18 March 2016
South American Treasures 5 January to 28 February 2016
M S Marco Polo
Here are some comments and observations regarding our cruise that relate to our experiences. I have Maritime qualifications and my wife has ... Read More
18 March 2016
South American Treasures 5 January to 28 February 2016
M S Marco Polo
Here are some comments and observations regarding our cruise that relate to our experiences. I have Maritime qualifications and my wife has catering qualifications and has worked in the catering and Service industry and as a matter of course, we observe people and systems. This is an independent observation; we have no connection with Cruise and Maritime, its employees or subsidiaries. When making comment on things that have not gone to plan, I have taken into account that all staff are human and susceptible to making errors. In this, it is not the errors or omissions that occur – it is how they are resolved that is important. Having been on the Canada Cruise last September, we now have something on Marco Polo to compare with.
First of all we wish to thank Cruise and Maritime (C&M) for a wonderful cruise. The whole package exceeded expectations, and the itinerary was superb – a truly memorable cruise for which we would consider Cruise and Maritime as our first choice next time. We also had the opportunity to catch up with some friends and make new ones, and we had a very happy crowd with us. We enjoyed the company of some very interesting and kind people, for which we thank them all.
I have to say that perhaps the highest criticism would be of some of the passengers, and it would be fair to say that contained within that number of people on board, there would be two murderers, a ram raider and a gas welder so to speak. In other words, there will be a fair selection of society. Those who engaged in rudeness and the silly disputes in the theatre over seating, we could avoid or at the very least ignore. We did not like the rudeness shown to staff including the unwarranted and very public verbal attack on one if the Chefs. For some people, this cruise was too long, and we suspect that some of the trouble could be assigned to those on a drinks package who were possibly getting their money’s worth.
While we could avoid these people, the staff could not, and we noted that they dealt with situations in a timely and correct manner.
Unfortunately, at the start of the cruise, due to bad weather the Marco Polo was unable to make the Bristol departure so we were bussed to Southampton. This was not without incident as road traffic caused some delays. However our experience, and the experience of those at our table was that C&M handled this most efficiently. There were plenty of staff on hand at Bristol and despite the complications involved in transporting a large quantity of people at short notice, they did well.
I had occasion to make enquiries and to seek advice and assistance from most of the members of the Desk. It would be unfair to single out any one individual for comment, but as front line staff, I can say that they all did fulfil their role. They were very kind, polite, helpful, business like and forthright. Well done.
Cabin and Steward
On board we found most of the staff that we knew were still in place, and they made us most welcomed. Again, the standard of cleanliness was very high and our cabin was very promptly turned around by our very efficient Steward. Any small items requiring attention by the maintenance staff were dealt with at short notice and we were well pleased with the Service. We would hope that Yuri will continue in employment as we found him to work at a high rate, and to an exceptionally high standard. Well done.
During the voyage we saw that carpets in the corridors were shampooed on various occasions. In addition to this, there was a constant regime of hoovering and on one occasion, cleaning of the walls and ceilings. We also saw that the regular cleaning to the stair towers included cleaning by a toothbrush thus ensuring that every crevice was attended to. The Bistro also had the carpet treatment during the voyage.
Once again, the hand sanitization regime at the entrances to the Bistro and restaurant was welcomed, and the Matre D’s ensured that this was attended to. External cleaning was also carried out, usually early in the morning with an ongoing maintenance schedule for external woodwork. Again, well done.
We were particularly interested in the on board entertainment on Marco Polo. For the Canada voyage we had Richard Sykes as Cruise Director who was a one man show on his own. We understand that Richard has quite a large following and with good reason, and we still maintain that his qualities as a performer are hard to beat. Following Richard would be difficult for anyone, but Ross the new Cruise Director and his Deputy rose to the challenge and we were not disappointed. He put his heart and soul into the entertainment and worked hard. In the shows that we attended, Katy was brought forward (since her broken leg incident) and she is a little star. We also enjoyed some thoroughly good entertainment with him and the boys and girls.
There was a different line up with new faces for the shows which worked very well. Katy seemed to have been given more of a role as lead singer and within the new group was another excellent female singer. Overall, from the shows that we saw, we considered that the new line up and entertainment was better than the Canada Cruise. Rob is coming into his own and we noticed that he was at ease on this cruise and was working hard on some new material. We understand that Ross has now moved on and Katy is now Deputy Cruise Director – and well deserved. Well done.
Captain Morais deserves a special thank you. He was always pleasant and took part in the judging and activities organised by Russ. He was a damn good sport and everyone loved it.
Activities and lectures
There was a wide ranging Programme to cater for varying tastes and now some comment on the ones that we know about.
