11 London (Greenwich, Tower Bridge, Tilbury) First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

Just returned from six days on the Marco polo, an old ship but well maintained, as this was our first cruise didn't know what to expect.... The food was excellent also the service was too, couldn't do enough for you, being a ... Read More
Just returned from six days on the Marco polo, an old ship but well maintained, as this was our first cruise didn't know what to expect.... The food was excellent also the service was too, couldn't do enough for you, being a small ship was a bit of a squash at meal times especially breakfast, we had the all inclusive drinks package of £17 per person per day which was good value and the drinks were good quality, entertainment sadly was not very good at all the nightly show was too short and very amateurish and quiz games disorganized and hard to follow, also the choice of music needs up dating... Our cabin was small which I expected on a ship but was clean and the service from our steward Yuri was excellent but I did begrudge paying £2.20 for a bottle of water in our room and should be included in the drinks package.... All in all an enjoyable week but don't think cruising is for us as we found it to confining and Norway is beautiful.... Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our first cruise and we really enjoyed the whole experience. Embarkation was a very smooth process ;taking less than an hour from arrival at the car park to eating our lunch aboard. It was well organised and we were instructed ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we really enjoyed the whole experience. Embarkation was a very smooth process ;taking less than an hour from arrival at the car park to eating our lunch aboard. It was well organised and we were instructed where to go clearly throughout. We had a superior cabin on the 9th Deck and it had two windows which was a nice surprise. The furniture and fittings had seen better days but everything was clean and functional - precisely what I expected from CMV's photos and the price I paid. The room was cleaned twice a day and we opted to have a continental breakfast in bed the majority of the mornings. Information was provided in a nightly magazine and there was plenty to do during the days at sea. The entertainment was again, in keeping with the whole experience of being fun and functional. The shows were slightly cheesy, the quizzes silly and the musicians in all of the different bar/ lounge areas were fantastic. If you opt for a cruise like this, you need to embrace the spirit in which it is intended and join in. Everyone we spoke to was of a similar opinion- you get what you pay for and if you throw yourself into the 'small friendly boat ethos' then you'll get a lot more from your experience. We ate in the Waldorf restaurant each evening and there was a wide range of food which was cooked well and served at the right temperature by a highly efficient team. The food was a little bland and 'safe' to my taste but it was perfectly edible and fun stuff like 'the parade of the baked Alaska ' complete with indoor pyrotechnics and the night the head waiter danced to Zorba the Greek with a giant bottle of Olive Oil are what made this holiday so much fun. Norway itself and the excursions were fantastic. We paid for two and did Bergen on our own. I'm glad that we went on the guided tours as they were well worth the money, had very well informed guides and allowed us to see things we would not have been able to plan on our own. The fjords were spectacular and my best moment was waking up early on the second morning of our cruise to find that we were cruising the beautiful Hardangerfjord. Norway was very expensive and I feel that this cruise offered good value for money as an alternative to staying in a hotel and exploring on our own which is what we would normally do. The whole boat was spotlessly clean and staff seemed to be cleaning constantly throughtout the day. Hygiene was very important and at every meal time we had to clean our hands before entering. I thought this was a good thing. Since this was an entirely unpretentious cruise, there was little emphasis on dressing up and hanging out with the captain which suited us and our companions. That said, there was a meet the captain evening which was well organised and good fun. The majority of travellers were older than us but they seemed to be up for more of a good time than the younger folk and for me, this laid back approach to travel only added to the experience. There truly was no hurry to get on coaches/ upstairs/ into bars - we were supposed to be on holiday! My only grumbles would be that the 'Bistro' area was not very pleasant; it was reminiscent of a mid 1990's department store and was often hot and smelly. It could do with a refurb and a reconfiguration of the space. Also there were not enough bar staff circulating particularly during the evenings which led to considerable frustration when trying to order drinks. These however, were only minor issues and would not put me off travelling with this company or ship again. We had heard horror stories about disembarkation but like every other part of the trip, this was a smooth calm process. We opted for express disembarkation and, if you are able to carry your own bags and use the stairs, I'd definitely recommend this. We got off about 15 minutes after docking and the buses were waiting to take us straight to the car park so we only had about 30mins where we had to do any waiting around. So, I would recommend this cruise to first timers and those who enjoy chatting to other people and simple pleasures such as reading a good book in the sunshine and working ones way through the cocktail menu of an evening. It was a laid back, fun holiday. