4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Chose this Christmas cruise for a fun filled time including new year. Oh dear what a disappointment! Ship well past it’s “sell by” date. Seating dirty and worn out. Surprise packages from family, totally messed up Half hearted ... Read More
Chose this Christmas cruise for a fun filled time including new year. Oh dear what a disappointment! Ship well past it’s “sell by” date. Seating dirty and worn out. Surprise packages from family, totally messed up Half hearted decorations very poor quality, and repetitive entertainment.Officers disinterested in passengers,complaints . Not enough explanation of ships routine. Daily programmes either changed without notice or not included in daily news sheet. Safety on decks needed attention,unable to hear announcements within cabin therefore did not receive important information definitely felt there was a shortage of staff, ie one wine waiter for numerous dinner tables. Very long wait for drinks in bars.no notifications in cabin about charge-for water. £2-80 per bottle!! Mistakes on accounts took sometime to rectify. not enough provision for disabled people.. lifts shut down far too early on evening before departure.Overall not at all a good experience.definitly would never choose CMV again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Cabin We were given a tiny, windowless cabin on the lowest deck known as Carabic. The smell of diesel is so overpowering it leaves a taste in your mouth as you leave the tiny lift. We paid for an inner cabin and the offer suggested a ... Read More
Cabin We were given a tiny, windowless cabin on the lowest deck known as Carabic. The smell of diesel is so overpowering it leaves a taste in your mouth as you leave the tiny lift. We paid for an inner cabin and the offer suggested a free upgrade that never happened; despite this the cabin was serviceable and kept spotlessly clean by Lillia our Cabin Stewart. The two twin beds were smaller than a regular single but were rewarded with fresh crisp linen daily along with the white as wave towels. The cabin was serviceable and a little larger than I expected. The draw space and hanging space was well utilised for storing the plethora of formal wear needed on the cruise. 3 single wardrobes housed rails, the safe and a set of small draws along with a tie rack. The top space held the life jackets and could be used for storing larger items. The storage of suitcases was difficult but we squeezed them under the beds, this would be impossible with the hard shell cases but our smaller softer cases compressed to fit. The bathroom optimised the available space and provided a shower with a detachable head; the pressure was good and left us feeling refreshed. The toiletries supplied were limited and of a poor quality. The descenders in the showers were tricky to use when slippery and wet but we had brought our own and recommend travellers do the same. The standard of cleaning in the cabin is outstanding and I have never had a better standard anywhere in the world. Twice each day the room is cleaned and turned back at night, clothes folded for you, bins emptied, dressing area organised. It feels like Mary Poppins has visited each time you return. Captain’s Club This comfortable area is rarely unoccupied, in the day it’s bright clean interior attracts people hoping to relax and have a drink and at night it is a waiting area for people preparing for the show lounge cabaret. A delightful pianist and violinist play at various times on most evenings but they could not be enjoyed because they became inaudible within the busy room full of chattering guests. A beautiful resource that is sadly under appreciated and lost amongst the people. Sadly this area is understaffed and many guests treat the overworked staff appallingly. I have witnessed so many occasions where guests have berated, abused and directly verbally attacked the young staff. The waiting time for drinks is over 30 minutes or more and there does seem to be a favouring of those guests without a drinks package over those who have the package. This highlights another anomaly in the pricing of the drinks package. If I ordered a quadruple whisky this would be included in the package BUT a latte coffee would not. This seems rather unfair and does not encourage sensible drinking. My main issue with this area is the lack of tables for two persons. Most of the tables are laid out as 4s and so it negates any privacy or time for couples to enjoy together. Most of the time the lounge is quite full and so people sit with you and want to chat. A lovely thing to happen on a friendly ship but there are times when I would have appreciated some time alone with my husband. This layout was further hindered by the many Zimmer frames, walking trollies and walking sticks that created an ever changing obstacle course for people to negotiate. Scott’s Bar This is a lively little venue however after 10 all entertainment moves to this bar and sadly the area is far too small for the number of visitors using it. It was almost impossible to see both the show at 9 in the show lounge and then get a seat upstairs. Sadly we missed out because if this. The bar staff in this area are good and much quicker than in other areas of the ship. Many of the soft furnishings in this area are broken and are uncomfortable but this is only if you are fast enough to get a seat. Marco’s Bistro Terrible! This restaurant is appalling and I am afraid it has deteriorated during the cruise. The food is luke warm at best and stagnant and congealed most of the time. The choice is poor with mostly chopped meat dishes and diced over cooked soggy vegetables. The sweet section at lunch and dinner are poor with small portions of poorly presented sweets that include many cold puddings and whips. The majority of food has a soft blended texture ideal if chewing is best avoided! The cutlery includes only soup spoons rather than desert or tea spoons, so one must stir tea, eat cake and cereal with a soup spoon. Usually there is a shortage of cutlery throughout the restaurant at all 3 meals. My biggest annoyance was having to collect food in relays as people would take your seat between courses. Lone diners would find it impossible to eat all courses in the same seat. Main Restaurant This area is stunning and despite the tatty table cloths, with more pulls than a grandmother’s stocking, it is warm and welcoming. The staff try hard but the lack of organisation makes this a doomed enterprise. We were sat on a table of six and we were so close to other tables that the waiters played limbo to get about carrying the trays. The menus allowed for a choice but really what you received was like Russian roulette. I ordered ice cream and got sorbet, ordered pasta and got pork! This seemed to happen every night to at least one person in the table. The delay between courses was ridiculous with a 90 minute wait on Christmas Day between starter and main. This improved to 50 minutes on Boxing Day. We eventually complained and the time between courses reduced but the game of roulette continued. Midnight snacks Pathetic! These are carried around on a tray and given out in tiny portions on serviettes. I was blessed with grease down my ball gown as the waiter spilt them all down me on Christmas Eve! Not the wonderful plan I had for my dress which