The classic cruise liner MARCO POLO arrived at Alang, India on Saturday 9th January, 2021. Following the demise of Cruise & Maritime Voyages, due to the COVID 19 Pandemic Disease she was sold at auction by CW Kellock & Co. Ltd. for US$ 2,770,000 on 22 October 2020.
She was built as an ocean liner in 1965 by Mathias-Thesen-Werft, East Germany as ALEKSANDR PUSHKIN for the Soviet Union’s Baltic Shipping Company.
She was the second ship of the Ivan Franko class (also referred to as “poet” or “writer” class), named after the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The construction of this class featured some notable differences from contemporary ships built in the west. Amongst other things they offered cabins for six people and had three taps in the bathrooms – for hot, cold and sea water – Both of these features had long since been abandoned in western liners. The ships also featured certain forward-looking features, such as all outside accommodation for both passengers and the crew, and an indoor/outdoor swimming pool with a sliding glass roof. To enable the ships to navigate through broken ice, they were constructed with greater hull strength and stability than usual in passenger ships of this size. As built, the ship carried between 650-766 passengers in two classes, with different sources providing different figures. Additionally there were provisions for 500 cabinless passengers.
From 1972 onwards the Ivan Franko Class Ships were rebuilt. In the first stage the cargo facilities were eliminated and the forward superstructure extended, allowing for additional public spaces. Stabilizers were also installed in this stage. In the second stage the cabins were re-configured to include berths for all passengers. In a refit during the 1970s a discothèque was added on board ALEKSANDR PUSHKIN making her the first Soviet ship to have one. She was used to inaugurate the Baltic Shipping Company’s regular trans-Atlantic service between Montreal, Quebec, Canada and Leningrad, and later on used for cruising.
In 1985 she was transferred to the Far Eastern Shipping Company (FESCO) and she was chartered to CTC Cruises for cruising from Europe to Australia. In 1990 she was laid up at Singapore and year later in 1991 the ship was sold to Orient Lines – the brainchild of cruise lines and hotels entrepreneur Gerry Herrod and renamed MARCO POLO.
Following the purchase by Orient Lines, she sailed to Neorion Shipyard, Greece, where her engines were reconditioned by Sulzer Diesels. Following this she was moved to Perama Shipyard, Greece, where a near-total reconstruction of the ship commenced. Externally this resulted in notable extension of the rear superstructure and heightening of the funnel to maintain the proportions of the ship. In addition to the more visual changes, the ship was fitted with Denny Brown stabilizers, additional diesel engines and brought up to the latest IMO and SOLAS standards. The refit took 2½ years; various sources estimate the cost as between $20m and $60m.
On Sunday 18th March, 2007 she entered Grand Harbour, Malta bound to Malta Shipyards for drydocking at Dock 4 as per below images –
She left Malta Shipyards in April 2007 from Dock 4 –
On Monday 4th, 2007, Norwegian Cruise Line announced her sale that was effective on March 23rd, 2008 by the the Greece-based Global Maritime Group, who chartered the ship to the Germany based Transocean Tours.
MARCO POLO replaced liner ARIELLE in Transocean Tours fleet, operating cruises out of the United Kingdom as well as Germany. The sale of MARCO POLO also meant the end of the Orient Lines brand. Transocean Tours said that they planned to operate the ship until 2012 at least.
On Monday 6th July, 2009 MARCO POLO called at Invergordon, Scotland on a cruise outbound from Tilbury in Essex. During a health inspection by the local port health officials up to 150 passengers were discovered to have been infected with what was presumed to be norovirus with the number of infected passengers and crew subsequently rose to 400. Also that day a 74-year-old passenger died of a heart attack on board the ship. According to reports from the local health officials he had serious underlying health problems and it was not known if a norovirus infection contributed to his death. On Tuesday 7th July Transocean Tours decided to cancel the remainder of her 10 day cruise after consulting with NHS Highland which is one of the 14 regions of NHS Scotland.
Despite Transocean Tours’ intention of keeping the ship in the fleet until 2012, reports emerged in August 2009 that she would be chartered to the newly founded, UK-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages for five years from 2 January 2010.
On 13th March 2013 Cruise & Maritime voyages announced that MARCO POLO would be terminating one of her northern lights cruises and go into dry dock for inspection and minor repairs after striking an uncharted object under command of the local pilot minutes after sailing from Suorta, Norway on 9th March 2013. Her cruise terminated in Antwerp with passengers being transferred to Tilbury and London via the Channel Tunnel or ferry by coach. On 14th February 2014 a passenger died and 16 people were injured after a freak wave struck the ship in the English Channel during a storm. One seriously injured passenger was taken off by helicopter. The ship was heading to Tilbury with 735 passengers and 349 crew on board. On 1st November 2014, while docking at the port of Leknes in Lofoten, Norway, a strong breeze sent the cruise ship off course, resulting in the ship running aground.
On 20th July 2020, Cruise & Maritime Voyages entered administration and MARCO POLO was sold. During 4th December, 2020 she passed Suez Canal bound to Alang, India.
And today Saturday 9th January, 2021 she arrived at Alang anchorage awaiting to be beached.
Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli otherwise stated. NO PHOTOS can be used or manipulated without our permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Saturday 9th January, 2021