#CruiseLiners - Classic former liner Marco Polo made cruiseship calls to Irish ports last weekend and today the veteran vessel is nearing the end of a cruise that began in Hull, the UK North Sea port which is increasingly becoming popular with the cruise sector, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Marco Polo dating to 1965, had embarked passengers from Associated British Ports (ABP) Hull, for operator Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV). The cruise began with a tour of Scottish ports and offshore isles before calling to Dublin and Cork.
Throughout the cruise for the most part, passengers have experienced favourable weather, notable with this current spell of a heatwave across Ireland and the UK. Marco Polo this evening departed Honfleur, France from where the temperature in Normandy reached 29 degrees celsius.
The 22,080 tonnes Marco Polo, one of the world's oldest operating cruiseships arrived to the Irish capital last Saturday to berth at Ocean Pier. This was followed the next day with a call to Cobh, the main cruise location for such ships when visiting Cork Harbour. Yesterday, the itinerary took in an anchorage call off St. Peter Port, Guernsey and on Monday, Isles of Scilly.
The former liner launched as Aleksandr Pushkin was built in the then East Germany to serve the Soviet Union's Baltic Shipping Company which involved trans-Atlantic 'liner' voyages between Leningrad, Russia and Montreal and Quebec in Canada. In addition to liner en-route calls via Tilbury, London, (coincidently also CMV's main UK homeport) using the 1930 built Art-Deco terminal.
The career of the liner is recorded with varying versions, though it would seem overall that the ship spent a sporadic timeframe in that role with the interim spent as a cruiseship. The start of permanent cruise duties began in the late 1970's.
The cruise career involved charters to German operators and then with Orient Line in the Far East after a major rebuilding in a Greek shipyard took place in 1993. This notably saw increased steelwork to the superstructure between the amidships and the stern. As a consequence this led to a rise in tonnage and a bulkier appearance, though by today's standards, Marco Polo still retains an elegance evoking ocean-liners of the past with stepped superstructure fore and aft and a cruiser stern.
Internally, the shipyard works resulted in the removal of most of the original features and heightening of the centrally placed funnel. There are two restaurents, five lounge areas including the theatre style Marco Polo Lounge, and a wide range of other amenities. Out on decks, there’s a swimming pool, three whirlpools and a traditional walk-around promenade.
In 2015, the year the 176m vessel celebrated its 50th anniverary, Marco Polo made a trans-Atlantic voyage to retrace a 'liner' service between the UK and Canada. The celebratory cruise departed Tilbury in July that year involving a 34-night voyage.
For the past decade, Marco Polo has been chartered to UK based CMV whose six-strong ship fleet includes Magellan. The much larger and more modern cruiseship of 46,000 tonnes resumed this season with duties among them 'home-porting' out of Dublin. In addition to these non-fly cruises, the 1,250 passenger ship is offering for the first time cruises directly embarking from Cobh with destinations such as Iceland.
Also homeporting out of Dublin this season is Celebrity Cruises 'Soltice' class Celebrity Eclipse.
Returning to Hull, where a further five ships is scheduled to call to this season, though the first caller to the port on the Humber estuary was Silver Cloud. See story on seperate cruise call to Galway Bay anchorage.
The luxurious Silveas Cruises operated cruiseship, the fourth expedition ship out of a nine-strong white hulled fleet ('Cloud' with a black hull), enjoyed a day call to the port on the Humber. Hull last year was UK City of Culture and is the gateway to the historic city of York.
Hull is also home to the daily P&O Ferries services to Zeebrugge, Belgium and Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In total these routes saw just under one million passengers travel annually.
Sisters Pride of York, built in Scotland and Japanese counterpart, Pride of Bruges serve the longer route to Belgium. Larger sisters, Pride of Hull and Pride of Rotterdam both Italian built, run the Dutch route which too provide overnight crossings.