First look: The Magellan
Date Posted: 19/03/2015
Group Leisure was invited to join a galley-full of special guests for the christening of the Magellan cruise ship, boasting a major refurb and adventurous voyages.
The Magellan is named after a Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, who became the first man to cross the Pacific Ocean in the 16th century. Her inaugural voyage with CMV to Iceland and the Faroe Islands to see the Northern Lights, and indeed its entire 2015/16 maiden season, reflects the spirit of adventure of its namesake. This cruise line likes to be adventurous.
Although the ship is already 30 years old, Cruise & Maritime Voyages has gone to great expense on refurbishing the vessel for her rebirth as Magellan.
Referring to the fact that P&O’s latest cruising giant Britannia was christened two days prior to the Magellan, by HRH The Queen, proud Godmother of the CMV ship, Gloria Hunniford quipped: “It’s been a big week for cruising and I want to say a huge thank you to the Queen for being my warm up. I’m here because I want to confirm that this is the main event this week.”
And it certainly felt like a main event. The christening party was appropriately auspicious; lasting from around 1pm to 2am the following morning, with no expense spared. A ship’s naming ceremony is very big business indeed.
Arriving early at the docks meant that my companion and I were able to check in on-board and go straight for a leisurely lunch. All in the name of research, of course; I simply had to eat in the more informal Raffles Bistro, before trying out the fine dining experience in one of the ship’s glossy restaurants later on that evening.
From the moment we stepped into the ship our bags were effortlessly whisked out of our hands and we were deposited within our cabin without even knowing how we had got there (reflected later on by our getting lost).
Pictured: The Magellan's Godmother, Gloria Hunniford at the naming ceremony.
The Magellan’s crew work their socks off. Plates are whisked away, and glasses topped up without the glimpse of a gloved hand - and the public areas are kept immaculate.
They are friendly too. We chatted and posed for pictures with one Burmese waiter, ‘Tuna’ after dinner, as two of our party had recently been on holiday in Myanmar.
Everything under the sun
My cunning plan of eating my way through the event got off to a great start in Raffles. Bright and spacious, the buffet counters were laden with gastronomic delights – the cold fish and meat platters were particularly eye-catching and decorated with fruits and vegetables carved into unimaginably intricate shapes.
Talking of fruit, you weren’t sure whether to eat it or simply admire it as it was draped decoratively around columns like it should have been made of wax. I took the plunge and decided to dive into some huge strawberries – well I needed something healthy to go with my petit fours didn’t I?
After lunch we went for a well-needed stroll outside onto the main Columbus deck. As it was a nice day for the time of year, you could almost imagine the feel of the ship on a tropical clime if you found a spot where the sun was shining on you. Later on we watched a spectacular fireworks display across the Thames from the upper region of the deck, flutes of Champagne thrust into our palms.
The public areas of Magellan are where the money has been spent. The cocktail-bar style Captain’s Club on Deck 9 seems to stretch out forever, and I liked the fact that even with so many people on-board, you could still find a quiet corner to listen to the pianist.
A Captain Jack Sparrow lookalike onboard the Magellan.
The main show lounge is the same – there are tables for almost everyone, even if they are only drinks tables, and so much leg room that you’d think you were flying first class.
But it was the seven or eight course (I lost count) gala launch dinner that really did it for me. This was fine dining at its finest. Gordon Ramsay would have been speechless (which indeed he was, when I saw him – well, his look-a-like - later on). Be prepared to move the notch on your belt buckle after a cruise on Magellan.
Alongside all the dishes, a smoked fish amuse bouche tickled our taste buds and a raspberry sorbet with Champagne cleansed our palate before the real deal. The ‘surf and turf’ consisted of a melt-in-the-mouth piece of filet mignon and what basically equated to an entire lobster each. To top it off there was a truffle sauce. The party in my mouth went into full swing after the Baked Alaska Parade. I’d never had a 5ft waiter holding a delicious plate of desert gyrating right next to me before.
I’d like to leave the last word to Godmother Gloria Hunniford who said: “This ship is a very fitting tribute to its namesake, Ferdinand Magellan, a man whose great perseverance and courage led him to be the first human being to cross the Pacific Ocean. He was very forward thinking and brave, and his name perfectly captures CMV’s spirit of exploration and adventure and enterprise.”
You can see that spirit of exploration and adventure in these highlights from Magellan’s 2015 Maiden Season:
4th June/13th June: Summertime Fjordland (6 nights)
19th June: British Isles Discovery (9 nights)
10th July: Scandinavian Cities & Fairytales (8 nights)
27th July: Iceland & Northern Isles (12 nights)
16th August: Baltic Cities & St Petersburg (12 nights)
3rd September: Amsterdam; Antwerp (3 nights)
23rd October: Canary Islands & Madeira (15 nights)
7th November: Treasures of the West Indies (33 nights)
For more information visit www.cruiseandmaritime.com