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Review: Newmarket Holidays

Travel Service - Tour Operator/Travel Provider

United Kingdom


  • By SilverTraveller Deppfan

    1 review

  • December 2017

104 people found this review helpful

This is a copy of the review I sent to Newmarket but they haven’t put it on their website. When you read it you’ll understand why!!

Canaries and Madeira Cruise – on board CMV Columbus from Tilbury
21 December 2017- 5 January 2018

This is to complain about the above cruise which was a huge disappointment resulting in me leaving the ship at Gibraltar on Tuesday 27 December and returning home on Wednesday 28 December.

Thursday 21 December:
Upon boarding and arriving at reception to collect my cabin key there were already people complaining, one man in particular shouting at one of the reception staff who had a blank look on her face as if she didn’t understand what was being said to her. I found out later that not many of the staff spoke much English so the blank look was genuine!

My cabin was nice but, as I had upgraded when I booked in January, I would have liked tea making facilities. I was also not impressed by the fact that we were told to gather at the Palladium theatre to be instructed on a lifejacket drill which, I am well aware, is the normal, and legal, procedure on cruises. However, upon arriving at the theatre with several people in wheelchairs we were ushered outside on deck in the freezing cold and directed to our ‘lifeboat stations’. It was a shamble. None of the staff could say more than ‘make a line’ in English. There were no further instructions and, after about 10-15 minutes, we were then dismissed back to our cabins.

Looking forward to a hot meal I went to the restaurant and was directed to my table. After ordering, then being asked by several waiters what I wanted and trying to explain that I had already ordered, was then given a plate of lukewarm food which I ate simply because I was hungry. When the tea and coffee came around – by yet more different waiters – it was cold and the colour of mud so had to leave that.

Friday 22 December:
Breakfast was a disaster with cold, hard toast and cold tea so I asked for a cup of hot water and a tea bag. This also seemed to be too much for the poor waiter who had to call upon someone who had a smattering of the English language and at last I got a half decent cup of tea.

For dinner, which was a very long time being served, I ordered the goat’s cheese and red onion tart which I had to send back because the filling was like cardboard and the pastry wasn’t cooked. The waiter brought more of the same and as I couldn’t eat it he asked what I wanted. Being vegetarian, I asked for anything with no meat, no fish and no spice . . . I was brought a chicken curry!!!! After refusing that I just had the dessert and, being too tired to go up to the buffet deck, I went to bed hungry.

Saturday 23 December:
I had to send breakfast back because the poached egg was solid and the toast was swimming in water so I decided to have just toast and marmalade. Again, after a long wait, the toast was cold and rock hard, the marmalade was brought by yet another waiter and I was given a teaspoonful on the side of the plate(?)

Then it was necessary to complain about the cabin not being cleaned properly, especially the bathroom and that was improved straightaway. I also asked at Reception if I could have a kettle in my cabin because I am not very mobile and it was a long way to get to the restaurant and even further away to the tea and coffee station – advertised as 24-hour service but was closed at midnight to 6am! – but was told it was not possible because it would not be safe. When I replied that other cabins had kettles so what made them safer than mine I got the universal shrug of the shoulders and blank stare.

Mid-morning, I went for coffee in the Connexions Bar and a waitress approached saying that for this day only I could drink as much tea, coffee and hot chocolate as I liked for only £24! I can’t drink that much coffee in a week so why would I want to pay £24 ‘for that day only’? I don’t think so!

Lunch was a long time being served, again by several different waiters and, although not hot, was edible. By this time, I was ready to eat the tablecloth anyway and had to point out the dirty side plate which had a black hair and unidentifiable black specks on it. The waiter just took the plate and shoved another one across from a setting at the other side of the table. There was no apology but, finding out that more and more of the staff couldn’t speak English, I doubt if he even knew what I was saying!

Dinner was ok and I was brought hot water and a tea bag, again one waiter brought the water and another the tea bag – all very disorganised!

Sunday 24 December:
Same disastrous and shambolic breakfast with cold, hard toast but one of the waiters actually remembered about the tea bag and hot water! One of the passengers on the next table asked for a cup of hot water and she was given a glass of cold milk!?!? On another table a lady wasn’t happy with the cold tea being served from jugs, as she complained the waiter just ignored her, started to walk away and she shouted that she was not – and I quote – ‘going to drink this muck!’

Lunch was mushroom cobbler which sounded nice – well, that’s how it was described on the menu . . . it was a bowl of very compressed spinach with half a dozen very small slices of mushroom, a spoonful of sauce and three very small ‘cobblers’, the size of a 10p piece, which were hard and thin and it would have been easier to eat a 10p piece – absolutely tasteless and, again, lukewarm!

The waiters were going from table to table asking if everything was alright and it was obvious they were getting lots of complaints.

