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
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
Sail Date: June 2008
Review Marco Polo -- North Cape Explorer 15/6/2008 - 27/6/2008 OVERVIEW We are a newly early retired couple, and although our cruising experience is of only 3 years, that time has involved extensive cruising of 3- 4 weeks each of those ... Read More
Review Marco Polo -- North Cape Explorer 15/6/2008 - 27/6/2008 OVERVIEW We are a newly early retired couple, and although our cruising experience is of only 3 years, that time has involved extensive cruising of 3- 4 weeks each of those years. We have previously sailed on Marco Polo for 3 weeks just 12 months ago. At that time this ship, (and it was the only ship in the fleet) was owned and operated by Orient Lines, which in turn was owned by NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) Our previous reservations on this ship were initiated by the itinerary offered, and the actual on-board experience left little to be desired. The condition of this old ship, and the great crew added to our positive experience. This year, the Marco Polo saw an ownership change to a Greek consortium, which now leases the ship to Germanys Transocean Tours. Part of the year, the ship will sail from England, and part year from Germany. We noted that when the change was mooted, that many basic itineraries of the Marco Polo would remain the same, and since we were keen to do this North Cape, and a Baltics Cruise this year, we decided to try the ship under this new ownership. Of course, we knew that with the change of owners, other changes would take place, but uncertain of what they would be. We are very easy going, and easy to please people, who believe in giving everyone a fair go. We know that there are thousands of Marco Polo fans, and know of many through groups such as this. Some have heartfelt expressed that the Marco Polo is now dead since NCL don't own it. We have never written and published a review previously, but were asked on the boards to do so next time we sailed on Marco Polo. So, this is our report. Some people had expressed a view that MP was about to die. How untrue that perception is. I would hazard a guess that this old girl has seen changes of owners and crew many many times over. It is different, thats for sure, but change is not always negative. We attempt here to be unbiased and not confusing our wonderful old experiences, with this new one. We only mention the differences, so that old MP'ers can picture what we mean. BOOKING - RESERVATION In our few years of booking cruises, we have, without fail, experienced problems along the way. "On shore" Staff generally convey a complete lack of knowledge about the products they are selling, and an enquiry can get 3 different answers from 3 different people. Emails are never answered, and trying to contact Customer Service, almost impossible. Complete indifference?? Well, booking with Transocean UK's South Quay Travel/Cruise and Maritime Services, is a breath of fresh air. Since we live in another country in a vastly different time zone, email is our best means of communication. The different people we dealt with at Transocean UK, ALWAYS, without fail, replied to any query, concern, and situation we had, before payment, after payment and both pre and post cruise. We left a messages at night, and we had a reply waiting when we awoke next morning! We cannot remember EVER giving anyone a perfect score for ANYTHING, as we feel there is always room for improvement. Not so here. Congratulations, and thank you Transocean UK. EMBARKATION We chose the Transocean coach transfer from Victoria London to the Port at Tilbury. This must be booked early in the reservation process. That was a great option for us, because our luggage was loaded onto the bus, and the next time we saw it, was in our cabin later in the afternoon. The cost was also extremely effective on the pocket at a cost of GBP 10 RETURN. After arrival at the port it was just a matter of minutes before our room steward(ess) showed us to our cabin, and we headed of to find some sustenance, after a long morning. THE SHIP Another year older since we were last on board, and many changes of whim or convenience and maybe law, have been made by the operators. New passengers experiencing MP would not notice. The Casino is no longer,and replaced by a new (additional) lounge/bar. The names of most of the bars, lounges and decks have been changed, which caused us confusion at times, so talking among ourselves, we mostly used the names that we were familiar with. Although Transocean has only had the ship for a couple of months, we feel that the time and money spent doing the above changes, would have been better spent on priority maintenance. Obviously someones priorities out of whack, but the neglect is obviously that of NCL after they had sealed a sale. Of particular note is the condition of the back pool deck. Holes, cracks, missing bungs etc. One can see where short sections have been properly and professionally replaced over the years, but now it is becoming a cobbled together mess. Bits of ply wood nailed over some holes, and some rotting plank sections that are dangerous. (inch deep holes and cracks). Also noticeable, although not as pressing as an issue, is the "mix and unmatch" carpet arrangements. Rather than replacing worn carpets, only pieces have been replaced in a patchwork manner. Stairs, for instance, have a patchwork of two different blues, amongst other threadbare unreplaced tread sections. A few other things need attention, but we should give Transocean a bit of time to get around to them before comment.They should do it sooner rather than later, before too many negatives. Passengers are talking about them, apart from possible injury. THE CREW The crew under the new ownership has now changed from predominantly Filipino, (as are other NCL ships), to mostly Eastern European. They are helpful and friendly, although many (apart from officers), appear to be new in this industry. English is a second or third language to many, and there is difficulty for them sometimes to understand all the different accents and dialects they have to encounter. It seems as if there a quite a few waitstaff that are apprentices, or are students doing a temporary work. We eventually get the message through without drama. Our room stewardess was great. always one step ahead of us, and preempted our needs. When we disappeared, she instinctively must have know, and did a wonderful job in looking after us from day 1. Bar Waitstaff were there when you wanted them, and not "in your face" every 5 minutes as suffered on some previous cruises. DINING and THE FOOD Main Dining Room is now called "Waldorf" and the buffet is "Marco's Bistro" The "hard line" formal, informal, and casual is also now adjusting to a more relaxed form as it is on many lines. The dress code is now published as "suggested" for that evening. Those who wish to "dress up" are free to do so. It seems that not a lot are interested in such things on an itinerary like this one. Most people we spoke to felt the same, in that they are here to adventure in the world, and not to do things they can do at home. Our main dining room waiter was very efficient, and always got it right. Others at times, often made mistakes with delivering wrong food to wrong tables, or did not deliver what was ordered. The menu always had plenty of choices that should have satisfied everyone. There was basically a fish, a red meat, and a white meat dish, plus vegetarian option, at each meal time. Food was served promptly, was well presented, was hot (or cold when it should be), and at dinner, samples were displayed on a table to view before entering the dining room. We only ate in the buffet when we only wanted a very light lunch or breakfast. Breakfast in the dining room is confusing with part buffet, and part service. One learns processes during the cruise. And procedures changed on our last day. It seemed that different staff had different procedures, it was a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing. It could be language and communication difficulties between staff. On the first day, no one seemed to offer to take an order until one asked one of the many waiters running around with coffee, tea and juices. If, for instance you want fried eggs rather than scrambled from the buffet, you were supposed to ask a waiter. He then brought you eggs. You were told to go to the buffet for anything else. One then waits through the line to get bacon, tomato and any other offerings. In the process, you find that there is no toast there, only bread. You then return to your table, and later informed that you order toast from a waiter, or they automatically place it on your table. On the last day, the waiter taking the order ASKS what we wanted on the plate with the eggs, and did all that work for us. We hope they can sort this minor, but annoying communication problem. A major issue with us is the Hygiene enforcement / encouragement now on this ship. On all previous cruises, on first embarkation, and each time re-boarding, we have been asked to use the hand sanitizers at the gangway. Not so on Marco Polo these days, in fact all through the cruise this facility was never available on reentry. sanitizers are at entry doors to restaurants, but with no one manning the