2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose the cruise for the itinerary. The embarkation port is close to us so was brilliant at the beginning and end of our holiday. Embarkation was one of the best we have experienced, very smooth and we did not have to wait for our ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the itinerary. The embarkation port is close to us so was brilliant at the beginning and end of our holiday. Embarkation was one of the best we have experienced, very smooth and we did not have to wait for our luggage. We chose priority disembarkation, where you take your own luggage off, which again was very easy and suited us. The ship is good but it was overcrowded. The cabin is very good, but a big step into the bathroom and the window was dirty, spoiling an excellent view. The highlight of the dining experience was dinner which was excellent. Breakfast, lunch and tea were average, with big queues for tea. The onboard ship's entertainment was outstanding, although visiting acts were poor. There was also a great choice of onboard activities and excellent guest lecturers. Service was excellent and usually with a smile. We found the ports of call very interesting and was one of the main reasons we chose this cruise. The visit to Narsarsuaq was cancelled, but we went to Minaatsoq instead. We also missed out on Prince Christian Sound due to it being blocked by icebergs. Shore excursions in Iceland, Faroe Islands and Orkney were good and value for money, but very poor value for money in Greenland. Our best visits in Greenland were when we explored on our own. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
The Marco Polo seems to be popular with many (I spoke to a fellow passenger who had travelled on 7 voyages) but I suspect that those who like this 54-years-old ship are the same as people who choose to drive a 54-year old car rather than a ... Read More
The Marco Polo seems to be popular with many (I spoke to a fellow passenger who had travelled on 7 voyages) but I suspect that those who like this 54-years-old ship are the same as people who choose to drive a 54-year old car rather than a new one. Not because it is better but because it is different. The eccentricities and signs of age are apparent as soon as we had embarked at Cardiff and were shown to our cabin (number 130 - chosen by the operator as we had elected to a guaranteed outside cabin rather than choosing one). The first thing one notices is that there are only two electrical sockets - a 220 volt continental point and a 110 volt US point (plus an unnamed push button whose use we didn't bother to determine). In 1965 travellers probably only needed one point - but with the plethora of electrical appliances that are the stock in trade of the modern traveller, one power point is not really adequate. The cabin lights were also rather primitive, with an array of ceiling lights none of which could be switched separately - it was all on or all off using the one switch by the cabin door - and two separate reading lights. When we arrived in the cabin the air-conditioning wasn't working although, to be fair, the engineer was on site in less than an hour and fixed the problem. This was our first contact with the staff and was characteristic of all our relationships with the staff who were invariably efficient, helpful and pleasant. So 100% for that aspect of the cruise. Having unpacked we need to find out the layout of the ship and then we discovered eccentricity number 2. The one thing that every passenger needs is a plan of the ship and this should be in every cabin - but not on the Marco Polo. Yes, plans there were a-plenty at reception - once one finds it. But why not in the cabins which is where they will be most needed? Having found a deck plan another eccentricity was evident (number 3 if you're counting). The ship's plan shows the names of all the decks: Navigator, Columbus, Amundsen, Magellan, Pacific, Atlantic, Baltic and Caribic - but the references in the daily activities guide (entitled The Explorer) gave only deck numbers (Eg. Deck 9 Aft). Of course it is not too difficult to write the deck number on the ship's plan oneself - but why on earth wasn't this done at the time of printing? Before leaving the cabin one other eccentricity was evident, although we didn't bother to mention it to the staff as nothing could have been done. Our cabin floor was as bumpy as if the carpet had been laid across a ploughed field; goodness only knows what was underneath. Finally, although we had paid extra for an outside cabin we might as well have saved our money as for 80% of the journey there were deadlights across the portholes. This is permitted under the normal terms and conditions but it is as well for prospective passengers to be aware of this possibility on the lower deck cabins of this vessel. There are two restaurants on the Marco Polo, one waiter service and one self service and the food is good in both although that in the waiter-service restaurant is more interesting. The waiter service was very good. It is a sad fact that many (maybe all?) cruise companies charge very competitive prices for their cruises and then seek to make up their profits on the extras. My own extras bill came to over £900, much of which was drinks. On board drinks will be duty-free and bought at a discount price, but any savings are not passed on to passengers. As an example, a glass of house wine was £6 and a bottle of beer £4.50 - both well over UK pub prices. A further indication of this can be seen at the water station where there is a stern notice which reads, "For Health and Hygiene reasons it is strictly prohibited to refill water bottles at the water station". Well, I suppose it is just possible that some infected person might have drunk from the neck of a water bottle and then refilled it when pressing that neck against the tap - but I doubt it's a very serious risk. More likely is it that Cruise and Maritime want to make sure that passengers buy the bottled water that they supply at a purely nominal £2,80 per bottle. Cruise lines do have a monopoly and a captive market on board and this was evident from the price and range of the items for sale in the ship's shop. Proudly advertised as duty-free it was clear from the prices that any saving of duty was offset by an increase in profit. I needed to buy a pair of swimming trunks and the modest pair they had for sale was priced at £21 - about twice what a similar pair would have cost at home. The same excessive prices prevailed for most of the items on sale and I rarely saw anyone buying anything. In part the paucity of sales could have been due to the poor stick selection, which was not appropriate for the passenger profile. My own guess is that the average age of the passengers as around 80 years and thus hardly likely to want to buy designer shopping bags or the like. But the one thing that they would all use and probably need would be a walking stick, since at least 50% of the passengers were using a walking aid of one sort or another. Walking stick can break, get lost or simply be forgotten but did the shop stock such things? No. The assistant there did tell me that sticks were frequently requested but that it wasn't an item they ever stocked. If would seem to me that the buyer needs to look harder at the passenger profiles. The entertainment was of the usual variety and standard and little more needs to be said. The shore excursions were good enough but, as is so often the case, pricey for what they were. In summary, one can understand why some people enjoy the quirkiness of the Marco Polo, but next time I will try a different line Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Friends alerted us to an attractive last minute offer for a cruise around Iceland on CMV's Marco Polo. None of us had ever cruised with Cruise & Maritime Voyages before, it's not a cruise line we ever seriously looked at, but ... Read More
Friends alerted us to an attractive last minute offer for a cruise around Iceland on CMV's Marco Polo. None of us had ever cruised with Cruise & Maritime Voyages before, it's not a cruise line we ever seriously looked at, but with an interesting destination and a low price, we were interested. The date was perfect, and Iceland had been on my wish list of destinations for a long time. So my wife and I booked a Standard Plus outside cabin, and our friends a Superior. Cardiff doesn't have a cruise terminal to speak of, the marquee didn't make a great first impression, but it was handy to have the car right out in front. Getting out of the port on the ship is an experience, there's a lock, and even with a ship of this modest size it's a tight fit. The Marco Polo is over 50 years old, and we knew from the beginning that it can't be compared with modern ships. There is an upside to it, of course, because the design of the ship has a certain nostalgic charm. Add the fact that it only takes about 800 passengers, and you will understand that on this ship you won't get lost in the crowds. It's not massive, and there is no cold or minimalist modern design (except in some abstract art on walls here and there). We were somewhat disconcerted to find that there were diesel fumes on our deck - even in the cabin. Although usually my sinuses are considered to be the most sensitive in our family, my wife had more serious trouble with the air quality in the cabin. Fortunately, the problem dissipated as soon as we were on our way - but kept coming back each time we were in port. As for the ship, if you read reviews about the Marco Polo, you'll find that most people agree that a lot of the key areas on the ship look quite nice, but that Marco Polo 'looks tired' in places. I generally agree, although I would go a little further and say it looks shabby in some spots. I mean, I understand the part about it being an old ship and not being able to make it look like a new ship. Fair enough. But there is no excuse for shoddy maintenance - serious damage to carpets and wall panels, duct tape where a socket should be, etc. These are things that make a place look poor, and there is no need for it. Maintenance can and should be done properly, and with an eye for detail, whatever budget you cater for, whatever kind of cruise you're offering, however old the ship. Speaking of maintenance, during the cruise we had to report four or five problems with our cabin: a dysfunctional bathroom light (never properly fixed, it did work, but not as it should), a safe we couldn't get into when it gave us an unjustifiable error (we had followed instructions in detail), a TV which seemed to have given up the ghost (fixed the same day), a safety rail connecting the bathroom door to the wall having been ripped out in rough weather (fixed the next day, leaving dozens of dangerous metal shavings on the floor, which our steward had to clean up when we discovered it after coming back to our cabin in the evening). I do have to mention that the people at reception are very understanding when you tell them about a complaint, and they immediately report it to the relevant department. The ship has some nice lounges, a good nightclub, an atmospheric a la carte restaurant, a buffet bistro, a cosy library, a show lounge instead of a conventional