My husband and I have just returned from our 3rd cruise but first with the Cruise and Maritime (CMV). This was the Iceland and the Northern lights cruise also calling at Faroe and Orkney islands. We were on the Marco Polo in a superior outside cabin (477). The ship is old and tatty but small enough to feel friendly and in our opinion, more personal than the huge cruise ships. This was a cruise of 2 halves, great shore experiences vs fairly terrible on board experience ( some admittedly not CMV's fault). We hit some pretty awful weather ( force 9 gales I overheard ), which on a ship with people already sick ( more about that later ) was not pleasant but obviously no ones fault. Even hardened cruisers were saying they were the worse conditions they had ever experienced. The time spent on shore was wonderful. We went whale watching with CMV which was fantastic, We saw some subtle northern lights whilst on the ship but later did a CMV Northern lights boat trip which didn’t seem value for money as the boat just took us out a bit in the bay we were docked in and not to a proper dark sky area. We also did a fabulous golden circle tour not with CMV but with a company called ‘FAB tours which was really interesting and thoroughly enjoyable thanks to a superb tour guide (Ragnor) plus it was substantially cheaper than the CMV equivalent, Ragnor picked us up at Reykjavik port ( a short stroll from the ship) and there were only 4 of us in the mini bus so felt very personal. We were able to do extra little things like feeding the iceland ponies and did not feel at all rushed , we even had some time at the end so Ragnor took us to see the cathedral and the pearl in the city. Definately recommended. We hired a car on Orkney which was easy to arrange, Avis car hire place was next to where the shuttle bus dropped us in town. That enabled us to see everything we could in the limited time there without the usual ‘hearding' . However unfortunately our time on Orkney was cut short by 3 hours ( out of the planned 8 hours) because our ship was held in quarantine for 3 hours due to the diahorrea and vomiting bug which had plagued our ship for approx half of our cruise. We made the most of our time there but we’re really disappointed by the short amount of time we had there.
The bug meant that all public areas were closed apart from one restaurant ( the buffet was closed and cancelled to limit infection spreading) and the bars. This severely limited what we could do particularly on sea days. One main bar ( Scott’s bar) is available to sit in during the day but you cannot get a drink so you need to carry drinks up flights of stairs which is not safe , I suggested to reception that they consider opening it particularly in the circumstances However the receptionist just told me “ it’s not my decision" and refused to let me speak to his superior. Time to talk about ‘ the plague ‘ that struck the ship and its affect on our holiday. Passengers started suffering with diahorrea and vomiting approx 7 days into the cruise and it was spreading, of course these things happen on cruises, we all.understand that, however it is how it is dealt with and the treatment of the passengers that sorts the wheat from the chaff. Our experience of CMV is that they are definitely ‘ the chaff. Our cruise effectively ended with the outbreak and the remaining 5 days became an exercise in managing us with little regard to the fact that there were many trying to enjoy their holiday. The staff in general were friendly and helpful but even some of those were getting snappy and stretched towards the end of the Cruise. The management were nowhere to be seen.
By the last few days we had the impression we were now just an inconvenience to CMV who just wanted us to stay out of the way so they could clean all public areas ready for the next cruise. So for a large proportion of our cruise there was no gym, hot tub, pool, spa, burger bar, craft classes, shops, buffet restaurant, library or card room. There was no attempt to reopen anything after it had been cleaned ( presumably to save them cleaning again before the next cruise) and the whole atmosphere became very unpleasant. There was very little in the way of information from our Captain who just occasionally made a dour announcement giving us information about our whereabouts that was available on the tv channel anyway, he sounded bored and lacked any humour ( which could have been helpful given the circumstances). However he kept the ship safe which is his job. The worse thing in our opinion was that at no point was there any acknowledgement of the distress we were experiencing, it was quite bizarre. All we received was a letter through the door explaining that there was a virus on board. I was ill for 2 days and my husband and I basically had to fend for ourselves paying for room service as I wasn't ill enough to qualify for free room service ! The daily ‘ explorer’ paper was our main source of information and was quite useful thank goodness. There were a few shining lights within the staff, for us it was our extremely hard working cabin cleaner Min Zaw who frankly deserves a medal, Colin our waiter had a sense of humour and the drinks waiter Tun in the globe bar always had a smile and a laugh. The food was at best mediocre, on par with a 3 star all inclusive hotel but wine on the vip package was nice and plentiful. Unfortunately this whole experience has put us off cruising at least for the foreseeable future and we would certainly never use CMV again. I wrote to CMV but only received a standard letter which did not address any of my concerns and just quoted policy at me – no apology for the way things were handled. They offered us a discount on our ‘ next CMV ‘ cruise which did make us laugh. In summary it wasn't the fact we were unlucky enough to experience a bug on board a cruise ship but rather how it was handled by CMV. Our takeaway lesson from this is ‘ beware cruisers, one bug on board and your holiday is basically over ‘. We work too hard for our holidays so .... Never again !!!