doors or the start of buffet lines we witnessed that they were mostly unused. To staff, we reported empty sanitizers plus people seen leaving toilets and marching straight to self serve. Personally experienced person yesterday push past me whilst I was using the device, and go straight to handling bread rolls before choosing one!!!! Since now that there are more self serve open table lines at lunch in main restaurant, we can see problems looming. Have all our other ships been wrong? Or is this non sanitizer thing a British/European thing? ENTERTAINMENT Showroom Shows Outstanding - Brilliant - Fantastic - Best Ever Not many words can describe the troupe of Russian performers that have been hired to do shows in the main (ex Ambassador) lounge. (now Marco Polo Lounge). The 15 or so singers & dancers are so very obviously a very highly trained and rehearsed troupe, giving two performances per night,and a different show each night. Energy plus, with multiple and glitzy costumes, gave the lounge a professionalism of a caliber we have not seen here,or on any other ship before. Although we have previously enjoyed shows on MP, (and they were good), these guys make the others seem insignificant. They are backed by the Marco Polo Orchestra which is a band of 5 - 6 members. Truly, top class worlds best, kinda stuff! Lounge entertainment Mostly great, including performances from two brilliant and professional Russian girls. A pianist and violinist, playing both as solo acts and as a duo. They provided a pleasant break from the somewhat loud additional entertainment you often get. At night, the entertainment in the Scotts Bar (ex Charleston) was from excelsior Trio. This groups lead vocals are provided by Kate Sharman, a singer whose arrangements and voice bring cruisers a unique and pleasant way to end a day. She copes with all genres of music extremely well, and created quite a fan base on this cruise, and I'm sure we will see her on this ship for as long as she wants to be on board. CD and the Activities team Cruise Director, Richard Sykes has it pretty easy with a great entertainment line up and his very active activity staff. There should be no reason to complain about any area of the whole teams work. All the normal cruise ship stuff, like quizzes, TV type games, tournaments of different types, and of course BINGO. Richard also organized guest speakers, and led a few amusing Question/Answer sessions on different subjects in the showroom on some afternoons, particularly sea-days. Also, some daytime and late night entertainment included Richard himself. He is a great pianist/entertainer in his own right. It was a refreshing change for us to learn first up that ALL bingo proceeds are returned to the Winners of each game session. The secrecy of how much rake off in fees commission, and the actual percentage return to winners does not become an issue. At a cost of GBP5 per session, most pay outs were actually larger than what was being returned on our previous cruises, where people were spending up to $US80 EACH per session to play. Highlight of entertainment was partying on back deck with the band, in the sunshine, and sailing away at 2-3am in the morning. PORTS The itinerary is the reason we cruise, so we can only report that we enjoyed the ports each in their own special way. Highlights of the cruise were to be, and were, cruising the Fiords, the North Cape with the Midnight sun (which actually did not set until 3 days later on our way back south). Also of particular note was Cruising Svartisen Glacier. SHIPS EXCURSIONS Although many excursions were offered, we only opted for two. Almost everyone did the North Cape Midnight one, since that was the main reason for our cruise. We did not hear any negative comments from anyone doing excursions, apart from how expensive they were. That seems to be a complaint that we hear on each cruise, but with Norway having the economy they enjoy, EVERYTHING is expensive here. THE EXPERIENCE SUMMARY Positives Still a great ship to us, as we particularly like the size, and the itineraries available. The reservation/ Customer service based out of London is great. By far the best we have ever had from any cruise ship line. The North Cape Itinerary was all as expected. Excursions were as described and sold. Food was good to very good. No rip off bingo. Entertainment was the best ever we have experienced on a cruise ship. Negatives. Condition and wear and tear in parts of ship. One wonders and hopes that attention is being given to the parts we CANT see. Communication between service/wait staff themselves and their management must be wanting. This in turn comes down to confused customers as well. Sanitation may not be an issue to the cruise ship, but it is to us. We simply do not trust other passengers Hygiene habits, and Transocean should not trust them either. Obvious enforcement/encouragement is a must. No more happy hours. This used to get party time going each evening, and on sailaways! Sad! We normally have signed up for (wireless) internet access. New provider has priced themselves out of our market, and looks like most others too. The internet cafe used to be packed most days. We certainly didn't sign up, and every time we have walked past the cafe, there has obviously been no takers at the new pricing. WILL WE CRUISE TRANSOCEAN AGAIN?? Yes, we have no regrets in what we have just experienced, and we will be returning in 3 weeks time to cruise the Baltic Capitals Itinerary. We just hope that we can see improvement in our areas of concern after the new team gets it more "together" Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
We were concerned that the cruise would not go ahead after the previous cruise was hit by a D&V virus. All went great, ship was very clean, our cabin great for our needs, near the bar and food!! The bars were varied and cattered for ... Read More
We were concerned that the cruise would not go ahead after the previous cruise was hit by a D&V virus. All went great, ship was very clean, our cabin great for our needs, near the bar and food!! The bars were varied and cattered for all, the service came with a smile, special thanks to Silvyja. Drinks reasonably priced and in sterling. Entertainment was great and varied, from stage shows, classical music to bingo and quiz shows. Food was fantastic either in the silver service Waldorf, or the more informal Marco's bistro. We had most of our meals from Marco's as it was a pleasure to go in, help yourself and take the food onto the deck to eat. Lots of activities were provided but we did not participate much in these as the weather was so good we preferred staying on deck. There was another D&V outbreak, 13 people I believe, which resulted in escurtions being cancelled in Helsinki(you could still walk in) and Marco's being closed for two day, putting too much pressure on the Waldorff. Cannot blame the ship or the crew, I would guess they maybe over-reacted after the previous cruise. The ship was kept spotlessly clean and any bug being passed around was as a result of cruise passengers poor personal hygiene. Destinations superb, excurtions very good, could not have asked for more. A great experience, cannot wait to go back on the Marco Polo. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
We had been looking to do the Baltic Capitals Cruise since returning from the Northern Cape Cruise in 2007. However our "usual" cruise line, Travelscope went bust so we were looking for a cruise line with a ship of similar ... Read More
We had been looking to do the Baltic Capitals Cruise since returning from the Northern Cape Cruise in 2007. However our "usual" cruise line, Travelscope went bust so we were looking for a cruise line with a ship of similar proportions to the Van Gogh. We did not fancy one of the tower block style ships. Transocean Cruises ship Marco Polo seemed to be what we were looking for so we booked the cruise directly with them when the brochure appeared. The booking was easy and trouble free. Paperwork being received as and when necessary. We were concerned when the ship had the problems on the cruise prior to ours, but not unduly so as we were of the opinion that the company couldn't afford a second cruise to be abandoned with the consequent financial implications and damage to reputation. I think we were aboard what was probably the cleanest ship on the 7 seas. We travelled to the port of Tilbury from Victoria coach station on the coach laid on by Transocean. This went very well and departed on time. Booking in at Tilbury was quick and easy and we were on board within 40 mins of arriving at Tilbury. Our outside cabin on Pacific deck, the main passenger deck, was clean and light and larger than the hotel room in London where we had spent the previous night. Disembarkation was as fast as it could be bearing in mind the requirements of unloading luggage and satisfying customs etc. The whole cruise went very well. I enjoyed every minute. There was a little disappointment when excursions were cancelled in Helsinki due to a small but contained outbreak of some sort of sickness bug. I feel this was down in some extent to some passenger's personal hygiene and no fault of the ship at all as there were plenty of sanitization stations around the ship and crew on hand willing to squirt gel. One passenger was observed licking her fingers after using the tongs