1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Marco Polo
Our last time on the Marco Polo was in 2011, our second cruise, after our first on NCL with a butler and a concierge and lots of fancy extras. We’ve done lots of cruises since, but the Marco Polo has stayed VERY special and both times have been equally enjoyable. It’s a shame this is the last time the Marco Polo will visit Canada, so I’ll concentrate on the ship, rather than the ports. If it were to return to Canada, I’d suggest calling it “Canada with a fall”, as a lot of people took the title “fall” rather too literally and actually fell, which kept the doctor fairly busy (although he always seemed to have time for a cigarette – and the occasional brandy - out on deck!)! On arrival, the new parking facilities at Tilbury made things much easier. As we went towards check in, we were greeted by Sheena, a member of staff who recognised us from 2011 – she was also there to wish us a safe journey home when we got back! Check in took no time, and within minutes, we were in our cabin. We really like CMV, and yes, there are things they could do better – information about the ports could have maps, there could be more mugs available and a couple of the waiting staff might be a little more courteous at times (that said, our waiter, Pritish, was fantastic). Sometimes, perhaps a little more attention could be paid to detail. Getting the time zone wrong was a good example, but it does add to the quirkiness of CMV and probably why we rate it so highly. It’s a small ship experience with a very friendly and very helpful crew (mostly) and very friendly passengers (mostly), with no casino, no art auctions, very few queues, no huge upselling – and no kids (although most passengers are very young at heart). Calling it a “small ship” is correct, but as the cruise progresses, it takes longer and longer to get anywhere as you keep nattering to people on the way! We’ve racked our brains as to what facilities a larger ship has that we’d use and can’t think of anything that really makes a huge difference to our overall enjoyment. We booked a “guaranteed” cabin and were allocated 655, an accessible cabin on deck 9. It was very big and exceedingly well situated. It had more than ample storage facilities with a large dressing table and three wardrobes. And very usefully, lots of wall hooks for coats and dressing gowns that we brought with. One of the dressing gowns came in particularly useful to block out the light from under the door. Most of the time the noise from Scott’s Bar didn’t bother us, however we did have to make sure the big doors were closed before we went to bed, and were annoyed by the selfish people who opened them once or twice late at night despite the signs. Our cabin door rattled - we managed to remedy it by using a sock - the cabin attendant did say he’d inform the carpenter, but that didn’t seem to happen, however he did keep the cabin absolutely spotless and never seemed to stop working. The hold rails in the bathroom came in very useful when we were taking a shower in rough seas. However, as for true accessibility, the ship isn’t modern and one day a lady was in tears after climbing the gang way back up to the ship which was very steep due to tidal conditions – she didn’t leave the ship again until disembarkation. However, others (including yours truly) managed to dance in Scott’s Bar in rather rough seas until the small hours. With so many sea days, we were delighted with the daytime activities, especially the creative writing classes by Chrissie – and the drama classes with Harry and Emma. Doing these meant that there were clashes with some of the lectures but the ones we saw (especially Steve’s maritime history ones) were great. Sue was always on deck saying we’d just missed a whale (seriously, she was fabulous at explaining the natural world around us) – and Lucy was a real trooper although a lot of what she said about photography rather went over our untechnical heads – we just want to point and click to get a photo! Given that our previous Marco Polo Cruise Director was the amazing Richard Sykes, Josh had a lot to live upto and he was a really great Cruise Director – a very talented showman with a great future. The standout moment for us was when he unexpectedly appeared during our drama class in his costume for the cocktail competition. At that moment, it confirmed we were in great hands! The nightly entertainment was mainly very good, although we thought the comedians were rather past their best before date. At nearly 60, I really struggled with some subjects, such as putting sixpences and aspirins in stocking suspenders that broke in the wash. Thankfully some other passengers explained it to us. One thing we would change about the “Round the World” would be the English bit. Surely Gracie Fields, Vera Lynn and some outdated jingoistic claptrap about how we’re going to widen our “Empire” could perhaps be replaced by something more in keeping with the modern world, perhaps a couple of Beatles songs, like “With A Little Help From Our Friends” and “Imagine”. Or even Scooch’s Eurovision entry, “Flying the Flag”. Or something less innocuous like “My Old Man”. It was nice to see a smattering of same sex couples, perhaps we should have asked for an LGBT meet up to be put in the programme as we didn’t get to know one couple until the last few days. Being gay obviously wasn’t a problem, but we were rather more cautious about talking about politics and very carefully “came out” as pro-EU – and were delighted to find so many likeminded people – and were over the moon that EU flags sometimes adorned our cocktails! Unlike some other lines, CMV isn’t “totally” British, we very much enjoyed having a smattering of Dutch and Australian etc passengers onboard. The food was very much to our taste, I’m not sure I ordered anything I didn’t like, and there was a very good variety with very few repetitions during the 30 days, although my pescatarian husband had a couple of veggie dishes he wasn’t keen on, but they were changed very quickly to something he did like. Our waiter, Pritish, was absolutely brilliant and dealt with our dietary requirements superbly. Portions were huge and our only complaint was that the food was too nice so we ate too much! Of course, it wouldn’t be CMV without a few quirks – vinegar springs to mind where at first it came in a gravy boat, then the waiters just brought the plastic bottle! Shame I can’t be as enthusiastic about the house wine. My husband refused to drink the house white after a while and we ended up buying bottles – even at £12 after the discount, it mounts up and is rather annoying when you’ve already spent around £1200 on two drinks packages. For our next cruise, we’ve decided to take the VIP package, reluctantly, in the hope that the wine is better. To cut down on eating, many times, we had the free “breakfast in bed” – toast, a croissant, a pastry, orange juice and tea/coffee was enough – inside cabins don’t have a kettle, so this was a way round getting a hot drink in the morning. A cooked version for a tenner was also available, although I’m not sure how you’d actually eat it comfortably in most cabins which don’t have a table. We only missed one port, St Johns, due to a hurricane, the rest of the time, we got to our destinations, although the tender process was a little chaotic at times, and our last Canadian port, Sydney was only until 1pm, meaning a very short stop for some – thankfully we pre-booked an excursion meaning we were off the ship quite early, but didn’t get a chance for a walk round the town afterwards. The excursions we went on were well priced and well organised and most of the time, free shuttles to the city centre were laid on by the port authorities, but that’s down to the port authority, rather than the cruise company. There’s no denying that CMV is truly unique and not for everyone. There’s simply no point in comparing it to other lines, it does things differently, it will suit some people more than others, and I’m sure there will be reviews about the “rust bucket” and “rude staff” etc. It certainly isn’t a rust bucket and 99% of the staff are friendly and helpful. Towards the end of the cruise, we had no hesitation in booking another with CMV where we got a 5% discount – plus free parking from cruise.co.uk! We’ve now got three CMV cruises to look forward to, none on the Marco Polo, which is a shame as it’s a fantastic ship, but I hope we’ll put that right soon enough.

