Sail Date: May 2019
The Marco Polo seems to be popular with many (I spoke to a fellow passenger who had travelled on 7 voyages) but I suspect that those who like this 54-years-old ship are the same as people who choose to drive a 54-year old car rather than a ... Read More
The Marco Polo seems to be popular with many (I spoke to a fellow passenger who had travelled on 7 voyages) but I suspect that those who like this 54-years-old ship are the same as people who choose to drive a 54-year old car rather than a new one. Not because it is better but because it is different. The eccentricities and signs of age are apparent as soon as we had embarked at Cardiff and were shown to our cabin (number 130 - chosen by the operator as we had elected to a guaranteed outside cabin rather than choosing one). The first thing one notices is that there are only two electrical sockets - a 220 volt continental point and a 110 volt US point (plus an unnamed push button whose use we didn't bother to determine). In 1965 travellers probably only needed one point - but with the plethora of electrical appliances that are the stock in trade of the modern traveller, one power point is not really adequate. The cabin lights were also rather primitive, with an array of ceiling lights none of which could be switched separately - it was all on or all off using the one switch by the cabin door - and two separate reading lights. When we arrived in the cabin the air-conditioning wasn't working although, to be fair, the engineer was on site in less than an hour and fixed the problem. This was our first contact with the staff and was characteristic of all our relationships with the staff who were invariably efficient, helpful and pleasant. So 100% for that aspect of the cruise. Having unpacked we need to find out the layout of the ship and then we discovered eccentricity number 2. The one thing that every passenger needs is a plan of the ship and this should be in every cabin - but not on the Marco Polo. Yes, plans there were a-plenty at reception - once one finds it. But why not in the cabins which is where they will be most needed? Having found a deck plan another eccentricity was evident (number 3 if you're counting). The ship's plan shows the names of all the decks: Navigator, Columbus, Amundsen, Magellan, Pacific, Atlantic, Baltic and Caribic - but the references in the daily activities guide (entitled The Explorer) gave only deck numbers (Eg. Deck 9 Aft). Of course it is not too difficult to write the deck number on the ship's plan oneself - but why on earth wasn't this done at the time of printing? Before leaving the cabin one other eccentricity was evident, although we didn't bother to mention it to the staff as nothing could have been done. Our cabin floor was as bumpy as if the carpet had been laid across a ploughed field; goodness only knows what was underneath. Finally, although we had paid extra for an outside cabin we might as well have saved our money as for 80% of the journey there were deadlights across the portholes. This is permitted under the normal terms and conditions but it is as well for prospective passengers to be aware of this possibility on the lower deck cabins of this vessel. There are two restaurants on the Marco Polo, one waiter service and one self service and the food is good in both although that in the waiter-service restaurant is more interesting. The waiter service was very good. It is a sad fact that many (maybe all?) cruise companies charge very competitive prices for their cruises and then seek to make up their profits on the extras. My own extras bill came to over £900, much of which was drinks. On board drinks will be duty-free and bought at a discount price, but any savings are not passed on to passengers. As an example, a glass of house wine was £6 and a bottle of beer £4.50 - both well over UK pub prices. A further indication of this can be seen at the water station where there is a stern notice which reads, "For Health and Hygiene reasons it is strictly prohibited to refill water bottles at the water station". Well, I suppose it is just possible that some infected person might have drunk from the neck of a water bottle and then refilled it when pressing that neck against the tap - but I doubt it's a very serious risk. More likely is it that Cruise and Maritime want to make sure that passengers buy the bottled water that they supply at a purely nominal £2,80 per bottle. Cruise lines do have a monopoly and a captive market on board and this was evident from the price and range of the items for sale in the ship's shop. Proudly advertised as duty-free it was clear from the prices that any saving of duty was offset by an increase in profit. I needed to buy a pair of swimming trunks and the modest pair they had for sale was priced at £21 - about twice what a similar pair would have cost at home. The same excessive prices prevailed for most of the items on sale and I rarely saw anyone buying anything. In part the paucity of sales could have been due to the poor stick selection, which was not appropriate for the passenger profile. My own guess is that the average age of the passengers as around 80 years and thus hardly likely to want to buy designer shopping bags or the like. But the one thing that they would all use and probably need would be a walking stick, since at least 50% of the passengers were using a walking aid of one sort or another. Walking stick can break, get lost or simply be forgotten but did the shop stock such things? No. The assistant there did tell me that sticks were frequently requested but that it wasn't an item they ever stocked. If would seem to me that the buyer needs to look harder at the passenger profiles. The entertainment was of the usual variety and standard and little more needs to be said. The shore excursions were good enough but, as is so often the case, pricey for what they were. In summary, one can understand why some people enjoy the quirkiness of the Marco Polo, but next time I will try a different line Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
