421 Cruise & Maritime Voyages Marco Polo Cruise Reviews

We have just returned from the Northern Lights cruise and were extremely lucky to have an excellent view of them. This was our first cruise and to be honest probably our last. We are used to renting a self catering apartment and a car to ... Read More
We have just returned from the Northern Lights cruise and were extremely lucky to have an excellent view of them. This was our first cruise and to be honest probably our last. We are used to renting a self catering apartment and a car to do our own thing. The cruise reminded us of Butlins from the seventies, set times for everything and rather dated entertainment, although the duo in Scotts bar during the evening were very good, particularly Lilli Moore, the singer ( I recommend her rendition of Mack the Knife) The food was very good and the staff, apart from the odd one, were excellent although the officers were a bit standoffish. You will be plagued by photographers but you are not obliged to buy. The drinks on board were a rip off, £5 for a glass of poor quality house wine for example, which varied in size depending on the barman. A bottle at dinner requires a spend of at least £20 for something worth drinking. The cocktails also vary in size and quality. I suggest you take good quality teabags with you as Lyons tea is somewhat bland. If you wish to partake in excursions then please check the Internet as they are a lot cheaper and many of the trips ashore can be done by free shuttle bus, local buses and trains. You must have good medical insurance as the cost of treatment on the ship will give you a coronary when you get the bill! I know it is easy to criticise but the majority of passengers were pensioners, as I am, and we have to count the pennies so be aware of the costs I have mentioned. Overall we enjoyed the trip and I would recommend the ship but we will not be back. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was our first cruise and all the passengers onboard had been enthralled by the Joanna Lumley programme in her search for the Northern Lights, we were all there for the same reason, to see the magical lights. The embarkation was very ... Read More
This was our first cruise and all the passengers onboard had been enthralled by the Joanna Lumley programme in her search for the Northern Lights, we were all there for the same reason, to see the magical lights. The embarkation was very smooth and organised, we were on the ship with a coffee within 30 minutes of arriving at Tilbury. We did not know what to expect and we were apprehensive but we need not have been, everything on board was first class, the food and service was excellent with plenty of choice at Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, entertainment was very entertaining, the entertainment team put on some great shows, don't know how they remember all the routines! Ship was very clean and all the crew work incredibly hard to make your cruise perfect,the multi-national crew are very friendly, courteous and speak very good English. The cabins were cleaned to a high standard daily and were comfortable but basic,there is so much to do on board you only really want to sleep there. We found the delivery of the next day's daily programme to our cabin very useful with what's on and when facilities are open on board as well as weather and excursion details. The excursions were well organised and interesting but a little expensive, we would have gone into the towns independently if we had known it would be in walking distance,a lesson learnt for next time. When the Northern Lights appeared late at night the cruise director put an announcement over the tannoy and we all went up on deck to view the sight(some of us were in bed, we were thankful for this as we may not have seen them) Highlights for us were the onboard quizzes,food,impeccable staff,entertainment and the Ice Hotel in Alta, very magical, would definitely recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
On lst of February we sailed from London Tilbury - an unusual departure port but beneficial for many travellers. An efficient embarcation was made pleasant by a generous supply of free expensive magazines covering cruises, holidays ... Read More
On lst of February we sailed from London Tilbury - an unusual departure port but beneficial for many travellers. An efficient embarcation was made pleasant by a generous supply of free expensive magazines covering cruises, holidays generally, classic cars, golf etc. The ship, though elderly, had undergone an expensive refit in 2002 with public rooms and cabins now well furnished. The ship's captain, a Russian, was something of a martinet and ruled the Russian\Ukranian crew with an iron hand. He ensured that safety was paramount and this was reassuring. The stage shows for this modest-size ship exceeded by far those experienced on both similar and larger ships. The Russian\Ukranian dancers were classically trained in ballet from six years of age. Their choreographer was a hard task master who produced superb routines. The lead singers, too, were above the norm. Individual performers, a female pianist and a female violinist and two male instrumentalists excelled, as did the six piece band. A high light of the cruise was the presence of the Cruise Director, Richard Sykes - a more than competent pianist and vocalist. He was tireless - being involved in many of the activities on board. The multi national crew coped well with the English language with very few exceptions. The food from a mixed continental background was somewhat adventurous but generally the standard was satisfactory. The one thousand mile journey up the Amazon and Orinoco was fascinating but was something of a learning experience for the ship's management who hopefully will benefit from the experience gained on this first cruise for them on these two rivers. The majority of the passengers,including the Dutch contingent, were of mature age, but to many of us this 42 day voyage was something of a delightful "Boys' Own Adventure. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We boarded on the 1st February 2010 for a six week cruise.The first thing that we noticed were the filthy windows which were not cleaned until one week before we arrived back in England, and then were only hosed down,we might as well have ... Read More
We boarded on the 1st February 2010 for a six week cruise.The first thing that we noticed were the filthy windows which were not cleaned until one week before we arrived back in England, and then were only hosed down,we might as well have had an inside cabin.The next thing we found was that the water was coming out of the taps a horrible brown colour,yet the water was supposed to be according to the ships "management",.potable.This brown water happened on at least 20 days out of the 42day voyage,sometimes we were given bottled water and other times we had to purchase water at £2.20 for a bottle which was less than a litre. We were unable to control the temperature of the water in the shower and one was either scalded or frozen, such was the difference in the temperature.This happened every day.The so called "beautiful" teak decks only saw water when it rained and were filthy,and if one walked on the decks without footwear, ones feet got very dirty. People with walking difficulties should not be allowed to travel on the MARCO POLO unless accompanied by a carer, because of the unbelievable amount of traps on the ship,and also because they got no help at all from the staff.On the sun deck there should be a warning that if one suffers from breathing difficulties one should not use this deck because of the constant fumes,this deck also has the Jacuzis.The traps on the ship were 4inch up-stands at the top of all flights of stairs on the open decks,and 6inch steps at all doors leadind to and from the decks The catering was appalling,a tea and coffee machine was set up on the pool deck,but was constantly short of cups and at one point the "management" announced that it was the passengers fault that there was not enough cups because the passengers were taking them to their cabins. The"Management"stated that there were 1600 cups for this function even though there were more than 800 passengers on board.At lunch in the Bistro, if one went to lunch after 1:15 pm there was constantly a shortage of plates or cutlery or both.In the Bistro a drinks machine was set up but again there was either a shortage of glasses or drinks or both on a daily basis,tea if required was out on the pool deck.and one had to push through a very heavy door to get to the pool deck ,and then had to again push through this door with teas in your hand,once again no assistance. On one occasion an elderly man carrying two glasses tripped over the steps smashing the glasses, cutting his hands, dislocated his shoulder and fractured his pelvis.The food was no more than one star and was as boring as it could possibly get day in and day out. Fresh vegetables were non existent.On one occasion among many the three male guests on our table ordered chicken we waited about one hour and when we asked the waiter where our meal was we were told that they had run out of chicken and that they were getting some more from the freezer.Ten minutes later the chicken arrived which was luke warm and tough and no one ate it.I am sure this chicken was cooked from frozen or at best not thawed out properly. . Bar service on the outside decks was practically non existent and when one complained one was met with a shrug of the shoulders.The bar staff had a no care attitude ,and after 40 days of ordering the same drinks they still did not know our drinks.The entertainment was mixed the show dancers were very good ,but they have now left the ship to go on the COUNTESS .The cruise director and his helpers were Karaoke because their acts consisted of shouting into the mikes accompanied by canned music.They were so loud that one wondered if they thought that they were appearing at the o2 arena ,and not a very small lounge on a one star ship. Shore excursions left a lot to be desired,we went on some but cancelled many more,on one excursion the highlight was a visit to the Botanical Gardens to see the many orchids and tropical plants.There was not even a blade of grass to be seen and not one flower.We spoke to the guide as to why, and she stated it was the dry season, and that we should close our eyes and imagine what it would be like.Shuttle buses if laid on were not announced until the night before,and that tickets are available at the excursion desk. Imagine the chaos as hundreds of people went to a very small reception area at the same time.I do believe that the Shuttles were announced late in order that the passengers would buy trips.At one stop it was announced that the Shuttle would be every 15 minutes we waited 1 hour 20 minutes.Some passengers paid nearly £300 each to see the Angel Falls,on their return they told us there was more water coming from their overflows.When they complained they were told it was because they have not had any rain for months.One has to ask why did the trip go ahead. On sea days if it rained there was not enough seating inside the ship for all the passengers.There was always a shortage of deck chairs and the ones available were filthy and were not cleaned for the whole 6 week cruise.This cruise was our 40th cruise and was a cruise from hell.I spoke to several past and loyal MARCO POLO passengers and evey one of them said this is not the ship they sailed on 3 years ago and that they would never sail on the ship again.The reason we booked was the itinerary, and we did check cruise critics, and now realise the reviews we looked at were 2007. I think I should stop now but I will say again DO NOT BOOK THE MARCO POLO Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
My husband and I are new to cruising and our first cruise was on the Independence of the Seas and was a wonderful experience. Wanting to compare this experience to a smaller ship to see if there was a different atmosphere we booked onto ... Read More