Marco Polo's final trip to Canada

Marco Polo Cruise Review by Eurovisionfan

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Our last time on the Marco Polo was in 2011, our second cruise, after our first on NCL with a butler and a concierge and lots of fancy extras. We’ve done lots of cruises since, but the Marco Polo has stayed VERY special and both times have been equally enjoyable. It’s a shame this is the last time the Marco Polo will visit Canada, so I’ll concentrate on the ship, rather than the ports. If it were to return to Canada, I’d suggest calling it “Canada with a fall”, as a lot of people took the title “fall” rather too literally and actually fell, which kept the doctor fairly busy (although he always seemed to have time for a cigarette – and the occasional brandy - out on deck!)!

On arrival, the new parking facilities at Tilbury made things much easier. As we went towards check in, we were greeted by Sheena, a member of staff who recognised us from 2011 – she was also there to wish us a safe journey home when we got back! Check in took no time, and within minutes, we were in our cabin.

We really like CMV, and yes, there are things they could do better – information about the ports could have maps, there could be more mugs available and a couple of the waiting staff might be a little more courteous at times (that said, our waiter, Pritish, was fantastic). Sometimes, perhaps a little more attention could be paid to detail. Getting the time zone wrong was a good example, but it does add to the quirkiness of CMV and probably why we rate it so highly.

