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The cruise industry’s multi-billion pound contribution to the British economy continued to grow in 2014, according to a Europe-wide report released today by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The cruise industry’s direct contribution to the UK economy, including items such as goods and services purchased by the cruise lines, and the salaries of their employees, grew to £2.247 billion.

The industry created around another 800 jobs in the UK in 2014, taking the total number to 71,222, and accounting for a fifth of all cruise industry jobs across Europe. The UK remains one of Europe’s biggest cruise markets, with a 25.7% share of passenger numbers in 2014 – a year in which 1.64 million British passengers took an ocean cruise.

The port of Southampton retained its position as Europe’s largest embarkation and disembarkation port. However, the London Cruise Terminal, Port of Tilbury, is also seeing a large jump in cruise traffic. 2014 passenger traffic totalled 54,000 and the port is forecasting that this will almost double to 100,000 passengers in 2015, with further growth also expected in 2016.

Other ports predicting an increase in cruise traffic include Liverpool and Bristol Avonmouth both used by CMV. Cruise traffic to islands around the UK mainland is forecast to grow strongly too with cruise traffic through Guernsey port predicted to jump 20% to 130,000 and through Orkney by 17% to 79,000 passengers.

Andy Harmer, Director, CLIA UK & Ireland, says: “Today’s report reaffirms the UK’s position not only as one of the world’s major cruise markets, but as a country which continues to reap multi-billion pound dividends from the cruise industry. Across the UK, ports and the cruise lines that serve them are playing an ever-increasing role in boosting the economies that surround them.”


Written by Mike Hall.

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Ferdinand Magellan was one of the great explorers of his era. He was the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean and played a crucial role in the first circumnavigation of the world.

Born in 1480 into a noble Portuguese family, Magellan’s parents died when he was still a boy. In 1505, he enlisted in the fleet of the Portuguese viceroy to the Indies and spent the following years involved in a series of expeditions in India and Africa. In 1511, he was with the fleet that conquered Malacca on the Malay Peninsula, gaining control of the most important trade routes in the region. He also explored the islands of present-day Indonesia as far east as the Moluccas (also known as the Spice Islands).

After a disagreement with the Portuguese king, Magellan went to Spain and enlisted the Spanish king's support for an expedition to reach the Moluccas by sailing westwards to gain a share in the valuable spice trade for Spain. In September 1519 he set out with a fleet of five vessels and, in spite of a mutinous crew, rough weather, scurvy, a desperate lack of provisions and unknown waters, Magellan’s expedition became the first to sail from the Atlantic ocean into the Pacific Ocean. The passage was made through the straits at the southern point of South America which were later named after him.

Now with only three ships, Magellan sailed on into the Pacific with rapidly diminishing supplies, which led to many of the crew dying of starvation and scurvy. They then sailed on to the Philippines and eventually one ship from the fleet reached Spain in September 1522, having completed the first ever circumnavigation of the globe.

Magellan himself did not complete the entire voyage, as he was killed after becoming involved in a local battle in the Philippines. However, the expedition reached a region of Southeast Asia which Magellan had reached on previous voyages traveling east. Magellan thereby achieved a nearly complete personal circumnavigation of the globe.

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In Marco Polo’s 50th years she has seen many different ships but this is the first time she has met P&O’s newest addition to their fleet, Britannia.  They met in the beautiful Norwegian town of Flam, which gave their meeting a spectacular backdrop.

Thank you to Karen Bradbury for the image

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The morning of March 20th is marked by one of nature’s grandest sights – a total eclipse of the Sun. Such events happen when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, casting a shadow down onto a portion of the Earth’s surface. Unfortunately, the shadow’s track is narrow, so to see the full eclipse you’ll need to travel north to either Svalbard or the Faroe Islands. That has not deterred veteran eclipse chasers who booked up flights and hotels years ago, but the rest of us who will be stuck with a partial eclipse should not be too discouraged. While nothing compares to the magnificence of a total eclipse, a partial eclipse, too, is full of interest and the timing of this one should ensure that it is enjoyed by many.


