2009 was a difficult year for my wife and I. In February my wife's mother had a stroke and after a harrowing week she died in hospital. My 95 year old father was ailing and we had to visit him three times a week. In June he had a fall, went into hospital and never recovered. As executor of my father's will a long period of hassle ensued but finally by November all was sorted. We had intended to go to Spain for January but just by chance we saw an advert for a Marco Polo cruise to the Caribbean. We both said, 'Yes, let's do it!'. Price and timing was fine so off we went. We took a taxi to Tilbury as the cost of parking was twice as much as the fare!
Without anything to compare, I thought the Marco Polo was a good ship. Fairly old fashioned but very neat, clean and tidy. Our cabin, though not top of the range, was very comfortable and perfectly adequate for us. Staff on board were mainly from Eastern Europe but everyone we came across was very friendly and eager to please. The trip across the Atlantic seemed to take ages but we were never bored as there were plenty of activities laid on. Food was fine, although there were the usual moans from some people who maybe are never satisfied. Once in the Caribbean the excursions were mostly quite good, though perhaps a little pricey. As first timers I was very impressed. We made some lovely friends and have visited them in France since the cruise. Would I cruise again? Yes, definitely. Marco Polo? Yes, if there are better ships then standards are very high all round.
Cabin was perfectly adequate for us. Excellent steward who looked after our cabin.
Mid Winter and freezing but a very interesting city. Canal trip excellent. Ten minute walk from port to town but very easy to get around apart from ice under foot!
Well, the first Caribbean port but I have to say, very disappointing. Tatty town and locals not very friendly. Took a taxi out to Dickenson Beach which was quite good. In all though, Antigua wouldn't be on my list to return to
We landed at St Maartin, the Dutch part of the island but took a taxi to St Martin, the French part. Nothing much on the Dutch side but St Martin was very nice. Seemed very Mediterranian and the locals spoke French. Reasonably cheap but the place looked quite prosperous. Takes about 20 mins from port by taxi.
Loved it here. Highlight of trip. Sleepy town but full of character. Have to take tender in from ship but arrive on a jetty right in town. Found fabulous bar. Asked for rum punches but they didn't have any. Barman slipped out and came back with fruit juice and two bottle of rum and said, 'here make them yourselves!'. After a long evenings' drinking the bill for four of us came to about £10!
Lovely island. People very friendly. We did the sledge run, which was very exciting and also a trip round a Madeira wine factory. We were very sorry to hear just two weeks after we left that they had the floods there.