in the Marco Polo Bistro and then using  tongs on a different food!! The onboard activities gave a wide choice of things to do throughout the day and the evening entertainment was nothing short of spectacular. Colourful , energetic, very well produced and presented by the largely Eastern European band , ballet and singers supplemented by a wonderful Cruise Director, Richard Sykes, ably supported by Nick McBride. Additional entertainment was also excellent, Katy Setterfield (as Dusty Springfield) winner of  the TV show "The One and Only" and three lovely Irish ladies "She 3" Shore excursions were varied and provided the opportunity to see the main sights and sites of cities especially where there was only a short time in port. The St Petersburg day time excursions we went on were rushed, and St Petersburg itself was full of tourists!! Very busy at the Peterhof Palace.All the tour guides we had were very knowledgable and had an excellent command of English The food on board was impeccable as was the service. A choice of restaurants meant you could be pampered for every meal in The Waldorf  or serve yourself in the Marco Polo Bistro. Food was always hot and a varied menu meant if you went hungry it was no ones fault but your own. All the Crew from the Captain, a friendly Russian chappy, to the cabin stewards, always spoke and were always friendly and willing to help. I even learned the Ukrainian word for lady bird (although I have forgotten it now) and I helped the Ukrainian steward learn the English for this little creature he found on his shirt whilst on deck!! I was very sorry to leave the ship and will be looking to cruise on the Marco Polo again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
2009 was a difficult year for my wife and I. In February my wife's mother had a stroke and after a harrowing week she died in hospital. My 95 year old father was ailing and we had to visit him three times a week. In June he had a ... Read More
2009 was a difficult year for my wife and I. In February my wife's mother had a stroke and after a harrowing week she died in hospital. My 95 year old father was ailing and we had to visit him three times a week. In June he had a fall, went into hospital and never recovered. As executor of my father's will a long period of hassle ensued but finally by November all was sorted. We had intended to go to Spain for January but just by chance we saw an advert for a Marco Polo cruise to the Caribbean. We both said, 'Yes, let's do it!'. Price and timing was fine so off we went. We took a taxi to Tilbury as the cost of parking was twice as much as the fare! Without anything to compare, I thought the Marco Polo was a good ship. Fairly old fashioned but very neat, clean and tidy. Our cabin, though not top of the range, was very comfortable and perfectly adequate for us. Staff on board were mainly from Eastern Europe but everyone we came across was very friendly and eager to please. The trip across the Atlantic seemed to take ages but we were never bored as there were plenty of activities laid on. Food was fine, although there were the usual moans from some people who maybe are never satisfied. Once in the Caribbean the excursions were mostly quite good, though perhaps a little pricey. As first timers I was very impressed. We made some lovely friends and have visited them in France since the cruise. Would I cruise again? Yes, definitely. Marco Polo? Yes, if there are better ships then standards are very high all round. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was our first cruise and all the passengers onboard had been enthralled by the Joanna Lumley programme in her search for the Northern Lights, we were all there for the same reason, to see the magical lights. The embarkation was very ... Read More
This was our first cruise and all the passengers onboard had been enthralled by the Joanna Lumley programme in her search for the Northern Lights, we were all there for the same reason, to see the magical lights. The embarkation was very smooth and organised, we were on the ship with a coffee within 30 minutes of arriving at Tilbury. We did not know what to expect and we were apprehensive but we need not have been, everything on board was first class, the food and service was excellent with plenty of choice at Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, entertainment was very entertaining, the entertainment team put on some great shows, don't know how they remember all the routines! Ship was very clean and all the crew work incredibly hard to make your cruise perfect,the multi-national crew are very friendly, courteous and speak very good English. The cabins were cleaned to a high standard daily and were comfortable but basic,there is so much to do on board you only really want to sleep there. We found the delivery of the next day's daily programme to our cabin very useful with what's on and when facilities are open on board as well as weather and excursion details. The excursions were well organised and interesting but a little expensive, we would have gone into the towns independently if we had known it would be in walking distance,a lesson learnt for next time. When the Northern Lights appeared late at night the cruise director put an announcement over the tannoy and we all went up on deck to view the sight(some of us were in bed, we were thankful for this as we may not have seen them) Highlights for us were the onboard quizzes,food,impeccable staff,entertainment and the Ice Hotel in Alta, very magical, would definitely recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
I have just read a review by a passenger, Philip, on the same cruise as me. We visitied Rouen, Guernsey and the Scilly Isles. Although I agree with him that the eastern European staff were not the friendliest that is the only real negative ... Read More
I have just read a review by a passenger, Philip, on the same cruise as me. We visitied Rouen, Guernsey and the Scilly Isles. Although I agree with him that the eastern European staff were not the friendliest that is the only real negative in my opinion. If he wanted luxury then he should have paid a luxury price. I saw this cruise advertised on Travel Zoo for £299 per person and the third person travelled for £99. At that price - who wouldn't?? I spoke to loads of people who paid the same. In the past I worked on P&O cruises for 4.5 yrs and decided to try cruising as a passenger. I travelled with my parents sharing an inboard 3 birth cabin. The cabin had ample room for us all - we didn't even use all the drawers! The beds were comfortable and the cabin was cleaned every day to a good standard. We tended to have breakfast and lunch in the buffet restaurant - Marco Polo. There was always plenty of choice and the only food that was cold was the salad! OK it wasn't the more luxurious choice as you expect on a luxury cruise liner - but we were aware of the low price we had paid. In my opinion it was good value. The evening meals in the main restaurant were VERY good - No complaints there. AS for the one curry that was served - it was lovely. We had the house wine every night. Our waiting staff were pleasant enough but I did see some very miserable looking waiters/waitresses. In the bars the staff were a bit surly too. Couldn't understand why. When ordering a spirit ask for a can of mixer to go with it. You get charged the same for a top up as for a can. Drinks not over priced. Tea and coffee were reasonably priced. Entertainment was generally good. Didn't go to all the shows - chose the ones we thought we'd like. Very good comedian/magician - Andy Leach. British/Australian entertainment staff very friendly, cruise director a bit aloof though. Weather was great and 3 good ports of call. All in all a very good cruise and excellent value for money. Rouen - fantastic views along The Seine and a lovely city to stroll around. Lovely arcitecture and a great market on a Sunday. Guernsey was lovely. Get the local bus No 3 or 7, they do a tour around the island for 60p. If you get off somewhere to have a look its only another 60p to get back on - a cheap day out and a great way to get a feel for the place Scilly Isles (St Mary's). I fell in love with this place - so quaint. A fishing village feel about it. Lovely views from the Old Garrison. Some good nick nacky shops too. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
We are just back home from the 'springtime gardens' cruise on the Marco Polo. We couldn't believe our good fortune in managing to get a late deal on this ship. The itinerary provided an overnight stay in Rouen after sailing ... Read More
We are just back home from the 'springtime gardens' cruise on the Marco Polo. We couldn't believe our good fortune in managing to get a late deal on this ship. The itinerary provided an overnight stay in Rouen after sailing up the Seine - what a treat. Then on to Guernsey followed by a full day on St Mary on the Isles of Scilly. Even the lower grade cabins on the Marco Polo are of a fairly good size with very good storage and very comfortable beds. The lounges are spacious with a range of entertainment in the evenings. The theatre shows were mostly musical presentations with one comedian/magician, excellent costumes and choreography. Full marks to the cruise director and his team. Cleanliness of the ship was paramount All members of the crew were hard working and at all times pleasant. Now to the food; a very good choice in the Waldorf's restaurant and individual requests met. Didn't use the Bistro so no comments here. To summaries: No complaints about this short cruise and a big thank you for making our stay memorable ,will definitely consider the Marco Polo again Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
