Cruising time ... again!

A cruise on the Columbus of Cruise & Maritime Voyages departing from London Tilbury.

Day 1:

Last trip of the year, a cruise with Cruise & Maritime Voyages on the Columbus for 5 nights around Europe with a friend. The cruise starts in London so I booked my Eurostar train early in the morning and upon arrival I decided to explore a small part of London before taking the CMV bus at Victoria coash station, it takes about 90 minutes to get from Victoria to Tilbury cruise terminal but once you arrive you don’t need to worry about anything anymore as the check-in process is fast and your luggage is delivered to the cabin by the stewards. Once onboard there is tea and coffee with biscuits waiting for everyone in the bistro. Time to explore the ship, Columbus was built in 1989 as Star Princess and is 245 meters long, after changing name and company a few times like Arcadia for P&O and Pacific Pearl for P&O Australia she was taken over by CMV and renamed Columbus. She offers all facilities needed and espacially her Dome lounge on top of the bridge is very popular as it offers a great view on the bow of the ship.

By the time we left London Tilbury it was dark and I decided to relax as much as possible during this cruise. Late sitting dinner was at 20.15 in the Waterfront restaurant and the daily program offers a wide variety of events troughout the ship for everyone both before and after dinner. All this makes sure you can keep busy until very very very late at night … with a good Singapore Sling of course …!

Day 2:

Todays port of call was Amsterdam and we had arranged to meet another friend from Holland. The weather wasn’t good so we decided to go to the Maritime Museum with the replica VOC ship “Amsterdam” and some great expositions about the Oranje and a fictive futuristic ocean liner. By the time we left the museum it was time to get back to the ship as we came in early and left early in the afternoon, the waterway from Amsterdam city to sea is long so the ship needed to navigate the river and then go trough the locks of Ijmuiden before sailing into the wide open sea. Once at sea we set a course towards the North and altough the weather didn’t get better after Amsterdam the ship didn’t move too much. Time to absorb all the events on the ship in the evening again.

Day 3:

We arrived near the mouth of the Elbe river in the morning and sailed up the river until arriving in Hamburg where we passed some classic historic ships like the Elbe 3 lightship and the icebreaker Stettin, next we encountered the Saga Pearl II at another terminal before we turned to move into the second terminal. Once docked I took a bus tot he city centre where the Christmass markets were in full motion and I walked trough some of them on my way to the International Maritime Museum, this museum is huge and offers parts about alla ges with many models of ships and a great collection of artifacts, because of the holiday season I was offered a glassof “glühwein” and cookies and by the time I had seen the museum it was getting dark so I passed by the same markets and waited for the bus to take me back to the ship. Time to relax onboard altough the outside decks were closed due to bad weather.

Day 4:

Today no port so we spent the whole day at sea and I felt it, a force 8 storm landed right in our path and altough the ship is big and very stable it rocked pretty badly for most of the day and passengers were advised to be very carefull when walking around the ship. Some events were cancelled because of the storm but overall I didn’t get bored and by the time I had to get ready for formal night in the restaurant, things had calmed down a lot. This evening I spent a lot of time around various parts of the ship and it wasn’t until 2am that I finally decided to go to bed.

Day 5:

It surely feels strange to arrive in Antwerp by ship as I work near Antwerp and pass trough this city often (it’s only an hour driving from my home) but this time I didn’t need to worry about parking the car or anything else as the ship docks right in front of the Grand Market so we went to explore some parts of the city and after lunch in the city we crossed the river Schelde trough the St. Annatunnel to have a better view on our ship before taking the free ferry back accross the river and get back to the ship. This evenings dress code is casual so no need to change and I went to have tea and biscuits in the bistro and then I took some time to relax in the Dome again as it offers the best views of the ship.

The show this evening was a compilation of international music and by the time I left for a walk on deck and some photos of the surrounding area the ship was sailing trough it was time for the last dinner of this cruise.

Day 6:

Arrival in London was early and by 09.00 I was waiting for the taxi to London Docklands. Upon arrival I could check in immediately and my room was ready for me even at this early hour, one of the advantages of being a member of the Accor hotels loyalty program. I went to my room to drop my bags and went out to explore a part of London I didn’t know yet, the Docklands. From the DLR station Custom House to the static ship of the Sunborn floating hotel, the SS Robin, Lightvessen 93 and the Royal Victoria footbridge I went all the way down to the banks of the Thames to see the famous Thames Barrier. I went back to the hotel to fresh up a bit and then back out to take nightshots and have dinner in one of the restaurants in the area before going back to the hotel for the night.

Day 7:

This morning I went for breakfast in the hotel, a small buffet breakfast with basic choice of toast, eggs, beans, bacon and some cereals and cheese was provided along with standard tea or coffee and some fruit juices, pretty basic but still ok. I went back to my room for a shower and packing. When I left the hotel I went straight to the DLR station (Docklands Light Railway) opposite the hotel (Custom House station) and took a dayticket from the machine before taking the DLR to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. I explored the area near the Cutty Sark and then took the DLR back to the main underground lines and went all the way back to St. Pancras where I explored the area around St. Pancras and Kings Cross stations, I needed to do some shopping so I found a local Tesco and after I found all I needed it was time for lunch so I went back to the station and looked for a nice place to sit down and have lunch. When I had finished my notes etc. on the laptop I went to the Eurostar terminal for my train to Brussels and then connect to my train home.