theatre, and several other public spaces, all of which have been decorated quite homely but cheaply. But I wonder if the ship doesn't take too many passengers, because almost every single space feels like it has too much crammed in - with very little space between seats and tables. This is especially true for the buffet bistro, and I'll go so far as to say that it's too small to accommodate the many people who want to use it at peak times. Whether you're on outdoor person or not, often you have no choice and you just have to take your food outside. (Nice on a cruise to the Med, but not always so nice when you're circumnavigating Iceland in weather just above zero degrees Celsius.) But all of this isn't what made me think of Fawlty Towers - it was what happened at mealtimes in the Waldorf restaurant, the a la carte restaurant, and the buffet bistro. On the face of it, the Waldorf operates much like similar restaurants on the ships of other cruise lines. Until you actually experience the meals. But let me tell you more about the place first. Decorated in pleasant colours, partially with a "stained glass ceiling" (it's plastic, CMV, don't call it what it isn't!), it looks and is quite cosy. Like elsewhere, each table has a permanent waiter assigned, and there are people milling about to offer drinking water, wines, etc. We always dined with our friends, at a table for four. And after a few days, we got into the habit of having a bit of a laugh at the service we were getting. Don't get me wrong, it was usually friendly service with a smile, but it wasn't always very professional. Providing cutlery was hit and miss: sometimes we got it, sometimes we didn't, and had to ask. Sometimes we got the correct cutlery for a dish, but more often than not it was the wrong choice, or it was put in the wrong spot. Or it was taken away when we actually had to keep it (we were expected to use the same cutlery for several subsequent dishes). The waiter only remembered men's names and dietary requirements, the lady was forgotten, including the rather obvious fact that she was vegetarian (one day I had to swap soups with my wife, because even after checking with the waiter if a certain soup could be eaten by my wife, it turned out not to be vegetarian at all - fortunately mine was). Tables had two table cloths, and clearly the bottom ones didn't get washed during the cruise. Some problems I suspect weren't the waiter's fault, I had the impression that the kitchen wasn't very good in timing orders. Sometimes one person would be left out, even if everyone had ordered the same dish. And sometimes courses arrived too quickly, one day my wife had two plates waiting for her while she was finishing the food on the first. I do understand it can get a bit complicated when you offer people five (!) courses, and not everyone orders the same number of courses, but I have seen that handled a lot better elsewhere. Breakfast and lunch can be interesting as well. They're not done in sittings, so you get shown to a table. One day there was no one to point me to a seat, so having reached the restaurant before the others, I sat down where we usually sit. I was immediately told off by an Eastern European unsmiling staff member who ordered me away from that seat, with the rather interesting reason "You can't sit there, because it's open seating!" Huh??? Doesn't open seating mean you can sit anywhere? Apparently not. I was assigned a different seat, and protesting that I was waiting for my wife and two friends didn't help, this rather curt lady wanted me at a table with five other guests. Only when I protested loudly that I was part of a party of four, did one of the waiters grasp what was going on, and explained it to the lady. By the time the others arrived I was quite upset. Not only had it been handled strangely, but I had been ordered about by a curt staff member, in a dictatorial tone, which isn't what I come on a cruise for, I expect to be treated nicely, friendly and smilingly. One of our friends had a similar experience at breakfast - returning to the table with a plate full of warm omelette (at least it was still warm at that point), a lady (same one?) wouldn't allow him to sit down! When he finally could, his omelette was no longer warm. Strange, and very unprofessional. Most mistakes were just laughable, though. They were the source of lots of giggles at our table. So many reminded us of Manuel's mistakes in Fawlty Towers. It was good, though, that we didn't come across anyone who reminded us of Basil Fawlty! I get the impression that not all the staff have been professionally trained - or maybe the ship didn't get the best ones, I don't know. I'll make an exception for our cabin steward, who was one of the best we've ever had. But some other crew members we had dealings with either weren't very good at what they did, or their English wasn't good enough to understand what we were saying to them. And some Eastern European staff clearly aren't used to smiling at people, or at treating passengers friendly. Speaking of being friendly, we generally got on well with the passengers, although some weren't exactly the sort we were used to. I was shocked, for instance, when a man in front of us at a show turned around and threatened a man sitting next to us with physical violence if he didn't shut up. And he didn't sound like he was joking! About the food - as far as I can tell, only the fruit was fresh, everything else seems to have come from the freezers or from tins. We had our suspicions that not everything was made from scratch either, with a lot having been bought in, like the cheap supermarket quality pizzas, to name an example. Kitchen staff also seem to have trouble understanding certain western dishes. For example, serving a Caesar salad with a lot of gravy is really weird! Having said that, we did enjoy most of the food. Yes, some was overcooked, some was too cold or too hard, but we enjoyed the majority of the dishes, and there was certainly enough to choose from. At some point during the cruise fish dishes started to taste a bit ' suspect' though, and we stopped ordering them. And then during the Q&A session with the captain and other leading crew members it became clear that they they prefer not to buy their fish fresh, so I suppose that explains it. Upstairs, in the buffet cafetaria (Marco's Bistro), things can get worse. Overcooked duck, overcooked chips, cream chilled to such a low temperature that it's almost as if you're served frozen cream (in big lumps, with only more or less usable 'melted' bits in between), scones not defrosted in time because they're still ice cold and hard in the middle - my impression was that there's no quality control here. I suspect that once something reaches the buffet, staff are just happy that it's there, and they don't care if it's in an edible state or not. Add to that the situation with glasses, cups and plates, and milk, all of which the place tends ro run out quite quickly, and regularly, and I can only shake my head. Not very well organised. And you really do need to organise a buffet very well for it to function properly, and not to be a place where food comes to die a premature death. Another thing I should mention about food, is the live cooking stations. In itself a good idea, I'm all for it. But as soon as you cook chips in advance, and then put them on a hot plate for a while, they're hard by the time people put them on their plate. The same goes for toast - providing toasting as a service for guests is great. Just don't pre-toast any bread, because I had hard to cut bread for days, until I had the idea to ask the man to give me freshly toasted bread. Just don't make toast in advance! But the chef at the egg cooking station in the Waldorf at breakfast is good at what he does. His overeasy eggs were much better than the overcooked poached egg I had in a dish at dinner. One of our biggest problems on the ship, was noise in the night. I know that our friends and a lot of other passengers didn't have the problems we did, so it must have been the position of our cabin (the most forward outside cabin on deck 6), but when seas weren't very calm (and they weren't for most of the cruise), there was a lot of noise. There was a continual loud banging, some kind of electronic-sounding noise, and there were loud noises every time we docked. All of these noises robbed us of a lot of sleep. A great pity, because the beds were comfortable, and without those noises I would have slept like a baby. Entertainment was in the show lounge, the Marco Polo lounge. Most nights the ship's singers and dancers performed shows, and occasionally there were guest performers. We weren't impressed with the guest performers. But the singers and dancers were quite good - certainly the dancers, and most of the singers. Considering the limited means at their disposal, without backgrounds, not a lot of space, and very few props, I think they did a really good job. Most of the shows were not only entertaining, but actually quite good. Something else we liked, was using the singers elsewhere on the ship. On the rear deck at sailaway, in the nightclub. Excellent idea. One of my favourite facilities on the ship was the sauna. On cruises I like to do two things every day, several times a day: have a swim, and use the sauna. Since the pool was netted off for the whole cruise, that left the sauna. It had a good, high temperature, and was open for 12 hours a day. Perfect. Ports and excursions were well chosen. We liked most of the ports - only Belfast will never be one of our favourites. The excursions were well organised, and stops well chosen. In fact, one of the excursions, Jewels of the North, was one of the best we've ever been on. It was great to see and experience some of Iceland's geological phenomena up close, and to get them explained so well. I'm aware that most of the above may come across as quite critical. So does that mean we didn't enjoy the cruise? No, it doesn't, generally speaking we did enjoy the cruise, and in a lot of ways very much so, in fact. It's just that I think the company and the ship's crew are missing a few tricks here and there, and I think they could do better. But if a chance comes up to go another CMV cruise, we would consider it - at the right price. We don't think their full prices offer value for money, but at the right price we could be interested. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Brilliant itinerary, good food and friendly staff, service excellent. Too many people on board for the size of ship. All activities over subscribed. Ship like a long corridor, so passengers and staff passing through all bars sitting areas ... Read More