My husband and I are new to cruising and our first cruise was on the Independence of the Seas and was a wonderful experience. Wanting to compare this experience to a smaller ship to see if there was a different atmosphere we booked onto the Marco Polo leaving Tilbury on 2nd January 2010. This proved to be a big mistake - the ship was so obviously overbooked, there were not enough sunbeds or outside chairs for the amount of passengers wanting to use them and we witnessed many tense confrontations where these were "reserved" with towels, blankets or books for well over the 30 mins allowed. Our first problem was with the safe which, having put our valuables in, refused to open. Eventually the whole safe had to be drilled out of the wall and a new one put in which we couldn't use till the glue dried. Next our shower consistently only gave us cold water and it was only thanks to our cabin steward that it got fixed at all. Then the air conditioning wouldn't work and again we had workmen in the cabin trying to fix it. The cabins are extremely small especially as we had the comparison with the Independence. The excursions from the ship were very expensive and we felt ripped off when we found we could do the same trips from the port at much lower prices. The alcoholic drinks on board were extremely expensive and what was worse they ran out of beer nearly a week away from the end of the cruise!! The water was not much better - foul stuff tasting of chlorine and if you couldn't bear it you could buy bottles at extortionate prices (£2.50 bottle), which meant at each port we were forced to go shopping for affordable water. By far the worst thing was that they allowed smoking in one of the bars which meant that place was somewhere we couldn't go and the rooms leading off this bar always smelt of cigarette smoke. The disembarkation was unbelievable - it took 3 hours of boredom whilst they tried to get all the luggage off the ship before we could get off ourselves - complete incompetence. The overall impression of the Marco Polo was of a tired old ship charging 4 star prices for a 3 star service, and we will not be repeating this experience ever. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
2009 was a difficult year for my wife and I. In February my wife's mother had a stroke and after a harrowing week she died in hospital. My 95 year old father was ailing and we had to visit him three times a week. In June he had a ... Read More
2009 was a difficult year for my wife and I. In February my wife's mother had a stroke and after a harrowing week she died in hospital. My 95 year old father was ailing and we had to visit him three times a week. In June he had a fall, went into hospital and never recovered. As executor of my father's will a long period of hassle ensued but finally by November all was sorted. We had intended to go to Spain for January but just by chance we saw an advert for a Marco Polo cruise to the Caribbean. We both said, 'Yes, let's do it!'. Price and timing was fine so off we went. We took a taxi to Tilbury as the cost of parking was twice as much as the fare! Without anything to compare, I thought the Marco Polo was a good ship. Fairly old fashioned but very neat, clean and tidy. Our cabin, though not top of the range, was very comfortable and perfectly adequate for us. Staff on board were mainly from Eastern Europe but everyone we came across was very friendly and eager to please. The trip across the Atlantic seemed to take ages but we were never bored as there were plenty of activities laid on. Food was fine, although there were the usual moans from some people who maybe are never satisfied. Once in the Caribbean the excursions were mostly quite good, though perhaps a little pricey. As first timers I was very impressed. We made some lovely friends and have visited them in France since the cruise. Would I cruise again? Yes, definitely. Marco Polo? Yes, if there are better ships then standards are very high all round. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was a 'budget' cruise ship and it certainly lived up to those expectations. We were not informed at the time of booking that this cruise started in Germany and would arrive in the UK with over 600 German passengers ... Read More
This was a 'budget' cruise ship and it certainly lived up to those expectations. We were not informed at the time of booking that this cruise started in Germany and would arrive in the UK with over 600 German passengers already on board and there would only be around 200 UK passengers on the cruise. Problems began at Tilbury when the 'disabled' and 'those with walking difficulties'were called for embarkation, but then kept standing for over half an hour whilst those in charge tried to get their act together. German passengers were allowed priority to disembark at Tilbury, although the purpose of the stop was for British passengers to embark. Once these folk had ascertained there was nothing of interest to see at Tilbury, many expected to push pass everyone embarking with hand luggage. The cabin was roomy but noisy. The ceiling and wall panels rattled with every ship movement and had to be wedged with cardboard. The curtains were difficult to close without leaving a gap (i.e. too small). The set of drawers and one wardrobe door would not stay closed and had to be wedged shut when on the move. The soundproofing was inadequate and conversation could be heard from neighbours. The satellite TV system only had German language channels (now there's a surprise!). Overall, This was hardly up to our expectations of a grade 12 twin cabin. There were two restaurants - The Waldorf and Marco's. Breakfast consisted of a cold, greasy fry-up on cold plates with orange juice that became weaker due to watering down as the cruise progressed. Tea and coffee were difficult to tell apart. The evening meal comprised of a choice of pasta, fish and pork/beef/veal on every night. No points given for imagination. Again, cold plates were the norm. The waiters were badly trained, over enthusiastic and took your half consumed food or drink away if you left them to get anything from the buffet. It was no real loss though!! Entertainment consisted of bingo, countdown, card making and other unmissable fun. The best entertainment was watching the Germans stuffing every bit of food in sight. The games in the games room were largely incomplete (e.g. one domino missing in the set, dice missing in another game and the 5 of spades in many of the packs of cards). Once we were underway in the Atlantic, the ship listed and rolled even in reasonable weather. Force 1-2 was Ok though. There was no Captain's welcome dinner or final dinner, just a welcome cocktail party where you were made to queue outside the lounge for ages while folk had their pictures taken with the captain on an individual basis. After 20 minutes of standing around, we couldn't be bothered..... All but one of the lifts were marked 'out of order' during bad weather. Those with walking difficulties had problems in getting to the restaurant. The one working lift was often comandeered by cabin staff whose used pass keys to bypass waiting passengers. Complaints were treated with the 'what do you expect me to do about it?' attitude. One passenger had a fatal heart. The body was removed in the middle of the disembarkation process in Antigua. Nice timing. The following day, a German jumped overboard (must have been the food!! Not enough of it, perhaps?) and caused us many hours delay whilst an investigation proceeded. We missed a port because of this inconsiderate individual throwing himself to the sharks. By now things had hotted up and one elderly English lady was drageed out of the lift by her hair by a German male who couldn't wait for the next lift. For one minute, it looked like another might be going overboard when no-one was looking!! Mixed passengers on the 'Rhum Runner' was a mistake as free booze was involved and a punch up between two passengers looked lightly when the words 'you ****ing Nazi' was heard coming from one 80+ year old. We were looking forward to Remembrance Sunday on board with anticipation. The berthing arrangements sometimes created a lengthy walk for those on Marco Polo to get ashore. Not so for those with Carnival Cruises and others which berthed next to the dock exit. We then we informed that Transocean Tours had gone bust..... Well what a Surprise!! Bad news was that they had been reincarnated as something else and would be taking bookings for...... wait for it..... 'The Caribbean' in February. Can't wait!! The places visited were very good, albeit with seemingly expensive tours. For example, one tour costing 55 Euros could be taken at the port for $30 US. You got your own personal guide too. The duty free on board was more expensive than UK supermarket prices. For example, 200 cigarettes on board cost 31.50 Euro, but could be bought in Martinique duty free for 15 Euro. Drinks on board were dearer than UK pub prices and a can of John Smiths Yorkshire p*ss was 2.70 Euro. The duty free shop with it's 200 Euro pullovers was visited when we needed a good laugh. All in all, a budget cruise and it shows. If you want a decent cruise AVOID this ship like the plague. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We had a fantastic time despite concerns following the norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise. The ship was immaculate and kept very clean. The cabin was good and again kept immaculately. The staff were fantastic - they must have ... Read More
We had a fantastic time despite concerns following the norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise. The ship was immaculate and kept very clean. The cabin was good and again kept immaculately. The staff were fantastic - they must have had a really tough time the week before but the service couldn't have been better. They were all welcoming, efficient and nothing was too much. The food was a bit bizarre at times, particularly with the themed nights, but generally was tasty and well presented - not to really good restaurant standard but then they are serving large numbers of people in a short time. Drinks were reasonably priced considering the captive market. We were disappointed with a couple of the trips we went on but then they aren't really our thing. Don't bother with the Berlin trip from Rostock - 6 hours travelling and we were whisked round on a coach and were on and off for a few minutes at the sites. The tour guide sent us to sleep!! The docks were always a fair way from the city centres, but at least we got some exercise. Some of the others ships docked much closer than the MP, but then maybe that's the price you pay (or don't) as we felt the cruise was really good value. Overall a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We were concerned that the cruise would not go ahead after the previous cruise was hit by a D&V virus. All went great, ship was very clean, our cabin great for our needs, near the bar and food!! The bars were varied and cattered for ... Read More
We were concerned that the cruise would not go ahead after the previous cruise was hit by a D&V virus. All went great, ship was very clean, our cabin great for our needs, near the bar and food!! The bars were varied and cattered for all, the service came with a smile, special thanks to Silvyja. Drinks reasonably priced and in sterling. Entertainment was great and varied, from stage shows, classical music to bingo and quiz shows. Food was fantastic either in the silver service Waldorf, or the more informal Marco's bistro. We had most of our meals from Marco's as it was a pleasure to go in, help yourself and take the food onto the deck to eat. Lots of activities were provided but we did not participate much in these as the weather was so good we preferred staying on deck. There was another D&V outbreak, 13 people I believe, which resulted in escurtions being cancelled in Helsinki(you could still walk in) and Marco's being closed for two day, putting too much pressure on the Waldorff. Cannot blame the ship or the crew, I would guess they maybe over-reacted after the previous cruise. The ship was kept spotlessly clean and any bug being passed around was as a result of cruise passengers poor personal hygiene. Destinations superb, excurtions very good, could not have asked for more. A great experience, cannot wait to go back on the Marco Polo. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We had been looking to do the Baltic Capitals Cruise since returning from the Northern Cape Cruise in 2007. However our "usual" cruise line, Travelscope went bust so we were looking for a cruise line with a ship of similar ... Read More