We both had a lovely time considering this was our first cruise . Visiting Rouen after sailing up the Seine could not complain about that as we sunned ourselves on the whirlpool deck ( what a treat ) . Then the next port of call was ... Read More
We both had a lovely time considering this was our first cruise . Visiting Rouen after sailing up the Seine could not complain about that as we sunned ourselves on the whirlpool deck ( what a treat ) . Then the next port of call was Guernsey having a guided tour with cream teas, the driver of the coach was very informative and funny. The following day we are at the Isles of Scilly visiting the Abbey Garden's on the Island of Tresco. This would have been better for a much longer trip not enough time to see everything. We moved cabins as our cabin was very noisy apart from that everything was very clean crew were very hard working and some were helpful . The Waldorf's restaurant was good had the same menu most nights fish pork or chicken. Lots of water at the table not sure where it came from. All the entertainment was very good in the evening. I'm sorry to say there has been a down side which has spoilt a lovely cruise. When we arrived home we both came down with NOROVIRUS both started at the same time. I don't think we will be going on another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
I found the experience onboard the Marco Polo one of partuclular interest. Having worked onboard many ships with many cruise lines I was interested to see how the smaller operators are coping with their competitors. I have to say that the ... Read More
I found the experience onboard the Marco Polo one of partuclular interest. Having worked onboard many ships with many cruise lines I was interested to see how the smaller operators are coping with their competitors. I have to say that the staff during embarkation where very helpful, especially as Tilbury does not have many facilities for Cruise Line passengers. The ship is old and a little tired, from the outside it really looks tired. Internally it is a little better than expected, nice, clean and relatively in good repair. The staff are very keen to help and seem to work very well together, not like some of the bigger cruise ships where the intemacy has gone between the staff. Our cabin was an Inside Twin and again more than adequate for a short cruise. I am glad to say there was no diesel or garbage smells blowing around the corridors or through the AC which can be expected from older ships. The Lido food was for me very limited in selection and at times a bit of a fight to get to. The Dining however was much better although not exceptional. Entertainment was good, and drinks fairly priced. I would return for another mini cruise but anything over 4 days may be a struggle as it is a limited ship with what it has to offer. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
From start to finish,this was 1st class.As a former naval/merchant naval officer,when my wife booked this cruise,I thought the whole time I was going to be on this ship I would be looking to criticise what I was about experience. Much to ... Read More
From start to finish,this was 1st class.As a former naval/merchant naval officer,when my wife booked this cruise,I thought the whole time I was going to be on this ship I would be looking to criticise what I was about experience. Much to my surprise and delight"we"thoroughly enjoyed every moment.The service was superb from the Captain all the way down through the crew in every department,it was impossible to criticise anyone or service.The evening entertainment(different every night)had to be seen to be believed.The shows were worthy of the West-End theatres,costumes,singers and dancers(and this all-inclusive),the food was delicious,waiters and waitresses all cheerful and happy,as were the bar staff.So much going on in the different entertainment rooms you were spoilt for choice.Delightful cabin stewardess,spotlessly clean and turned the beds down each evening and left a delightful animal(made out of towels)on the bed.We toured the Norwegian Fjords and that is a fabulous sight to be seen.From the time of booking(with Newmarket Travel)to landing back home the organisation was smooth and well run.We travelled from Liverpool by coach to London Victoria coach station and vice-verse.On arrival in Victoria homeward bound the guide saw the labels on our cases and said,"are you for the Marco Polo",I said,"love to,but,unfortunately were on the way home".That's a feeling you only get when you have thoroughly enjoyed yourselves.WELL DONE TO ALL. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
The staff on the Marco Polo were beyond excellent...they were so helpful and cheerful it was a delight. The only exception were the Reception staff who were surly in comparison. Our cabin was superb...we could only afford a Category 3, ... Read More
The staff on the Marco Polo were beyond excellent...they were so helpful and cheerful it was a delight. The only exception were the Reception staff who were surly in comparison. Our cabin was superb...we could only afford a Category 3, but to our delight we were upgraded to a category 9, free of charge, as we had booked many months ago, so people who got last minute deals could have the cheaper cabins. Only problem was the couple in Cabin 717 who were often having 'domestics' which we could hear thrugh the wall! (well we could hear the woman, the poor bloke never got a look in!) Andrey our cabin steward was attentive and helpful. The food was great, but we were shocked at the greed of the British Pensioners on board. At 46 & 47 years, we were among the youngest 20% on board, but they could out-eat us with no problem. To be honest at times the ship looked like a floating care home there were so many oldies! There were a number of Dutch couples on board who were lovely and chatted to us, but a lot of the elderly Brits did nothing but moan the whole trip. Yes we made some nice friends,especially among the whale & bird watchers, but a lot of the passengers were snobby & aloof and I wondered why they had come at all! My husband said it was the most relaxing holiday he had ever had and the staff were the most helpful of anywhere we had been in the past. A couple of the excursions were a bit of a disappointment, (especially The Arctic Nature of Spitsbergen which was advertised as a 3 mile walk but was in fact about 300 yards) but the on board lectures by Gloria Barnett were excellent. All in all we had a superb holiday to a wonderful location, assisted by an amazing team of staff for whom nothing was too much trouble. Any improvements that could be made? 1. A heated swimming pool would have made our holiday complete. 2. A less crowded ship, but then the prices would be higher 3. Better sound insulation between the cabins. 4.24 hour tea & coffee machines on each floor Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
First of all I will tell you a little about myself and my husband. I am 29 and he is 31, we have been married for 4 years and normally try to get away once or twice a year. The normal sort of break we do are city breaks, normally the ... Read More
First of all I will tell you a little about myself and my husband. I am 29 and he is 31, we have been married for 4 years and normally try to get away once or twice a year. The normal sort of break we do are city breaks, normally the cheaper the better but we don't mind splashing out for something we think is worth it. We chose this particular cruise based on the itinery, it had ports of call that we desperately wanted to see so seemed like the perfect holiday for us. Before we travelled I was a little sceptical about the cruise itself as it seemed too good to be true, all those cities for the price we were paying. I was also concered about our ages and the fact that cruises in general tend to attract slightly older travellers (especially cruises such as this that are child free). At times we did get slightly irritated by fellow passengers general rudeness towards us (especially the ones that assumed we were staff because we were younger) but all in all we didn't let it affect our overall experience. In fact we had an absolutely amazing time! The ship itself is gorgeous and very well maintained. The staff clearly take pride in their work, they were friendly and paid great attention to detail. Our room was cleaned twice a day and our room steward was always on hand and very very friendly. The waiting and bar staff all spoke brilliant English and went out of their way to ensure that we were well looked after. The entertainment, admin and all other members of staff seemed very professional and approachable also. Our toilet broke about halfway through but it was fixed quickly and efficiently and caused us no inconvenience at all. Neither of us have a bad word to say about any of the staff at all. The ship itself is fairly small but in a friendly way. Theres certainly enough to do to keep you entertained and a nice selection of places to sit and relax with a drink or to read a book etc. However at times it was quite hard to find a spare seat as people tended to spread their belongings out over chairs/sunloungers even when they werent actually using them. The only real fault that I can find with the whole experience is the swimming pool, its certainly not very appealing. It was a lot smaller than I expected and whilst I am sure it was perfectly clean it just didn't make me want to go for a swim - even on the hottest of days! I heard a few other people making similar comments too. I will quickly mention food and drink too. I am such a fussy eater so I always like to hear what people have to say about it before I travel. The food was of a good standard although largely not to my liking (I really am very fussy though) my husband however was in absolute heaven! I am sure he doubled in size over the period of the cruise. The drinks were lovely and fairly reasonably priced. We did feel the cans of coke were a little over priced at £2.05 each but the rest of the drinks menu seemed reasonable, the cocktails especially seemed well priced. All in all we can't recommend the Marco Polo enough!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2010