The closer to totality one is, the more of the Sun’s disc will cover the Moon. In Aberdeen, for example, an eclipse, which begins at 8.32am, will peak at 9.37am with more than 93 per cent of the Sun obscured, whereas those as far south as London will make do with 84 per cent eclipse. In both cases, the show is over by 10.45.


To guarantee you have the best possible vantage point to witness this memorable experience, travel aboard either Marco Polo, Azores or Magellan (on her maiden voyage!) that, as part of their Solar Eclipse and Northern Lights itineraries, will cruise to the Faroe Islands and position themselves so that passengers enjoy the best position to view the solar eclipse.

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Early January was miserable and cold. A Caribbean cruise sounded 'just the ticket'; and I booked on CMV's debut voyage for their recently acquired and renamed ship - Azores.  It was formerly the Athena but has had many names since being launched as the Stockholm in 1948. Packing for a month away; setting up the house; and informing neighbours were the next tasks – the usual routine. Checklists help!

The smaller ships appeal to me as a solo traveller. 450 passengers were aboard Azores. By the end of the cruise I would get to know at least twenty on Christian-name terms. The marvellous CMV staff introduce solo travellers to each other at informal get-togethers. Cards, chess and Scrabble players arrange informal meetings too. There are also craft sessions for interested passengers.

For logistical and operational reasons the cruise embarked from Plymouth rather than Avonmouth. 'Time and tide wait for no man'. I had arranged to park my car at Avonmouth Docks and cruise guests travelled in comfort from there to Plymouth by coach. Checking-in was swift, easy and well-organised. Time to explore the ship. A pink 'mackerel' dusk sky heralded the start of our grand voyage. After the safety drill – and dinner with wine – we left the Devon coast about 10.15 pm. Tug boats assisted our departure while the harbour pilot kept a close eye on things from his boat.

The following two days were sea days. The port excursions talks were excellent. Time to sign up for a few, The 'ABBA' tribute show was very good as was the 'Rat Pack' tribute show the following evening. The highly talented Richard Sykes was our Cruise Director on this trip. I enjoy playing Scrabble and enjoyed at least 30 very enjoyable games over the course of the holiday. On the evening of the second sea day', we enjoyed our first formal night. Dinner Jackets or lounge suits for the men; glittering couture for the ladies. Introduction to our congenial Portuguese Captain at the pre-dinner cocktail party, where champagne and canapés were served. All the senior officers were introduced on stage in the Calypso Lounge. The Captain told us there were 220 crew/staff of 21 nationalities.

Next day, the 29th January, we were in Lisbon all day. I walked three miles through the city in the morning then joined an organised coach tour in the afternoon visiting Sintra, the Guincho coast and the resort of Cascais. The weather was misty up at Sintra. We passed through Estoril on our way back to the ship. Richard Sykes performed a 'Neil Sedaka' tribute show in the evening. I later watched the James Bond film 'Skyfall' in the on-board cinema.

A full sea day lay between us and our next port of call, Funchal on the island of Madeira. During the sea day – artist and guest lecturer Alan O'Cain gave his talk on Portraiture. It was fascinating. That night the guest comedian performed his first one-man comedian show which entertained us all.

So to Madeira. The organised tour – 'A Touch of Madeira' was great. Several photo-stops at high view points then some free time at the town of Ribeira Brava. Funchal itself was clean and bustling. We began our six day crossing of the Atlantic after lunch. More Scrabble; the usual tasty dinner; then a show entitled 'A Night at the Opera'. The lady singer was Polish; the lady violinist was Ukrainian. Puccini music was played. Also popular contemporary numbers such as 'A Stranger in Paradise'.