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it with but were a bit wary given some of the bad reviews this ship and company get. Tilbury is an odd port and probably needed refurbishment 40 years ago, it still does and after ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it with but were a bit wary given some of the bad reviews this ship and company get. Tilbury is an odd port and probably needed refurbishment 40 years ago, it still does and after a bit of chaos at the long term car park the embarkation process was very efficient. From starting the process to boarding the ship and being shown straight to our cabin was no more than 15 minutes. The meet and greet on board was good and within minutes we had dropped out hand luggage off and were free to explore. The ship is not huge, which appealed to us. Everything was immaculate and there was constant cleaning and polishing going on throughout the entire voyage, along with window cleaning and painting whenever the ship was in port. There are staff dispensing anti-bac at all times in every place food is served. There were various activities for most sea days, quizzes, art, a choir and entertainment. We didn't go to much of the 'on stage' entertainment as it wasn't our style (singing and dancing) but there is also an excellent resident pianist who plays regularly in one of the smaller bars and a fantastic piano and violin duet who played 3 or 4 times a day in one of the other bars, they were stunning. Other people enjoyed the main entertainment so there was a variety of styles to suit taste. The guest cabaret (comedy and music) was very old hat, Frank Spencer impressions and lots of jokes around impotence, some people found him funny, he was a better singer than comedian. Some of the guest lectures were interesting, a bit more variety would have been good. The food was very good, always a choice of self serve or restaurant. While occasionally the soup wasn't hot there was always a good choice, it was always well presented and served with a smile. I am veggie and was always well catered for with a choice of menu. While the breakfast staff were not always overly cheerful or interactive the evening dinner service was good humoured, professional and always served with beaming smiles. Our waiter, Thant, remembered our particular likes and dislikes and was always ready to change anything that wasn't to someone's liking (eg blue cheese on the cheese and biscuits) and remembered this for next time. Portion sizes were very good, not excessive but more than adequate. Lunch was 3 courses, though staff were also happy to just do the soup if requested, 3 courses were not compulsory (!) dinner was a minimum of 5 courses with fresh pizza available 12-6 and afternoon tea 3.30-4.30 plus late night snacks handed around in all bars around 11/11.30. I'm sure no-one could possibly go hungry. Drinks are very reasonable, there is a drinks package at £17pp per night but bar prices are normal, fairly cheap, pub prices. Wine packages are offered a few days into the trip for those who don't want the full drinks package. We just bought drinks as we went along and had a very reasonable bill at the end of the trip. Shore excursions are expensive, in most places we just did our own thing. Amsterdam was an easy walk from port to city centre and there were buses for the less mobile. In the Faroe Islands we did a trip which was good but at £37 expensive for 2.5 hours. In Iceland we did our own thing, there was a port shuttle available at £12 but a local bus is £6 return and went every 20 minutes. In Orkney there was a free shuttle provided locally and we were greeted by Tourist Info staff, the whole town was geared up for our visit (even the local vicar was sat in the Cathedral on his laptop in case anyone wanted a chat, there were welcome signs in shops) and we were "piped off' by a bagpipe and drum band. Disembarkment was a little chaotic but not unreasonable for getting 1,200 people and their luggage off a ship. The staff were very friendly, the Captain informative and also funny. We had one pretty rough sea day as we left Iceland when most activities were cancelled and we were catching wine glasses and fellow passengers as they slid around the ship. Listening to some fellow passengers whinging and wining as we left the ship it was hard to believe we had been on the same cruise, while I'm sure there will have been some genuine mishaps or problems some people just seemed to be looking for problems "there wasn't even a mint on our pillow at night" was one person's moan about why he would never use CMV again... Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect . Well we did not need to worry because it was excellent from start to finish . Our cabin was very comfy lots of wardrobe space , bathroom was good, shower excellent, and we had ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect . Well we did not need to worry because it was excellent from start to finish . Our cabin was very comfy lots of wardrobe space , bathroom was good, shower excellent, and we had a window which was a bonus . The restaurants were excellent the bistro could get busy but that wasn't a problem for us , plenty off choice and lots of it . Entertainment was good and all the staff were excellent could not do enough for you . The excursions were very well organised although I think some were a bit expensive , but very interesting . All in all we had a great time and we would defiantly book to go on the Magellan again . Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We have just returned from an autumn Fjords cruise on Magallen. We are over 60s and quite difficult to please so I would like to dispel all the negative comments about this ship. We really enjoyed our cruise due to all the high standards ... Read More
