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Recent Cruise - British Isles Discovery

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    Recent Cruise - British Isles Discovery

    British Isles Discovery
    We managed to get away recently on a new ship for us: 11 nights on the Marco Polo from Cardiff, 22 April – 3 May – British Isles Discovery.
    We were drawn to this cruise for several reasons – the dates, convenient embarkation port, the itinerary and the price. Having read many reviews of the Marco Polo, my expectations of the actual ship weren’t too high, but I have to say that this was probably one of the most enjoyable cruises we’ve experienced. So here’s a brief summary for anyone considering CMV and the Marco Polo in particular!
    IMG_3620.JPG

    The ship:
    I’m about the same age as the Marco Polo so I know what happens in middle age! For that reason, I can’t be too critical. Yes, it’s looking a bit rough in places, but it was very clean and solid. Our cabin on Caribic deck (the lowest deck) had two tiny portholes looking out at sea level, but it was very spacious and well laid out. Excellent shower but pathetic hair dryer located in the bathroom. No tea making facilities, but that wasn’t a problem. Housekeeping standards were high. It was a bit noisy when the ship was travelling at speed, but I’m a good sleeper. Being so close to land meant that 4G was available quite often.


    The entertainment:
    Hardworking entertainment team – the dancers and singers doubled up during the day hosting quizzes and various activities. They were very visible and the Cruise Director, Mitch, was here, there and everywhere with a ready smile and very engaging with the passengers. Great shows with a live band most of the time which is always a plus for me – I think they put on 6 shows in 11 days. The singers weren’t the best we’ve seen, but they were very enthusiastic. The dancers were excellent. The other entertainers were Don Reid, comedian and a husband/wife magic duo – Evans Plus Evans. Again very entertaining and approachable and appropriate for the audience in question. The cocktail pianist was excellent and there was a duo singing up in Scott’s Bar. The lectures didn’t really appeal to me so we gave them a miss. It appeared that the craft and art sessions were very popular. The art teacher said that he ideally would have liked a bigger venue. There were 2 formal nights, but it didn’t appear very formal to me, so I quite liked that.

    The food:
    This was poor overall. We didn’t actually use the Main Dining Room but we heard that the food there was similar in standard to the buffet. The choice was limited and a lot of the meat/fish tasted a bit odd and was often lukewarm. The salad selection was much better and the soups were quite nice so I went for soup/salad most of the time. Luckily, I love salads! The outdoor grill had tasty chips at lunch time. The desserts were much better. I suppose that something had to give, given the price we paid. The buffet closed at 9.30 and the only snacks available later on were served ‘around the lounges’ at about 23.00 – 2/3 pieces of chicken/fish bites usually. I wonder why they even bothered really! We had one speciality buffet in the reception area between 22:30 – 23:30 towards the end of the cruise which was quite nice. I don’t drink alcohol but I bought a non-alcoholic cocktail package – £24.99 for 15 cocktails which was excellent value. My husband thought that the drinks were very reasonably priced. CMV offer different packages which you can purchase before the cruise. I bought the basic one which meant that we paid £6 a day each in gratuities (instead of £7 if you put it on your onboard account) and had a bottle of wine thrown in. So we saved a few pounds by doing this.

    The itinerary:
    8 ports and 2 sea days. The weather was great (apart from rain at Le Havre) and we missed Storm Hannah completely.

    Isles of Scilly – (10:30 – 17:00) tender on a warm day to Tresco. The Abbey Gardens were glorious.

    IMG_3627.JPG
    Le Havre – free shuttle. Had a walk around. The new Cathedral built after the war was interesting.

    Invergordon – (13:00 – 22:00) short cruise on Loch Ness and then Urquhart Castle. Fantastic weather again.

    IMG_3671.JPG
    Kirkwall, Orkney – (09:00 – 22:00) visited the Italian Chapel built by the Italian POWs and then Scapa Flow. Our guide was a real scream. Then took the free shuttle back to town as we had a late departure.

    IMG_3697.JPG
    Lerwick, Shetland – (08:00 – 23:00) excursion to Eshaness, walked above the spectacular cliffs. Had a fish and chip supper in the chippy by the quay to end the day.

    IMG_3740.JPG

    Tobermory, Mull – (07:00 – 19:00) tender to a delightful little town. Had a most enjoyable meal at the award winning Café Fish and then a look around the Distillery. Interesting museum on the seafront too.

    IMG_3777.JPG


    Belfast – time was limited here (07:00 – 14:30) so we took an excursion which included a 3 hour visit to Titanic Belfast followed by a city tour which went down the Falls Road and Shankill Road. I definitely want to visit Belfast again, such an interesting place.

    IMG_3331.JPG

    Cobh – (08:30 – 15:30) – a lovely final destination to our cruise (but not for the 123 or so passengers who embarked on the Titanic here!). Enjoyed the Titanic Experience in the White Star Line Offices. This gave more a feeling of the actual voyage than the Belfast experience which was more about building the ship and industry in general in Belfast. We walked up to St Colman’s Cathedral for a great view over the town.


