In July 2013 we saw this cruise advertised and snapped it up,attracted by the itinerary and the price. We drove the 25 miles to North Shields and embarkation was easy and well organised. The port is small with easy car parking after dropping off the cases. After a short wait, we checked in, got our cards and got on the boat.
We were welcomed and taken straight to our small cabin; our cases quickly arrived. We had just started to unpack and the drill was called. This was a little chaotic with crew shouting out cabin numbers but all ended well. The cabin has lots of drawers for our clothes but rather few, cheap random coat hangers and our cases would only just fit at the foot of our bed. We knew that the boat has small cabins but we didn't even have a chair! The en-suite shower and toilet was v. clean and modern with a supply of lotions. We found the A/c responsive and efficient. BUT . . .the beds were small, cramped and offering poor support. The cruising world has, I fear, moved on from the days of the slightly up-rated single bunk. Higher quality is needed even for a single bunk style bed!
The food was excellent and suited us fine. It didn't suit the traditional English food lovers from comments some made to us but there was a good selection and dinner ( early sitting ) was quickly served by the waiters, Ukranian, like the majority of the hotel staff and crew. They have a wine waiter and he quickly got the drinks to us. I had ordered a wine and water package and was well pleased with the Italian wine - and its cost. We had continental breakfast in our room each day until the last. Lunch was taken in the buffet every day where the selection was really good. The staff cleared off the tables quickly and it was only the day at sea when it was a little crowded. The weather was variable and it wasn't always possible to eat outside but many did when the sun arrived.
The Faroe Islands ( Thorhaven ) were interesting but hidden for a time under mist and drizzle. We don't do excursions as we like to stay fairly close to the ship and got ashore and wandered around the little capital and it was fascinating. A little shopping with much Scandinavian hand knitted wooly garments and just a general look around as the weather improved was just right for us. The rest of the itinerary which had attracted us, Ullapool, Lerwick and Kirkwall, were relaxing ports for a gentle stroll but all needed more sunshine than we got - no-one's fault!
The lounges were a little shabby in places and due for refurbishment; the entertainment was typical British cruise - dancers jumping around, arm waving etc. to familiar music at high volume. The comedian did 2 nights and was excellent and well appreciated. A small ship allows passengers to meet the entertainers informally around or on a tender and it makes for a v. friendly ambiance.
There are some small boutiques and a store for sweets, souvenirs, duty free but this is limited naturally as it is a small boat.
Disembarkaton was very smooth and we got off earlier than predicted with our baggage in the right place.
We chose the cruise for the itinerary and advertised price and were well pleased with what we got in the main but that now we know Marco Polo, we realise that we should have a higher grade cabin as the comfort levels we had are well below other small cruise ships that we have been on.
This is a cabin to avoid, being v. small, lacking a chair and having beds that are really not comfortable at all and short. The 2 portholes are set rather high and average height people will strain to see much. If you are expecting rough seas only then will it be desirable as it doesn't move much at all being so low down.