We had been looking to do the Baltic Capitals Cruise since returning from the Northern Cape Cruise in 2007. However our "usual" cruise line, Travelscope went bust so we were looking for a cruise line with a ship of similar proportions to the Van Gogh. We did not fancy one of the tower block style ships. Transocean Cruises ship Marco Polo seemed to be what we were looking for so we booked the cruise directly with them when the brochure appeared. The booking was easy and trouble free. Paperwork being received as and when necessary. We were concerned when the ship had the problems on the cruise prior to ours, but not unduly so as we were of the opinion that the company couldn't afford a second cruise to be abandoned with the consequent financial implications and damage to reputation. I think we were aboard what was probably the cleanest ship on the 7 seas. We travelled to the port of Tilbury from Victoria coach station on the coach laid on by Transocean. This went very well and departed on time. Booking in at Tilbury was quick and easy and we were on board within 40 mins of arriving at Tilbury. Our outside cabin on Pacific deck, the main passenger deck, was clean and light and larger than the hotel room in London where we had spent the previous night. Disembarkation was as fast as it could be bearing in mind the requirements of unloading luggage and satisfying customs etc. The whole cruise went very well. I enjoyed every minute. There was a little disappointment when excursions were cancelled in Helsinki due to a small but contained outbreak of some sort of sickness bug. I feel this was down in some extent to some passenger's personal hygiene and no fault of the ship at all as there were plenty of sanitization stations around the ship and crew on hand willing to squirt gel. One passenger was observed licking her fingers after using the tongs in the Marco Polo Bistro and then using  tongs on a different food!! The onboard activities gave a wide choice of things to do throughout the day and the evening entertainment was nothing short of spectacular. Colourful , energetic, very well produced and presented by the largely Eastern European band , ballet and singers supplemented by a wonderful Cruise Director, Richard Sykes, ably supported by Nick McBride. Additional entertainment was also excellent, Katy Setterfield (as Dusty Springfield) winner of  the TV show "The One and Only" and three lovely Irish ladies "She 3" Shore excursions were varied and provided the opportunity to see the main sights and sites of cities especially where there was only a short time in port. The St Petersburg day time excursions we went on were rushed, and St Petersburg itself was full of tourists!! Very busy at the Peterhof Palace.All the tour guides we had were very knowledgable and had an excellent command of English The food on board was impeccable as was the service. A choice of restaurants meant you could be pampered for every meal in The Waldorf  or serve yourself in the Marco Polo Bistro. Food was always hot and a varied menu meant if you went hungry it was no ones fault but your own. All the Crew from the Captain, a friendly Russian chappy, to the cabin stewards, always spoke and were always friendly and willing to help. I even learned the Ukrainian word for lady bird (although I have forgotten it now) and I helped the Ukrainian steward learn the English for this little creature he found on his shirt whilst on deck!! I was very sorry to leave the ship and will be looking to cruise on the Marco Polo again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
I had not read any member reviews of the Marco Polo before booking our cruise around the British Isles (Celtic Explorer) a few months earlier, and had chosen the ship on its itinerary, its Tilbury start and end port, and convenient dates. ... Read More
I had not read any member reviews of the Marco Polo before booking our cruise around the British Isles (Celtic Explorer) a few months earlier, and had chosen the ship on its itinerary, its Tilbury start and end port, and convenient dates. Having cruised twice before over the last five years (with Voyages of Discovery and Royal Star) my husband and I were looking forward to his cruise. However, from the moment we entered the Marco restaurant for refreshments before sailing we realized that this cruise was going to be different. Most of the crew are Ukrainian or of Eastern European origin and do not have a good command of English. Worse still, they are very surly and abrupt in their dealings with passengers and obviously have no idea of customer service. That first afternoon we found it impossible to get a cup of tea despite asking a waitress several times over the course of half and hour, and in the end went out onto the pool deck and served ourselves from the self service area. We put this lack of interest down to embarkation day chaos and fully expected the situation to improve. Unfortunately it didn't and in some areas things went from bad to worse. Of course there were notable exceptions, one of whom was our cabin stewardess, Vera, who tried very hard to make us feel welcome. CABIN: Our cabin was a good size with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. The shower was a hit and miss affair, one minute it was freezing cold, the next scalding hot. It took a while to get used to this and know when to leap out of the way and wait for the temperature to stabilize again for a brief period. Then we had a mini-flood in the bathroom - the water from the shower drained into the main bathroom area instead of into the outlet pipe and there was over 2 inches of water slopping around. This was reported immediately to reception who promised to send an engineer to investigate. After half an hour and no sign of help and the bathroom still under water we contacted reception again. This time our problem was overhead by one of the few English staff on board (part of the entertainment team) and he advised us to get the cabin stewardess to mop it up with towels until the blockage was found. While Vera was mopping up the promised engineer arrived, ignored us and informed Vera that it was the 'physic' of the ship and was due to the listing of the ship (we were under sail and we were at an angle). And that was that! Obviously we knew that all 200 or so cabins on the starboard side of the ship could not all be under water, but this demonstrated the attitude of the general staff. We had to report the problem again the next day and this time three technicians looked at the system and pronounced it okay; certainly the situation was never as bad again. DINING: The main restaurant, the Waldorf was fine overall, although we were a little disappointed some nights with the poor choices on the dinner menus. Lunch and breakfast were as expected and the kitchen produced some good soups and lots of lovely bread and rolls. Table service was generally poor, especially with the waiter assigned to our dinner table. He was surly throughout each meal, did not give people enough time to make their selections and had no idea on which side to serve the dishes. Fortunately our 4 table companions were great company and we all enjoyed our meals and didn't let our waiter's attitude upset us. The self service bistro was truly dreadful though - unappetizing platters of luke warm food, and after one attempt at eating lunch there we abandoned the meal and went to the Waldorf. SERVICE: As mentioned several times already this is the area that really lets the ship down. On our previous cruises we have been fortunate enough to be served by Filipinos and they are always very friendly, efficient and go out of their way to ensure you are having a good time. This is not true of the East Europeans and they appear to think that serving passengers is beneath them. Service was always slow, rude at times (during disembarking and embarking at port stops the security staff never acknowledged the passengers and usually talked to each other in Ukrainian over passengers heads)and slovenly. On several occasions we found stacks and stacks of dirty cups and plates on the pool deck with no-one interested in taking them away. Needless to say there was often a shortage of fresh crockery! MANAGEMENT: During the whole 11 day cruise we only saw the captain once and that was at the Gala evening several nights after the start of the cruise. He did not smile or speak to anyone when they were introduced and just acknowledged us with a curt nod. He only dined once at his table throughout the cruise and on that occasion his companions were relatives and friends of the crew that were aboard. There were no daily announcements from him at all, nor was he ever to be seen again around the ship. With an attitude like that from the captain it is not really surprising that the rest of his crew were so unwelcoming. The notable exception in this area was the English cruise entertainment team who were always friendly and made a point of greeting and chatting to passengers. ITINERARY: It was a good itinerary (just a pity that we were not able to anchor in Jersey as scheduled), and the shore excursions appeared to be generally good value. The information sheets given out for each port were comprehensive and very useful. The tender procedures were very poorly managed and at one stop (Stornoway) independent passengers had to wait over an hour in the gangways before they could disembark. Tour passengers had begun disembarking an hour before the time slot given to independent passengers (around 300 or so) so it was very annoying being made to queue up for so long. The delay in getting off the ship left us with just 3hrs on the island. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
We were attracted by the itinerary which is a circumnavigation of Britain. Marco Polo offered this cruise this summer. She recently gained new owners. The formerly Filipino crew have been replaced by East Europeans with limited English and ... Read More
We were attracted by the itinerary which is a circumnavigation of Britain. Marco Polo offered this cruise this summer. She recently gained new owners. The formerly Filipino crew have been replaced by East Europeans with limited English and apparently little training. From the captain to the crew who swipe the cards when passengers disembark there is a culture of rudeness. Our fellow diners spent the whole cruise trying to get plumbing fixed in their stateroom. When our bathroom flooded we knew it was "the physics of the ship" as described by the engineer. The ship listed in the swell and the shower tray could not drain. The short shower curtain allowed the shower water to fall into the bathroom instead of the shower tray. Out broken mirror door on the wardrobe had some sticking plaster - now curling - laid over the broken glass. Our wall lights on the wall facing the beds were different sizes. The one chair was stained. The stateroom was freezing throughout the cruise with a broken thermostat. The spas on deck were empty. When the small pool was filled while in port it never looked clean or inviting. Part of the main entertainment deck was roped off during our cruise because boards had completely rotted away. We never heard the Captain or saw him apart from his unsmiling and silent handshake at a predinner meeting. The crew took their lead from him. The male crew in particular were sullen and unfriendly. The weather was an important factor as rain was a possibility or likelihood nearly every day. The Captain had a role in telling passengers of changes to schedule, which happened because it was too windy - we think - to visit St Helier on jersey. We needed the Captain to give us weather forecasts, tell us what the itinerary was going to be for the day, the features coming up which we could look out for, and any other relevant news. There was nothing. The Meet-the-Captain event did not happen until five days into the cruise and Jersey was well behind us. Dining was fine if you don't mind everyone having water poured over their menus and the tablecloth instead of into the glasses. Many nights the main course choice was pork chicken or fish. The food was not particularly tasty or imaginative. We concluded staff had been hired on the trawl through the Baltic en route to Tilbury and little training had occurred. It was several days before breakfast was organized and food available at the table such as juice or toast.In Belfast some additional crew were flown in from India who startled us by greeting passengers and efficiently and pleasantly meeting their dining needs. The contrast between the ethnicities of the crew and the levels of courtesy were dramatic. The waitress who poured water everywhere learned to hold the glasses to one side of the table during our cruise, and she was pleasant in her manner, unlike her male compatriots. There was little interest in providing sufficient places to visit Giants Causeway in Ireland. My husband hired a coach himself for 22 otherwise disappointed passengers. A crew member who was part of the Marco Polo tour department boarded this coach as we waited to depart and in front of the passengers he advised our driver to take our money at the front door of the coach and immediately put us out through the rear door. Such is the ambiance and respect for passengers shown by male east European crew members. Our coach cost £30 without lunch, which we paid for separately. The Marco Polo coach cost £79. On one excursion on Stornaway our coach set off knowing they were leaving four passengers behind who had failed to get places on the tender to shore. The coach full of passengers then had to wait while the late passengers were brought to the excursion destination. On another occasion we rose at 6.30am to be in the lounge at 8.30am and were kept there for an hour and a quarter before being called to the tender. It was like waiting to be called for a blood test in an NHS