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Eileen Coulter

Age: 63 years

Occupation:Part Time Accountant/Semi retired

Number of Cruises: 13

Cruise Line: Orient

Ship: Marco Polo

Sailing Date: April 16th, 2005

Itinerary: Agean/Adriatic

I booked my cruise in February 2005 and then looked up 'Cruise Reviews'. Yes, I know, the wrong way to go about things. On Cruise Reviews there were a number of points that really did give me pause for thought. Namely that when leaving the ship you were expected to disembark the ship by 9.30 a.m. regardless of the time your flight home was. This really concerned me, and so phoned the Travel Agent to check this point and was informed that this was correct. This point really made me unhappy as my flight home was not until 4.30p.m. and as I was disembarking in Venice, was really aggrieved that I would be at the airport for 7 hours without the opportunity to enjoy the ship for the day, nor would I be able to see Venice. I embarked on this holiday with ill feeling re the above mentioned point, but I need not have feared, because my worst fears were not founded. (What a pity that this point could not have been cleared up when I made the enquiry). I was allowed to stay onboard until 1.30p.m. on the last day.

Not to be daunted I set off from Glasgow, Scotland, as a single traveller, to meet the ship in Athens (Piraeus). The flight from Glasgow U.k. was to Amsterdam, changing there onto the Athens flight. OK it was an early morning start, but that wasn't really a problem. Both flights left on time and were uneventful, the only suggestion I can make is that if you are flying with KLM Airline, as I did, take your own food with you. It would be better to have none that the awful meals that were served up. I finally arrived at Athens Airport to board the bus to Piraeus, upon which I was seated beside a lady called 'Phylis'. Now Phylis turned out to be a delightful, informative companion who had sailed on the Marco Polo many time, indeed Phylis had more than 70 cruises under her belt. Within a few minutes I realized that Phylis was my kind of person, and from there on in we became good friends.

On boarding Marco Polo I went in search of my cabin No. 121, got the right deck but the numbering system quite defied any numbering system I had ever came across, and being an Accountant this was no mean feat, but to my rescue came my Cabin Stewart Victor, who escorted me to my cabin (thanks Victor, you were a life saver that day and on many other days, when I lost my way. I was somewhat surprised to find that my cabin was more than spacious (bigger than my bedroom at home) with two portholes, 3 double wardrobes and the sleeping capacity of 5 persons, and all this to myself, so accommodation was more than I had expected. Only down side so far, is that I did not find it easy to find my way around the ship, insufficient directional information.

I had chosen 2nd sitting for dinner, and found that one of my dinning companions was the beloved Pyylis, together with a lovely couple called Stella and Mike, together with a delightful American gentleman from the Southern States called Stan. The food in the Seven Seas Restaurant was very good, although I must point out that the Waiters, whilst very attentive, to the point that if one paused to chat, the plate was assumed to be finished with and promptly taken away. It was good exercise for me chasing my plate and Waiter around the Resaurant to retrieve it.

I tried breakfast in Raffles, but found it a bit 'canteen like' huge queues, so opted to eat in the Seven Seas Restaurant most of the time, which was a pity because one missed the opportunity to have breakfast 'Al Fresco' around the pool.

First port of call was Kussadasi, Turkey, never again. I understand why the ship called here, as it is the best place to visit Ephasus, a visit not to be missed, but as I had alreay been there before, decided to just look around town. This was not a pleasant experience. Whilst on previous visits to Turkey, I was well aware that the traders were a little persistant, but this bordered on intimidation, and I can think of prettier places to visit. If this had been my first visit to Turkey, I would never have gone back. Next stop was Izmir, can't think why, a somewhat industrial town with not much to recommend it. Istanbul was something else, lots to see and do without the severe pressure to sell you something. Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque are a must. Next port of call was the Greek Island of Mykinos, what a magical place, we walked round the cobbled streets, and spend the rest of the time people watching from a pavement cafe. (Felt like Shirley Valentine) A really wonderful day. Next day was spent at sea, but where was the entertainment? Could we not have had some music around the pool that day? Ping Pong was about the most exciting thing to do. Whilst the evening shows were very good, if you choose 2nd sitting for dinner you really have to work hard to fit this in. There was a wonderful Polish Trio playing, a violinist, a cellists, and piano player, in the Charleston Club but there again, if you were on 2nd sitting for dinner, they had finished by the time you got there, and there was only disco music, which was great for the under 40's but personally felt the best entertainment was geared up to 1st sitting dinner.

Croatia was our next port of call which was really wonderful to see how this country has come on since their war.

To sum up this cruise, I would give it 8 out of 10, the good was excellent, but a little better organization of time table (as they seem to do on any other cruise ship I have been on) would go a very long way to add to the enjoyment of all passengers, and appeal to a much wider audience.

Would I sail again on the Marco Polo, yes, especially if I were lucky enough to meet the excellent company I did on this trip. A really friendly ship, not too large, good attention to detail, if they could only get the entertainment program geared up to suit all passengers.

I would also mention that the tours sold onboard get priority over passengers who just want to go ashore and do there own thing.

Prices for drinks/in the Boutique etc seemed very reasonable, probably less than you would pay in the UK, but tours seemed to me to be expensive, and there was little or no information given about ports of call to those who wanted to 'do their own thing. Research this one on the internet before you go, or be like me and meet a 'Phylis', the font of all knowledge where cruising is concerned.

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