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17 Southampton to South America Cruise Reviews

The opportunity to travel up the Amazon, Central America and Caribbean. The whole cruise was excellent in every way. The many ports of call, experiencing so many places, the excursions well organised. The crew were excellent, a happy ship ... Read More
The opportunity to travel up the Amazon, Central America and Caribbean. The whole cruise was excellent in every way. The many ports of call, experiencing so many places, the excursions well organised. The crew were excellent, a happy ship and you felt it. Nothing was too much trouble. The waiters couldn’t oblige you more. Entertainment on the whole good including the Headliners shows. The activities on board were very varied - excellent watercolour class and new popular Ukulele class. The celebrity speakers where brilliant - Rev Richard Coles, Eric Knowles, Wayne Sleep and Sue Holderness (Marlene from Only Fools and Horses). We travelled from South Wales by Cruise Connect, it was a long journey because of the many pickups. We eventually arrived in Southampton at 3.30 and eventually boarded at 4.30. Heavy seas on the way across the Atlantic, but Aurora coped with it well. Always found her to be a very stable ship. Would highly recommend this Grand Voyage. Have done the Amazon now so wouldn’t go there again as have now experienced this amazing place. Definitely Central America and Caribbean. Aurora is going Adults only in May, but there were no children on this voyage (only young son of one of the Officers) Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We choose this cruise to experience Rio Carnival and get away from UK winter, overall we were pleased that we did. Ship - public rooms and spaces were attractive and well kept. Dinning- we ate in the Ballindoch dinning room, late ... Read More
We choose this cruise to experience Rio Carnival and get away from UK winter, overall we were pleased that we did. Ship - public rooms and spaces were attractive and well kept. Dinning- we ate in the Ballindoch dinning room, late sitting, the service was excellent and the food was good quality, and wide variety offered. We tried the Poolside grill twice and both times the menus were frankly rather strange. Asian menu -- no noodles, no chillies not much taste. Indian menu spiced lamb served with mashed potatoes, no side dishes, no chutneys -- not worth the extra payment. We also attended the "James Bond" night -- entertainment very good, Balmoral singers sung various James Bond theme tunes. But the martinis were dreadful -- just coloured syrup! The Balmoral show team were excellent, good variety of shows, loads of energy, and we enjoyed watching them perform. Ian Jacks performed 4 times a day in the Morning Light Pub -- although he had a huge repertoire and is a very talented man, with a pleasant voice; you can have too much of a good thing. The 4th Dimension band which usually played in the Lido Lounge -- never did a sound check and often the drummer drown out the singer! Activities -- we learnt to play bridge, I sang in the choir and my husband learned to play the ukulele -- we kept busy on sea days. Fred Olsen had not ensured that the leaders of the various activities could legally work in Brazil so some activities were curtailed while we were in Brazilian waters. I think that the cruise could have been organised better -- we were in port on too many Sundays --- Tennerife, Punte de Este, Forteleza -- most shops closed, very little to do. Left ports very early in afternoon 2.30 or 3.30 not enough time for independent exploration. We missed one port in Cape Verde because of a medical emergency, which meant 9 days at sea but we didn't have longer at the next port. I was not sea sick, but I was sick of the sea by the end of this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We booked this very short cruise at exceptionally short notice (book Monday sail Saturday.) We were accommodated in a suite on Deck 9. During the booking procedure I made it clear that we wished to dine at 8-30 pm but were later told that ... Read More
We booked this very short cruise at exceptionally short notice (book Monday sail Saturday.) We were accommodated in a suite on Deck 9. During the booking procedure I made it clear that we wished to dine at 8-30 pm but were later told that we must eat at 6-30 pm. It took very many telephone calls to unravel that situation but having paid an extra £12 we were granted our wish. We have sailed in Balmoral on a previous occasion and felt confident that we would enjoy ourselves. The parking arrangements by ABP and the boarding procedure were excellent. Our suite (9028) was large and well decorated if a tiny bit tired. Our cabin stewardess was charming and efficient and worked exceptionally hard. We had asked for a double bed but were provided with 2 singles I expect that this was because I booked so late. The Champagne (Cava,) the fruit and the fresh flowers were a nice touch as were the canapes in the evening. We were assigned a table in the Ballindalloch Restaurant which is large and very noisy. We breakfasted in the Spey Restaurant. Breakfast was a very generous buffet arrangement. Dinner was a five course affair with good variation. Generally we felt that the standard of the food was good to very good without being exceptional, the one exception was the roast beef that was exceptional. The wine was perfectly acceptable if one chose carefully. There was no draught bitter beer apart from Newcastle Brown Ale which is not to everyone's taste. A disappointment! We attended the entertainment in the Neptune Lounge on all three evenings. The dance troop worked tirelessly and with professionalism, the music was not to our taste but it suited most people. The comedian was very sharp and his act in the top flight. We visited Rouen and Honfleur, in both places it rained but we enjoyed wandering about. We chose not to use the organised tours as they seemed to be very expensive. We felt that the service on board was not quite as good as we have experienced on other cruises. It may be that the staff are being worked too hard. All in all this was quite a fun break in a monotonous winter. Will we choose to sail with Fred Olsen again? I am not sure. There are many cruises on offer and the competition is fierce.. We will decide soon. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We like the Aurora for longer journeys having been on a world cruise on this ship. However were very disappointed with the entertainment on this South America Voyage. The majority of the acts - some good - were in the same vein ie songs ... Read More
We like the Aurora for longer journeys having been on a world cruise on this ship. However were very disappointed with the entertainment on this South America Voyage. The majority of the acts - some good - were in the same vein ie songs from the shows. We appreciate that it may be difficult and expensive to fly multiple acts long distances but perhaps P and O should take this into account when preparing these itineraries. The sailaways were poor - on one occasion the Ent. Manager was “shouting” to another ship! The Headliners shows were somewhat disappointing, most of which we has seen performed by other companies to a much better standard. Also the food is not up to past standard. The meals in the Sindhu and Glass House were very good. The staff are as always polite and always willing to help. Overall experience was average, we feel P and O need to take a better look at their clientele on these type of cruises. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We were on Aurora's Grand Voyage in 2015 when we went round South America to Australia and back. The bits we missed on that trip we enjoyed doing on this one. Captain Pembridge who joined in Rio from his usual ship Britannia is ... Read More
