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.
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 (this was nothing to do with the cruise company). The shower/toilet was kept clean and well stocked. Adequate wardrobe space and chest of drawers + safe. I always like the TV with the forward looking camera so you can see where you are, and there was a good range of movies available if you were so inclined.