We saw the D-Day 70th Anniversary Cruise advertised in the Guardian and were impressed with the itinerary. We booked through the Cruise Company 16 months ahead of the sailing date. Most of the top grade cabins were taken but we were able to book a deluxe room. The booking team were extremely helpful and despite booking with them directly we were able to enjoy the Guardian advertised perk of free parking at Tilbury. We were contacted near to sailing date to determine our excursion requests and were initially disappointed not to have places on all the trips we wanted to do. Cruise and Maritime Voyages kept us fully informed and placed us on a waiting list, we had regular phone calls and email updates from the courteous and friendly office staff. CMV added extra tours to this very popular cruise and found us places on all the excursions we wanted to join. When our tickets arrived we were delighted to see we had been upgraded to a Junior Suite. However we have cruised on a variety of ships before and have read the reviews of Marco Polo we were not anticipating the height of luxury. Our cabin was spacious and clean with flowers and fresh fruit plus a fridge. The bathroom was a bit old but clean and we had a bath with shower over. Shower water pressure was impressive and the water hot.
Embarkation at Tilbury was chaotic due to a technical fault at the terminal and late disembarkation of previous passengers. Once this was rectified we were taken to our spacious and clean cabin where our luggage was waiting. The crew are meticulous regarding cleanliness and hand sanitising. This was most impressive. The stair rails are wiped down constantly and a crew member is positioned at each restaurant entrance to dispense anti bacterial hand wash. I was so pleased to see this as a friend has had a cruise ruined because of an outbreak of norovirus. At the buffet a crew member handed out cutlery with gloved hands so that cross contamination was minimised. This detailed attention to hygiene was much appreciated.
The food was satisfactory and there was a good choice but it was a bit uninspiring and dinner could have been enhanced with more fresh vegetables. The most bizarre thing was the display of each dish on a table adjacent to the Waldorf restaurant. The display plates contained a real meal and were scraped into a bucket at the end of the evening in full view of passengers. We found that quite weird.
The restaurant staff are ok, they work very hard but we felt they could not cope with the unexpected, such as a surge of passengers returning from a tour later than expected. Communication was not brilliant and one evening we were confused as to our sitting time and finally ate at 10.30 pm with resulting indigestion. Some of the restaurant and bar staff have very poor English. Most are of Eastern European origin.
The excursions were very good, the best organised were the Belgians, with the additional treat of chocolates for each guest.
It was a very special anniversary and the entertainment crew organised a fabulous deck party on D-Day which was great fun, especially as the weather was good too.
We chose this cruise specifically because we wanted to join in the D-Day anniversary and were not disappointed.
As for the ship, she is stable and quiet even in choppy waters. The decor is as expected, a bit dated but clean and comfortable. The decks slope, even in the cabins, and there are no cabins with opening windows. For this reason, unless there is a specific itinerary we would like to enjoy, we will probably not choose to sail on Marco Polo again.