is now ruined. Deck Bar Swimming pool! More of a puddle than a pool. I heard it called a splash pool, a great name as it just splashes icy water over people sat at tables around it. The slippery deck is then a risk to the shuffling older people who hope to sit by it. No one used it as it is covered with a net, a complete waste of deck space and a blooming pain in the neck! The bar out here is well stocked and enticing but the wait time for a drink is so long you contemplate jumping overboard! The waiting staff meander about, avoiding eye contact and rarely engage with people. I have found this the worst area to get a drink and have often given in and had a self service coffee rather than nothing. Entertainment The entertainment team includes some excellent singers with talent way beyond this ship. Callum, Anneka and Savannah brighten every room when they enter and their talent shines through. The others are not quite as talented but what they lack in ability they make up for in enthusiasm. Mitch makes everyone smile and excelled at Elvis and some swing but he struggles with more challenging songs. Not all of the songs the entertainers sing suit their voices and even the best of them murder some songs. The Wuthering Heights needs to be pulled ASAP! Daytimes are dull. Little if any entertainment goes on and much is not hosted. The entertainment seems to be aimed at the older generation with Knit and Natter and Bridge. We attended the Creative Writing and although we enjoyed the sharing of creative works the gentleman who ran the session was poor. He talked. A lot! He then got everyone to write and share. The feedback was peer feedback with little input from him. There was no development of people’s skill, no feedback or development of ideas. The next session repeated exactly the first in format and activities. The room was too small and the delivery needs to be improved. The tutor led session was didactic and lacked any imagination. Ironic given it was a creative writing class. The exception to the poor daytime activities was the Morecombe and Wise Comedy lecture that was excellent. It was well planned, entertaining and engaging, giving rise to much laughter and good spirits. The presenter was knowledgeable and very talented. Excursions The excursions are very expensive however they are well organised and have a high standard of tour guide. We did 3 different excursions and booked a fourth that was unfortunately cancelled. The first tour of Gibraltar was on a minibus and took us to the Rock, the Caves and the museum. The guide was excellent and entertained and informed us. He was relaxed and the tour took longer than expected but it was worth every second of my time. The second tour took us around a very foggy and rainy Funchal. To be honest the tour should have been cancelled due to the weather. The views were totally covered by a thick blanket of fog making visibility about 3 meters maximum. The guide tried her best but coffee and cake at a golf club and a walk to a wine tasting cost us £48 each. Very disappointing! The 3rd trip around a freezing cold Lisbon was a march, following a bossy school mistress who barked at us and constantly repeated herself. When people asked for rendezvous times she wouldn’t give them insisting we stayed with her. The visit to the monastery allowed no time to contemplate the beautiful place or enter into prayer. It was a fast walk through and a sit on a pew whilst she talked and talked constantly repeating herself. Disappointing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We have never cruised before, and wanting to get away for the whole Christmas Period, this cruise fitted the bill. It appeared good value compared to alternative festive getaways and we had a good time, but all was all not exactly plain ... Read More
We have never cruised before, and wanting to get away for the whole Christmas Period, this cruise fitted the bill. It appeared good value compared to alternative festive getaways and we had a good time, but all was all not exactly plain sailing. We booked through Saga, who’s service was exemplary. They arranged transportation from our home to the port and return, which was upgraded to minute perfect luxury private cars, free of charge because we live close to Avonmouth. This is an old small ship, and when docked the view looked comical, as the Marco Polo looked as if it was the tug for the larger cruise ships. However we had the last laugh passing enormous queues for those huge floating hotels, to just walk straight on the Marco Polo. Embarkation, and disembarkation particularly were easy too. This is not a ship for those without good sea legs, as it rode every wave and rolled. I was shocked how much more movement there was on here compared with a small Cross Channel Ferry we took two weeks previously in an identical sea state. Remember to bring your sea sickness gadgets and remedies. I have never suffered sea sickness but was struck down with nausea one day and took advantage of complimentary Sea Sick Pills. On a few days the choking smell of diesel around the ship added to this problem. We purchased a drinks package, that was good value, but it could be challenging to make it pay. Service was variable. A good example was, at our dinner table we had an apparently new recruit wine steward who was struggling. At our first meal it was 45 minutes before we were offered a glass of wine. At subsequent meals we tried to purchase wine at the bar to take down to dinner, only to be curtly told to sit at a (lounge) table, as it was waiter service only. This could be a lengthy process, as there were not enough bar staff. However we found we could purchase our wine at the Columbus bar at the opposite end of the ship. Here the regular barman was an absolute legend. He was efficient and very focused. His Cocktails were the best and most consistent on board by a nautical mile. The main restaurant was always very busy in the evenings, but the service of the meals was excellent. The food was generally very good, apart from a rare duff dish, or one that was not warm enough, but Henry our table steward was very accommodating with replacements and alternatives. Breakfast was served here buffet style, and lunch was back to a more formal style, but we found the the atmosphere too dark and stuffy for mid day and chose to eat at the buffet. The Buffet was more cafe style and but food here was also tasty and better than it looked. It was always very crowded at lunchtimes, especially early on, but we always (sometimes just) managed to find somewhere to sit, sometimes outside by the pool. The whole crew were generally friendly when they could be (when it was quiet) but they could come across grumpy when under pressure. The entertainment team were exceptional, and worked very hard to provide a variety of shows and other activities across the vessel, maybe more Hi Di Hi than West End, but it wasn't unusual for the lead role of a fully dressed show to finish at 21:55 to present a quiz at 22:00 in the bar at the opposite end of the ship. Callum and Savannah were particularly outstanding talents. One of the joys of the smaller ship was that they were happy to engage with passengers around the ship and in the buffet and the smaller ship enabled you to get to know most of the staff and fellow passengers, which some passengers enjoyed but a few