6 Newcastle (England) to Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise & Maritime Voyages Marco Polo Cruise Reviews

A TA told us about overnight cruises where the ship is repositioned and you can stay and received food and entertainment at a reasonable price. We went from Newcastle to Rosyth(Edinburgh). We had an outside cabin that was small and dated. ... Read More
A TA told us about overnight cruises where the ship is repositioned and you can stay and received food and entertainment at a reasonable price. We went from Newcastle to Rosyth(Edinburgh). We had an outside cabin that was small and dated. We were told check-in was 550pm, when we got to our room we had a message to say we had to be on the 6pm dinner sitting.(If we'd been on the later sitting we could have used the health facilites and they'd have made some money!) We got there as quick as we could and then had trouble getting served (ship was full). Late on during our meal we were told 3 times to hurry up as they wanted to prepare for the next sitting! Food apart from the tenderloin was very average. Bars and staff were lovely, drink/cocktails very reasonable. Went to the cabaret which had a delayed start but we didn't know how long the delay would be and the band were sat around texting. Show was OK but short. DJ and dancing was very good. Sadly they added £7 per person to our drinks bill and if you had a drink after midnight you got charged again. You have to vacate your room by 730am and we were told we would not disembark until 930am. Ship was chaotic as people left bags everywhere and the staff didn't manage//organise the process. Breakfast was plentiful but chaotic. Disembarkation was delayed as they had no ramp and had to submit some rickety stairs! Staff did not magage expectations and were due to passengers asking for advice as how long the delay would be at what the process would be, in the end the passengers took over and just all lined up and forced embarkation. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Why this cruise? We chose this ship due to the superb itinerary and reasonable price point. For less than half the cost of 1 week on board an "expedition" ship, we spent 3 weeks visiting Faroe Islands (1 port), Iceland (3 ... Read More
Why this cruise? We chose this ship due to the superb itinerary and reasonable price point. For less than half the cost of 1 week on board an "expedition" ship, we spent 3 weeks visiting Faroe Islands (1 port), Iceland (3 ports), and the raison d'être - Greenland (7 ports) in addition to a port day in Scotland to pick up additional passengers. The itinerary and ship were well worth the time and dime. Overall ship impression: Our experience differs mightily from the many reviewers, including one apparently from the same trip, that trashed the ship. We found the Marco Polo to be clean, safe, with mostly friendly staff and crew. Yes she is 50 years old and her furnishings are a bit dated compared to the latest mass market 2-6,000 passenger ship, but all equipment was clean and in good repair. The crew was very diligent with cleaning and usually whenever we were docked, there were crewmen cleaning or painting the exterior or making repairs. During one port where we were tendered, an excursion ship returning passengers from an iceberg tour banged the side of the ship..hard. The captain waived them off and made them drop the passengers at the small ship dock to be brought on board by the tenders. At the next port the damage (it looked like mostly scratches) was repaired and reprinted. Elevators all worked, treated as a period piece, the Marco Polo proved a capable ship even in rough seas and one we'd sail again. Cabin review: Our cabin, Pacific Deck exterior aft, was plenty spacious for 2 people, as long as you don't mind sleeping in twin beds. Due to the age and design of the ship, the floor did cant downward just past the bathroom. There are several blog posts online that describe the reason for this, so the info was available before we sailed. I will mention that walking past open doors and peaking inside that there was a lot of variation in cabin size and layout. Size restrictions were exacerbated by residents slovenliness. We may have gotten lucky with cabin assignment but were quite pleased with ours. Our cabin steward was wonderful - friendly, helpful, informative and with the bonus of being a dab hand with towel animals ;-)) Food: Waldorf Dining Room was very good with 4 course plated dinners. Lunch was plated with option to augment with a decent salad bar. Breakfast was good -omelet station, etc. our table and wine steward were superb and took very good care of our needs. We had delightful table companions. However, I was less impressed with food in the Lido Deck buffet overall. The dinner mains were the same as or similar to some of the Waldorf mains, but by the time you got through the line and sat down ,the food was no longer hot. There were a lot of weird sides, esp in the salads department, but I attributed it ( perhaps charitably) to a difference between American and British tastes. For lunch, most days the grill by the pool was open and