Thinking to cheer myself up I went to the spa to book a wash and blow dry advertised on their price list for £26. When I booked the appointment, I asked how much it would cost, just to be sure and was told it would be £47! What!? I said the price list stated £26 and the girl said that it was wrong, it was just for a shampoo and didn’t include a blow dry. I asked would they just send me out with wet hair then and was told yes. I left it!

The starter for dinner was described as ‘roasted Mediterranean vegetables’ and, as nothing else appealed on the menu, I asked for it as a main course and was assured it was alright to do so. Eventually, when it arrived, the plate was stone cold and so were the vegetables. I asked the waiter why this was and he said it was always served cold as a starter. I explained that I had asked for it as a main course and that you don’t expect ‘roasted’ vegetables to be served cold. So, another dish of food was sent back but the replacement was hot and edible and I asked if I could have the same the next evening and was told yes. I waited with bated breath!!!

Monday 25 December:
Usual breakfast of cold, hard toast but this time no butter or marmalade. I didn’t bother to ask a waiter, I took the butter from an empty table and didn’t even risk asking for marmalade. When the hot water and tea bag arrived, there was no milk so I had to ask for some. The waiter took a jug from another empty table and literally banged it down on my table then when I had poured the teaspoonful of milk that was left in it into my cup the waiter snatched it back and took it away. There was only a very small amount in the jug anyway but what if I had wanted more? No chance of that!

When I got back to my cabin the toilet wasn’t flushing so I rang reception and was told, ‘There is a problem, we are dealing with it (then something garbled that I couldn’t understand because of the accent) and merry Christmas’ and the phone was put down. Very rude! The problem was not just on the deck I was on, people were going to the toilets by the restaurant and were being turned away because they weren’t working either – and all before 10am on Christmas morning!! Good start to the day!!

Lunch was omelette and chips which was again lukewarm but edible so I was hoping things were getting better . . . some hope! There were three different members of staff going from table to table admitting that 80% of the staff on board were not trained properly – and it showed!

Tuesday 26 December:
Docked in Gibraltar and I’d had enough. Once again cold, hard toast, no butter and I’d lost the will to live by the time the marmalade turned up so I went to Reception and asked a gentleman called Ronald if he could book a hotel for me to stay the night and also book a seat on the flight back home for Wednesday. He was very sympathetic but I don’t think he fully understood my reasons for wanting to go. I was very tearful, not just because I was so fed up, miserable and very disappointed but because I’d just had a conversation with a couple who told me they had lost their son in a tragic accident when he was only 22 years old. It brought back memories of my granddaughter who passed away at only 7 months old and I was thinking that, although it was a tragedy, they were lucky to have had their son for all those years.

I couldn’t be bothered to go through all the complaints with Ronald, there were too many and would have taken a lot of time so I just told him about the conversation I’d just had and for personal reasons I just wanted to get back home. He was very helpful in booking a hotel room and flight and seeing me down to the dock to get a taxi. I also told him I did not want to pay the £5 a day tips because I hadn’t had anywhere near the service I had expected for the price I paid for the cruise. Judging from the other passengers’ comments and complaints I wasn’t the only one!

So, overall:
The majority of the staff on the ship don’t speak much English (if any!) They don’t know what they’re doing (not their fault, they’d had no proper training) they don’t understand what is being said to them and they were not assigned to certain tables to look after which resulted in them bumping into each other and several of them asking the same people for their orders! Too often the sounds of cutlery and glass being dropped could be heard. It was absolutely abysmal and chaotic.

The cleanliness of cutlery and glassware left a lot to be desired and every mealtime there was always something missing, eg: desserts and soups being served with no spoons. Cups and saucers being brought by one waiter, teaspoons being brought by another and drinks being brought by yet another.

The announcements over the tannoy at mealtimes were very loud and intrusive, telling people what they must do, must see, etc. All the information was in the daily newsletter anyway and the announcements totally unnecessary.

There was no friendly atmosphere on the ship or warm welcome from the majority of the staff and every day there was a long queue of people at Reception, all with complaints. It did not make for a very pleasant holiday or cruising experience and, sadly, I for one, and I think a lot of other passengers, will not be booking with your company or cruising on your ships again.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 3 Comment(s)

  • Su
    over 1 year ago
    We’ve never cruised with this cruise company, although you often see cheap deals with them on the internet.
    Think I’d think twice about going with them now!
  • Adventurer
    about 3 years ago
    So sorry for you. Horrible experience
  • Hunter
    over 3 years ago
    What a disappointment for you - it sounds awful.

    On the other hand we used Newmarket for a Norwegian Fjord trip - air/coach/ferry last year and it was amazing. We really had a good time with a splendid guide.