After reading a review posted by a fellow passenger on this 28 night cruise, I'm wondering whether we were actually on the same holiday ! Everyone is entitled to their views, but to me, the difference between the previous review and ... Read More
After reading a review posted by a fellow passenger on this 28 night cruise, I'm wondering whether we were actually on the same holiday ! Everyone is entitled to their views, but to me, the difference between the previous review and the one below is more to do with attitude and expectation. I had already prepared my review (just not posted it yet), so I will leave it up to the reader to decide who had the best holiday experience.
This cruise was our 2nd with CMV and on the Marco Polo. A previous 12 night cruise to Iceland last October became the taster to this 28 night return transatlantic cruise to Canada and therefore we were aware of what to expect from this ship before we booked. Firstly, we had found the standard cabins to be too small - for us - for a month long trip, so we splashed out and booked a DeLuxe Outside cabin for this cruise, which - with so many sea days - turned out to be a good move. The Itinerary, was Liverpool, Cobh, St John's (Newfoundland), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Charlottetown (Prince Edward Islands), Gaspe (Quebec), Montreal, Quebec City (2 days) Sept-Iles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Cap-aux-Meules, Sydney (Nova Scotia), Corner Brook (Newfoundland) & a final port of St Anthony (Newfoundland) that unfortunately had to be cancelled.
The Ship - is old by current cruising standards, but charming at the same time. It is kept spotlessly clean by the staff, and for us, this compensates for the obvious wear and tear you can see around the ship. Having said that, I am led to believe that the Marco Polo will soon be going into dry dock for a 'make over' so it will be interesting to see what they do to her. She has a loyal fan base who cruise regularly on her, and I can understand why, as she is probably one of the most honest and friendly ships I have ever been on. She doesn't profess to be all singing and dancing with glitz everywhere you look - but if your expectations are realistic and you open yourself to the quirkiness of the ship, she will embrace you and give you a warm homely feeling. (Apologies if this is a bit too lyrical !!)
Embarkation at Liverpool was speedy and well organised.
Cabin - A DeLuxe Oceanview on Deck 11. Great size and layout, with 3 large windows, kingsize bed, settee & chair, stool and coffee table. Fridge/Minibar, Tea & Coffee making facility, and bowl of fruit replenished as necessary. The two double wardrobes provided plenty of hanging space for clothes and there were drawers galore which helped in keeping the room tidy. The only downside (for us) was that the bathroom had a full size bath with overhead shower. We prefer a walk-in shower which is what you get with the more standard cabins. By the way, its true what they say about the higher you are, the more motion you feel !!!! We do not suffer from sea sickness, but if you are prone to this malaise, then stick to a lower deck cabin.
Dining - If you are used to the selection you get on the premium cruise ships, then you will feel limited with Marco Polo. The food is good, but the choice is limited and repetitive. Breakfast can be taken in either the Bistro Buffet, or MDR - both are buffet style, although tea and coffee are served to your table in the Dining Room. Lunch is also served Buffet style in the Bistro and by Table service in the MDR. An addition when weather permits is the Pool Grill which has a Burger / Pizza / Fries selection on the open aft deck. Buffets are notorious for being difficult to find seats, but we only had 2 occasions at Breakfast during the 28 nights when it was full and we walked out and waited 15 mins. Afternoon Tea is also served in the Buffet around 3.15 each day - the pastries and scones were lovely. Dinner is a 5 course affair in the MDR (two sittings 6.00 pm and 8.00 p.m.) and of all the food served on this ship, I found this to be the best quality & choice. And if you hadn't eaten enough during the day, they provided a buffet in all the lounges at 11.00 p.m. each night !!!! During our 28 night cruise, there were 4 Formal Nights which the majority of passengers adhered to. The remaining nights were a mix of Informal or Casual depending on whether we had been in Port all day or not. Mostly, men wore Jacket (usually taken off within minutes of sitting down !!) & open neck shirt for Informal, and just short sleeve shirt / polo on casual nights. Overall, I would say Ladies dressed up more than I have seen on P & O / Princess / Royal Caribbean etc although the atmosphere never made you feel you had to.
Entertainment - This is one of the reasons we chose to cruise on CMVs Marco Polo again. I have never met an Entertainment Team that puts so much effort into their job. The 4/5 headline singers (including the Cruise Director) were outstanding, and also doubled up on hosting onboard quizzes / bingo / games etc. and also provided Cabaret in Scotts Bar at 11.00 p.m. each evening. The twice nightly (8.00 p.m. & 10.00 p.m.) main Shows in the Marco Polo Lounge were superb and very well attended. On a couple of the evenings early in the cruise, a Comedian joined the ship, and likewise we were joined by a Ventriloquist / Comedian for a couple of shows on our way home. The 7 strong dance troupe were amazing, as was the Live Band. In fact I can honestly say that the whole Entertainment team was one of the best and most committed I have ever come across. A big plus for the CMV line in my opinion.
Only one downside to the entertainment was that for the whole 28 nights, the large Columbus Lounge had the resident Russian Classical duo playing in the evening. Im not against classical music, but this limited the use of this Lounge - at least to us. I would have liked to have heard some occasional upbeat music in this area, and move the classical team around a bit.
Onboard Lectures - I would imagine that these become more important, the more sea days you have in your Itinerary, and become extremely important when you are sailing across the North Atlantic - both ways !!! We had 4 great Speakers giving presentations on a wide range of subjects from the History of Newfoundland through to the photographing over a period of years, of a lioness and her family in India. A WW11 Historian (who did a very convincing impression of Winston Churchill) also gave us an in-depth explanation of events such as the sinking of the Bismark, the D-Day Landings and the Dambusters. All good stuff.
Shore Excursions - As with all cruise lines, these are expensive for what they are, but if you are not up to the hassle of researching your ports and arranging private tours, then just book them and enjoy. The Excursion staff are first class, and Sue (the Manager) is extremely good at her job. The tours are well organised and simply administered without fuss. Maybe its because this Ship is so much smaller than many, but disembarkation onto the tours went without a hitch - as far as I could see.
Overall Enjoyment - A great cruise, which included a number of great ports in Canada that many ships are too big to call at - a fabulous Itinerary, with just one exception 'Sept Isles' - not a lot there, and my advice is not to take the Shuttle into Town - what town ?!? Either do one of the ships tours further afield, or stay on the ship and have a cheap massage !! If you are prone to motion sickness, I wouldn't take the Marco Polo on a North Transatlantic Voyage unless the Itinerary was something special. Don't get me wrong, we felt safe on her and she rode the waves well, but she's small, so there is movement. BUT, I can't wait for her to come out of the re-fit next year and book again. To us, she is a 'special' ship and probably always will be. Read Less