Review of Marco Polo and its Easter cruise, April 2, 2012Author: F.G. Westgate
Date of Trip: May 2012
We anchored off St. Jean de Luz the next morning. This is near Biarritz, San Sebastian, the Spanish border and the Basque country. Tours had been arranged but there were 2 meter swells at the ship's side that made getting on and off the tenders hazardous. Many alternatives were considered and waiting for a few hours did not improve the conditions. Therefore getting ashore was abandoned.
All ship activities are cancelled when in port but this was soon remedied and a new schedule of events was arranged and printed to keep the passengers happy and occupied.
We next traveled over night along the French coast to Le Verdon. There, we were able to tie up to a dock. It was a foggy rainy cold morning but the rain stopped by noon. This is at the mouth of the Gironde estuary so is the port for Bordeaux and is in the Medoc wine country. Passengers are not allowed to walk in this restricted secure port area. But complimentary shuttle buses were provided which ran every 15 min. to the nearby resort town of Sourlac sur mer (in Aquitaine province). However that shuttle bus dropped the passengers off at a car park which was about 1/4 mile from the town center so it meant quite a walk for the older passengers and many did not get off but stayed on the bus to go back to the ship. That evening the entertainment was a Classical concert by the Carmen Duo which were two young ladies from the Ukraine, one playing the violin and the other the piano and they were superb.
Our next stop was in the harbor of Brest, in Brittany where we anchored and one got ashore by tender. But, at 1415 hrs. the ship tied up at the pier and stayed there until departure at 7.p.m. A bus was arranged as a shuttle to the city. We did not find this to be a worth while stop and did not get off the bus.
The following morning, we were anchored in the Bay of St. Peter Port, Guernsey and passengers could get to land by tenders from 8.a.m. untll the last tender at 5.p.m. This is a nice port and island and being Easter Sunday many stores etc. were closed. A good way to see Guernsey is to take the local bus for an hour's drive around the island for £1 each. That night was another Captain's cocktail party and it was Formal dress code.
The next day we were at sea all day and there were plenty of activities scheduled. As is usual all luggage was to be placed outside the cabin door by midnight. Departure was by code colors on the luggage.
This has been a fairly detailed description of the cruise and the ship so it should help each reader to make their own assessment. My ratings out of 5 stars would be:
Boarding and disembarkation = 4 1/2*.
Cabins = 4*.
Meals and food offered = 4*.
Cabin Staff and food service = 4 1/2*
Entertainment. = 4 1/2*.
Itinerary and port choice.= 3 *.
Value for the price paid for the cruise.
This would depend on how much you paid for your cabin. If you were to have bought your ticket after they began discounting the cruise you got excellent value for your money. But if you bought the ticket some months before your rating would only be so so. Also if your cabin happened to be on the lowest deck and you could not sleep because of the noise of the motors you would not be very happy.
The staff was helpful and pleasant and there was no pressure on the passengers to buy pictures, tours or drinks etc. The entertainment was very good to excellent. Our experience was that we enjoyed the cruise and would recommend it.
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