We have wanted to see Norway and the fjords for some time but have never found a package that suits us. When browsing at the end of July last year, we came across availability with the Marco Polo. having looked at cruising on this ship ... Read More
We have wanted to see Norway and the fjords for some time but have never found a package that suits us. When browsing at the end of July last year, we came across availability with the Marco Polo. having looked at cruising on this ship before but not being able to book, we decided to go for it.As neither of us have cruised before, we were not sure what to expect. Our cabin was quite large and very comfortable. Although we were on a lower deck, things were not too bad. On embarkation, our luggage arrived at the cabin before we did. I was worried about access as I use a walkign stick, but I had no problems at all, and the staff were very good with help to get on & off the tenders.All the staff were very friendly and there was maybe just one staff member who was perhaps not quite so frindly, but no complaints. We ate in the Waldorf every evening as the food was very good. The portion sizes about right and quality was excellent. Our waiter was really good and we had no trouble with plates being taken early but we did note that dirty plates were never left too long. As someone else noted, we were given hand cleansing gel whenever we entered the ship and when going in to the Waldorf or the cafe bar.When out on deck, we kept our tea mugs which we obtained from the tea bar on deck. There were some issues with the lack of cups on one day, but we were told that it was due to the dishwasher breaking down. In my opinion, if everyone had kept their own mug rather than expecting a new one every time, then this problem would have been eased substantially.All the ports of call were interesting, and we went on 4 organised tours. They were expensive, but taking into account the sailing times, we did not want to be on a private tour over a long distance with the possibility of the ship leaving port prior to our return. In Edinburgh (Leith) we got off the ship early and walked round the corner to see the Britannia early and this worked well, as when we came out everyone was queueing. We went backt ot he ship for lunch, then went back out in the afternoon, back on ship for dinner and then out again in the evening. We both had one day tickets £3 each which allowed us unrestricted travel on buses throughout the day.As I suffer with travel sickness, I was concerned about the sailing. I took one travel pill on the first day, but did not need any more after that. The only time I felt a little odd was on the formal captain's dinner evening when I went to the spa to have my hair styled (they did a fantastic job).Looking back, the only thing we found to be a little annoying was the tendering. As our cabin was very close to the exit of the ship, it was a bit of a pain having to go up to the lounge to get the tickets and then wait and have to go back down to exit. It was good coming back on board as we were right by the cabin.On the whole we really enjoyed our trip. The staff were all friendly and as a joint effort they kept the ship spotless. There were always a senior crew member walking round and letting staff know if something was not up to standard.At the present time, it is unlikely that we would cruise again, but that is purely because we found the tendering and time restrictions did not suit us, but we woudl recommend the Marco Polo & CMV to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Not having been on a cruise before we were a bit sceptical and as the people in our party did not want to fly anywhere this was the ideal solution .A cruise for 15 nights to Morocco and the Canary Islands places we had never been before ... Read More
Not having been on a cruise before we were a bit sceptical and as the people in our party did not want to fly anywhere this was the ideal solution .A cruise for 15 nights to Morocco and the Canary Islands places we had never been before .We booked this only three weeks before we went and for a bargain price of £669 per person for an ocean view cabin .Leaving from Tilbury gave us an hour's run to the port which was great. We found that we could not fault either the embarkation or the ship itself, being that it was built in the 1960's it was most comfortable and we never felt any rough movement even going through the Bay Of Biscay where it can sometimes get rough, it was kept very clean and we had to use hand gel on entry in to any of the eating places which was a good idea since the ship was full to capacity. Just over 800 people which by today's standards is small. The Dining room and service was five star and as for the waiters nothing was too much trouble .The food was excellent and presented in a way Master Chef would be proud of and never repeated during the 15 day cruise .I liked the fact that we sat with new people during breakfast and lunch and we got to meet some very nice people .Some of the seasoned cruisers said that this was not as good as they had experienced in the past but I always say speak as you find I thought that the drinks on board were just around normal London pub prices I personally don't think that £3.10 for a pint is excessive nor £4.75 for a large glass of red wine which was around a third of a bottle .we did have to pay for water in the cabin and one could say this was a bit pricey but having thought of the logistics getting this on board perhaps not .It was open to all to pre buy a drinks package in advance which gave us wine and water and saved us a few pounds I also think that the gratuity charged of £150 per cabin was justified and saved us having to tip in person, the onboard staff earned every penny. The entertainment was first class and the dance troupe worked very hard having to put on two shows a night both for the early diners and the later sitting .the costumes and performances were comparable to a west end show There was always something going on with a quiz or space lecture which was awe inspiring . The on-shore excursions were very good and we really did enjoy the Souk and Fantasia in Morocco and the Fire Mountains in Lanzarote but they only lasted half a day could have been longer .we did have one of our guides that found it a bit hard to explain herself in English and we had to concentrate to hear correctly .There were certain things that we weren't interested in like a trip to an embroidery factory but then again you can't please everybody .I think that if we go that route again we would get a taxi and do our own thing. Now for the downside. We were very surprised that smoking on board was allowed especially in one of the main bars the Captain's Cabin .This was most unpleasant and should be banned instantly . As this bar was the main route through to the Marco Polo lounge it was like walking though a fog of smoke and then smelling of cigarette smoke while we were enjoying the entertainment was just horrible .The swimming pool was just too small and never had water in it most of the time and there was a great lack of chairs on the sun decks .People were taking chairs out on deck from the bistro which left diners with nowhere to sit. The crew should have stopped the practice of sun bed reservation as well. All in all a great holiday and would go again without hesitation especially getting a good price by booking at the last minute. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
My wife and I have just completed a 36 day Christmas Caribbean Cruise on the Marco Polo departing Tilbury 6th December and arriving back on 10th January. We had the advantage of missing most of the Icelandic conditions experienced in the ... Read More
