This was my first cruise apart from transatlantic on QM2.
Boarding. Chaotic. Urged to arrive at allotted time then changed to first come first served with no explanation. Later found this was due to cleaning because of Norovirus outbreak. (But why did that matter?)
Cabin. I booked what was described as a double more suitable for a single, whatever that means. It was the same as most other designated doubles on my deck. ie small. Only 4 drawers and 8 hangers for 45 days. No British socket. Old style TV on pedestal taking up already limited space. People walking past window could see in if a light was on. This applied to the best suites.
I asked my stewardess when the Safety drill was. She showed me how to open the safe! So much for English speaking crew. She was very hard working and helpful when I managed to explain a problem. Perhaps her East European upbringing accounted for her scared look.
Restaurant. Noisy. Cramped.I had to pull my chair in so that waiters could get by. Opening the pretentious menu encroached on the place settings either side. Ceiling so low you feared for waiters heads. Service very good. The company(8) at the table made the trip. I hope I didn't spoil theirs.
Marcos Bistro. Small. Crowded. Hot. Appeared to be so far from kitchen that food and cutlery etc kept running out despite a stream of willing waiters. Soft drink station had fruit juice only at breakfast. Only water the rest of the day. The Tea/Coffee stations were refilled from a bucket. You had to check that mugs were clean and not chipped. Food. There was always a fair choice but I saw the same tinned fruit salad at three meals a day every day I looked. Shortage of fresh fruit. Ran out of Marmite!
The outside "barbecue" was good but meant queuing.
Drinks. Bar prices - ok. Wine. Very expensive. Pretty awful at all prices I was willing to pay.
Marco Polo Lounge. Unfit for purpose. Eight pillars plus four at the side of the stage, alternate high and low rows of seat, ceiling so low it covered the top of the cinema screen if sitting at the back. Less than half the audience could get a clear sight line. Dreadful acoustics. Shows. Lots of song and dance themed to pop eras or artists. Amazing variety for a long cruise. Really quite professional seeing as most of them seemed to double as deckhands and tour escorts. Dress code. Widely ignored. I saw a cardigan on a formal night. No-one could explain the difference between informal and casual.
Decks. No chance of a bed after 8:30 despite constant requests not to leave towels. Power walking circuit on deck 10 but so narrow past the boats that there was a one-way system. Some area somewhere always seemed to be closed for painting. Several nasty engineering related smells.
Pool deck makes a lovely all round venue for a show but seating and avoiding smokers a problem. A great memory was the Caribbean farewell party with a steel band and the sunset in the background.
Shore time. Information sketchy and deliberately(?) inaccurate. The existence of banks and ATMs, actually available everywhere except the Amazonian village, was positively denied in some cases. The on board exchange rate deserves the attention of the police. The maps provided were almost useless. No scale, orientation or landmarks or any indication of where the boat might be. Calling 1 1/2 miles a 20 minute walk is a bit optimistic. I suppose that statistically one day ashore in seven will be a Sunday with everything shut but accurate warning should have been possible.
Tenders. Very amateur handling. Knots tying was a wonder to behold. When one ran aground, the shore hand pulled the next boat into the same spot with the inevitable result. The passengers loved it.
Misc. Library tiny and only open even to return books when the librarian (very helpful) was not engaged elsewhere.
Gym. I couldn't raise weights above my head without hitting the ceiling. There were recesses for the heads of people on treadmills.
Reception. I lost three travel mugs, one covered in pictures of my family. I was told by other passengers that other cruise lines would have put out a call over the tannoy for something so obviously of personal value but not one was ever found.
The breakdown. All power lost for 12 hours and partial for a further day. Blamed on rain getting in to the main power distribution board. V. worrying when you are crossing the Atlantic. Every one was without water, even to flush toilets, for 12 hours. After that it varied. I was without a/c or ventilation - no cabins have opening windows - for 36 hours in a temperature of over 30C. Some inside cabins were without lights. C&M response. A free bottle of house wine and permission to use the mineral water in your cabin.
Overall. Seeing the Amazon was great. The crew were wonderful and most passengers fun to meet. But the Marco Polo is badly overcrowded and the facilities and organisation are completely unable to cope.
There were some loyal followers, though perhaps fewer after this experience. The general view I heard was - never again. I agree. If you want to go then hurry she surely can't stay in business long.
As to cruising in general. Probably never again. A cruise seems to consist of three days at sea, three queues and three hours looking through a coach window.
Meeting people is the only real plus.