Marco Polo - Christmas & New Year Canaries & Madeira
Due to my birthday cruise having to be cancelled, I decided on the 13th February 2019 to book the Christmas and New Year cruise on Marco Polo instead.  I had only welcomed in the new year once (Aurora 2007/8) and always wanted to return to Funchal to experience it again, while my dad had never been to Madeira or the Canaries.  It was paid off on the 3rd September after the bank proved their new fraud measures worked!  The pre-voyage documents arrived on the 16th October and shore excursions were available to book the same day.  On the 4th November, CMV called about an upsell from guarantee inside to guarantee oceanview for £75 per person.  Well, why not?  The cabin 625 (Superior Twin) was allocated on the 12th November.

As with our short cruise in 2018, I booked the Future Inn in Bristol for the night before and caught a taxi to the station.  The 10.58am to Avonmouth was four minutes late, then eight, thirteen because it was coming from the depot and buggered up my booked taxi time.  When it eventually arrived, it said Cardiff Central!  We finally left at 11.20am and they were boarding when we got to the terminal, onboard just after 12.20pm and in the cabin ten minutes later.  We knew it was an obstructed view but hadn't realised it was that obstructed.  It cut the signal off for the phone like an inside cabin.  The plus was it was right next to the forward door out to the deck and, of course, Scott's Bar was down the corridor while the Captain's Club was directly below so handy for bringing drinks back to the cabin.  Being a small ship, it was so much quicker getting from one end to the other.  Also, luggage comes quicker and was waiting for us after lunch.

Muster was at 3pm and we were moving at 3.50pm towards the lock.  The weather was raining and very windy, but did stop briefly while we were aft.  Captain Sergiy Zhygalin had said it will be bouncy, especially after 1am!  I went for a stroll around the deck and took a photo through the window to show my dad you can see inside if the curtains are open and lights are on.  Dinner was at 8pm.  We were table 7 with sisters Mary and Doreen in their seventies from Wednesbury taking their first cruise, who were an absolute scream.  Our table could have been the naughty corner because we were all very naughty!  Out waiters were Arun and his junior, Pyae Phyo, while the wine waiter was Rawt Gulab Singh.  All three were great.  We went back to the cabin afterwards and noticed the sick bags were out.  I then had a stroll around the deck before washing my hair, watching some telly and going to bed.

The following day was the first of three sea days and beautiful Marco corkscrewed like a bitch!  Unfortunately, while I'm fine normally in this absolutely perfect weather, corkscrewing gives me a migraine so I missed breakfast and lunch.  This is where collecting fruit and snacks comes in very handy so my dad could eat for his medication.  Most of the day was spent sleeping due to the migraine but we did go to dinner.  It was informal night so I made a bit of an effort dressing up on this cruise for the first time in years.  Doreen thought her Strawberry Panna Cotta looked like a boob with a tassel, especially since it also wobbled.  After leaving my dad in the cabin, I went for a stroll around the deck then went to bed.
Christmas Eve was another corkscrewing day as we went through the Bay of Biscay, but not quite as bad as the previous day.  We actually got up for breakfast, even though I still had a slight migraine then had a wander outside and waited in Scott's Bar while our steward, Saw Kyi Moe did the cabin.  I went back to bed due to the migraine so missed lunch.  Again, thank goodness for grabbing fruit and buying crisps!  I took a stroll and saw it was a bit misty.  In the Marco Polo Show Lounge at 3pm was The 12 Days of Christmas with the Entertainment team.  They were doing it as part of the show on Christmas Day and wanted the passengers to come up with Marco alternatives to the usual song.  A lady joined us and came up with three toilet rolls.  It was a lot of fun.  Since neither of us had eaten much we went to afternoon tea then a stroll around the deck.  More sleep before dinner.  It was the first formal night and my dad finally got the hint to ask for tea so Mary could have two cups.  When we returned to the cabin, we saw gifts from CMV and a Christmas card.  Another late night stroll around the deck for me, which I really enjoyed as it was so peaceful and relaxing then back to the cabin, watched some telly then bed.

Christmas Day.  After breakfast we again went aft as well as sat in Scott's Bar while the steward did the cabin.  It wasn't too bad considering it was winter.  Back to sleep until lunch.  While my dad had another nap, I went for a wander around the deck again.  After afternoon tea, I watched Stan & Ollie on the cabin TV and had a lazy evening until dinner.  It was the second formal night and we were first in the queue for a change, with Doreen and Mary behind us.  They'd followed us down the corridor (their cabin was a few away from ours).  It was such a great atmosphere in the Waldorf Restaurant, made better by our fabulous waiters.  The people on a nearby table with a different waiter (they all had three tables to look after) were a bunch of snotty gits looking down their noses and one lady looked like Theresa May!  Poor cow.  After dinner we went to the Marco Polo Show Lounge for the show and see how they managed to do The 12 Days of Christmas, which many of us had come up with the previous afternoon.  It was chaotic but absolutely hilarious.  Well done to Josh and his team!  A later than usual stroll around the deck for me before bed.

Our first port was Gibraltar on Boxing Day.  My dad had last been here when he was in the army back in the early 1960s.  We were up at 6am and had breakfast before Marco's Bistro became busy.  We docked around 8am and got the all clear twenty-five minutes later.  We had the dolphin excursion booked so went to find the gangway on Deck 5 midships.  All the buses were outside the port gate.  There are no steps so use as you get in and out, which is no good when you are elderly or having mobility issues.  The driver said they weren't allowed to have any by law.  We went to Ocean Village and boarded the boat.  I had last done a dolphin trip in 2009 and this was not only a different berth but also a different type of dolphin hunt.  Back then, we went out towards open sea but this time it was more toward Algeciras  As we went to find the gorgeous creatures, Columbus finally arrived late, having been due for 9am.  The highlight of the trip was a mother with her calf.


© Patricia Dempsey 22nd December 2019-6th January 2020
Not to be reproduced without permission
18th January 2021