had good choices. The food was certainly edible and not the school cafeteria slop alluded to by others. Buffet breakfast was fine. Overall, my preference was the Waldorf, food presentation was good and the experience more sanitary. My biggest complaint about the buffet food is really the other passengers - a lot refused to use sanitizer, sneezed and coughed on the buffet, grabbed large amounts of food to waste, put their personal bottles on the drinks dispenser, camped out at tables not eating, leaving others wandering around with their plates and just some general nasty dining behavior. Some behavior was gross. Luckily our room was below so some times if we couldn't find a table and it was too cool to eat on deck, we ate in our room. Public spaces: Despite being an Arctic region cruise, the Aft pool deck was heavily used. We had very good weather, most afternoons in upper 60/lower 70s(F) so you could enjoy being outside whale watching with a sweater or light jacket mid-day. There were several seating areas on the main deck and generally we could find someplace to relax with a view to sea while cruising. Almost all seating areas had a bar and wait staff. Noise levels were reasonable. The lounge behind the theater was most busy, excellent reading area, and the location of activities including guessing games and other low -activity contests. All the lounges were bright. The theater was pretty nice -the floor was sloped towards the stage with benches and cocktail tables like you'd see in a Frank Sinatra movie. Very few seats had obstructed views due to the support columns. There was one kind of witchy waitress in for main lounge, she was also witchy when on dining duty in the buffet. Otherwise the bar and wait staff were very professional or friendly. The reception staff, esp. the head receptionist, were helpful and informative. We did not experience any of the reported attitude (except for witchy woman). Entertainment: The entertainment team put on several,good programs, especially the first 10-14 days, but them petered out. The performances were high energy, varied and entertaining. After the evening's big performance, one or more of the main singers would do a show in the aft bar, generally singing with some patter. All very enjoyable. The male cast members also led the aerobics and stretch classes.The entertainment team worked hard. There was a guest magician and guest comedian who joined mid-way. Neither was particularly good, I'd say they were "has beens" whose material hadn't changed in a couple decades. The magician was the better of the two. Enrichment activities: Overall, the enrichment program presented a wide ranging variety of topics related to our destinations. Besides the obligatory presentations by the shore excursion team, the cruise had 3 subject experts the duration of the cruise. If I remember correctly, the bird expert's name was Peter. He had several book published by the royal bird society that were available for purchase in the ship's shop. His presentations were all excellent and he was very approachable on shore and on ship, even when not "on duty". He is definitely "a keeper" and I hope CMV invites him on lots of cruises. The other excellent enrichment specialist was a photographer, whose name escapes me, but he was very informative as well as helpful with suggestions when we ran across him on shore. The final "main" presenter was a British lawyer who does a lot of work with native peoples advising them how to protect their interests and equities against corporations, countries and other exploitation. She was very interesting and apparently spent a great deal of time learning the native Inuit and related cultures. Her discussions were wide ranging, covering evolution, colonialism, current living conditions, etc. The shore presentations were okay, but you could tell the staff were mostly reading and not speaking from experience. They augmented their presentations with one by their subcontractor and a Greenland excursion organizer. He sounded great when on stage but when approached with a question later was very dismissive and borderline rude. There was one performance by a Greenland native (Inuit) who performed a drum dance. It was very different, she spent a great deal,of time putting the dance in context and explaining its history. Interesting and unique, however several people walked out. The only "bad" enrichment activity was some guy whose presentation started interesting but turned into a diatribe against international organizations, the US, and climate change skeptics. Excursions: Biggest gripe with the cruise was that some people were able to get on several,of the mostly limited excursions. By the time we were able to reserve excursions from the US, all the interesting ones were full, including all the small boat ice berg trips. We only had opportunity to choose from very long hikes or one expensive flight seeing tours. We're not big hikers so those were out. We booked the only available flight seeing over the glacier at Kangerlussaq, my husband got denied due to how they distributed weight so heavy people who registered early got to go and