Marco Polo is a famous name in sailing and has been around for a long time – that would be true of both the explorer and the ship, as this CMV ship is not a young vessel!
Although not always under this name, the ship has been sailing for over 50 years – starting life as the soviet ship Aleksandr Pushkin and originally an ice-breaker, the ship was substantially rebuilt and became Marco Polo with Orient Lines in 1991, and Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ first flagship in 2010. She’s still sailing with CMV and undertook a refit in Dec 2015 – freshening up furnishings and carpets.
She can’t hide her age, but some of this is the echo of a traditional style of cruising and part of her great appeal.
The cabins are of varying shapes and sizes and seemingly filling every available space – this actually produces some interesting cabin proportions and allows a number of single cabins to be available. Accommodation is in varying configurations – L shapes, long & thin, wide and square, porthole or picture window outsides; and some more spacious suites – so this is not a homogenous experience. There are no balcony cabins so the accommodation choice is mainly about inside vs outside and low deck vs high deck. There are some suites which are full of character and bygone style.
You get the impression that Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo is a ship for those who love the sailing experience and spending time on the classic stylish sundecks at the rear of the ship, who enjoy the traditional style of public lounge entertainment. There’s a theatre area which you can imagine brings the evenings alive, as well as being used for some of the more popular lectures.
Marco Polo is not a modern ship, nor is it overly plush – but a cruise could be homely and comfortable. Those who like a smaller ship and may like to see the same faces over and over and have their name and drinks order remembered by the staff could expect to love this ship – but generally think low ceilings, compact, 3*+, and tradition rather than tech.
There are some very lovely areas aboard – the Columbus Lounge in the centre of the ship for drinks and chat; the card room with a view to the sea; the less formal Marco’s Restaurant spans the ship at the rear and leads out to the sundeck with its small pool; the traditional Livingston Library with comfortable armchairs; the Palm Garden Lounge with white grand piano; the Captain’s Club bar with dancefloor;
The main restaurant – The Waldorf – is a comfortable, smart, elegant place, but straight-forward and without any dramatic galleried spaces now familiar in the bigger, newer ships.
Marco Polo is likely to be largely based out of Bristol, Hull, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leith, Greenock and regional ports once the new CMV flagship Columbus takes over the main London Tilbury duties from mid-2017.