We were on Aurora's Grand Voyage in 2015 when we went round South America to Australia and back. The bits we missed on that trip we enjoyed doing on this one. Captain Pembridge who joined in Rio from his usual ship Britannia is obviously a guy on the top of his game. We travelled with him on Aurora back in 2009 and were impressed then. When he joined we were confident that we’d have a good cruise. The highlights included getting into the Falklands where we had a great day with the quirky locals. It was obviously important that we got in as so many passengers wanted to visit the graves of friends and family. It was rather poignant. Going round Cape Horn three times in the sunshine was an unexpected treat and the Beagle Channel was seriously undersold by P&O. It was absolutely breath-taking. The scenery was a cross between the Norwegian fjords and Alaska – with huge snow blown mountains as a backdrop. Truly magnificent. We had first class commentators and wild life experts throughout the voyage. Maybe the only thing missing was a map of the complicated route we sailed through Patagonia. For us personally the best experience was our overland to Machu Picchu. It was four hard days but, as it was 1st class throughout it was absolutely memorable. The Monasteria hotel in Cusco was superb, as was the IncaRail dining train, and the guides were very good indeed. Our ‘bus’ had a reunion in the Beach House back aboard some weeks later and we were all still full of the tour. It’s too easy to get blasé about cruising but everywhere we went was bang on. It’s the first cruise we’ve been on where we not only got into all the ports but actually had an extra one – well, a second day in Martinique. That said 6 ports in 7 days on the trot in the Caribbean was a bit busy. However, if we had just done a couple and rushed home we’d have arrived smack in the middle of the bad weather in the UK so it was all for the best. The extras that made the cruise feel like a mini-world cruise we much appreciated. The Half Way Round and Farewell parties were exceedingly generous in terms of refreshments and very good at getting the passengers mixing well. They worked. Our address list is a mile long – and we already knew lots of the passengers from past cruises. The Ligurian 'Afternoon Tea' event at Sunbury Plantation House on Barbados was a very pleasant surprise - mainly because there was very little tea and copious amounts of champagne! We thoroughly enjoyed it (maybe because we were near where the food and drink came from!). Again, something P&O didn't have to do but which added to our enjoyment of the cruise. The entertainment was very well balanced for us. Mac Frampton and Graffiti Classics both stood out but we enjoyed everything we went to (even The Totties!) – and we also enjoyed a good few evenings off when there was nothing on that we fancied. Jon Bartram led a good team with his own style of energetic sailaways; he even managed to involve a surprising number of British on a neighbouring Royal Caribbean ship which all added to the fun. The quizzes never stopped and the only criticism we would level is that the live music in Champions preceding the quizzes was always far too loud. Teams had to get there early to get a seat and then we had to sit silently as talk was impossible. One for P&O to look at I think. A pity, too, that the standard of the food on the second half of the cruise was unusually average. Spaghetti bolognaise with Broccoli and Rosti potatoes? I don't think so. 65 nights is hard to summarise and I am conscious we’ve missed out mentioning all the lovely bar and restaurant staff whose company we enjoyed throughout the ship. Many passengers don’t deserve such a good and committed team. That said, there was much less of the all-to-common 'P&O moaning' than we’ve experienced in the past and I’m glad to say that when one couple of passengers unjustifiably let fly at the gangway staff on one occasion, everyone in the queue told them to shut up and behave! A ray of sunshine! If, like us, you like a long, non-sectorised cruise to get away from the British winter, these cruises are both excellent value and give you a chance to see distant parts of the world. I only wish that P&O would head out East again on a no-fly cruise one winter. It seems a long time since Adonia did it in 2014 Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose Oriana in order to get away from the British winter and to see if our last visit to the Amazon was a wonderful fluke. As in 2016, the Gulf ports were all interesting tho we necessarily visited fewer this time. Port highlights ... Read More
We chose Oriana in order to get away from the British winter and to see if our last visit to the Amazon was a wonderful fluke. As in 2016, the Gulf ports were all interesting tho we necessarily visited fewer this time. Port highlights included 1 Fort Lauderdale which we found clean, civilised, friendly and obviously very wealthy. 2 Key West. Very quirky and artificial but hot, sunny and fun - 'America at sea'. 3 New Orleans. This port is alays at the top of our list as it is unique. Docking in the middle of the city means you are in the centre of the action from the moment you arrive. We love the fact that music is everywhere and the food is wonderful. P&O had provided Chris Walker as a speaker. He is a jazz band leader, jazz fanatic and a thoroughly nice guy. His talks on the jazz greats were always fascinating and his final talk on what to do in the Big Easy was very helpful. The music he and the Oriana musicians performed were entertaining and innovative. You can hear his show on Radio Solent if you can get it. 4 Progreso Not a remarkable port but we berthed with Carnival Triumph and the antics (and size!) of some of the US passengers was worth sitting on the balcony for a couple of hours to watch. 5 Montego Bay. Take the Martha Brae raft ride excursion. Drifting down the quiet, scenic river on a 2-man bamboo raft was remarkably restful. OK the ship sailed without us (to make way for an MSC ship which had been pre-arranged but, as we were late back, unexpected!) but the splendid Captain Box arranged for a tender to pick us up and then gave everyone a glass of fizz as we boarded. See your ship sailing away, even if you know you won't be left behind, is an unnerving experience. 6 St Vincent. Take the catamaran trip to Bequia which is a real ocean passage on a big boat with a real 'desert' island beach to enjoy a few hours on. And a great lunch too! The Amazon. Last time we sailed the river (on Fred Olsen's Boudicca) it was not as hot and humid as on this occasion - up to 35 C and near 100% humidity. The visit to a native village and January Lake from Manaus were both unmissable as was the piranha fishing and wildlife boat trip from Santarem. We ducked out of the Boi Bumba festival show at Parintins as we had seen it before. Although a 'must do' it is a real threat to safe hearing and we did hear it quite clearly from the ship! What we also heard, or rather felt, was the deafening vibration in the Oriental restaurant as we manoeuvered at speed down the river in the evening. All taken in good part by the diners and again the Captain plied the drink the next night Oriana has a very imaginative Hotel team who ran their first Oriana 'Brunch' - fizz, galley walk through, a 'serve yourself' lunch seeing how the galley actually works and plenty to wine - and the Captain's Lounge Sailaways. For about £30 you join about 20 other passengers in what is probably the wardroom at the front of B deck and are fed canapes and cocktails as the ship sails. Our second experience at Manaus involved a delay in departure which meant the drink kept flowing for about 90 minutes - very unhealthy! Of course the Captain and navigating officers are all involved with the sailaway but Captain Box happily exchanged pleasantries from the bridge above us. We'll miss him. Of course all this is designed to be revenue earning for P&O but the crew enjoy the events and they are both good value for money. A fun cruise with an excellent itinerary, lots of good passengers who were very into cabin parties and an excellent captain and crew. And the refit had been a good one too - if only they had replaced the cabin cushions! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We travelled on Queen Mary 2 from Southampton to Rio, via New York, Fort Lauderdale, Amber Cove, Barbados and Salvador, from January to February 2016. The ship then carried on with her World Cruise. We thought the ship was mostly ... Read More