Brilliant itinerary, good food and friendly staff, service excellent. Too many people on board for the size of ship. All activities over subscribed. Ship like a long corridor, so passengers and staff passing through all bars sitting areas and bistro. No quiet areas to sit and relax and read without interruptions. Cabins, very poor sound proofing so hearing neighbours whether you wanted to or not. The cabin we had 611 had people thundering around overhead doing exercise walking early mornings. Be careful of the medical mafia on the ship, very expensive. Not recommended for a long cruise. Would not travel on this ship again. There was also a spell when black soot spots came through the air conditioning unit into the cabin covering the beds and furniture. This also happened on decks. Disappointed that the captain did not seem to want to use tenders in the Caribbean when the wind or sea was not too rough! No laundrette and laundry service expensive. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We have never cruised before, and wanting to get away for the whole Christmas Period, this cruise fitted the bill. It appeared good value compared to alternative festive getaways and we had a good time, but all was all not exactly plain ... Read More
We have never cruised before, and wanting to get away for the whole Christmas Period, this cruise fitted the bill. It appeared good value compared to alternative festive getaways and we had a good time, but all was all not exactly plain sailing. We booked through Saga, who’s service was exemplary. They arranged transportation from our home to the port and return, which was upgraded to minute perfect luxury private cars, free of charge because we live close to Avonmouth. This is an old small ship, and when docked the view looked comical, as the Marco Polo looked as if it was the tug for the larger cruise ships. However we had the last laugh passing enormous queues for those huge floating hotels, to just walk straight on the Marco Polo. Embarkation, and disembarkation particularly were easy too. This is not a ship for those without good sea legs, as it rode every wave and rolled. I was shocked how much more movement there was on here compared with a small Cross Channel Ferry we took two weeks previously in an identical sea state. Remember to bring your sea sickness gadgets and remedies. I have never suffered sea sickness but was struck down with nausea one day and took advantage of complimentary Sea Sick Pills. On a few days the choking smell of diesel around the ship added to this problem. We purchased a drinks package, that was good value, but it could be challenging to make it pay. Service was variable. A good example was, at our dinner table we had an apparently new recruit wine steward who was struggling. At our first meal it was 45 minutes before we were offered a glass of wine. At subsequent meals we tried to purchase wine at the bar to take down to dinner, only to be curtly told to sit at a (lounge) table, as it was waiter service only. This could be a lengthy process, as there were not enough bar staff. However we found we could purchase our wine at the Columbus bar at the opposite end of the ship. Here the regular barman was an absolute legend. He was efficient and very focused. His Cocktails were the best and most consistent on board by a nautical mile. The main restaurant was always very busy in the evenings, but the service of the meals was excellent. The food was generally very good, apart from a rare duff dish, or one that was not warm enough, but Henry our table steward was very accommodating with replacements and alternatives. Breakfast was served here buffet style, and lunch was back to a more formal style, but we found the the atmosphere too dark and stuffy for mid day and chose to eat at the buffet. The Buffet was more cafe style and but food here was also tasty and better than it looked. It was always very crowded at lunchtimes, especially early on, but we always (sometimes just) managed to find somewhere to sit, sometimes outside by the pool. The whole crew were generally friendly when they could be (when it was quiet) but they could come across grumpy when under pressure. The entertainment team were exceptional, and worked very hard to provide a variety of shows and other activities across the vessel, maybe more Hi Di Hi than West End, but it wasn't unusual for the lead role of a fully dressed show to finish at 21:55 to present a quiz at 22:00 in the bar at the opposite end of the ship. Callum and Savannah were particularly outstanding talents. One of the joys of the smaller ship was that they were happy to engage with passengers around the ship and in the buffet and the smaller ship enabled you to get to know most of the staff and fellow passengers, which some passengers enjoyed but a few found this a little stifling. On this fully booked trip, space was a premium and you needed to arrive early to get a decent seat for entertainment, quizzes etc. The little fitness and wellness area was good value. Despite the ships age, the public areas were in good condition as were the furnishings and as advertised were never luxurious but surprisingly comfortable. Our cabin probably showed its age a little more. On our arrival was clean and comfortable but with some signs of wear and tear especially in the bathroom. There was a problem with the tap water in our cabin, that at times was a strange Brown/orange colour, that we repeatedly complained about.I think this may have been sorted at the end of our cruise. We paid the extra to have a bath, but bathing in that water wasn't at all appealing, but we did benefit from a large comfortable bed and a lot of living and storage space. Cabin care was disappointing. After about four days our nice bedding was changed for a set with a stained quilt. During the night some of the contents of the stain (possibly blood or vomit) soaked up onto the surface of the quilt cover. Nightly, when our beds were turned, our daily programme was positioned over the offending stain by our Cabin Steward to hide the stain. This went on for about a week until we complained and the bedding was changed. They also could have been a little more generous with the vacuum cleaner, and we resisted the temptation to borrow the one left in the gangway when obvious crumbs were left following the cabins make up. The ships programme could hardly be relied on, as it was often full of mistakes and inaccurate information. We missed events that were not listed and attended ones that didn't happen. It told us to change our clocks 24 hours early, and it mis informed us that for the last 36 hours of our cruise only one bar would be open on a cash only basis. Thankfully that wasn't the case. The cruise itinerary went to schedule perfectly apart for our arrival in Funchal where we were unable to anchor, allegedly because of the swell. I think this turned out to be an advantage as we gently cruised past Funchal at such a position that everybody could see and enjoy the whole spectacle of the town twinkling and every firework across the bay in the New Year display. Best of all our late arrival in port meant that we docked instead of tendered. The ship was launched in the mid sixtes, and there was only a handful of people born after this launch date, and most were born some twenty years or more prior. There were also a large number with walking or mobility aids, so docking ensured that everybody had time and were able to enjoy the delights (and the rain) of Madeira relatively hassle free. In spite of the niggles, we enjoyed a lovely British Christmas break surrounded by friendly, mainly older people who certainly knew how to enjoy themselves. If you like the traditional cruise with excuses to dress up, you like to be constantly very aware that you are at sea, you enjoy the company of familiar faces on a daily basis in a no thrills yet comfortable environment, this cruise is for you. However, I looked with some envy at those big sparkling cruise ships that cut through the waves rather than rode over them. I envied their gleaming new glass and paintwork and particularly their balconies. However I know we would have to have had to stretch our budget much further on there, fly before embarkation with all that entails to get there, and face long queues at every stop. We had a good time but we won't be back in a hurry. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We saw it in a newspaper as BOGOF offer. This was not correct. By the time we had paid extra for the all inclusive element it ended up costing as much as going to the caribbean. Guests on our dinner table had paid far less. This ship ... Read More
We saw it in a newspaper as BOGOF offer. This was not correct. By the time we had paid extra for the all inclusive element it ended up costing as much as going to the caribbean. Guests on our dinner table had paid far less. This ship is very old (over 50 years) and it shows. The cabin window rattled all the time. The cabin was ok, beds comfortable, bathroom acceptable. The food on board was very good, with good choices available although the dinners really had too much on the plate. The staff were very good, helpful, efficient, friendly. The entertainment was very third rate. However, it should be noted that at 66 we were some of the youngest on the voyage. The days at sea were miserable, and we had to stay on our beds for most of that time, due to the inclement weather. Excursions were expensive, so we opted to sort ourselves out and found getting buses very easy. Most places we stopped at were mostly closed, but the whole point for us had been the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, which we did 2 nights running in and near Alta within the Arctic Circle. Would we choose this cruise line again? No. Ship late getting back into Tilbury, mess-up with the coach back to Victoria, lost our onward connection, had to get new ticket, very long day to get home. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
As an experienced travellers and cruisers, we selected this cruise because the itinerary looked interesting; the dates suited, it looked good value and to try CMV and Tilbury. Background information This is a review of a nine night ... Read More