local hospital when time passes and the sense of passing time goes completely. On board on a travel day many passengers slept after lunch in the public areas. Activities on offer included quiz games card games and Bingo. The small gym had a small number of old machines. For example there are three treadmills of which two were broken. Two children played on the others while I waited for one to become available. A walk was held on board each morning. A number of the passengers were a little unsteady on their feet so we did not join the morning walk as the deck was quite narrow. The ship was freezing cold on cold days apart from the little card room and the little library. These were pleasant places. There were plenty of Scrabble games. The library lacked any newspapers even though we were in English-speaking ports on eight days. I saw one photocopy of one paper during the eleven days. A 'Britain Today' one sheet paper was produced but contained almost no news. The evening entertainment was very good with vivacious performers giving their best. The lounge seats were comfortable, and the cruise director was very hardworking. There were very few lectures given The one we attended on Microbes was well-presented and interesting. More lectures from an additional lecturer would have been helpful. The cocktail hour entertainers included a Russian duo, a female pianist and violinist, and a male saxophonist. By day eleven we were very familiar with the Slav style somewhat mournful music from these entertainers. We longed for something lighter and more varied, western! Manhattan or Latin American style would be welcomed. This sorry saga staying in a 'large' premium cabin cost one and a half times the price of a cruise on QM2. At the final breakfast all eight people (crammed onto our tiny table with no space for passengers to move around) said never again would they cruise on the Marco Polo with Transocean Cruise Line. However the itinerary was terrific and we would highly recommend a circumnavigation of Britain. Learning more about our roots and seeing Britain from several different, offshore perspectives was memorable. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
• Ship Info The ship has recently changed hands, and now has a majority or Ukrainian Staff onboard. The catering staff are German. The ship is in dire need of refurbishment. Carpets on staircases are threadbare. The whole feel of the ... Read More
• Ship Info The ship has recently changed hands, and now has a majority or Ukrainian Staff onboard. The catering staff are German. The ship is in dire need of refurbishment. Carpets on staircases are threadbare. The whole feel of the ship has changed dramatically since it was run by Orient Lines. The current management are not experienced, and there were often instances, where this inexperience showed through. The ship often sailed with a severe list to either Starboard or Port. The crew seldom were able to sail the ship at an even keel, which made it quite unpleasant. • Activities The activities on the ship are definitely aimed at the over 70 age group. Definitely not a ship for middle aged or younger people • Service There is a major problem with the understanding of the English language. The staff are willing, but do not understand what one is asking, so often get the request wrong. They are also quiet surly when questioned about anything. • Shore Excursions On the whole the Ports were interesting; The tours that we did, were good, except for the whisky tour of Highland Park Distilleries. This was poor. Despite the distillery undergoing major refurbishment, which prevented us being able to go into the room where the distilling took place, our tour guide was pathetic. He hardly understood the distilling process himself! The DVD which was shown to us to try and explain the distilling process was more interested in showing the scenery of the Orkney Islands, than the making of whisky. This visit should never have been offered, as the ship must have known that they would be under taking this major refurbishment of their plant at that time. In contrast the Glenmorangie tour was excellent. We also enjoyed the river cruise and scenic Dublin tour. The tendering process was not well managed. Often elderly and infirm people were boarded at times which caused major delays, instead of being boarded last. The competency of the staff was also brought into question on numerous occasions, and left us feeling very uneasy, should they be required to evacuate the ship in a real emergency. • Stateroom. These are aging, and in need of refurbishment. The cabin curtains do not close properly, so that you are woken up far too early with light coming through the window. The water in the showers, often fluctuated in temperature, so that one was either being "burnt" or frozen. On several occasions, we were without any water at all, and on the last few days, the water had a very unpleasant taste, and sometimes it was also discolored. Mattresses could also do with being replaced. The thermostatic controls in the rooms did not work. The rooms were either freezing cold or hot, and one was unable to alter this. The satellite TV was almost non existent. We only had Sky News, and this did not work for at least 60% of the time. The rooms were poorly sound proofed, so you could hear your neighbors in the adjoining cabin. • Dining On the whole, the food was nearly always luke warm when it arrived at the table. Despite meeting with the Hotel Director, this was not rectified over the whole trip. The lunches were very poor. The food was poorly presented, and very Germanic in its selection. • Entertainment The shows were quiet good, not as polished as on some of the other cruises we have done, but the overall quality of the performers was good. The resident band for dancing was poor. Entertainment • Public rooms The public rooms, were made very unpleasant, due to the fact that the Starboard side of the ship was designated "smoking". In such a small ship, this meant that even when you are sitting on the Port side, you have the terrible smell of smoke. The public rooms were also totally insufficient for the number of passengers on the ship. Invariably, you could never find a seat in either of the lounges, or in the buffet. Although the weather was not always great, on the odd sunny day, the swimming pool was never available to use. • Disembarkation. This is very slow - took well over 2 hours to get bags ashore before we could start disembarkation - again this would suggest and inexperience at managing this operation. All the bags had to be hand loaded off the ship! Overall, the current management have an awful lot to learn about running a slick enjoyable cruise. This is a ship to be avoided, until they get their act together. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Review Marco Polo -- North Cape Explorer 15/6/2008 - 27/6/2008 OVERVIEW We are a newly early retired couple, and although our cruising experience is of only 3 years, that time has involved extensive cruising of 3- 4 weeks each of those ... Read More
Review Marco Polo -- North Cape Explorer 15/6/2008 - 27/6/2008 OVERVIEW We are a newly early retired couple, and although our cruising experience is of only 3 years, that time has involved extensive cruising of 3- 4 weeks each of those years. We have previously sailed on Marco Polo for 3 weeks just 12 months ago. At that time this ship, (and it was the only ship in the fleet) was owned and operated by Orient Lines, which in turn was owned by NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) Our previous reservations on this ship were initiated by the itinerary offered, and the actual on-board experience left little to be desired. The condition of this old ship, and the great crew added to our positive experience. This year, the Marco Polo saw an ownership change to a Greek consortium, which now leases the ship to Germanys Transocean Tours. Part of the year, the ship will sail from England, and part year from Germany. We noted that when the change was mooted, that many basic itineraries of the Marco Polo would remain the same, and since we were keen to do this North Cape, and a Baltics Cruise this year, we decided to try the ship under this new ownership. Of course, we knew that with the change of owners, other changes would take place, but uncertain of what they would be. We are very easy going, and easy to please people, who believe in giving everyone a fair go. We know that there are thousands of Marco Polo fans, and know of many through groups such as this. Some have heartfelt expressed that the Marco Polo is now dead since NCL don't own it. We have never written and published a review previously, but were asked on the boards to do so next time we sailed on Marco Polo. So, this is our report. Some people had expressed a view that MP was about to die. How untrue that perception is. I would hazard a guess that this old girl has seen changes of owners and crew many many times over. It is different, thats for sure, but change is not always negative. We attempt here to be unbiased and not confusing our wonderful old experiences, with this new one. We only mention the differences, so that old MP'ers can picture what we mean. BOOKING - RESERVATION In our few years of booking cruises, we have, without fail, experienced problems along the way. "On shore" Staff generally convey a complete lack of knowledge about the products they are selling, and an enquiry can get 3 different answers from 3 different people. Emails are never answered, and trying to contact Customer Service, almost impossible. Complete indifference?? Well, booking with Transocean UK's South Quay Travel/Cruise and Maritime Services, is a breath of fresh air. Since we live in another country in a vastly different time zone, email is our best means of communication. The different people we dealt with at Transocean UK, ALWAYS, without fail, replied to any query, concern, and situation we had, before payment, after payment and both pre and post cruise. We left a messages at night, and we had a reply waiting when we awoke next morning! We cannot remember EVER giving anyone a perfect score for ANYTHING, as we feel there is always room for improvement. Not so here. Congratulations, and thank you Transocean UK. EMBARKATION We chose the Transocean coach transfer from Victoria London to the Port at Tilbury. This must be booked early in the reservation process. That was a great option for us, because our luggage was loaded onto the bus, and the next time we saw it, was in our cabin later in the afternoon. The cost was also extremely effective on the pocket at a cost of GBP 10 RETURN. After arrival at the port it was just a matter of minutes before our room steward(ess) showed us to our cabin, and we headed of to find some sustenance, after a long morning. THE SHIP Another year older since we were last on board, and many changes of whim or convenience and maybe law, have been made by the operators. New passengers experiencing MP would not notice. The Casino is no longer,and replaced by a new (additional) lounge/bar. The names of most of the bars, lounges and decks have been changed, which caused us confusion at times, so talking among ourselves, we mostly used the names that we were familiar with. Although Transocean has only had the ship for a couple of months, we feel that the time and money spent doing the above changes, would have been better spent on priority maintenance. Obviously someones priorities out of whack, but the neglect is obviously that of NCL after they had sealed a sale. Of particular note is the condition of the back pool deck. Holes, cracks, missing bungs etc. One can see where short sections have been properly and professionally replaced over the years, but now it is becoming a cobbled together mess. Bits of ply wood nailed over some holes, and some rotting plank sections that are dangerous. (inch deep holes and cracks). Also noticeable, although not as pressing as an issue, is the "mix and unmatch" carpet arrangements. Rather than replacing worn carpets, only pieces have been replaced in a patchwork manner. Stairs, for instance, have a patchwork of two different blues, amongst other threadbare unreplaced tread sections. A few other things need attention, but we should give Transocean a bit of time to get around to them before comment.They should do it sooner rather than later, before too many negatives. Passengers are talking about them, apart from possible injury. THE CREW The crew under the new ownership has now changed from predominantly Filipino, (as are other NCL ships), to mostly Eastern European. They are helpful and friendly, although many (apart from officers), appear to be new in this industry. English is a second or third language to many, and there is difficulty for them sometimes to understand all the different accents and dialects they have to encounter. It