    Conclusion:
    We both enjoyed the cruise immensely. I was probably among the dozen youngest passengers aboard Marco Polo, and it was odd not seeing any children. As we sailed from Cardiff, there were a great number of fellow Welshmen and women aboard and the atmosphere was very friendly. There were quite a few Scots aboard too – some had flown down to Cardiff. Let’s put it this way – I wouldn’t fly up to Scotland to cruise back to Wales!! The weather was a great bonus and we spent long leisurely days outdoors. We were very lucky, and I’m sure that it would have been quite miserable in the far north if the weather had been against us. I have realised that in my case, itinerary is far more important than the ship. We didn’t miss our usual balcony this time, but I wouldn’t want portholes in the Med or the Fjords. Many of the passengers were CMV regulars and several said that Magellan is a nicer ship overall. Would we sail with them again? Definitely if an interesting itinerary grabbed us at a reasonable price.


    Attached Files

    #2
    Thanks for sharing your opinions of your cruise on Marco Polo.

    We have done 3 UK/Ireland cruises on 3 different ships and enjoyed them all. It's a great way to visit places within our own shores, which we may not have otherwise visited on a Land based holiday isn't it?

    We tried Marco Polo a few years ago and were not very impressed. That said, things may have improved quite a bit since then.

    The biggest deal breaker for me though would be the poor food.

    Once again, thanks for sharing.
    Jill

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Smith7 View Post
      The biggest deal breaker for me though would be the poor food.
      I have found CMV's food to be better than many, including P&O.

      Marco Polo is a bit quirky. Magellan and Columbus are very nice ships.
      See my cruise blog: HERE

      Comment


        #4
        Like Jill, we've completed three Round Britain [with Ireland thrown in] cruises, QV and QE, and it's a great way of bite sized UK visits.

        We'd be more than happy to book more but hopefully, with better weather than we had last year. Most of the UK basked in sun and heat...we didn't!

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks for the interesting review,glad you had a good time
          We're on the Magellan in July and haven't done CMV before we are also going to Scilly as well as cruising down the Seine .
          A lot of reviews and personal feedback tell me the MDR food is very good and also that the speciality Indian restaurant is excellent.
          Suggestions are Marco Polo and Astoria are quirky and great for people who want to experience really old ships.
          However,whilst still quite old ships Magellan and Colombus are supposed to be a higher standard with better facilities.

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for the review we I had this on the list and the following cruise to Iceland but the OH is not keen on the MP and she wanted warm so we did Marella Dream relocation Canaries to the Med.
            .
            We did the Titanic cruise back in 2012 on MP and CMV did a great job with that one.
            Last year we tried CMV Columbus(ex Arcadia/ocean village) for a short Xmas market trip and that ship has had some good updates to the lounges, the food on that sounded a tiny bit better.

            I think CMV deliver a good overall product as long as expectation are set right especially when it comes to the food, hearty British(every meal seems to have a pie) fare, and a bit repetitive, you don't go hungry but nothing is memorable.

            One thing you can't knock are the prices for the late deals and the use of local ports makes for easy travel option for a lot more people.

            These are the two mentioned

            https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...es-%C2%A3499pp
            https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...nd-%C2%A3600pp

            Along with the very reasonable drinks prices and "CMV Additions Packages" for grats and drinks on longer than 5n trips you can build youself a reasonable trip.
            https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...ages-new-to-me

            I think CMV are worth keeping an eye on for their itinerary and filler trips at reasonable prices, if local to one of their home ports there are easy bargains to be had.

            Comment


              #7
              It just goes to show, with the right itinerary, and good mix of passengers, the ship doesn't really matter so much.

              Glad you enjoyed your cruise, I'd love to do an 'Around Britain' cruise, but I think I'd rather go on something other than Marco Polo ........................................Carol

              Comment


                #8
                Thank you for your comments. The good weather undoubtably contributed to the success of this cruise, we were extremely lucky!

                Topdeck - your last sentence sums it up perfectly!

                Malcolm - based on this cruise and my recent P&O cruises, I can only say that the food on P&O is sooooo much better. I appreciate that Magellan and Colombus might be better of course. I’m not a fussy eater but I honestly couldn’t eat some dishes - sloppy fish, funny tasting meat, cold and congealed. We were assigned a table of 10 first sitting and tried to change it but were unable to do so, so we didn’t use the MDR. However we ate with another couple a few evenings in the buffet and they had given up on the MDR due to the poor food there - they preferred the salads and breads in the buffet.




                Comment


                  #9
                  I've only done one Round Britain Cruise, and that was also on CMV.

                  I was pleasantly surprised by CMV Astoria, elderly maybe, but little short of immaculate.

                  Food was more than acceptable, service was excellent and the drinks package was the best value at sea at about £18 per day.

                  I would definitely cruise CMV again, but I recognise choice of ship within the fleet is essential.................Wilba
                  Wilba

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks for your review, I enjoyed it as I am interested in a cruise around Britain.
                    Never tried CMV before but I know someone recently back from Columbus and loved it. So, That's one to mull over with a couple of G and T,s. Jan.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Having sailed on Ocean Village for our 3rd cruise I would be fairly happy to sail on her again. We liked it better than Jade, that’s for sure. Nice to know that she has had upgrades and is still sailing.

                      Take care, Helen

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks for posting your review. I’d book most cruiselines if the price and itinerary was right.
                        don't want to work, just want to cruise.

                        Comment


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