So what's it like to be at sea for six full days? Well there is always plenty to do on a CMV cruise. Quizzes, games, craft, travel, art and 'creative writing' lectures. And meals every few hours! Time for more port excursions talks. Great shows like 'From Russia With Love'; a 'Shirley Valentine' monologue by actress Pauline Daniels; an 'Elton John' tribute show by the indefatigable Richard Sykes; another comic show by Gerry Graham. I participated in the game-show 'Just a Minute' and found out just how difficult it can be to avoid repetition, deviation or hesitation when talking on a given subject. I also enjoyed regular games of Scrabble now played outside as the weather was warming up. Clocks were moved back one hour four times during our westward voyage. A swim in the ship's pool was enjoyable. A crew member demonstrated fruit carving; another - cocktail making. Much juggling of bottles. None was dropped. Approaching the Caribbean we had our first deck parties – enjoying great dancing and live music from the band.  Reggae music was played. 'Kingston Town' was well received as was 'Walking on Sunshine'. My groovy moves even made it on to the cruise DVD !

On Saturday, 7th February, we finally arrived in St. John's, Antigua. I walked round the market for a while then joined fellow guests in hiring a taxi to take us out to the exquisite Jolly Beach – and then come back and collect us three hours later. The swimming there was heavenly and in the grounds of the Jolly Beach Hotel I saw a hummingbird taking nectar from a hibiscus flower. The sight of its iridescent plumage, high-tempo wing-flapping and long curved beak will stay with me forever.  There was a 'Fifties' themed deck party on board that evening. Sailaway was at midnight.

Next day St. Barts and St Maarten. Tendered into Gustavia, walked over to St Jean's Bay past the air-strip. Enjoyed a swim there near the Eden Rock Hotel before walking back to Gustavia to meet friends on Shell Beach.  A tender back to our ship. Lunch on board while we moved over to St Maarten. There I took an organised coach tour of the French side of the island stopping at Marigot for a while. That night we enjoyed a 'Sixties' music deck party. We left Philipsburg shortly before midnight. Then to St Kitts where I took an open-sided taxi/charabanc up to the beautiful Romney Manor gardens then back to the Nevis viewpoint on Timothy Hill. The show onboard ship that night was 'Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor'. The following day we were in St. Lucia and friends and I hired a taxi to take us to Choc Bay for a day of swimming and sunbathing. The Celebrity Summit and P&O Azura were in port in Castries, The 'Seventies' deck party completed a very happy day.

Onward to St. Vincent where I was booked on an all-day trip to visit the coast of that island and then transit the 15 km channel to the neighbouring island of Bequia in the Grenadines. The weather again was hot and sunny. We were aboard a twin-hulled pleasure boat that could power along at 18 knots. We stopped at idyllic beaches. I viewed the underwater angel fish, pipe coral and waving frond coral using the provided viewing masks/goggles. Many people availed themselves of the provided snorkels and fins – or flippers as we used to call them. We enjoyed a grand hot chicken lunch with rum punch near Port Elizabeth, Bequia before swimming later off the exquisite Princess Margaret Beach. Royal Clipper was in Admiralty Bay and made a grand sight. We tendered back to the ship in the evening.

Thursday, February 12th, we arrived in Scarborough, Tobago. Friends and I hired a taxi to take us out to the Pigeon Point beaches and nature reserve, It was 35 degrees C in the shade that day. We swam and then relaxed beneath the palm trees. Richard Sykes performed his 'Elvis Night' show that night. The talent of the man knows no bounds!

St. George's on the beautiful island of Grenada was our next port of call. The organised coach tour in the morning was entitled 'Discover Grenada' and we visited a cocoa processing station; the Grand Etang Rainforest Reserve; Annandale Falls; and Fort Frederick - as well as seeing the diverse range of spices and fruits growing everywhere on the island. After lunch on the ship I walked the four miles to Grand Anse, had a swim and took the water taxi back to St Georges. On the beach, I chatted to Canadian holidaymakers as well as Azores crew members who were enjoying some well-deserved time off.  A 'Totally Tropical Deck Party' back on board ended an energetic day.