The Marco Polo is an old ship but she's been lovingly looked after. She's kept spotlessly clean by the staff. The cabin we had (for 3 people) was a little small (I had the top "bunk") but again it's clean and ... Read More
The Marco Polo is an old ship but she's been lovingly looked after. She's kept spotlessly clean by the staff. The cabin we had (for 3 people) was a little small (I had the top "bunk") but again it's clean and perfect for our cruise of a week. It's not a big ship (800 passengers) and that means it doesn't feel impersonal by any means. The choice of food in both restaurants is amazing - tasty and plentiful. You won't starve on this ship. Free tea and coffee and water available at all times. Never ran out of anything. All crew were lovely, friendly and helpful. If you suffer from sea sickness then ask for a cabin on the lower floors. We were on the Navigator deck and we could feel movement , tho not unpleasant. The cruise we did was down the Seine from Bristol, stopping at Honfleur (so pretty), Rouen (ok), Guernsey (lovely) and Scilly isles. The ship doesn't go into port at the Scilly isles and the sea too rough for the tender so we couldn't do that trip sadly. Overall, I would highly recommend her. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I choose this cruise mainly because of the destination and from the reviews thought the ship although old would be ok. First let me say i love cruising and have done 45-50 cruises with very few complaints but honestly this cruise ship and ... Read More
I choose this cruise mainly because of the destination and from the reviews thought the ship although old would be ok. First let me say i love cruising and have done 45-50 cruises with very few complaints but honestly this cruise ship and CMV have a lot to answer for. Our cabin 216 was small and we had 1 small porthole and had paid for an oceanview. The porthole was closed for 11 days of a 15 day cruise, whilst they do it for safety reasons there were times we were docked and still it was kept closed we had ask on several occasions to have it opened. We could have had an internal cabin for some $1000 less each.The smell of diesal and the crew smoking was there for the entire cruise. The ship was full to capacity 800 in a ship this size is just not on. Everything was full the buffett was a fight at every meal to find a seat and the quality was really bad even the 3 coffee machines were continually out of order. The dining room although a little better was way below standard. I paid for a VIP package please dont do it !! the wine list is a joke there are 2 white wines and 2 red wines from there signature drinks and 2 from the standard package to choose from i couldnt believe it. They some other wines by the bottle but they had to be paid for and you couldnt get them by the glass. With the other drinks if you wanted anything that wasnt on the drinks menu you couldnt have it !!! also the system they have is that you can only order from a waitor and cant get a drink from the bar. The entertainment was an insult except a young lady soprano who was great the biggest joke was when showtime came at night and old bloke with a banjo came out and started a singalong , i had to laugh !!! the showband seriously was that bad that the singers who did individual shows they didnt even play. I could go on. Excursions altho expensive were good and well organised. This company are treating the elderly british with contempt in my opinion . Go with this ship and company at your peril and as i said i have done nearly 50 cruises and cant believe all i wanted to do was get off . Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We did a 10 week cruise so we had a fairly extensive experience of life on board. The ship was built in 1963 for the Russian market and refitted in 1993. Issues: The hot three hot drinks machines, two inside and one outside, ... Read More
We did a 10 week cruise so we had a fairly extensive experience of life on board. The ship was built in 1963 for the Russian market and refitted in 1993. Issues: The hot three hot drinks machines, two inside and one outside, continually ran out of cups and shut themselves down with fault codes which appear to be due to over-use and they run out of hot water. There was a good choice of food for the buffet breakfast but the equipment in the Bistro failed to keep it warm, I would suggest a couple of microwaves for those who like their food hot. The main restaurant was slightly better. Omelettes, fried and poached eggs were always cooked fresh in both. The main cut fruit available was melon with a bit of pineapple, apple and occasional orange, but always a large proportion of melon. Whole fruit was always apples. There was the occasional banana, orange, pear or plum in the early days but