there wasn't enough weight allowance for us both on the same plane. We decided I would go and film. That didn't work out as iI got stashed in the back seat behind a large man and all I saw was bits of the dirty edge of the glacier, but mostly my view was filled with the engine under the wing. Oh yeah we also got the tundra wildlife bus tour in Kangerlussaq, which was a bust. Pretty much we wasted about $500 dollars on the ships excursions. Luckily in Torshavn, Faroes, there were seats on the bus to the bird cliff cruise, so we did that. It was okay, over-hyped or we had bad luck with birds. Since we didn't have good selection of Greenland excursions from the ship, we tried to book independently. For all but 2 port that also was a bust since the Marco Polo booked all available tourist services for flight seeing and for iceberg cruising. Port adventures: Kingston-upon-Hull -planned embarkation port but got email night before ship wouldn't make it due to Kiel a Kanal delays and Hull port tides. Got a free bus ride to Newcastle on Tyne to embark Marco Polo. Complete with boxed lunch (yuck ) Rosyth - took train to Edinburgh, walked around, did a ghoulish bus tour Torshavn - ships bird cliff tour, nice enough, sadly not a lot of puffins (2 flying high) :( Seyðisfjörður - walked outskirts of city, only 2 excursions offered, one of interest was full, the other was bus to sites we did on our own in 2015 Akureyri - rented a car to drive to Dettifoss and Asbergyi - excellent drive, great sights (had been to all other options on our ring road trip in 2015) Tassilaq - had a great 8 hour independent tour arranged, ship didn't go to port due ice, but sister ship was reported there 2 days later (Note: cruise ship did not have any excursions available for this port) Qerqetauq - substitute port for missed Tasiilaq. Nice picturesque town, lots of midges, seal (furring) museum. Short visit (~4-5hours). Narsarsaug. - independent ice berg tour via a Blue Ice, was on old fishing boat since ship booked all speed boats, but it think we spent more time in water looking at lagoons, trade les money, but ships excursions were full. Very good choice. Qeqertarsuaq -wandered about on own, excellent views, whale watched. Ship offered several long hikes here with availability. Beautiful town, island Ilulissat - ships excursions full. Walked to UNESCO heritage site. Superb view of glaciers from land. Rough getting back to ship on tenders doe waves and wind. Sat in tender about an hour while excursion ships tried to tie up to unload passengers. Sisimiut - wandered the town, bought great Greenlandic rock specimens Kangerlussuaq - ships tundra wildlife tour, no reindeer, no musk ox, few birds, very dusty, glad I don't live here! Ships glacier flightseeing - disappointing, mostly waste of $$$ Nuuk - walked to national museum on other side of town, steep uphill (in case that matters to someone considering it). Great museum, torn whether it would have been more useful at start of trip or at end, but satisfied a lot of questions I might not have had at beginning of cruise Sea days -rough crossing to Iceland Reykjavik - disembarked and flew home Like Marco Polo enough to book 2018 cruise on her before disembarking! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
With misgivings, we booked a 1 night taster on this venerable ship, for nostalgic reasons! Decades ago, when she was under Gerry Herrods ownership, we enjoyed some adventurous cruises on her,; to Antarctica, up the amazon , etc, and ... Read More
With misgivings, we booked a 1 night taster on this venerable ship, for nostalgic reasons! Decades ago, when she was under Gerry Herrods ownership, we enjoyed some adventurous cruises on her,; to Antarctica, up the amazon , etc, and loved her. A convenient one nighter was available, from Newcastle, to us infinitely more accessible than Tilbury. Our hopes were not high, assuming we would find shabbiness and lack of maintenance. How wrong we were, she was beautifully maintained, and cared for. We felt welcome and valued as customers, and enjoyed our brief stay in our roomy cabin with comfortable double bed. Food, as we'd expected, was basic, but adequate, and service was fine. The drawbacks were few, poor embarkation and a chaotic disembarkation, which Needed far better management, and a disembarkation that was far too early came as a shock.. A 0ne night cruise with a mere 16 hours onboard made it poor value, and very hurried Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and date. Which is the main reason we cruise. The ship and cruise line are secondary to us. Embarkation: No problems. Nothing to note. Ship: Older, smaller ship. Which has ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and date. Which is the main reason we cruise. The ship and cruise line are secondary to us. Embarkation: No problems. Nothing to note. Ship: Older, smaller ship. Which has it's pro and cons. My wife liked that we were close to dining and the theater. We docked right in the ports of some smaller towns. The ship also looked like a classic cruise ship. Cabin: OK. The main problem was the shower was slow draining and splash