The fabled history of destination cruise specialist Orient Lines will continue under its new ownership, Origin Cruise Group LLC (which acquired the line in June), as well as its new flagship, Marco Polo II. Wayne Heller, Orient’s president and CEO, unveiled the plans and itinerary for the new ship in New York City late last month. The ship is named in honor of Orient’s most renowned ship, the original Marco Polo.
The new cruise liner, which most recently sailed as Maxim Gorkiy, will make her maiden voyage for Orient Lines in April 2009. The Marco Polo II will carry 650 guests in 325 staterooms, two-thirds of which are outside. The vessel, originally built in 1969 (and famed for being the fictional ship Brittannic in the 1974 film thriller, Juggernaut), has undergone a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, including an ice-strengthened hull for Arctic cruising; classic interior décor; and handsome exterior profile with a raked bow and traditional cruiser stern.
At nearly 25,000 tons, Marco Polo II is larger in size than its predecessor, yet carries nearly 200 fewer guests. The added space translates to a greater number of public areas and amenities including an indoor spa pool and four separate dining venues, six bars, a show lounge, theater, casino, library, Internet center, card room, fitness center, spa and outdoor pool.
Says Heller, “Marco Polo II is the perfect size for cruising in Europe. She’s large enough to offer every four-star comfort, yet small enough to enter the snug harbors and intimate coves where mega liners cannot go.”
Cruise vacations from 11 to 37 days are priced from $2,399 per person, double occupancy, including free air from select North American gateway cities. New for 2009, the line will enhance each itinerary with a free shore excursion in selected ports.
Highlights for 2009 include cruise tours that begin or end with an included stay in Berlin, plus calls at the lesser-known ports of Szczecin, Poland; Villagarcia and Bilbao, Spain; Bordeaux and Hornfleur, France; Murmansk, Russia; Sarande, Albania; and Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, UK.
The go-live date for bookings is September 8. This will be accompanied by a field-sales blitz directed at agents, as well as existing Orient Lines customers. “We’ll be sending direct mail to agents who have served Orient in the past,” says Bruce Nierenberg, executive vice president, Orient Lines, “and educating new agents on this product.”