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Cruiseships of Collapsed CMV that Served Irish Cruisegoers 'Directly' - Head to the Shipbreakers

14th February 2021
Serving Irish cruisegoers 'directly': Classic profile of CMV's Marco Polo in 'original' livery while underway in Dublin Bay, but since last years demise of the operator due to impact of Covid, the ship in January has gone to Indian shipbreakers. The former trans-Atlantic 'liner' of the Soviet era would later operate cruises out of Belfast while fleetmate Magellan, 'homeported' out of Dublin and called to Cork (Cobh) to pick up cruisegoers too, however this ship has too gone to the breakers. Serving Irish cruisegoers 'directly': Classic profile of CMV's Marco Polo in 'original' livery while underway in Dublin Bay, but since last years demise of the operator due to impact of Covid, the ship in January has gone to Indian shipbreakers. The former trans-Atlantic 'liner' of the Soviet era would later operate cruises out of Belfast while fleetmate Magellan, 'homeported' out of Dublin and called to Cork (Cobh) to pick up cruisegoers too, however this ship has too gone to the breakers. Credit: Jehan Ashmore

Three cruiseships, two of which served Irish holidaymakers on non-fly 'direct' cruises out of Dublin and Cork in the last decade, have this winter departed UK waters but to head to the shipbreakers, writes Jehan Ashmore.

All these developments originate from Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) dramatic collapse last summer as the impact of Covid-19 adversely affected the global cruise industry. For a decade CMW had also offered British holidaymakers direct cruises from London (Tilbury) and among the regionals ports of Avonmouth (Bristol) incl. this cruisestory) Liverpool, Greenock, Glasgow and Hull as Afloat previously reported.

The Purfleet in Essex based operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages went into administration and this would later led to auctions of the small to medium sized cruiseship fleet that were steadily added since 2010, the year the cruise company launched. 

The first CMV cruiseship to go to a shipbreaker was Astor in November, sailing to Aliagra, Turkey, after a career that included visiting Irish waters.

The other two cruiseships were Marco Polo, that in January followed the same fate of Astor but to Indian shipbreakers and Magellan also repeated the same scenario. The pair headed to Alang, the location is famously known for its shipbreaking.

CMV and other operators are casualities of the pandemic, as are many older and or less efficient cruiseships since disposed, while noting the need to have ever 'greener' newbuilds.

Irish 'Direct' Cruises

The classic former 'liner' serving, Marco Polo of 800 cruisegoers and Magellan both operated in the Irish market. The latter larger 1,250 capacity cruiseship it should be added was a 'gamechanger' for CMV as in 2015 the ship launched their first worldwide cruise.

To reflect on their Irish career operations, Magellan was 'home' ported in Dublin with cruisegoers also embarking directly in Cork (Cobh). Among the cruise programme this involved the Norwegian fjords & Iceland, the Baltic Sea, Iberian Peninula, Canary Islands & Madiera and the Meditteranean Sea. Marco Polo also served Belfast with direct cruising though this was more limited compared to the Magellan's career out of Irish Ports. 

As referred above overseas cruises were available from the UK too, where CMV built up a loyal fan base that was not shy of its independent status with those more established British traditional cruise brands. CMV operated cruises to Canada, Caribbean, South America, Mexican Riviera, Australia etc and with offices opened for markets in the US, Germany and more recently France.

Marco Polo and Magellan were part of a six-strong CMV fleet and mostly bore names of famous explorers down the centuries. Cabin accommodation decks were named after the oceans and seas, while passenger decks reflected famous explorers including polar related. In addition amenities such as the 'Scott's Bar' on the Marco Polo and the 'Shackleton' Conference Lounge of the Magellan.

Use of these famous polar names evoking the golden era of Antarctica expeditions was highlighted by Afloat's coverage of the Marine Institute's research vessel, RV Tom Crean (see update: on technology). The newbuild to be named after the renowned Co. Kerry man is under construction and is to join RV Celtic Explorer next year.

Marco Polo's 'Celtic Explorer' Cruise

It was in neighbouring Co. Cork where during CMV's inaugural season in 2010, Marco Polo made four cruises to Ireland among them the 'Celtic Explorer' cruise with an anchorage call off Glengariff. 

The location was apt given the nearby open seas from where Marco Polo's history revealed that of a former trans-Atlantic liner. The East German 1965 built Alexandra Pushkin was one of five Russian Poet class ships that served during the Soviet era.

Another cruise by Marco Polo in the year before, was personally observed from the same scenic Irish shoreline and with much fondness as tenders were kept busy. At that stage the cruiseship's association with Transocean Tours went into adminstration, however Cruise & Maritime Services (CMS) agreed to take over the charter commitment with Global Cruise Lines.  

Also that year to consolidate closer links with the Global Maritime Group (see below) this led to a new name, Cruise & Maritime Voyages in advance of CMV's debut season in 2010.

Marco Polo in more recent years also made several Festive Season Mini Cruises out of Avonmouth Docks (Port of Bristol) to Dublin and Cork with a single overnight stay. This to enable cruisegoers to take in tourist attractions and shopping in the capital and the southern city.

Soviet liner era 

In 1966 the ship under the Black Sea Shipping Company reopened for the first time since 1949 a trans-Atlantic service. This involved a Leningrad (now St. Petersberg) - London (Tilbury) service including an onward 8 day ocean voyage to Quebec and Montreal in Canada. The ship along with its CMV years had a career spanning more than 50 years, and also become the final ship of the 'Poet' class to remain in service.

Prior to Marco Polo becoming CMV's first cruiseship, through Global Maritime Group's acquisition of Orient Lines cruiseship which was under the same name had operated in Asia. The cruiseship then sported a dark blue hull but adopted by CMV as a livery scheme that only up to December 2019 was applied to Magellan, during both of the ships refits at the Damen Group's dockyard in Amsterdam.

The traditional and elegant lines of Marco Polo saw the veteran vessel gain a loyal following with CMV and not just UK clientele, given the ship's traditional design, of intimate interiors, 'timber' decks, the tiered fore and aft 'sun' decks all presenting a pleasant external profile and somewhat like the QE2. The final transAtlantic liner of Cunard Line, made a farewell to Cork Harbour in 2008 and remains as a 'static' hotel ship in Dubai, a same role that was to await Marco Polo until plans changed dramatically with the ship scrapped.

Notably, Marco Polo was also one of the oldest remaining ocean-going cruiseships. By coincidence, an older fleetmate, Astoria, dating to 1948 but heavily rebuilt in the 1990's, remains with a fate that could potentially follow that of Marco Polo, given the former veteran vessels age.

The remaining two of the CMV fleet have also departed UK waters with the larger cruiseships alluded above, they are the flagship Columbus and relative newcomer Vasca de Gama sold at auction to Greek based Seajets. The Pireasus based operator also acquired a pair of Holland America Line cruiseships as Alfoat previously reported when awaiting their fate while at anchor of Cyprus last summer.

A further pair of secondhand cruiseships from P&O Australia were to join the CMV fleet as Afloat also reported, however with the operator's insolvency this was never to be.

Published in Cruise Liners
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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