Goodbye Cruise and Maritime Voyages

Cruise and Maritime Voyages Columbus in Lisbon, Portugal

Hey Owlets,

Cruise and Maritime Voyages was a cruise line with a cult following - every cruise line has their fans, but only a few rise to the level of having online groups dedicated to the cruise line, with friends being made online and met on board, rather than the other way around. 

CMV were the ultimate impossible cruise line, offering a no-frills service on older cruise ships in an industry that was all about over the top decadence and indulging in experiences that were totally unnecessary on ships that overflow with state of the art technology. The ships were basic but beautiful and the entertainment schedule was limited, but somehow just lying on a sun bed watching the waves was enough on their ships. Rather than being handed a jam-packed schedule every day, trying desperately to cram everything in and needing a holiday after your holiday, CMV ships were the place that you learned to let go and relax, or make your own entertainment. 

One of the many things that made CMV special was that you weren’t being entertained all the time which doesn’t make sense when you think about what most other ships are like, but with CMV it worked. Their cruises were more about making connections, not just with yourself while you learned to relax, but with other people. While I was on board Columbus I met two separate groups of friends, and by the end of the cruise these two groups plus my parents and I had formed into one big family. During the first of three weeks on board MV Columbus I made friends with a barman who saw me reading a Spanish magazine and asked if I spoke Spanish. I told him that I wasn’t fluent but I could hold a conversation, and after that conversation we spent the next two weeks speaking in Spanish whenever the bar he was working on was quiet. We would discuss our lives, our home towns, life at sea and everything in between, and being able to genuinely make a connection with someone in a language that wasn’t my own was incredibly special - it’s stuck with me since, and I can honestly say that to do this day my Spanish is on another level because of my three weeks of language lessons.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages MV Columbus life on board

I was lucky enough to travel on board Cruise and Maritime Voyages ships twice and in all honesty the main thing that attracted us was the price, followed by the antique ships being pretty, different from the mega ships we were used to, and a unique experience that we wanted to try. Our first cruise with them was on board MV Marco Polo for three days in Ireland just before Christmas. It definitely wasn’t perfect, but it was honestly one of the best experiences I’d had on board a ship. Everything about it was just so special and even as I write this I’m smiling. From booking out of pure curiosity at what we would get for £40 per night, they’d converted us into loyal fans.

Our next cruise was on board Columbus and again curiosity got the better of us when we saw 3 weeks on board a cruise ship for £900, sailing to Morocco, the Canary Islands and Madeira. Admittedly this one wasn’t quite as seamless as our first voyage (they poisoned me with squid, not once but twice!!) and the first cabin I was allocated vibrated so much that I didn’t sleep for 3 days until I was moved, but even then we just laughed and made the best of it - “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” could spring to mind, but with the right attitude and a good sense of humour you were always bound to have a good time on board. We were pleased to get off the ship at each port for a change of scenery and some excitement, but we were always happy to board again in the evening.


Cruise and Maritime Voyages MV Columbus in Gibraltar, UK

Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ future looked so bright at the start of this year - yes they were in debt, but it’s not uncommon for cruise lines to run like this. When ships cost millions of pounds to buy even second hand it’s understandable, and CMV had big plans for expansion.

Just before the global pandemic destroyed an entire industry, CMV had announced another new addition to the fleet. We were so excited and ready to book our first cruise on board the new ship when the cruise pause was announced. Even then my parents and I talked about what cruise we would go on when she was added to the fleet. 

In July 2020 it was announced that CMV had gone into administration and despite their cruise experience being a little hit or miss at times, I felt genuinely upset. I live not far from where Marco Polo is docked - every day since she arrived in March I’ve seen her on my walk and gotten excited at the thought of her sailing out of the port for the first time after the pandemic and finally getting back on board. Now I dread seeing her sail out for fear that it might be her last voyage.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages MV Marco Polo in Cobh, Ireland

CMV was definitely a Marmite cruise line - you had to have a certain kind of personality to appreciate their product, but we did. Since their demise I’ve watched their loyal former guests banding together to write to their MPs to try to convince them to bail out this homegrown British cruise line. I’ve seen them writing letters to the administrators to convince them that CMV still has a loyal following and could still work, and even raffles being run in aid of crew welfare. When a cruise line has a following that strong, you can’t help but agree that they were pretty special.

I still read the news each day hoping to hear that someone has swooped in to save the cruise line and their beautiful fleet, but knowing that ships much younger than CMV’s harem are making their final voyages to the scrap yard it’s not very likely. If I had the money I would buy Marco Polo myself to save her from being scrapped - she’s the last of her kind and unfortunately I don’t think she’ll be around for much longer.

Fair winds and calm seas Cruise and Maritime Voyages; thank you for the amazing memories, incredible friends and funny moments that still make me laugh today 

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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