The Marco Polo, the former Orient Line ship, will be used to launch a U.K.-based cruise line called Cruise & Maritime Voyages.

Cruise & Maritime Services (CMS) said the adults-only cruise brand would launch in January.

CMS has been acting as the U.K. sales agent for the Marco Polo’s current owners, Transocean Tours, since 2006. The company said it was encouraged by the vessel’s high satisfaction in the U.K. market.

A Greek company bought the 820-passenger, 22,000-ton Marco Polo from Star Cruises in 2007, after Norwegian Cruise Line shut down Orient Line. The vessel was then chartered to Germany's Transocean Tours Touristik beginning in March 2008.

CMS said it finalized a five-year charter agreement with the ship’s current owner, Marco Polo Chartering Company, and would work with Greece-based Global Maritime Group, the vessel’s existing ship manager.

"We will continue our unique and successful distribution strategy of marketing the program via a select group of firmly established British tour operating partners and the retail travel trade," stated Chris Coates, director of CMS.

"While our core market will predominantly be the British sector, we believe the program will also appeal to the wider North American, Australasian and South African English-speaking markets where sales representation announcements will be made shortly."

CMS said that following a short refurbishment in the U.K., the Marco Polo will re-enter service on Jan. 2 with a winter program out of London. The ship will sail 24 itineraries to the Amazon, Orinoco and West Indies during the winter months followed by a season of Nordic cruises to Scandinavia, the Baltic & Russia, Iceland, the British Isles, the Mediterranean and Canary Islands.

Passengers must be at least 16 years old.

In April, the 800-passenger, 17,000-ton Ocean Countess will also join the CMS fleet.

The ship will be used for a year-round program of 22 sailings out of the U.K. ports of Hull, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Greenock, Liverpool and Plymouth, with a summer season of Nordic cruises to Scandinavia, the Baltic & Russia, Iceland, the British Isles, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands.


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