scarcer as the cruise went on. There is a shortage of drinks waiters at peak times and the ship still uses plastic straws and stirrers. The show lounge (theatre) has very poor acoustics. There is an annoying rattle from the roof panels and despite complaints they seem unable or unwilling to fix it. The floor is not tiered and there are 7 pillars partially obstructing the view from just about every seat more than two rows back. The furniture definitely needs replacing, all the padded chairs were sagging in the seats and many were frayed or worn. Externally she was definitely showing her age with numerous areas of rust bubbles in the deck metalwork. There is no do-it-yourself laundry on board so everything is on an individual cost. With a handkerchief or item of underwear costing £1 with an incremental scale it wouldn’t take long to run up a huge bill, especially on a long trip. There were two Magic Bag days during our trip where you could cram a laundry bag with as much as you liked for £12, wash and dry only. The swimming pool was not heated and was filled with sea water when conditions permitted but this amounted to only a few days when in warm weather. There was an appeal early on for water saving if we went to sea for more than a couple of days yet remarkably the toilets used fresh water for flushing. I understand the hot tubs used fresh water and they were therefore mostly out of use, either with covers over or a notice saying ‘Closed For Maintenance.’ Following numerous complaints about the lack of information the Cruise Director placed an ‘Entertainment Suggestions’ box in reception for a few days but I am not aware of any changes resulting from this. The lack of information was typified by our visit to Carcass Island which required passengers to get a ticket for the tenders. The first two tenders departed and then the Captain said he was temporarily suspending the service due to safety issues and would review the situation in an hour. So we all waited in the designated place and two hours later when we had heard nothing we started to drift away. Nothing else was said except for a brief mention in the evening broadcast. For our journey from the Falklands up the west coast of Chile through the fjords, a map was delivered each evening to your cabin with waypoints marked and a time of arrival. We were supposed to enter Darwin Passage and Narrows at 10am. The ship actually arrived at 8am and by 10am we were leaving so a lot of people missed it. Not a word about the amended time or the reason they managed to get it so wrong with a simple overnight passage. On the way we passed several shipwrecks and memorials but despite having a pilot on board there was not a word of explanation so having seen some beautiful scenery we were non the wiser about any of it. A guide did join us for the Panama Canal but the first hour of her commentary was lost due to an intermittent microphone. The microphone in the Captains Club where the organised games and quizzes were held was intermittent for the whole trip. The ship only did one Sailaway Party from our last port of call. For the last few days they ran out of several things including tonic, marmite and till rolls. The Good Bits: The ship appears to have some very devoted passengers with one chap we spoke to had done over 30 cruises on the ship and several others were well into double figures. The entertainment team were very good with many different routines and costumes. A gin and tonic was £4.55 so comparable to UK and with two of us a round of drinks could come to £10 so it didn’t take long to rack up a hefty bar bill. The company we booked with ’Imagine Cruising’ did an all inclusive package for £300 a couple so within about ten days we were already in credit and as the cruise lasted seventy days we were very happy with the deal. We also got £800 cabin credit which we used to pay for the organised port trips which were very good and lasted either half a day or a full day with lunch. As anyone who has cruised will know trips around the town will usually be architecture, town history, museums and churches and cathedrals so it is better to do the national parks and out of town trips. The ship laid on free shuttle buses to town centres when they were not immediately outside the port which was a bonus we hadn’t expected. The ship was kept immaculately clean inside with the crew continually cleaning walls, ceilings, stairs and washing carpets at night. Embarkation was very slow but disembarkation was excellent, done by deck number. The food on board was excellent and you could purchase special meals, eg a full Indian experience meal, surf and turf etc and we thought these were excellent value for money. The food was of a very good standard and this was maintained for the whole 71 days. The waiters and hotel staff were brilliant and we couldn’t fault them. Any requests were dealt with very efficiently. There were a whole range of activities including craft, acting, choir, ukulele, chairobics, creative writing, bridge, ballroom dancing, etc. General: The cabins were mainly two single beds with one 4 draw chest with slide out writing table plus a five foot wardrobe. We got an unrequested upgrade to cabin 625 and ended up with 4 chests of drawers, an absolute bonus on a long trip but with a restricted view. Next door had the same layout but with a good view. There are no balconies on the ship. The electric supply was a 220V socket