The cruise-liner Marco Polo embarked a full complement of passengers at Cardiff Docks yesterday before setting sail past Penarth last night on a 10-day cruise to the Mediterranean.
This is the first of two cruises being operated from Cardiff this year by her owners Cruise and Maritime Voyages.
Two well-known local tugs, Trueman and Irishman dropped their lines early and provided an escort for Marco Polo as she navigated the Wrach Channel (she draws 8.2 metres) and headed down channel past Penarth.
Passengers congregated on the multiple decks at the stern of the vessel and on the foredecks to wave at friends and relatives on the Penarth sea-front as the 52-year-old ship came within a a couple of hundred yards or so of Penarth Head and set a southerly course past Penarth Pier and down the Bristol Channel .
Marco Polo was launched in 1965 as the Aleksandr Pushkin and was originally built in what was then communist East Germany for the old Soviet Union’s Baltic Shipping Company.
Her hull was built strongly enough to navigate through broken ice – and she was designed to be easily adapted for use as a troop-carrier when required
In 1991 the ship was sold to Orient Lines, was renamed Marco Polo and underwent a near total re-build before coming under her present ownership.
Marco Polo is due visit Bilbao and La Coruna in Spain, Lisbon and Gibraltar. Her first port of call will be La Pallice on the West coast of France near La Rochelle.
Later this summer Marco Polo will be sailing sailing again from Cardiff on a separate 6 night cruise to St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly, Rouen in France , Antwerp in Belgium and Hull.
Next year Marco Polo will be back in Cardiff and sailing from the Welsh capital on 3 scheduled cruises to Honfleur, France; Ireland & the Scilly Isles; and Iceland.