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Marco Polo Cruise Review
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
434 Reviews

This is cruising at the very bottom of the market

Marco Polo Cruise Review by geoffstravels

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2020
  • Destination: the British Isles & Western Europe

My wife and I are experienced cruisers with over one thousand sea days.

We chose this cruise because of the itinerary with St Helena and Suez canal top of our list of "to do's".

First impressions of the ship, cabins and staff and crew were mediocre at best. As time progressed on this 78 day trip we downgraded that initial impression.

The ship is old and it shows with outdated fixture and fittings. There is a good amount of open deck for the sun worshipers but as the majority is spread over the rear area be prepared to be covered in unburnt fuel particulate and deafened by exhaust fans. Also the starboard area on each open deck is given over to smokers. Although as we experienced they do tend to spread out so that everybody got to share their smoke.

Furnishings are worn, cheap and often uncomfortable and the plastic plants scattered around the common areas do not add to the overall ambiance.

We had a premium double cabin with double window. This is just one grade below a suit. On any other cruise line it would have been a standard outside. They have no refrigerator and are not spacious. There was however sufficient storage available. The air con was a joke. Leaving the UK in January and there was no heat in the cabin. As we hit the tropics it warmed up but again the aircon struggled to keep the temperature down. The TV was basic and the majority of the voyage no Satellite was available. Our cabin steward was hard working and did a good job despite the leaking windows with water running down the wall in the rain or when the window cleaning sprays were used. The bathroom extractor fan only working intermittently.

We took breakfast mostly in the MDR which was on the whole good and well presented. Lunch location varied between the MDR and the buffet. The buffet was often crowded and whilst it was possible to get ones meal and go outside we tended not to due to the cigarette smoke.The food served was basic works canteen stuffas was the buffet. In both locations it was difficult and time consuming to get a drink from the bar,

Evening meal in the two sitting MDR was in the main very poor. Much of the basic ingredients were of poor quality and not correctly cooked. To hide this, most main courses were smothered in sauces. Often the same sauce was used for both meat and fish!! We discovered that Vegetarian curries were reasonable so we often had those or a baked potato for our evening meal. Even the motorway service areas have upped there standards above this. Not once did we have steak or beef wellington on formal nights. Lobster could be had for a much hyped additional fee. I have never been on a cruise previously where so many frozen and chilled food was used.

We had the standard house wine package but it was so poor much of the time bought at extra cost a so called premium wine which was in reality supermarket £6 quality.

The entertainment was good but the few guest acts were not even Working Mens Club standard. The singers and dancers who also doubled up as day time quiz masters and competition hosts worked hard. One day time guest speaker was excellent, the remainder very poor in both content of topic and presentation.

At the start I said this cruise was chosen for the itinerary. St Helena was the first port of call that was missed. An ex Naval engineer informed us that taking the cruising speed of the ship and the distances involved the Captain could never have made the port in time. The missed ports eventually became such an embarrassment that we were returned two days of our cruise cost as OBC. At no time did we get the feeling the senior offices and the senior hotel management had control over their respective departments.

Shore excursions were in the main at lower prices than normal but again the quality was not the best. You get what you pay for!

The last 14 days of the cruise was marred by the Corona virus which was obviously beyond the cruise lines control. After leaving Jordan we made our way through the Suez canal and did not touch land again until dis embarcation in the UK.

This cruise was not particularly cheap but the overall impression was of a company providing a service on the cheap. We feel we wasted our money and vacation time.

geoffstravels's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Cabin 12 487

The cabin lacked most of the facilities.considered to be normal fittings.

We did have a kettle but few other cabins did

The cabin was clean but well worn,

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


To be honest we saw little of Casablanca as we took the ships tour to Marrakesh. It's a long day but well worth the effort. The atmosphere is unique.

Walvis Bay

This part of the country is either sandy desert or coast / sea going activity. We did a Desert wildlife tour with Laramon tours. Yes there yes there is lots to see in the desert and they knew where to look. The oysters from the port are without doubt the best in the world.

Cape Town

We have been to Cape town many times but always headed out to the Cape or Constantia valley. The town is now safe to walk around and within reasonable distance of the port.

Port Elizabeth

Again we had been to the area several times recently so really a town stroll was sufficient.


The slave market and adjacent church are reasonable walking distance as is the spice market.


Great improvement on previous visit more than 20 year ago but must do more to enthuse the tourist. The single day trip to the wildlife refuge are not good as by the time you get there it's mid day and the animals are resting.


Previous we had took snorkeling trips here and the area is first class for coral and variety of fish. On this occasion we strolled into town which is an average working town.


The tender operations were very poorly organised and the resulting delay meant we had barely a couple of hours in the town


The town is walkable if you are in the old port. The new tourist port is a fair way to get out of the port. We had previously been to the elephant orphanage and the large elephant temple in town. This time we discovered the large market and added to our already overweight cases

City Tour

Really need to walk it to understand it.

View All 8 City Tour Reviews
Dobi Ghat

Only a short tour but did manage to instill a sense of the place.

View All 1 Dobi Ghat Reviews

The town has grown out of being a small fishing and beach location to now a large regional town that has lost its character.

Jeep Tour

Gave an insight to the Bedouin people who still move with their animals but mostly in 4*4 rather than camels. A recommended trip

View All 1 Jeep Tour Reviews

If you don't take a wildlife tour try walking into town and try some of the unique India style snacy. You won't be disappointed.

Aqaba (Petra)

Due to the corvid 19 virus the remaining ports were all missed as landing was refused.

Bristol (Avonmouth)

Embarcation was not well organized. A cold drafty hanger and not even a cup of tea whilst enduring the wait.


Lisbon is a great place to stroll around, taste the unique food and try the local drinks. Despite being a capital city it is small enough to walk to the major sites.

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