found this a little stifling. On this fully booked trip, space was a premium and you needed to arrive early to get a decent seat for entertainment, quizzes etc. The little fitness and wellness area was good value. Despite the ships age, the public areas were in good condition as were the furnishings and as advertised were never luxurious but surprisingly comfortable. Our cabin probably showed its age a little more. On our arrival was clean and comfortable but with some signs of wear and tear especially in the bathroom. There was a problem with the tap water in our cabin, that at times was a strange Brown/orange colour, that we repeatedly complained about.I think this may have been sorted at the end of our cruise. We paid the extra to have a bath, but bathing in that water wasn't at all appealing, but we did benefit from a large comfortable bed and a lot of living and storage space. Cabin care was disappointing. After about four days our nice bedding was changed for a set with a stained quilt. During the night some of the contents of the stain (possibly blood or vomit) soaked up onto the surface of the quilt cover. Nightly, when our beds were turned, our daily programme was positioned over the offending stain by our Cabin Steward to hide the stain. This went on for about a week until we complained and the bedding was changed. They also could have been a little more generous with the vacuum cleaner, and we resisted the temptation to borrow the one left in the gangway when obvious crumbs were left following the cabins make up. The ships programme could hardly be relied on, as it was often full of mistakes and inaccurate information. We missed events that were not listed and attended ones that didn't happen. It told us to change our clocks 24 hours early, and it mis informed us that for the last 36 hours of our cruise only one bar would be open on a cash only basis. Thankfully that wasn't the case. The cruise itinerary went to schedule perfectly apart for our arrival in Funchal where we were unable to anchor, allegedly because of the swell. I think this turned out to be an advantage as we gently cruised past Funchal at such a position that everybody could see and enjoy the whole spectacle of the town twinkling and every firework across the bay in the New Year display. Best of all our late arrival in port meant that we docked instead of tendered. The ship was launched in the mid sixtes, and there was only a handful of people born after this launch date, and most were born some twenty years or more prior. There were also a large number with walking or mobility aids, so docking ensured that everybody had time and were able to enjoy the delights (and the rain) of Madeira relatively hassle free. In spite of the niggles, we enjoyed a lovely British Christmas break surrounded by friendly, mainly older people who certainly knew how to enjoy themselves. If you like the traditional cruise with excuses to dress up, you like to be constantly very aware that you are at sea, you enjoy the company of familiar faces on a daily basis in a no thrills yet comfortable environment, this cruise is for you. However, I looked with some envy at those big sparkling cruise ships that cut through the waves rather than rode over them. I envied their gleaming new glass and paintwork and particularly their balconies. However I know we would have to have had to stretch our budget much further on there, fly before embarkation with all that entails to get there, and face long queues at every stop. We had a good time but we won't be back in a hurry. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We booked this cruise at the last minute for £129 per person not expecting much and this was definitely lived up to. We're not novice cruisers having sailed 20+ times with other cruise lines. Our cabin was 6'x10' and basic ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute for £129 per person not expecting much and this was definitely lived up to. We're not novice cruisers having sailed 20+ times with other cruise lines. Our cabin was 6'x10' and basic is an understatement, the bathroom light repeatedly didn't work despite being fixed so we gave up reporting it, the food was awful, bland and lacking variety, the entertainment reminiscent of a 1960's holiday camp and the staff most Eastern European were unfriendly and rude. However the public areas were pleasant to sit in which is the only redeeming feature of the cruise. My husband doesn't suffer being sea sick but he took to his bed due to the ship being so unstable. The Marco Polo reminds me of a converted oil tanker, it smelt of diesel everywhere and was antiquated to the extent it can't be called a classic ship. It needs to be scrapped. We've been on cross Channel ferries that have been more luxurious in terms of exterior aopearance, food quality and cabin standards. The life jackets were grubby and in need of a good clean. Embarkation amd departure were quick which is the only positive thing I can say as we sailed from a local port 15 mins from home. I could continue with negatives but don't wish to relive the ordeal further. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
43I booked a last minute 5 night cruise on Marco Polo as it had been advertised at a very good price. I have sailed on her a number of times and have a soft spot for this elegant old cruise ship. Embarkation at Tilbury was very quick, I ... Read More
43I booked a last minute 5 night cruise on Marco Polo as it had been advertised at a very good price. I have sailed on her a number of times and have a soft spot for this elegant old cruise ship. Embarkation at Tilbury was very quick, I had allowed for travel holdups that did not occur, and arrived at the port almost two hours early, and checked in and was aboard in less than five minutes. I had a comfortable outside cabin on deck 7 with tea and coffee making facilities, which I was very happy with. It was kept spotlessly clean by my steward, who was a dab hand at providing me with a range of daily towel sculptured animals. Our first port of call was Rotterdam, which was a delight. Although free coach shuttles had been laid on, it was only a 15 minute walk from the cruise terminal to the city centre. Rotterdam is much more modern than Amsterdam, but the benefit is that you do not have the hordes of tourists to contend with. It is a lovely city to explore on foot. Our next stop was Rouen for an evening visit to the Christmas markets by the cathedral. As before, free shuttle coaches had been provided to the city centre. Rouen is beautiful, I would have liked far longer there to fully explore the place. Our third and final stop was a full day in Honfleur. We had been informed at the start of the cruise that the Christmas market in Honfleur had been delayed and would not be open for our visit. I spent the morning exploring Honfleur, which is well worth a visit, with many quaint narrow streets and ancient buildings. After returning to the ship for lunch, CMV kindly laid on free coaches to take us over the impressive Seine bridge to spend an afternoon in Le Havre. I have seen some reviews of Marco Polo where people moan about various niggles they’ve found, but these seem very unfair to me. The ship is not new, but she is smartly styled and the crew work tirelessly to keep her looking her best. I found the food in the restaurant to be very good, the beef wellington one night particularly worth a mention. Dinner consists of five courses, Cunard only serve four on QM2! My table companions all agreed the food in the restaurant was very good. There were lots of activities organized on board, regular quizzes and games, craft workshops, guest lectures (themed on Joan of Arc, Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte which were excellent and well presented) as well as entertainment from talented musicians and an enthusiastic show team of singers and dancers. If you get a chance to do a longer cruise on this lovely liner, you are in for a little treat at the end of your meal on the last formal night. This is possibly the only ship that still does the ‘Baked Alaska’ parade properly. Take your cameras with you to dinner. I’ll say no more so as not to spoil the surprise! The baked Alaska was delicious of course. After a final day at sea, we disembarked in Avonmouth, Bristol. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We saw it in a newspaper as BOGOF offer. This was not correct. By the time we had paid extra for the all inclusive element it ended up costing as much as going to the caribbean. Guests on our dinner table had paid far less. This ship ... Read More
We saw it in a newspaper as BOGOF offer. This was not correct. By the time we had paid extra for the all inclusive element it ended up costing as much as going to the caribbean. Guests on our dinner table had paid far less. This ship is very old (over 50 years) and it shows. The cabin window rattled all the time. The cabin was ok, beds comfortable, bathroom acceptable. The food on board was very good, with good choices available although the dinners really had too much on the plate. The staff were very good, helpful, efficient, friendly. The entertainment was very third rate. However, it should be noted that at 66 we were some of the youngest on the voyage. The days at sea were miserable, and we had to stay on our beds for most of that time, due to the inclement weather. Excursions were expensive, so we opted to sort ourselves out and found getting buses very easy. Most places we stopped at were mostly closed, but the whole point for us had been the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, which we did 2 nights running in and near Alta within the Arctic Circle. Would we choose this cruise line again? No. Ship late getting back into Tilbury, mess-up with the coach back to Victoria, lost our onward connection, had to get new ticket, very long day to get home. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Choose this cruise because it was going to the smaller ports in the Baltic. Took shuttle from Victoria, there was an event going on in London which caused some delays to shuttle but nothing serious. Process at Tilbury went smoothly , ... Read More
Choose this cruise because it was going to the smaller ports in the Baltic. Took shuttle from Victoria, there was an event going on in London which caused some delays to shuttle but nothing serious. Process at Tilbury went smoothly , left hand luggage in cabin and had quick lunch in buffet before lifeboat drill. Next day was a seaday, spoilt for choice when it came to activities , lectures, craft classes, quizzes etc. I recommend arriving early for craft sessions they are always popular, this trip was no exception. We had a late night passage through Kiel canal and arrived in Wismar around lunch time on Tuesday. Wismar is where the Marco Polo was built. There were shuttle buses into town for 2 euros but its an easy walk and if you go via the old harbour quite a scenic one. I recommend the restored old merchants house, the wallpaper gallery is a must see. Audio description available in several languages. Entry is via donation and staff are extremely pleasant. St Georges church has a lift to take you to top of its Tower for 3 euros...well worth it for an overview of the town. Several other churches and a lovely town Square, shame our visit was a little short. Day two saw us in Rhonne Denmark, charming little place, being so late in the season the tourist areas were almost deserted. The side streets were quaint , and the main shopping street delightful with fountains and a children's play park. The museum was very informative , particularly as to the war time events. Lots of public toilet facilities alas having the right coinage in local currency not always possible, the usual standby of taking a coffee break did not work because a lot of cafes do not offer facilities. The church overlooking the harbour is delightful and is well worth a visit on way back to tenders. Visby Sweden....the new cruise stage only opened this year and it looked like the local gulls had been making free use of it....free shuttle into the old town. Rather like a Disney film set, turrets and floral decorated balconies abound, was expecting Rapunzel to appear at any moment. It is possible to walk round the city walls and some of the towers are open to give a good view point. The botanical gardens were still in bloom and provided a welcome pot to rest for a while. Entry to the museum was 10 euros and looked interesting however I had left it rather late to visit so confined myself to coffee and cake in the cafe. Filter coffee offered free refills. Staff multi lingual but please note Euros are not accepted as payment. Unfortunately witnessed two American ladies from the ship being quite abusive to staff on discovering this. Arrival in Klapeda was not promising a grey damp mist greeted us, however a local folk group were playing on quayside so wasn't all bad. We received town maps with a marked trail around the town, there is something to see on every corner so feel free just to wander. The sculpture garden is well worth visit, but there are sculptures and interesting buildings everywhere. A small craft market offered much amber but also ceramics and art work. Prices were reasonable and English was widely spoken. Finally we arrived in Gdansk the largest and busiest port on our itinerary, free shuttle into town. Amber shops/ stalls everywhere but no heavy sell. There is a scenic observation wheel which gives you 15 minutes of eye level viewing for around £6. Lots of building work going on but refreshingly building sympathetic to original style. Fairly typical normal port of call, very touristy. Our return passage through Kiel canal was in daylight. Fascinating to watch the gate close behind us and lots of interesting bridges/ canal side homes to see on way through. Final day was sea day, back in the North sea so a tiny bit of movement but ship handles very well in conditions , the pool burger bar stayed open throughout I think the smell of frying did make some people feel a little off colour. Final morning buffet started sevingbreakfast early, had no trouble finding seat although I would recommend hanging on to your cup if you want a refill. After breakfast I moved onto Palm garden and found seat by the window to watch our arrival in Tilbury. Return shuttle went very smoothly. The Marco Polo is looking good despite her age, constant cleaning and, when in port , painting going on. Public facilities good, I recommend the Columbus lounge if you do start to feel the effects of sea movement. Service in the Wardolf restaurant good, nice selection of dishes and extra off menu dishes salomon etc always available. Also additionally dishes of veg if you would like them. Bar staff efficient although sometimes waiting times in the show lounge were longer than ideal. Very friendly ship, I recommend for those who actually like being at sea. Maybe not for those who want waterslides and the like, but throw yourself into the activities and you will have a good time. Lecturers were good and very good comedian/ singer/ one man band provided excellent entertainment...he even doubled up as tour guide at one port. My one niggle....the new cruise director and his assistant....they were both good singers and very enthusiastic, pleasant and accessable... However I wonder if they are not a little too full of themselves for CMV? Time will tell. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We booked this because we were going to the U K and decided to try this cruise because it was going through the Kiel Canal.. We had a total of 4 sea days. and our port stops were. Wismar . Germany. A very quiet port lovely ... Read More