As an experienced travellers and cruisers, we selected this cruise because the itinerary looked interesting; the dates suited, it looked good value and to try CMV and Tilbury. Background information This is a review of a nine night cruise from Tilbury on the Cruise and Maritime (CMV) ship Marco Polo. Our now considerable experience of travelling has included cruises with P&O, Thomson and SAGA. We are English, fit and in our seventies. In addition to the appealing itinerary and date, we selected this CMV cruise because it was child free, sailed from a fairly local port and looked good value. The following sections are under the headings advised by CruiseCritic and also show our CruiseCritic ratings. Below that are further sections commenting on the other CruiseCritic ratings. Travel to Port of Embarkation Our Rating - Terrible Tilbury terminal entrance and car park are poorly sign posted and there is a lengthy one-way-system to negotiate between the two. On first booking, we received directions to drive to the ship. When our tickets arrived, only six days before we sailed (despite my prompting), they had a parking ticket for the wrong car and new directions to a car park, about a mile from the ship, to pick up a shuttle bus. A corrected parking ticket was sent after two more complaints. The drive to Tilbury was about two hours and easy but then our problems really started. When we eventually found the unmarked car park, we were told that there was no shuttle bus. After a ‘phone call, the attendant re-directed us back round the one-way-system. These directions were also wrong and on arrival at a barrier we were directed a third time round the one-way-system to the Tilbury Terminal where there was a long queue of traffic. A second CMV ship, Columbus, was leaving the terminal an hour before our 5pm departure and this seemed to be more than the small terminal could cope with. Eventually, we were pointed to a space to park in but this was not the end of the problems. There was no help with our luggage and it took some time to find where to take it. After carrying and depositing the luggage, it then took more questions to find where we should go. When we found the right doorway, we were handed health forms to fill in and pointed to a small, crowded room with no unoccupied seats. It was now way past our boarding time of 2pm and we had not eaten or drunk anything since breakfast. There was no indication of when we might get on the ship, whether there would be anything available on board or where our next meal was coming from. Fortunately, about half an hour later and after more queuing, we were allowed to walk on to the ship, our cases were already outside our cabin and the on-board buffet was still serving lunch. We had booked through Iglu so the initial delay in receiving incorrect tickets may have been caused by Iglu or CMV. The repeated misdirections and delays were entirely unnecessary and of CMV’s making. Before we could unpack and settle in, we had to do the lifeboat drill. This was easily the longest and most frustrating version of this “requirement” we have endured. It started reasonably, gathering in the “muster” lounge for a lengthy lecture. We were then asked to put on the lifebelts and walk in single file, with hands on the shoulder in front, on a complex march through the ships corridors and stairs to a lifeboat. We then stood outside for several minutes until eventually allowed to leave and find our way back through the crowds. Stateroom (Cabin) Our Rating - Poor A review of the cabin is in CruiseCritic’s separate section. Ship Information Marco Polo is, by a small margin, the smallest and the second oldest cruise ship we have been on. It was originally Aleksandr Pushkin built in East Germany in 1965 with greater hull strength and stability than usual. This, plus stabilisers and a deep draught do seem to help it ride heavy seas better than most small cruise ships. Marco Polo’s refits and refurbishments have kept it reasonably up-to-date but the age shows, notably in the cabins (see separate section) and the passage ways where structural beams of all sizes run across the floors to trip the unwary. Internally, Marco Polo appears clean and smart. There are no worn carpets or furnishings, no chipped paint and cleaning, as on other ships, is constant. There are sanitizers where there is food plus staff with spray-guns. Most passengers comply willingly and there was very little coughing or sneezing on board. Look a little deeper, however, and things are not quite so good. Paint was smeared on windows and dirt could be found in obscure places like the bottom of the toothbrush glass holders in our “bathroom”. There were also occasional smells in the public toilets but we did not experience smells elsewhere on the ship. There are eight passenger decks, less than most ships and most facilities (bars, lounges, restaurants etc) are fairly close, so getting around is relatively easy. The main restaurant is on deck six (Atlantic). Almost all the other public spaces are two decks up on deck eight (Magellan). From bow to stern, these are as follows: Theatre (with a bar); Captain’s Club (main bar); Reception (starboard); Tour office (port); Palm garden (a starboard seating area); Shops (port); Columbus lounge (small bar); Library (starboard and small); Card room (port and small); Marco’s buffet restaurant plus an outside deck with pool, bar and food counter. One deck up from this lot on deck nine (Amundsen) are the promenade and Scott's bar. A further deck up on deck ten (Columbus) is a wellness centre (gym) and beauty salon. One final deck up on eleven (Navigator) is the sun deck with whirlpools. The promenade goes round about two thirds of deck nine. At each end there are steps up to deck ten where you can walk round and back down to the prom. You can also walk all the way around deck ten but much of it is a narrow passage between the lifeboats and cabins. The promenade is traditional teak and quite wide so should be good for sun bathing (in better weather) but anywhere near the middle, on either side, there is a constant loud noise presumably from the air conditioning system. There is similar noise in the centre of the Columbus lounge on deck eight. As with other ships, all on-board spending is charged to a cruise card account which must be settled (by cash or card) on the last full day. Dining Our Rating - Average - just Marco Polo has two main restaurants, the Waldorf on deck six and Marco’s buffet on deck eight. Both were fairly noisy and hectic. Outside Marco’s there is an additional fair-weather food counter. These three options are free. There is also the Fusion Indian restaurant behind the Waldorf on deck six. We did not try the Fusion which costs extra so none of my comments apply to this restaurant. Bar drinks, at additional cost (unless you buy a package) are wine-waiter served at lunch and dinner in the Waldorf and in the evening in Marco’s. The Waldorf The evening meal in the Waldorf is the only time when formal dining, at an allocated table, with full waiter service occurs. There are no tables for two. Our request for a table for six was agreed in advance and a table allocation card was in our cabin on arrival. Despite this, we were initially allocated a table for eight but this was changed without problem. Joining us was one interesting couple and another ‘been everywhere and done everything’ dominating couple of the type so often found on cruises. Evening meals took a long time with noticeable gaps between the five courses - starter, soup, salad, main and desert followed by tea or coffee. The starters were small, little more than horderves and the sweet deserts were little bigger. There were also some oddities. When chicken tikka masala was on the menu, for example, it came with boiled rice, a portion of shredded cabbage and a popadom. No saag aloo or similar and no naan bread despite the chef being Indian. At breakfast we were directed to the next table the waiters decided to fill so we landed up with different numbers of different people each time. Tea, coffee and juice were waiter served but everything else was self-service. The buffet arrangements were chaotic. Various tables were laid with different types of food and there were three queuing points for fresh cooked eggs and toast. The queues were often long and slow but when we finally got eggs they were good especially the omelets. This can not be said for the bacon which was very streaky, dry and hard (common with buffets) or the sausages which were mealy. We only saw hash browns once but there were pieces of roast potato. There was porridge and a good range of cold options (meet, cheese, fruit, bread and cereals) but again with oddities. All the prepared fruit, for example, was named “fruit compote” and none of these compotes included grapefruit although half grape-fruits in their skins were available. Lunch arrangements were similar to breakfast but a little less chaotic. Tea and coffee were waiter served but then it was into the fray and hope you remembered where you were sitting. Marco’s Proper buffet counters here worked somewhat better than the Waldorf at breakfast and lunch and could be a lot quicker. It did, however, get very busy, especially at the beginning of meal times although there were quieter periods, usually towards the end of a meal time. There was no allocated seating. Most tables seated four but there were some tables for two. There was overflow space outside, around the pool and there was nothing to stop us wandering into the nearby Columbus Lounge or Palm Garden with plates of food but we did not need to resort to any of this. In fact, one of our most enjoyable and peaceful evening meals was at a table for two, next to a window in Marco’s. Waiters were always on hand whipping away empty dishes almost before we finished. Wine waiters wandered through Marco’s during dinner but it was difficult to spot them and even more difficult to get their attention. We did not see them at lunch time. The food on offer was very similar, if not identical, to that in the Waldorf. At breakfast there was a single station for fresh cooked eggs but it was almost impossible to find toast. On each side of Marco’s there are self-service hot drink and cold drink machines. A wide variety of teas and coffees are available with hot milk or cold skimmed milk all in reasonable sized mugs. These machines are free and available up to eleven at night. We and others frequently carried mugs of tea, coffee and milk the length of deck eight and down to our cabin. The coffee available in the bars may be a little better and only cost £1.80 but came in small cups. Outside Marco’s a small food counter served burger (or similar) and chips. Although outside, this was open most, if not every day of our nine days in October in northern Europe. It appeared to be the only place on the ship to serve chips. They were never an option on the restaurant menus - another oddity and a shame as they were good chips. More than once, I collected food from Marco’s buffet, then went outside to get chips and then went back inside to eat. Afternoon Tea This was available only in Marco’s and was disappointing. It was entirely self-service meaning that we needed to queue to get tea from the machine and then queue again for cakes etc from the buffet. Savoury options were reasonable but cakes were not the best. Apple strudel, for example, had about the right apple filling mix but was round and on a very hard short pastry base. Late Night Snacks These were a major disappointment. What was advertised as a buffet in all lounges was actually a waiter wandering round with a very limited selection of horderves. They were even smaller and less appetising than SAGA’s similar offerings which at least did not claim to be a buffet. Meal Times These were reasonably extended with breakfast usually available from 6am to 10am. Lunch from noon to 2pm and dinner from 5:45 to 10:30. Overall food experience Our last meal, effectively a beef Sunday roast was excellent and the quality of most of the food was good. Better than we got with Thomson but not as good as P&O or SAGA. Similar can be said about the service. It was difficult to fault but was not quite as good as P&O or SAGA possibly because many were less than fluent in English. Activities Our Rating - Poor This part of our review covers CruiseCritic’s “Enrichment Activities” and “Fitness & Recreation” ratings topics. There were activities but that was not what were were looking for or expecting from this cruise. There was a wellness centre and a beauty salon on deck ten (Columbus). There were also frequent quizzes and invitations to activities (table tennis, knitting etc) many of which were unmanaged, just suggestions that passengers met, for example, to play bridge. We attended a tours presentation which seemed little more than verbal instructions on how