It’s a small ship experience with a very friendly and very helpful crew (mostly) and very friendly passengers (mostly), with no casino, no art auctions, very few queues, no huge upselling – and no kids (although most passengers are very young at heart). Calling it a “small ship” is correct, but as the cruise progresses, it takes longer and longer to get anywhere as you keep nattering to people on the way! We’ve racked our brains as to what facilities a larger ship has that we’d use and can’t think of anything that really makes a huge difference to our overall enjoyment.

We booked a “guaranteed” cabin and were allocated 655, an accessible cabin on deck 9. It was very big and exceedingly well situated. It had more than ample storage facilities with a large dressing table and three wardrobes. And very usefully, lots of wall hooks for coats and dressing gowns that we brought with. One of the dressing gowns came in particularly useful to block out the light from under the door.

Most of the time the noise from Scott’s Bar didn’t bother us, however we did have to make sure the big doors were closed before we went to bed, and were annoyed by the selfish people who opened them once or twice late at night despite the signs. Our cabin door rattled - we managed to remedy it by using a sock - the cabin attendant did say he’d inform the carpenter, but that didn’t seem to happen, however he did keep the cabin absolutely spotless and never seemed to stop working.

The hold rails in the bathroom came in very useful when we were taking a shower in rough seas. However, as for true accessibility, the ship isn’t modern and one day a lady was in tears after climbing the gang way back up to the ship which was very steep due to tidal conditions – she didn’t leave the ship again until disembarkation. However, others (including yours truly) managed to dance in Scott’s Bar in rather rough seas until the small hours.

With so many sea days, we were delighted with the daytime activities, especially the creative writing classes by Chrissie – and the drama classes with Harry and Emma. Doing these meant that there were clashes with some of the lectures but the ones we saw (especially Steve’s maritime history ones) were great. Sue was always on deck saying we’d just missed a whale (seriously, she was fabulous at explaining the natural world around us) – and Lucy was a real trooper although a lot of what she said about photography rather went over our untechnical heads – we just want to point and click to get a photo!

Given that our previous Marco Polo Cruise Director was the amazing Richard Sykes, Josh had a lot to live upto and he was a really great Cruise Director – a very talented showman with a great future. The standout moment for us was when he unexpectedly appeared during our drama class in his costume for the cocktail competition. At that moment, it confirmed we were in great hands!

The nightly entertainment was mainly very good, although we thought the comedians were rather past their best before date. At nearly 60, I really struggled with some subjects, such as putting sixpences and aspirins in stocking suspenders that broke in the wash. Thankfully some other passengers explained it to us. One thing we would change about the “Round the World” would be the English bit. Surely Gracie Fields, Vera Lynn and some outdated jingoistic claptrap about how we’re going to widen our “Empire” could perhaps be replaced by something more in keeping with the modern world, perhaps a couple of Beatles songs, like “With A Little Help From Our Friends” and “Imagine”. Or even Scooch’s Eurovision entry, “Flying the Flag”. Or something less innocuous like “My Old Man”.

It was nice to see a smattering of same sex couples, perhaps we should have asked for an LGBT meet up to be put in the programme as we didn’t get to know one couple until the last few days. Being gay obviously wasn’t a problem, but we were rather more cautious about talking about politics and very carefully “came out” as pro-EU – and were delighted to find so many likeminded people – and were over the moon that EU flags sometimes adorned our cocktails! Unlike some other lines, CMV isn’t “totally” British, we very much enjoyed having a smattering of Dutch and Australian etc passengers onboard.

The food was very much to our taste, I’m not sure I ordered anything I didn’t like, and there was a very good variety with very few repetitions during the 30 days, although my pescatarian husband had a couple of veggie dishes he wasn’t keen on, but they were changed very quickly to something he did like. Our waiter, Pritish, was absolutely brilliant and dealt with our dietary requirements superbly. Portions were huge and our only complaint was that the food was too nice so we ate too much! Of course, it wouldn’t be CMV without a few quirks – vinegar springs to mind where at first it came in a gravy boat, then the waiters just brought the plastic bottle! Shame I can’t be as enthusiastic about the house wine. My husband refused to drink the house white after a while and we ended up buying bottles – even at £12 after the discount, it mounts up and is rather annoying when you’ve already spent around £1200 on two drinks packages. For our next cruise, we’ve decided to take the VIP package, reluctantly, in the hope that the wine is better.