My wife and I have just completed a 36 day Christmas Caribbean Cruise on the Marco Polo departing Tilbury 6th December and arriving back on 10th January. We had the advantage of missing most of the Icelandic conditions experienced in the UK over that period - an added bonus! but I do wish to congratulate the Captain and his crew on making this trip so memorable. It was truly fantastic. Previous critics of Marco Polo cruises have complained about the price of drinks. Yes, they were a few pence dearer than I would expect to pay in my "local" but if you drink on board everyday, don't be surprised if you get a large bill at the end of the cruise!! And OK, the Cabin water was expensive at £2.20 per bottle but you were not stopped from bringing on board your own water. Many passengers did so. The Waldorf Restaurant served superb food in excellent surroundings and for those who preferred something more informal, they could dine in the Bistro. I tended to take evening meals in the Waldorf but for other meals I ate either in the Bistro or on deck. Daytime entertainment was pitched at the right level - carpet bowls (even if my bowls did run down the stairs), Bean Bag Bucket Bowls, Bagatelle and Jackkalo - all well attended as was Shuffleboard and the excellent guest lectures. There were numerous quiz's, a card room and keep fit classes. In other words something for everyone and coffee/tea was available throughout the day until about 22.00. Evening shows were really well done and everyone involved deserves a round of applause. So what was the downside of this fabulous trip - perhaps they need a bigger bagatelle board. I didn't watch a lot of TV/Films partly because it took me the whole of the trip to master the controls; some of the TVs could do with an upgrade. Also I would have preferred to see some cheese available at lunch-times. But doesn't all this sound petty. The fact is from top to bottom or the other way round, every member of the cruise worked their socks off to make this trip enjoyable (the captain however would not let anyone beat him at table tennis - he should take it a little easier!) One word of warning. it didn't affect me but I understand the Ships Sick Bay charges exorbitant fees for medical attention and they want the money up front (so I was told ). Another very expensive item is the cost of on board photographs. The ship must have thrown away hundreds of photo's which would have been very saleable at a more realistic price. After all, it wasn't as though the pictures were being taken by David Bailey. But i am not complaining. I sailed on a great little ship with a great crew, superb food, and with terrific entertainment. Would I go again on the Marco Polo - most definitely yes. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Used the coach from Victoria without any problem. Fairly long queue for checking in at Tilbury but we were on last coach of 4 at around same time so to be expected. First impressions of Ship were very good - nice and clean and shown ... Read More
Used the coach from Victoria without any problem. Fairly long queue for checking in at Tilbury but we were on last coach of 4 at around same time so to be expected. First impressions of Ship were very good - nice and clean and shown to cabin straight away. As advised in advance the Orinoco was doubtful and there was a letter to confirm this. Revised schedule added two Caribbean islands ( although Grenada had to be swapped to St Lucia due to forecast high swell which would have made tendering difficult and too dangerous )The Amazon and Devils Island were highlights of this wonderful itinerary. Waldorf food was excellent with good choice considering the price of this cruise,with friendly waiters. Ours was from Burma and excellent. The self service Marcos was very busy at times with lack of seating only on a few occasions at Lunch and Breakfast but then only when the weather prevented use of the outside area. Sometimes a shortage of cups / glasses but if you take one of those insulated cups you can also use this for ice! Swimming pool out of use in the Amazon due to silt and regulations. Lots of varied things to do during the days at sea although we mostly just laze away on a sunbed. Entertainment Team very good and good evening shows by the resident singers / dancers and musicians. Richard the cruise director leads from the front and probably the best we have seen. Compared to other cruises we have been on the drink prices are excessive. £3:15 for a "large" beer which was only 40 CL. Not many people drinking in the bars at these prices and many said if it had been more reasonable they would have used the bars more. Water in cabin £2:20 a bottle !! Excursions very expensive as they are on most cruise lines - we did own thing bar one trip as we wanted to guarantee seeing the meeting of the waters. Some people complained it rained alot ( IN A RAIN FORREST !! ) Our cabin stewardess deck 7 stbd fwd was first class and always very cheerful. Disembarkation was smooth enough as we were on the Victoria Coach so amongst first off apart from those who took own luggage with them. I think others might have had a long wait though. Lots of people requested tipping forms as like us they prefer to tip the Cabin Steward and Waiter personally. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
I booked the cruise enticed by the prospect of visiting two great rivers.I was not alone in that. The destinations are rare enough not to warrant an option on the web site drop down dialogue box which is why I have used ... Read More
I booked the cruise enticed by the prospect of visiting two great rivers.I was not alone in that. The destinations are rare enough not to warrant an option on the web site drop down dialogue box which is why I have used 'blank' Naively I failed to do any research both before booking and subsequently so I only have myself to blame when Cruise and Maritime Voyages cleverly wrote just before Christmas warning that 'political uncertainty' in Venezuela meant there was a chance we would not sail into Puerto Ordaz. Note not that we would not sail to Venezuela just that we might not. I ignored the warning but was still shocked to be told after embarkation we would not be going. We were told an alternative Caribbean route to include Grenada had been arranged and Richard Sykes the efficient Cruise Director had the nerve to say....believe me I have been to Puerto Ordaz and Grenada is a much nicer place. That excellent example of professional 'spin' is what makes me uncomfortable with Cruise and Maritime Voyages business model particularly when subsequently there was another excuse and we did not put into Grenada. Cruise and Maritime Voyages are run on the 'Ryan Air' business model and by that I mean a low attractive base price then everything else chargeable right down to bottled water at £2.20p,laundry £1 a handkerchief,in cabin service and Internet access. Shore excursions are very expensive as are all drinks. The medical room is a separate franchised profit centre as is the photo unit. The pool a really nice deep pool with a deep and shallow end was emptied of water most days of the cruise (I was told the reasons but still missed use of the facility) To many reasons for saying no (including no hot drinks before 7am most days). It is all about money these days I guess. Grenada was taken off the itinerary as it was claimed the weather was to bad to put in there....hhhhmm. We had to leave Porta Del Garda early because of adverse weather (the story put about was so alarmist that one of the guests took fright and flew home) the reality was sunshine and a flat calm crossing. As with the loss of Grenada the fact that the Marco Polo then had to cruise slowly to burn up the land time lost adds weight to the theory that decisions are made for financial reasons saving berthing fees and fuel. The Amazon estuary ? my god it is huge 150 miles wide and I was excited standing on the deck as we made our approach. Great until I realised we were not sailing into the Amazon at all but Marajo Bay (well alright then the Amazon Estuary) never mind I thought we will continue West and then up the Breves Channel. Wrong! the next day we sailed back East into the Atlantic Ocean around the sublime Marajo Island before turning West again into the main Amazon stem still more than 80 miles wide at that point. Then we set off at a rate of knots Westerly until we reached Manaus which is not on the Amazon at all but the north bank of the wonderful river Negra. I said earlier do research. To late now the Amazon of my boyhood dreams is not what I saw We travelled 900 miles West into a huge river system (more than 1000 tributaries and 12 major rivers), navigable as far West as Iquitos in Peru we got as far as Manaus and because of the distance there and back we went like the clappers yes we saw some major cities but more than half of the transit was in the dark and I saw nothing of this wonderful river until the dawn. And yet and yet perhaps Amazon 'discovery' is the right description. More than 130 different birds were authenticated by the knowledgeable cruisers,river dolphins(both types),flying fish,caimans, butterflies and moths of brilliant hues in abundance and perhaps most perfect of all the sublime Regina Lily with thanks to one of the Dutch cruisers I now know the Amazon tribal legend associated with the plant. I said at the beginning of this piece it was a wonderful cruise and so it was. I love the Marco Polo A sturdy Russian Ice breaker originally she has been much modified over the years and is for me a 'proper' ship that I felt comfortable with. The crew were without exception polite and helpful,our cabin was kept in perfect order,the food varied and enjoyable. The ship was kept immaculately