Passengers from Penarth, Cardiff, and all over the UK  line the decks as Marco Polo is towed out from Alexandra Dock, Cardiff  last night – bound for the Mediterranean (Photo John Clark)

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.

The 22,000 ton Marco Polo is 575 feet long and is rated as a small cruise liner  but she can accommodate over 800 passengers and has a crew of 350

Two local tugs “Trueman” and “Irishman” escorted the Marco Polo out to sea

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.

Penarth provided a foretaste of some Mediterranean-style weather as the Marco Polo’s passengers sailed past the sea front

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 .

Before setting sail all passengers undergo compulsory lifeboat drills. Some foredeck passengers enjoying the scenery of Penarth were evidently still wearing their practice lifejackets

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

Scores of people on Penarth seafront watched Marco Polo steam past

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.

The Marco Polo, with her escorts, sets course down channel . In the background is the island of Flatholm where the maintenance work on the famous lighthouse has now been completed and the scaffolding taken down

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.

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  1. whatsoccurin says:

    Have seen this ship before but, may be the good weather, or she may have been sailing slightly closer to the shore but she looked very impressive yesterday-noticed on a Travel Agent’s window that there is a ship called the Magellan sailing from Newport on the Dublin-Liverpool run on June 4-should be visible from Penarth.

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