seems as if there a quite a few waitstaff that are apprentices, or are students doing a temporary work. We eventually get the message through without drama. Our room stewardess was great. always one step ahead of us, and preempted our needs. When we disappeared, she instinctively must have know, and did a wonderful job in looking after us from day 1. Bar Waitstaff were there when you wanted them, and not "in your face" every 5 minutes as suffered on some previous cruises. DINING and THE FOOD Main Dining Room is now called "Waldorf" and the buffet is "Marco's Bistro" The "hard line" formal, informal, and casual is also now adjusting to a more relaxed form as it is on many lines. The dress code is now published as "suggested" for that evening. Those who wish to "dress up" are free to do so. It seems that not a lot are interested in such things on an itinerary like this one. Most people we spoke to felt the same, in that they are here to adventure in the world, and not to do things they can do at home. Our main dining room waiter was very efficient, and always got it right. Others at times, often made mistakes with delivering wrong food to wrong tables, or did not deliver what was ordered. The menu always had plenty of choices that should have satisfied everyone. There was basically a fish, a red meat, and a white meat dish, plus vegetarian option, at each meal time. Food was served promptly, was well presented, was hot (or cold when it should be), and at dinner, samples were displayed on a table to view before entering the dining room. We only ate in the buffet when we only wanted a very light lunch or breakfast. Breakfast in the dining room is confusing with part buffet, and part service. One learns processes during the cruise. And procedures changed on our last day. It seemed that different staff had different procedures, it was a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing. It could be language and communication difficulties between staff. On the first day, no one seemed to offer to take an order until one asked one of the many waiters running around with coffee, tea and juices. If, for instance you want fried eggs rather than scrambled from the buffet, you were supposed to ask a waiter. He then brought you eggs. You were told to go to the buffet for anything else. One then waits through the line to get bacon, tomato and any other offerings. In the process, you find that there is no toast there, only bread. You then return to your table, and later informed that you order toast from a waiter, or they automatically place it on your table. On the last day, the waiter taking the order ASKS what we wanted on the plate with the eggs, and did all that work for us. We hope they can sort this minor, but annoying communication problem. A major issue with us is the Hygiene enforcement / encouragement now on this ship. On all previous cruises, on first embarkation, and each time re-boarding, we have been asked to use the hand sanitizers at the gangway. Not so on Marco Polo these days, in fact all through the cruise this facility was never available on reentry. sanitizers are at entry doors to restaurants, but with no one manning the doors or the start of buffet lines we witnessed that they were mostly unused. To staff, we reported empty sanitizers plus people seen leaving toilets and marching straight to self serve. Personally experienced person yesterday push past me whilst I was using the device, and go straight to handling bread rolls before choosing one!!!! Since now that there are more self serve open table lines at lunch in main restaurant, we can see problems looming. Have all our other ships been wrong? Or is this non sanitizer thing a British/European thing? ENTERTAINMENT Showroom Shows Outstanding - Brilliant - Fantastic - Best Ever Not many words can describe the troupe of Russian performers that have been hired to do shows in the main (ex Ambassador) lounge. (now Marco Polo Lounge). The 15 or so singers & dancers are so very obviously a very highly trained and rehearsed troupe, giving two performances per night,and a different show each night. Energy plus, with multiple and glitzy costumes, gave the lounge a professionalism of a caliber we have not seen here,or on any other ship before. Although we have previously enjoyed shows on MP, (and they were good), these guys make the others seem insignificant. They are backed by the Marco Polo Orchestra which is a band of 5 - 6 members. Truly, top class worlds best, kinda stuff! Lounge entertainment Mostly great, including performances from two brilliant and professional Russian girls. A pianist and violinist, playing both as solo acts and as a duo. They provided a pleasant break from the somewhat loud additional entertainment you often get. At night, the entertainment in the Scotts Bar (ex Charleston) was from excelsior Trio. This groups lead vocals are provided by Kate Sharman, a singer whose arrangements and voice bring cruisers a unique and pleasant way to end a day. She copes with all genres of music extremely well, and created quite a fan base on this cruise, and I'm sure we will see her on this ship for as long as she wants to be on board. CD and the Activities team Cruise Director, Richard Sykes has it pretty easy with a great entertainment line up and his very active activity staff. There should be no reason to complain about any area of the whole teams work. All the normal cruise ship stuff, like quizzes, TV type games, tournaments of different types, and of course BINGO. Richard also organized guest speakers, and led a few amusing Question/Answer sessions on different subjects in the showroom on some afternoons, particularly sea-days. Also, some daytime and late night entertainment included Richard himself. He is a great pianist/entertainer in his own right. It was a refreshing change for us to learn first up that ALL bingo proceeds are returned to the Winners of each game session. The secrecy of how much rake off in fees commission, and the actual percentage return to winners does not become an issue. At a cost of GBP5 per session, most pay outs were actually larger than what was being returned on our previous cruises, where people were spending up to $US80 EACH per session to play. Highlight of entertainment was partying on back deck with the band, in the sunshine, and sailing away at 2-3am in the morning. PORTS The itinerary is the reason we cruise, so we can only report that we enjoyed the ports each in their own special way. Highlights of the cruise were to be, and were, cruising the Fiords, the North Cape with the Midnight sun (which actually did not set until 3 days later on our way back south). Also of particular note was Cruising Svartisen Glacier. SHIPS EXCURSIONS Although many excursions were offered, we only opted for two. Almost everyone did the North Cape Midnight one, since that was the main reason for our cruise. We did not hear any negative comments from anyone doing excursions, apart from how expensive they were. That seems to be a complaint that we hear on each cruise, but with Norway having the economy they enjoy, EVERYTHING is expensive here. THE EXPERIENCE SUMMARY Positives Still a great ship to us, as we particularly like the size, and the itineraries available. The reservation/ Customer service based out of London is great. By far the best we have ever had from any cruise ship line. The North Cape Itinerary was all as expected. Excursions were as described and sold. Food was good to very good. No rip off bingo. Entertainment was the best ever we have experienced on a cruise ship. Negatives. Condition and wear and tear in parts of ship. One wonders and hopes that attention is being given to the parts we CANT see. Communication between service/wait staff themselves and their management must be wanting. This in turn comes down to confused customers as well. Sanitation may not be an issue to the cruise ship, but it is to us. We simply do not trust other passengers Hygiene habits, and Transocean should not trust them either. Obvious enforcement/encouragement is a must. No more happy hours. This used to get party time going each evening, and on sailaways! Sad! We normally have signed up for (wireless) internet access. New provider has priced themselves out of our market, and looks like most others too. The internet cafe used to be packed most days. We certainly didn't sign up, and every time we have walked past the cafe, there has obviously been no takers at the new pricing. WILL WE CRUISE TRANSOCEAN AGAIN?? Yes, we have no regrets in what we have just experienced, and we will be returning in 3 weeks time to cruise the Baltic Capitals Itinerary. We just hope that we can see improvement in our areas of concern after the new team gets it more "together" Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
"Elegance & value, on board the sumptuously elegant Marco Polo, offering all the comforts of an excellent hotel, all meals, including morning coffee, and afternoon tea and cakes, are included in the great value price" So ... Read More
"Elegance & value, on board the sumptuously elegant Marco Polo, offering all the comforts of an excellent hotel, all meals, including morning coffee, and afternoon tea and cakes, are included in the great value price" So quoted the brochure from Newmarket Promotions, which I feel qualifies for attention under the Trades Description Act!! To be fair the cabin was comfortable, not luxurious. Bottled water was provided, and would be replaced if desired, for £1.95p. The cabin steward was excellent & very helpful. There were two restaurants, the "Waldorf", providing waiter service in the evenings, buffet service at breakfast and lunch times, providing a reasonable selection of dishes. Although somewhat cramped for space so choosing a seat was important to avoid disturbing other diners. The other "restaurant", the Bistro was somewhat akin to a motorway cafe, with tablecloths and napkins only being provided in the evenings! Again a reasonable selection of dishes to which one helped oneself. Morning coffee and tea and cakes could be had, on the open deck, adjacent to the Bistro, provided one was prepared to queue, mug in hand ,awaiting one's turn at the tea urn!! Spoons took the shape of a plastic twizzle stick. Alternatively one could be served in the lounge at the modest price of £1.45 per person!! The evening meals were nicely presented, with a choice of three or four dishes for each course, although it appeared, at times, that some of the more usual items were in short supply. Having ordered cheese and biscuits instead of a sweet, I received four one inch "squares" of cheese with one water biscuit! The latter I returned with the comment that somebody might be going without, but the comment was wasted as most of the staff seemed to have difficulty in understanding English. The majority it seems were from the Ukraine, well presented, polite, but lacking in sufficient training. The scenery and the weather were beyond compare, sadly the Marco Polo was not. Having cruised on three previous occasions, the Marco Polo still has a long way to go to justify the description of "elegance and value" as described in the brochure, and even further to meet their customers expectations. Good value for money? I leave other people to judge, but the fact that gratuities are included in the price would suggest that it is better to be safe than sorry!! At just under £2000.00 a weeks holiday in a five star hotel could be had. Perhaps next time!!. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was touted as a very special event with many great surprise features, as it was the final voyage of a former (before NCL bought the line) great ship. Having been on the Marco Polo prior to and after the NCL takeover, I witnessed the ... Read More
