Cruise and Maritime Voyages' Marco Polo has problems and we would never cruise on her again.
She is old and tired, food is poor, safety and security in need of serious attention, organisation leaves much to be desired, and Reception staff distinctly unhelpful. The only positives were the itinerary (the reason we took the cruise), shows, particularly the guest comedian, and the quizzes hosted by the dancers and singers.
Old and tired?
Plain, damaged walls in stair wells and corridors, scruffy carpets, a 'bistro' that has too few tables and chairs and all the looks of a 1960s greasy spoon cafe. Seating throughout the ship is worn, with cushions that gave up a long time ago. In none of the public areas could we find comfortable seating.
Sausages that consist of a puréed tasteless mush in a wafer thin casing. No need to cut, the knife just falls through. Bacon that is impenetrable to knife and fork. An 'Italian' dinner menu that was so unappetising that six out of eight on our table found it impossible to choose from. Followed the next night with a choice of steak, roast turkey and salmon.
Safety and security?
We have taken many cruises and have never been allowed back on board from a port visit without everything we have carried being screened. The only screening we experienced was on boarding in Leith. Anything could have been carried on board during the cruise with obvious implications for the safety of the ship and its passengers. Totally unacceptable. As for safety, the tendering at Stornoway was bordering on dangerous. We have seen tendering stopped on other cruises on lesser seas. The ship was positioned so that waves washed down her side, lifting the tender high, and then dropping them low. On one occasion the tender dropped so low that it was able to move in towards the ship and, when it rose again, it caught under the tendering platform and lifted it with passengers standing on it. Totally unacceptable: the ship could, and should, have been positioned to place the tender platform in its lee.
The excursion across Mull to Iona left without an opportunity to see Tobermory and returned 20 minutes before the final tender. It would have been quite possible for the ship to have sailed an hour later to allow passengers to have at least a brief look around the town. That would, of course, needed the ship to increase its speed a little, which would have increased fuel consumption a little, which would have increased costs to CMV a little. So it did not happen and bus loads of passengers were left disappointed. A number of passengers on our coach were also disappointed to hear the male guide announce that we should 'look forward to see if the girl is in her pool in her garden'. The member of crew who was accompanying the excursion made no comment and took no action on hearing this totally inappropriate comment. Offloading luggage in Greenock was a joke. Everyone had to leave their cabins at 07:00 and the latest disembarkation was around four hours later. The luggage was craned ashore in a cage. For much of the time only one cage was being used with luggage thrown in. The door left open on one transfer with luggage loosely piled and quite able to fall out into the dock.
Unhelpful Reception staff?
One suitcase, being used for the very first time, was delivered to our cabin with one of the feet torn off. Reception took no interest and no action despite the damage being reported before we left Leith at the start of the cruise. The only response was to provide a form to allow us to claim on *our* insurance. CMV and their agent took the luggage from us, damaged it, and refused to accept responsibility saying we had accepted their Terms and Conditions. Terms and Conditions that state they abide by the Athens Convention. A services access hatch in the corridor outside our cabin door was left swinging open, and so quite dangerous, throughout the cruise despite being reported to Reception and despite Reception saying it would be closed 'immediately'.
If anyone is tempted to think that CMV and Marco Polo offer an acceptable cruise experience then they need to try just one cruise elsewhere at no, or minimal, extra cost. It is a wonder that the average star rating on CMV's Facebook page has reached the heights of 4.2 out of 10. Someone has been very generous.