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This was a trip I labeled in my computer folders "the trip of a lifetime". It started out as a 4 day weekend in Madrid with a cabin mate from the Norwegian Majesty in 2007, and wound up being a Grand tour of Europe with a culture-rich itinerary packed in the middle.
Originally, with my penchant for old ships, I was looking into a week on the Oceanic from Barcelona. The single supplement was quite high, and none of my friends relished the thought of an old ship catering to the European market specifically. Just before I was going to put my deposit down on the Oceanic, a web offer came through about the Marco Polo. It was shamefully cheap, best available outside, and the single supplement isn't obnoxiously high. I checked the itinerary, and was able to make it back to Madrid in time to hear my friend lecture, so I just booked it.
Two weeks later I found that I had been given a great up grade, Category C i think, deluxe outside cabin on Main Deck. I dug out my Alexandr Pushkin brochures to show the captain, and set about learning about the ports that we would visit. The Itinerary was a treasure map.. Barcelona, Marseille, Portofino, Civitavecchia, Sorrento and Santorini disembarking in Athens.
The ship was gleaming and immaculate. She does show her age in some areas, and even as a old-ship lover, I did miss some of the amenities that the new ships do offer. The cabin was comfortable for a single and would have even been fine for a double occupancy. The big window was fabulous to watch where we were in the dusky light of morning. The camber and sheer of the ship however, were VERY noticeable. One was easily 6 inches lower near the window than at the doorway. When one isnt drinking it is quite charming. I slept on the High end bed, and when we hit some rough Mediterranean water, I was tossed nearly to the floor.
(Again, for me that wasnt a complaint, it was comedic and a bit awesome). I stopped fighting the elements and went to the lido to take some pictures.
The public rooms are cozy and quite adequate. The decor is tasteful for the most part, thought Raffles felt a bit dated. There is very limited social activity for the late seating folks though, because the ports are the main focus on her itineraries so EVERYEONE goes to bed early, either from excitement or exhaustion..
She has great walk around space, and the foredeck is a great vantage point. (the sheer and camber is VERY noticeable there). Her decks are nicely kept, and wooden deck chairs supplement the plastic sun chairs near the jacuzzis.
The ports and the tours were well planned, though my two criticisms would be more time in port when we were there, and an extra day at sea somewhere to relax!! The itinerary we were on specifically, called for long inland tours to some of the main sites. Avignon and St. Remy were timed just about right, but Rome is so far in from Civitavecchia, that an overnite there might not be a bad idea. As a first time visitor to all of those ports, everything was fascinating to me, and I could have spent another 7 hours after the tour ended. The people were all friendly and warm. (though I do speak a smattering of the native languages except for Greek) The ports were perfectly chosen, and the crew were very efficient with the tendering process when needed.
The atmosphere on Marco Polo, is that of a private club ship. There were people on board that had sailed on her 5-10 times.!!! They were on the ship for an extended period of time.. 3 weeks or more and it really made for a very friendly atmosphere. Everyone was very sad to know that the ship was moving out of the company, but hopeful that TransOcean will be taking good care of her. I dont think I ran in to one person that didnt appreciate the ship and her age, or her excellent maintanence!!
If you want more info please feel free to email me or chat me up.. Im still in heaven from the whole trip!!!
Croix Picoriello, LMT