Then to sunny Barbados. With eight other passengers I orchestrated a taxi tour which took in the Highland viewpoint and the dramatic Atlantic coast at Bathsheba before delivering us back to Carlisle Bay near Bridgetown for a very welcome swim. From there, it was a two mile walk back to the ship. Some took a taxi. It was Valentine’s Day and that night the show team put on a show built round popular love songs and melodies.

Farewell to the Caribbean and another six days at sea before we reached the Azores…aboard the good ship  MV Azores.

Clocks were put forward one hour every other day. The Art lectures by Alan O'Cain were great – we even had a poetry session. My contribution included the words 'Gigantic Atlantic' which seemed appropriate. By now, many friendships had been made aboard. And there were so many on-board activities that there was no time to get bored. I participated in the 'What’s My Line?' panel show but my mime for 'Architect' was easily guessed. We enjoyed a Columbus Club cocktail party and I was also invited to the Staff Captain's table at dinner. Very exclusive! A lamb shank main course with red wine was really delicious. There was also another organised get-together for the solos group where more complimentary beer and wine was served. 'The Magic of the Musicals' show was great one night in the Calypso Show Lounge. We eventually reached Ponta Delgada in the Azores on February 21st. I walked round town in the morning and joined an organised excursion to Ribeira Grande after lunch. Unfortunately, there was no view of Fire Lake up in the highlands as the cloud cover was low. The visit to the pineapple plantation, which I have done before, was good. The complimentary pineapple liqueur and pineapple chutney samplings were very welcome.

The following day we were at sea. A severe storm was forecast for the Western Approaches so we diverted to Lisbon to let it blow over. This meant we had another great day in that beautiful city. Explorations on foot with fellow passengers included visits to the Flea Market, the National Pantheon and then, after much walking through the narrow streets and alleyways, a visit to the Santa Justa Elevator, the top viewing platform of which, commands fine views over the city centre. The day after Lisbon the sea swell up past Portugal was not too pleasant for a while. CMV passengers on the follow-up cruise to Norway were being delayed by a day so a decision was made to go into Portland Docks near Weymouth where we could disembark and where they, the group for Norway, could get on board. All worked out well and comfortable coaches drove us back up the M5 to Avonmouth Docks near Bristol, where many of us had parked our cars. We had enjoyed beautiful bright, clear, sunny weather for our return back to dry land in Dorset. I was back home in Gloucestershire by 8 pm.

So, another marvellous cruise. Lots of scope for exploring all the islands and cities visited. New friends to make on board. Familiar faces from previous cruises – appearing as staff or crew members or lecturers or tour guides. Everybody fortified by excellent food provided with style and panache by the maitre d' and his very able staff.

If you don't want to travel on one of those impersonal-looking 'mega-ships', try the friendly, intimate environment of a CMV cruise.

“Listen very carefully; I shall say this only once……”

Pint sized pocket firework and heroine of the ray-zis-tance, Mimi La Bonq, will be joining Cruise & Maritime’s venerable Marco Polo on a special, six night Great European Cities and Rivers Cruise, sailing from Tilbury on October the 24th.

The cruise is one of a number of special voyages lined up to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Marco Polo, and is sure to be very popular.

In addition to being able to say ‘Gid Moaning’ to Mimi- real name Sue Hodge- you will also find on board both Boycey and his lovely wife Marlene, the Rhett and Scarlett of the hugely popular sitcom, Only Fools And Horses.

This cruise has a great itinerary in itself, calling at both Amsterdam and Antwerp, before making overnight stays in Rouen and Honfleur. This allows passengers to dine ashore in the evening if they wish, or perhaps to sample some of the local nightlife.

Although it is unlikely that they will find Mimi returning to her old profession of waitressing in the cafes of the French towns, it would be quite in character for the spiky blonde force of nature to cook up some intriguing adventures all by herself.

