The Last Queen of Denmark - Magellan, CMV / by Byron Clayton

In September of 1983, the queen of pop, Madonna, released the chart topping single Holiday. Exactly 1 year before, in the same month, Carnival firmed up an order for only their second purpose built cruise ship coincidentally named, Holiday. Although there is no connection between the two, there is certainly a kindred spirit shared in the lyrics and the purpose of the ship. Anyone familiar with Madonna's song will admit, there is probably no anthem better aligned to a ship, even if connected by pure accident. 

 Magellan berthed at Tillbury.

Magellan berthed at Tillbury.

The ship, built in the far northern city of Aalborg, Denmark for Carnival Cruise Lines, is known today as Magellan and sails for Cruise Maritime Voyages, or as they are better known by their acronym, CMV. Magellan is notable for being the last ocean going passenger vessel to be built in the tiny kingdom of Denmark. Once a maritime world power in their own right, the expense of Danish labor and lack of government subsidies made ship building uncompetitive. Ultimately the cost pressures caught up with the Aalborg Shipyard and it was eventually closed down. A small ship by today's standards, Magellan was one of the largest cruise ships in the world in 1985.

Magellan's design can be directly traced to her predecessor, Tropicale, which was also built in Aalborg. Carnival Cruises made their first step into new buildings with the prototype ship in 1981, which pioneered many features now common to mass market cruising.

What Magellan's design offers from an evolutionary perspective, similar to Tropicale, is to move the passenger outdoor areas from the stern, where they were traditionally located on older cruise ships especially those converted from liner duties, to be at the top and center of the ship. For Magellan, this creates a focus for passenger activities around the Columbus deck 10 pool which is flanked by an outdoor grill buffet and bar. Being specifically designed with warm weather cruising in mind, this 3 story area spanning up to Navigator and Sun decks, is the heart of the ship and the focal point for fun loving, sun worshiping cruisers.

 The heart of the ship, the main pool on deck 10.

The heart of the ship, the main pool on deck 10.

Previously Magellan has been operated by two other owners and there are many artifacts left behind, some of which are obvious and others which take a little detective work to recognize. As she was last owned by Spanish operator Ibero Cruises, many of the signs and notices are written in both Spanish and English. Ibero Cruises signature livery was notable for having over-sized silhouettes of people in action poses painted in single primary colors on the ship's hull.

 Magellen as Grand Holiday for Ibero Cruises. Notice the orange silhouette on the tip bow seeming to jump ship.

Magellen as Grand Holiday for Ibero Cruises. Notice the orange silhouette on the tip bow seeming to jump ship.

The images look like an homage to the 1988 album cover of the synthpop band Information Society. Luckily the hideous and cheap looking designs on her external hull have been painted over. Some of the silhouettes however, can still be found on Navigator deck 11, near the pool and bottom of the funnel casing.  

 Silhouettes of colorful people adorn the base of the funnel and Spanish words can be seen on the decorative tiles at the back of the pool. Holdovers from Magellan's time with Ibero Cruises.

Silhouettes of colorful people adorn the base of the funnel and Spanish words can be seen on the decorative tiles at the back of the pool. Holdovers from Magellan's time with Ibero Cruises.

The funnel itself still retains the iconic Y shape which has been an instantly recognizable trademark of Carnival ships since the Tropicale was introduced in 1981. Unlike Tropicale and Jubilee (scrapped in 2016), both of whom had their Y shape funnels decapitated once they were transferred out of the Carnival main fleet, Magellan and her near sister Celebration (now Grand Celebration) kept their original funnels.

 Magellan's near sister Pacific Sun (ex-Jubilee), seen here in Sydney, has had her trademark Carnival funnel 'wings' removed.

Magellan's near sister Pacific Sun (ex-Jubilee), seen here in Sydney, has had her trademark Carnival funnel 'wings' removed.

The cost of modifying the funnel must have been financially restrictive to Carnival after the first 2 ships as they discontinued the change. Looking closely at the Magellan's funnel, the outline of Carnival's classic tri-colored red, white and blue 'C' can still be seen, hidden behind the CMV blue paint. In some areas, the blue paint is peeling away to reveal the bright Carnival red underneath.