We travelled on Queen Mary 2 from Southampton to Rio, via New York, Fort Lauderdale, Amber Cove, Barbados and Salvador, from January to February 2016. The ship then carried on with her World Cruise. We thought the ship was mostly excellent throughout, although there were one or two worn areas of carpet and a cracked tile or two in the bathroom. The ship is due to go to Hamburg for work, when she returns from the World Cruise in May 2016, so maybe these tired areas will be improved then. Food in the Britannia Restaurant was good although some of the portions were quite small. Not to worry though; you could eat as much as you wanted in the self-service restaurant! Entertainment was of a variable standard. There were some very talented acts in the evening shows, but the traditional Brazilian dancers, for example, had people walking out of the theatre. Anybody can bang what looks like an old paint can and wiggle his or her bits around. Guest speakers included Celia Imrie, John McCarthy and Sir Tony Robinson. They were well-received, but I'm not sure if the American and European guests realised who they were! The 'Insights' lectures were varied and you could choose which ones took your interest. I found most of them very interesting. Movie shows were mostly poor. This wasn't just my opinion. There was usually a very small audience (as few as a dozen people at times). For example, there was a film, set mostly in the early 1950s, about a Russian, homosexual, serial child killer. Not quite the thing to cheer you up before bed! We lasted about 20 minutes before walking out, along with almost everyone else. When we raised this with the staff, we were told that they had to show the movies they were sent from ashore. Tours were okay, but as usual with cruise lines, very expensive. When they ran out of places for trips in Rio, they didn't put another coach on, so we went out into the terminal and got a similar one (minus lunch) for less than a third of the Cunard price, saving $250 between us! The ship was, as expected, very big indeed. It was really smooth going across the Atlantic, in very rough seas. Yes, you could tell you were afloat, but the movement was very subdued. We were impressed. Even though there were 2 and a half thousand passengers aboard, it was easy to find a place to sit and many a time, we were alone in an area. New York was fascinating, Fort Lauderdale was okay if you want to see the Everglades, Amber Cove was nothing to get excited about, there wasn't much to see in Barbados, Salvador was worth missing, but Rio was fascinating. What a contrast between poverty and affluence! Beautiful beaches and promenades, great shopping, Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain.... and not a mosquito in sight! It's a pity we couldn't have stayed on for the rest of the trip. The ship's spending quite a bit of time around Cape Horn, which looks fascinating. However, we both intend to travel on the QM2 again, as soon as possible, so maybe we'll see it then! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
72 days away. 23 ports, with two missed out because of bad weather - Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Punta del Este, Uruguay. 23,500 miles travelled. Fantastic experience, although for some guests the first week was not a good one because of ... Read More
72 days away. 23 ports, with two missed out because of bad weather - Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Punta del Este, Uruguay. 23,500 miles travelled. Fantastic experience, although for some guests the first week was not a good one because of an unseasonably early storm after departing Madeira. Saga Pearl II is smallish so it got tossed around a bit The quality of staff (Filipino) is excellent, and lots of long service crew which says a lot about Saga employment practices. Staff and management aboard worked hard to ensure that the cruise was a memorable experience for guests - for all the right reasons - and they succeeded. The entertainment was generally of good quality and high standard, something for everyone, really. The highlights for me and the missus were: - the Panama Canal transit (one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World - meeting up with an ex-colleague in Guayaquil, Ecuador - Lima, Peru - the Chilean fjords, "glacier alley" and the Garibaldi Glacier - a lap of honour around Cape Horn on a calm and sunny morning - Buenos Aires, with a return evening performance by the Morgado Esteban Cuarteto and tango dancing, aboard. The quartet had done 3 performances on the Colombia - Peru leg. - Rio de Janeiro, the trip to Christ the Redeemer (in clear weather), and an evening performance aboard by Samba Rio. (I heard that the ship's doctor was on standby with the defibrillator.....but maybe that was a tongue-in-cheek comment from one of the female passengers because the Samba dancer outfits were somewhat skimpy!) And that's just to name some of the highlights.....there was much, much more. The only downside.......stepping on the scales yesterday. The dining was excellent with really good complimentary wines at lunch and dinner. We did our own excursions as we are fit and able, and confident about doing our own thing. One memorable excursion we organised via the internet was the 'Grafreetti' in Valparaiso, conducted by a street artist. Amazing creative art! I can highly recommend Saga cruises. Of the 23 cruises we've done, this has to be the best cruise ever! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Marco Polo What better name could there be to conjure up exploration and adventure. This was my first cruise. I had never really been attracted to the cruising lifestyle. A solo sailor from the west coast of Canada, the idea of ... Read More
Marco Polo What better name could there be to conjure up exploration and adventure. This was my first cruise. I had never really been attracted to the cruising lifestyle. A solo sailor from the west coast of Canada, the idea of thousands of people on a sealed tin box somehow didn’t fit with my views of travel and the oceans. However in the spring of 2016 I had just turned 70 when my wife’s mother offered us a cruise on the Marco Polo as a birthday gift. Well I had’t been attracted to cruising but this was a gift that was so exciting on so many levels that of course we could not refuse. However! The next morning we awoke to the reality that we had just accepted a cruise for 54 days. 54 days. What had we done? Gift or no gift this was a major piece of time especially to be stuck on one of those tin boxes. We started the research and the logistics. We had seen no brochures. We accepted the cruise on the recommendation of Lilian, my mother in law, an inveterate cruiser. We knew vaguely that the cruise traversed 100° of Latitude. That it went from Bristol to Bristol via Tierra del Fuego. We had 17 ports of call including Rio, Buenos Aires, The Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas; more on this later) and Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. All in all an interesting itinerary. Tick one for the pro column. Next the boat. The Marco Polo. It sounds like I must have heard of it and I believed I had in reference to a more adventurous cruising style. I Google it. I learn from our modern oracle that she was originally one of the Russian poets, a group of 5 sister ships built in East Germany and named after poets. The Marco Polo was originally the Aleksandr Pushkin built in 1965 and used on the Leningrad to Montreal run in the summers and cruising in the winters. Built to be converted into a troop carrier at a moment’s notice (probably released defence dollars or rubles for construction); she was also ice hardened which has a nice ring to it what with Titanic mythology etc. She was completely rebuilt in the late ‘90s to an elegant understated traditional Deco decor with all mod-cons. I liked the sound of the ship as I had crossed the Atlantic twice on similar boats before the jet age. Once on the Empress of Britain and once on the Statendam. Score two on the pro side. Next was the cultural experience. We were going to be on The Marco Polo for 54 days with the same people. A village of 960 (This must be the max as there are only life boats for this number as I later counted). A petrie dish of people my science mind shouted. What experiments can we do? How can all that experience and talent be mobilized? On the other hand 54 days is also long enough for social niceties to fall away. People are real and will reveal themselves. When I find a bit later that we will have the same supper companions for the full run I am a bit worried but that turned out to be before I had met them (George,Pam,Ray,Maggie,Peter and Linda). The table beside us was not so lucky and wild discussions led to table breakup! 54 for days is long enough for for friendships to be forged. 