Travelling solo, I chose this cruise because of the Newcastle Embarkation port and I live close by. Embarkation was as efficient as could be expected, there was an element of waiting and slight confusion when entering the large embarkation hall, as you had to collect your Cruise Card then sit and wait around until your label colour was announced then check in. It was fairly well organised and once checked in, I was boarding and in my cabin within minutes,
The Marci Polo is a wonderful old lady and because of her size, easy to navigate unlike the hotel ships of today. I would say that 70-80% of the passengers were from the North East in view of the Newcastle sail and age group definitely in the 60+ range. The ship looked her age from the outside but clean and bright once on board. The quality of food at both restaurants varied. Formal dining in the Waldorf I enjoyed though there were mixed comments about the quality of the food and small portions. I believe it came down to menu choice. I personally enjoyed every meal although the late sitting was 'late' at 8.15-30 and given the choice again I would go earlier. Marco's Bistro I found convenient for breakfast and lunch and although there was a varied choice of buffet food, it did resemble a supermarket cafe serving luke warm and poor quality food. Tea time proved very popular with little cakes and sandwiches, it was always very busy, very hard to get a seat and a bit like a cattle market especially when the weather was poor without the choice of dining outside on the deck.
I did not attend the evening shows but on sail days I found all of the lectures on marine and bird life, space and volcanoes very enjoyable and well attended,
Bar prices not as expensive as other cruise lines I have been on. I did purchase their drinks package but it turned out I would have been better off without as I barely reached the daily limit. Perhaps if the speciality coffees had been included in the package it would have been more worth while. All the bar stewards were very friendly bar one lad in Scott's bar whom I found rude and surly. Perhaps he had a bad day.
Good daily programme published each day and delivered to cabin. One complaint - on another cruise line, if you tuned into a certain TV channel there were up to date reports on where you were sailing by plus any interesting wildlife. Marco Polo displayed an up to the minute navigation slide (rather like those on plane travel) but a good example was the morning we were supposed to circumnavigate Surtsee - most of the passengers 'missed' the event as nothing was announced unless you were prepared to stand on the deck and wait around in the cold for the island to pass by! The Captain did make his daily navigational announcement, but bless him, his accent was quite hard to understand!
The Solo get-togethers were an inspiration on behalf of Olga the Guest Services Host, we boarded as solo's, but disembarked with lovely memories of friendships made - the luncheon and Bridge visit was absolutely fab.
Most of the excursions, although expensive, I enjoyed and were well organised. I note another reviewer had not enjoyed The Essence of East Iceland tour. I would totally agree with his comments. The tour was 'flat', the guide poor, even though the scenery was wonderful. All the other tour guides I encountered were very good and entertaining.
My cabin Category 12 - Pacific - was lovely, no complaints. Two large port holes, comfortable double bed. Lovely powerful shower. A cabin steward who was very efficient and attentive in fact all of the stewards worked extremely hard. I especially appreciated the kettle and also enjoyed a few breakfasts in my cabin rather than the Bistro.
Just one other complaint on returning back from one of the excursions in Iceland on a rainy afternoon, a totally 'unsafe' walkway was used to board the ship as a result whilst I was waiting to board we witnessed two people - one elderly having nasty falls. They did have other 'stairways' which were much more suitable and I think on this occasion this was definitely a Health and Safety Issue.
So all in all a wonderful trip for me personally and I would sail with Marco Polo again.