10 January 2011

Marco Polo, 22 August 2008

Marco Polo

IMO 6417097
Built 1965, VEB Mathias-Thesen-Werft Wismar, East Germany
Tonnage 22 080 GT
Length 176,28 m
Width 23,55 m
Draught 8,17 m
915 passengers
2 Sulzer-Cegielski diesels, combined 15 447 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 16,5 knots

Starting off the new year (somewhat belatedly I admit) with some of my favourite photographs from 2008, namely the Marco Polo's August visit to Helsinki's Länsisatama. New photographs from 2011 will fortcaming once the weather is cooperative with my plan of photographing the local ferries in the ice (ice is not a problem but the lack of good light is).

The service history of the Marco Polo has already been covered in the previous entry about her (him?). This time I will instead be looking at how the ship's exterior has changed over the years.

Originally the Alexandr Pushkin (and other ships of the Ivan Franko -class) were built with fairly unpretentious superstructures. The forward superstructure moderately streamlined, with the lowest superstructure decks terraced. The aft superstructure was similiarly terraced, with what looks like an observation longe between the bridge and the funnel and the decks neatly terraced immediately aft of the funnel (see for instance this postcard from Simplon Postcards). Already during the Soviet era the Alexandr Pushkin's forward superstructre was rebuilt into a more subtantial (and less attractive form). During the her time with the soviets the ship ran with a black hull decorated with a white riband and the usual Soviet funnel colours with white funnel decorated with a red stripe carrying the hammer-and-sicle -emblem. Many of the Alexandr Pushkin's sister recieved white hulls during their later Soviet career, but the Pushkin seems to have carried a black hull 'till the end.

Although the 1991-1993 refit which turned the ship into the Marco Polo left her superficially very similar to the original, closer inspection reveals her to have been radically altered. The large windows that originally adorned much of the superstructure have been replaced by smaller ones, the (presumed) observation lounge after of the bridge has been lost, and most importantly the aft superstructure has been radically extended, turning the originally fairly sleek ship into something much more boxy. Naturally the ship's livery was also altered in addition to the structural changes; the hull was now painted dark blue (without a decorative stripe) and the funnel white with a wide blue and a narrow red band.

The changes that have been made to the ship's exterior after she moved first to Transocean Tours and then to Cruise & Maritime Voyages have been largely marginal. Transocean Tours opted to keep the blue hull (though their other ship run with white hulls) but added a decorative stripe in two shades of turquise familiar from their other ships and naturally their own funnel colours. It also appears they lightened the shade of the hull slightly, though this might be just an optical illusion. Cruise & Maritime Voyages were content just to replace the Transocean Tours funnel symbol with their own.

The photographs below show the Marco Polo departing Helsinki's Länsisatama on 22 August 2008. Click on the individual images to view full size.

Shortly after departing the Hernesaari cruise quay. Why she used that quay is unknown to me; the better-located quays at Katajanokka she has normally used were free at the time as far as I remember.
For some reason, from this point of view and this livery the ship reminds me strongly of Lauro Line's first Angelina Lauro, despite the fact the hull colour is the only real similarity.
Pihlajasaari in the background on the right, as per the usual.
Passing Pihlajasaari slightly further on in quite nice wind (observe the bent trees on the island right of the ship's bow).
Not quite blending into the landscape. Not that a ship should either.
Further on, passing to the not-quite-so-calm waters of the Bay of Finland.

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