over at times. But, we're not really fussy about our cabin. We had a nice big window. Dining: OK. Typical British food. Brought the beer package, 14 beers for $50. Entertainment: Good. Enjoyed the shows and lectures, especially the bird classes. Service: OK. Eastern European crew. Did their job but could smile more. I guess that's just how they are. I asked how many more beers I had on my package, and the server said "You should know that." Ports: Great! Most times we were the only ship in port. Only had to tender once in Shetland. Iceland and Shetland were the highlights. Also enjoyed the Faeroes, Kirkland and Inverness. Shore excursions: Only took the ship's excursions if there were no other choice. Took a local tour in Reychivic and was glad we did. Traveller: Mostly British in the 60-70's. Disembarkation: No problems. We did the express checkout (you carry your own bags off and are the first to go.) To sum it up: The itinerary was interesting and a great way to see Iceland! The ship was OK. But we knew that going in so it was a big disappointment. Overall we had a good time! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
In July 2013 we saw this cruise advertised and snapped it up,attracted by the itinerary and the price. We drove the 25 miles to North Shields and embarkation was easy and well organised. The port is small with easy car parking after ... Read More
In July 2013 we saw this cruise advertised and snapped it up,attracted by the itinerary and the price. We drove the 25 miles to North Shields and embarkation was easy and well organised. The port is small with easy car parking after dropping off the cases. After a short wait, we checked in, got our cards and got on the boat. We were welcomed and taken straight to our small cabin; our cases quickly arrived. We had just started to unpack and the drill was called. This was a little chaotic with crew shouting out cabin numbers but all ended well. The cabin has lots of drawers for our clothes but rather few, cheap random coat hangers and our cases would only just fit at the foot of our bed. We knew that the boat has small cabins but we didn't even have a chair! The en-suite shower and toilet was v. clean and modern with a supply of lotions. We found the A/c responsive and efficient. BUT . . .the beds were small, cramped and offering poor support. The cruising world has, I fear, moved on from the days of the slightly up-rated single bunk. Higher quality is needed even for a single bunk style bed! The food was excellent and suited us fine. It didn't suit the traditional English food lovers from comments some made to us but there was a good selection and dinner ( early sitting ) was quickly served by the waiters, Ukranian, like the majority of the hotel staff and crew. They have a wine waiter and he quickly got the drinks to us. I had ordered a wine and water package and was well pleased with the Italian wine - and its cost. We had continental breakfast in our room each day until the last. Lunch was taken in the buffet every day where the selection was really good. The staff cleared off the tables quickly and it was only the day at sea when it was a little crowded. The weather was variable and it wasn't always possible to eat outside but many did when the sun arrived. The Faroe Islands ( Thorhaven ) were interesting but hidden for a time under mist and drizzle. We don't do excursions as we like to stay fairly close to the ship and got ashore and wandered around the little capital and it was fascinating. A little shopping with much Scandinavian hand knitted wooly garments and just a general look around as the weather improved was just right for us. The rest of the itinerary which had attracted us, Ullapool, Lerwick and Kirkwall, were relaxing ports for a gentle stroll but all needed more sunshine than we got - no-one's fault! The lounges were a little shabby in places and due for refurbishment; the entertainment was typical British cruise - dancers jumping around, arm waving etc. to familiar music at high volume. The comedian did 2 nights and was excellent and well appreciated. A small ship allows passengers to meet the entertainers informally around or on a tender and it makes for a v. friendly ambiance. There are some small boutiques and a store for sweets, souvenirs, duty free but this is limited naturally as it is a small boat. Disembarkaton was very smooth and we got off earlier than predicted with our baggage in the right place. We chose the cruise for the itinerary and advertised price and were well pleased with what we got in the main but that now we know Marco Polo, we realise that we should have a higher grade cabin as the comfort levels we had are well below other small cruise ships that we have been on. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We have been on the Marco Polo twice before, when she belonged to Orient Lines. The last time we sailed on her was in January 2006, on an unforgettable expedition to Antarctica. We saw this 5-day cruise advertised in the local paper ... Read More