clean Entertainment ? well that is a personal preference issue For me for a small ship the standard was surprisingly high and all presentations showed real commitment too please. Over amplified ?..well maybe but certainly exuberant The cruise director Richard Sykes worked like a trooper was always approachable a real asset to the cruise experience. I thoroughly enjoyed all three of the lecturers on board. Each a distinct 'personality' added enormously to my pleasure in the cruise. Tony Rice proved a wonder with a camera as well as sharing his oceanic knowledge so freely. Unselfishly he has made more than 100 of his wonderful wild life images available to the cruisers what better souvenir ? Steve Ragnell on listening to my disappointment that he had to cancel his lecture on Wolfe and the battle for Quebec sat me down and ran through the whole thing for me in his time...fabulous. I also have him to thank for one of the highlights (for me) of the cruise He has a fine tenor voice and a love of Captain James Cook and sea shanties. Steve organised a number of cruisers into a choir and they then gave us a concert singing lustily a number of sea shanties. I loved that. Stephen Smith patiently told me to mend my ways and evolve while listening to my complaint that he missed Charles Penrose (he of the laughing policeman fame) Marco Polo was running full (cleverly Cruise and Maritime Voyages had merged the following cruise with a similar itinerary to be made by the sister ship Countess) a lean mean money making machine eh ? there were issues of space and some friction when cups and food ran out and/or tables were not available. Mostly the cruisers were a joy to spend time with and I have learned a lot from many of them. There are exceptions (a personal view) one upsetting incident involved the berating of a lady cruiser who was enjoying an early morning walk on deck. Out jumped a large male cruiser complaining that she was keeping his wife awake and he 'was going to do something about it' (Where I was bought up shouting at an unescorted lady was a hanging offence) Well he did and 'walking' was added to the standard jogging and power walking (I would be first to agree they are antisocial activities early) excluded activities before 8am. I hope he can live with himself. There were also 'problems' with the reserving of tables in open seating areas for the meeting room accommodation on Marco Polo running full could not keep up with demand. In the main though there was lots of good humour and give and take which made the cruise such a pleasure. I would close by saying if small ship cruising suits your style then look no further that Cruise and Maritime Voyages. Yes there are issues but the standard overall is more than acceptable. Keith Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
This was our first cruise and therefore have nothing to compare it with but we were very satisfied with our holiday. We sailed from Tilbury so no airports to contend with. The cabin was a good size with plenty of storage. The beds were ... Read More
This was our first cruise and therefore have nothing to compare it with but we were very satisfied with our holiday. We sailed from Tilbury so no airports to contend with. The cabin was a good size with plenty of storage. The beds were comfortable and the en-suite quite adequate.We found all staff consistently pleasant and attentive even when some passengers were quite rude to them. The ship was spotlessly clean in all areas and great trouble was taken to remind diners to cleanse their hands prior to entering the restaurants. The food was excellent. We mostly ate in the Waldorf Restaurant as the self service bistro tended to be a bit draughty as the doors to the deck were either side of it. The food we did eat there was delicious and always hot. The only criticism being the frequent lack of mugs at the drinks counters. This was an irritating problem that should be so easy to resolve - I wonder if it has?The entertainers were professional and very talented young people. There was enough variety to meet most people's needs from beautifully played classical & easy listening to show-time and the velvet voiced Carmen. The lectures were interesting too. The Cruise Director, Richard, deserves a mention for his versatility, enthusiasm and professionalism. The lounge areas were very comfortable. Drinks were reasonable to buy too, what we would call 'London prices'.I would endorse the previous critic's comment and was disappointed that I didn't go to 'The Wilderness' to see the lights. Those that went had a spectacular experience. I hadn't realised that light pollution from the ship and harbour,etc would interfere with seeing the lights at their best. However we did enjoy our other excursions especially the dog sledging. The excursions did seem expensive but then Norway is an expensive country. Again, we were disappointed that we missed 3 of our ports of call but I don't know how this could have been avoided as the weather was so bad at one point that the Captain had to take the advice of the Norwegian pilots and,for our safety and comfort, we had to anchor in a fjord and therefore had to make up lost time to return to Tilbury on-time for the next cruise. There were the usual moaners complaining about this too - we were in the Arctic Ocean in February for goodness sake! I wonder who built the snowman on deck and his cheeky companions late one night? Only the snowman remained the next morning! Maybe a River Cruise would be calmer??!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
We arrived at Tilbury at 3.30pm on Wednesday 6 April 2011, quickly unloading our three suit cases at the baggage handling building. We were then told where to park and went straight into the Reception building where we were immediately ... Read More
We arrived at Tilbury at 3.30pm on Wednesday 6 April 2011, quickly unloading our three suit cases at the baggage handling building. We were then told where to park and went straight into the Reception building where we were immediately processed (X-ray machines photo annd boarding card etc.) We were met at the gangway by a senior officer who instructed one of his staff to show us to our cabin, insisting on taking the hand luggage with him. As we arrived at cabin 205 our suitcases were already waiting. We have never known luggage to be delivered so promptly. We entered cabin 205 and were pleasantly surprised by it. It is true it was small with two single beds and a small chest of drawers in between with a mirror, plus a large wardrobe which housed a modern electronic safe. The shower room was of a standard size. We would like to call the cabin bijou as it was completely functional with plenty of space for our needs for a short cruise. Incidentally the lock on the door of the cabin was the old fashioned key rather than the more modern card type. We unpacked and listened for the announcements that we should all meet in the Marco Polo lounge at 4.45pm for muster drill. We found this slightly different as after initial instructions we all went out on deck to meet our lifeboat and to be inspected by the captain to ensure that we knew where to go in case of emergency. We took the early sitting for dinner at 6pm. Second sitting was 8.30 allowing plenty of time to sit and chat after dinner in the Waldorf restaurant. Our table number was 34 a table for six people and our waiters were Freddy and Dawson who looked after us extremely well. Nothing was too much trouble, they even joked and laughed about everything. The food throughout the cruise for dinner was excellent, beautifully served with up to five courses should you require it. Freddy often asked whether we would like an extra helping. We declined but he would have willingly brought more food. We cannot praise them both enough for their caring attitude in making our dinner experience perfect.We chose to have breakfast and lunch in the self service bistro Marco's. The food was very good. A lot of it seemed to be quality home cooking, eg tapioca, bread and butter, apple crumble puddings. Main courses such as sausage and mash, pork cutlets, beef stew and fish were available in a variety of dishes. There was also a pizza bar on the deck outside serving pizzas, beef burgers and chips. We likened it to quality cafeteria style with paper knapkins and self service cutlery rather than tables laid formally. Tea and coffee was available all day but only in mugs. The station inside with a good selection of teas was inadequate for the number of passengers and had long queues at busy times, although there was a coffee station by the pizza bar outside that wasn't as available and had less selection. If it had been raining this could not have been used. During mealtimes waiters served tea and coffee in addition. The hot water and coffee were served out of two large stainless steel urns but only had ground coffee. Decaffeinated was available in sachets only. There were no sachets of regular instant coffee and no hot chocolate, horlicks or other bedtime drinks available at night as there often are on other cruise ships.The entertainment was of an excellent standard, but there were no cinema or gambling facilities. There was the usual yard of gold and silver chain available but no art auctions. The shops were pleasant and adequately stocked. Duty free prices were good for drink and tobacco