This was touted as a very special event with many great surprise features, as it was the final voyage of a former (before NCL bought the line) great ship. Having been on the Marco Polo prior to and after the NCL takeover, I witnessed the accelerating deterioration of ambiance and quality. In summary, most of the passengers on this cruise were former enthusiastic Marco Polo repeaters. All had noticed the same deterioration of quality that I did. I spoke directly to about 50 of the 700+ passengers who were as convinced as I was that they would never again set foot on an NCL ship. There was not one among these experienced cruisers who did not believe that NCL management had an awful disregard for their customers and were only concerned with bilking them. I overheard many people saying this in addition to the ones that I directly spoke to. It started with the people at NCL who booked the flights. We were a party of six, 3 adults and 3 children. They initially booked us on separate flights and had the children flying alone. It took a concerted effort by our TA to straighten this out. Even so, it was poorly done. They scheduled us to fly from Lisbon (debarkation point) to Heathrow (sitting for 5 hours) then to Miami (another 5 hour layover) and then ultimately to Tampa. We arrived in Tampa at midnight. This despite available flights from Lisbon direct to the USA (Newark) which had direct flights to Tampa. During the voyage, they continually ran out of different kinds of food, starting with fruit, then vegetables and much more. Like many lines there was a high priced Internet service. Their router had bandwidth limitations, so if there were several simultaneous users, some would get cut off. This made it difficult and at times impossible to send lengthy attachments or photos. The Internet manager knew little about computers or data transmission and tried to cover up by giving nonsensical explanations. We lost Internet use for 4 days and the ship personnel tried to tell us that there was no satellite coverage at the Equator. Imagine if this fairy tale were true, we were sailing Northeast and no communication for 4 days. Just how wide do they believe the Equator to be? Their Internet service software was designed to keep everything slow, as it was full of time consuming steps such as; right after log on they had a screen which tried to sell you more time. You had to say "no" before you could get anywhere. The Pursers office had 4 people that interfaced with the passengers. Two were nasty, the other 2 tried to help but were limited by management. For example, early on many people including me received a curt note from the Purser threatening to cut off our charge privileges if we did not go to them immediately and sign a credit card slip. Since I had done so earlier I went to find out what the problem was. After a bit of harangue and snide remarks by the Pursers staff they finally admitted that there was a stack of signed credit card slips that they had not yet entered into the computer system. The Filipino restaurant staff were great. They maintained their humor, quality standards and human warmth, even though the too were victimized by NCL management. Many of the people had been with the ship for 15 or more years, and of those who were offered positions with NCL after this final voyage; were offered a step down in position and pay and on very poor routes. The Marco Polo was on a continuous trip around the world and NCL was placing them on ships that commuted from the US East coast to the Caribbean for very short cruises. In summary, NCL managed to convince us to NEVER go on another NCL ship. We all had the impression that all NCL was trying to do was to extract money from us. They continually tried to mislead us and told us outrageous excuses for poor service. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
This cruise was the 13 day cruise tour to the Antarctic Peninsula. We spent the first 2 days in Buenos Aries, then flew on to Ushuaia where we boarded the Marco Polo. This whole cruise was most enjoyable & the scenery was just ... Read More
This cruise was the 13 day cruise tour to the Antarctic Peninsula. We spent the first 2 days in Buenos Aries, then flew on to Ushuaia where we boarded the Marco Polo. This whole cruise was most enjoyable & the scenery was just fantastic. The Marco Polo is rather old, but it has been redone. Our cabin was very roomy and had loads of storage space so we (my daughter & I) could completely un-pack. We had been instructed to bring clothing that could be layered, plus knee high waterproof boots--the sort that farmers would wear. The Marco Polo provided all of us with red parkas which we could keep, if desired. Our first day at sea we sailed in the Drake Passage and it was windy, but not too bad. We soon began seeing icebergs and the further south we went, the calmer the water got. Everyone was very busy oohing/aahhing and taking pictures of the many icebergs. The ship limited this cruise to about 500 passengers due to the on shore Zodiac excursions . Our first trip out in the Zodiac was like a trial run. Mostly it was to see if everyone could get in and out of the Zodiacs with no problems. There were some very senior citizens--80's or so--but all went well with the help of very patient & understanding crew members of the Marco Polo. The ship had arranged to have lecturers on board for this cruise to help us understand the Antarctica and the the wildlife which most of us had never seen before, except maybe in a zoo. All of the lectures were very worthwhile. In addition, the ship provided us with additional informative handouts each day, along with the normal newsletter. Our second trip out in the Zodiac (and all the other ones) was so much fun. There were orange ropes placed on the ground which formed paths were we were to walk, plus signs that said "Penguins only past this point"--but the penguins could care less...Several times I would turn around & there would be a penguin right behind me. Tooo cute... These were Gentoo penguins & they were a little over knee high. They had their babies with them & we learned that this kind of penguin has 2 babies...Before we got back into our Zodiacs, the Marco Polo crew members had a boot washing station all set up. Those poor guys...I don't know how they were chosen for that job...maybe they drew the short straw?? When we got back to the ship our boots were removed, given a spray of something and put in a plastic bag for us to take back to our cabin, ready for the next trip out. On our last trip out, we say Chin strap penguins, about the same size as the other ones. I was so surprised to see that there were thousands of penguins--I had no idea..We also did some whale looking, but they were few and far between. All and all this was a fantastic experience....We were very lucky in the weather department..The temperature was in the high 30's and low 40's all the time, with mainly sunny skies. The only thing that I didn't care for was the fact that we had two formal nights. It seemed totally un-necessary for a cruise such as this.....but don't let this stop you from going---it was STILL fun, fun, fun !! Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
My husband and I just returned from the Mediterranean Highlights cruise (Barcelona to Athens) aboard the Marco Polo. The ship and the ports exceeded our expectations. SHIP: The MP was much smaller than our previous ships, so we were a ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from the Mediterranean Highlights cruise (Barcelona to Athens) aboard the Marco Polo. The ship and the ports exceeded our expectations. SHIP: The MP was much smaller than our previous ships, so we were a little concerned that we might be "trading down". We shouldn't have been worried, however, because the MP offered everything the big ships did with much more personalized service. Cabin: We booked an inside cabin on the Main deck. It was very spacious and clean, although it could probably use a refurbishing. The carpet was slightly stained and the furniture scratched, but we had more than enough storage space for the two of us. I had read other reviews that indicated noise was a problem. We couldn't hear our neighbors, but we were near the funnel and heard a lot of engine noise. That was actually a bonus for us, because the rhythmic sounds, combined with the motion lulled us to sleep. Our cabin steward was very efficient, everything was clean, our ice bucket was filled every morning and evening, the turn-down service always included chocolates, and the towels were nice and thick. Television reception was limited to a few in-house channels and CNN Global and we had a phone in the room. Food: You have a choice of two dining rooms--Raffles, which is served buffet style for all three meals, and Seven Seas, which is off-the-menu. There are two evening sittings in the Seven Seas (6:30 and 8:30). We chose the 8:30 sitting and a table for four (which turned out to be a booth by the window). The menus offered a lot of variety with a choice of three appetizers, a cheese and fruit tray, two soups, four entrees, three desserts, ice cream, or sorbets. The food ranged from good to excellent (fabulous desserts!). We had a waiter and busboy assigned to our table. They were both Filipino (as were most of the service staff) and offered excellent service always with a smile and inquiries about our day ashore. We usually ate our lunches, when we were not ashore, in the Raffles restaurant. Its buffet offered a wide range of choices, and there were also soup and pasta stations as well as a grill on the pool deck offering hamburgers, hot dogs, and italian sausages. One lunch offered barbecue items--ribs, chicken, etc. Ice cream (gelato) was always available and excellent. Afternoon tea was also served in Raffles and included a wide variety of desserts and finger sandwiches. Amenities: The casino was small, as was the gift shop. The card room and library were both well stocked and quiet. Evening entertainment was held in the Ambassador lounge and, while not Broadway quality, were still enjoyable. I didn't use the Spa or exercise rooms, but did see a lot of people using them. It was a little cool on our cruise, so not too many people used the pool, but several took advantage of the three large hot tubs. We really enjoyed our stay on the MP and plan to cruise on her again. PORTS: We signed up for shore excursions in each port. Many people told us it was better and cheaper to make arrangements for your own driver if you had a group of 4 or 6, but we didn't know anyone who was going on our cruise, so we couldn't make arrangements ahead of time. Some of the excursions were better than others. The most expensive one (Grandeur of Rome) turned out to be our worst one. Our guide talked non-stop about history and left us little time to actually see anything. The lunch was mediocre, and Rome was dirty, littered, covered in graffiti, over-crowded, and threatening with all the gypsies, pickpockets, and panhandlers. We are glad we went, but we don't plan to return to Rome. If we do, however, we will take the train from Civitavecchia to the Termini in Rome, then catch the Hop-on/Hop-off tour bus located near the station. It loops around the sites every two hours and lets you get off and on (similar to trolley and GreyLine tours in major US cities). Barcelona was clean, friendly, safe and easy to navigate. Monte Carlo and the French Riviera were clean and picturesque. Sorrento was quaint and fun. We took the Amalfi Coast drive and visited the towns of Positano and Amalfi Town. The scenery along the coast was spectacular, and the lunch was very good. Malta turned out to be our biggest surprise. Be sure you are on deck when the ship comes into the port. It is spectacular. The churches were unbelievable--particularly the one in the old town of Mdina. Santorini should be one of the wonders of the world, and Akrotiri is open (even though some reported that it wasn't). Athens was another surprise. It was clean, safe, easy to walk around (except for crossing streets), and the Plaka (old town) was fun and quaint. Athens is sprucing up for the impending Olympic Games so everything is under scaffolding and netting. Every place we visited used Euros except for Malta, but they had just joined the EU and accepted them even though their money is still the Maltese Lira (ML). We took everyone's advice and used ATMs for currency and did find they had the best rates. We also used our VISA card for all major purchases. Some places we went did not accept traveler's checks--neither US or Euro. PACKAGES: We booked our own airfare because I found it on the internet cheaper, but we did take the post-cruise hotel package. We ended up at the Athens Hilton. The exterior doesn't look like much, but the room was wonderful--very modern and elegant. The taxi to the airport cost about 25 Euros. The post-cruise hotel package also included the Athens tour, one of our best ones. Our luggage was whisked off to the hotel while we were enjoying our tour and was waiting for us when we arrived at the hotel. As you can tell, we certainly enjoyed our cruise aboard the Marco Polo and are already looking at booking another cruise aboard her next year. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We took the Antarctica 8 day excursion on the MV Marco Polo on January 31st of 2003. This is a bit of information on the Zodiac landings from the ship; it is written in an effort to help those who are on their first excursion and might ... Read More
