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Cruise Ratings
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This was my fourth cruise with CMV but my first on the Marco Polo, I had heard so much about this ship from friends who had been on its 50th Anniversary Cruise up the St Lawrence. I must admit I had heard bad reports as well as good ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise with CMV but my first on the Marco Polo, I had heard so much about this ship from friends who had been on its 50th Anniversary Cruise up the St Lawrence. I must admit I had heard bad reports as well as good reports about this ship but my own findings were that it has a charm all of its own and a very friendly dedicated crew. The reason I choose a cruise is to see different places and experience different cultures, this cruise to Greenland really was an amazing experience but could have been better if the quality of the lecturers had been more consistent. The difference that onboard lecturers can make to a cruise is more than significant and on this cruise the ability and relevant knowledge of the lecturers varied to the extreme. The main lecturer was Prof. Eric McVicar, who when I looked him up on the internet was described by one University as "an Internationally recognised expert on Arctic cultures and ecology". This was certainly the case, every lecture he gave was pertinent and relevant to the destinations visited. His lectures were delivered in an exceptionally professional manner and were highly informative, as well as being delivered with more than a touch of humour. Strangely enough my friends who had been on the CMV Anniversary Cruise had also commented on the brilliant lecturer they had encountered, the same Prof. Eric McVicar. In all my years of cruising he is the first lecturer I have ever come across who has given two evening shows in the show lounge followed by a question and answer session and to get into his lectures you had to arrive very early to ensure getting a seat. CMV has done well to secure a lecturer of this standing. We had the privilege of having lunch with him on a couple of occasions during which he was asked by one passenger "Do you also lecture in the Antarctic?" To which he replied he only lectured in places where he felt that he was suitably qualified and had sufficient knowledge to answer questions, a point which other lecturers should take on board and he was definitely the best lecturer I have come across in my years of cruising. The second lecturer was Sue Walsh who was described as a wildlife expert, I could find no references to her on the internet. Rather than describe her as a wildlife expert i would say a more apt description would be amateur bird watcher, her lectures were delivered in a monotonous patronising manner more like a bored primary school teacher with a class of 8 year olds. Her wildlife knowledge expired after three lectures, included in one was a reference that one needn't worry about Arctic mosquitoes as they did not carry malaria, thankfully Prof. McVicar subsequently informed us that although they were free of malaria they did cause encephalitis and that Arctic Blackfly could cause blackfly fever and therefore taking precautions to avoid insect bites was essential. Both insects were encountered during the trip so it shows a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing! After running out of wildlife information Sue treated us to 10 hints on how to live longer and another on ways to make ourselves more self asserted. Considering the average age of the passengers and the fact that many of us were retired professionals, University Professors, Doctors and Teachers these lectures were extremely patronising. Another of her lectures was titled Chickens in Colorado, what on earth that had to do with the Arctic God only knows! Definitely the worst lecturer I have ever come across and I was not the only one who was of this view, as one lady who farmed reindeer said that she talked "a right load of crap". The third lecturer was more of an interest subject rather than about the cruise destinations, Ian was a photographer whose hints on how to achieve excellent photographs with even the most basic equipment such as a phone camera were very good, however his last two lectures were his holiday photographs taken on a pilgrimage following the children of Israel out of Egypt, considering the religious diversity of the passengers these two lectures were not really appropriate on such a cruise. On the other entertainment side the comedians were dire but there was a real treat with Tenor Laurence Robinson who not only was a delight to listen to but was a great entertainer to boot by involving the audience in an extremely entertaining and humerous manner, top marks to Laurence. The ship's show team and Cruise Director Jonathan Dulson put every ounce of effort and enthusiasm into their performances, and considering the small size of the ship and stage this was no mean feat. The adult only feature of the CMV cruises I have been on has always been a factor in deciding which cruises we go on and no doubt we shall return to CMV when we see a cruise to destinations which we find interesting, hopefully in the case of Canada we will again have the delight of Prof. McVicar's lectures. The cabin we had on the ship was an outside cabin with twin beds, although small was comfortable and the steward was outstandingly attentive to all our needs and requirements. Port and short excursions - we do not go on many excursions as we prefer to explore ourselves and see how the local populations live and work, in the case of Iceland however it is obvious that most of those involved in tourism are also involved in what may be termed extortion and daylight robbery, suggest to anyone going ashore in Reykjavik that they take a packed lunch and walk into town and keep their hands in their pockets and go to the toilet before you go in as it will cost you £2.50 (they do take credit and debit cards at the toilet). As always the food was good wholesome fare, don't expect lobsters and caviar at CMV's prices but you certainly won't go hungry and the variety of food and the service cannot be criticised. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Chose the cruise because of the itinerary [St Petersburg] and have sailed on Marco Polo before. Marco Polo looks like a ship and not like a floating apartment block and that's why I like it. OK it has its downside when the ship is ... Read More
Chose the cruise because of the itinerary [St Petersburg] and have sailed on Marco Polo before. Marco Polo looks like a ship and not like a floating apartment block and that's why I like it. OK it has its downside when the ship is full - not enough seating in buffet; insufficient open deck seating; cramped restaurant tables [and bossy waiters at breakfast & lunch - sit where you are told [for their convenience] and not where you want to sit. But Marco Polo has plenty of upside too. No screaming kids or truculent teenagers. Small ship atmosphere. Friendly and hardworking staff - buffet Head Waiter and his staff superb as was our table waiter at dinner in the restaurant. Thank you very much Sanjay. Good food. Reasonably priced drinks. Really good entertainment and a good itinerary although the Captain, speaking from the bridge, had to cancel Stockholm and transit of Kiel Canal because the Germans don't maintain their canal locks properly. Wouldn't happen on a Russian canal Captain! Also the passengers were mainly British and of an age when good manners, courtesy and civility were deemed important educational outcomes which made for a very pleasant atmosphere on board throughout the cruise. One serious issue is that crew leave passengers to sort themselves out when having to queue for disembarkation tickets and shuttle buses. Not good practice. Queues should be orderly and controlled with clear instructions given by crew. [and to the truculent crew member in future cruise sales - I know what I am talking about having written operational orders involving dozens of agencies and thousands of people so don't try and make me appear to be a moron in front of other passengers. I did not complain about your attitude this time]. Overall a good cruise and excellent value for money. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
I had been tempted when I saw the offer of a one night Gala Cruise on the Astor as I was curious to look around that ship, but my wife was working and unable to go. However, just one week before the cruise, I received an email that told me ... Read More
I had been tempted when I saw the offer of a one night Gala Cruise on the Astor as I was curious to look around that ship, but my wife was working and unable to go. However, just one week before the cruise, I received an email that told me the price was now £99 with "no single supplement"! That clinched it for me, so I rang and booked it straight away. I agreed to pay an additional £15 for the coach transfer from Stansted, since that is where the included flight returned to, and where I left my car. Approximately 30 passengers were on the coach from Stansted to Harwich. Embarkation was smooth, we carried our own bags to our cabins and I was unpacked by 11am. I was very pleased to find that I had been allocated cabin 122 (a premium cabin up on the boat deck) in which the second berth had been made into a settee and had a picture window with clear views out to sea. I went to the Waldorf restaurant for lunch and only three tables were occupied. I was asked if I wanted a table on my own, but I said that I would rather share. One couple, on a table for four, immediately asked me to join them. Shortly afterwards, another solo traveller also joined our table and the buffet lunch was most enjoyable. We sailed at 12.30 and I joined a group of passengers who were being given a tour of the ship. I had never been on a ship with so few passengers and, when I asked how many were on board, I was told that there were less than 70 passengers ! I was very impressed with the cleanliness, the layout and the decor and the hip had a feeling of calmness and serenity. There were several groups of passengers who had boarded in Freemantle and were staying on board. Indeed, I met one Norwegian couple who had stayed on for three consecutive back-to-back cruises and were planning to disembark in Stavanger after being on board for almost 90 days!! They told me that they enjoyed the cruise very much. I then joined two other passengers for a complementary bingo session, in which some twenty others took part so the chances of winning were high. We attended the captain's cocktail party, which was less formal than usual. It was more like a family gathering and, instead of introducing all of the senior officers to us, Captain Emmanouil Psarrakis sang to us in italian. Five of us, who had met earlier, sat together for the gala dinner and had a great time. The food and the service could not be faulted. We attended the show in the Astor Lounge (popular Abba songs plus dance routines) and this was followed by a female singer and piano accompaniest. She sang german songs in recognition that the summer cruises out of Bremerhaven would commence the following day. The next morning we had be out of our cabins by 9.30am (which is the latest that I have known on any day of disembarkation). We docked and left the ship at 11.30am and were taken by coach to Bremen, where we had the day to ourselves. We were picked up by the coach in the evening for our Ryanair flight back to Stansted. In my opinion, this was fantastic value for £99. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2012
