Fodor’s Expert Review
Known for its character and charm, the classic and venerable Marco Polo keeps intact a home-style appeal and offers select itineraries without the massive crowds. To enhance passenger enjoyment, Cruise and Maritime Voyages also offers a program of optional shore excursions designed to cover the highlights of each port of call and maximize time ashore.Read More
The Marco Polo does a decent job of catering to the single traveler, couples, and groups. With age-appropriate entertainment, recreation, and daily options to relax, meet new people, or simply do nothing but lounge on a sunny deck with an expansive view of the horizon, the ship promises to please the older traveler seeking good food, fun times, and bargain voyages with prominent British low-key flair and flavor. Each evening, a daily program details the following day’s activities and is delivered to cabins for useful information on menus, service operating hours, show times, and social events.
UK-based Cruise and Maritime Voyages specializes in adults-only cruises for travelers over 60 who seek a low-key, traditional British experience. Two refurbished 800-passenger ships, Marco Polo and Discovery, offer classic cruising itineraries from 2-night mini-excursions to 44-night cruises and are designed to maximize time in ports of call. With departure from six UK cities, afternoon tea service, an English-speaking staff, and pounds sterling as onboard currency, the cruise line attracts a predominantly unpretentious, British crowd.
Founded in 2009, the cruise line has already carried more than 80,000 passengers and built its reputation with an emphasis on child-free cruising for older travelers, friendly service, good value, and a traditional British ambience. While the very popular flagship Marco Polo has a strong following among novice and seasoned travelers who prefer a “ship of character,” the older but extensively refurbished Ocean Countess lures many first-timers for its excellent value, modern amenities, and regional itineraries.
Attentive service and an exceptionally friendly staff maintain a convivial atmosphere among passengers and crew. With a high ratio of repeat guests, Cruise and Maritime’s fleet consistently garners positive reviews by offering a full cruising experience on well-equipped, reliable ocean liners without the flash and commercialism of much larger ships. At this writing, the intimate 700-passenger Discovery was scheduled to join the Cruise and Maritime Voyages fleet in February 2013, under charter in association with the widely respected All Leisure Holidays.
- 8 passenger decks
- 2 dining rooms
- refrigerator (some)
- 1 pool
- Fitness classes
- hot tubs
- 5 bars
- dance club
- show room
- Laundry service
- Internet terminal
- No kids
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
There are 15 accommodation categories on Marco Polo, and the ship’s 425 well-maintained, brightly decorated rooms in blue, green, and red are adequately spacious and vary in size. All cabins have individual thermostats, safes, direct-dial phones, waffle-style bathrobes, and TVs. The most luxurious Deluxe suite on deck 7 has a separate living area, minibar, 19-inch flat-screen TV, and walk-in wooden mirrored closet. Its attached marble bathroom is equipped with a shower and bath, towels, bathrobes, slippers, and hair dryer. More modest cabins have either a twin or double bed, mirrored dressing table in honey-colored wood, closet, shower, and hair dryer. The ship has no balconies. The water from the taps in all cabins is chlorinated but nonpotable, and bottled water is available in rooms or from any of the ship’s bars at extra cost. All cabins have both 110v and 220v current and have electrical sockets to allow small appliances such as electric shavers and curling irons. l Bring a European two-pin adapter to use your dual-voltage appliances.
The higher-category cabins have marble detailing with a tub/shower combination with solid door. Smaller rooms have fairly standard, modular-style bathrooms with tiled floor and a small shower stall. Expect a scuffed sink or stained grout, typical of a ship older than three years.
Due to its age, Marco Polo is not suitable for passengers with special mobility needs. There are many raised-door seals that can restrict passenger movement about the ship. Passengers can bring foldable wheelchairs to store in their cabins for shore use.
Food & Drink
Two restaurants on the Marco Polo offer formal and informal dining. The Waldorf Restaurant offers open seating breakfast and lunch, with fixed-time seating at 6 pm and 8:15 pm for dinner. Full-service staff serve two- to five-course meals, drinks, and wine with efficiency and professional courtesy. The more casual Marco’s Bistro offers relaxed, informal self-service breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets. Seating here is indoor or outdoor around the ship’s single, aft swimming pool. Smoking is not permitted in either restaurant. Particular dietary requirements can be met (lactose-free, gluten-free, etc.) but should be requested at the time of booking.
The Marco Polo lounge is the place to go for show tunes and high kicks. For more sedate music, head to the Palm Garden for classical music and afternoon tea. Scott’s Bar has cabaret, variety acts, and dancing, while bingo and cocktails are popular in the Captain’s Club, where the resident pianist plays relaxing melodies throughout the day and night. The Columbus Lounge is another option for a pre-dinner or post-theater drink. The cinema, casino, and library also offer leisurely escapes.
Spa & Fitness
On deck 10, the Jade Wellness Center offers a superb range of beauty treatments, including hairstyling, manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages to soothe weathered souls and worn sea legs. The modern fitness center has a sauna.