We chose to have breakfast and lunch in the self service bistro Marco's. The food was very good. A lot of it seemed to be quality home cooking, eg tapioca, bread and butter, apple crumble puddings. Main courses such as sausage and mash, pork cutlets, beef stew and fish were available in a variety of dishes. There was also a pizza bar on the deck outside serving pizzas, beef burgers and chips. We likened it to quality cafeteria style with paper knapkins and self service cutlery rather than tables laid formally. Tea and coffee was available all day but only in mugs. The station inside with a good selection of teas was inadequate for the number of passengers and had long queues at busy times, although there was a coffee station by the pizza bar outside that wasn't as available and had less selection. If it had been raining this could not have been used. During mealtimes waiters served tea and coffee in addition. The hot water and coffee were served out of two large stainless steel urns but only had ground coffee. Decaffeinated was available in sachets only. There were no sachets of regular instant coffee and no hot chocolate, horlicks or other bedtime drinks available at night as there often are on other cruise ships.
The entertainment was of an excellent standard, but there were no cinema or gambling facilities. There was the usual yard of gold and silver chain available but no art auctions. The shops were pleasant and adequately stocked. Duty free prices were good for drink and tobacco products, although perfumes and after shave seemed expensive even with a 20% special offer on certain days. Bar prices were just over public house prices and in some cases cheaper. Wine started at a reasonable £14 per bottle and was cheaper to buy than by the glass.
We felt this was a no frills cruise. There were photographs taken if required but were never pushed. The words "No thank you" were met with a smile and readily accepted. As with all cruises photographs were not the cheapest product, but remain a good momento of your holiday with a DVD available at £22. Incidentally this DVD ran all day long on a TV channel in your cabin as well as on screens around the ship. The general condition of the ship is excellent but does not allow for wheelchair use very readily, as there are lots of stairs and bulkheads to negotiate between areas which would make it difficult to get round the whole ship. The general attitude of the staff was extremely good. Everyone replied to the best of their ability when asked a question and were friendly and polite, always insisting you go first. With this cruise around Britain, passengers were ferried ashore by tender at four out of the seven ports visited. In our opinion if the water was choppy, unless you were good on your feet it seemed dangerous and there was a number incidents of people being injured.
So to sum up we found this to be a basic cruise which was good value for money with no frills. There were no cocktails served at the welcoming formal night just sparkling wine or orange juice. There were paper knapkins at breakfast and lunchtime, there was no customary chocolate on the pillow at night, nor replacement of cabin toiletries or in fact clean dry towels every day. Generally speaking the positives far outweighed a few negatives. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and would recommend it and we will definitely cruise again with Cruise Maritime Voyages recommending the Marco Polo ship. We have yet to try her sister ship the Ocean Countess.
We hope you have found our review of a helpful nature. Of course there are lots of things that we have not had the space or time to comment on as with most cruises. We have tried to pick out some interesting facts to give an overall picture. The ports of call on this trip had plenty of excursions available to suit all tastes and capability and did not seem that expensive. We preferred to be independent travellers exploring on our own. All the ports are well documented in guide books and do not need our inexperienced opinions on them. We visited Inverness, Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Dublin, St Mary's on the Scilly Isles, St Peter Port in Guernsey and Honfleur. We had chosen this cruise because of the ports on the itinerary and were not disappointed. They were all delightful and we enjoyed each one.
Reviewed by Peter and Pippa (rent15c), age group late 50's.