Where do I begin?
This experience was one absolutely, without question, straight from hell. We waited for almost twenty years for our Marco Polo experience, and we cannot believe how truly horrible it really was. When they originally sent us the brochure for the wrong ship, after we booked a year in advance, we thought it was just an oversight. Then when our travel agent later sought to reconfirm that the cabin we had booked was a twin that could convert to a double (it was a wedding anniversary, after all!), they told us it couldn't! So we then had to fight to get the confirmation that the cabin we had booked WAS in fact a convertible one. Silly us, we chose to ignore those examples of initial company incompetence. Boy, have we lived to regret that! A month on from returning and we are still struggling to come to terms with not only a terrible experience, but a terrible attitude on the part of the company, Crusie and Maritime Voyages, who simply rejected our claim for compensation and who have tried to shut us down from social media so we cannot complain about them publicly. Their treatment of us is unbelievable! We fully intend to pursure the matter as far as arbitration, if we have to.
The weather was so rough they should never have sailed. Cruse and Maritime Voyages' Captain made the decision to sail, without giving people adequate notice of EXTREMELY rough seas, or offering them the opportunity to cancel or reschedule (which would have been the decent thing to do). We left Avonmouth port twelve hours late, and we lost BOTH of our two pre-Christmas port stops! So we were at sea for three days until Christmas, in seriously rough weather - to the point where my husband, who has been a yacht racer since he was a child, and who definitely has his "sea legs" was throwing up for three days, because it was so bad. I could hardly get out of bed myself for all of that time. The weather was so bad that we could hardly stand up safely for MOST of the trip, and as mature sailers who have lived on our own yacht in the past, we undestand bad weather and when you should or not subject people to conditions that render them injured, sick, and at risk. We were more or less confined to cabin for at least seven of the fourteen days we were away, because it was simply too dangerous to move about the ship safely. All we heard for a full fortnight was the endless sound of smashing glass, bottles and crockery, and the Captain telling us "I regret to advise...". People went flying through the air and some needed medical treatment, at least one to the tune of £1000 for two infusions to stop her from feeling so sick, and there were several "code Alpha" (mayday) calls to staff regarding on-board crises, and they were running all over the ship picking people up off the floor., along with smashed plates etc. One woman fell off her chair, landed on the floor and gashed her legs open on broken glass, another, fell and knocked herself unconscious and that was FAR from all. My husband and I both helped several elderly people to move about the ship on several occasions, and when the staff shut down the elevators because of rough weather, and closed one of the only two restaurants on the ship, people had to make their way down to the lower decks for food or even just a cup of tea. So those in wheelchairs or with other disabilities couldn't get access to food or a hot drink independently. I found a lady sitting on the stairs sobbing her heart out because she wanted a cup of tea, and she just couldn't make it down the several flights of stairs to the one place where she could get one. It was just sickening.
On returning to our cabin on one of the worst rough days, after an attempt to get some fresh air, we were very freaked out to find that our cabin steward had taken our life jackets out from where they were stowed in an overhead cupboard, and had left them on the window sill! What kind of reaction is anyone supposed to have, to that?
The food on the cruise was extremely low-budget, tasteless mush, and we've had better food in staff canteens. The coffee was of very poor quality, and they were serving us rubbish like cottage pie, soggy pasta with tasteless tomato sauce, lumpy mashed potatoes, plain boiled rice, and beef stew. There were no hot puddings, just miniscule squares of jelly-based deserts that looked and tasted like they had come from a supermarket freezer. There were no lovely salad ingredients, just lettuce, cheap cheese and meat options, and no really nice fruit, nothing that could compare with other cruise lines' fare (and believe me, I have thoroughly checked!) - it was just run-of-the-mill stuff that you'd make at home, and to a better standard. Even the bread rolls were cheap and dry. Its not what you expect in return for more than four thousand pounds!!!
The in-cabin entertainment was repetitive (a same one hour program or a movie on a continuous loop for 24 hours on all watchable channels). The on-board entertainment was mediocre, and everything was short.
Many of the staff were incompetent. They didn't know who to report faults to, as I found out after reporting something three times in the same day, only to find out that reception had passed on the complaint to the wrong person who apparently just ignored it. I demanded a meeting with the Cruise Director at one point and he thanked me for being one of the few people he'd dealt with who hadn't shouted at him! People WERE shouting, and complaining all throughout, and few seemed to get a satisfactory answer to any of the complaints made.
A lot of the people on the cruise paid less than half of what we did. We paid top brochure price, others paid as little as £1600 for two.
To top it off, the weather was so bad that the captain made the decision to dock at Southampton at the end of the cruise, instead of going back to Avonmouth. You can imagine the uproar and inconvenience THAT caused!
Many other people on our cruise had left at the first port and made their own way back to the UK at their own expense, others did it from subsequent ports. Sadly, we were not in a financial position to do that. We ended up as miserable, sick, sitting ducks.
Believe it or not, there was a lot more to complain about than this, but I won't go on.
For us, this was the worst experience EVER. We'd looked forward to it for so long, almost two decades. It was meantto be our dream anniversary holiday, but it was a complete and utter disaster,. Cruise and Maritime Voyages have elected to assume absolutely NO responsiblity for ANYTHING that went wrong in the cruise, and are ignoring our complaints in the hope that we will go away. We will not. That I can promise. If we have to go all the way to arbitration, we absolutely will.
If anyone wants to see a copy of our complaint to them in its 10-page entirety, I will be happy to provide it, along with a copy of their reply to us. I just don't want anyone else to have the experience we had. Nobody deserves that. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Cruise and Maritime Voyages tout this ship, on their website, as a "luxury cozy ship" and they say that if customers "have enough British pounds they will be very lucky" to take a cruise on Marco Polo. We felt anything but lucky, and if that was their standard of luxury, I'd hate to see their "average", because this wasn't even that. It was very, very poor. It is interesting to note that in their rejection of our complaint they stated that they DON'T advertise themselves as a luxury experience. So they lied. And they have closed off our ability to comment on their facebook page,a nd have deleted our negative comments. They are unwilling to face any responsibility for the consequences of that horrible experience. I doubt we are the only complainants. And I doubt we will be the only ones fobbed óff. But we're not going away, and neither should anyone else who has borne the brunt of Cruise and Maritime's catastrophic "Christmas Cruise" - or any other, for that matter.
I can be contacted via my website MaxineCook.com, there is a report about our experience with Cruise and Maritime Voyages under the Soapbox menu option, and I will respond to emails reagarding this, if doing so will stop anyone else having such a hideous, rip-off experience.