This was my first cruise, travelling with my wife and our two closest friends. Choice of cruise was mine, for my 70th birthday and I have wanted to see St Petersburg. Itinerary was Copenhagen, Warnemunde (for Berlin, if desired)' Tallinn, Helsinki,St Petersburg and Stockholm. We liked the fact that Marco Polo is a small ship by today's standards, fewer than 800 passengers, and, though elderly, the ship has a charm about her.
Embarkation at Tilbury was smooth, with baggage arriving at our cabin within minutes. We had booked an interior cabin, but were upgraded to a superior outside twin, very comfortable, lots of storage room, very comfortable beds, and a decent shower room, all beautifully serviced by a friendly and very competent steward.
The ship has a self service restaurant and the waiter service Waldorf Restaurant, where we took all but one meal, looked after by a superb table waiter, Food was, without exception excellent for choice and quality. In our quartet, we had two diabetics and two vegetarians, who were catered for very well.
The ship has a swimming pool, a couple of jacuzzis, a library, card room, meeting room, four bars and a large show lounge, a boutique and duty free shop. Activities included quizzes, bingo, guest speakers, craft activities, deck games and films.
Evening entertainment was first class, great singers, dancers, comedian and a wonderful Russian girl violinist.
We took excursions at every port, as all were new to us. Whilst not cheap, they were a model of good organisation , with expert guides.
So much for the good. Now the less good. The ship was struck by Norovirus, with passengers and crew sick in dozens. Anyone with a gastric upset was assumed to have Norovirus and was confined to cabin, with anyone sharing, until 48 hours symptom-free. The self service restaurant, public toilets, card room, library, meeting room, pool and jacuzzis were closed for the last 6 days of the cruise.. Dining became tiresome, with every passenger having to eat in e one restaurant. The crew undertook intensive cleaning of public areas, seemingly to a thorough standard, however, it was worrying that the boutique and duty free shop both remained open, an environment where customers handle goods constantly, surely a splendid means of spreading infection. We were also unimpressed by the ship doing a very quick turn round at the end of our cruise, passengers for an afternoon departure arriving at the terminal as we disembarked, clearly making a deep clean of the ship impossible before sailing with fresh batch of passengers.
Whilst the virus took the gloss off. What was an otherwise superb experience, my wife and I will certainly consider cruising again.