For the first time since the 1970’s. a British cruise company will have two passenger ships berthed at Tibury together on March 27th, 2015. Cruise and Maritime Voyages will have both the veteran Marco Polo and the newly acquired and refurbished Magellan, in the Essex port on the same day.
Celebrating her fiftieth anniversary with a series of gala sailings next year, the beautiful, 1965 built Marco Polo will be embarking passengers for a six night, ‘Springtime Gardens’ theme cruise that will take the 800 passenger, adults-only CMV stalwart to Amsterdam, Zeebrugge, Jersey, Guernsey, and Honfleur.
By way of contrast, the 46,052 ton, 1250 passenger Magellan -originally built for Carnival Cruises in 1985 as the Holiday- will be sailing for North Shields to embark further passengers for an eight night Norwegian Fjords cruise, following on from her original, twelve night maiden voyage.
For those interested to know such things, Marco Polo is scheduled to sail at 1600. A sailing time for the wait listed Magellan is not listed on the CMV website, but I assume that it will be pretty much around the same time. For passengers on both ships, it could make for quite an interesting dual procession down the Thames.
These are interesting times for CMV, as the line has also acquired the sleek, elegant Astor, as well as taking the famed Azores- the former Stockholm– on long term charter from Portuscale Cruises.
In addition, the company is getting it’s feet much wetter in the river cruise industry, with a trio of boats sailing the Rhine in 2015, as opposed to just one in 2014.
For Tilbury, and the newly named London Cruise Terminal, the presence of these two ships marks the greatest amount of alongside gross passenger tonnage in fifty years- almost 70,000 GRT for the two vessels combined. And, with more than 2,000 passengers to embark- and a similar number to disembark from the previous cruises- it should be a bumper day for the local taxi drivers and restaurants in the Essex port, famed for it’s links with Queen Elizabeth I and the arrival of the original, post war Caribbean immigrants aboard the Empire Windrush.
Before and after World War Two, Tilbury was a busy passenger port for liners of both P&O and Shaw Savill, running on the emigree trade to Australia and New Zealand. The arrival of large scale commercial aviation eventually put that trade to the sword, but now the Essex port is starting to see a slow but steady renaissance as a cruise port. With frequent train links from London stations such as Fenchurch, Tilbury is actually the most convenient departure port from central London.
Interesting times, for sure. As ever, stay tuned.