We booked this because we were going to the U K and decided to try this cruise because it was going through the Kiel Canal.. We had a total of 4 sea days. and our port stops were. Wismar . Germany. A very quiet port lovely architecture but very walkable. Next Port was Ronne a Danish island. Again very very quiet and apsrt from the churches not much to see.Would not visit this port again. Visbey was next { swedish Island} Beautiful and historic area. very quiet and a 20 minute bus ride from ship. Ship provided shuttle bus. Klaipeda Lituania was our next stop. Very laid out town New and old sections. Easy to walk around with a good choice of cafes. Our favourite stop was Gdansk Poland . So much to see I wish we had stopped longer there than Ronne and Wismar. We did not take any ships tours. We had a inside cabin {509} spacious for inside cabins and a good location for getting to and fro to dining and shows. Very well maintained. Embarkation and disembarkation well managed. Food choices and meals , excellent. Entertainment was also varied and of good quality. Would consider taking another cruise with this company depending on the Ports. My only negative was having to vacate the cabin by 7am. Very difficult to get Tea and coffee as the machines did not work or the first few hours . Adult only cruise. Small pool and three whirlpools. Fitness room etc. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
As an experienced travellers and cruisers, we selected this cruise because the itinerary looked interesting; the dates suited, it looked good value and to try CMV and Tilbury. Background information This is a review of a nine night ... Read More
As an experienced travellers and cruisers, we selected this cruise because the itinerary looked interesting; the dates suited, it looked good value and to try CMV and Tilbury. Background information This is a review of a nine night cruise from Tilbury on the Cruise and Maritime (CMV) ship Marco Polo. Our now considerable experience of travelling has included cruises with P&O, Thomson and SAGA. We are English, fit and in our seventies. In addition to the appealing itinerary and date, we selected this CMV cruise because it was child free, sailed from a fairly local port and looked good value. The following sections are under the headings advised by CruiseCritic and also show our CruiseCritic ratings. Below that are further sections commenting on the other CruiseCritic ratings. Travel to Port of Embarkation Our Rating - Terrible Tilbury terminal entrance and car park are poorly sign posted and there is a lengthy one-way-system to negotiate between the two. On first booking, we received directions to drive to the ship. When our tickets arrived, only six days before we sailed (despite my prompting), they had a parking ticket for the wrong car and new directions to a car park, about a mile from the ship, to pick up a shuttle bus. A corrected parking ticket was sent after two more complaints. The drive to Tilbury was about two hours and easy but then our problems really started. When we eventually found the unmarked car park, we were told that there was no shuttle bus. After a ‘phone call, the attendant re-directed us back round the one-way-system. These directions were also wrong and on arrival at a barrier we were directed a third time round the one-way-system to the Tilbury Terminal where there was a long queue of traffic. A second CMV ship, Columbus, was leaving the terminal an hour before our 5pm departure and this seemed to be more than the small terminal could cope with. Eventually, we were pointed to a space to park in but this was not the end of the problems. There was no help with our luggage and it took some time to find where to take it. After carrying and depositing the luggage, it then took more questions to find where we should go. When we found the right doorway, we were handed health forms to fill in and pointed to a small, crowded room with no unoccupied seats. It was now way past our boarding time of 2pm and we had not eaten or drunk anything since breakfast. There was no indication of when we might get on the ship, whether there would be anything available on board or where our next meal was coming from. Fortunately, about half an hour later and after more queuing, we were allowed to walk on to the ship, our cases were already outside our cabin and the on-board buffet was still serving lunch. We had booked through Iglu so the initial delay in receiving incorrect tickets may have been caused by Iglu or CMV. The repeated misdirections and delays were entirely unnecessary and of CMV’s making. Before we could unpack and settle in, we had to do the lifeboat drill. This was easily the longest and most frustrating version of this “requirement” we have endured. It started reasonably, gathering in the “muster” lounge for a lengthy lecture. We were then asked to put on the lifebelts and walk in single file, with hands on the shoulder in front, on a complex march through the ships corridors and stairs to a lifeboat. We then stood outside for several minutes until eventually allowed to leave and find our way back through the crowds. Stateroom (Cabin) Our Rating - Poor A review of the cabin is in CruiseCritic’s separate section. Ship Information Marco Polo is, by a small margin, the smallest and the second oldest cruise ship we have been on. It was originally Aleksandr Pushkin built in East Germany in 1965 with greater hull strength and stability than usual. This, plus stabilisers and a deep draught do seem to help it ride heavy seas better than most small cruise ships. Marco Polo’s refits and refurbishments have kept it reasonably up-to-date but the age shows, notably in the cabins (see separate section) and the passage ways where structural beams of all sizes run across the floors to trip the unwary. Internally, Marco Polo appears clean and smart. There are no worn carpets or furnishings, no chipped paint and cleaning, as on other ships, is constant. There are sanitizers where there is food plus staff with spray-guns. Most passengers comply willingly and there was very little coughing or sneezing on board. Look a little deeper, however, and things are not quite so good. Paint was smeared on windows and dirt could be found in obscure places like the bottom of the toothbrush glass holders in our “bathroom”. There were also occasional