54 days is long enough to make friends and loose them as well. The prospective clientel are retired and everyone has a good story to tell if you ask. So I am beginning to feel some positive indicators stacking up for the whole experience. I still have worries but we are committed so worries are useless. The cruise is in four weeks, Christmas is in two. We live in Victoria, British Columbia, we have a house and a dog. Flights to be bought, rental cars to be arranged, house and dog sitter to find. Oh yeah and Christmas is here. We made it. Christmas with family, Tim, Michael and Christine and Oliver and Charlotte, Tim, Melanie and Mike and Ayja and David and oh yeah my ex wife Alex and Tony. And did I mention Barbara, my most amazing of all women wife. She is masterminding this whole operation not to mention Christmas. We do the New Year with my aforementioned mother in law, Lilian in Wisbech and her and my wife’s rellies, Valerie,Veronica,Gary,.... plus the ‘young’ Joan (84), Lilian’s lifelong friend from her working days. And off to Bristol to join the Marco Polo. Oops, last minute email, the ship couldn’t make the tides into Bristol because of bad weather in the Bay of Biscay (premonition) and so is in Southampton. Fortunately we had not booked a train but had elected for about the same price to rent a car with a one way drop off to Bristol. Quick call to Europcar and the drop off is now Southampton right next to the ship. I was inexplicably looking forward to my first sight of the Marco Polo but only glimpses were to be had as we boarded. It looks like a ship not an apartment block (a block of flats). Score another point for The Marco Polo. We were a bit worried about our last minute purchase cabin in the bilges somewhere near a huge noisy engine. We had decided that if the cabin was awful that would be a good thing as it would push us out except for sleeping. A window is a wonderful thing. Even a porthole in some way gives you that link to the outside world. We didn’t have one. We knew this. There were no upgrades available even if we paid. We actually didn’t want to pay. It is quite a jump. I would prefer to spend the money on wine and beer which were not exactly cheap (we live in France in the summers, this being a reflection of the price of wine). And then there was the gratuity which in 54 days adds up to quite a bit. As we got to know crew members along the way and experienced how hard they worked and what personal commitment they made to be there we begrudged this less and less. In fact our only begrudging came from a suspicion that perhaps gratuities were being used to supplement meagre pay. I have really no way to judge this one way or the other. Certainly it may be like the workers in the vineyard parable. Each makes a deal which works for them. There were Romanians, Ukrainians, Brits, Greeks, Portuguese, Indian and Burmese. Captain Morais was from Mozambique. It was a happy crew. The cabin was OK; Clean, smart, touch of Deco; it was internal and very central. No window but everything else was the same as a smaller outside cabin. The central location served us well through the Bay of Biscay where the forward cabins had a tendency to levitate you from your bunk. We would have liked a double bed but for the very few rough nights bunks were perhaps best. Meals are a large part of not just cruises but life. Cultures are built around food, wine, music and tea. There is a bit of an expectation on cruises of good food. Some lines are renowned for their food. I can’t say that Marco Polo culture is built around food. It is much more built around a cohesive experience that has adventure and experience and indeed learning as central themes. However the food is adequate always, exceptional occasionally and always served with great alacrity and humour by staff who go the extra mile and engage as true participants in your cruise experience. There are various restaurants and bars scattered around the boat but in general there was a formal dinning room with super efficient table service and a bistro with canteen type service but immediate back deck access. The back deck was where the heart of the boat resided in the warmer climes. We typically took our breakfasts in the bistro and on the back deck. Lunches we went to the dinning room where seating was as arrival and so a new table of people was an every day event until the very end of the cruise; at 54 days there were still many people that we never recalled ever seeing before. Suppers we took at Table 5 with our waiters Heine and Aung from Burma and our wine waiter Olga from Romania. At first I thought that a more diverse table group could not be found and then I realized that we are all retired Anglos and so the diversity was just within that culture. As a Canadian I notice things about Brit culture that are not the same as in other cultures. I knew a German who had hitchhiked with a Brit for a while and confessed to being very confused at first. As Germans get to know you they become more polite whereas with Brits the opposite is true. It seems that nobody could resist the opportunity to wind someone up. Occasionally it backfired as in our neighbouring table but although much winding up was done at our table we all were committed to having a good time and it was all taken in stride. Our table mates: Peter knows absolutely everything about any rail line in the world. Linda his charming chattery wife was delightful in her projected naiviety. Ray, the retired police firearms and diving expert, great Somerset accent and his dynamic wife Maggie were from of all places Midsummer Norton. And George and Pam from a neighbouring table joined us when their table mates never showed and two of ours likewise. Often well primed by supper time they were totally committed to enjoying every moment of their lives. These our tablemates (spell check just corrected this to ‘stablemates’. Who knows which is closer to the truth) provided lots of entertainment and I hope we returned the favour. The voyage had 17 stops, crossed the Equator twice and crossed more than 100 degrees of Latitude. From Rio to the Falklands the stops were what most people had come for. Several people were making what amounted to pilgrimages. To the Falklands or to the Welsh communities of Argentina. One poor chap was going to the Falklands but died in Rio before getting there. The stops were great. To suddenly be in Rio or Monte Video was definitely magical but of course way too brief. Ushuaia the most southern town in the world, jump off for Antarctica. Natal, Brazil a holiday town of sand dunes and beaches. Madeira where Brits holidayed from Victorian times was absolutely delightful. We rode the wicker toboggans down from Monte. A ride not to be missed. All in all the voyage had so much going for it you would have to be near death not to appreciate it. But then again I did joke to my daughter that at each stop we brought on fresh vegetables and dropped off the dead. I think the 54 days led to the interesting dynamic that evolved and changed as time went by. There was definitely a period when everyone seemed to be wingeing about something. It could be the iceberg lettuce, the pasta or the books in the library. But it passed. There were lectures and shows and dancing and crafts and bridge etc. The lectures were about the countries we visited and the wildlife to be encountered. Clive Leatherdalde a Phd in Saudi history and politics prepared great talks on the politics and history of each country. His history of the Falklands was especially interesting as so many of the Brits had some connection or opinion about the conflict with Argentina. In fact several people were outraged by his use of the Argentinian name Las Malvinas alongside the British name. The history has no clear claim to ownership and in fact the UK would really like to give it to Argentina and was on its way to doing that when the Generals invaded to score some political points. Maggie Thatcher needed some points too and we know how that worked out. So now the Brits have to keep them. One day I was looking down on the back deck with many tables of people, chatting, drinking, reading, knitting, etc. A thought suddenly jumped into my head ‘What a waste. All that experience, knowledge and talent not being used’. The World is going through a huge shift in climate and economics and needs all the help it can get. Then I thought that old white guys are often blamed for the problem, (perhaps correctly) so who wants our opinion anyway. Then I thought of the Elders project of Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel and Madela et al. Perhaps a social network, a think tank open to Marco Polo voyageurs dedicated to moving global ideas forward. My favourite thing to do was to sit down with someone and ask them “What’s your best story?” As you can imagine there were many great tales. At times a 54 day voyage seems like this is it forever. But for us it eventually ended and we are back in Canada for a few months. Quite a few people stayed on board for the Caribbean cruise which says a lot for the culture of the company and the ship. So fare you well Marco Polo. A classic ship with an engaging ambiance. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Unfortunately Magellan isn't much better than Marco Polo. The seating on Deck 10 around the pool resembled a works cafeteria and was very uncomfortable. The food... I'll pass on because where do I start. There is no heating in ... Read More
