Sail Date: January 2006
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2004
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
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 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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