Marco Polo Cruise Review by pogles: It was all about the scenery
It was all about the scenery
I was nervous about this 50 year old ship but we chose it for two reasons. The itinerary to the fjords and its ability to get into ports like Flam and the fact that it was small with only 800 passengers. Unfortunately it was 800 passengers crammed in giving far less square foot per person than the bigger ships offer.
Arrival at the port - this was chaos with a long queue to get to the terminal only to drop off our luggage and turn around to drive back over a mile to the actual Tilbury port and docks to park our car. Why they didn't direct people who had paid for parking to go straight there I don't know. The queue was over a mile long and we were 90 minutes late checking in, which was very smooth and painless like others have described.
Our cabin was 638 on Deck 9 and although quite a high category it was still very small indeed. Clean and bathroom was sufficient but it just felt a bit cramped. Only one power point (unless you unplug TV).
Facilities on board More were minimal with a small duty free shop, gym, table tennis table, 3 hot tubs, games room, reading room etc. There was a internet room were charges were 60p per minute so very expensive. WIFI available on deck 8 but still expensive. The problem was during our 2 sea days there is just not enough space to accommodate everyone, we ended up back in our cabin watching dvd's one day as all the available seats in the various lounges and clubs were all taken.
Food - Marcos restaurant was very school canteen like and we tried it for breakfast and lunch on one day and gave it up for the Waldorf restaurant on other mornings. What was quite nice was the wraps, paninis and burgers they cook fresh at the poolside bar. I took my own teabags but as they do not offer fresh milk for tea on board everything tasted a bit chemical or stale. the drinks service in all of the bars is good and all reasonably priced. They do a good range of cocktails and I worked my way through the non alcoholic ones during the day too.
The Waldorf restaurant was good and our waitress, Katareyna was very nice. The wine waiter was very surly and didn't really want to be there and was only interested in serving wine and not any alternative bar or non alcoholic drinks. A good selection each day, small starter, soup and a salad followed by a main a dessert, cheese and coffee. Not too keen on any of the pasta dishes they were all very stodgy and bland. Breakfast in the Waldorf had a good selection and eggs and omelettes were cooked to order.
The entertainment was good with 5 very professional singers who put on a spectacular show each night in the show lounge followed by late night cabaret. They all worked very hard indeed. Each show was repeated at 1015 for diners that were on the late sitting so there was no reason to miss anything by being on either dinner sitting. The entertainment cruise director was also very professional.
Our ports of call were Eidfjord, Flam and Bergen and we signed up for the excursions in Eidfjord and Flam.
If we were to go again I think we would do our own thing. In Eidfjord there was a small land train that took you round all the sights and up high enough to look back down at the port. I think I would have preferred this to sitting on a coach driving round the countryside.
In flam there were two ships in port and plenty of tickets available to go up the flam railway to Myrdal for those who wanted to opt out of the excursion. Our trip on the railway had two disappointments, the first was that we had to get off at the stop before Myrdal where we just took a few photos and looked round a souvenir shop at one of the hotels up the mountain. The second was that the carriage was oversubscribed on the way down and we had to stand up for nearly an hour which didn't give us a very good view or the opportunity to take photos. We did complain about this and was refunded £27 each. Anyway subscribing to this excursion, I recommend you take the morning one as the afternoon one gets back too late for the first dinner sitting and so many people were forced to miss a sit down meal with waiter service that evening.
Bergen - very easy to navigate under your own steam, there is a small land train as well as the funicular railway. It was raining quite hard when we arrived so everyone on the funicular excursion didn't get to see anything as it took them up to the top of a mountain surrounded by cloud. We waited until the sun came out just after lunch and had a great view.
All in all the reason we went was for some beautiful scenery which we got in abundance. The Marco Polo looked very romantic and majestic anchored in the fjords where as the larger white multi deck cruise ships looked somewhat out of place. Would I go on the Marco Polo again? I don't think so as the ship felt too crowded, the average age was a lot older than expected (70-80+). Whilst our cabin steward and our waitress were very friendly we found a lot of staff very surly, particularly when you asked for specific things away from the norm (please only fill my coffee cup up half way caused a breakfast waiter to become rather rude and slam things about).
Disembarkation - whilst this was very smooth and well organised the few hours leading up to it were very stressful. Every passenger was asked to vacate their cabin at 7am and because there is not enough room to seat everyone at the same time the queues for breakfast were long and we had to wait for over an hour. Meanwhile everyone was sitting where they could, on the stairs, on sunbeds etc with their hand luggage waiting to disembark. Disembarkation was staggered depending on cabin category (coloured luggage labels) and started at 0810am with the last passengers off around 10.30am. With this in mind I think it may have been more sensible to stagger breakfast. Less
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