We took the Antarctica 8 day excursion on the MV Marco Polo on January 31st of 2003. This is a bit of information on the Zodiac landings from the ship; it is written in an effort to help those who are on their first excursion and might have apprehensions about this adventure. There is an excellent review of the entire cruise included in this database by Chuck Traveler in the review section under Marco Polo, and it helped us tremendously when we took this cruise. The Marco Polo can accommodate over 800 passengers but only takes around 425 for this trip. This is done to allow all passengers the maximum amount of time for the shore excursions. There are currently six Zodiacs that take the passengers, the naturalists, etc. to the landings. The Zodiacs have Yamaha, Honda, or Mercury engines and seat 14 people. You sit on the side pontoons of the boat and hold on to ropes on the side if you think that you need it. We felt completely safe at all times in and out of the Zodiac. Our pilots were knowledgeable and very competent. The passengers are divided into five colors (around 75-80 in each color); each color group is divided into three cohorts (A,B,C). They give you a badge that you must wear which has your color and cohort. Colors and cohorts are assigned a time to disembark for the shore excursion. Colors and cohorts are alternated in time so that everyone gets to go at a different time for each excursion. You need to get dressed in your cabin beforehand. Dress rehearse this at home so that you know what you are going to put on and how; it takes a bit of time. Because of the changeable nature of the climate and weather we dressed in the following: (avoid as much cotton as possible) regular underwear; a thin insulated sock; a woolen sock; long underwear—upper and lower; a flannel shirt and pants; optional sweater or turtleneck; a pair of nylon waterproof pants and top (top is often not necessary); 16"-18" wader boots—these are essential because of the water in which you will walk and the penguin guano you will get on your feet; your groovy red parka that they give you; a thin pair of under gloves (we eliminated these on some excursions because of our weather); a pair of warm gloves—not mittens—too difficult to take pictures—we took Gortex; a lined ski mask—really important; a stocking cap; and ski goggles—these we eliminated after the first excursion because of the hassle and the problem with moisture—some did wear them, however, and we were glad to have them. We packed a second set of socks (both thin and wool) and long underwear so that you can alternate for each excursion—you do sweat a great deal underneath. We also took an extra set of gloves in case the good ones got wet. You should take a daypack or regular back pack with whatever you need but with: sun block (if there is anything else showing on your body); your extra socks and gloves; extra film; a cloth or two to wipe your lenses, camera, binoculars, etc.; Ziploc bags to protect things. We did not put our camera in a bag, but some people did. Be sure that you bring extra batteries for your camera; the cold shortens the life of the battery. Be sure that you go to the bathroom however many times that you need to, because there are no toilets on the landings. However, in the Polo waiting lounge, you can go before you disembark. The excursions are only an hour, and you can hold it that long. The group is asked to go to the Polo Lounge on Deck 8 and wait until the color and letter are called; you are asked to get there 10 minutes before your time. We were always there around 20 minutes before the time. (Sometimes the process gets ahead or behind times.) When the group's time is called, a crewmember escorts the group down to the gangway where each person has a life jacket put on them. It is necessary to keep your camera, binoculars, daypack, etc. off of your body until the life jacket is put on. It just holds up things if you have to take them off. You then stand in line until your Zodiac is ready to receive you. When it is your time to disembark, you are led out to the gangway and down a set of steps. You step onto the pontoon of the Zodiac and onto the deck. There are adequate personnel there to assist you so that you feel confident in your boarding of the boat. Once in the Zodiac you sit down with your other passengers, and you begin your trek. You cannot stand up to take photos without permission; it is important that you observe this because of balance. You can ask to permission to stand up, and your pilot will slow the Zodiac down. This was done several times and is a standard procedure—don't feel guilty doing this since you will want pictures from the Zodiac that cannot be taken sitting down. You will have several types of excursions; these can change because of weather and ice conditions. This is what we did on our trip: Deception Island -- this was done by the ship sailing through Neptune's Bellows into the caldera of the volcano. We sailed around the inside of the island; be sure that you get up early for this and go to the bow of the ship—it is worth it—cold because of the motion of the ship—wear some of your expedition gear and go out before breakfast. Some ships stop here so that the passengers can swim in the volcanic warmed water on the shore. The Marco Polo has eliminated this because passengers over the past years have considered the Zodiac excursion at Culverville Island more valuable. Culverville Island—this is the first time we were in the Zodiac. It was a ride only; there was no landing. The pilot and guide took us around the island to see the rookeries of Gentoo penguins, the leopard and elephant seals, the different species of birds, and the many icebergs, bergy bits, and growlers (smaller and smaller still ice floes). It is a great beginning in preparation to an actual landing and gets you used to the whole process. You will take many more pictures than you think you will—get used to changing film with gloves on. Cruising the Lamaire Channel -- a great shipboard experience. Once again get up early before breakfast, get on your cold gear and go to the bow of the ship to watch the process through the Channel. This is a rather narrow channel between the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island. There is a formation that is called Una's Tits at the beginning of the Channel; if the weather cooperates (which it did for us), it is a marvelous view of two pointed mountains that were aptly named by the whalers of an earlier time. Through the Channel, you will encounter Minkey Whales, Humpback Whales, Weddell Seals, multiple birds (don't ignore the birds—there are many and are part of the fauna of the area), and much ice. The ship will send a helicopter out before you go through to make sure that the Channel is open for sailing—that in itself is a neat sight! You might also get to see or at least hear a calving of an iceberg. We heard two but never saw them. Once through the Channel, the Captain makes a circle and turns back for a return trip the other way. If you missed the whales the first time, chances are you might get to see them this time. Sometimes they are on the starboard side and sometimes the port side. It is neat to see the passengers run from one side to the other (doesn't tilt the boat, however). Port Lockroy -- This was the first real Zodiac landing for us. We took our boat to this three-island British Antarctic Territory. Only a certain amount of people are allowed on land at a time and thus the time and personnel constraints placed on the ship's crew. The British naturalists on the island assign the ship to one island or another; we were assigned to the middle island and landed on a rocky incline that we had to climb up. Again, there are plenty of people there to assist. Age is really no consideration for these landings; we saw people from their 20s into their 80s do it, so don't worry. There are several areas of interest on this island: old whale bones that make great photographs, the Gentoo rookeries, the birds—especially the Petrels which are huge and swoop around the area. The ship's naturalists ask you to stay 15 feet away from the penguins, but the penguins don't know this; you will see them up close and personal. You will never forget the smell and the sounds of the Gentoos; both are very unique. It will be neat because you will be able to see the chicks attempting to feed; they chase the adults until the adult gives up and allows the chick to stick his beak down the adult's throat. Be sure that you watch for the ritual of the male penguin bringing stones to the nest; also, don't be surprised if you see a Skua attack a chick. We did not witness this but saw the aftermath of it. You will have so many pictures of penguins in motion that you will not remember that you took them. Your hour on the island will be over very quickly, and you will have to return to the "pier" to board your Zodiac back to the ship. However, before you do, you must have your boots scrubbed and cleaned by the ship's crew. This is because of the penguin guano in which you will be walking. These noble crewmembers should get a medal for what they do in the interest of keeping the ship's floors clean. You then get into your Zodiac as you did before and are zoomed back to the ship. You climb out with much help and ascend the ladder to the gangway. Take off your extra things around your neck since the crew will take off your life preserver. You are then led to an area where other crewmembers take off your boots and put them in a plastic bag. Keep them in the bag; no matter how much the shore crew scrubs, they won't get all the penguin guano off the boots. You are also offered tea or hot chocolate on your arrival. The British naturalists come on board the ship to take a hot shower and have a really good meal (Marco Polo provides this to them). They also set up a post office at the Shore Excursion desk where passengers can buy British Antarctic Territory stamps and have postcards franked and sent from the compound. We did this and sent one to ourselves to see how long it would take. It is supposed to take around a month. The cards are eventually sent via some ship to the Falkland Islands, to England, and then wherever. The naturalists also sell several first issue stamps. They give a short talk that evening to the passengers on their life at Port Lockroy; you get a chance to ask questions. Paradise Harbor and Waterboat Point -- This is a landing that you will step out onto the actual Antarctic Continent and Peninsula. There is a Chilean station here that has constructed an actual small dock and concrete walkways. See the Waterboat here; we didn't get to see it. It was snowing a great deal when we were here; this added to the aesthetic of the moment. There are as many Gentoos here as there are on Port Lockroy —maybe more; there is also a glorious huge glacier towards the east. The penguins and skuas have made it a necessity to nest and live in a religious icon that rests on a hill. As you ascend the island, you come to the Chilean compound where the crew lives. They will invite you into their dwelling to see how life on the Continent of Antarctica is conducted. Sign the logbook and don't forget to climb up to the lookout on top of the compound. Ask before you go into the house, however. Towards the south there is a souvenir shop that the Chileans have set up. This has some neat things that you can buy (they are made in Chile). You can get post cards that are stamped with the Chilean Antarctic Expedition stamp, a patch that you can put on your other arm of your red parka; a cap; Chilean wine; and much more. They will take USD. After seeing these things and more Gentoos on the eastern side of the area, you will return to the dock and go through the ritual of the washing of the boots again. You then are transferred back to the ship. Half Moon Island -- This is a small island in the shape of a half moon in the Shetland Islands and is your last landing. You have an additional challenge on this landing since once you arrive at the beach you have to swing your legs over the side of the pontoon and step into the water in order to ascend the beach. Once off the boat you walk up a fairly steep incline to where the Chinstrap penguins live. On your left is an old whaling dory that has been washed up and abandoned. It also makes a great picture. The Chinstraps live on several hills on this island. They make a different noise (kind of like a duck and a turkey combined) but have the same enduring qualities of the Gentoos—including projectile pooping—watch out. There are several trails that you can follow, but you must be careful to watch where you are walking; it is easy to lose your footing and fall—we saw several do this. It is a mess when you do this as you might imagine. We saw fur seals, giant petrels, and Antarctic Terns. The terns chase the petrels like sparrows chase crows since the petrels raid nests. Whales can be seen in the channel towards the west where there is another huge glacier. The icebergs and bergy bits are especially neat around this island; penguins and seals can often be seen on them. This is where your binoculars come in handy. It was really beautiful on our excursion here; the sun was out and the tops of the mountains on the peninsula were visible. It was so comfortable that we took our ski masks off. However, as we left after the washing of the boots in the ocean with help from the crew the weather abruptly changed. A cloud descended on the harbor and partially obscured the ship. A wind came up and it was really brisk and bumpy going back to the ship. Needless to say, we put the ski masks back on. When we got back to the ship and ascended the gangway for the last time, the crew took away our color/cohort badge; it was rather sad. We hope that this will ally your fears about these excursions. They are a thing that you will never forget. tcad1@yahoo.com May 2003 Read Less