to fill in an application form. Service Our Rating - Very Good Our real rating would only be good but this is not a CruiseCritic option. All the staff seemed to be foreign, mostly eastern European and there was often difficulty in being understood. They were, however, faultlessly helpful and friendly. This ship has no launderette and irons are not allowed although some ignored this restriction. The laundry service, which we did not use, charges £1.70 to iron a shirt or £2.50 to wash and iron. A dress is £2.50 or £3.75 and trousers are £1.85 or £3.75. We did not try cabin service either, which looked a little pricey although continental breakfast appeared to be free. Entertainment Our Rating - Poor The “orchestra” (really a small band) and the singing, dancing troupe were probably not much different from those on other ships. A couple of the singers were not bad and the dancing was energetic. They performed nightly in the theatre. Members of the troupe also performed late at night in Scott’s bar. They called this cabaret but it was really just singing to recorded music. In addition there were classical and pop duos and a guest evening appearances from Lee Carroll (comedian), Savannah Shepherd (soprano) and a bagpipe band. The young soprano was good but sang to recorded music and the band was good if you like bagpipes. The classical duo comprised piano and violin and played evening spots in the Captain’s Club. The pianist read the music, not always accurately and played with little feeling. The violinist was better but did not join the pianist every night. The Excelsior (pop) duo comprised a keyboard player and singer. They also played evening spots but in Scott’s bar. The keyboard was supported by recorded or automatic backing and played ballroom dance sessions as well as popular songs from the 1930’s to date. He was sometimes joined by a girl singer, somewhat in the Cilla Black mode with good soft and not so good harsh notes. The keyboard player sang too with a pleasant high pitched voice but with a heavy accent. Only once did we hear both of them singing in the same song. There was no daytime entertainment. The grand pianos in most bars were not played. The earliest entertainment was the single performance from the soprano at 4:15. Port & Shore Excursions Our Rating - Average We had worked out in advance how to see the interesting sights without booking relatively expensive ship’s excursions. Leith, Scotland Our plan worked well here. Marco Polo docked almost alongside the Royal Yacht, the entrance to which is in a shopping complex also containing Debenhams and an M&S food-hall. We did this lot in the morning and the well organised Britannia tour, with audio guides, was well worth the £14 entrance fee. In the afternoon we tried a Majestic bus tour of Edinburgh, also with an audio tour and at a similar price. It was hop-on-hop-off but we stayed on and it was still interesting enough, conveniently dropping us off at the ship. Klaksvik and Torshavn, Faroes In both of these ports we just took the free shuttle-but into town and wandered round. Klaksvic is small but both had visitor centres. It was interesting enough to see the scenery and how the remote Faroese live. The CMV excursions on offer probably would not have been much more interesting. Lerwick, Shetland Unfortunately, this was cancelled for the all too common seas too high for tenders reason and the ship sailed to the next stop. Kirkwall, Orkney We arrived here a day early but too late in the morning for the single 10am Stagecoach bus tour we had planned. In the morning we took the free shuttle bus to town and visited the impressive Cathedral and a museum located just over the road. Both interesting and both free. Fortunately, on the previous day, we had been able to book the afternoon CMV tour 113002 to Skara Brae, Skaill House and the Ring of Brodgar. This cost £51 each but included the £6 ticket price for Skara Brae and the house, both worth seeing. We then were taken to Ring of Brodgar and had time to struggle around this ‘Stonehenge’ in high winds and poring rain. The tour also passed the Ness of Brodgar (site of the current archaeological revelations) and Scapa Flow although we did not see any Churchill Barriers. Our guide was knowledgable and spoke almost all the time during the coach transfers as well as at the sites. Although not cheep, the excursion was reasonable value, especially as, having missed the bus, there was probably no other way we could have seen even a few of the sights. Invergordon, Scotland This port was added as we had missed Lerwick. It was no compensation. There is little to see, the church was closed and the museum was just a random collection of old things. It was, however, a pleasant enough town in which to stretch the legs. There were CMV tours to places like Inverness where we have already been. Disembarkation Our Rating - Very Good We managed to get up, take a quiet breakfast and return to our cabin, all before 7am, the time we were asked to vacate. The usual wait to disembark did not seem as bad as on other ships. We had comfortable seats in the Captain’s Lounge and the tea and coffee machines (in Marco’s) were working. There was a bit of a queue to get off when our “colour” was called but the worst part was trying to find our cases in the several groups scattered all around the large hall. Our four cases (we overpacked) were each in a different area, so it took a considerable time to spot them. Having done that, it was only a short walk with a trolley to our car and we were on our way by about 9am. The following sections are our explanations for our other CruiseCritic ratings. Onboard Experience Our Rating - Average A daily programme was delivered to our cabin, usually during the preceding evening. This was about as good as on other ships but often had inaccuracies. “Britain Today” a two sheet, eight page, ships daily newspaper was available, free, from reception. This included press association news plus some international news and a crossword. There were two formal nights on the first and last full days, both at sea. The first included the usual ‘photo with the captain and a small glass of sparkling wine. This was followed by a brief presentation of the captain and top crew in the theatre. It was all OK but not as good as the “cocktail parties” offered by other cruise lines. The majority conformed to the dress code but it was not enforced. On formal nights there were some men without ties and even some trainers. On informal nights, there were one or two men in shorts in restaurants. Most passengers were English with an average age probably in the seventies. There were a lot of walking sticks and some mobility scooters though overall, they seemed somewhat more mobile than SAGA passengers. There were some younger passengers including a fair number from the USA. All seemed happy, polite and well behaved. We heard no complaints and the only issue was one passenger in Marco’s who claimed the seat we sat in was hers “but I forgot to put my bag there”! There were plenty of other seats at the time. There was queuing, sometimes, to get off or on the ship and at the buffets in both restaurants but these usually did not take long and there was no queuing for the theatre or elsewhere. Public Rooms Our Rating - Average The public rooms are listed under “Ship Information” above. Here are details about the main rooms. They are all on deck eight (Magellan) except for Scott's bar which is on deck nine (Amundsen). There was never a problem finding a comfortable seat in any of the public rooms. Marco Polo Lounge This is the theatre. It is a single story and rises towards the back (which is at the bow of the ship), helping the view of the stage. The seating is comfortable, on wide corridors, on which further seating is placed. If occupied, this further seating can block the view. At the rear is a bar from which waiters serve seated patrons. This bar was only open when there is a stage event. Captain’s Club This is the main bar and was open early morning till late. It stretches the width of the ship and is nearly as large as the theatre. There is a small central stage, opposite the bar, where evening classical music was played. Innocuous piped music played at other times. A small dance floor was unused. The comfortable seating is similar to the theatre with sofas around the edges and small arm chairs around small tables elsewhere. Palm Garden This is a smaller seating area, midships, on the starboard side. There is a piano which was not played. The seating was cushioned but less comfortable wicker chairs. There is no bar but there is wine water service from the adjoining Columbus lounge. Columbus Lounge This small bar has similar seating to the Captain’s Club. There are no windows in this bar and much of it was spoiled by a constant loud hum, presumably from the air conditioning system. The bar was open till late from 10am when at sea and 2pm when in a port. Scott's Bar This is the late night venue. It is one deck up from the other rooms, has similar comfortable seating to the Captain’s Lounge and was open all day but the bar did not open till 1pm when at sea or 2pm when in a port. There is a dance floor plus two stages, one used by the pop duo and the other for late night cabaret. During the day, this was probably the most peaceful public part of the ship. Bars In addition to the bars in the public rooms there is one outside Marco's buffet, next to the pool. Bar staff were reasonably attentive but their system sometimes resulted in long delays before the drinks arrived. Waiters took orders from us and other tables and delivered these to the barman who mixed drinks and made coffee while the waiter processed the preceding orders through the till, delivered them with receipts for signature, collected another set of orders and took these to the barman. After this, with luck, the waiter processed our drinks through the till and delivered them. It all worked well if you were not in a hurry. Going to a bar got the drinks quicker but there was still a wait for a waiter to arrive and work the till. Value for Money Our Rating - Average CMV cruises look good value. They cost less than most and a lot less than some but as they say, you get what you pay for. It is easy to see where some of the savings are made. First, Marco Polo and I believe CMV’s other ships, are quite small and old, so they do not have the facilities of newer, larger competitors. There is only one speciality restaurant and no high deck panoramic lounge but these are small prices to pay. Second, the crew are nearly all foreign which should not matter except that many have limited fluency in English. For us, this was just a little frustrating at times but not a problem. Third, there were no little extras. No sail-away party and meet the captain evening was just one glass of wine. The evening buffet did not exist. There were no nuts or nibbles at the bars and no chocolates on the pillow. Fourth, all the greenery and floral displays were artificial. Fifth, although there were free shuttle-buses in ports, there were no free tours. Sixth, the cabin, a premium ocean view, was smaller and less well fitted than similar cabins on other ships. The CMV premium drinks package for two of us at £368 was good value. Bitburger beer was £3.30 for a short pint and the wine was £3.20 to £5.60 with cocktails costing more. Our bar bills would have totalled five pence less than the cost of the package but we also had wine with most lunches and dinners plus a complimentary bottle of wine in the cabin and the gratuities covered, which otherwise would have been automatically charged at £63 each. Despite this package, we were charged £2.80 for a bottle of water opened in the cabin. Overall it was fair value for money but we would sooner pay a little more for higher standards. Summary Our Overall Rating - Average This cruise rates only just above poor. After a disastrous start, detailed above, much of our experience was good but not quite as good as other cruise lines offer. Even Thomson Spirit which did not impress, had a better cabin. Fellow passengers were a decent lot. Not too stuffy nor too scruffy. Old but not infirm and with a sprinkling of youth. The atmosphere on board was relaxed and friendly. In marked contrast to embarkation, disembarkation worked well, although even here, our experience was marred by needless scattering of our luggage. The itinerary was as expected but we only got to three of the four interesting island groups. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Recent return from Faroe Islands tour. Had been on the Marco Polo 20 years ago on Baltic Cruise. Enjoyed the overall experience.But found the ship to be very noisy operating. AVOID cabin 429 which has a small service lift next to it ... Read More