 Under the funnel air intake, the blue paint is peeling to reveal the original Carnival red.

Under the funnel air intake, the blue paint is peeling to reveal the original Carnival red.

Despite some small holdovers from Ibero Cruises, the ship feels fresh and relevant. Her main design fault is a woefully inadequate supply of balcony cabins which is a repeated oversight found on all of Carnival's first 12 new builds. Magellan is a comfortable, tastefully decorated ship in what could be called a contemporary style similar to a Holiday Inn or Hilton hotel. Her layout ensures a smooth traffic flow of passengers within and about her public spaces. 

The cabins are almost all identical in design and layout. There is a good use of space which allows for plenty of storage. The biggest drawback is the lack of individual climate control in the cabins as it is centrally managed. This can make the rooms feel a bit stuffy especially when the ship is in port. Another surprise was the amount of vibration felt from the ship's engines inside the cabin, while not bothersome, it was noticeable.

 Typical outside cabin on Magellan. 

Typical outside cabin on Magellan. 

The crew could best be described as relaxed. Similar to other CMV ships, they are a mixture from around the world with a large proportion from the Ukraine about 50%, the next 25% coming from Indonesia, and the remainder are a dusting from countries like the Philippines, Myanmar, Greece and the UK. In some cases, English language skills are limited and service conducted in solemn, arms length approach found in Eastern Europe. Everyone is polite even if it can feel functional at times

The safety drill was of particular interest. After assembling in the designated lounge or restaurant, the crew diligently checks the cabin number and passenger names before giving a step by step demonstration of donning a life jacket. Once completed, all passengers then go in a single file 'alligator walking' line, up to their designated life boat. Overall, an impressive and thorough focus on safety for all onboard.

The food was plentiful and except for dinner, primarily centered around the Raffles Bistro on deck 10 just aft of the pool where breakfast, lunch and tea are served with great efficiency. There is also an option to eat at the Bistro for dinner however most passengers opt for the main restaurants. The overall variety of food and quality was better than other CMV ships. The fresh made pizza was a hidden gem in the back of the Bistro.

Fellow passengers onboard are an interesting mix common to CMV. Half of the passengers tend to be from UK tour groups. These folks are in their 60s plus, some of whom have traveled by ship before. The rest are split between professional cruisers (definitely in their later years) and the remainder are curious first-time cruisers who are taking advantage of CMVs affordable fares.

 One of Magellan's numerous life rings.

One of Magellan's numerous life rings.

A word of caution, beware of the British deck chair hog. They are a vicious breed and not a dog to be crossed lightly. A small scarf, bookmark or half-empty cup of tea are apparently all valid means of marking territory so be warned. That empty deck chair may look inviting but it is perhaps not free and if in the wrong, a quick tongue lashing from a part-time grandmother will be quick at hand. Some of them have the tenacity of someone previously having experience being an airport security worker so, be careful.

A secret hint; the outdoor Sun Terrace, although in reality it gets very little sun since it is mostly covered, is an area at the stern behind the Jade Spa on deck 9. It is a great spot to relax and find some tranquility. Although the deck is open, there are overhead heaters and the deck above provides shelter from the elements. The Sun Terrace can be easily accessed through the far end of the Nansen Card & Bridge Room on the port side of the ship where female and male toilets are tucked away just past the entrance. The Bistro buffet can be gained quick access by jumping the outdoor stairs on the Terrace up one level. This will give entrance to the buffet from the back which is hardly crowded and allows easy access to the buffet. The Sun Terrace is an excellent location to seek refuge after being evicted from a cabin on disembarkation day.

 The Sun Terrace is located aft on deck 9.

The Sun Terrace is located aft on deck 9.

The shopping onboard is limited and feels more akin to what would be found on a small ferry. Alcohol, cigarettes, M&M/Mars candies, RayBan sunglasses, Fossil watches and the obligatory showcase of odd jewelry. Surprisingly, there is virtually no logo CMV or Magellan logo merchandise available which is a shame.

Magellan is a nice ship that is well designed and a welcome addition to the CMV fleet. She feels modern compared to some of their classic ships and offers good value. She would be well suited for those traveling on a budget or those first-time cruisers looking to get a taste.

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