To cut down on eating, many times, we had the free “breakfast in bed” – toast, a croissant, a pastry, orange juice and tea/coffee was enough – inside cabins don’t have a kettle, so this was a way round getting a hot drink in the morning. A cooked version for a tenner was also available, although I’m not sure how you’d actually eat it comfortably in most cabins which don’t have a table.

We only missed one port, St Johns, due to a hurricane, the rest of the time, we got to our destinations, although the tender process was a little chaotic at times, and our last Canadian port, Sydney was only until 1pm, meaning a very short stop for some – thankfully we pre-booked an excursion meaning we were off the ship quite early, but didn’t get a chance for a walk round the town afterwards. The excursions we went on were well priced and well organised and most of the time, free shuttles to the city centre were laid on by the port authorities, but that’s down to the port authority, rather than the cruise company.

There’s no denying that CMV is truly unique and not for everyone. There’s simply no point in comparing it to other lines, it does things differently, it will suit some people more than others, and I’m sure there will be reviews about the “rust bucket” and “rude staff” etc. It certainly isn’t a rust bucket and 99% of the staff are friendly and helpful.

Towards the end of the cruise, we had no hesitation in booking another with CMV where we got a 5% discount – plus free parking from cruise.co.uk! We’ve now got three CMV cruises to look forward to, none on the Marco Polo, which is a shame as it’s a fantastic ship, but I hope we’ll put that right soon enough.
Eurovisionfan’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Cruise & Maritime Voyages Marco Polo price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Cabin
We booked a “guaranteed” cabin and were allocated 655, an accessible cabin on deck 9. It was very big and exceedingly well situated. It had more than ample storage facilities with a large dressing table and three wardrobes. And very usefully, lots of wall hooks for coats and dressing gowns that we brought with. One of the dressing gowns came in particularly useful to block out the light from under the door.

Most of the time the noise from Scott’s Bar didn’t bother us, however we did have to make sure the big doors were closed before we went to bed, and were annoyed by the selfish people who opened them once or twice late at night despite the signs. Our cabin door rattled - we managed to remedy it by using a sock - the cabin attendant did say he’d inform the carpenter, but that didn’t seem to happen, however he did keep the cabin absolutely spotless and never seemed to stop working.

The hold rails in the bathroom came in very useful when we were taking a shower in rough seas. However, as for true accessibility, the ship isn’t modern and one day a lady was in tears after climbing the gang way back up to the ship which was very steep due to tidal conditions – she didn’t leave the ship again until disembarkation. However, others (including yours truly) managed to dance in Scott’s Bar in rather rough seas until the small hours.
  Marco Polo Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Baie-Comeau
    I did a lumberjack village tour which was fantastic - my husband did a glacier experience tour. We both enjoyed them immensely, then met up to get the shuttle back into town for a wander around. To be honest, there's very little (apart from a rather unique antique shop) in the town, so we were very pleased we'd done the tours.
    View All 11 Baie-Comeau Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Baie-Comeau Cruise Port Review
  • Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island)
    Charlottetown is adorable and very walkable. After a photo with a Mountie in the port hall, we walked into town. The City Hall houses a secondary tourist information centre which was much less busy than the one near the ship, and the lady behind the desk was incredibly helpful, telling us that there's a mock up of the "Confederation Table" in the Confederation Centre (which houses the library and a theatre - along with an area you can dress up like Anne of Green Gables (which has its own shop in town).

    We very much enjoyed the video of how Canada was originally formed, helped by two guides who explained to me why it was the Founding "Fathers" as the only woman (who apparently had some power) was the cleaning lady.

    You walk through a lovely historic area on the way to Beaconsfield Historic House (which was free for us as we're members of the National Trust), then onto the grounds of Government House (which has a little information booth, but visits inside weren't available when we were there).

    It was a really enjoyable day.
    View All 203 Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) Cruise Port Review
  • Corner Brook
    We arrived in town just to have missed the Pride parade! Hey ho, such is life!

    We got on the little $2 land train, which was a good introduction to the layout of the town, which is a bit spread out, but still walkable. There was a "screech" at the local Canadian Royal Legion, but we also missed that as we had lunch in Newfound Sushi, which did an excellent bento box and had very friendly service.

