Review: MV Marco Polo
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
An overnight stay on Marco Polo
54 people found this review helpful
We have enjoyed over 30 cruises to date, all on what would be recognised as modern mid-size to large or very large ships operated by major international companies. We have developed quite a good understanding of what we like and what we are less comfortable with and we are reluctant to invest in a full cruise with a company that we have not experienced. We were therefore delighted when we saw the piece about Cruise and Maritime Voyages overnight stay programme in a recent mail from Silver Travel Advisor.
We had looked at Cruise and Maritime's brochure a few times and were attracted by some of their itineraries, especially some of the round UK ones that include places like the Iles of Scilly and the Scottish Isles, but we were a bit concerned about some of the reviews we had read. We therefore jumped at the opportunity to visit Marco Polo and stay on board overnight.
Cruise ports in the UK are never particularly attractive places at the best and Tilbury most be one of the least attractive of all. Road access was fine and parking arrangements were well executed. There was an inevitable queue to check in but we were walking to the ship about 30 minutes after we arrived at the terminal.
Marco Polo is nothing like the ships we have cruised on to date. She is very much smaller and very much older than anything we have experienced so we did not know what to expect when we walked up the gangway. Our first impression was made by the crew who greeted us and the waiter who got lost showing us to our cabin! Everyone was warm and friendly and made you feel very welcome on board. It turned out to be our guide's first day on board Marco Polo so we explored together until we found our allocated cabin.
The cabin was an outside twin bedded cabin which was clean and well presented, if rather dated. The cabin was large and spacious as the two rather small beds were tucked away in the opposite corners with masses of space and two large draw units between them. A great layout if you are trying to avoid contact with your partner! There was a single large picture window but not much of a view across the Thames on a dark winter night.
The shower room was functional and reasonably spacious once you tied away the shower curtain that did its best to ensnarl you. But, the step into and out of the shower room was huge, and then we noticed that the whole cabin was actually sloping down away from the door towards the window. It was quite noticeable and you felt like you were walking up hill to get to the door and the loo. You really notice the slope when you look at the bed, which has one set of legs longer than the other to keep it level, or when you look under the loo door as the door frame is level but the cabin floor slopes away.
We later found that this was a feature of the ship, maybe it is something to do with the age of the ship or the fact that it was built with ice breaking capabilities, but the deck in all the public areas displayed the same curve down towards the side of the ship.
One last point on the cabin, the sound insulation was non-existent and you could hear everything that was said outside your door. We did not sail anywhere during this overnight stay on board so we could not get any idea of the level of engine noise and vibration that has been mentioned in some cruise reports.
We had time to explore the ship and enjoy some of the drinks that were included in the cost of the event. We liked the public rooms on Marco Polo, especially the lounges and bars which were much smaller than we were used to and were cosier and had great character. They were all in very good condition and again, all the crew were very friendly and the service was very good. The drinks also flowed very well!
We changed for dinner and made our way to the dining room. There was an almighty crush outside the doors as they were running a bit late, this was rather uncomfortable as there was no way of getting out of the crush until the dining room doors opened. Even those arriving in the lifts had to stay in them as there was no room to leave them.
The dining room was a very pleasant room, but with a low ceiling it did make it quite noisy at times. We shared a table for 6 with one other couple and had a very enjoyable dinner with plenty of reasonable wine, which was also included in the cost of the visit. The food was very good and was well presented by our waiters who were friendly and efficient.
Having had quite a long day and a relaxed dinner, we did not make it to the show that was put on as part of the visit.
In the morning we opted to try the self-service buffet for breakfast. Once again we were pleasantly surprised by this area which opened out onto the pool deck at the stern of the ship, although the overnight frost tended to drive everyone back indoors rather quickly. By contrast with the diner, I am afraid that the quality of the breakfast was a big let-down, possibly the worst example of a cooked English breakfast since the bad old days of early motorway service areas. This was a real surprise after the quality of the diner the night before. I hope that those who elected to take breakfast in the dining room did better.
Arrangements for disembarking and getting back to our car all went very smoothly. All in all we had a very enjoyable evening and overnight stay for the price of a reasonable 4 star hotel and at the same time had the opportunity to experience Marco Polo and the Cruise and Maritime service. What a great opportunity and one we will look for again.
Reflecting on our experience on the drive home we came to the conclusion that Marco Polo is probably not for us, but many aspects of the Cruise and Maritime offer exceeded our expectations and we are still attracted to their itineraries. We are therefore going to take the opportunity to visit their newer ship Magellan as this may be the ideal combination for us.
54 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.