Famed for spending many years serving ‘under’ Rene Artois, ‘ero of the ray-zis-tance and late proprietor of the Café Rene in Nouvignon in the popular, long running BBC sitcom, Mimi became one of the heroines of the epic struggle against the ‘Cherman’ occupiers. In this role, she appeared as everything from a hunch backed monster in a haunted castle to a flying nun, a habit she never quite got over.

However, Cruise & Maritime have been able to provide assurances regarding certain other related characters…..

Lovers of a traditional Gin and Tonic tipple might be rather relieved to hear that Madame Fanny La Fan, the one time toast of the Follies Bergeres, will not be roused from her bed to join the cruise and potentially empty the ship’s entire supply of gin over her breakfast corn flakes each morning.

And, her lovely daughter- Madame Edith- will, alas, not be able to entertain passengers on board the Marco Polo with her various unique and wildly eclectic vocal stylings.

On the other hand, a report that General Von Klinkerhoffen will be boarding the Marco Polo at Honfleur to make a personal tour of inspection has yet to be denied.

And, should anyone feel the need for some in depth, local sightseeing, it is possible that Lieutenant Gruber could just take you for a spin in his little tank.

By Anthony Nicholas.

Remote, wild and starkly beautiful, the Faroe Islands are one of northern Europe’s best-kept secrets. Few travellers have heard of this collection of 18 rocky outposts sitting off the north-west coast of Scotland halfway between Iceland and Norway – and even fewer know where they are. But their dramatic landscapes covering nearly 550 square miles ensure that once experienced, they are never forgotten.

 

Visit the Faroes and you will find nature at its very best; a place where sheer cliffs tower majestically above the untamed North Atlantic Ocean; waterfalls tumble down steep rocky slopes; and crystal clear brooks bubble across lush meadows dotted with shaggy mountain sheep. This pristine environment is a birdwatcher’s paradise, attracting thousands of seabirds in huge noisy colonies gathered along the cliffs, with around 300 species including puffins, guillemots and the Faroes’ national bird, the oyster catcher.

 

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Travelling through these islands not only provides stunning views of the coastline, but perhaps an opportunity to spot seals diving and frolicking in the surrounding waters, and pilot whales and pods of dolphins carving through the waves. But while the Faroes are a veritable goldmine of flora and fauna – helped by their position at the heart of the Gulf Stream that blesses them with a relatively mild climate – there is more to the islands than this. With a history spanning more than 1,000 years from when the first settlers are thought to have been Irish monks who arrived around 750AD, to be followed by Norwegians and Vikings, the islands are full of Nordic stories and old traditions.

 

Today the Faroe Islands are a self-governing region of Denmark that makes its money from fishing and tourism. Colourful settlements containing houses topped by eye-catching traditional turf roofs are dotted across the island landscapes, but with a population of just over 48,000 you could never call the Faroes crowded. On the Isle of Streymoy sits Torshavn, a picturesque hub full of brightly-coloured buildings and known as one of the world’s smallest capital cities, with a well-preserved old town.

bursting with culture. It is the perfect complement to the stunning surroundings that promise to stay in your memory long after you sail away.

 

Sara Macefield

Marco Polo 50 Golden Years logo REVIn 2015, Marco Polo will be celebrating her special golden anniversary and fifty memorable years of ocean voyages and cruising. During the past half century Marco Polo has sailed the seven seas and all the oceans of the world visiting every Continent from Antarctica to the Arctic.

We are truly proud to be the custodians of such a fine classic ship which is steeped in maritime tradition and adored by so many of our passengers. To mark such an auspicious occasion, in 2015 we will be operating a special commemorative programme of cruises including special themed nights and dinners, quizzes and a nostalgic trip down memory lane to the swinging sixties and 1965, the year Marco Polo was launched.

Head of Marketing is Mike Hall who has been with CMV since the start. Mike has a wealth of experience in the travel industry as a travel agent, call centre manager, training, sales and marketing. We ask Mike about how he sees the CMV cruise product.

