menu dressed to perfection.

A huge thank you to everyone on board Ms Magellan for making my two nights unforgettable. Thanks for the adventure, hope to sea (see what I did there) you soon.

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