Having read the glowing reviews on Marco Polo's Amazon 6 week cruise, I thought I should redress the balance. We have cruised for the last 12 years on various ships, large and small, expensive and cheap, and in all weathers. Never have we experienced a trip like our 42 night Amazon, Caribbean and Azores cruise on Marco Polo.
We had read the reviews before we booked, and were fully aware of the ship's shortcomings. There was no launderette! The ship was old with no balconies. The bath towels were small and very thin. There was no port lecturer, so no help for the independents. Other lecturers were rostered, but were of a very poor quality. To have an "expert" turning his back to his audience and reading his notes from the screen muttering to himself, does not inspire confidence in the veracity of his lecture or his preparation. Yes! The show lounge was basic.All that was acceptable. But to have only song/dance entertainment for all 42 nights, except for 1 comedy night, 2 magic nights and the odd (very odd!) film, was monotonous, to say the least.The show team were very good and did their best, some of the singing was excellent, but to show G rated films or children's animated ones (Rapunzel - really?) left many passengers yawning.
Norovirus was an issue. Boy! Did the staff work hard, washing and cleaning, but they were let down by poor on board management. The various maitre'd's seemed unconcerned as to passengers' comforts/complaints, or pleas to put an extra member of staff behind the counter to speed up the compulsory serving. "Nothing I can do" was the standard answer. To have only 1 coffee station open for the 3 weeks of the virus led to huge queues (2 others were left unattended), and to shut the cold water station completely, with temperatures of 30C+ was sheer madness. After a week of complaints this was finally rectified.
The food served in the main restaurant was poor. Lots of courses but spoiled by usually only being luke-warm. Our waiter always offered to take it back but by then it was already an hour into the meal, and the extra wait was not worth it! Before norovirus we could vote with our feet and eat in the self service restaurant, but when that closed, all was lost. Added to which, after 2 or 3 weeks the food menu was re-cycled. No new dishes, same bland food, inedible vegetables, and fancy titles to deserts, which the waiters could not explain. Further, towards the end of the trip, some of the fruit ran out - pineapples, bananas and kiwi fruit were at a premium - marmalade/fruit jam was missing, and many of the pats of butter were black and rancid, vegetables were in short supply, and individual breakfast cereals were finished. Portions seemed to get progressively smaller.
Almost without exception the "minions" were superb, always smiling, always a friendly word or a joke, all done in a second language of course. On-board management were a different calibre, scant people skills and towing the party line. As with many other organisations, there was little effort to tell us what was happening, apart from daily broadcasts haranguing us for promoting/prolonging norovirus. Nothing was said about the passenger killed, no apology for putting us in that situation (rumour had it that the captain had been warned not to leave the Azores, but had ignored the advice due to the schedule of turn round in Tilbury). One of the entertainment team did a tribute to our lost colleague, but nothing was broadcast.
In summary, the Marco Polo is not suited for trips of more than 3 weeks, needs a thorough overhaul/upgrade, and some of the senior officers need a course in people and organisational skills. (Yes Captain, you as well.) A bitter conclusion to a bumpy cruise.