This was a 'budget' cruise ship and it certainly lived up to those expectations.
We were not informed at the time of booking that this cruise started in Germany and would arrive in the UK with over 600 German passengers already on board and there would only be around 200 UK passengers on the cruise.
Problems began at Tilbury when the 'disabled' and 'those with walking difficulties'were called for embarkation, but then kept standing for over half an hour whilst those in charge tried to get their act together. German passengers were allowed priority to disembark at Tilbury, although the purpose of the stop was for British passengers to embark. Once these folk had ascertained there was nothing of interest to see at Tilbury, many expected to push pass everyone embarking with hand luggage.
The cabin was roomy but noisy. The ceiling and wall panels rattled with every ship movement and had to be wedged with cardboard. The curtains were difficult to close without leaving a gap (i.e. too small). The set of drawers and one wardrobe door would not stay closed and had to be wedged shut when on the move. The soundproofing was inadequate and conversation could be heard from neighbours. The satellite TV system only had German language channels (now there's a surprise!). Overall, This was hardly up to our expectations of a grade 12 twin cabin.
There were two restaurants - The Waldorf and Marco's. Breakfast consisted of a cold, greasy fry-up on cold plates with orange juice that became weaker due to watering down as the cruise progressed. Tea and coffee were difficult to tell apart. The evening meal comprised of a choice of pasta, fish and pork/beef/veal on every night. No points given for imagination. Again, cold plates were the norm. The waiters were badly trained, over enthusiastic and took your half consumed food or drink away if you left them to get anything from the buffet. It was no real loss though!!
Entertainment consisted of bingo, countdown, card making and other unmissable fun. The best entertainment was watching the Germans stuffing every bit of food in sight. The games in the games room were largely incomplete (e.g. one domino missing in the set, dice missing in another game and the 5 of spades in many of the packs of cards).
Once we were underway in the Atlantic, the ship listed and rolled even in reasonable weather. Force 1-2 was Ok though.
There was no Captain's welcome dinner or final dinner, just a welcome cocktail party where you were made to queue outside the lounge for ages while folk had their pictures taken with the captain on an individual basis. After 20 minutes of standing around, we couldn't be bothered.....
All but one of the lifts were marked 'out of order' during bad weather. Those with walking difficulties had problems in getting to the restaurant. The one working lift was often comandeered by cabin staff whose used pass keys to bypass waiting passengers. Complaints were treated with the 'what do you expect me to do about it?' attitude.
One passenger had a fatal heart. The body was removed in the middle of the disembarkation process in Antigua. Nice timing. The following day, a German jumped overboard (must have been the food!! Not enough of it, perhaps?) and caused us many hours delay whilst an investigation proceeded. We missed a port because of this inconsiderate individual throwing himself to the sharks.
By now things had hotted up and one elderly English lady was drageed out of the lift by her hair by a German male who couldn't wait for the next lift. For one minute, it looked like another might be going overboard when no-one was looking!! Mixed passengers on the 'Rhum Runner' was a mistake as free booze was involved and a punch up between two passengers looked lightly when the words 'you ****ing Nazi' was heard coming from one 80+ year old. We were looking forward to Remembrance Sunday on board with anticipation.
The berthing arrangements sometimes created a lengthy walk for those on Marco Polo to get ashore. Not so for those with Carnival Cruises and others which berthed next to the dock exit.
We then we informed that Transocean Tours had gone bust..... Well what a Surprise!! Bad news was that they had been reincarnated as something else and would be taking bookings for...... wait for it..... 'The Caribbean' in February. Can't wait!!
The places visited were very good, albeit with seemingly expensive tours. For example, one tour costing 55 Euros could be taken at the port for $30 US. You got your own personal guide too.
The duty free on board was more expensive than UK supermarket prices. For example, 200 cigarettes on board cost 31.50 Euro, but could be bought in Martinique duty free for 15 Euro. Drinks on board were dearer than UK pub prices and a can of John Smiths Yorkshire p*ss was 2.70 Euro. The duty free shop with it's 200 Euro pullovers was visited when we needed a good laugh.
All in all, a budget cruise and it shows. If you want a decent cruise AVOID this ship like the plague.