Unfortunately Magellan isn't much better than Marco Polo. The seating on Deck 10 around the pool resembled a works cafeteria and was very uncomfortable. The food... I'll pass on because where do I start. There is no heating in the cabins which was awful considering we sailed out of Tilbury in the sea of winter. Now smokers beware every time the ship bunkers they stop smoking on the open decks but bunkering can take 8 hours and they won't tell us in advance. I have travelled on nearly every ship that leaves Southampton and there is no one else that imposes that including Fred Olsen whose ships are no bigger than Magellan. They will only let you buy cigarettes in their shop but you can't have them until the last night of the cruise. My friends and I booked the world cruise for 5 January 2017 and have just read in the booklet "please note that any alcohol and cigarettes purchased ashore will be kept in a safe lock up and returned to you on the night prior to your fine destination". In other words you can only buy from their bars for the duration of 4 months. The fact they don't have your brand is tough luck and of course they ran out of the more popular brands in February. I rang today to be told it is down to the customs officials in other countries... what a croc... they only have a problem if you bring cigarettes or contraband ashore, not if you bring them onto a ship that is in fact cruising in international waters. Cruise & Maritime are holding you to ransom over having to make your purchases on board at their inflated prices. If you are thinking of travelling on Cruise & Maritime I urge you to reconsider. They are dangling 2 for 1 deals which look very appealing but the Amazon cruise was full of pax who, having bought the drinks package, were determined to get their monies worth and were roaring drunk every night. One particular alcoholic actually bent over his chair, was sick all over the floor, and promptly stayed where he was and carried on drinking!!! A majority of those on deck were Irish and we were subjected to shanty singalongs nearly every night. It's all very well dropping prices but then you cannot control the calibre of guest that comes on. It was like a booze cruise... but for 6 weeks! Also there are no fridges in the cabin. I only drink soda and I couldn't get a cold drink until the bars opened at 9.00am. They wanted to put my medication in their fridge which meant if you needed them in the night you had to get up, get dressed, and go to reception. We were hoping for good things in the refit in December but find the only difference is to Scotts Bar which is being changed into a themed British style pub called Scott's Tavern & Nightclub. We were promised a launderette but this is now not happening. Instead C&M have offered us a free fortnightly 'laundry bag' but that is only for people on the whole world cruise sector. The ports of Oranjestad, Aruba and Acapulco Mexico have been shortened. Our stop in Rarotonga has been cancelled. Our stop at Jakarta has been cancelled and because they have changed the Suez transit times we now lose our stop at Piraeus. I don't want an extended two day stop in Safaga which is only beneficial to their tours office selling spaces to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I chose this cruise because of the port stops. Because we are at sea for 4 months it doesn't give the cruise line a right to hold us to ransom over everything they want to enforce. They are emptying the pools at every port, once again this is the only cruise line that does this. If you want to stay on board you can't swim!! On the Amazon transit we were without the pool for 8 days, that in temperatures upto 105 degrees. I don't want to go on this cruise but I wasn't allowed to cancel without huge canx charges and the point is that some of this information has only just been released. i.e we knew about visas to India and Australia but now have just been told that we need them in Indonesia, Vietnam, Maldives, Oman, Egypt, and Jordan and although they are done for you on the ship there are a load more fees to pay, monies we didn't know about in advance. The only thing worth the money was the entertainment staff who worked themselves to the bone (they didn't have a choice). We had the Nora virus onboard (which has happened on every C&M ship I've ever been on and the Ents team had to do deep clean duty. They had to be up and cleaning at 7.00am even though some hadn't finished work until 1.00am Anyone who has mobility issues take heed if you haven't book a adapted cabin you cannot bring a scooter or any mobility aid on board. If you turn up at Tilbury with one you will be denied boarding. Cruise & Maritime have gone a step too far. I thought I was booking an exotic holiday not a stay in a detention camp. They seem to have forgotten that the British still have freedom of speech and freedom of choice. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
A COUNTERBLAST TO CRUISING Or Some Naval Gazing (Pun Intended) In our thirty years together, my partner and I have travelled tens of thousands of miles, to many different destinations, using many modes of transport; but I am ... Read More
A COUNTERBLAST TO CRUISING Or Some Naval Gazing (Pun Intended) In our thirty years together, my partner and I have travelled tens of thousands of miles, to many different destinations, using many modes of transport; but I am afraid to say that this 54 day cruise rates plum bottom of our list. The success of cruising stands or falls on its complement of passengers and in this respect I can honestly say that I have never met a more disagreeable group, and it was difficult to keep a civil tongue among such cantankerous, rude, petty-minded, boorish, boring people – obsessed with value and imagined sleights. Mean! Here I tread wearily through a minefield of misanthropy and patronization! With its pervading cooking and sanitary smells and its feel of the corridors and public spaces of a Care Home, the Marco Polo is exactly that. Not quite Salty Towers, more three star; a geriatric, floating Butlins without Ruth Madoc’s “Hello Campers!” Just Ross Roberts, our camp Cruise Director, who valiantly rallied us to our Arts & Craft classes, Bridge meetings, Creative Writing courses, Bingo, Twenty Questions, Give us a Clue – a limitless horizon of nursery school fun and frolics for geriatrics. It was like an institution and like all institutions it had its school prefects, its little Hitlers, its bullies and its selfish, self-important types; its know-alls and its know-nothings. In port for 22 days, at sea for 32 means that actual cruising alone has to be something enjoyable in itself. Let me quote from one of the daily programme bulletins – “IMPORTANT NOTICE: it has come to our attention that some of our passengers’ behaviour has been causing distress, annoyance and upset to the fellow passengers. The well-being of our passengers is paramount to the success of our cruise. If this behaviour continues we reserve the right to terminate their booking arrangements with us.” This insert appeared several times and there have even been appeals from the management over the PA. So, like a school, in the last resort was expulsion a possibility? Of course not! I experienced bullying harassment; in a bridge meeting one passenger was reduced to tears. Rudeness usually arose from petty concerns: chair reservations, queuing, behaviour at the tea stations and such like. There were, apparently, round sixteen departures from this vessel: six deaths, six emergency disembarkations and repatriations and a few so disenchanted with the atmosphere on board they left the ship early and flew home. Our geriatric float was filled with badly dressed, often overweight elderly people displaying class obsessions and mistaken perceptions of pecking orders. Many treated the staff in the most off-hand, haughty and rude manner. And there was the inevitable retreat into the tribal fortress of superiority and entitlement where I am afraid my partner and I could and indeed did not want to go. It made one ashamed of being British, and also understand why we Brits are frequently loathed abroad. The ‘whole’ is not ‘the sum of its parts’ of course; it needs only a few rotten apples to ferment the barrel. This is also manifested in the level of conversation and social engagement. Beyond, yes, the weather, the boasts of other cruise experiences, taxi stories, the petty complaints about unimportant things and the tyranny of the ubiquitous know-alls, it was difficult to engage in any meaningful way. It was a relief when someone like-minded and amusing came one’s way, and it is true, they did! We found good apples; kind, considerate, enlightened passengers on the ship of fools, who were as shocked by some of the attitudes as we were, but en masse we appeared a motley and dispirited lot creating a fairly humourless, oppressive atmosphere that was hard to work against. One had almost to warm oneself up, like an actor before a stage entry; psyche oneself into a performance! It was exhausting! It