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Q As a marketing man, how do you make sure that CMV stands out from the crowd and what do you feel is its USP (unique selling point)?

We specialise in offering no-fly cruising holidays with convenient departures from a wide range of UK ports. Our smaller sized classic and more traditional style ships provide a more leisurely and friendly ‘home from home’ style of cruising. These vessels are accessible to more interesting and remote ports of call making our itineraries the top reason for guests choosing to book with CMV.

Q What is the biggest challenge of your role?

The cruise market is highly competitive, so having a clear but flexible strategy is important and then staying focused and organised to ensure that it is delivered on time. Marketing these days is a bit like spinning plates with so many different mediums. Digital marketing via computer, tablet and smart phone means that we can now deliver news and offers instantly when compared with more traditional print based advertising.

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CMV Baltic Cities & St. Petersburg Cruise August 21st  to September 2nd 2014

The Baltic beckoned; and an enticing CMV itinerary visiting six overseas countries in twelve days 'fitted the bill to a tee'.. 

I booked the trip. The usual prelims and packing ensued, working from checklists and trying to anticipate all one's needs. Formal dinners would be part of the cruise so appropriate clothes and shoes needed to be packed. 165 miles lay between me in Gloucestershire and the 'Marco Polo' at  London Cruise Terminal at Tilbury. The M4; a very busy M25; and the Dartford Tunnel allowed me to cover the distance in about three and a half hours.

Dockside parking at Tilbury was pre-booked.  Having first offloaded my luggage, I was escorted to the parking area then brought back to the terminal on the shuttle bus. The friendly face of our Cruise Director Richard Sykes greeted us at Check-in. A health declaration was signed; passport checked; and hand luggage, jackets and metal accoutrements X-Ray scanned by Port Security. I was on board 'Marco Polo' by quarter after Midday and found my luggage outside my internal cabin on Amundsen Deck. A friendly member of the ship's 'hotel staff' had escorted me to my cabin and my cabin steward for the cruise introduced himself to me. I had a solo occupancy twin-bed cabin. The shower room facilities were immaculate and well-arranged as usual. It was a sunny day in Essex. Safety Drill next; then dinner. We departed Tilbury and headed east out along the Thames Estuary at 4 pm. Lots to see – wind farms, Southend pier, shipping; and wartime forts. The 'Welcome Show' aboard that night featured Greek, Irish, American, Scottish and English songs and some dancing. Jolly and upbeat. Time to move the clocks forward one hour. There were 820 passengers and 329 crew aboard 'Marco Polo'.

 

Flam

By now embraced amidst the stunning scenic sprawl of the Norwegian fjords, the Marco Polo sailed slowly through the night toward our next rendezvous with Mother Nature. Sometime in the early hours, while most of us were still sleeping, the anchor went down just off the small town of Flam,located deep in a branch of Aurlandfjord.

Brilliant sunshine greeted me as I padded up on deck for an alfresco breakfast with a side order of sublime visual splendour on all sides. Plump, fluffy clouds hung like becalmed, ghostly galleons in a powder blue sky. Ranks of pine tress marched down to the still, silent edge of the fjord like ranks of Grenadier guards. Ashore, coaches sat at the edge of a vast, rolling meadow carpeted with a riot of multi coloured fauna, waiting to take the passengers on their day’s adventure.

I have always considered Flam to be one of the true highlights of any Norway cruise. It has an air of surreal, unhurried calm that seems to affect everything and everyone around it; a Norwegian Brigadoon, writ large in glowering granite, gushing waterfalls, and a dozen different shades of dazzling greenery. It never fails to grab the heart like a vice.

After a sunny, fun filled day at sea, the sudden stillness that greeted our arrival in Eidfjord was one hell of a stunning contrast. Low, rolling hills stood against the backdrop of an ominously leaden sky. Nearby, the German cruise ship Aida Luna- which I had last seen in Bermuda three years earlier- ghosted past us to the one available pier in town. The Marco Polowould be tendering passengers ashore today.

