Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 272 out of 500
Accommodation: 120 out of 200
Food: 198 out of 400
Service: 223 out of 400
Entertainment: 56 out of 100
Cruise: 213 out of 400
Overall Score: 1082 out of 2000
Marco Polo Statistics
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: Cruise and Maritime Voyages
Former Names: Aleksandr Pushkin
IMO Number: 5112195
Builder: VEB Mathias Thesen Werft (Germany)
Original Cost: n/a
Entered Service: Apr 1966/Apr 2008
Registry: The Bahamas
Length (ft/m): 578.4/176.2
Beam (ft/m): 77.4/23.6
Draft (ft/m): 26.8/8.1
Passenger Decks: 8
Total Crew: 356
Passengers (lower beds): 848
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 26.0
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3
Cabins (total): 425
Size Range (sq ft/m): 93.0-484.0/8.6-44.9
Cabins (for one person): many doubles are sold for single occupancy
Cabins (with private balcony): 0
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 2
Wheelchair accessibility: Fair
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): No
Slot Machines: No
Swimming Pools: 1
Hot Tubs (on deck): 3
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: UK£
A modest ship, food, and service, for frugal cruisers
Overview. This is a comfortable ship with classic looks, and, with its deep draft, rides well in unkind sea conditions. It appeals to couples and single travelers of mature years who enjoy visiting interesting destinations in the comfort of a ship that is unpretentious yet pleasing, without much entertainment or organized parlor games, but with plenty of old-world charm.
The Ship. Marco Polo was built as one of five sister ships for the Russian/Ukrainian fleet. Originally designed in 1966 to re-open the Leningrad to Montreal transatlantic route, inoperative since 1949, it has a traditional ‘real ship’ profile, an extremely strong ice-strengthened hull, and huge storage spaces for long voyages.
The ship passed to Norwegian Cruise Line in 1998, and in 2007 to Greek owners. In 2008, it was operated under charter to Transocean Tours of Germany, which sub-chartered it to Cruise & Maritime Voyages, the UK’s newest cruise line. It received a £3 million refit/refurbishment in 2009. It operates adults-only cruises from the UK (although during school vacation periods anyone 16 and over becomes an eligible passenger) with Tilbury (London International Cruise Terminal) as its home port.
Marco Polo is fitted with the latest navigational aids and biological waste treatment center, and carries 10 Zodiac landing craft for in-depth shore trips in eco-sensitive areas. There are two large, forward-facing open-deck viewing areas, and a helicopter pad. The teakwood-decked aft swimming pool/Lido Deck area is kept in good condition. Joggers and walkers can circle around the ship - not on the promenade deck, but one deck above, although this goes past vast air intakes that are noisy, and the walkway is narrow.
As soon as you walk aboard, you feel a warm, welcoming, homely ambience. There is a wide range of public rooms, most of which are arranged on one deck. A sense of spaciousness pervades, as most have high ceilings. The interior decor is quite tasteful, with careful use of mirrored surfaces and colors that do not clash but aren’t boring. The subdued lighting helps maintain an air of calmness and relaxation.
Now more than 45 years old, the ship is still in decent shape. Indeed, it’s in better shape than many ships only 10 years old, and its interiors are constantly being refurbished and refreshed. It operates well-planned destination-intensive cruises and offers really good value for money in very comfortable, unpretentious but tasteful surroundings, while an accommodating crew helps to make a cruise a pleasant, no-hassle experience. Gratuities are automatically applied to your onboard account.
Passenger niggles? There is no observation lounge with forward-facing views over the bows. There are many raised thresholds, so you need to be on your guard when walking through the ship and particularly when negotiating the exterior stairways, which could prove difficult for mobility-limited passengers.
Accommodation. The cabins, which come in various price grades, depending on location and size, are a profusion of different sizes and configurations. All are pleasingly decorated, practical units with good, solid, rich wood cabinetry, wood and mirror-fronted closets, adequate drawer and storage space, TV set, thin cotton bathrobe (upper grades only), and bathroom-mounted hairdryer and non-vacuum, non-noisy toilets. Carpets, curtains, and bedspreads are all nicely color-coordinated. Weak points include extremely poor sound insulation between cabins - you can probably hear your neighbors brushing their hair - and the fact that the bathrooms are small, with little storage space for toiletries, which is a particular concern during long cruises.
The largest accommodation is found in two suites: Dynasty and Mandarin, on Columbus Deck. These have a separate living room, and marble bathroom with tub/shower, walk-in closet, refrigerator, and a TV set/DVD unit. Slightly smaller are two Junior Suites on Pacific Deck. All suites have superior locations with forward-facing views over the ship’s bow.
Also quite comfortable are the superior deluxe ocean-view cabins that have two lower beds (some can be converted to a queen-size bed), marble bathroom with tub/shower, and refrigerator.
Some cabins on Upper Deck and Sky Deck have lifeboat-obstructed views. It would be advisable to avoid cabins 310/312 as these are located close to the engine room doorway and the noise level is considerable. No cabins have a balcony because the ship was built for long-distance ocean/sea crossings before they became popular.
Dining. The Waldorf, in the ship’s center, is nicely decorated in soft pastel colors, practical in design, and functions well, but it has a low ceiling, is noisy, and the tables are very close together. There are two seatings, with tables for two to 10, and good place settings/china. The food itself is of a modest standard, and presentation, quality, and taste could certainly be improved. The wine and prices are reasonable, although most wines are young.
Other dining options. Marco’s Restaurant is for informal self-serve breakfasts and lunches - there is seating inside as well as outdoors around the ship’s single, aft swimming pool. On some evenings during each cruise, it also becomes an alternative dining spot for about 75 people. Reservations are required, but there is no extra charge. A 15 percent gratuity is added to all bar and wine accounts.
Entertainment. The Ambassador Lounge is the principal venue for shows, cabaret acts, and lectures. A single-level room, it has banquette seating and fairly decent sight lines, although several pillars obstruct the view from some seats. Entertainment is low-key and low-budget, and consists of cabaret acts such as singers, magicians, and comedians. There’s live music for social dancing and listening in several bars and cocktail lounges.
Spa/Fitness. This is an older ship that was built when spa and wellbeing facilities were not really thought about. A Health Spa was added in a later refit. It is located aft on Upper Deck, and contains a gymnasium - it’s not large, but there are a few treadmills, exercycles, and some muscle-toning equipment. There’s also a beauty salon, a sauna, changing facilities, and treatment rooms for massages, facials, and other body pampering treatments.
The spa is operated by Mandara Spa, and treatments have an Asian flavor - Indonesian facials, coconut body polish, aromatherapy massages.