Yesterday I returned from a 3-night mini-cruise aboard Cruise and Maritime Voyages, MS Marco Polo and I have to say I really enjoyed it. We visited Ghent (Gent) in Belgium and Amsterdam in Holland, but I will keep the ports for another day, today is just about Marco Polo.
We boarded the ship at roughly 3pm and had 45 minutes or so to spare before meeting back up for some light snacks. Of course the first thing to do once onboard was investigate my cabin! I was on Navigator Deck, cabin 821 and I was pleasantly surprised by the overall size of the room. I had two single beds along with a large chest of drawers, chair, table and TV and a 3 door wardrobe. The bathroom was very generous too. I had an obstructed view, there was a lifeboat hanging outside of my window, but I could still clearly see our entrance into port every morning.
Of an evening we dined in the Waldorf restaurant on a table for 10, there were quite a few large tables actually and the restaurant felt a lot bigger than it was. The speed of service was just right too. I have cruised on ships with half full dining rooms and we have waited an absolute age between courses, but every night the dining room on Marco Polo was jam packed and not once did the system break down. The food onboard was good, it didn’t always look incredibly appetising to be honest, but the taste made up for it. Dishes during the cruise included chicken consommé, potato and leek soup, vegetable spring roll with fried rice, stir fried vegetables and garlic sauce, turkey with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables, vegetable vol au vent, spinach and cheese stuffed chicken, smoked salmon, lamb curry and a cheese and caramelised onion tart.
My favourite part of Marco Polo had to be her aft pool deck. What an incredible space and her tiered stern just added even more character. I love a tiered stern and I was pretty much in my element sat there. We had wonderful weather as we sailed from Gent and the sunset was incredible. In actual fact aside from a rather electric storm the evening we sailed from Tilbury, we had great weather the entire time, I would even go as far as saying it was hot in Amsterdam!
Scott’s bar was the “go to” place of an evening and the music and dancing would last well into the early hours of the morning. Every passenger was there to have a good time and occasionally they would spill out onto the open deck which was nice as you could get right into the atmosphere even whilst sitting on the deck below. Columbus Bar was nice if you wanted something a little quieter and of course you would visit the Marco Polo Lounge for the evening’s main entertainment. One space that I really liked was the Captain’s Club. It was modern, bright and airy and had a great relaxation vibe about it. I didn’t get to spend as much time here as I would have liked too but the brief “chill out” was very much appreciated after my 5 hour journey to the port.
Marco Polo is an old ship, coming up to her 50th birthday in fact, yet she is still going strong! Yes in some areas she is maybe a little dated, but she was very clean, her crew were polite and friendly and she can offer you some beautiful ports of call. I met several people that have cruised on her dozens of times and are still going back for more. When speaking to other passengers the biggest appeal for them was first of all her size, followed by the onboard atmosphere and then in the words of one passenger the fact “they simply don’t make ships like this anymore” which is very true.
In all I thoroughly enjoyed my time aboard Marco Polo. She was a lot smaller than what I am used too, but it was a nice change not to go long distance walking to get from one end to the other. Would I take a longer voyage aboard? Yes, definitely! I am lucky that she will be sailing several voyages from Port of Tyne in 2014 so maybe I will have to make the 10-minute journey and hop aboard to the North Cape or Norwegian Fjords! Watch this space…..
There is also a Marco Polo Photo Album to go with this piece.