    Afterwards, we seemed to meet the whole ship in the huge Dollarama shop, which is basically a Home Bargains / Poundland type store - forget any high class stores here, but do go to the Emporium for a look around!

    The people were all very friendly and helpful, which made it an enjoyable day, even though there wasn't a lot to do.
    View All 28 Corner Brook Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Corner Brook Cruise Port Review
  • Halifax
    We'd been at sea for ten days before arriving in Halifax, a little later in the day than originally planned, so cancelled our excursion to Lunenburg as we wanted to explore the town. The ship docked just next to the Immigration Museum, but unfortunately we ran out of time before we could go in. We popped into the market place briefly, seeing Canadian delicacies like "Bacon Jam" which even the person selling it said was an acquired taste!

    A little further on from the Cunard statue, we turned into town and were delighted to see some LGBT friendly stuff in the windows. Apparently Canada has Pride month in September which made us feel particularly welcome for our whole visit to the country.
    We were initially looking for somewhere just for a cuppa, but due to the fantastic ambience and amazingly friendly service, it turned into a lobster roll lunch which we shared – my husband washed it down with a local beer but I stuck to coffee, wanting a break from all-inclusive cruising!

    Apart from wonderfully friendly service, it’s well worth a visit to see the beautiful “historic” wooden bar, which was imported from the UK. Also, at the back, there are some very informative history panels - the thing that made us laugh the most was that the distillery was set up by none other than someone called I. C. Shore. After ten days at sea, it was very appropriate! I do hope our travels take us to Halifax again, it was a lovely place to visit, and next time, hopefully we’ll have more time so we can sample the distillery produce and go on a tour.

    We then walked up to the citadel and spent a nice hour there, it was brought to life by characters in costume, who explained how life was when the citadel was in daily use.

    Then we walked back to the shore and found the historic buildings, which house some lovely gift shops - after a quick drink, it was time to get back on the ship.
    View All 780 Halifax Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Halifax Cruise Port Review
  • London (Greenwich, Tower Bridge, Tilbury)
    Car parking is now much easier than it was before - once you've dropped your car and luggage off, the port building is in walking distance, or there's a courtesy bus.
    View All 54 London (Greenwich, Tower Bridge, Tilbury) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's London (Greenwich, Tower Bridge, Tilbury) Cruise Port Review
  • Montreal
    We met a friend who lives in Ottawa - she met us at the Cathedral (a few minutes walk from the ship) then drove us to the Gay Village and we had lunch Chez Cora. She had to leave us to see other family by 2pm, so we said we'd walk back to the ship, which was easy enough, walking through a few different quarters on rue Ste. Catherine, then down towards the old town which is very picturesque. It was a lovely walk along the promenade from the old town to the ship.
    View All 83 Montreal Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Montreal Cruise Port Review
  • An Evening at the Sugar Shack
    A unique experience, typically Quebecois!

    As we were overnight in Quebec City, this was a great opportunity to see how maple syrup is made, and enjoy some local food and entertainment. My veggie husband ended up with a salad as most of the food was meat based, but we'd had a good lunch, so it wasn't the end of the world - and he enjoyed the maple syrup pancakes afterwards - and enjoyed the country dancing after the meal. He actually enjoyed the night off from big cruise ship meals!

    We also had a demonstration of how maple syrup was made (thankfully it was in English, even though I speak French, I couldn't follow the very strong accent when I did hear it in French!)

    And of course, we had a sample or two of hot maple taffy rolled in snow!

    Great evening!
    View All 8 An Evening at the Sugar Shack Reviews
  • Fortress of Louisbourg
    You never know what you'll learn - on this trip, we learned the difference between a fort and a fortress (a fortress is apparently a complete village, rather than just a fort for soldiers). It was very interesting, and even though we'd been told most of the buildings would be closed, they were open, along with people in costume explaining things to us.

    Afterwards, we spent a while going to a lighthouse, which, although quite picturesque, cut into our time for having a look around the port area in Sydney - our ship was supposed to sail at 1pm, but as it was a tender operation, got delayed quite a bit.
    View All 18 Fortress of Louisbourg Reviews