We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. I was a bit concerned because I had never cruised with this company before, and also because of the age of the ship, but I was very impressed with everything about the Marco Polo. The embarkation at Liverpool was faultless. Our cases were taken from us as they were unloaded from our transport and by the time we embarked the first case was already in our cabin and the other arrived shortly afterwards. The crew, from the Captain down to the cleaning staff were friendly, helpfull, and just so very nice.
Our cabin, a category 12, number 473 was mid ships and quite roomy with 2 big windows, 2 wardrobes, each with a small set of drawers inside. 2 large chests of drawers either side of a dressing table. The beds were really comfortable, and the little shower room was also very good. Our bed linen seemed to be changed several times a week, and the towels replaced as often as you wanted them to be. We had a kettle and tea/coffee making facilities, but not everyone seemed to have these, but we were very pleased to be able to make a cup of tea first thing in the morning.
The food was always very good and of an amazing variety. I have an allergy to prawns and shrimp, and I was given a menu each evening, for the following day, to choose my meals so that the chef could ensure that none of my choices included any hint of prawns or shrimp. I have never had such care on any other cruise line, and I have sailed on many. We always had breakfast in the dining room as it was buffet style, but with an egg station where you could have your eggs cooked in a variety of ways. Lots of fresh fruit every day and lots of cereals, granola, and always hot porridge for those who wanted it. We seldom had lunch because we were out and about, but the few days we did we opted for the little kitchen outdoors outside the Bistro where they cooked burgers, pizzas etc to order, along with fries and some salad accompaniments. Every afternoon at 3.30, there were sandwiches and cakes etc in the Bistro. Dinner was always a great choice, 5 courses if you wanted to eat them all, and several choices of each course.
The entertainment was a great surprise to me. On big ships they have scenery, special effects and a huge cast, but on this little ship they had wonderful singers and dancers who just gave it their all, with no fancy special effects. So talented, and they always gave such a good show. There were also a couple of visiting comedians who gave shows alternately with the dancers, and also an amazing violin/piano duo who gave classical concerts and also entertained in the lounge. There were quizzes and other entertainment day and night, and a cabaret at 11 each evening which we were always too tired to stay up for, but always sounded great fun.
The service was excellent. The dining room wait staff, and the wine waiters were really attentive, and could not be faulted. Our room maid did an excellent job of keeping our cabin clean. Although she spoke very little English, she was always smiling and happy to supply anything extra we wanted.
Our first 2 ports were Dublin and Cobh, neither of which we booked excursions for. Unfortunately it rained heavily on both days, so we did not go off the ship until after lunch, when we just took the free shuttle into Dublin and walked to Trinity and queued to see the Book of Kells, which was well worth doing. In Cobh we walked the few hundred yards from the ship along the promenade to the Titanic Experience. This was excellent, it takes place in the original port terminal building that was used to take on passengers for the Titanic's last fateful voyage. A very worthwhile visitor attraction.
Next port was St.Mary's in the Scilly Isles. We took the ship excursion to Tresco to see the Abbey Gardens. This was lovely, the gardens were beautiful and the red squirrels playing were an added bonus. In the afternoon we visited St. Mary's and after a lunch of Cornish pasty (huge, we really felt stuffed after them!) we had another ship's tour around the Island on a mini bus. Excellent tour guide/driver who told us all we should know about life in the Scilly Isles.
Guernsey next. We did not go on a ship's excursion, just took the tender ashort and caught the ferry to Herm, where we walked over the island to Shell Beach and had a coffee and walked back. Herm is lovely, no traffic, just the quad bikes, some with trailers to take guests luggage to the hotels from the dock. We also took the local service bus in St Peter Port which takes an hour and a half to go right around the island and costs £1 only!! Very good value, and gave us a good idea of the island in the short time we had left before getting back on the ship.
Honfleur. Good for passengers who wanted to go to Monet's house or the D day landing beaches etc, but as we did none of those, it was a bit boring.
Edinburgh. Great, even though rammed with visitors for the Festival. A short walk from our dock was the Royal Yacht Britannia and we got there before opening and spend 2 hours touring it, and had a scrumptious scone with jam and cream and tea in the restaurant on the top deck!
Orkney. Delightful! Took the ship's tour Scenic Orkney which included a stop for coffee and cakes. Lovely area but very windy!
Stornaway. Took the Lewis and Harris tour. Very interesting place and we had an excellent guide who told us the history of the place. Beautiful beaches.
Tobermory Mull. Nice little place. Lots of tours on offer but we chose the Whale and Wildlife tour and unfortunately we had some very heavy rain showers, so apart from 3 porpoise we didn't see very much.
Belfast. We took the Antrim Coast and Giant's Causeway tour. This was an excellent tour, helped by the lovely weather. It was 8 hours and we were worried it would be boring, but our guide Lorna was really good. We had lots of photo stops at beautiful beaches and glens and the time just flew. We had lunch (included in thr price) at the Royal Court Hotel in Portrush which was excellent. Melon, roast beef with Yorkshire puds, roast and mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables, followed by a delicious fruit pavlova! Also included was either wine, beer or soft drinks. We tried a half of Guinness each! Lorna suggested trying it with a dash of blackcurrent, and it was really nice!
Back to Liverpool! Disembarkation was very smooth. There was plenty of room in the lounge to wait for our call to leave, and we did not see anyone have a problem. It was chaotic getting out of the port, but that was because the Isle of Man ferry came in just as we were trying to leave.
Sorry this is such a long report, but hopefully it may help if anyone is planning a similar cruise.
Very good, bigger than I expected. 2 large windows, lots of storage space and very comfortable.