We have just returned from an autumn Fjords cruise on Magallen. We are over 60s and quite difficult to please so I would like to dispel all the negative comments about this ship. We really enjoyed our cruise due to all the high standards on board and the amazingly friendly and efficient staff. The whole ship was spotlessly clean and, although an older ship, was run run absolutely efficiently. We had a spacious twin cabin on Deck 6 with a picture window, which was kept very clean and tidy by our cabin steward, a lovely girl from the Ukraine, who was very welcoming and friendly and added to our enjoyable experience on board. We ate in the buffet restaurant each day as we prefer to eat informally and the food was delicious with the chef providing attractive and varied food every day. We understand that the dining in the formal restaurants was superb as well. The waiting staff were efficient and friendly and nothing was too much trouble for them. They looked very smart and kept the whole buffet area clean and spotless. We attended some talks and activities and enjoyed these. There was entertainment provided every evening which we did not attend but with which other passengers were very happy. Even on a ship capable of taking 1400 passengers we could always find a quiet spot up on the top decks and enjoy the scenery passing by. Deck chairs and loungers were provided and lovely cosy blankets for the chillier times. There were also many lounges and bars to sit in and drink under cover in the warm. We encountered some rough seas with three metre high waves but they hardly made any impression on the Magallen and we could walk about the ship easily and the lifts still functioned well. We could not hear any engine noise where we were on deck 6 apart from the thrusters when we were coming into dock, which is understandable. The air conditioning was easily adjusted with the control on the ceiling. The excursions were interesting and the fjords were lovely and although this is an older ship, we would recommend this ship and cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We went on the British Isles Discovery cruise late August, early September. The Marco Polo is not a modern ship, but all the same very comfortable in our Superior Twin Inside cabin. Shower and toilet facilities very small, but always ... Read More
We went on the British Isles Discovery cruise late August, early September. The Marco Polo is not a modern ship, but all the same very comfortable in our Superior Twin Inside cabin. Shower and toilet facilities very small, but always hot water. Our cabin maid did an excellent job. A good choice of food in the restaurant and bistro. All ports of call ok with my favourites being Hon Fleur and The Scilly Isles. Embarkation and disembarkation ran smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Just returned from a great cruise to St Petersburg on CMV's Magellan and thought I'd write a note to allay the fears of others who may have been concerned about some of the early reviews. To cut to the chase, CMV offer very good ... Read More
Just returned from a great cruise to St Petersburg on CMV's Magellan and thought I'd write a note to allay the fears of others who may have been concerned about some of the early reviews. To cut to the chase, CMV offer very good value but you don't get all the frills that I suspect you'd expect from more expensive cruise lines with newer megaships and all mod cons. You're going to be upset if you want a champagne lifestyle for beer prices, but if you want to travel comfortably on a pleasant ship with an excellent crew then read on. As we live in SE London, the coach transfer from Victoria made sense, and was reasonable value at £25 return. Embarkation was straightforward and cases soon arrived at our outside cabin on deck 6 - clean, quiet, surprisingly spacious with plenty of storage space, very comfortable beds and a great powerful shower. Take extra hangers though, if you're packing clothes for more than a week or so. The ship itself is a nice size - large enough to be able to find some space to oneself if you want to escape, but small enough to feel like a ship rather than floating apartment complex. There's plenty of deck space but the sheltered spots are taken quickly; the pools are small (think dip rather than lengths). Sinatra's Bar was a nice place for a cocktail or evening drink, listening to the pianist and Hampton's Bar was a treat in the late evening when the superb pianist and violinist played some lovely classical pieces (and more modern songs that had been rearranged in a classical way). Shows in the main lounge were of a decent standard, with excellent choreography, dancing and lighting occasionally let down by average singing from some performers. The house band are superb. More variety in the style and format of shows would be nice and sight lines in the main