Marco Polo Cruise ship Deck plans

Ocean Liner Society - Ship

7/10

This ship has been around for quite a while. Built in the former East Germany in 1965, it began life as one of five Soviet sister ships, each of which was named after a great Russian poet or writer. This one was the Alexander Pushkin, and the flagship of the Leningrad-based Baltic Shipping Company. Her hull was strengthened to withstand the icy waters of the Baltic; and, given the prevailing Cold War she was given extra-large provision and storage space to increase her cruising range, in the event of being requisitioned as a troopship. She plied the recently re-opened the transatlantic route, from Leningrad to Montreal, via Bremerhaven, London and Le Havre for more than a decade. Several changes of owner and one change of name – she became the Marco Polo in 1991 – later, she is now one of Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ two vessels (the other being Discovery, which replaced Ocean Countess from February, 2013) with Tilbury as her home port.

Age adds characterful appeal for many passengers, and is certainly no detriment to a ship’s appearance – this one has the classic profile, traditional dark hull, teak decks and authenticity of a ‘proper’ ship. Her deep draught and stabilisers give a comfortable ‘ride’ in boisterous seas; and she is well-maintained: successive refits and refurbishments have kept her navigational technology, public rooms and accommodation and passenger facilities up to date. Her compact size – around 800 passengers - means she can access smaller ports, where larger vessels don’t venture.

Marco Polo offers a child-free, low-key, value-for-money and traditional British cruise experience in comfortable surroundings, an intimate ambience and a friendly, unstuffy atmosphere. Main public rooms are inviting and smartly furnished and their mostly high ceilings give an airy, spacious feel. Three are on the main (Magellan) deck, all with plenty of space for quiet relaxation: Columbus Lounge is classy and clubby, with some attractive maritime artefacts on display; the elegant Captain’s Club is spacious, with contemporary décor; the Palm Garden’s big windows afford great views of the ocean. Its somewhat surprising décor, however, combining lacquer-red walls, green plants and bamboo-and–conservatory style furniture delivers an altogether mixed and less tranquil message.

One level up, on Amundsen Deck, bright and modern Scott’s Bar opens onto one of the aft decks that horseshoe around the small swimming pool below, so you can step outside on a warm evening. There’s also a small library and smaller card room.

Marco Polo is cruising in British and northern waters for most of 2013, from London Tilbury or Leith, with regular six to 8-night voyages to the Norwegian Fjords, and 11- to 13-night voyages to the Baltic, the North Cape and Iceland; and also five- to one-night British Isles Discovery and Scottish Islands & Faroes voyages. Prices from £689pp for an eight-night Fjordland Splendour cruise on August 16, 2013. (0845 430 0274; www.cruiseandmaritime.com)

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