with 2 round pins. There was also a 110V three flat pin socket and a dual volt shaver socket in the bathroom. The shower was good and on a flexi hose. There is a 2’ 6” (75cm) drying line across the shower for small items. Suitcases can be stowed under the beds or in the wardrobe. There was a temperature control on the wall. We had a kettle, two cups and packets of tea, coffee, etc. A lot of cabins do not have this. Overall, the ship is showing her age with few of the refinements of modern cruise liners. She is a graceful old lady and possibly the oldest still cruising. If you don’t mind a lack of facilities and want to get into some of the smaller ports then this could be the ship for you but CMV could do so much to improve passenger pleasure at virtually no cost with simple innovations like providing more cups and cutlery, senior staff mixing with the passengers and providing tourist information commentary at special locations. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Brilliant itinerary, good food and friendly staff, service excellent. Too many people on board for the size of ship. All activities over subscribed. Ship like a long corridor, so passengers and staff passing through all bars sitting areas ... Read More
Brilliant itinerary, good food and friendly staff, service excellent. Too many people on board for the size of ship. All activities over subscribed. Ship like a long corridor, so passengers and staff passing through all bars sitting areas and bistro. No quiet areas to sit and relax and read without interruptions. Cabins, very poor sound proofing so hearing neighbours whether you wanted to or not. The cabin we had 611 had people thundering around overhead doing exercise walking early mornings. Be careful of the medical mafia on the ship, very expensive. Not recommended for a long cruise. Would not travel on this ship again. There was also a spell when black soot spots came through the air conditioning unit into the cabin covering the beds and furniture. This also happened on decks. Disappointed that the captain did not seem to want to use tenders in the Caribbean when the wind or sea was not too rough! No laundrette and laundry service expensive. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
A 70 day cruise around South America on the Marco Polo - EXCELLENT ! OK, everyone can moan about some slight annoyance that didn't meet their own approval but the cruise far exceeded expectations, especially when comparing the ... Read More
A 70 day cruise around South America on the Marco Polo - EXCELLENT ! OK, everyone can moan about some slight annoyance that didn't meet their own approval but the cruise far exceeded expectations, especially when comparing the value of it to many other cruises available. Yes, it isn't Cunard but for the price it was certainly excellent value ... of course, there will always some people who still expect Cunard quality for CMV prices. The places visited were extremely interesting and varied - major cities; remote villages and islands; scenic passageways and world famous iconic landmarks. The weather ? Only one major downpour of rain throughout the entire 70 days ... at Rio ! The hottest day ? It was a toss up between Buenos Aires and .... the Falkland Islands. Yes, 81 fahrenheit at Port Stanley, the hottest day anyone there could remember. You expect to be amazed by the major places - Rio, Buenos Aires, Montevideo - but it was the smaller ports that surprised many people and made the cruise even more enjoyable by them not expecting such there - Natal and Recife in Brazil, Puerto Montt, Arica and Valparaiso in Chile, Guayaquil and Manta in Ecuador, Ushaia in Argentina and Cartagena in Columbia, as well as cruising through the Chilean fjords and the Panama canal. The on-board entertainment team were excellent and it was obviously hard work for them to provide a varied programme for 70 days while the food was of the highest order. A very well-planned itinerary and would certainly recommend both the journey and the ship itself. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
South America cruise excellent. Ship old but very good. Lots of activities on sea days. Trips expensive but easy to make your own way. Food very good. Staff couldn't do enough for you. Many solo travellers. Entertainment very good. ... Read More
South America cruise excellent. Ship old but very good. Lots of activities on sea days. Trips expensive but easy to make your own way. Food very good. Staff couldn't do enough for you. Many solo travellers. Entertainment very good. Opted for drinks package which turned out to be an excellent choice.. disappointed not to visit some places that required a tender but you have to respect the captain's safety decisions. I would definitely hope to do another cruise on Marco polo. Although it is not as luxurious as most ships it was definitely the best I had been on for activities on sea days. There were also excellent guest speakers. People were grumbling about price paid but it depends whether you opt to book early or late and shop around different travel agents. We were on a dining table for ten but you can also eat in the history were food was very good Read Less
8 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
3 Helpful Votes
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
Marco Polo Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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