smells in the public toilets but we did not experience smells elsewhere on the ship. There are eight passenger decks, less than most ships and most facilities (bars, lounges, restaurants etc) are fairly close, so getting around is relatively easy. The main restaurant is on deck six (Atlantic). Almost all the other public spaces are two decks up on deck eight (Magellan). From bow to stern, these are as follows: Theatre (with a bar); Captain’s Club (main bar); Reception (starboard); Tour office (port); Palm garden (a starboard seating area); Shops (port); Columbus lounge (small bar); Library (starboard and small); Card room (port and small); Marco’s buffet restaurant plus an outside deck with pool, bar and food counter. One deck up from this lot on deck nine (Amundsen) are the promenade and Scott's bar. A further deck up on deck ten (Columbus) is a wellness centre (gym) and beauty salon. One final deck up on eleven (Navigator) is the sun deck with whirlpools. The promenade goes round about two thirds of deck nine. At each end there are steps up to deck ten where you can walk round and back down to the prom. You can also walk all the way around deck ten but much of it is a narrow passage between the lifeboats and cabins. The promenade is traditional teak and quite wide so should be good for sun bathing (in better weather) but anywhere near the middle, on either side, there is a constant loud noise presumably from the air conditioning system. There is similar noise in the centre of the Columbus lounge on deck eight. As with other ships, all on-board spending is charged to a cruise card account which must be settled (by cash or card) on the last full day. Dining Our Rating - Average - just Marco Polo has two main restaurants, the Waldorf on deck six and Marco’s buffet on deck eight. Both were fairly noisy and hectic. Outside Marco’s there is an additional fair-weather food counter. These three options are free. There is also the Fusion Indian restaurant behind the Waldorf on deck six. We did not try the Fusion which costs extra so none of my comments apply to this restaurant. Bar drinks, at additional cost (unless you buy a package) are wine-waiter served at lunch and dinner in the Waldorf and in the evening in Marco’s. The Waldorf The evening meal in the Waldorf is the only time when formal dining, at an allocated table, with full waiter service occurs. There are no tables for two. Our request for a table for six was agreed in advance and a table allocation card was in our cabin on arrival. Despite this, we were initially allocated a table for eight but this was changed without problem. Joining us was one interesting couple and another ‘been everywhere and done everything’ dominating couple of the type so often found on cruises. Evening meals took a long time with noticeable gaps between the five courses - starter, soup, salad, main and desert followed by tea or coffee. The starters were small, little more than horderves and the sweet deserts were little bigger. There were also some oddities. When chicken tikka masala was on the menu, for example, it came with boiled rice, a portion of shredded cabbage and a popadom. No saag aloo or similar and no naan bread despite the chef being Indian. At breakfast we were directed to the next table the waiters decided to fill so we landed up with different numbers of different people each time. Tea, coffee and juice were waiter served but everything else was self-service. The buffet arrangements were chaotic. Various tables were laid with different types of food and there were three queuing points for fresh cooked eggs and toast. The queues were often long and slow but when we finally got eggs they were good especially the omelets. This can not be said for the bacon which was very streaky, dry and hard (common with buffets) or the sausages which were mealy. We only saw hash browns once but there were pieces of roast potato. There was porridge and a good range of cold options (meet, cheese, fruit, bread and cereals) but again with oddities. All the prepared fruit, for example, was named “fruit compote” and none of these compotes included grapefruit although half grape-fruits in their skins were available. Lunch arrangements were similar to breakfast but a little less chaotic. Tea and coffee were waiter served but then it was into the fray and hope you remembered where you were sitting. Marco’s Proper buffet counters here worked somewhat better than the Waldorf at breakfast and lunch and could be a lot quicker. It did, however, get very busy, especially at the beginning of meal times although there were quieter periods, usually towards the end of a meal time. There was no allocated seating. Most tables seated four but there were some tables for two. There was overflow space outside, around the pool and there was nothing to stop us wandering into the nearby Columbus Lounge or Palm Garden with plates of food but we did not need to resort to any of this. In fact, one of our most enjoyable and peaceful evening meals was at a table for two, next to a window in Marco’s. Waiters were always on hand whipping away empty dishes almost before we finished. Wine waiters wandered through Marco’s during dinner but it was difficult to spot them and even more difficult to get their attention. We did not see them at lunch time. The food on offer was very similar, if not identical, to that in the Waldorf. At breakfast there was a single station for fresh cooked eggs but it was almost impossible to find toast. On each side of Marco’s there are self-service hot drink and cold drink machines. A wide variety of teas and coffees are available with hot milk or cold skimmed milk all in reasonable sized mugs. These machines are free and available up to eleven at night. We and others frequently carried mugs of tea, coffee and milk the length of deck eight and down to our cabin. The coffee available in the bars may be a little better and only cost £1.80 but came in small cups. Outside Marco’s a small food counter served burger (or similar) and chips. Although outside, this was open most, if not every day of our nine days in October in northern Europe. It appeared to be the only place on the ship to serve chips. They were never an option on the restaurant menus - another oddity and a shame as they were good chips. More than once, I collected food from Marco’s buffet, then went outside to get chips and then went back inside to eat. Afternoon Tea This was available only in Marco’s and was disappointing. It was entirely self-service meaning that we needed to queue to get tea from the machine and then queue again for cakes etc from the buffet. Savoury options were reasonable but cakes were not the best. Apple strudel, for example, had about the right apple filling mix but was round and on a very hard short pastry base. Late Night Snacks These were a major disappointment. What was advertised as a buffet in all lounges was actually a waiter wandering round with a very limited selection of horderves. They were even smaller and less appetising than SAGA’s similar offerings which at least did not claim to be a buffet. Meal Times These were reasonably extended with breakfast usually available from 6am to 10am. Lunch from noon to 2pm and dinner from 5:45 to 10:30. Overall food experience Our last meal, effectively a beef Sunday roast was excellent and the quality of most