We chose this cruise, having been on Marco Polo three times before, for the two new locations, never visited before, of Jersey and Guernsey, on the itinerary. The disappointment that we could not call at either port was considerable, all the more as the alternative berths secured at the last minute were Cherbourg and Rouen. We visited both of these last year and were in no hurry to repeat the experience. Instead of being an interesting cruise it was 'same old same old' and we felt that we had been conned into booking a cruise which turned out to be a different, and poorer, one.
Compounding this I was unhappy the weather in Amsterdam, Bruges and Cherbourg was so horrible: wet and windy. I had a bad cough from almost the beginning, which got progressively worse throughout the six dreary days at sea. Inner cabin, gets very claustrophobic but where you'd think they might upgrade regular customers, who spend a thousand quid in six days, mostly on alcohol and cigarettes, none of which I indulge in, unfortunately it's the non-spenders who get the best treatment.
Having said that, the Marco Polo is a fine ship, the staff are good and the entertainment is not at all bad. Food OK on the whole but I barely ate anything, not feeling too good. We avoided the Waldorf restaurant, deciding after three earlier cruises aboard there was nothing to be gained from sitting at a table with strangers at a set time when instead we could grab a bite in Marco's bistro, at a table for two, when it suited us. Shame they only put one of the soups on available in the Waldorf, but apart from this it's pretty much the same food. Continental breakfast in bed is a nice touch, but after four days I couldn't eat any breakfast anywhere. Room service for other food is available, at a price, and this was OK when we had it before.
The cabin stewards work very hard it seems to keep the cabins nice and fresh and make the beds twice a day. Not feeling well I needed to rest a lot, but found the cabin steward banging on the door for one thing or another a constant stress. You could never truly relax.
The ship is full of old people, so i suppose the evening game show ('Mr and Mrs', God help us, 'Play Your Cards Right' or 'Blankety Blank') was to be expected. It is annoying how much so many of them hog the available tables, well before an appointed mealtime, usually to get the best window seats, yet so few ever seem to buy anything. It's like endless mugs of coffee and tea with these people, and a frightful scrum for the free glass of wine offered one night (I think in compensation for missing the Channel islands out altogether).
Shuttle buses are good, compared to other cruise lines. P and O and Fred Olsen are a disgrace in this regard. They are also free, which must please the penny-pinching majority on this ship.
Waiting to get off the ship is a nightmare, every time. Unless you have the better cabins. Fed up with waiting for our colour of luggage label to be called we decided to wing it and got off anyway.
So glad to be home.
But I would wholeheartedly recommend the Marco Polo. It's still one of the best small ships out there, and if you don't get ill and can keep your costs down (unlike my boozer of a partner) you are onto a winner.
It's nice when the ferry is working. We seem to be very unlucky and have to pay a fortune each time to get a taxi through the Dartford tunnel. CMV is responsible for stopping the ferry working, owing to their blocking the berth with two ships.
Great location for a berth, so close to the town centre. The taxi to Rembrandtplein was expensive, so if you're not too good on your legs the walk in may be too much.
Shuttle buses from Zeebrugge to Blankenburg are good and reliable, and free. The train to Brugge from here is also good. But the toilets on Brugge Station are too expensive.
Honfleur is a truly beautiful little town which is well worth a visit, and the shuttle goes very close to the centre. We spent £130 on the worst meal ever in one of the popular fish restaurants, but you live and learn.