We have been on the Marco Polo twice before, when she belonged to Orient Lines. The last time we sailed on her was in January 2006, on an unforgettable expedition to Antarctica. We saw this 5-day cruise advertised in the local paper and, because we remembered the Marco Polo with affection and the price was very good, we decided to book, particularly since it was departing from Newcastle which is only half an hour away from us. Having read some of the scathing reviews here, I can only ask what the moaners expected. First of all, Cruise & Maritime Voyages is a budget cruise line and doesn't pretend to be otherwise. Secondly, the Marco Polo is an elderly lady indeed, having been built in 1965. Therefore she has no balcony cabins and lacks the (so-called) mod-cons you'll find on the newer, mammoth, 'plastic' cruise ships. However, she has clean and classic lines, wooden decks and portholes, cascading rear decks with excellent views, and friendly and attentive staff. We had booked a standard outside cabin but found ourselves upgraded to a Superior Plus twin ocean view on Deck 9 (Amundsen Deck). The cabin (602) is right at the front overlooking the bow, so our window was looking in the direction of travel, instead of a side-on view of the sea. As we were high up the ship and at the front we did not get any noise from the engine and enjoyed a good night's sleep each night. The cabin, although very clean and comfortable, was plainly furnished and had "no frills". There was loads of wardrobe and drawer space, twin beds, a chair and an old-fashioned (i.e. CRT) television. The selection of mini-toiletries, i.e. shampoo, shower gel and body lotion, was a cheapish brand and you don't get a chocolate on your pillow at night. Nonetheless our cabin stewardess kept the place immaculate and was very friendly. We tended to eat breakfast and lunch in the self-service Raffles buffet, and dinner in the main Waldorf restaurant. I have to say that the food in the restaurant was much better than that in the buffet, which tended to be unimaginative and repetitive. Also, as other reviewers have mentioned, there seemed to be an ongoing problem with there not being enough crockery and cutlery to cater for everyone; several times they ran out of coffee mugs, cereal bowls and knives or spoons, and you'd have to wait around for the kitchen staff to bring some more. This only occurred in the self-service buffet on Deck 8; the food and service in the main restaurant (Waldorf) were excellent. We found the entertainment to be surprisingly good for a small ship; the entertainment team turned their hands to everything from participating in the musical cabarets, to being quiz masters/mistresses, to game-show hosts to excursion couriers. They were a real friendly bunch. The musical performances in the Marco Polo Lounge included tributes to Abba and Queen, excerpts from West End musicals, and their own version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The nightly game shows in Scott's Bar included Catchphrase, the Weakest Link, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Mr & Mrs. They were really good fun and it was a lively crowd that congregated in Scott's Bar each night. The bar is situated on Deck 9 Aft and the doors open onto the outside deck which affords fantastic views and lets in a welcome sea breeze. We were blessed with weather that would have rivalled that on the Med. The 5-day cruise, which took us to Kirkwall (Orkney), Stornoway (Isle of Lewis), Ullapool and Invergordon, never saw a cloud in the sky and Ullapool clocked the hottest place in the UK when we were there, with a temperature of 28 Celsius. Obviously the cruise line can't control the weather, but it really made the holiday. This was our 30th cruise and it just so happened that the Captain on the Marco Polo, Georgios Antonellos, was the same captain we'd had on our very first cruise 24 years ago. We spotted him out on the bridge wing and told him this fact and he was tickled pink that we'd remembered him from the "Starship Royale" way back in 1988. He took us on a tour of the bridge and asked us which cabin we were staying in. Later that evening we returned to our cabin to find a bowl of fruit, some smoked salmon canapes along with a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses. A card peeping from the fruit bowl was inscribed "With Compliments" and signed "Captain G. Antonellos". What a lovely, thoughtful touch and really the icing on the cake. We've travelled with the more fashionable cruise lines such as Azamara Club Cruise, Cunard and Holland America, so we didn't expect much from Cruise & Maritime or the little old Marco Polo. But the whole experience surpassed all of our expectations and turned out to be a really enjoyable trip with excellent entertainment. We'd definitely cruise with CMV and Marco Polo again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Marco Polo Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.7
Dining 3.0 3.5
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.2
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.3
Enrichment 4.0 3.2
Service 4.0 3.9
Value For Money 5.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.6

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