of the food was good. Better than we got with Thomson but not as good as P&O or SAGA. Similar can be said about the service. It was difficult to fault but was not quite as good as P&O or SAGA possibly because many were less than fluent in English. Activities Our Rating - Poor This part of our review covers CruiseCritic’s “Enrichment Activities” and “Fitness & Recreation” ratings topics. There were activities but that was not what were were looking for or expecting from this cruise. There was a wellness centre and a beauty salon on deck ten (Columbus). There were also frequent quizzes and invitations to activities (table tennis, knitting etc) many of which were unmanaged, just suggestions that passengers met, for example, to play bridge. We attended a tours presentation which seemed little more than verbal instructions on how to fill in an application form. Service Our Rating - Very Good Our real rating would only be good but this is not a CruiseCritic option. All the staff seemed to be foreign, mostly eastern European and there was often difficulty in being understood. They were, however, faultlessly helpful and friendly. This ship has no launderette and irons are not allowed although some ignored this restriction. The laundry service, which we did not use, charges £1.70 to iron a shirt or £2.50 to wash and iron. A dress is £2.50 or £3.75 and trousers are £1.85 or £3.75. We did not try cabin service either, which looked a little pricey although continental breakfast appeared to be free. Entertainment Our Rating - Poor The “orchestra” (really a small band) and the singing, dancing troupe were probably not much different from those on other ships. A couple of the singers were not bad and the dancing was energetic. They performed nightly in the theatre. Members of the troupe also performed late at night in Scott’s bar. They called this cabaret but it was really just singing to recorded music. In addition there were classical and pop duos and a guest evening appearances from Lee Carroll (comedian), Savannah Shepherd (soprano) and a bagpipe band. The young soprano was good but sang to recorded music and the band was good if you like bagpipes. The classical duo comprised piano and violin and played evening spots in the Captain’s Club. The pianist read the music, not always accurately and played with little feeling. The violinist was better but did not join the pianist every night. The Excelsior (pop) duo comprised a keyboard player and singer. They also played evening spots but in Scott’s bar. The keyboard was supported by recorded or automatic backing and played ballroom dance sessions as well as popular songs from the 1930’s to date. He was sometimes joined by a girl singer, somewhat in the Cilla Black mode with good soft and not so good harsh notes. The keyboard player sang too with a pleasant high pitched voice but with a heavy accent. Only once did we hear both of them singing in the same song. There was no daytime entertainment. The grand pianos in most bars were not played. The earliest entertainment was the single performance from the soprano at 4:15. Port & Shore Excursions Our Rating - Average We had worked out in advance how to see the interesting sights without booking relatively expensive ship’s excursions. Leith, Scotland Our plan worked well here. Marco Polo docked almost alongside the Royal Yacht, the entrance to which is in a shopping complex also containing Debenhams and an M&S food-hall. We did this lot in the morning and the well organised Britannia tour, with audio guides, was well worth the £14 entrance fee. In the afternoon we tried a Majestic bus tour of Edinburgh, also with an audio tour and at a similar price. It was hop-on-hop-off but we stayed on and it was still interesting enough, conveniently dropping us off at the ship. Klaksvik and Torshavn, Faroes In both of these ports we just took the free shuttle-but into town and wandered round. Klaksvic is small but both had visitor centres. It was interesting enough to see the scenery and how the remote Faroese live. The CMV excursions on offer probably would not have been much more interesting. Lerwick, Shetland Unfortunately, this was cancelled for the all too common seas too high for tenders reason and the ship sailed to the next stop. Kirkwall, Orkney We arrived here a day early but too late in the morning for the single 10am Stagecoach bus tour we had planned. In the morning we took the free shuttle bus to town and visited the impressive Cathedral and a museum located just over the road. Both interesting and both free. Fortunately, on the previous day, we had been able to book the afternoon CMV tour 113002 to Skara Brae, Skaill House and the Ring of Brodgar. This cost £51 each but included the £6 ticket price for Skara Brae and the house, both worth seeing. We then were taken to Ring of Brodgar and had time to struggle around this ‘Stonehenge’ in high winds and poring rain. The tour also passed the Ness of Brodgar (site of the current archaeological revelations) and Scapa Flow although we did not see any Churchill Barriers. Our guide was knowledgable and spoke almost all the time during the coach transfers as well as at the sites. Although not cheep, the excursion was reasonable value, especially as, having missed the bus, there was probably no other way we could have seen even a few of the sights. Invergordon, Scotland This port was added as we had missed Lerwick. It was no compensation. There is little to see, the church was closed and the museum was just a random collection of old things. It was, however, a pleasant enough town in which to stretch the legs. There were CMV tours to places like Inverness where we have already been. Disembarkation Our Rating - Very Good We managed to get up, take a quiet breakfast and return to our cabin, all before 7am, the time we were asked to vacate. The usual wait to disembark did not seem as bad as on other ships. We had comfortable seats in the Captain’s Lounge and the tea and coffee machines (in Marco’s) were working. There was a bit of a queue to get off when our “colour” was called but the worst part was trying to find our cases in the several groups scattered all around the large hall. Our four cases (we overpacked) were each in a different area, so it took a considerable time to spot them. Having done that, it was only a short walk with a trolley to our car and we were on our way by about 9am. The following sections are our explanations for our other CruiseCritic ratings. Onboard Experience Our Rating - Average A daily programme was delivered to our cabin, usually during the preceding evening. This was about as good as on other ships but often had inaccuracies. “Britain Today” a two sheet, eight page, ships daily newspaper was available, free, from reception. This included press association news plus some international news and a crossword. There were two formal nights on the first and last full days, both at sea. The first included the usual ‘photo with the captain and a small glass of sparkling wine. This was followed by a brief presentation of the captain and top crew in the theatre. It was all OK but not as good as the “cocktail parties” offered by other cruise lines. The majority conformed to the dress code but it was not enforced. On formal nights there were some men without ties and even some trainers. On informal nights, there were one or