Launched in 1989 as the FairMajesty for Sitmar Line, the ship was actually renamed Star Princess before entering passenger service, reflecting Princess’ acquisition of Sitmar. After the thick-end of two decades with Princess, Carnival Corporation transferred her to P&O in 1997 and renamed Arcadia after a refit.
More change came in 2003 when she was extensively re-configured to become the first vessel of Carnival’s new OceanVillage brand, which aimed to provide more informal, cheaper, cruises to the UK market. This refit included the splitting of suites into multiple smaller cabins, converting some staff accommodation into passenger cabins, a catering setup based around all-buffet dining and, oddly, a steel arch over the pools to enable acrobatic displays. To this day, the steel arch remains.
To the shock of few people, Ocean Village did not prosper and Carnival announced in 2008 that the brand would shutter, with its two ships transferring to P&O Australia, after yet another refit. So, from 2010 to 2017, this ship sailed as Pacific Pearl, before, finally, ending service with the various Carnival lines in March and becoming Columbus, the new flagship of CMV.
It should be noted that, while we didn’t plan it, the cruise we took was the ship’s maiden voyage as Columbus and, to be honest, she was not ready - there was still extensive work being done and clear issues with plumbing and air-conditioning - the corridors were lined with buckets sat atop, already soaking, carpets. Furthermore, despite a dry dock in Singapore then a long voyage back to Europe, during which further work was supposed to be undertaken on interiors, this last refit seems, at best, cosmetic.
The cabins retain dated furniture and, incredibly, stained and sun-bleached curtains that are clearly in ocean village colours. Where upper berths have been removed, there has been no effort to patch up the holes they’ve left in walls and the ship is littered with broken electrical ducting, literally held together with masking tape.
Pools and hot tubs remained empty and unused throughout the voyage, while lounges were either not yet open (Observation Lounge) or regularly used for staff meetings (Hampton’s).
So, it’s probably best to view the subsequent sections of this review through the lens of “it’s probably fixed now”, but given that CMV didn’t make any effort to even accept that there was a problem or apologise, I wouldn’t expect standards to have raised to far.