Orient Cruise Lines is no longer in service, but it was owned by the prominent Norwegian Cruise Line. Orient Cruise Lines completed its final season in 2008. While Norwegian Cruise Line Orient Line is no longer in service this premium cruise line, which specialized in exotic cruise vacations, had a long run and a very interesting history.
Orient Cruise Lines was founded in 1991. Orient Cruise Lines magnificent vessel, Marco Polo was acquired by Shipping & General Ltd. in 1991. At that time it was named Alexandr Pushkin, originally built in 1965 by the German company, V.E.B Mathias-Thesen Werft. Shipping & General Ltd., owned by Gerry Herrod, rebuilt Alexandr Pushkin from 1991-1993 under the supervision of Knud Hansen, naval architects, and A&M Katsourakis, and renamed it Marco Polo. The vessel made its debut in 1993. Marco Polo is 22,080 tons and 578.4 feet in length. It has 12 decks and it carries 826 passengers comfortably.
Marco Polo was home to a staff of 350 deck officers, crew members, and social staff from European, Filipino, British, and American backgrounds. Registered in the Bahamas, Marco Polo features an Ambassador Lounge, the Polo Lounge, The Charleston Club, a Bistro restaurant called Raffles, Severn Seas Restaurant, Palm Court, Le Bar, a Card and Game Room, an Aerobics studio, and a Casino with 23 slot machines.
The list of Marco Polo amenities was virtually endless. Amenities include: ATM, Barber Shop, Beauty Center, Boutiques, Direct Dial Telephones, Disco, Duty Free shop, Electric Current (110/220v), Elevators (4), Dance Hosts (except in Mediterranean), Hair Dryers (all cabins), Health Club, Helipad, Internet Cafe, Jacuzzis (3), Laundry/Valet, Lecture Series (except in Mediterranean), Library, Massage, Medical Center, Minibars (suites only), Music Console (all cabins), Passenger Decks (8), Photo Shop/Gallery, Piano Bar, Refrigerators (suites only), Safes (all cabins), Safe Deposit Boxes, Saunas, Shuffleboard, Stabilizers, Swimming Pool, Table Tennis, Telefax/Telex, Televisions (all cabins), Thalasso Therapy, Tour Office, and Zodiacs.
Orient Cruise Lines staterooms consist of 63 superior deluxe rooms with ocean views, 102 deluxe staterooms with oceanviews, and dozens of superior, and standard room types. Marco Polo also features 2 Deluxe Suites and 4 Junior Suites. Deluxe Suites are located on the Upper Deck and they include queen-sized beds, a separate living room, marble baths, and walk-in closets. Junior Suites are located on the Sky Deck and they include two lower beds (convertible to queens), sitting areas, marble baths, and walk-in closets. Marco Polo features a total of around 425 elegant staterooms.
Norwegian Cruise Lines acquired Orient Cruise Lines in 1998. For the next ten years, Norwegian Cruise Lines Orient Line sailed to exotic and faraway places such as Morocco, South America, Antarctica, Spain, Italy, and more. Transatlantic voyages were among the most popular voyages as well as long voyages up to 50 days or more.
Marco Polo’s final cruise took place on March 2, 2008. The 24-day repositioning cruise from Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon, Portugal featured stops in Sao Vicente, Cape Verde Islands; Fortaleza, Brazil; Arrecife Lanzarote, Canary Islands; Agadir, Morocco, Casablanca, Morocco; Cadiz, Spain; and Gibraltar, United Kingdom, to name a few.
Marco Polo, formerly of Norwegian Cruise Lines Orient Line, has found a new owner according to Norwegian Cruise Line representatives. Although the name of the new owner has not yet been released, reports mention “Global Maritime” as Marco Polo’s new owner, with a purchase price of $30 million.