theatre are tricky - too many pillars and screens make it difficult to find chairs with an unblocked view. The two restaurants are comfortable and self-service buffet area fine if you would prefer a more relaxed setting...as long as you avoid the busiest periods when finding a place to sit could be quite challenging. A tip - breakfast in bed is free and you avoid the crowds, so if you're happy with fruit, cereal, yoghurt, juice, toast and tea/coffee this is a very nice option. As for the food generally, it was always at least adequate and often rather better than that; not haute cuisine but decent. House wines were good (£15 a bottle for Spanish reds and whites) but if you move up the wine list to spend in the low to mid £20s you don't get a big jump in quality. Cocktails and spirits are cheap - around £3.50 each. We took advantage of the £85 voucher offer for five bottles of wine and ten litres of water, which worked perfectly for us; the £17 per day drinks package may work for people who expect to drink a lot more. Sadly tea and coffee were a let-down. You can pay extra for decent coffees but the standard fare was average at best, and tea tasted mostly of chlorinated water. PS CMV, no cruise line offering a "traditional British" experience should allow Lipton tea anywhere near their ships - inexcusable tasteless brew! The crew work incredibly hard and were unfailingly friendly and helpful. We couldn't praise them highly enough and there were numerous examples of them going the extra mile to help people have a great time on board. There were plenty of activities available, geared often for an older age group; if CMV would like to attract more younger customers this is an area they might want to develop - quizzes, craft classes and ballroom dancing appeal to a particular demographic.... And some more lectures/talks about the ports would be nice too - beyond a sales pitch for the ship's excursions. Talking of those, we mostly did our own thing but the ship excursion from Warnemunde to Schwerin Castle in Germany was excellent, and we appreciated the free shuttle buses laid on in a number of the other ports. A very full two day package we organised with SPB Tours in St Petersburg was absolutely superb and I'd wholeheartedly recommend it for people who want to be a bit more adventurous than the ship's coach tours. In summary, we booked this cruise for the itinerary rather than the ship and were a little worried about the latter. We needn't have worried - we had a great time and perhaps the best way I could conclude this review is to say that if Magellan was doing another itinerary I was interested in, I'd have no hesitation in booking again if the price was right. It's good value at the discounted and two for one prices you can often get from CMV - perhaps less so at the full sticker price, but I'm not sure many people paid that. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Embarkation at Tilbury was efficient and well organised. We had ocean view room on deck 5. Spacious and clean. Plenty of hanging space and hangers. Shower room was a good size with powerful shower. Our cabin guy, Constancio, was ... Read More
Embarkation at Tilbury was efficient and well organised. We had ocean view room on deck 5. Spacious and clean. Plenty of hanging space and hangers. Shower room was a good size with powerful shower. Our cabin guy, Constancio, was excellent. Very thorough and professional, polite and spoke good English. The understanding of English from some of the front-line staff was poor. Also some basic information on arrival could have been better ie: food was being served on arrival, lifeboat number was on life-jacket as well as on cruise card. This would have saved us from being in the wrong area, but also because staff didn't understand our question, in English! Also staff just stood waving paddles with numbers on instead of explaining they were to indicate which lifeboat group you were in. Daytime activities could have been better although we were happy to relax and read. Evening entertainment a bit 'sad' but the guest entertainer, Steve Terry, was excellent. Also Richard, the cruise director was excellent. Would advise people not to book an excursion in Eidfjord which includes nature centre, waste of money. Excellent day in Bergen, made all the better by beautiful weather. Flam railway trip also very good. We dined in the Waldorf and found the food excellent. We were also blessed with good companions on our table. We chose to breakfast in the Kensington and lunched in the bistro. My only criticism would be guests not using the sanitising gel on entering the food places and also not using the tongs provided to retrieve their food. Come on, we're all grown ups and are well aware of noro-virus so buck up and consider your fellow passengers if not yourself. The midnight buffet and food carvings was amazing but again a few people spoiled it by being greedy and not leaving certain foods for others. Did you really need 6 large prawns on your plate??? Disembarkation was also well organised and efficient. Would definitely cruise with CMV again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I booked this cruise just ten days before departure, and was stupid enough to read the reviews after booking. Must say I was dreading the experience as all the reviews were extremely negative. Anyway I think I must have been on the wrong ... Read More