Stopped at anchor, and with her tenders slowly being winched down to water level, the sheer, implacable vastness of Norway seemed to surround the Marco Polo in a kind of uneasy embrace.

Eidfjord is actually part of the vastly larger series of inlets, small harbours and waterways collectively known as Hardangerfjord. One of the ‘greatest hits’ fjords on the Norwegian cruise circuit, the Hardangerfjord unwinds in a seventy five mile long, serpentine sprawl. In places, it has a depth of almost 2,700 feet; an almost unimaginable body of enclosed water.

The first full day of our Norway adventure aboard the Marco Polo dawned sunny and calm, with a gently rolling gunmetal swell kissed by fitful whitecaps. The early morning sun sparkled on the royal blue hull plating and washed across the serried tiers of teak decks at the stern. The coffee was hot, and the whole day sparkled with benign possibilities.

With her deep draft and relatively broad hull, the Marco Polo rode out the often capricious North Sea swell with an almost effortless ease. From time to time, she rolled gently to port and starboard, as if attempting to shrug off some imaginary seabirds that tried to cling to the rails. On the lido deck at the stern of the ship, breakfast was being served. The tables around the aft pool were soon full.

If you’re looking for a day full of sensational, show stopping diversions and a whole conga line of time consuming, money eroding gimmicks, then the Marco Polo is not for you. Instead, you’ll find the library is open, arts and crafts classes are taking place in the various lounges, and the first lectures on the upcoming ports of call are taking place.

It was a surreal, brilliant cruise. The storied, veteran Marco Polo and an eight night sweep through the Norwegian fjords at the height of the summer season. A serene venue and a sensational ship. What more could anyone ask for?

Well, how about a twenty piece big band that laid down a blistering sound track of everything from Duke Ellington to platinum chip disco? Big band, big ship. A combination as natural as Rogers and Astaire, or Goffin and King. A perfect fit, almost symbiotic. Yet to experience it out there, as the Marco Polo surged through a conga line of implausible, incredible northern nights, was something else.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been to Norway many times, and always enjoyed the experience immensely. But this cruise had something else. For, with her unique outdoor cascade of tiered, semi circular decks, the Marco Polo offered a string of amazing vantage points from which to drink in the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful country.

Valentyn Zhukov - Captain

Valentyn ZhukovBorn in 1952 in Crimea, Captain Valentyn Zhukov graduated from the Odessa High Engineering Marine School initially working on various cargo vessels from 1980 to 1988. He is married to Liliya and has a 20 year old daughter Victoria.

His career progression saw him rise up through the ranks from Junior Officer through to Chief Officer. From 1989 he started working on passenger vessels initially in the position of Staff Captain and after gaining his licence as Deep Sea Captain in 1992 he was initially promoted to the position of Navigational Captain.

In August 1997, Captain Zhukov had risen up the ranks to gain his first position as Master on M/V Astra 2.

The midnight sun is ones of natures phenomena that takes place during the summer months in locations north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle when the sun is still visible at the local midnight.

  • Around summer solstice (June 21 in the north and December 22 in the south) the sun is visible for the full 24 hours.
  • The number of days per year with potential midnight sun increases the farther towards either pole one goes.
  • Countries you can see the midnight sun Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut) Iceland, Finland, Norway, Greenland, Russia, Sweden, and the United States (Alaska),
  • In Norway, Svalbard the northernmost inhabited region of Europe, there is no sunset from approximately 19 April to 23 August.
  • At the poles themselves, the sun only rises once and sets once each year.
  • During the six months when the sun is above the horizon it spends the days continuously moving in circles around the observer, gradually spiralling higher and reaching its highest circuit of the sky at the summer solstice.