products, although perfumes and after shave seemed expensive even with a 20% special offer on certain days. Bar prices were just over public house prices and in some cases cheaper. Wine started at a reasonable £14 per bottle and was cheaper to buy than by the glass.We felt this was a no frills cruise. There were photographs taken if required but were never pushed. The words "No thank you" were met with a smile and readily accepted. As with all cruises photographs were not the cheapest product, but remain a good momento of your holiday with a DVD available at £22. Incidentally this DVD ran all day long on a TV channel in your cabin as well as on screens around the ship. The general condition of the ship is excellent but does not allow for wheelchair use very readily, as there are lots of stairs and bulkheads to negotiate between areas which would make it difficult to get round the whole ship. The general attitude of the staff was extremely good. Everyone replied to the best of their ability when asked a question and were friendly and polite, always insisting you go first. With this cruise around Britain, passengers were ferried ashore by tender at four out of the seven ports visited. In our opinion if the water was choppy, unless you were good on your feet it seemed dangerous and there was a number incidents of people being injured.So to sum up we found this to be a basic cruise which was good value for money with no frills. There were no cocktails served at the welcoming formal night just sparkling wine or orange juice. There were paper knapkins at breakfast and lunchtime, there was no customary chocolate on the pillow at night, nor replacement of cabin toiletries or in fact clean dry towels every day. Generally speaking the positives far outweighed a few negatives. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and would recommend it and we will definitely cruise again with Cruise Maritime Voyages recommending the Marco Polo ship. We have yet to try her sister ship the Ocean Countess.We hope you have found our review of a helpful nature. Of course there are lots of things that we have not had the space or time to comment on as with most cruises. We have tried to pick out some interesting facts to give an overall picture. The ports of call on this trip had plenty of excursions available to suit all tastes and capability and did not seem that expensive. We preferred to be independent travellers exploring on our own. All the ports are well documented in guide books and do not need our inexperienced opinions on them. We visited Inverness, Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Dublin, St Mary's on the Scilly Isles, St Peter Port in Guernsey and Honfleur. We had chosen this cruise because of the ports on the itinerary and were not disappointed. They were all delightful and we enjoyed each one. Reviewed by Peter and Pippa (rent15c), age group late 50's. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
LAST MINUTE DEAL - Didn't know what to expect.ARRIVAL - Directed to park the car and went straight through to book in, had photos taken cases taken without any problems. Escorted to our cabins and within an hour our cases ... Read More
LAST MINUTE DEAL - Didn't know what to expect.ARRIVAL - Directed to park the car and went straight through to book in, had photos taken cases taken without any problems. Escorted to our cabins and within an hour our cases arrived.CABIN INNER - Good size large wardrobe plenty of hangers and was able to store case without falling over them, well lite, plenty of soaps etc.DRILL - was done on first day so over and done with leaving the rest of the holiday for enjoyment.SHIP - very clean and well kept windows were constantly washed and painting of ship at every portSTAFF - cannot do enough to please, they go out of there way to make you feel welcome a lovely friendly atmosphere aboard the ship, all staff of all nations get on very well.ENTERTAINMENT - largest I have seen and very well thought outFOOD/RESTAURANTS - food excellent very good choiceOVERALL - We have been on 6 cruises and this has got to be the best value for money, staff are friendly and work very hard at keeping the customer happy, pity the customer couldn't do the same. I have heard complaints over the most stupid things. CUSOMERS - also need to be aware of their abilities especially when going on trips regarding TENDERS. Was always announced that they needed to be fit an able, people insisted on getting on TENDERS when they were on WALKING FRAMES, WHEELCHAIRS and carrying walking sticks, staff sometimes 4-6 had to lift them on and off, this was a Health & Safety risk and held up the more able people. I have nothing against Disability but there comes a time when you have to admit you are unable to do something. Also they were a risk in the Self Service are with Walking Frames helping themselves to food especially when there was a Restaurant where they could be served. We were very lucky to have been on a cruise when the weather was good if it had been bad weather and the SHIP was being swayed then there would have been a lot of accidents with customers on Walking Frames.FURTHER CRUISES - I would definitely go on another cruise with this company as they know how to look after their customers. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
We arrived at Tilbury much earlier than expected, but our baggage was taken on board straight away and the terminal was more peaceful than an airport. We were welcomed by our cabin steward and shown to our upgraded cabin and in no time ... Read More
We arrived at Tilbury much earlier than expected, but our baggage was taken on board straight away and the terminal was more peaceful than an airport. We were welcomed by our cabin steward and shown to our upgraded cabin and in no time were having lunch in the bistro. Food on board wasa good - we mostl;y ate in the restaurant where we had excellent waiter service and a wide choice of food. We sat at the same table for dinner with 6 ladies whom we got to know well over the holiday. The ship (Marco Polo) was a lovely 820 passenger vessal with mainly Eastern European or Indian crew and a Greek captain. Everyone was helpful. We visited Invergordon, and Orkney (for prehistoric Skara Brae and other sites), but the gales prevented us landing on th4e Hebrides, which was a disappointment. However, we ended up in Belfast and went to the Giant's causeway instead, so that was good. Then Dublin (Book of Kells and Guinness), next our favourite place in Britain, the Isles of Scilly, then Guernsey (walked round Herm), Portland Bill and back to Tilbury. All in all, a most memorable holiday and one which did us both the world of good. An unexpected bonus was the presence of Chris Dean's Syd Lawrence Big Band for the whole tour. The entertainment every night was very good. Recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
The staff on the Marco Polo do everything they can to make the experience an enjoyable one. To say that they work hard is an gross understatement. I saw staff on stage entertaining to a very high standard one moment, and serving drinks on ... Read More
The staff on the Marco Polo do everything they can to make the experience an enjoyable one. To say that they work hard is an gross understatement. I saw staff on stage entertaining to a very high standard one moment, and serving drinks on another deck just moments afterward. Whatever they are paid should be doubled !The Fjords were stunning and we were very impressed with the choice and variation of ports of call.Norway can be very expensive, but you can save money by shopping around for trips while visiting places rather than booking ahead or on board.Food was of a high standard with a good selection and service also very good.Cabins are basic but comfortable, and who goes on a cruise to sit in a cabin anyhow ? Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
We were a little dubious about sailing on the Marco Polo as we had read several unfavourable reviews. We were pleasantly surprised. Embarkation was organised, straight into cabin. The cabin was compact but fine - bigger than some we have ... Read More
We were a little dubious about sailing on the Marco Polo as we had read several unfavourable reviews. We were pleasantly surprised. Embarkation was organised, straight into cabin. The cabin was compact but fine - bigger than some we have had. The entertainment was great. The food was good - not 5-star but then we didn't expect it. The staff were generally very pleasant ahd helpful. All areas were clean. As it was a smaller ship (800 passengers)there wasn't far to walk to anywhere and you were soon able to find your way around. One problem we had was with the cabin - the engine noise was bad. By the end of the holiday we had got used to it. Best to try and book a cbin no. not be given one! The other problem we had was the weather which the cruise line couldn't do anything about but they turned things around very quickly when we had to divert to other ports because of the stormy seas - we were in Scotland at the time! We would certainly book on the Marco Polo again and it certainly was good value for money 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 3.2
Service 4.0 3.9
Value For Money 5.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.6

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