Recent return from Faroe Islands tour. Had been on the Marco Polo 20 years ago on Baltic Cruise. Enjoyed the overall experience.But found the ship to be very noisy operating. AVOID cabin 429 which has a small service lift next to it ,constant operating noise. We were relocated but would be wary of being able to find a quiet cabin . Good news food ok, good entertainment.Unable to dock at Shetland Islands due to bad weather this seems to happen quite often. Stopped at Invergordon instead so was able to visit Inverness. Drinks reasonably priced. Staff hardworking and helpful ,though breakfast in the Walford could be a rushed mad scramble. Security checks on and off ship very lax. Little scanning of bags on return to ship. Little to recommend the Faroe islands even more remote than I thought they would be. Overall good value for money but will go back to larger ships. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
I chose this trip for where it was going which was to Arkangel and Murmansk which was where the Russian convoys of the 2nd world war went to. Then it was back to Tilbury via Norway a 17 night trip in total. I was on deck 9 and for the ... Read More
I chose this trip for where it was going which was to Arkangel and Murmansk which was where the Russian convoys of the 2nd world war went to. Then it was back to Tilbury via Norway a 17 night trip in total. I was on deck 9 and for the first few days my cabin and corridors were getting fumes from the engines. The staff were very good, food was ok. entertainment not for me. My Cabin had twin beds but cabin hardly big enough for one. The ship needs a bit of repairing on the decking but crew kept paintwork up to scratch. I had VIP drinks package but I was still charged for a glass of Pinot Grigio .But be aware, even though onboard spending is in sterling, because they process their clients accounts abroad you could still incur charges even though you pay by Debit card. I have been on cruises before but I have never come across this charge before. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We Choose this cruise because the departure port was convenient and the itinerary looked interesting. The ship, despite its age was fine, as was our cabin. The food was good, although the chefs seemed to regard vegetables as something ... Read More
We Choose this cruise because the departure port was convenient and the itinerary looked interesting. The ship, despite its age was fine, as was our cabin. The food was good, although the chefs seemed to regard vegetables as something rare and precious. But even at 70 I felt a generation too young when compared to my fellow passengers many of whom were in their 90's. And many more acted as though they were. Queueing for a buffet seemed to confuse most of them, and getting into a tender, even for those fit enought to attempt it, was a slow and laboriouis process. The people in the adjoining cabin went to bed at about 10pm, and banged on the wall if we as much as spoke to each other after their bed time. Every morning at 8.00 we were disturbed by the tannoy, anouncing that we had arrived in port, or that tenders were waiting. Or even anouncing that their would be no announcements!!. But that didn't wake us as the cabin steward had done that at 7,00, hoovering outside our cabin. We enjoyed the ports of call but don't think it was worth the hastle it took to get us there and would have liked more onboard entertainment for those who elected, for whatever reason, not to go ashore or who were unable to do so. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
The Marco Polo is old, small and no frills but she doesn't try to be anything other than that. This was my 11th cruse and the smallest and oldest vessel I have sailed as my past ships have been on the super liners from RCI ... Read More
The Marco Polo is old, small and no frills but she doesn't try to be anything other than that. This was my 11th cruse and the smallest and oldest vessel I have sailed as my past ships have been on the super liners from RCI (majority), MSC, P+O etc. I really wasn't sure what to expect but I knew I had to keep expectations low and not compare to past ships. I wouldn't say I was pleasantly surprised but I was not disappointed either. The ship was slightly bigger than I anticipated and certainly showing her age, however it does look very tired and extremely dated. We took this cruise (Weekend to Honfleur) as it was good value and sailed from my home town (Cardiff) so being a cruise addict I really could not resist the chance to sail from a port just a few minutes drive from my home. Embarkation was very quick and organised. Our luggage was waiting outside the cabin door as soon as we boarded and this is certainly not something I am used to on the large ships so that was a pleasant surprise. The cabin (504) was ok. Dated and tired decor but cosy with a large window, good storage and usual size bathroom. The ship does not have balcony cabins and I really missed not having my own outside space to chill out. The MDR was a little drab and they certainly squeeze you in but it was pleasant enough. Food was fairly good, nothing fancy or luxurious but everything was tasty enough and service was good. Wine is reasonably priced with good wine from £15 a bottle and drinks at the various bars were also reasonable with cocktails of the day, beers and cider at £3.50 or more. The one thing I did not feel on this ship that I have done on RCI, NCL etc is the feeling of being ripped off. A feeling I especially get on the American ships. Entertainment was very good and the entertainment team were as good, if not better, than some of the bigger ships. Had they had a proper theater or better facilities than I honestly think they could be the best entertainment team I have seen at sea. As this was a weekend cruise we only had one port of call and that was Honfleur. This has to be one of the most beautiful ports I have ever been to. We were so lucky with stunning spring sunshine which complimented this picture perfect port. The ship docked close to the town but there were regular free shuttle buses throughout the day. As it was such a lovely day we chose to walk which took around 25min but it not the most picturesque so recommend the bus. All in all we had a very enjoyable weekend but this is certainly not a ship for me. A weekend is fine but I would not chose CMV for a holiday as they do not cater for what I want out of a cruise. I want a bit of luxury, more facilities, bigger ship and I don't want the feeling I am on a ferry. We are also in our early 40s and young minded but CMV clearly cater for the 70+ market. However it is good value of money, you pay for what you get and this ship really does not pretend to be anything else. So if a cheap weekend deal does come up again they I would certainly do it again, but for a weekend only! Few points I was not happy with - Pool and hot tubs close early, service was sometimes quite bad, especially from Eastern European bar staff, snacks not available all day so if you are a late sitting and you fancy a snack around 5pm forget it and more sun loungers needed on deck. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Enjoyed the overnight cruise from Greenock to Liverpool on the Marco Polo. Great value for money, very good food and okay entertainment, very reasonably priced drinks. This is an old ship but the public areas are well maintained but ... Read More
Enjoyed the overnight cruise from Greenock to Liverpool on the Marco Polo. Great value for money, very good food and okay entertainment, very reasonably priced drinks. This is an old ship but the public areas are well maintained but somewhat dated as you'd expect. The cabin we had (432) was a premier twin with two windows and ample storage space. Good spacious cabin with furniture showing a bit of wear and tear. But the bed ..... it was so hard it was like lying on a brick wall. If the bed had been better I'd have given an extra star and would have been more likely to cruise with CMV again. The disembarkation was quite slow given the fact that this is a small ship. Having docked at 9am I'd have thought you could have had everyone off quicker. The buffet breakfast in the dining room was okay but there really isn't enough room for people to get back and forward between tables, it was a bit of an assault course. For an overnight it was an enjoyable experience but we had to go to bed early the next evening in Liverpool to make up for lack of sleep on the ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Cabin was clean and comfortable but I wouldn't want to be on for a long cruise 14+ nights as wardrobe space was at a minimum. There was a good range of public areas and bars. The accommodation round the pool was good with a bar ... Read More
Cabin was clean and comfortable but I wouldn't want to be on for a long cruise 14+ nights as wardrobe space was at a minimum. There was a good range of public areas and bars. The accommodation round the pool was good with a bar and outdoor grill. The buffet restaurant was spoiled by the smokers right outside the door. If you were entering from outside you had to run the gauntlet through the smoke. All in all the cruise was enjoyable but what spoiled it for us was the crew. They were unhelpful, unfriendly and down right rude at times. From reception to shops and bars you hardly got smile let alone an acknowledgement. No one greeted you or smiled as you arrived to be served or when you passed them in the corridor. Maybe we are just spoiled by the fantastic crews on board Fred Olsen cruise lines who are happy to meet you, remember you by name and are pleasant, smiley and engaging. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Overall, I would say we were happy with this cruise from Rosyth to Longyearbyen then back again. I'm not convinced I would cruise again with CMV, it would depend on the itinerary. The Good: The price was reasonable as we got a ... Read More