Remote, wild and starkly beautiful, the Faroe Islands are one of northern Europe’s best-kept secrets. Few travellers have heard of this collection of 18 rocky outposts sitting off the north-west coast of Scotland halfway between Iceland and Norway – and even fewer know where they are. But their dramatic landscapes covering nearly 550 square miles ensure that once experienced, they are never forgotten.

Visit the Faroes and you will find nature at its very best; a place where sheer cliffs tower majestically above the untamed North Atlantic Ocean; waterfalls tumble down steep rocky slopes; and crystal clear brooks bubble across lush meadows dotted with shaggy mountain sheep. This pristine environment is a birdwatcher’s paradise, attracting thousands of seabirds in huge noisy colonies gathered along the cliffs, with around 300 species including puffins, guillemots and the Faroes’ national bird, the oyster catcher.

Travelling through these islands not only provides stunning views of the coastline, but perhaps an opportunity to spot seals diving and frolicking in the surrounding waters, and pilot whales and pods of dolphins carving through the waves. But while the Faroes are a veritable goldmine of flora and fauna - helped by their position at the heart of the Gulf Stream that blesses them with a relatively mild climate - there is more to the islands than this. With a history spanning more than 1,000 years from when the first settlers (thought to have been Irish monks) arrived around 750AD, to be followed by Norwegians and Vikings, the islands are full of Nordic stories and old traditions.

Today the Faroe Islands are a self-governing region of Denmark that makes its money from fishing and tourism. Colourful settlements containing houses topped by eye-catching traditional turf roofs are dotted across the island landscapes, but with a population of just over 48,000 you could never call the Faroes crowded. On the Isle of Streymoy sits Torshavn, a picturesque hub full of brightly-coloured buildings and known as one of the world’s smallest capital cities, with a well-preserved old town. Bursting with culture, it is the perfect complement to the stunning surroundings that promise to stay in your memory long after you sail away.

National Geographic Traveller magazine has rated the Faroe Islands as one of the world’s most authentic and unspoilt destinations.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages pride themselves with a British traditional style cruise experience this includes fruit and ice carving demonstrations on board. No CMV cruise would be complete without the ‘Baked Alaska Parade’.  As waiters and chefs parade through the dining room holding their famous dessert complete with sparkling firework on top, guests usually cheer whilst twirling their napkins.

In the hit musical Hello Dolly the characters Cornelius & Barnaby sing the line in the song ‘Put on your Sunday clothes’ – We’ll see the shows at Delmonico’s. It was here in New York’s famous restaurant the dessert was first used to celebrate the USA buying Alaska in 1867. The idea being it was meant to look like an igloo made of ice cream, cake and meringue.

On board CMV ship’s Baked Alaska is always popular. Executive Chef Basheer Vettickal on board Marco Polo shares his secret for a dessert for 10 people that can give you a standing ovation.

Early June 2014 and this was my first visit to Iceland. What better way to achieve that than in the comfort of CMV's sleek and elegant cruise ship – 'Discovery'. With some 700 guests on board, it was a marvellous way to see the scenic delights of Iceland's fjords and view some of the interior of the 'Land of Fire and Ice'.. Only having to unpack one's luggage once is always a bonus. The itinerary took us to Iceland via the Outer Hebrides and the Faroes.  Thereafter we cruised round Iceland in an anticlockwise direction, taking in three of the smaller ports before our last stop at the capital, Reykjavik.

The cruise industry’s contribution to the British economy grew sharply in 2013, as did the number of UK jobs it supports, according to a report released on 16th June by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The cruise industry’s direct contribution to the UK economy, including items such as goods and services purchased by the cruise lines, and the salaries of their employees, grew by 6.5% to £2.54 billion in 2013 from £2.38 billion the year before. The cruise industry’s direct contribution to the combined economies of Europe grew by 4.7% to £13.2 billion in 2013 with the UK economy the second highest beneficiary after Italy. The overall contribution of the cruise industry, including indirect items such as spending by cruise line suppliers, to the economies of Europe jumped 22% to £32.1 billion.