Orient picks Copenhagen as Marco Polo's summer home

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Orient Lines, based here, is taking its Marco Polo ship to Scandinavia for the summer, and has chosen Copenhagen, Denmark, as its home port.

The move, which marks the cruise-tour operator's entry into the Scandinavia market, was prompted by client requests, combined with the acquisition of a second ship.

Mitchell J. Schlesinger, Orient Lines' senior vice president of marketing, said Scandinavia has been a region of interest to the 6-year-old company for some time, but with only one ship, it focused summer itineraries on the prime Mediterranean market.

Orient Line's Marco Polo will sail the Norwegian fjords and the Baltic capitals this year. The newly acquired Crown Odyssey more than doubles the line's capacity, however.

Formerly Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Crown, the ship carries 1,050 passengers, compared with Marco Polo's capacity for 800.

"The acquisition of the Crown gave us the opportunity to expand our Europe program," Schlesinger said. "The Baltic has become very popular, and passenger surveys have showed a significant interest in northern Europe."

He cited flexibility as a prime reason for choosing Copenhagen as the home port. "We wanted to be in the middle of northern Europe and get the passengers in a closer proximity to sites they want to see." he said.

"A lot of cruises to the Baltic region sail out of London and take four days getting in and out of the region."

In addition, he said, "Our itineraries from Copenhagen are great for agents to sell. They can offer the Baltics or the fjords to the baby boomers who seek seven to 10-day trips, and the back-to-back combination can be sold as a longer cruise to the more senior clients who tend to travel for longer."

Schlesinger also noted that the region has the desired combination of air capacity, ease of roundtrip booking and precruise tour options.

From May 27 through Sept. 1, the Marco Polo will set off on seven-day cruises alternating between the Norwegian fjords and the Baltic capitals.

The line's Fjords & Fairytales cruise-tour features the scenery of the Norwegian fjords, including the Sogne Fjord and Geirangerfjord, plus the Viking capitals of Oslo and Bergen, Norway, and Denmark's Fairytale Country -- made famous by author Hans Christian Andersen.

The Scandinavia & Russia itinerary focuses on the cities around the Baltic Sea -- Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tallinn, Estonia.

The total cruise-tour packages last nine nights, including a two-night hotel stay and sightseeing in Copenhagen before the voyage. The package is priced from $1,795 per person, double, including advance-purchase discounts. Roundtrip air add-ons from New York start at $595.

Because the fjords and Baltic cruises alternate, passengers can combine the two for a 16-night Grand Scandinavia voyage, priced from $2,925 per person, double.

There are also cruises available featuring Norway and Iceland, and the summer solstice at Norway's North Cape.

To celebrate the summer solstice, the Marco Polo cruises the North Cape at midnight and holds a champagne party on deck.

The 14-night Midnight Sun itinerary departs June 10 and cruises the full length of Norway, with calls at Oslo, Bergen, and scenic fjords.

Midnight Sun is priced from $2,695 per person, double.

Fjords & Iceland is a 16-night trip departing July 14. The cruise-tour visits the Norwegian fjords, the Icelandic towns of Reykjavik and Akureyri, and Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. The cost is $2,895 per person, double.

The Marco Polo offers four-star amenities such as a dining room, a bistro restaurant, four lounges, a casino, a health club, a library, a beauty center, a swimming pool and three outdoor Jacuzzis.

Orient Lines
Phone: (800) 333-7300
Web: www.orientlines.com

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