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Introducing Vasco da Gama ...

Steve Aldridge

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Cruise and Maritime Voyages welcome Vasco da Gama - Gala Event


The port of Tilbury moves some 16 million tonnes of cargo pa.  So its understandable that the emphasis is on functionality rather than aesthetics.  So as Vasco da Gama sat majestically behind the (somewhat ornate) cruise terminal building, it was quite a contrast to the rest of the “scenery”.  Think of a diamond tiara sitting in a box of spanners.


I was attending the Gala Event to welcome Vasco da Gama to the CMV fleet and looking forward to a first glimpse of her, following her forty five night maiden voyage from Singapore.  Originally launched as Statendam for Holland America Line in 1993, the 55,877 grt ship was briefly in the hands of P&O Australia and renamed Pacific Eden after a refit in 2015.  A relatively small ship by today’s standards at 630 cabins (1220) passengers, in April this year it was acquired (still in great condition from its refit) by CMV.  The ship is named after the great Portuguese explorer, famed for being the first European to reach India.


First impressions are always important and as I took my first stroll around, the combination of fabrics, various materials and eye catching patterned carpet gave the ship a feel of timeless elegance.  That said, there’s a few quirky bits that hint at the fun to be had and that it’s not taking itself too seriously. There were a number of cabins available for viewing during my visit and they all seemed well equipped plus a nice size.  The combination of mellow woods and coloured fabrics gave them a soothing ambience, perfect for relaxing after a day’s sightseeing.  I spent the night in cabin 9123, a category 15 superior plus balcony on the Verandah deck and thought this would suit my needs perfectly on a cruise.  The bed was extremely comfortable and I could picture myself sitting on the large leather sofa, sipping a cold beer (from my in room fridge), watching England win the World Cup on the TV (just let me dream OK).  Everything’s there that I’d need for my (imaginged) cruise plus I had to admire the thoughtful touches.  The mini safe is placed at eye level (no reaching or stooping), tea and coffee making facilities (all Brits cheer now) and whirlpool bath complete with shower and non slip mat.  With difficulty I dragged myself away from playing with the adjustable height coffee table to see some of the rest of the ship.


For a bit of activity there are two pools on board, one with a retracting roof (so no excuse not to get your 100 laps in, whatever the weather).  The stylish Spa was ready and waiting to pamper customers until they are purring softly, whilst close by was everyone’s favourite place on a cruise ship….not the bar…..a sizeable and well equipped gym (no…I’m shocked). Having found where to burn the calories, it was important to find out where to replace them and there are plenty of options.  The three main Waterfront restaurants come in three incarnations; Classic, Mediterranean and Eurasia.  Classic offers international cuisine with a twist of British, Eurasia delivers Asian style cuisine, whilst the Mediterranean venue serves (have a wild guess)….. Mongolian!  Just kidding its Mediterranean.  Each offer flexible dining, so you eat when you want (within the published opening times).


Our Gala dinner was in the Waterfront Classic and I thoroughly enjoyed my delicious Camembert in filo pastry, Caesar Salad, Salmon and Baked Alaska, complimented by a very refreshing (perfectly chilled) white wine.  The restaurant has a nice decor, it is spacious enough to accommodate many diners without feeling crowded and the service was excellent.  Other dining options are The Grill and Chef’s Table (these attract a supplement), with the relaxed Club Bistro offering buffet style meals.  Club Bistro has a more modern decor but be prepared to keep those eyes shut as you walk by the Sugar Bar, temptation is a wicked thing, you have been warned.


Our cocktail party and the after dinner “big show” was held at Hollywood’s, a two tier show lounge with a range of comfortable seating.  That sense of fun I mentioned earlier surfaced again at the cocktail party, where the Cruise Director should have been given a green award for recycling some of the oldest jokes I’ve heard in a while, but they were brilliantly delivered and worth retelling.  The presentation element included admissions that this was all a bit of a “tease” for customers who liked to sail from UK ports, as the ship will be deployed to the german market from here and the winter serving the Australian market.  That said, customers can enjoy Vasco’s facilities by optioning for a fly cruise.  Further teasing came with the statement that “something new is coming for the UK market, possibly in 2020”.  The “big Show” itself was Anchors Aweigh!” a wholesome and entertaining show, featuring some delightful singers and energetic dancers.


I decided to forgo further entertainment being held in The Dome, in favour of a final wander around some of the public areas.  Vases, sculptures and pictures to admire, comfy chairs and books in the Library, board games, slot machines and a Casino in the Casino lounge means there’s pretty much a place for everyone to enjoy.  Even the walk down the corridor to your cabin is graced by some lovely black and white prints of older ships.  Need more…. then there’s a shopping galleria, shore excursions desk, photo gallery, cinema, plus Cappuccino’s coffee shop and Gelato’s ice cream bar to tempt you. Just thinking about it exhausts me but fortunately you can do as much or as little as takes your fancy.


There’s no doubt that CMV’s award winning operation will be greatly enhanced by this valuable and interesting addition to it’s fleet.




Steve Aldridge


more information at https://www.cruiseandmaritime.com/

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Published July 2019

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