This was my fourth cruise with CMV but my first on the Marco Polo, I had heard so much about this ship from friends who had been on its 50th Anniversary Cruise up the St Lawrence. I must admit I had heard bad reports as well as good reports about this ship but my own findings were that it has a charm all of its own and a very friendly dedicated crew. The reason I choose a cruise is to see different places and experience different cultures, this cruise to Greenland really was an amazing experience but could have been better if the quality of the lecturers had been more consistent. The difference that onboard lecturers can make to a cruise is more than significant and on this cruise the ability and relevant knowledge of the lecturers varied to the extreme.
The main lecturer was Prof. Eric McVicar, who when I looked him up on the internet was described by one University as "an Internationally recognised expert on Arctic cultures and ecology". This was certainly the case, every lecture he gave was pertinent and relevant to the destinations visited. His lectures were delivered in an exceptionally professional manner and were highly informative, as well as being delivered with more than a touch of humour. Strangely enough my friends who had been on the CMV Anniversary Cruise had also commented on the brilliant lecturer they had encountered, the same Prof. Eric McVicar.
In all my years of cruising he is the first lecturer I have ever come across who has given two evening shows in the show lounge followed by a question and answer session and to get into his lectures you had to arrive very early to ensure getting a seat. CMV has done well to secure a lecturer of this standing. We had the privilege of having lunch with him on a couple of occasions during which he was asked by one passenger "Do you also lecture in the Antarctic?" To which he replied he only lectured in places where he felt that he was suitably qualified and had sufficient knowledge to answer questions, a point which other lecturers should take on board and he was definitely the best lecturer I have come across in my years of cruising.
The second lecturer was Sue Walsh who was described as a wildlife expert, I could find no references to her on the internet. Rather than describe her as a wildlife expert i would say a more apt description would be amateur bird watcher, her lectures were delivered in a monotonous patronising manner more like a bored primary school teacher with a class of 8 year olds. Her wildlife knowledge expired after three lectures, included in one was a reference that one needn't worry about Arctic mosquitoes as they did not carry malaria, thankfully Prof. McVicar subsequently informed us that although they were free of malaria they did cause encephalitis and that Arctic Blackfly could cause blackfly fever and therefore taking precautions to avoid insect bites was essential. Both insects were encountered during the trip so it shows a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing! After running out of wildlife information Sue treated us to 10 hints on how to live longer and another on ways to make ourselves more self asserted. Considering the average age of the passengers and the fact that many of us were retired professionals, University Professors, Doctors and Teachers these lectures were extremely patronising. Another of her lectures was titled Chickens in Colorado, what on earth that had to do with the Arctic God only knows! Definitely the worst lecturer I have ever come across and I was not the only one who was of this view, as one lady who farmed reindeer said that she talked "a right load of crap".
The third lecturer was more of an interest subject rather than about the cruise destinations, Ian was a photographer whose hints on how to achieve excellent photographs with even the most basic equipment such as a phone camera were very good, however his last two lectures were his holiday photographs taken on a pilgrimage following the children of Israel out of Egypt, considering the religious diversity of the passengers these two lectures were not really appropriate on such a cruise.
On the other entertainment side the comedians were dire but there was a real treat with Tenor Laurence Robinson who not only was a delight to listen to but was a great entertainer to boot by involving the audience in an extremely entertaining and humerous manner, top marks to Laurence.
The ship's show team and Cruise Director Jonathan Dulson put every ounce of effort and enthusiasm into their performances, and considering the small size of the ship and stage this was no mean feat.
The adult only feature of the CMV cruises I have been on has always been a factor in deciding which cruises we go on and no doubt we shall return to CMV when we see a cruise to destinations which we find interesting, hopefully in the case of Canada we will again have the delight of Prof. McVicar's lectures.
The cabin we had on the ship was an outside cabin with twin beds, although small was comfortable and the steward was outstandingly attentive to all our needs and requirements.
Port and short excursions - we do not go on many excursions as we prefer to explore ourselves and see how the local populations live and work, in the case of Iceland however it is obvious that most of those involved in tourism are also involved in what may be termed extortion and daylight robbery, suggest to anyone going ashore in Reykjavik that they take a packed lunch and walk into town and keep their hands in their pockets and go to the toilet before you go in as it will cost you £2.50 (they do take credit and debit cards at the toilet).
As always the food was good wholesome fare, don't expect lobsters and caviar at CMV's prices but you certainly won't go hungry and the variety of food and the service cannot be criticised.
Excellent value for money, clean, tidy, sufficient wardrobe space and chest of drawers. Good shower and toilet facility with drying cord in shower. Steward could not have been better