This was the first time on a cruise, and the cruise was more a means to an end (ie seeing the Northern Lights!) rather than us wanting to go on a cruise. But we went into it with an open mind. Overall, the ship was ok, staff were really ... Read More
This was the first time on a cruise, and the cruise was more a means to an end (ie seeing the Northern Lights!) rather than us wanting to go on a cruise. But we went into it with an open mind. Overall, the ship was ok, staff were really lovely and helpful, but I don't think we're cruise people. The weather was really bad (gale force 8/9, 10m high waves) for a few days on the outleg and a few days on the return leg. The crew did a magnificent job to just keep working and smiling whilst the rest of us were feeling sick and falling about the restaurant! The bad weather meant we missed Alesund and Molde however this couldn't be helped. The only thing I would say is that I think this could have been communicated sooner, and more details of the weather forecast given over the tannoy so we would know when the bad weather was due to end. The ship itself was ok, bit dated in places, but overall no complaints. It was cleaned regularly and the staff did an excellent job in this. There was regular entertain laid on, however we felt this catered for an older clientele (bingo, bean bag bowls) and it was actually quite difficult to get away from the entertainment at times as there wasn't that much space on the common areas of the ship. It would have been better if we could have sat out on deck, but that was a no go with the weather. The food was to a good standard. We missed the gala nights (due to the bad weather and illness) but the normal restaurant nights were very quickly served and very accommodating. The lunches and afternoon tea in the bistro were good, however the amount of people and lack of manners displayed by some of our fellow cruisers spoilt the occasion (for example, pinching scones off other peoples plates!). The best thing we had was a champagne breakfast in bed and private dining in the card room for our anniversary (we paid for the celebration package). This was well worth it, with a full bottle of champagne and a chance to dine alone and be waited on hand and foot. We saw the Northern Lights on around 5 occasions - the best being in Alta when we went on the tour. We got into the routine of going out on deck after dinner (after getting changed into our warm weather gear) and standing out there for a couple of hours. This provided us with the best viewings and meant we actually saw the lights develop from the grey to the green which was great. The cruise director did announce any lights to the rest of the ship, but a lot of the time by the time people had come out on deck, they had faded again. A few points about the ports of call: - Amsterdam - 20 mins walk to the centre, only there for half a day so didn't do a lot - Svolvaer - small place, went on the organised boat trip which was great, but freezing. Got some lovely views of sea eagles - Narvik - went to the polar zoo. There are only a few animals there (5/6) and we were only there for a couple of hours, but the trip there on the bus went through some magnificent scenario which added to the trip. - Tromso - gorgeous little city. Shuttle bus laid on to the centre. We walked over the bridge, to the cathedral, and up the cable car for some magnificent view and waist high snow! Easy to do on your own. - Alta - went dog sledding which was amazing, really enjoyed it. Alta itself is very small, so I would recommend doing a ship tour or organising something yourself. Trip out at night was great, however this is obviously northern light dependent. - Bergen - docks in the centre so easy to go into town. The day was cloudy, but we went up the funicular anyway and had a lovely walk around the mountain at the top, with a nice lunch at the restaurant. Few tips - dress code not that formal so don't worry about it. - sea sickness tablets are available from reception (I didn't know about this for the first few days) - coffee was not great at the coffee station. I stuck to fruit teas. Would be worth taking your own instant and making that instead. Alcohol was reasonably priced. - we ordered a wine package, which included bottled water which we had in the room and was worth it, as the tap water wasn't great - the tv did have some british classic on it which was good, and different films every day, however I would have taken a laptop/DVDs if I'd known how little there was to do on the ship if you didn't like the organised activities - if you want to take photos of the lights, you definitely need a SLR camera and decent tripod. And be prepared to stand in the cold for hours. Overall, we did have a really enjoyable cruise and have some great memories, especially of the northern lights and dog sledding. It was a great way of seeing a lot of Norway without the stress or hassle of arranging our own travel/excursions. Read Less
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