is not relaxing - and it is far too long! DISCLAIMER: this is a very personal view and I’m sure there were many here who would not recognise the picture I have painted. That the average age was round 75 should not be surprising since it can only be retirees who can afford the time and expenditure for 54 days! We should have worked that out long before we paid our deposit, but didn’t. Big Mistake! Our “shore leaves” or “exeats” as we came to call them, extending the boarding school metaphor, were not long enough. That said, and apart from two stops, we enjoyed all the places we visited for one reason or another; had a taster for further, later exploration and, in the case of Brazil, actually saw quite a lot spread across seven very different cities. I never say ‘never again’ because you never know. The Marco Polo is a fifty year-old liner, small by modern standards, at around 22,000 tons, she is shabby-chic; the food is good but institutional; everything works – just - the entertainment is frequent and, shall we say, diverting. She carries 650+ passengers and 250+ staff/crew. We had a spacious cabin on Deck 9, starboard, for’ard, under the bridge. Lots of light. Edison was our steward; a charming man from the Philippines, efficient and helpful, he works nine months of every year, has a family in Manila whom he phones more often than he sees. He speaks English well and is part of a small Philippino contingent; there others from Burma (or Myanmar as we must now call it). Most are from the Ukraine or Romania and the rest, mainly restaurant and waiting/cooking staff are from India. Philip was our table steward and hails from Mumbai; an exceptionally attentive, cheerful and nice young man who also, like many on board, has family waiting at home. They all work hard and are never deserving of some of the peremptory rudeness we saw them have to put up with; the attitudes of superiority and sublime sense of entitlement that certain types of English express! The Ukrainian staff were efficient but rather graceless. A combination of poor English, the shyness that that engenders, a distinct distaste for working so far from home, results in a rather joyless brusqueness that made it difficult to warm to those that hovered around us for much of the day! The Ship’s doctor was Romanian. Most of the troupe of dancers, singers, musicians and entertainers were Romanian/Ukrainian. Of the entertainers and their efforts, I have only praise. What an impossible task! The band, the solo musicians, the dance corps were all excellent and we were treated to an array of well costumed, well choreographed floor shows with different themes put together in an astonishing time scale. Only two solo singers were toneless and should be sent home in a hurry! As one friend opined this morning at breakfast, “Aren’t you looking forward to the end of term?”!! Lord Dismiss us with Thy Blessing All who once attended here……….! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Room 9179 deck 7 this room was a good size with plenty of wardrobe space.Draw backs 2 lights over one side of bed can not see T.V if in bed near wall walking into room like walking on rice crisppie's .All 3 walls you can hear your ... Read More
Room 9179 deck 7 this room was a good size with plenty of wardrobe space.Draw backs 2 lights over one side of bed can not see T.V if in bed near wall walking into room like walking on rice crisppie's .All 3 walls you can hear your neighbours and in a bad storm the noise is bloody awful. The shower room bled into the other room so always had wet feet.......lol The room steward Alfred Cardozo was fantastic so tip him well. The ship was built in 1985 had a refurbishment 2 years ago but still looked tired and old like a bag of rusty nails The funnel stack chucked out black soot all over the back deck so be aware of white shirts getting black.The stair risers were 2 steep and uneven and we appeared to have leaks everywhere blowers on the go all the time I played table tennis days at sea the table one side had no feet rusting and falling apart the bats and balls had Costa cruise's on them. The Library was a complete waste of time books so old came from the ark and a complete mess. Kensington Restaurant table 102 both stewards were good but English were poor so explaining what was on menu to us was limited but they tried. The food was not a good standard and my partner lived of salmon most of the trip it seems they put everything in the mixer and hope it come's out the right colour mainly on the sweet selection came as solid blocks in different colours. The Chefs were mainly Asian if you wanted steak you had to pay £22 for surf and turf what a con.There speciality restaurant was in the Waldorf same restaurant as other clients but with a glass wall but felt like you were with everybody else This cost a extra £40.Afternoon tea bloody awful flat scones coleslaw sandwiches and snacks after dinner deep fried everything, But have to say if you like pitza in the Bistro was very good 3 types and garlic bread very good The excursions were good but some a bit pricey and some were the same but worded a bit different Jungle walk Forest walk same thing another con some ppl were transported to a beach costing £24 for a 10 min ride another con The entertainment team put there all into everything and were well received by all we had 3 acts brought on through a 6 week cruise not very good for such a long journey The guest lectures Louse Bonner and Param Sandhu were both excellent If you liked quiz's and the Ukulele and bridge u would love it some came with a supplement to cover cost We did have a lot of smokers on board and most of the staff smoked and seemed to take over a lot of the outside decks to everybody's annoyance. The ship seemed to be tilted to one-side nearly all of the cruise. when we finally got to the ports in the Amazon we were offloaded via gangplanks on wooden pallets ppl were banging there head and tripping over wood Health and Safety thrown out of the window. I know this was not a expensive cruise for all but some did spend over £7000 if i had i would have blown a fuse. As for the Captain his daily update was drab and boring when u did see him he had a cigarette in his hand and most of his crew did not smile.Will not sail again with this company CMV Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
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. Summary 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. General observations 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. Bristol 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. Reception 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. Cleanliness 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. Entertainment 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. Shore excursions 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. Venues 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. Waldorf Restaurant 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. Disembarkation 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? Conclusion 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
Sail Date January 2016
As with other reviewers, we picked the Black Watch cruise to South America for the itinerary. However, we were not prepared for the poor quality of a ship we had happily cruised on 10 years earlier. The embarkation at Southampton was the ... Read More
As with other reviewers, we picked the Black Watch cruise to South America for the itinerary. However, we were not prepared for the poor quality of a ship we had happily cruised on 10 years earlier. The embarkation at Southampton was the first let down, as the area was under refurbishment and looked and felt like a building site. The ship itself, despite being described as recently refurbished, appeared in need of a complete overhaul.There were rust patches and jagged metal edges which had just been painted over.Everything was old fashioned from the yale key access to the tiny "staterooms" and safe, to the lack of a fridge. As mentioned by a previous reviewer, norovirus broke out almost immediately, with the crew constantly suggesting that the passengers were to blame due to their lack of personal hygiene. This was obviously impossible as we were all made to apply anti-bacterial handwash at every entrance, especially wherever food or drink were involved. This altered the dining experience completely as the buffet and tea station were now roped off, and everything had to be served by a member of staff involving long queues. This also meant that public areas such as the laundry room and fitness centre were also closed. Anyone who displayed symptoms of sickness was confined to their cabin for 48hours and treated like a criminal, which affected my husband who suffered an undiagnosed heart attack and had vomited.After a more serious attack, the medical centre looked after my husband until we reached Rio de Janeiro and we were repatriated ashore for medical treatment. The medical staff on board were very good, but once ashore the Olsen Port Agent is supposed to care for passengers until the Insurance company take over. This did not happen and we were left to cope in a foreign country all on our own. Another couple was also put ashore for medical treatment at this time and were similarly abandoned by Fred Olsen and the Port Agent. This was a very frightening time for us all, and we felt very let down by the company we had placed our trust in. Having complained to Olsen's the attitude was uncaring and patronising. Passengers beware - if you get ill and are put ashore, Fred Olsen will just sail away and you will be left chasing up everyone for help and advice. You will be on your own. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