Overall, I would say we were happy with this cruise from Rosyth to Longyearbyen then back again. I'm not convinced I would cruise again with CMV, it would depend on the itinerary. The Good: The price was reasonable as we got a last minute deal, yet had a better cabin than those who did not get the same deal... The cabin was clean. There was a good choice of food at the buffet. The Bad: The food was mostly always look-warm/under-cooked/overcooked The fish on the menu was not fresh. Keep your receipts to check later. The Ugly: Some of the staff obviously did not want to be there. e.g This is the only cruise I have been on to date where upon returning aboard we were met with complete silence from the staff scanning the boarding passes. I reported something serious to be told by staff they were busy and "not to worry as we are almost home". Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
My mum and I took this cruise as we wanted to see St Petersburg and embarking from Hull was ideal as we live on the North Yorkshire coast! Embarkation was carried out quickly and efficiently and our suitcases delivered to our cabins within ... Read More
My mum and I took this cruise as we wanted to see St Petersburg and embarking from Hull was ideal as we live on the North Yorkshire coast! Embarkation was carried out quickly and efficiently and our suitcases delivered to our cabins within 2 hours! We mostly ate in Marcos bistro, but all food was excellent with a vast variety! First night we spent watching my brothers tug firm tow the ship out into the Humber! The cabin was a superior plus twin ocean view, we were situated at the bow of the ship where movement was felt a little bit on the first night but we got used to it and the rest of the cruise was smooth! Plenty of activities on board with a programme left in our cabin each night by Denys our lovely, friendly cabin steward! It was mums Birthday on the cruise and she was left treats, a card and a lovely cake in the cabin that day! I also went to purchase a Marco Polo book for her special day at reception but was given to me free by the staff and the girl even got the Captain to sign it! At night we went to the shows in the Marco Polo lounge and entertainment acts given by Andy Leach and Bruce Thompson, very friendly, which were great, also spent time in the various bars on the ship, Captains Club, Scotts Bar and Cocktail bar! Loved the shore excursions to St Petersburg, St Peter and Pauls fort, the evening folk show and Catherine's palace! Our only disappointment was we missed our shore excursion to Stockholm and the Vasa as we were up early to meet everyone at our allocated time but missed our tender boat as the girl calling the shore excursions didn't clearly call our group, though she said she did and we were still sat there a hour later! I was annoyed but this was our only hiccup! We made our own way ashore at Copenhagen, Tallin and Helsinki! Beautiful places! As for the diversion to the port of Newcastle, wasn't great but what can you do, these things happen and CMV made sure we were all transported back to Hull and once there Taxis were organised for everyone! Lovely cruise, would definitley go again! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This was a 70th birthday present and it was a buy one get one free. Good food and service and being a small ship was not impersonal. You met a lot of people who were friendly and there were no children! We ended up not getting the ... Read More
This was a 70th birthday present and it was a buy one get one free. Good food and service and being a small ship was not impersonal. You met a lot of people who were friendly and there were no children! We ended up not getting the cruise we paid for. It was to the Scilly Isles, Rouen, Antwerp and then to Hull. We would be coached back to Cardiff from there. After leaving Rouen the Captain came over the speaker system to inform us that we would not be going to Antwerp after all as the weather was bad and the pilot refused to come on board. We could have hopefully stayed in Rouen another day or even found somewhere else in France to go, but no we ended up GOING TO DOVER!! Some of the people on the cruise got off at Dover and went home by train. We did go into Dover for something to do and it cost us £5 each return and there was nothing really there. There was a good selection of food and you could eat 4 times a day! with snacks after 12. The service was good and the staff were friendly. Our cabin steward [Dev] was very good and our cabin [though not good] was always kept clean and tidy and the beds turned down at night. For a first cruise it was a little disappointing. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We have just returned from a Marco Polo 6-night cruise, having sailed on her two times previously. All was as expected and food was as good as ever - however, and it's a BIG however, We were encouraged to book by CMV sales a Junior ... Read More
We have just returned from a Marco Polo 6-night cruise, having sailed on her two times previously. All was as expected and food was as good as ever - however, and it's a BIG however, We were encouraged to book by CMV sales a Junior Suite (811) as I was taking along a small collapsible mobility scooter which they said could be adequately stored in the "Walk-in Wardrobe" and also the cabin was "Much" larger than the DL (Deluxe Ocean View) cabin we were thinking of booking. Not only is there NO walk-in wardrobe in cabin 811, the cabin itself is much smaller than the DL grade of cabins. As advised, we complained to the Guest Relations Manager on day 1 of the cruise and on day 2, three officers (GRM, Hotel Director + another) visited our cabin and confirmed that the wardrobe is a standard one and the size of the cabin is not as described. They could also see that we had to store one of our suitcases behind the dressing table in front of the window, thus obscuring further the already obstructed view. I received two letters from the GRM whilst on-board and an assurance that we would be upgraded on our next cruise with them in September. Currently I am awaiting a return call from CMV about this, as all grades above the cabin we have booked have been sold - we already have free gratuities and a drinks package, so I wonder what they can offer us??? When I asked CMV what their opinion was regarding advertising (on their website) this cabin with a walk-in wardrobe and charging a premium to be in an inferior one compared to a DL grade, they had no reply. I shall be seeking legal advice on this matter if we do not get suitable compensation - also I will contact the powers that be that oversee all infringements regarding The Sale of Goods and Services Act. The cruise itself was average, mainly because of the inclement weather and the fact that Dover was substituted for Antwerp, which we have never visited before. I understand that the ship will be having a refit/upgrade in December and the Stabilizers are due for repair, a fact which was highlighted as she did not sail too well through the heavy seas as before. One hopes that cabin 811 is re-categorized to a lower grade as it is clearly not up to Junior Suite status. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
As a first point - this was our first cruise on a "regular" cruise liner, previously we've only sailed with Star Clippers, so we are used to smaller boats (200+ rather than 800 here). We chose this trip primarily because ... Read More
As a first point - this was our first cruise on a "regular" cruise liner, previously we've only sailed with Star Clippers, so we are used to smaller boats (200+ rather than 800 here). We chose this trip primarily because of the round-Britain itinerary and the cruise certainly delivered on that. Of all the stops only one - Inverness - was so-so and the remainder were interesting places well worth visiting. Trips were reasonable value allthough at several locations we did our own thing. Useful to know - English Heritage membership gets you into Edinburgh Castle for free, travelling independently to visit the Book of Kells in Dublin was MUCH cheaper than the organised trip and very easy (we were very glad that our trip booking was cancelled due to lack of numbers). Embarkation at Bristol through the giant shed that masquerades as a Cruise Terminal was a bit shambolic but car parking was conveniently close and we only had half an hours queueing to get through to the boat. First impressions of the boat were, yes it's old but its clean and well maintained. We found it stable - although we didn't have to contend with more than 3 metre seas - and reasonably quiet. Our cabin was roomy and beds were comfortable. Shower / bathroom a little tired perhaps but I've seen plenty worse in hotels.The cabin service stewards couldn't be faulted for helpfulness, friendliness and efficiency. Public rooms are comfortable. Bar prices seemed reasonable and service was prompt and friendly. We were less happy with the food. Not bad but not great and rather samey. Same menu in both the table service and self service restaurants. Some curious menu choices : quite a lot of curry (OK by me but some might not find this good) and on one evenng two dishes (prawn cocktail and one of the salad options) served with Marie Rose sauce. The gourmet evening - a taster menu with accompanying wines - didn't live up to its "Master Chef" aspirations and while it was enjoyable I wouldn't rate it as good value for £40 each extra). Often it seemed that the ambition of the chef outstripped the ability of the team to deliver, both on this menu and on other occasions. I don't think there's a place for a jar of pre-made sauce ona fine dining menu - just put it in a dish for heaven's sake, and if you're going to serve breseaola with a balsamic glaze make sure all the servings have it so chef doesn't have to apear from the kitchen with his squeezy bottle of glaze to fix a serving there on the table. Breakfast was the usual cheese / ham / cheese / bread / fruit / eggs / hot buffet etc but very much the same thing each day and lunch depressingly similar to breakfast. Afternoon tea - didn't really need this and thank goodness - had some of the driest and curliest sandwiches I've seen since the bad old days of British Railways station cafes. No tea or coffee making facilities in the cabin but tea is always available in the lounge and coffee too (though I'll confess to not liking the 'stewed in an urn' variety found almost everywhere). Espressos / americanos available from the bar cheaper than Costa, so nothing to complain about there. They run a two sittings for dinner arrangement with allocated tables. This was OK, except on our table one couple preferred to eat in the self-service almost every night meaning our table of eight was usually a spread out table of six. Sometimes its nice to eat with the folk you have met up with during the day. I must confess we prefer the approach used on Star Clippers which is based on open seating. Breakfast too in the table service restaurant is based on filling tables up as you enter, so its pretty hard to get a table for just the two of you. Breakfast, lunch or dinner in the self service restaurant could involve a wait for a table to become free. It wasn't that it was bad but it was the first cruise I've come back from without putting on any weight. Didn't try the entertainment - we weren't encouraged by off-key playing in the bar - but the lecture origramme (an RSPB bird expert) was interesting and the one we attended excellent. One problem with the boat was that due to the weather - a cool English spring - most of the passengers were inside almost all of the time. That made public areas crowded. It was dificult to find quiets spots to read or study (as we tend to). A crowded boat also tends to make people less conscious of other's sense of private space, so we often found people plonking down next to us without so much as an "Is this free?" Disembarkation for organised trips / independent travellers was shambolic. Part of the problems seem caused by the fact that with an elderly passenger list many folk need assistance and gangway / tender handling generally seemed a bit haphazard and not well coordinated with passenger announcements. Getting off at the end of the cruise was rather better organised and we were on our way within a couple of hours of docking and ahead of the schedule that we were given on board. Generally I didn't get the "one ship" feeling you get on Star Clippers. This may not be fair but it felt to me like the individual departments on board were just getting on with their own thing without really acting as a team for the benefit of the passengers. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Food was awful. Tasteless, and much like eating in a school cafeteria. Even the sitdown restaurant had the same food. Cabin was great, but we hardly slept. Don't know why as the beds were OK. Very old ship, and it's ... Read More
Food was awful. Tasteless, and much like eating in a school cafeteria. Even the sitdown restaurant had the same food. Cabin was great, but we hardly slept. Don't know why as the beds were OK. Very old ship, and it's showing it's age, although the staff do keep it clean. Staff fantastic, but wouldn't go on this line ever again. Embarkation was a breeze, and getting off the ship at the end went quicker than we expected. Very organized. Did not participate in entertainment so can't comment on that. Shore excursions were a mixed bag, some good, some not worth the money. In future think we'd do our own thing going ashore. On questioning the staff, it appears that some of the ports must bid to have a cruise ship dock!!!!! Belfast was a disappointment. Titanic experience was not worth the money, and the city sights, were quite depressing. Sad. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Frail elderly people, think my wife was the youngest on board apart from the staff. I am 68 & my wife is 60 but we are both very fit & healthy.Think most of the customers were well over 75+.Emergency helicopter at sea, rough seas ... Read More
Frail elderly people, think my wife was the youngest on board apart from the staff. I am 68 & my wife is 60 but we are both very fit & healthy.Think most of the customers were well over 75+.Emergency helicopter at sea, rough seas & elderly people do not mix. Food brilliant 5* well presented, cooked beautiful & most of all HOT!. Staff 10/10 could not fault them at all, staff as good as any of the 8 cruises we have been on. Ship far too small for us, well out dated, needs a complete revamp or sinking. Cabins are in need of gutting & bringing up to date.Beds too small, no dressing table for the ladies, shower jell & shampoo rubbish.Shows average, theatre not terraced correctly made it difficult to see the shows. No casino. Sun beds & chairs very uncomfortable. Would not go with Cruise & Maritime again much prefer larger more modern ships with lots more to do. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
The cabin, serving and bar staff were very good. The cabin was good, but freezing for the first 7, yes 7 days. This was despite reporting it to be cold everyday, Apparently someone fictionally meassured the temperature at 24 ( I wish), so ... Read More
The cabin, serving and bar staff were very good. The cabin was good, but freezing for the first 7, yes 7 days. This was despite reporting it to be cold everyday, Apparently someone fictionally meassured the temperature at 24 ( I wish), so they didn't need to act. I stamped my feet and this was after they had increased the temperature twice, they came and measured it in my pressence at 19. The man then adjusted it there and then and fixed it. My grievance is they didn't solve the problem 3 days earlier because they decided to ignore me. On the last day I met another person that had the same experience and he had been ill in a freezing room for 14 days. He had been told his room was 24 too. On my birthday we booked the special menu in what I found out later was called the garage by the staff, because it was so cold. When I think back I don't know why we stayed because it was shivery cold. They assured us it would warm up. The starters were lovely, soup delicious, but then they came with a cold main course. We were being served by the maitre de, so if he didn't make sure it was good then there isn't much hope for the rest. My husband is gluten free. The restaurant staff were good and made sure he got toast etc, but they just don't do the stuff you can get on Fred and P&O. If you're gluten free you wont get scones, pizzas and the little extras that make a holiday. I wont be using Cruise Maritime again Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We chose this cruise as it was convenient for us as we live in Bristol, and we thought the weather should be warm. Convenient it was, but the weather was far from good, which was no fault of the ship, obviously. However. I was in bed for 2 ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was convenient for us as we live in Bristol, and we thought the weather should be warm. Convenient it was, but the weather was far from good, which was no fault of the ship, obviously. However. I was in bed for 2 days with sea sickness. We were tossed around everywhere, which is one of the drawbacks of a small ship. We have been on bigger ships, and not even known were were on the water. It was most unpleasant, and worrying as you had no way of knowing what the next day would bring. It was extremely hard to keep your feet when walking about and ruined the whole experience for me. The staff, food and entertainment were excellent, as was our cabin. The weather in the Canaries was just passable, but it poured rain in Madeira. The drinks were very reasonably priced. Don't pay for the excursions. We had an hour on a tuk tuk in Madeira, it cost us £84. We saw nothing and spent 20 minutes looking round a shop. I complained to the excursion rep on the desk who was extremely rude and spoke to me as if I were a child. Complete rip off. We did however book as excursion at Coruna, before we sailed, which was great. Most ports have open topped buses for sight seeing. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
be very careful when you select all inclusive with Cruise and Maritime as it is not what it says.Firstly I am a beer drinker,and the only draught beer was german lager.If you wanted bitter or any other beer they only had cans and ... Read More
be very careful when you select all inclusive with Cruise and Maritime as it is not what it says.Firstly I am a beer drinker,and the only draught beer was german lager.If you wanted bitter or any other beer they only had cans and bottles,which were NOT inclusive,but you had to pay between £3 and £4 for them. Also the water in your room was not included (£2.20) a bottle,and if you wanted a coffee from the bar you had to pay for that too ! The food in the bar could have been better if it was hot,more often than not it was only warm. The best food was from the service on deck 8 during the lunch hour. The entertainment apart from the excellent show team,consisted mainly of quizes,not enough game shows etc. The staff,although very competent,could have been more friendly. The cabins,although small,were kept very clean and tidy. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
thought this short first cruise would be an ideal starter , As not experianced but found it a mix of old world charm and a posh butlins , I think i would investigate a ship and the cruise further before booking again ,, over all a ... Read More
thought this short first cruise would be an ideal starter , As not experianced but found it a mix of old world charm and a posh butlins , I think i would investigate a ship and the cruise further before booking again ,, over all a nice experiance , but avoid level five and cabin 238 as the engine noise and desel fumes were bad,also sleep was a problem at times , I was told could not be moved as ship was full ,i found staff at times over powering and gave little time to relax , if you took your eye of your plate cup or glass for 1 second it was removed , the times i had to get more cutlery or napkins was daft ,at the buffet peoples food and drinks were removed when they just nipped back for juice or tea of somthing ,, Somthing wrong with there training they were more like robots then humans this became a nusuance Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This ship is very tired and old and needs lots of updating. The waiting and bar staff are very hard workers, polite and friendly but the reception staff and excursions staff appear to be more aloof. The food apart from the cooked breakfast ... Read More
This ship is very tired and old and needs lots of updating. The waiting and bar staff are very hard workers, polite and friendly but the reception staff and excursions staff appear to be more aloof. The food apart from the cooked breakfast is of excellent quality but the cheap beans, sausage bacon etc lets it down. The cabin air conditioning was diabolical. The force of it was far too strong which could not be turned off, only the temperature could be adjusted. Several people seemed to be sneezing and coughing and openly complaining about the air conditioning which was far too forceful. The entertainment was OK but the guest singer Clarke was a let down, as he seems to be stuck in the 1980's. Sing or tell jokes, doing both does not work. There seems to be a problem in the bistro regarding not enough seats as people sit in there playing cards and reading. Many times I had to stand up as I could not find a seat when wanting to eat a meal. In the end I had to dress up and eat in the restaurant where I had a guaranteed seat. This was fine however dependent on excursions or port leaving times, to make the most of the stop offs I did not want to go back to the ship to eat at 6pm and would have liked to eat in the bistro later on. The dining room staff are good at getting people to sanitise their hands as some people did try to get in without using the gel. 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 3.4
Enrichment 4.0 3.3
Service 4.0 3.9
Value For Money 5.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.6

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