The prices for Orient Lines' Marco Polo always seemed too good to be true, so we stuck with the better known, larger cruise lines with newer ships. But then we saw a special offer on a cruise to the Baltic Capitals and decided to ... Read More
The prices for Orient Lines' Marco Polo always seemed too good to be true, so we stuck with the better known, larger cruise lines with newer ships. But then we saw a special offer on a cruise to the Baltic Capitals and decided to take a chance. We also opted for the two-night pre-cruise stay in Copenhagen. The hotel you get to stay in is based on the type of cabin you book. Since we had a lower priced, outside cabin, we didn't expect much. Therefore, we were pleasantly surprised to be staying at the Radisson SAS only a short walk from Tivoli Gardens. We had a beautiful view of the city and canals and a wonderful down comforter! The cruise line included a complimentary bus tour of Copenhagen one morning and it gave us a nice overall view of what the city had to offer. When we arrived at the cruise terminal, there was the Marco Polo dwarfed by a much larger Princess ship beside it. It was pouring down rain, but the cruise line had picked up our luggage at the hotel for us and put up a tent to protect us from the weather as we boarded the ship. We also had pre-boarded at the hotel so we didn't have any lines to wait in. Our cabin had two windows (not portholes), a decent sized closet, TV set, and small chest of drawers. We also had fresh flowers and a bucket of ice and carafe of water, which was replenished several times a day -- at no extra charge! Other cruise lines charge for bottled water in the cabin, so this was a pleasant surprise. The bathroom, while not large, was actually bigger than the one we had on the Dawn Princess. We were on the Upper Deck so it was very convenient to just walk around the corner of our hallway and go outside where we found wooden deck chairs complete with comfortable cushions that were left out all the time. Again, other cruise lines choose to pack up the deck chairs in the early evening making it inconvenient to try and sit out on the deck. So far, everything looked good. The real test would be at dinner time! What a treat when we found ourselves seated at a cozy booth for 4 (we were sailing with another couple) with large windows to enjoy the views. The menu items bordered on gourmet and nothing really appealed to me at first. So I just ordered the fish dish and soup. Boy was I surprised! The food was fantastic! After that, I never worried about what to order. Our waiter graciously would bring us cheese and crackers to feast on while waiting for our orders and extra desserts so that we could sample different things. He did all of this without being asked. The service was excellent! To top it all off, one night the other couple with us were celebrating their wedding anniversary and the cruise line not only provided a beautiful cake (large enough to feed a crowd, I might add), but the waiters also serenaded them accompanied by several musical instruments. They sang "Only You" and "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." They had our whole dining area joining in and the wife was in tears because she was so moved by the unexpectedness of it all. The casino was rather small -- only about 20 slot machines, but the entertainment was good, as was the music in the lounges. Since the weather was damp and chilly, we were always greeted with cups of hot lemon and cider when we returned to the ship from our ports of call -- a nice touch. We sincerely enjoyed everything about the Marco Polo and the small ship experience offered us a chance to mingle more with other passengers and to be pampered on a more personal scale. We are looking forward to cruising with them again soon and, possibly, trying their newest addition, the Crown Odyssey. Read Less
MARCO POLO- ANTARCTICAWhy would anyone want to spend a week in the cold turbulent waters of Drake's Passage and the Antarctic Ocean? The answer.....an eight day cruise to Antarctic aboard the Marco Polo. We've just returned from ... Read More
MARCO POLO- ANTARCTICAWhy would anyone want to spend a week in the cold turbulent waters of Drake's Passage and the Antarctic Ocean? The answer.....an eight day cruise to Antarctic aboard the Marco Polo. We've just returned from an eight day adventure to the Antarctic Peninsula aboard the Marco Polo, a 22,000 ton ship with an excellent staff of European Officers and a Philippino crew of cabin stewards, waiters, bus boys. We had heard good things about the ship and crew and now add our positive feelings to those we had heard before our voyage. Cruise Package......The Marco Polo plies the waters of Antarctica yearly in the austral summer months of late December, January and February. The cruise package, including eight exciting fun filled days cruising and visiting four different Antarctic locations, began January 17th with a charter flight from Miami to Ushuaia, Argentina. Charter Flight......We did not take the charter from Miami to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires, which Orient Lines includes as part of the Antarctica Peninsula package, as we had decided to spend two weeks in South America prior to the cruise. We, therefore, cannot comment first hand on the flight. We did hear, however, that it was quite acceptable for a charter flight. Embarkation......Boarding the Marco Polo on January 19th in Ushuaia, Argentina, the Southernmost city in the world, was fast and surprisingly casual. Following lunch at Cafe Ideal, a friendly pleasant and historic restaurant located on San Martin, Ushuaia's main shopping and dinning street, we arrived at the ship, took our bags out of the cab, dropped them at the gangplank, and walked onto the ship. No tickets checked, no questionnaires to fill out. It was so simple we were a bit taken back. Although this was our first cruise on the Marco Polo, we were able to proceed to our cabin quickly and easily as the amicable crew was quite helpful in giving directions. Our cabin, 435 on Main Deck, was a Superior Deluxe Oceanview. We found it to be quite roomy and comfortable. Although we had to pack for both the heat of Rio and Buenos Aires, and the cold of Antarctica, there was sufficient closet and drawer space to handle all our clothes.....we even had one drawer to spare. Our two large windows were wonderful. We looked out continually to view the incredibly spectacular views. The white marbled bathroom was well laid out with a tub/shower and adequate space for toiletries. One note of caution, during rough seas be careful as you navigate the foot high step from the cabin into the bathroom as a slip or trip could be quite harmful. About the ship......Small as cruise ships go, the Marco Polo weighs only 22,000 tons versus the 100,000 tons plus of the giants now sailing the seas. However, from our standpoint, it was just right for the Antarctic. Depending upon who answered our question, we were told there were between 350 and 425 passengers on board, approximately half the number normally aboard for non-Antarctic cruises. The smaller number for the Antarctic is necessary because environmental concerns limit the number of people allowed ashore at any one time to 100. A full compliment of passengers would have made it impossible to go ashore as often as we did in the four days in Antarctic waters. The Marco Polo is the refurbished version of the Alexandr Pushkin, a Russian reinforced hull vessel built in East Germany in 1967. Although our cruise was classified as an "expedition," she is definitely classy and comfortable. We were glad she was not only a fun ship but a good "sea boat" during the 30-40 foot swells and 70+ MPH wind we encountered in Drake's Passage on our return to Ushuaia. The $60 million spent to completely rebuild the Pushkin in Greece in the early 90's turned her into a spacious and stable, clean and comfortable, and very tastefully decorated liner. With her reinforced hull, she is totally suited to sail the Antarctic. There are other expedition ships which visit Antarctica, but having seen their size and style while docked in Ushuaia, there is no question we made the right decision. If you want to visit "The White Continent" in comfort, with excellent food, shows and service, have wonderful rides to the shore in zodiacs driven by experienced and informed drivers, and enjoy lectures on Antarctica given by highly qualified lecturers, The Marco Polo is truly the way to go. The Public Rooms......were quite tastefully done and never seemed crowded. In addition to the main dinning room, the Seven Seas Restaurant, and Raffles, the cafeteria/buffet styled dinning area, one can enjoy the Charleston Club for dancing and music, the Polo Lounge for drinks and conversation, the card room, the library, the Internet area for sending but not receiving email, the casino, which seemed to be empty most of the time, or the relaxing Palm Court. Should you be in need of a massage, haircut or styling, you can avail yourself of the beauty salon....or if a workout is in your plans, there is a health club available. Although the health club is modest in size, it is definitely sufficient for the mostly 60 plus age group found on Antarctic cruises. For anyone interested in a bit of "congenial conviviality," both alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks were available in the Polo Lounge, the Palm Court, and Le Bar, the intimate casino bar. The ships main showroom, The Ambassador Lounge, was pleasant and surprisingly comfortable with divans, chairs and ample legroom. It was the home of the entertainment aboard which we found very good. This was a bit of a surprise as we had heard the entertainment was marginal. Nightly entertainment, which included two Broadway type shows, was provided by a very competent cast of singers and dancers, magicians, jokesters and talented musicians. For a cruise ship not noted for its entertainment, we were quite pleased with the talent and shows. The pursers office and the excursion desk area in the very modest main lobby were quite sufficient and again never seemed to be crowded. The Crew......of European officers and Philippino cabin stewards and wait staff reflected what must be a happy environment. We found the cabin stewards and the wait staff to be extremely efficient, cheerful and helpful. It is hard to understand how they can be so good and so cheerful when you realize they work 12 to 16 hour days and spend months without a day off. Kudos to Orient Lines for hiring, training and maintaining such a wonderful crew. Cabins.......As is true with all cruise ships, a myriad of cabins are available. In order to acquaint ourselves with all the sizes and styles, we asked to take a tour of the various types of cabins. We found all categories, from Standard Inside to Deluxe Suites, to be tastefully decorated and sufficient in necessities. Except for the two Deluxe Suites, most cabins have two lower beds, some of which convert to queen size. Most have showers which seemed larger than on other ships on which we have sailed. All had ample closet and drawer space. As the seas can get rough, a suggestion would be to book a midship cabin on a mid or lower deck. If "mal de mer" isn't a problem, any cabin on any deck which suites your pocketbook and needs would surely be satisfactory. Food.....We are not gourmets but do enjoy a well prepared and presented meal. We were quite pleased with our dinning experiences on the Marco Polo. We ate most of our morning meals in Raffles. The buffet was usual cruise line buffet fare of fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, ham, bread, rolls, etc. A similar menu is also offered in the morning hours via room service. There was a group of Japanese passengers on the cruise and they were able to partake in typical Japanese breakfasts. We don't know, however, whether Japanese food is always available or if this was specific to this cruise. Read Less
Marco Polo Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.7
Dining 3.0 3.5
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.2
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.3
Enrichment 4.0 3.2
Service 4.0 3.9
Value For Money 5.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.6

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