REVIEW OF FRED OLSEN'S BLACK WATCH, 6th JAN- 16th MARCH 2015 BACKGROUND This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and we did it in style with a 69 day cruise called South American Discovery. We've cruised with various lines ... Read More
REVIEW OF FRED OLSEN'S BLACK WATCH, 6th JAN- 16th MARCH 2015 BACKGROUND This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and we did it in style with a 69 day cruise called South American Discovery. We've cruised with various lines over the last 8 years including P&O, Celebrity, Princess, Cunard and RCCI to a wide range of ports and although we'd read less than positive reviews about the ship we chose the cruise on the basis of the itinerary. I was one of the youngest passengers having recently retired and my OH is a few years older. EMBARKATION As usual we stayed overnight at the Premier Inn West Quay as it's so convenient for the city centre and cruise terminals. We left the hotel at 1:30 and arrived just before the advised time of 2:00 p.m. It was fairly chaotic at the City Cruise Terminal where refurbishment was taking place so it was an uncomfortable and cold wait till we boarded about an hour later. On a positive note we chatted with some of our fellow cruisers as we waited and we also saw the CD and DCD greet previous cruisers. FIRST IMPRESSIONS As we boarded we immediately noticed how dark the ship was and this feeling didn't change throughout our cruise. The outdated anaglypta wallpaper, 1980s colours and poor lighting were to blame for that. We had a partially obstructed balcony cabin on deck 8 and we must say the bookings people at FO very helpfully emailed us photos to allow us to choose the balcony with the least obstruction. As we looked out from the small balcony, to our right a couple of cabins along was a lifeboat and to our right a rack of liferafts and of course Deck 7 with its promenaders lay below us. The cabin was like a box room measuring 21 feet by 8 feet so there was very little floor space. As we entered, the shower room was to our left and two large fitted cupboards to our right. There was a single bed against the bathroom wall on the left then a dressing unit. On the other side, was an easy chair then the second single bed / sofa , close to our balcony doors, but with no headboard wnich was a problem. The balcony was in very poor condition and towards the end of the cruise a programme of refurbishing all the Deck 8 balconies took place with much noise as the paint was drilled off. There was no fridge as standard equipment as we had expected but when we requested one a brand new model was delivered within the hour. DINING The dining options were the MDR (Glentanar room or Orchid Room for those in suites) or the Garden Cafe. Food wasn't available throughout the day as it had been on previous cruises which took a bit of getting used to but once we did we found the quality of the food to be very good. We dined almost exclusively in the MDR and our waiter was very efficient if a bit formal but our Assistant waiter was friendly and fun. We had requested a table of 6-8 but were allocated a table for 2, although this had been remedied by day 2. For dinner there was always a choice of 2 starters, 2 / 3soups 2 salads, 5 mains and 4 desserts. There were always alternative mains if nothing on the menu took our fancy and they included omelette, pasta with tomato sauce, grilled chicken or fish of the day. The steaks and roast beef were always exceptional and the highlight for us, although only available occasionally. They were also fairly flexible in mixing and matching from the menu which was another plus. We had breakfast most days in the Glentanar but mainly ate from the plentiful buffet rather than order from the menu. We also particularly liked the MDR buffet at lunchtimes which was much better than any we had experienced on P&O, Cunard etc and we definitely preferred the Glentanar atmosphere over the Garden Room which we found noisy and the chairs uncomfortable. We occasionally had lunch in the Grill and can particularly recommend the Outback Wedge Salad and the crispy fries! ENTERTAINMENT AND SPEAKERS There was a wide range of entertainment during the day with the usual quizzes and deck games, dancing lessons, bridge and whist etc. Occasionally more unusual classes took place with, for example, ballet lessons or ukelele (bring your own ukelele!) There was a guest choir mistress onboard and this is definitely something other cruise lines should consider. Margaret Rae was expert in improving the choir's performance but also making it great fun being in the choir. The performances were very well attended The show company were very good but greatly restricted in what they could do due to the lack of a stage. This also meant you had to be early to get a seat with a good view. The company singers also did occasional cabaret in the Lido Lounge and this was always very popular. On other nights the Lido could be almost deserted which was a crying shame because Glen Monie (pianist) and Sam and Andy (instrumentalists / vocalists) were outstanding and deserved better. Ronald Apora played well in the Braemar but we were less keen on the Rosario Trio in the observatory. The guest entertainers in the Neptune were of varied quality, ranging from excellent to dreadful so no different to other lines, with the comedians being the least popular. We were disappointed that with so many sea days there was no films (other than on cabin television) during the day. Films were usually shown in the Marina in the early evening when there were better things on offer. I must also mention the Black Watch Orchestra which consists easily of the worst musicians we have heard at sea, especially the trumpeter and guitarist who wouldn't have made it into a school band – honestly! I would however praise the number of local acts who came to perform for us and which provided us with an insight into the Arts culture in quite a few ports. We watched the port presentations on the cabin TV and felt there was too much emphasis on the history of the port / area .as the presenter struggled to fill the allotted 45 minutes. There were also numerous factual inaccuracies for independent explorers like us and his style of presentation was very dull and repetitive. Guest speakers were generally aimed at an older audience (bearing in mind the average age on this cruise was 74!) but it would have been good to see these on Cabin TV as well because there was a limited number of channels to view. ITINERARY What can I say other than the itinerary was absolutely amazing and we cannot recommend it highly enough. We left home just after the New Year and now it's nearly Easter but the time passed so quickly. We had most looked forward to Rio, the Chilean fjords, Cape Horn and seeing penguins and these didn't disappoint. However other highlights were Buenos Aires, one of the most beautiful cities we've visited, Lima which blew us away, the amazing wildlife and desert at Paracas (General Saint Martin) and quirky Valparaiso. I'm going to write a review of what we actually did in the ports where we mainly organised things ourselves before we set off, but included some ship's tours which were on the whole excellent and very good value. On the down side however we felt cheated by the time we were given in some ports. For example “Early morning” as per the brochure could mean 10:00 a.m.; late p.m. generally meant all aboard by 4:30; and there was no late night in Antigua as promised in the brochure. OVERALL Fred Olsen has very, very many die-hard cruisers who have never cruised with any other line. The line offerS great itineraries and other pluses for us were the fact that on a small ship we were able to see a glacier close