Alexandr Pushkin Still Sailing The Open Seas
By James Donahue
The Russian passenger liner Alexandr Pushkin is still afloat today, but under new owners and a new
name. She sails today as the Marco Polo under the British flag and owned by the Orient Line.
The Alexandr Pushkin was built at the Mathias Thesen shipyard in Wismar, East Germany, for the Baltic
Shipping Company in 1965. Designed to offer regular trans-Atlantic service between Montreal and Lenningrad, the ship was built
with an extra thick hull to deal with navigation through ice. It also was designed for possible use as a troopship so offers
large provision and stores areas, including fuel tanks for trips up to 10,000 nautical miles.
At 578 feet, she isn’t the largest of the passenger ships on the high seas, but the fact that
the vessel is literally an icebreaker makes it possible for her new owners to use it to offer cruises anywhere in the world,
When it served the Baltic Shipping Company, the Alexandr Pushkin was considered one of the Soviet
Union’s largest cruise ships. When that government collapsed, the company went through a change that led to the sale
of some of its fleet. This vessel was among those that went on the market. That was how it was transferred to the Orient Lines
and got renamed as the Marco Polo.
Before going back into service the ship went through a $60 million refit that included new engines.
Special effort was taken to maintain the ship’s classic exterior lines and traditional beauty. Among the changes, a
helipad was added to scout out ice conditions during escapades into the arctic and Antarctic regions. It went back on the
high seas as a luxury cruise ship.
The Marco Polo today provides cruises in the Mediterranean, Norwegian fjords, the Baltic, Russia and
northern Europe. She also crosses the Atlantic to South America and continues through the Panama Canal to Chilean fjords and
Peru and then goes to the Antarctic during the southern summer.