I booked this cruise just ten days before departure, and was stupid enough to read the reviews after booking. Must say I was dreading the experience as all the reviews were extremely negative. Anyway I think I must have been on the wrong ship. Despite some difficulty getting the tickets due to my late booking I found the the cruise to be a wonderful experience. Our luggage was taken from us at Tilbury car park and returned outside our cabin on board ship. Our cabin an outside one on deck 6 was emmaculate. The crossing was smooth and the food was of excellent quality and plentiful. The crew were so polite and helpful at every juncture particularly Dina our cabin steward who was always bright and sunny and our waiters in the Waldorf restaurant Shelfii and Serhii. Alright the entertainment wasn't West End quality but it was made up for with enthusiasm. If you are going on a cruise for the first time don't lay the negative reviews put you off. Go with an open mind and I'm sure you will be positively surprised. After all you can't please all of the people all of the time. Will certainly book again with this company on board this ship. Should add this is the first time I've ever been compelled to write a review about anything. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our first cruise, so we were not sure what to expect. The check-in procedure was smooth and once we were on board the staff were waiting to show us to our cabin, with our suitcases not far behind. Throughout the whole voyage the ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so we were not sure what to expect. The check-in procedure was smooth and once we were on board the staff were waiting to show us to our cabin, with our suitcases not far behind. Throughout the whole voyage the staff and crew were absolutely fantastic, the service they gave was exemplary and they always smiled and said hello to everyone. We saw the very caring way that they looked after some of the less mobile passengers as well. Both the public areas and our cabin seemed to be newly refurbished and everywhere was spotless. We had a cabin with a window, and a sofa which was turned into a bed each night by our maid. The cabin had everything we needed, and well thought out for a small space. The food was excellent... I believe some reviewers thought the drinks expensive but I suppose it depends on where you come from. We did not find them unduly so. We were expecting to be given an early or late sitting for dinner but the ship did not seem to be full so we ate at any time. We went to all the evening shows, the standard of singing and dancing was very high, not to mention the fantastic costumes. We were not keen on the comedian who came across as quite old-fashioned... lots of the jokes had seen better days! Everything was very well organised, we had a daily itinerary given to us each evening with the next days schedule on. Being a small ship there was little in the way of shopping on board but there was plenty of onboard activities to keep most people happy although the weather kept us inside until towards the end of the cruise, and it was good to chat with other passengers as well. We had booked a selection of trips ashore and were glad we did as the time factor meant we did not have long in any of the stops. This was the main drawback for us, but we realise this is the nature of cruises and we already have plans to go back and spend longer in some of the places. To sum up, we thought it good value for money and would certainly consider another cruise on the Astor. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our first cruise and we are now hooked!We sailed on the Marco Polo from Tilbury to Amsterdam and then on up the west coast of Norway calling at 8 ports of call and into many Fjords.We chose this ship as it was sailing from UK and ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we are now hooked!We sailed on the Marco Polo from Tilbury to Amsterdam and then on up the west coast of Norway calling at 8 ports of call and into many Fjords.We chose this ship as it was sailing from UK and had a no children policy. The embarkation process was very smooth and we were shown to our cabin quickly and our luggage was delivered soon afterwards. The whole experience was very relaxing and the service was first class. Most of the crew were always smiling and polite and couldn't have been more helpful.Strangly some of the staff on reception were the least friendly! We ate excellent food in the Waldorf Restaurant each evening and the Bistro also served excellent food throughout the cruise.The ship was very clean. The entertainment was fine although that's not really our 'thing' but it was full when we did go to the lounge. There was plenty to occupy us when we were at sea and the cabin was large enough to relax in but you can spend a lot of time just looking at the scenery when at sea. There was information left in the cabin each evening relating to the next day which also gave the expected temperature and sea condition. We saw amazing sights - Glacier,ice hotel,ice sculptures, great museums and so much snow! We went on a few trips but you can also do a lot of things yourself eg The Ofoten Railway trip (£12 return)!Although we went free as the attendant didn't have any tickets as it was Sunday!! Oh yes - We saw the Northern Lights!! The most relaxing holiday we have been on for a long time. Don't let the elderly clientele put you off booking!! It was fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010

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