If you want to go somewhere in relative comfort, well fed and entertained then this could be the ship for you. The Gazetteer rates this ship as 3 Star. I have stayed in 3 Star hotels and had better holidays than in 5 star, and the same could happen on board the Marco Polo. One phrase uttered by a fellow traveller was "You get what you pay for". If you can understand that then you will enjoy what you get.
The ship is over 40 years old, has classic lines and a beautiful teak deck. When at anchor near a modern cruise ship it looks smaller, but it is kept in good condition. Maintenance was carried out on a regular basis during this cruise, crew tried hard not to disturb passengers and were always friendly and obliging. The varnishing of a set of teak stairs took 2 hours and was dealt with quickly and with good humour. No one complained (believe me I was sitting by the rail catching some rays and everyone was complimentary about the way the crew were looking after the ship.) AFter reading some reviews of the ship I was wary but a friend checked other sites and one reassurance was that "It has a really low rate of Norovirus cases". This I can understand as the ship was kept spotless and the passengers encouraged to do the same.
As soon as we boarded we were offered anti-bacterial hand gel and this was available every time you left the ship, entered the ship, entered the dining rooms, used the gym, and even after you had washed your hands in the toilets. I never saw anyone refuse them and most people who commented on this fastidiousness were impressed. The crew were friendly and helpful, and although for most English was a second language they really tried hard to please.
Our cabin was on the lowest passenger deck, but chosen for it's size and number of portholes. We were offered smaller cabins of the same grade higher up, but decided the larger cabin was for us. We saw the size of these cabins and really were pleased we had opted for the bigger cabin. The cabins we saw were more than adequate, but ours could have been a suite! Unfortunately this knowledge did not stop some pitying looks from fellow passnegers, one of whom commented in the lift "The more you pay the more you sway!" We didn't sway, paid the same and didn't have an obstructed view!
The tender transfers were a worry for my mum who was travelling with me. However, the description we were given by the travel agent and the reality were far apart. If you can walk down steps and step across a 3 inch gap with 2 nice men holding your arms then you can do this! It was a fun experience and the crew made it an adventure for some of the older passengers. Only once did a bow wave come up and "drench" one side of the tender (a high speed lifeboat), but this was met with good humour and much laughter.
The food was of a good standard, only once did I dislike my choices. Entertainment was of the singing/ dancing cabaret style, with quizes and games added in. It was of a good quality with no repetition. Craft sessions and wildlife talks were available for those interested in them. In response to earlier postings/ reviews there were plenty of plates available, and if you had to wait for a coffee cup it was for 2 minutes and they arrived steaming from the washer. Coffee and tea were in abundance, drink were comparable to home and service was excellent.
Experienced cruisers were mainly of the opinion that the ship catered for passengers focused on their destination. Some passengers compared the ship to larger newer ships and were a little disgruntled at the differences, but most were satisfied and pleased with the overall cruising experience. I would have no qualms booking the ship again, as long as the itinerary was one which I wanted. This ship is capable of the Mediterranean, an Atlantic crossing, the Amazon river and Antarctica. A true all rounder, and as such has varied passengers. Yes there are a high number of retired passengers, but there are also middle aged professionals and younger couples.On the last day I met and Australian couple on board for 2 months cruising Europe. They were enchanted. Enough said.