up, excellent weather , the food, the great people we met, the staff being responsive to any issues we raised and the versatility of the staff e.g. entertainers serving food in the MDR during the Norovirus outbreaks. However the ship is well past its 'best-by' date and its poor condition provides a breeding ground for the bugs which created the Norovirus outbreaks and the chest infections / bronchitis which were rife for several weeks during this cruise. There was a constant smell of fumes from the funnel or paint in our cabin. The wifi (although fairly cheap) was extremely frustrating for the many people using tablets and only available in three hot spots. The evenings were a particular let-down with virtually no-one in aNy of the lounges after 10:30. The idea that the staff are friendlier than on any other lines is, IMO, simply not true as we have met outstanding staff on every line and the first captain we had was probably the least people-friendly we've come across. We never say never but particularly because of the high level of illness (from which we're still recovering) it's unlikely we'll cruise with Fred Olsen again. If they are attract the next generation of cruisers they must offer more than just a very old small ship with an interesting itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Would we book another cruise with P & O, NO! These are the reasons: We do not feel the P & O fulfilled their advertised cruise. Whilst we understand P & O's reasons for cancelling our ports in Argentina, they did ... Read More
Would we book another cruise with P & O, NO! These are the reasons: We do not feel the P & O fulfilled their advertised cruise. Whilst we understand P & O's reasons for cancelling our ports in Argentina, they did not notify passenger until it was too late to cancel not only their booking but also airlines & hotels, even though they must have known months before this was to happen. These four days were replaced by one extra port, Salvador, and an extra day in Montevideo to facilitate the disembarkation & embarkation of passengers, which would have previously taken place in Buenos Aries. When we reached the Falklands, the sea was too rough to put the tenders down, after two brief attempts, we sailed off. Those of us that were in contact with shore during this time know that by 11am, things had settled but too late for us & the Islanders, we were gone. We now had three days to make up, sailing very, very slowly & saving much profit for P & O in fuel & port charges. We believe with so much time in hand to the next port & after giving up so much to go to the Falklands, P & O priority should have been the itinerary commitment to their passengers. Easter Island, scenic viewing, the ship sped past the statues & stopped at the other end of the Island, out of our 12 travelling companions we scored one distant photo of the statues, we were a very long way out. Well done P & O. Did the captain turn the ship around to allow viewing from the port-side; NO, we just sat looking at a rocky island then sailed slowly off. (PS: Princess Cruises are tendering into Easter Island on their next World Cruise on Dawn Princess 2014.) The food was mediocre, the lowest standard of any ship we have been on, as was the entertainment with a few notable exceptions. The entertainment staff worked very hard but decisions as to content & timing of entertainment, was very poor. For example, no deck party during sea days in the tropics but Island Party at 1030pm on a day when the passengers had been touring in port all day. Allowed smoking on the pool deck made it very uncomfortable for other passengers, the stench also entered the Buffet dining room, when the doors were open. Quite often there were unused seats on this side of the deck & non smoking passengers crammed into the other smaller area with the bar. Time to come into the 21st Century with smoking laws P & O. Now to the positives: The Staff were great, particularly our cabin steward, restaurant & bar staff and the front desk staff. Our balcony cabin was good, plenty of room, well maintained. Price of bar drinks prices were okay & you could buy bottles of liquor for drinks in your cabin at a reasonable price. (A happy hour to encourage people to mix instead of drinking in their room may have been a better idea.) Weighing everything up, we intended booking the World Cruise on Aurora next year, the itinerary was great for us but after our cruise on Arcadia, no thank you. P & O we understand why you have needed to cancel some cruises, it isn't the world recession, you have stopped considering your passengers. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We have sailed on the Arcadia twice before (2005 and 2007) so I was looking forward to voyaging on this lovely, child-free ship again. Last January we went on the Ventura and I thought it showed a distinct drop in standards from the ... Read More
We have sailed on the Arcadia twice before (2005 and 2007) so I was looking forward to voyaging on this lovely, child-free ship again. Last January we went on the Ventura and I thought it showed a distinct drop in standards from the P&O cruises we have been used to, but thankfully this was not the case with Arcadia, which is as excellent as ever. After our 6-hour train ride from the North-East down to Southampton we were off to a bad start with the worst embarkation we have ever experienced in 31 cruises. We had to stand and queue for an hour and a half; no seating was provided (apart from plastic chairs placed there for those less able to stand) and no refreshments were available. Instead of the usual "called to board by deck number" it was simply a free for all; we learned later that some people queued for over 2 hours. Not a good first impression for those cruising with P&O for the first time. However, that was our only grumble as the rest of the cruise was excellent. Our balcony cabin, on Deck 6, was spacious, bright, clean and comfortable and was kept immaculate by Grenville, our cabin steward. We had opted to dine on 1st sitting and we shared our table (187) with three other very pleasant couples. The selection and quality of the food was exceptional with decent portion sizes and very quick, efficient service. There was also an extensive range of wines at very reasonable prices.The self-service buffet on deck 9 (Belvedere Buffet) tended to be a bit repetitive in its selection of dishes, but nonetheless the food was tasty and plentiful. As we were at sea for 12 days out of the 18, there was a wide range of daytime activities from craft classes, to dancing, to joining a choir or going to presentations and lectures; this in addition to the usual deck activities such as quoits, shuffle-board or the use of the golf and cricket nets. Evening entertainment tended to be a hit-or-miss affair; the guest performers were very good (a classical soprano, a male singer, a comedy magician, the Macdonald Brothers from X-factor and, on one night only, comedian Tom O'Connor) but the ship's own singers/dancers (Headliners Theatre Company) just put on the same old, same old music theatre excerpts. You know the ones I mean "Guys and Dolls", "West Side Story", "Singing in the Rain" with the cheesy songs and dances. We used to like to go to the Rising Sun pub every evening after the show, where we could take part in the themed quizzes, do a bit of karaoke or just relax and listed to one of the resident bands. The bar waiters were quick, polite and friendly and bar prices were just the same as those you'd find in a typical British pub. Our ports of call were: Tenerife, Recife (Brazil), Salvador de Bahia (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and disembarking the ship at Montevideo (Uruguay) and getting the ferry across the River Plate to spend a night in Buenos Aires (Argentina). For some people, Rio was the port they were most looking forward to visiting, but when we arrived the cloud was low and you couldn't see the top of Corcovado peak and Christ the Redeemer, although Sugar Loaf Mountain was visible. Luckily we've been to Rio before (for 3 days, in 2001) but it would have been disappointing for first time visitors not to be able to view the main sights. Can't help the weather though. We crossed three major lines of latitude: Tropic of Cancer, Equator and Tropic of Capricorn, and the Arcadia's entertainment team put on a hilarious Line Crossing Ceremony. All in all, we had a fantastic cruise and it was great to be back on board Arcadia again. The ports of call were a bit different (maybe not to everyone's taste) and we met interesting people in unusual places, while clocking over 6,300 nautical miles. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013

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