Creative writing, Hilary Green sadly had to go ashore due to bereavement and a facilitator Pauline carried on. It was a success, a really good crowd and everyone enjoyed it.
Dr Clive Leatherdale’s series of lectures was first class. Clive is a ‘must have’ for any cruise. His highly informative lectures on the history and geopolitics of the countries were visiting were delivered in an easy and gracious style. He enriched our travel experience and a measure of his popularity was that in just about every lecture, it was standing room only (with an argument over the seating on one occasion!) Clive was always approachable and available for discussion in his off duty times. Well done. Book this man again.
Sue Walsh’s well attended lectures on birds and sea life had improved since the Canada Cruise (and she was good on that one too!) Very informative and entertaining, with a touch of her own style that was welcoming. Indeed, Sue and the bird watching group were to be found most days on deck giving a running commentary, or advice regarding wildlife.
Photography, again a lecturer on photography is another ‘must have’ as most people want to get the best out of their cameras. John Riley had an informal style and covered the subject from a lower level than most. I welcomed his approach as I am at the lower level and enjoyed his presentations.
We booked a few excursions this time. Having never been to South America, we were not too keen to do our own thing until we got the measure of it. All the excursions we booked were good value for money and well organised. They were a fulfilling experience.
Again, a word about Susan the Excursions Director and her new assistant. Susan in an absolute star in this job, and a trouper to boot. Having contracted the bug going around and losing her voice, she continued unabated for some time with some difficulty to provide service. Once again, well done, just the warm and bubbly person for this job, and long may she continue to be employed on board. Her assistant is a star was well and they were always available to exchange the time of day and to answer the numerous queries.
We booked the cruise giving regard to the places on the itinerary, and we were certainly not disappointed. Apart from Rio Grande that was closed and really not worth the bother, all the places had something to offer. Our favourite place was Montevideo, and we would have liked two days there. We would have foregone Ileus and Rio Grande for this.
We heard a few complaints voiced about the catering during our voyage. We normally disregard third party comment, as taking into account the length of the voyage and the wide number of individual tastes this is not surprising. However, there was an issue surrounding the beef being tough and some of the steaks. Firstly, when queries were raised about meals, in our experience they were changed immediately and would have been changed again if required, and the whole thing was focussed around the customer. Certainly, both the Matre D’s had a grip on the running of the Waldorf and ensured that it ran well, and we noticed that the Bistro and rear deck eating area was observed by them.
Regarding the beef, we were of the opinion that this was due to the quality of beef being supplied (as on the Canada voyage) and this was changed during the voyage. In general, all the steaks (as far as we could see) were delivered well done, and in one case – tough. I did however have one that was excellent. I understand that C&M are advertising in the American market, and if this is so, I would suggest that the steak issue is resolved as they will know the standard expected by American customers.
We purchased a wine package but did not rate this good value. We will not be doing this again and certainly, if we considered one in the future, we would welcome the opportunity to taste the wine before purchasing. It seemed to us that the wine included in the package was of ‘budget’ quality.
Towards the end of the cruise, various small things like coffee sachets, honey and the like ran out, this should not have happened. These minor things are very important.
On our table we had Elvis and Zee as Stewards, with Alla as wine waitress. We received a high standard of service from them all and they are to be commended. It was good to see that Boyan is now a Steward with a table in his own right, and no review would be complete without giving credit again to Wine Waitress Valentina who provided excellent service, and we would hope that she will continue to employed on board for some time in the future. The two Bar Stewards we were most impressed with are Sandra and I think Maja her name is, who mostly worked the after deck. In general, we can say that once again, we were impressed by how hard the staff worked and we would be happy to recommend them for employment anywhere within their disciplines. It seems strange but the majority of the Stewards who attended to us were female for some reason - it just worked that way. In this I would not denigrate the male stewards who were also observed to be working well. It was interesting to learn that amongst the Stewards there was a Vetinary and an Architect, they are interesting people from a range of backgrounds.
At arrival at Bristol on the Sunday, we were faced with dubious taxi availability.
Suspecting that there might be a delay, we had booked our train home for the afternoon, however we are sure a few people missed their connections that had not realised that delays would be incurred. We would have welcomed (and paid for) a shuttle bus to take us to the Station, and perhaps this something that C&M could look at for the future?
The voyage did what it said on the tin, and more. We do not go for the large sea going ‘blocks of flats’, or a cruise with a Class hierarchy. The cruise was good value for money and we would book Marco Polo again. Once more, when the cocktail parties for previous customers was feature, it was noticeable that the theatre was nearly filled. This is a true mark of customer satisfaction when so many people are loyal to the Company and repeatedly book again. Read Less