two men in shorts in restaurants. Most passengers were English with an average age probably in the seventies. There were a lot of walking sticks and some mobility scooters though overall, they seemed somewhat more mobile than SAGA passengers. There were some younger passengers including a fair number from the USA. All seemed happy, polite and well behaved. We heard no complaints and the only issue was one passenger in Marco’s who claimed the seat we sat in was hers “but I forgot to put my bag there”! There were plenty of other seats at the time. There was queuing, sometimes, to get off or on the ship and at the buffets in both restaurants but these usually did not take long and there was no queuing for the theatre or elsewhere. Public Rooms Our Rating - Average The public rooms are listed under “Ship Information” above. Here are details about the main rooms. They are all on deck eight (Magellan) except for Scott's bar which is on deck nine (Amundsen). There was never a problem finding a comfortable seat in any of the public rooms. Marco Polo Lounge This is the theatre. It is a single story and rises towards the back (which is at the bow of the ship), helping the view of the stage. The seating is comfortable, on wide corridors, on which further seating is placed. If occupied, this further seating can block the view. At the rear is a bar from which waiters serve seated patrons. This bar was only open when there is a stage event. Captain’s Club This is the main bar and was open early morning till late. It stretches the width of the ship and is nearly as large as the theatre. There is a small central stage, opposite the bar, where evening classical music was played. Innocuous piped music played at other times. A small dance floor was unused. The comfortable seating is similar to the theatre with sofas around the edges and small arm chairs around small tables elsewhere. Palm Garden This is a smaller seating area, midships, on the starboard side. There is a piano which was not played. The seating was cushioned but less comfortable wicker chairs. There is no bar but there is wine water service from the adjoining Columbus lounge. Columbus Lounge This small bar has similar seating to the Captain’s Club. There are no windows in this bar and much of it was spoiled by a constant loud hum, presumably from the air conditioning system. The bar was open till late from 10am when at sea and 2pm when in a port. Scott's Bar This is the late night venue. It is one deck up from the other rooms, has similar comfortable seating to the Captain’s Lounge and was open all day but the bar did not open till 1pm when at sea or 2pm when in a port. There is a dance floor plus two stages, one used by the pop duo and the other for late night cabaret. During the day, this was probably the most peaceful public part of the ship. Bars In addition to the bars in the public rooms there is one outside Marco's buffet, next to the pool. Bar staff were reasonably attentive but their system sometimes resulted in long delays before the drinks arrived. Waiters took orders from us and other tables and delivered these to the barman who mixed drinks and made coffee while the waiter processed the preceding orders through the till, delivered them with receipts for signature, collected another set of orders and took these to the barman. After this, with luck, the waiter processed our drinks through the till and delivered them. It all worked well if you were not in a hurry. Going to a bar got the drinks quicker but there was still a wait for a waiter to arrive and work the till. Value for Money Our Rating - Average CMV cruises look good value. They cost less than most and a lot less than some but as they say, you get what you pay for. It is easy to see where some of the savings are made. First, Marco Polo and I believe CMV’s other ships, are quite small and old, so they do not have the facilities of newer, larger competitors. There is only one speciality restaurant and no high deck panoramic lounge but these are small prices to pay. Second, the crew are nearly all foreign which should not matter except that many have limited fluency in English. For us, this was just a little frustrating at times but not a problem. Third, there were no little extras. No sail-away party and meet the captain evening was just one glass of wine. The evening buffet did not exist. There were no nuts or nibbles at the bars and no chocolates on the pillow. Fourth, all the greenery and floral displays were artificial. Fifth, although there were free shuttle-buses in ports, there were no free tours. Sixth, the cabin, a premium ocean view, was smaller and less well fitted than similar cabins on other ships. The CMV premium drinks package for two of us at £368 was good value. Bitburger beer was £3.30 for a short pint and the wine was £3.20 to £5.60 with cocktails costing more. Our bar bills would have totalled five pence less than the cost of the package but we also had wine with most lunches and dinners plus a complimentary bottle of wine in the cabin and the gratuities covered, which otherwise would have been automatically charged at £63 each. Despite this package, we were charged £2.80 for a bottle of water opened in the cabin. Overall it was fair value for money but we would sooner pay a little more for higher standards. Summary Our Overall Rating - Average This cruise rates only just above poor. After a disastrous start, detailed above, much of our experience was good but not quite as good as other cruise lines offer. Even Thomson Spirit which did not impress, had a better cabin. Fellow passengers were a decent lot. Not too stuffy nor too scruffy. Old but not infirm and with a sprinkling of youth. The atmosphere on board was relaxed and friendly. In marked contrast to embarkation, disembarkation worked well, although even here, our experience was marred by needless scattering of our luggage. The itinerary was as expected but we only got to three of the four interesting island groups. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Recent return from Faroe Islands tour. Had been on the Marco Polo 20 years ago on Baltic Cruise. Enjoyed the overall experience.But found the ship to be very noisy operating. AVOID cabin 429 which has a small service lift next to it ... Read More
Recent return from Faroe Islands tour. Had been on the Marco Polo 20 years ago on Baltic Cruise. Enjoyed the overall experience.But found the ship to be very noisy operating. AVOID cabin 429 which has a small service lift next to it ,constant operating noise. We were relocated but would be wary of being able to find a quiet cabin . Good news food ok, good entertainment.Unable to dock at Shetland Islands due to bad weather this seems to happen quite often. Stopped at Invergordon instead so was able to visit Inverness. Drinks reasonably priced. Staff hardworking and helpful ,though breakfast in the Walford could be a rushed mad scramble. Security checks on and off ship very lax. Little scanning of bags on return to ship. Little to recommend the Faroe islands even more remote than I thought they would be. Overall good value for money but will go back to larger ships. Read Less
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 3.3
Service 4.0 3.9
Value For Money 5.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.6

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