We picked this cruise because it looked an interesting itinerary, departed from the UK and appeared to be really good value for money. Booked directly with CMV we were delighted to find we had been given a 4 category upgrade from 8 to 12.
We parked at the port and embarkation was quick and efficient. Our cabin was midships and was quite a good size with 2 large windows and lots of storage space (16 small drawers, 8 large drawers and 2 double wardrobes). Tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin although we didn't use them. Our cabin steward kept the cabin spotlessly clean and really tidy. The location was convenient as it was really close to the central staircase.
The ship is old and has a feeling of older style cruising which we really enjoyed. Marco Polo is an adults only ship and at the age of 51 I was at the younger end of the age range of people on board.
Dress code for dinner was announced every day. There were 2 formal; 3 informal and 2 casual. The dress code was expected in the buffet as well and for dinner the buffet tables were set with properly with tablecloths. Most people seemed happy to follow the dress code which I like.
There were 2 restaurants: the Waldorf (formal) or Marcos (buffet).
Breakfast was buffet style in both but in the Waldorf the waiters served your drinks. A reasonable selection of items and both had chefs cooking any style of eggs you wished. The omelettes were particularly good.
For lunch and dinner the food choices tended to be the same or similar in both but obviously in the Waldorf you were served and the food was beautifully presented. The buffet is not huge so there were often people waiting for tables.
Dinner was really, really good. We went to the Waldorf every night. Five courses: appetiser, soup, salad, main, cheese or dessert. The staff were so friendly and so cheery and we were lucky to get a table with 3 other couples who were fantastic company.
There was teatime (sandwiches and cakes) 15.30 to 16.30 every day and late night snacks were brought round all bars at about 11pm. On Gala Dinner night there was a sumptuous buffet at 11pm with the most amazing food sculptures although I think most people on dinner sitting 2 were probably still too full from dinner.
We opted for the drinks package which at £119 for 7 days (£17 per person per day) is very good value. Whilst drinks are not particularly expensive in the bars you could spend the £17 by having 3 glasses of wine and a diet coke every day so it you're going to drink more than that it is absolutely worth it. There is an extensive list of cocktails (£4 or less) and other drinks available. The only negative about the drinks package is it says you have to book in the first 24 hours but that is not quite true. If you try to book on your second day (having boarded the previous afternoon) they will expect you to pay for 7 days even though you only have 6 days left and you have spent money in the bar the previous evening. If it is not a daily thing they should focus on it being £119 for 7 days rather than focusing on £17 per day.
There are lots of activities and entertainments on board and everyone can choose to join in as much or as little as they wish. Games, quizzes, sports, lectures (our had gardening), classes (painting and crafts) even a session to take your knitting and have a natter with other knitters. Just sitting in the lounges doing crosswords and puzzles which were issued every day was a popular activity. We only went to one show (We will Rock You) which was fantastic. There was a very talented violin/piano duo performing in the lounge bar regularly every day and later in the evening you could head up to Scotts bar for a late cabaret followed by a disco.
The ports we visited were Honfleur, Antwerp and Rouen. I suppose times are dependent on tides etc but we didn't get all that much time to spend anywhere. Rouen in particular was badly planned. We arrived in the evening but not many people left the ship as it is quite some way to the town so would have involved taxis and been quite expensive. the next day was Monday and most things were either shut all day or in the morning so we didn't get to see inside the beautiful cathedral or the Joan of Arc museum. The last shuttle back to the ship was 1pm but all aboard was 2.30pm so we could have had more time had they arrange the shuttles for longer. Cruising down the Seine was a very enjoyable day.
Disembarking was very easy for us as we opted for the carry your own bags option and just walked off at 7am thus avoiding queues for lifts and car park chaos. We also got to keep our bags in the cabin and finish packing in the morning rather than have them ready by midnight the night before. The requirement to vacate cabins by 7.30am seemed a bit harsh (particularly as the ship is now going into dry dock). I'm sure we would have all appreciated a lie-in, a casual breakfast at the normal time then a leisurely disembarkation after rush hour.
In summary we loved the whole experience. A small intimate ship with superb staff and wonderful fellow guests. We would book a cruise with CMV again.