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2 Harwich to Arctic Cruise Reviews

This was my fourth cruise with CMV but my first on the Marco Polo, I had heard so much about this ship from friends who had been on its 50th Anniversary Cruise up the St Lawrence. I must admit I had heard bad reports as well as good ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise with CMV but my first on the Marco Polo, I had heard so much about this ship from friends who had been on its 50th Anniversary Cruise up the St Lawrence. I must admit I had heard bad reports as well as good reports about this ship but my own findings were that it has a charm all of its own and a very friendly dedicated crew. The reason I choose a cruise is to see different places and experience different cultures, this cruise to Greenland really was an amazing experience but could have been better if the quality of the lecturers had been more consistent. The difference that onboard lecturers can make to a cruise is more than significant and on this cruise the ability and relevant knowledge of the lecturers varied to the extreme. The main lecturer was Prof. Eric McVicar, who when I looked him up on the internet was described by one University as "an Internationally recognised expert on Arctic cultures and ecology". This was certainly the case, every lecture he gave was pertinent and relevant to the destinations visited. His lectures were delivered in an exceptionally professional manner and were highly informative, as well as being delivered with more than a touch of humour. Strangely enough my friends who had been on the CMV Anniversary Cruise had also commented on the brilliant lecturer they had encountered, the same Prof. Eric McVicar. In all my years of cruising he is the first lecturer I have ever come across who has given two evening shows in the show lounge followed by a question and answer session and to get into his lectures you had to arrive very early to ensure getting a seat. CMV has done well to secure a lecturer of this standing. We had the privilege of having lunch with him on a couple of occasions during which he was asked by one passenger "Do you also lecture in the Antarctic?" To which he replied he only lectured in places where he felt that he was suitably qualified and had sufficient knowledge to answer questions, a point which other lecturers should take on board and he was definitely the best lecturer I have come across in my years of cruising. The second lecturer was Sue Walsh who was described as a wildlife expert, I could find no references to her on the internet. Rather than describe her as a wildlife expert i would say a more apt description would be amateur bird watcher, her lectures were delivered in a monotonous patronising manner more like a bored primary school teacher with a class of 8 year olds. Her wildlife knowledge expired after three lectures, included in one was a reference that one needn't worry about Arctic mosquitoes as they did not carry malaria, thankfully Prof. McVicar subsequently informed us that although they were free of malaria they did cause encephalitis and that Arctic Blackfly could cause blackfly fever and therefore taking precautions to avoid insect bites was essential. Both insects were encountered during the trip so it shows a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing! After running out of wildlife information Sue treated us to 10 hints on how to live longer and another on ways to make ourselves more self asserted. Considering the average age of the passengers and the fact that many of us were retired professionals, University Professors, Doctors and Teachers these lectures were extremely patronising. Another of her lectures was titled Chickens in Colorado, what on earth that had to do with the Arctic God only knows! Definitely the worst lecturer I have ever come across and I was not the only one who was of this view, as one lady who farmed reindeer said that she talked "a right load of crap". The third lecturer was more of an interest subject rather than about the cruise destinations, Ian was a photographer whose hints on how to achieve excellent photographs with even the most basic equipment such as a phone camera were very good, however his last two lectures were his holiday photographs taken on a pilgrimage following the children of Israel out of Egypt, considering the religious diversity of the passengers these two lectures were not really appropriate on such a cruise. On the other entertainment side the comedians were dire but there was a real treat with Tenor Laurence Robinson who not only was a delight to listen to but was a great entertainer to boot by involving the audience in an extremely entertaining and humerous manner, top marks to Laurence. The ship's show team and Cruise Director Jonathan Dulson put every ounce of effort and enthusiasm into their performances, and considering the small size of the ship and stage this was no mean feat. The adult only feature of the CMV cruises I have been on has always been a factor in deciding which cruises we go on and no doubt we shall return to CMV when we see a cruise to destinations which we find interesting, hopefully in the case of Canada we will again have the delight of Prof. McVicar's lectures. The cabin we had on the ship was an outside cabin with twin beds, although small was comfortable and the steward was outstandingly attentive to all our needs and requirements. Port and short excursions - we do not go on many excursions as we prefer to explore ourselves and see how the local populations live and work, in the case of Iceland however it is obvious that most of those involved in tourism are also involved in what may be termed extortion and daylight robbery, suggest to anyone going ashore in Reykjavik that they take a packed lunch and walk into town and keep their hands in their pockets and go to the toilet before you go in as it will cost you £2.50 (they do take credit and debit cards at the toilet). As always the food was good wholesome fare, don't expect lobsters and caviar at CMV's prices but you certainly won't go hungry and the variety of food and the service cannot be criticised. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose this cruise because of the excellent 2 week Norwegian itinerary and our positive history of previous Holland America cruises--the last one being 3-4 years ago. Pre and post embarkation transportation/transfers was flawless. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the excellent 2 week Norwegian itinerary and our positive history of previous Holland America cruises--the last one being 3-4 years ago. Pre and post embarkation transportation/transfers was flawless. The ship is old--but clean and well appointed. Dining is always a big part of cruising and in the past we have generally dined nightly at the formal dining room and enjoyed the specialty restaurants. The main dining room featured the worst service I have ever encountered on a cruise ship. We ate there 3 times before giving up. We waited 10 minutes to get greeted and even get water after sitting down. Once we were taken to a table and in order for me to get seated a bucket had to be moved. The reason the bucket was there was because an area right next to be was being scrubbed down by workers in face masks and gloves. Obviously someone had up-chucked and they were cleaning up--needless to say--I didn't enjoy my food after watching that cleaning operating for 10-15 minutes before getting served. Was very surprised that we would have been seated before the cleaning operation was finished. Service seemed to take forever--the hot food was cold and the cold food was room temperature. Salads were wilted and had been sitting in salad dressing for quite a long time before we got them. Getting iced tea took 20 minutes. Even getting the wine steward to come to our table was a laborious process and I was ready to give up on ordering wine with dinner. The Pinnacle grill was not spectacular as the steak restaurants usually are on cruise ships--only OK and not worth the surcharge. Our steaks were not cooked correctly and no-one wanted to return them after waiting so long to get them. The Cannaletto had better service, but had less of a selection than what I recalled them previously having--only ate their once and didn't want to spend the money for a repeat visit. The Lido dining area (which we usually avoid) was heaven compared to the formal dining areas. The food was generally hot (unless you visited within 30 minutes of the closing), the variety was excellent, and the table service was incredible (coffee, lemonade, iced tea, removing plates, etc). The salad bar area was the best I have ever seen on a ship and my husband enjoyed the daily Sushi. Activities seemed to be significantly less than what I remembered on previous HAL cruises. There should have been lecturers on board to talk about the geology of the area and the Northern lights--there were none. Interestingly--we made friends with a retired geology professor on board who told us he had applied to lecture on the ship and had never heard back from HAL. We were so happy to learn about the area's geological history from him. The dance lessons were horrible--they've changed to Dancing with the Stars--so those of us who wanted basic dance lessons were disappointed by being unable to keep up with learning a choreographic routine. There was no kareoke either, which we also love. The shows were not memorable. The ports were lovely--especially enjoyed the ones where the ships parked right alongside the city center and no shuttle bus was needed: Bergen, Molde, Eidfjord, and Alesund. There were long lines to get on the shuttle bus to get to the city. The information provided by the location expert about the city was well-intentioned, but lacking. We didn't find out for example--whether or not the gondolas were operating to scenic viewing areas until the ship was actually in port. Probably not her fault--but likely a more experienced location expert would have known. Next time suggest one talk for every 2 cities--talking about 5 ports in 1 setting was just too much information and not enough detail. We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the small casino and the friendly dealers--they were the one group of people that we felt made us feel welcome. This is not a ship where lots of heavy duty gambling occurred--enjoyed the friendly card tournaments. The spa and fitness area were typical HAL--loved the thermal area especially because of the outside rain and relatively cold temperatures in September in Norway. In summary, liked the cruise and the itinerary, but was disappointed over all in what HAL was been downgraded to--more like one of the bargain cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015

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