As usual, there’s the caveat that, this being a shorter cruise, the mix of people on board may not reflect the norm.
Also, as seems to be usual, we were sat with a completely charming couple for dinner.
However, while there was quite a mix of people on the ship, including a fair few hen parties, the largest group seemed to be rude old people with very sharp elbows and an aversion to waiting in an orderly line.
“Shall we head to the Lido Deck and judge the people sunbathing?”
That, I’m afraid, was about the sum of our activities on Columbus. Fearing that I was being harsh, I’ve just looked through my collected daily newsletters, and there really wasn’t much happening. The odd singles gathering, but not much more.
I was one of the first warm days of the year, so the sunbeds were busy - even on a day in port. I can’t imagine there is enough space for a sea day in a genuinely hot climate.
Well this was a pleasant surprise.
Columbus is never going to be a ship you choose if a high-end spa is a priority - it's a small space in the bowels of the ship, nothing like the massive themed areas with views of the bows that we find on more modern vessels.
However, I had an excellent and inexpensive massage, with no hard-sell on products afterwards.
I believe my therapist was actually a senior manager from the spa provider who was on board to train new staff, but our special correspondent reported similarly high levels of skill from a different therapist.
A big thumbs-up for CMV on this one.
We have issues with the drinks service on Columbus and they can largely be split into two categories - lack of training and lack of variety.
It was clear that many of the bar staff were new to the business and had been given only the most rudimentary of introductions to the basics. We had instances of waiters being unsure if they could make a martini with a gin other than the one listed on a cocktail menu, to say nothing of the moment when, after serving two dreadful drinks, a barman risked life and limb by questioning our special correspondent (and noted gin-fiend) on her knowledge of martini making - his “manual” specified 1 part vermouth to 2 parts gin and, by golly, that’s what he was going to serve.
Finally, why, oh why, are some of the best bars only open at odd hours? The bar in the panoramic dome, with its wonderful views, was not open for pre-dinner drinks. It’s a shame because there are some attractive spaces on this ship, as shown below.
I’m sure, by now, it will come as no shock to learn that eating aboard Columbus was not one of life’s finer experiences.
To be completely fair, dinner in the main dining room was passable. It wasn’t the tastiest food, but it was reasonably well presented and not actively nauseating, even if the portions were on the small side. Starters, in particular were mean, marvel (above) at the cocktail of two prawns and a single, party-sized, spring roll. A separate salad course was offered each evening, although the staff seemed shocked that we ordered it and unsure of when to serve it.
Some of the mains were a bit better (above), but desserts were of the “artfully arranged gelatinous goop” variety (below).
Breakfast and lunch were less successful. And by “less successful”, we mean “an utter disaster”. Initially, we thought of taking breakfast in the dining room, but we balked at the insistence we share a table, despite the room being deserted. Heading to the buffet, we found utter chaos. The food looked utterly unappetising - imagine fatty bacon oozing white pus in a pool of excreted water. Resorting to a plate of (unripe) fruit and a cup of coffee, we discovered that there were no coffee cups and the cutlery was filthy.
Mercifully, both ports of call offered a wide choice of dining options, so we just ate ashore.
Expectations are HIGH! We're flying to Florida to board Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam for a cruise that features a stop at their private island.
We fully expect old-world glamour combined with something akin to Nikki Beach... Follow live to see our hopes dashed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.